TUF Gaming VG28UQL1A
Let’s be real: The 28-inch ASUS TUF VG28UQL1A, while a formidable 4K gaming monitor with some noteworthy flaws, has an unfortunate naming scheme. I can’t imagine many interested parties being able to remember such a convoluted string of seemingly random characters when looking to make a purchase.
The good news is that when you’re using the VG28UQL1A, as I have been these past few days, the confusing name doesn’t matter much at all.
Assembly is super easy. The screen arrives attached to its large adjustable arm, and you simply mount it into the splayed v-shaped stand with a simple push. A captive screw underneath the stand can be tightened with its flip-out grip, and boom, the monitor is up and ready to go. The arm itself can be adjusted via tilt, swivel and a nice range of heights. You can also position the monitor in portrait mode for long-form coding, Twitch chat or whatever interesting application your techie heart desires.
The stand is pretty heavy and sturdy. It features a rudimentary cable management panel along the backside, which proved strangely difficult to remove, to the point where I felt like I was going to snap it in half. Off it came, though, and I was able to route my DP, HDMI and power cables through.
Under-display inputs include two HDMI 2.0, and two HDMI 2.1 (worth their weight in gold in 2021), a single DisplayPort 1.4, one USB upstream, two USB downstream and a headphone jack. Console gamers will know that those HDMI 2.1 ports really work to set this 4K display apart from the competition, because a) HDMI 2.1 still isn’t very common on gaming monitors and b) even if HDMI 2.1 ports are present, there’s often only one. Basically, you can keep both your PS5 and Xbox Series X simultaneously connected at peak display bandwidth.
There is a separate power brick for this monitor that you’ll need to find space for, or at the very least, a dark place to hide it. It is a little disappointing that power isn’t integrated into the display, only because space-constrained PC gamers don’t exactly need more bulky extras to cable organize.
To that end, I’m sure this monitor would run much hotter if power weren’t managed separately, and as it is, the VG28UQL1A stays relatively cool via the exhaust vents, even after long gaming sessions.
TUF Gaming VG28UQL1A
On-board speakers are… not great, though that’s to be expected. They’re not very powerful, and there isn’t much bass to speak of. I was switching back and forth between them and a set of Razer Nommo Chromas and it didn’t take long to decide that there’s simply no comparison. You’ll definitely want to use this monitor with some decent external drivers.
I’m surprised I’m even saying this, as I tend to think eXtreme gamer aesthetics are a bit tacky, but I am missing any sort of RGB integration on this monitor. No lights in the stand, bezel or rear hardware to speak of, which leaves the desk appeal of the VG28UQL1A feeling a bit… bland? Generic? Unmemorable? Plain?
Now, this could be a huge plus for gamers looking for a display that doesn’t scream ‘GAMING TIME1!1!’ from atop the RGB mountain. But for me— and again, this is a bit shocking given my usual preferences— I would have appreciated a little accent lighting.
Moving into more practical matters: Something that drives me absolutely crazy with PC monitors, especially ones with a gaming angle, is the complete inconvenience when it comes to port access. Once you have this monitor set up on your desk with the included stand, getting to the HDMI, display port and USB ports are an absolute nightmare.
Basically, you need to go full Mission Impossible and maneuver underneath the panel like a gaming setup spy so that you can awkwardly attempt to plug in new cables, or even disconnect current cables. It always feels like some sort of surgical feat to not knock things over or refrain from scratching the chassis or the screen.
Razer’s Raptor, while not receiving the best overall reviews, has at least appeared to address this seemingly blatant issue by allowing users to flatten out the display like a table, which exposes all the under-panel ports for easy access.
Now, if you VESA mount this display, which the VG28UQL1A is capable of, I’m sure the whole connector issue could be a moot point depending on the flexibility of your particular mounting arm. But as it stands, switching out cables is a massive headache.
The OSD is controlled by a nub on the back of the monitor as well as several chunky, flat buttons. These buttons aren’t the ideal way to adjust settings, but luckily ASUS provides a downloadable app called DisplayWidget Lite wherein you can change things like overdrive, dynamic dimming, image presets (Cinema, RPG, FPS, etc.), shadow boost and an integrated blue light filter.
