The DarkMatter by Monoprice 27-inch Gaming Monitor is a 1920 by 1080 resolution display with a trick up its sleeve: support for a 240Hz refresh rate, which means that the screen can update up to four times faster than standard monitors. That makes, in theory, for a smoother gameplay experience and it pretty much works, as long as you have a PC that can handle the intense graphics load of high frame rates and you have an AMD graphics card.
This monitor supports AMD’s FreeSync Premium technology, but not NVIDIA’s rival G-Sync, which does pretty much the same thing, but requires a special chip from NVIDIA on the monitor. So, this monitor works best with AMD graphics cards: plug it into an Nvidia-based card, and you won’t get the high refresh rate.
The DarkMatter by Monoprice 27-inch Gaming Monitor was released in May of 2021. It is priced at $299.99 and only available in the US.
Dark Matter by Monoprice 27in Gaming Monitor review: design and setup
The DarkMatter 27-inch has a clean, simple design with an almost 1950s-looking three-legged stand that connects to a column behind the main panel. Alternatively, this can be removed and replaced with any VESA 100x100 mount, so it can be easily incorporated into a multi-monitor setup.
It comes with a 36-inch-long HDMI cable and a power cable with a sizable power converter halfway along. There is no DisplayPort cable included, though, which is an odd omission: most modern graphics cards now come with multiple DisplayPort outputs, but only one HDMI port. Fortunately, an additional DisplayPort cable won’t set you back too much: a three-foot one costs $11.
There are three inputs for video on this monitor: two HDMI and one DisplayPort. One of the HDMI ports is the older HDMI 1.4 type, while the second is the newer HDMI 2 type. There is also a 3.5mm headphone socket, although this is rather hard to reach the back of the monitor: you aren’t going to be plugging your headphones in and out easily. There are no speakers built into the monitor itself though, so you’ll need to plug a set of speakers into the headphone socket to get sound out of this monitor. Apart from the 240Hz frame rate, this monitor is a pretty bare-bones model. There’s no calibration, no USB hubs, no built-in speakers, and while it is DisplayHDR 400 certified, it has no support for newer HDR video standards like Dolby Vision.
A single multi-direction button on the back of the display is the only way to control it – you reach around the base and move it with a fingertip. It feels a little awkward, but it is easier to use than most. You press and hold to turn the power on and off, or just press to access the on-screen menu. From here, you can switch inputs and control all of the features of the monitor with a few button clicks.
Dark Matter by Monoprice 27in Gaming Monitor review: features and performance
While this monitor can display up to 240 frames per second, your computer might not be up to that. I tested this monitor using an AMD RX6800 graphics card, running on a system with an AMD Threadripper Pro processor and found that it was sometimes a mixed bag, even with a high-end system like this.
Running in first-person shooter games like Doom Eternal, I found that the gameplay was noticeably smoother than a 60Hz monitor, with the spatter of demon gore looking especially unpleasant as I ripped and tore my way through the onslaught of evil. According to the game itself, my system managed between 160 and 190 frames per second. The display itself was very smooth, with little evidence of smearing or ghosting from the higher frame rate. Although I have no idea if it made me a better demon fragger, the higher refresh rate definitely made it a more immersive and horrifying experience.
The same was true with F1 2020 (although without the parademons). This game managed a refresh rate of over 200Hz, and the display was butter-smooth and very immersive. With a game like this that relies on fast reactions and knowing where you are, the faster updates of the 240Hz display definitely made a difference.
However, having a 240fps monitor doesn’t make everything perfect. I tested the same setup using Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020, and found that it made little or no difference to the gameplay, as the system was only capable of producing about 80fps at most in this graphically demanding sim, with the limiting factor seeming to be the CPU. That didn’t look much better than a 60Hz monitor, so the improvement wasn’t anything noticeable. The display was definitely clear and bright, but it just didn’t look much better.
Dark Matter by Monoprice 27in Gaming Monitor review: Verdict
Priced at $299.99, the DarkMatter 27-inch Gaming Monitor represents good value for money, undercutting other similar monitors by a significant margin. The performance is also good, so you aren’t sacrificing image quality. What you are sacrificing are other features: you don’t get USB hubs or ports, HDR support, or other features that more expensive models may offer. But, for the gamer looking to get higher frame rates without killing the budget, it’s a great pick.
Dark Matter by Monoprice 27in Gaming Monitor review: also consider
The AOC CQ32G2SE is one alternative to the DarkMatter. The AOC model is a little more expensive but gets you more screen real estate as it is a 32-inch monitor. It is also curved, which could mean more comfortable use, as your eyes don’t need to refocus as you look around. It supports the same AMD FreeSync standard but has a slightly lower 165Hz refresh rate, and the brightness is slightly lower.