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Monoprice Dark Matter Gaming Monitor Review: Affordable Looks and Power

Rating: 8/10 ?
  • 1 - Absolute Hot Garbage
  • 2 - Sorta Lukewarm Garbage
  • 3 - Strongly Flawed Design
  • 4 - Some Pros, Lots Of Cons
  • 5 - Acceptably Imperfect
  • 6 - Good Enough to Buy On Sale
  • 7 - Great, But Not Best-In-Class
  • 8 - Fantastic, with Some Footnotes
  • 9 - Shut Up And Take My Money
  • 10 - Absolute Design Nirvana
Price: $299.99
Monoprice Dark Matter 27-inch monitor on table by keyboard, game controller, lamp, and stack of books
Kevin Bonnett

Gaming on a PC is one of life’s greatest pleasures, but you’ll need a good gaming monitor that can keep up with all of your adventures. Monoprice’s 27-inch Dark Matter Gaming Monitor is an impressive and decently well-rounded choice, given its affordable price point.

The monitor is a solid choice for those needing a new primary monitor for gaming, gaming, and even more gaming. It has a fast response time, a decent refresh rate, a nice selection of ports, and the picture looks terrific whether you’re gaming or watching videos. Given that it’s well under $400, the Dark Matter Gaming Monitor isn’t just a steal—it’s easy for us to recommend to gamers everywhere.

Specs as Reviewed

  • Panel Type: IGZO
  • Refresh Rate: 165Hz (180HZ OC)
  • Native Resolution: 2560 x 1440p (QHD)
  • Contrast Ratio: 1000:1
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9
  • Ports: 3x HDMI 2.0, 1x DisplayPort 1.4a, 1x USB-C
  • Dimensions (without stand): 24.4 x 14.7 x 2.5 inches
  • Weight (without stand): 11 pounds

Design and Assembly

While this isn’t the biggest monitor out there, this Dark Matter monitor doesn’t skimp on style. It has a variety of cool lighting effects that’ll spruce up your desktop gaming setup without breaking a sweat, like dual LED lights on either side of the front of the monitor and stylish V-shaped LED lights on the rear. This is a nice feature to have for anyone who doesn’t shove their monitor up against a wall, thus hiding it.

The stand has a super slim, minimalist design. Overall, I think it looks nice and modern. When I first pulled it out of the box, I was sure that its slim design would make it wobbly or less than sturdy, but that wasn’t the case. Assembly was pretty easy overall, but you will need to fetch a Phillips-head screwdriver to get the panel bolted to the stand. It also features a removable adapter and a 75mm VESA mount and even comes with four fasteners should you decide to mount it.

Dark Matter monitor face-down on table next to unattached stand and mount
Kevin Bonnett

In testing, I found the monitor to be plenty sturdy, whether I was switching between sitting and standing at my desk, moving a lot of stuff around on the desk, or just fidgeting a lot (all of which I do regularly). It stood firmly in place, which I appreciate.

However, it doesn’t offer you much by way of adjustments. You won’t find a height adjustment option, but you can tilt it to your liking. I’m pretty short (5’6″), and the eye-line felt comfortable to me when I placed it flat on my desk (which I keep at 28.1 inches). If you’re taller than that, though, you may also want to invest in a monitor riser or stand for ergonomics.

Monoprice kept the rest of the monitor’s design sleek and minimal, beyond the stand, making it perfect for anyone wanting a clean-looking setup. You won’t see any loud branding on it, the adjustment knob is tucked away on the back, and the downward-facing port hub at the rear also helps reduce visual clutter. The only design elements noticeable from the front are the two lights at the bottom of the monitor, with one on each side. They look great on their own, but I bolstered them with some additional ambient lights for a neater effect.

As for ports, this monitor has three HDMI 2.0 ports, a single DisplayPort 1.4a option, a USB-C port, and an audio output port for your headphones—all of which are clearly labeled and easy to access. Although I’d like to see support for HDMI 2.1 here instead, that’d just increase the monitor’s cost. This selection of ports is great for casual gaming if you’re on a budget but probably less than ideal for other scenarios (and still not the best choice if you were hoping to pair it up with your PS5 or Xbox Series X).

