Dell’s 30-inch U3011 features an anti-glare hard coat to reduce reflections, and the 2560x1600 display tilts, swivels, and is height adjustable, but it can’t pivot into portrait mode. The monitor is outfitted with two HDMI and two DVI ports, as well as one analog VGA and one DisplayPort input. USB hubs are always convenient, and Dell obliges with one upstream and four downstream USB 2.0 ports, along with a seven-in-one multicard reader in the side of its bezel.
We admittedly put the cart a bit before the horse by featuring NEC’s PA301W in our pages twice before finally publishing our review, but this 30-inch display breezed through our benchmarks like a Corvette in a box car rally while we were researching our Multiscreen Madness feature story. And after that, we simply had to have it for our Dream Machine.
The PA301W’s 2560x1600 resolution is the same as the less-expensive Dell U3011, and its base tilts, swivels, and is height adjustable. Unlike Dell’s U3011, however, the PA301W can also pivot into portrait mode. It’s outfitted with two DisplayPort inputs, two DVI ports (with HDCP) but there’s no HDMI. The PA301W sports three downstream USB 2.0 ports and two upstream USB ports, so you can operate two computers with one mouse and keyboard connected to the display.
As Maximum PC senior editor Gordon Mah Ung puts it, building a budget gaming rig for a 30-inch panel is the metaphorical equivalent of slapping a Ferrari engine into a crappy Ford car. If you can afford a display that rings up north of $2,000, then why the heck are you trying to cut corners on the system you’re connecting it to?
I can’t answer that one for you. But what I can tell you is exactly how you can go about getting the best frame rate for your buck without purchasing a PC that’s more expensive than your mega-monitor.
You might recall seeing three of HP’s ZR30w 30-inch displays gracing the cover of our September “Dream Machine” issue. Considering our theme for that build was raw, wanton power, picking the ZR30w was an easy decision.
We haven’t been this wowed by a display since we laid eyes on NEC’s LCD3090 WQXi, which we reviewed in our March 2010 issue. But that 30-incher costs nearly twice as much as this one. Both monitors are based on S-IPS panels, as all the best LCD monitors are, and both deliver native resolution of 2560x1600 (a 16:10 aspect ratio). But the ZR30w’s real claim to fame is color resolution of 10 bits per color per pixel (HP defines this as 30 bits per pixel), which enables it to produce 1.07 billion displayable colors. That’s 100 percent of the sRGB color gamut and 99 percent of the Adobe RGB color gamut.
We saw how splendid an IPS monitor can be when we reviewed Dell’s 24-inch UltraSharp U2410 in January. “Sometimes you have to pay to play,” we concluded. Moments after reaching that summit, we observed NEC’s 30-inch LCD3090 WQXi IPS panel looming before us. Fully aware that we could buy three U2410s and a Radeon HD 5870 to drive them for about the same amount of cash ($2,200, to be exact), we began our ascent.
The LCD3090 has a native resolution of 2560x1600 (a 16:10 aspect ratio), which is typical of 30-inch displays. This one is an eight-bit panel with programmable 12-bit lookup tables. It delivers 102 percent of the NTSC color space and 97.8 percent of the Adobe RGB color space. Inputs are limited to dual-link DVI-D with an odd HDCP on/off feature, and DVI-I. Why would you need to turn off HDCP? We’re not really sure.
There’s no media card reader or integrated USB hub; more importantly, there’s no DisplayPort support, either. But the stand tilts, swivels, and pivots; and if you still can’t find a comfortable position, you can mount it on an optional articulated arm using its standard VESA mount.