There’s also a Dynamic Dimming mode which I’d recommend keeping off. Turning it on resulted in some serious blooming against dark backgrounds, to the point where I could basically watch the backlight try to keep up with any given moving object. Maybe this is because the monitor doesn’t feature any true local dimming like some higher-end panels do.
There are five different levels of overdrive in this monitor, but to be honest, I tended to keep the setting at ‘0’ as that’s what looked best for me. I ran the UFO Test on the VG28UQL1A and motion was buttery smooth at 144FPS with zero to minimal ghosting or artifacts to speak of. I also haven’t noticed any (if at all) backlight bleeding.
The monitor boasts 90% coverage of the DCI-P3 color space and also a somewhat disappointing HDR400 rating (meaning at least 400 nits brightness), neither of which are outstanding or what some would call enthusiast or creator-level. The recently announced Corsair Xeneon also sports the lower-end HDR400 spec but claims an impressive 98% coverage of the DCI-P3 color space, making it, at least in theory, much more color accurate.
As far as HDR goes, something in the 400 range is more or less bare minimum, whereas 600-1000 is considered more ‘true’ HDR. You do get FreeSync Premium & G-SYNC compatibility (i.e. no dedicated NVIDIA module). The 1ms GTG (gray to gray) response time, on the other hand, is about as good as you can get. In practice while gaming, the display does indeed feel very responsive.
Beyond PC gaming, I hooked up my Xbox Series X, and on the infamous 4K TV settings checklist, everything was marked with green except Dolby Vision. So rest assured, if you’re buying this monitor for HDMI 2.1 console connectivity, Microsoft’s box works swimmingly. Xbox games look fantastic on this display, by the way.
Somewhat of a nitpick to finish out here, but there is an inner black bezel that encroaches on the visible panel while it’s running, but it’s not a big deal.
TUF Gaming VG28UQL1A
To put things in perspective, I’ve been gaming on a 1080p 240hz monitor for some time now, and moving to the VG28UQL1A makes my old monitor feel like it was smeared in petroleum jelly the whole time. Yes, I’ve lost the faster refresh rate, which is an adjustment for sure, and if you’re playing a lot of first person shooters, that kind of move will be a serious drawback. But for most gaming content, 4K at 144Hz is a dream.
The big question might be: Is 144Hz enough? To that I’d say— probably. It really depends on what kind of gamer you are, though. Do you dive deep into immersive single player experiences like The Ascent, Cyberpunk 2077 or Kena: Bridge of Spirits? If so, then the refresh rate here will be more than enough, and to that end, you’ll need a seriously monster gaming rig to even approach stable 4K at 144FPS. Not a simple feat in this GPU market by any stretch of the imagination.
Competitive players, or those chasing that golden e-sports dream, might scoff at 144Hz. I’d wager these individuals aren’t going to get much out of a 4K 144Hz display anyway, and will be seeking out a monitor that goes into the 200-300Hz range at 1440p. If you’re after excellent visual clarity, though, then you’d do well to try out ASUS’ monitor.
I suppose what matters most in the end is that video games look incredible on the VG28UQL1A, and Windows 10 in HDR mode is no slouch either. Colors pop, motion is solid with minimal bloom and ghosting and the 28 inches of screen real estate feels like the sweet spot for a desk display. 4K gaming could definitely benefit from a larger screen, but I won’t hold that against ASUS.
Yes, HDR400 is pretty bottom-of-the-barrel, the input port situation is predictably inconvenient, the refresh rate isn’t ideal for competitive gaming and the steep $800 price tag is going to turn a lot of potential 4K PC adopters away, especially in comparison to the best current 1440p monitors.
On the other hand, it’s got elusive HDMI 2.1 connectivity for keeping both your PS5 and Xbox Series X happy, PC games look great in 4K 144Hz if your hardware can drive that sort of graphical fidelity, and the steep $800 asking price is actually on the lower end when it comes to comparable 4K 144Hz panels, which routinely soar up into the above-$1,000 range.
I know I’m going to have difficulty sending this display back to ASUS, so that may be the best indication of quality anyone needs. Once you’ve dipped your toe into 4K 144Hz gaming, it feels like a downgrade to go back to 1080p, even if the refresh rate might be more snappy.
Disclosure: ASUS provided review product for coverage purposes.
TUF Gaming VG28UQL1A