Overall, the Dark Matter’s design is clean and nice overall, and I like how Monoprice kept the design simple while still maintaining gamer-friendly elements like the LED lights. I do have three minor complaints, however. For one, you can’t change the LED light color, so I hope you like red. Two, as I mentioned above, it’s limited to HDMI 2.0. Since you can’t change up the colors of the LEDs, they’re a little pointless; I’d certainly rather Monoprice skip them and add in HDMI 2.1 or another neat feature.

And three, it doesn’t have a built-in speaker. Though most gamers are probably using a dedicated gaming headset, speakers are still nice to have for when you want to watch a video on YouTube or Twitter without headphones.

Display and Performance

When you think of computer monitors, you’ve probably heard terms like IPS. This monitor is an IGZO monitor, which stands for indium gallium zinc oxide. What does that mean? Why should you care? Essentially, this material composition is designed to use less power, increase pixel density, and have a sharper and faster panel response; it’s often used with newer OLED TV displays.

Dark Matter monitor while playing a video game, with the front LED lights reflecting off table
Suzanne Humphries / Review Geek

As such, I wasn’t surprised to see how great this monitor looked in action. In testing the monitor, I noted its performance while watching streaming video, editing photos, and (of course) playing video games. I played various games, from retro arcade classics to a ton of AAA titles, and the Dark Matter monitor handled them all like a pro. Simply put: movement looked smooth, colors looked accurate (and excellent), the contrast was sharp, and the frame rate was consistent. There isn’t much you can ask for there.

This 27-inch monitor has a 2560 x 1440p (QHD) resolution, making it a perfect mid-range option for the average user. You’ll be able to enjoy a clean, sharp picture while enjoying the few hundred bucks you saved by not splurging on a top-shelf 4K monitor. It also sports a decent 165Hz refresh rate. Again, this is right on par with other monitors at this price range, and it’s plenty good enough for any casual gamer. You can also overclock it at 180Hz, should you so desire, which is nice to have for more … serious gaming sessions.

Overall, its resolution and refresh rate seemed well-balanced in testing. Playback is smooth and looks great, and it boasts a super-fast response time thanks to support for adaptive sync (sorry, G-Sync fans, you’re out of luck here).

Rear of Dark Matter monitor, featuring it's pretty stand and LED lights, on table next to controller, keyboard, and plant
Kevin Bonnett

Need to make some adjustments to the display? Monoprice added a small knob to the rear of the monitor on the right side. Personally, I prefer front-facing buttons, as they’re a little easier to work with, but this four-directional control pad was okay enough to use, and I got used to it pretty quickly. With it, you can power the monitor on and off, adjust RGB ranges, select scene mode shortcuts, and toggle the GamePlus crosshair.

Final Thoughts

Monoprice’s Dark Matter Gaming Monitor is a fantastic value, and if you’re looking for your next budget gaming monitor, this is it. While it might not be the monitor of choice for creme de la creme eSports gamers, it’s all any of the rest of us could ever want or need. Your games will look great on it, and it will easily keep up with whatever gaming adventures you throw at it. At less than $400, it’s an excellent value, so go treat yourself. Your gaming setup will thank you.

Rating: 8/10
Price: $299.99

Here’s What We Like

  • Clean simple design
  • Affordable
  • Games look great on it

And What We Don't

  • Limited stand adjustment
  • No HDMI 2.1 support
  • Can't customize lighting
  • No speaker

Suzanne Humphries Suzanne Humphries
Suzanne Humphries was a Commerce Editor for Review Geek. She has over seven years of experience across multiple publications researching and testing products, as well as writing and editing news, reviews, and how-to articles covering software, hardware, entertainment, networking, electronics, gaming, apps, security, finance, and small business. Read Full Bio »