I’ll admit, I’m a bit of a curmudgeon, but I think that’s excusable in this situation. Those of us who are really interested in tech eventually become numb to promises that the next big thing that pops up will change our experience forever, or at least until the next big thing comes along. While Overlord’s Tempest X270OC isn’t on the bleeding edge of new technology, a 27 inch, 2560 x 1440 monitor still represents a massive upgrade for a majority of gamers if hardware surveys are to be believed. I tend to try to damper my expectations before reviewing anything (contrary to belief, hype alone doesn’t dictate score), but after spending some time playing around with this monitor, I really keep coming back to two words: “Holy shit.”
The Tempest X270OC is a 27 inch, 2560 X 1440 IPS monitor. While that’s impressive enough for most people right off the bat, what separates the Tempest is that it’s capable of being overclocked from a standard 60hz refresh rate to a full 120hz. This may not sound like much of a difference if you’ve never experienced a monitor or TV moving at that speed, but it’s absolutely mind blowing in practice. Everything just feels more fluid, and with less ghosting you can really get a better feel for what’s happening in your game.
For the most part, finding a large monitor capable of running 120hz is a bit of a pipe dream. Your options are essentially a prohibitively expensive monitor from Dell, or to turn towards eBay and buy from a Korean reseller. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that approach, and many people have reported being extremely happy with their purchases; however, there is understandably some hesitation from buyers to buy something like this from eBay. Overlord stands alone as a US company that has all of their sales, warranties and customer support handled stateside as well, giving US buyers a bit more confidence in their purchase.
Overclocking the monitor takes a bit of work, but it’s not something that should intimidate anyone who’s interested in the technology. It’s a matter of downloading some drivers and using an aftermarket program to set the refresh rate manually. After that, it’s a simple reboot to make sure it took, and making adjustments as necessary. There is a bit of trial and error involved, but with very minimal risk involved there’s no reason you can’t set aside 20 minutes to double the value of your monitor.
Of course, running a monitor at 2560 X 1440 is taxing enough for video cards, and running one at a full 120 hz is almost unthinkable without something on the bleeding edge of technology. Using a single 2 GB 6970, I was able to comfortably run at 100 hz without any hiccups and keeping a secondary monitor active, although I did see a bit of slowdown in games if I didn’t disable the secondary screen. If I took a few extra steps to disable the secondary monitor, I was able to hit 120hz with no problems and no real drop in FPS that I could tell. As GPU technology catches up, it’ll get easier and easier to hit these numbers, so don’t be afraid to jump in now even if you can’t take full advantage quite yet.
Right out of the box, the Tempest X270OC is impressive. I scoured through mine closely and wasn’t able to find a single dead pixel. There is a bit of backlight bleed, but considering almost every LED will have some degree of bleed this is a non-issue. The Tempest X270OC is a class A panel, so any backlight bleed you do encounter should be fairly minimal.
Having an IPS display makes a world of difference when compared to a more standard LCD monitor. While the monitors most of us use every day look great from head on, colors and images start to distort when viewing from an angle. The Tempest X270OC features a 178 degree viewing angle, meaning there really isn’t a bad seat in the house. I can watch a video playing from my kitchen with perfect clarity, or a friend can look over my shoulder for some Castle Crashers without any distortion. It’s absolutely wonderful.
In an effort to minimize input lag, the monitor is extremely bare bones. There are only four buttons to be found: two to adjust the brightness and two to adjust the volume of the built-in speakers. While the picture is almost perfect right out of the box, making other changes requires downloading and installing a color profile. I was completely blown away with how vibrant and lifelike the colors were on my screen, but my field of expertise doesn’t necessarily require a perfect representation at all times. This is all a nonissue for gamers of course, but for those who are mostly looking for a monitor to use for color intensive work should make sure that this particular one will meet their needs.
Input is limited to a single dual link DVI cable. I would have liked to have seen an HDMI input so that I could’ve plugged my consoles into the screen, but considering that neither of the next gen consoles will be taking advantage of the higher resolution, it would be largely a waste. Limiting the input to the single dual link DVI removes a lot of potential for lag that gamers should appreciate.
The fully adjustable stand not only allows you to make the minor adjustments horizontally, but it also has a fairly decent range of vertical heights that you can use. For those of you who prefer portrait mode, the monitor’s stand allows you to easily rotate to switch back and forth at your leisure. It’s this attention to detail over some of the more minor things that show that the crew at Overlord were really attempting to imagine every situation the consumer would need, and cater to each of them.
Of course, there are a few caveats to be found here. There are two speakers built into the monitor, which seems really odd to me. At 10 watts, they’re pretty much useless outside of having to set up in a very limited space or being pressed for time. The sound is tinny, unresponsive, and can be dwarfed by a pair of ten dollar desktop speakers. They could have been very easily scrapped without losing anything from the experience.
The bezel around the monitor also seems needlessly large and the panel itself is a bit on the thick side, measuring in at 1.25 inches (3.175 centimeters). The one inch (2.54 centimeters) bezel does look fantastic on its own, but it’s not ideal for a multi monitor setup. I’m already thinking about getting another monitor for dual screen use, but having two inches between the screens does make it a bit less appealing.
The last major issue with the Tempest X270OC is its life span. That’s not to say that the life span is bad, but it’s to say that we simply do not know what the life span on these monitors is when they’re over-clocked. Company owner “Scribby” reports that he’s run his monitor at 120hz for a year and it’s shown zero adverse effects, but we simply do not have enough data right now to make a very educated estimation of what to expect. I personally don’t expect any issues based off the build quality I’ve seen so far, but we’ll know more as the monitors on the market have a chance to go through heavier testing.
At the end of the day, the Tempest X270OC is an absolutely stunning product. The clarity and response time is unheralded, and after moving up from 1080 to 1440, I can’t imagine going back. The price tag may seem a bit high to the average consumer at $499.99, however, once overclocked this monitor can not only go toe-to-toe with monitors over double its price point, but can absolutely can crush them when it comes to the issues gamers are most focused on. If you’re in the market for a new gaming-focused monitor and are looking for a quality panel to be the new centerpiece of your battle station, there’s little debate on what you should be looking for. Dollar for dollar, pound for pound, the Tempest X270OC may be the best monitor on the marketplace. With that being said, I’m very proud to award it a five star rating.
This review is based on a piece of tech that was provided to us.
Dollar for dollar, the Tempest X270OC is the best 1440 monitor on the market for gamers right now. It absolutely blows away everything else in its price range, and goes head-to-head with panels twice as expensive, while giving them a serious run for their money. If you're looking to finally make the jump up to a better screen, I honestly don't think there's a better option right now.