Thirty inches. 2560x1600 resolution. Four million pixels. That was the gold standard in PC displays, but it's just been blown away. Welcome to the wonderful world of ultra-high-definition visuals. With this outrageous $3,500 flat screen, Asus is giving us our first taste of 4K resolutions. It might just be the next big thing in PC graphics. Can it possible live up to the hype?
Note: This article originally appeared in the February 2014 issue of the magazine.
Nvidia in October of last year unveiled its G-Sync monitor technology intended to reduce stutter, lag, tearing, and other unwanted effects associated with synching a monitor's refresh rate with the GPU. The company's goal is to integrate G-Sync into third-party monitors, though for a limited time, Nvidia is offering a G-Sync DIY upgrade kit that works with (and only with) Asus's 24-inch VG248QE display.
It didn't take long for Asus to jump into the 4K monitor market and claim it as its own. If you thought the price of the Philips UltraClear was reasonable (compared to 30-inch panels with lower resolutions), take a gander at the Asus PB287Q, a 28-inch display with a 4K ultra high definition resolution (3840x2160), TN panel, and blazing fast 1ms response time for just $799. Business users should take note as well.
Philips just waved a hand in front of professionals looking for a high resolution display and said, "This is the monitor you're looking for." The monitor in question is the Philips UltraClear, a 28-inch panel with a 4K ultra high definition (UHD) resolution (3840x2160) for $1,200. That might not be affordable for the budget buyer shopping a 24-inch 1080p display, but if you're looking to go big, that's a pretty aggressive price tag compared to the crop of 30-inch panels featuring 2560x1600 resolutions.
Microsoft has never hidden the fact that Windows 8 works best when you're able to touch, tap, swipe, and get hands-on with your display. The problem there is that most existing monitors lack touch support, so if you want that functionality on your desktop, you're looking at investing in a new panel. Acer's new 20-inch FT200HQL is one such option, and though the 19.5-inch screen is on the small side, it supports 10-point capacitive touch input.
EVGA has designed a handy DisplayPort hub that allows for multi-monitor connectivity from a single DisplayPort source, negating the need to invest in another graphics card. The hub supports up to three DisplayPort compatible monitors without any special software or drivers other than your graphics card driver. It does require external power, so EVGA includes an external power adapter in the box.
It's fast becoming clear that monitor makers will be the ones pushing UltraHD 4K resolutions while there's still a dearth of content, and we're just fine with that (gaming on high-end graphics cards is our go-to application for these sexy panels). Enter Dell, the newest participant to throw its weight around in the 4K category. Dell's offering is its new UltraSharp 32 (UP3214Q), a 31.5-inch Ultra HD panel with a 3840x2160 resolution, which is four times that of Full HD 1080p.
A high quality panel with lower power requirements
NEC today announced the MultiSync EA274WMi, the newest model to fall under its high-end IT desktop portfolio. The EA274WMi sports a 27-inch IPS (In-Plane Switching) panel with LED backlighting and a 2560x1440 resolution (QHD). Thanks in large part to the LED backlight, NEC says the EA274WMi is able to come in a slim and lighter weight profile with increased power savings compared to previous generation monitors.
It doesn't matter if the chicken or egg came first, we have tasty recipes for both. Likewise, it doesn't matter if Ultra HD monitors or 4K video becomes commonplace first, just so long as both get here, and in short order. So far, it looks like hardware might be winning out. We're seeing more and more Ultra HD panels come to market, including Dell's new UltraSharp 32 PremierColor (UP3214Q) display.
We pit a 60Hz panel against a 144Hz panel to see if hype over the higher spec is warranted
We all know how the game is played when it comes to selling tech products. Six cores are better than four, two GPUs are better than one, and 1GHz is better than 500MHz. Besides the underlying pixel technology, monitors have really only been sold on either size or resolution—until now. In the last few years, manufacturers have begun marketing panels with more than double the refresh rate of a standard LCD panel. Rather than the 60Hz refresh rate that LCDs have been stuck with since, well, forever, these new monitors push the refresh rate to 120Hz and even 144Hz. A high refresh rate promises smoother scrolling and less blur in games, but these qualities may not be for everyone.
Note: This review was originally featured in the May 2013 issue of the magazine.