IT Pro Verdict
Good image quality - eventually
Rivals have better colours
Awkward setup procedures
Not many ports
The MSI Modern MD271CP is an unusual business monitor – because it’s designed to look stylish while it tackles your everyday work tasks.
Most business products don’t emphasise aesthetics, so the MSI does a tremendous job of standing out. And, with a price of £208 exc VAT, you can get your hands on this good-looking curved display without spending loads of cash.
The MSI Modern MD271CP undoubtedly looks slicker than its main rival, the Iiyama ProLite XUB2792QSN-B1, but the two products should have an interesting battle – that hard-nosed business screen has a broader range of features and it only costs £213 exc VAT.
MSI Modern MD271CP review: Design
This monitor may cost just north of £200, but it certainly doesn’t look like it. From the front you’ll see slim bezels and a sleek round base, and at the rear the MSI has a cylindrical stand that attaches to the back of the panel with a sleek, curving connector. It’s available in a more modest black shade, but we’ve reviewed the eye-catching white variant, finished with attractive metallic trim.
The MSI has reasonable build quality. The base and metal stand are sturdy, but the plastic rear is inconsistent: it’s robust in central areas but has flex at the sides. Nevertheless, this screen can easily withstand office life. It has 110mm of height adjustment alongside tilt and swivel movement, and it supports 75mm VESA mounting. That’s decent movement, and the only thing missing is the option to swing the screen into portrait mode. It’s easy to build this panel, too, thanks to tool-free assembly.
Portrait mode is rare on curved displays, though, and the MSI’s 1500R curve brings several big advantages to the fore. MSI says that the curve results in fewer eye movements, which can reduce workplace fatigue – and the curve also makes the screen more immersive because the edges and corners angle towards users.
Underneath the curve you’ll find a 1,920 x 1,080 VA panel. That figure is fine for everyday workloads, and it provides enough space for Office apps and web browsers. That said, it’s cramped if you want to use two or three windows, and the 27in diagonal means you can easily pick out individual pixels – the lack of sharpness doesn’t ruin everyday work tasks, but it’s evident.
Elsewhere, the 75Hz refresh rate delivers smooth animation and movement in everyday tasks, and the screen uses mid-range 8-bit colour rather than the 10-bit range needed for complex creative work.
The MSI’s rival from Iiyama looks like a typically underwhelming office monitor, but it’s more practical than the MD271CP. It’s got 130mm of height adjustment, move swivel movement, and portrait mode support. On the inside, its 2,560 x 1,440 resolution means it’s sharper and more spacious than the MSI.
MSI Modern MD271CP review: Image quality
The MSI may look great, but its initial benchmark results were disappointing – and we were worried that this screen was all style and no substance. Out of the box the MSI’s brightness level of 183cd/m2 is ample for office use, but the black point of 0.63cd/m2 is very high – which means a disappointing contrast ratio of 290:1. That low contrast ratio means that colours lack depth and vibrancy, and the high black point means that black areas look grey.
After using the on-screen menu to alter settings, the MSI reached a peak brightness of 190cd/m2, but that made no discernable difference to the contrast and black point performance. The movie and video game modes didn’t improve things, either.
That’s not the end of the story, though. MSI’s Display Kit app can alter settings instead of the on-screen menus, and adjusting these options made a huge difference to the MSI’s contrast performance. We ramped the contrast slider up in the app and the panel’s brightness level improved to 220cd/m2 and the black point dropped to 0.06cd/m2. That means the MSI deployed a revised contrast level of 3666:1, which is fantastic – higher than the firm's quoted 3000:1 figure.
The difference is clear. That far higher contrast ratio means the MSI has loads more punch – it’s like using a whole new monitor. Dark sections actually look dark, and you get loads of extra subtlety and vivacity.
Once we’d ramped the contrast up to appropriate levels, the MSI rendered 94.9% of the sRGB colour gamut with a delta E of 1.55 and a colour temperature of 6,491K. Those are great results, and the MSI does a solid job of producing most shades required by mainstream tasks. It’s a consistent panel: the MSI’s backlight strength is only deviated by single figures in every sector.
Those results mean the MSI is suitable for less-demanding creative workloads – if your day-to-day needs include a bit of photo editing or design work, this screen is up to the job. It makes web pages and everyday apps look great, and it’s an ideal monitor for after-hours media playback too.
Bear in mind, though, that MSI’s reliance on 8-bit VA hardware means that colours look a tad oversaturated and flat. The MSI also only rendered 69.1% and 71.6% of the Adobe RGB and DCI-P3 colour spaces. These latter attributes mean that the MSI isn’t suitable for more demanding creative workloads. If you do need something for those trickier situations, a 10-bit IPS panel would be preferable.
If you’d like more nuanced colour, the rival Iiyama will do the job – it’s got superior delta E and sRGB gamut performance from its 10-bit IPS panel, and it has a higher resolution. Its only downside is a more moderate contrast ratio that provides more muted imagery when compared to the MSI.
MSI Modern MD271CP review: Ports and features
MSI’s machine places a clear emphasis on style, but it doesn’t have a particularly broad set of features. Around the rear you’ll find an HDMI input alongside a USB-C connection that handles DisplayPort. The USB-C socket also provides a modest 15W of device charging, but it doesn’t enable data transfer. The rear has an audio jack, and the display has a pair of 1W speakers, but they’re muddy, quiet, and barely usable.
As we’ve seen, the MSI’s on-screen menu isn’t the best option if you want to get the most out of this product – and it’s got basic design and slightly sluggish performance, too. You’ll get far better results if you use the MSI Display Kit app in Windows instead.
MSI’s panel isn’t overflowing with features, and this is another area where the Iiyama ProLite XUB2792QSN-B1 does a more thorough job: behind its dull design you’ll find a USB-C port with 65W of power delivery, two full-size USB sockets, native DisplayPort and wired Ethernet.
MSI Modern MD271CP review: Verdict
The MSI Modern MD271CP eventually proved itself as a stylish and bold option for everyday office work – it looks far more attractive than most work monitors, and once we’d fiddled with the MSI Display Kit app the MD271CP supplied bold, vibrant imagery.
The VA internals mean you’ll certainly find more nuance and accuracy from the IPS-based Iiyama – if you need a screen for colour-sensitive creative work, the MSI isn’t the panel for you. Similarly, the Iiyama has more practical port and adjustment options.
The MSI Modern MD271CP does have the punch to make everyday creative and office tasks look great, though – and it looks superb while doing it. The MSI could do with a touch more substance, but its appeal is about more than just style.
MSI Modern MD271CP Specifications
|1,920 x 1,080
|Screen refresh rate
|1 x HDMI 1.4, 1 x USB-C/DisplayPort
|1 x audio
|Tilt -5° to 20°, 110mm height adjustment, 60° swivel, 75mm VESA mount
|612 x 250 x 534mm (WxDxH)
Mike Jennings has worked as a technology journalist for more than a decade and has been fascinated by computers since childhood, when he spent far too long building terrible websites. He loves desktop PCs, components, laptops and anything to do with the latest hardware.
Mike worked as a staff writer at PC Pro magazine in London for seven years, and during that time wrote for a variety of other tech titles, including Custom PC, Micro Mart and Computer Shopper. Since 2013, he’s been a freelance tech writer, and writes regularly for titles like Wired, TechRadar, Stuff, TechSpot, IT Pro, TrustedReviews and TechAdvisor. He still loves tech and covers everything from the latest business hardware and software to high-end gaming gear, and you’ll find him on plenty of sites writing reviews, features and guides on a vast range of topics.