Buying a monitor? Please refer to this post before purchasing.
July 6, 2021 at 7:34 am #65335balnazzar
Hi Folks. I’m in search of a decent 32″ UHD aimed at productivity (and to be viewed from a ~80cm distance) that won’t break the bank. Most important requirements: text clarity & reduced eyestrain.
Initially, I was inclined towards Dell S3221QS (curved) and Benq EW3270U (flat), as per the usual RTINGS (in)famous comparative review, but then I stumbled into this very forum and it seems that:
1. Philips 328E1CA is almost always recommended.
2. Philips 328E1CA has (or should have) the same panel of the Dell model, except that it allows you to adjust gamma, which is a big plus for me. It also has stronger curvature.
3. These curved monitors do employ a Samsung SVA panel which is deemed superior, by PcMonitors, with respect to the Innolux flat panel employed by the EW3270U.
So I’m leaning towards your beloved Philips 328E1CA. Some doubts, however, still stand, given that it has the same panel as the Dell.
For example, look at this picture, taken from the RTINGS review (dell on the right, benq on the left): https://imgur.com/a/jhRfQAi
1. The reviewer highlights that the Dell shows blurry pixels due to matte coating. The Benq has a matte coating too, but maybe less aggressive?
2. This impression is somewhat confirmed by the visuals. Note how the pixels look more ‘dull’ and less crisp for the Dell.
3. The Dell shows these large black bands between horiziontal rows of pixels. I’m not sure that’s a good thing.
What do you think?July 6, 2021 at 7:42 am #65338PCM2
You shouldn’t pay much attention to macro photographs to try to gauge screen surface and its affect on clarity. Screen surface is a complex 3D structure and even the slightest change in focal depth for the camera will dramatically change how things look. Reference the end of this post. The curvature of the screen can naturally affect how such things are captured, too. RTINGS are heavily data driven even if that data is ‘noisy’. And will have been observing the photo and basing their opinion on that rather than the actual monitor and what their eye sees. I know that sounds odd and it isn’t a dig at them (I enjoy their work), it’s just an important distinction between how I like to review and how most other people review monitors. The EW3270U and flat Innolux panel it uses has a noticeably grainier screen surface and in terms of how ‘light’ it is I’d put it on par with the screen surface of the Philips. I actually thought the haze value of the Philips was a touch lower if anything and I ended up classifying it as ‘light’ and the Innolux panel as ‘relatively light’ – but this is an entirely unscientific and subjective classification system and if I had them side by side perhaps I’d classify them in the same way in that respect. It was really the screen surface texture that was the main differentiator for the experience for me. I didn’t really find either screen surface ideal in terms of how ‘light’ they were and certainly not as good in that respect as the BenQ EW3280U. The Dell doesn’t technically use the same panel as curvature is part of the panel, just the same panel type (Samsung SVA).
We explore the screen surface and its impact on the image in great detail, in our reviews. Use that as a much more accurate gauge of what you will see. We also provide macro photographs if you like to look at pixel structure. This includes the 328E1CA and you can compare to models using the Innolux panel, such as the ASUS CG32UQ. Looking at the photo in our Philips review there in isolation, you probably wouldn’t consider those gaps to be huge above and below. They aren’t – whilst larger than on some ‘4K’ models, the pixels are tiny on these monitors so the gaps are also tiny and not relevant to what you actually see. Per the review: “The subpixels are slightly squat as is fairly typical for Samsung SVA panels, with relatively thick vertical gaps between subpixels. This can lead to or exacerbate issues such as static ‘interlace pattern artifacts’, although this model didn’t have such issues as explored shortly. It can also make some text or fine edges appear just a touch softer, although we didn’t observe any issues with that here. Perhaps due to the high pixel density and appropriately-tuned sharpness algorithm. The subpixels do not show partial illumination as some VA models do, which would lead to more obvious text and fine-edge clarity issues. The subpixel layout and arrangement is therefore considered normal and we had no subpixel-related concerns with respect to sharpness or text clarity on this model.”July 7, 2021 at 8:41 am #65348balnazzar
Given what you said above, and the links you provided, I ordered the Philips. TBH, the Dell is more handsome and just 15eur more, but the lack of gamma adjustment is a deal breaker for me. Besides, the most important thing is that with the Philips I won’t encounter any awkward subpixel rendering surprises..
Once I install it, I’ll let you know my subjective impressions.
Anyhow, great forum and great reviews!July 26, 2021 at 1:50 pm #65489deep_spaced
Good morning! I’ve been looking around at newer monitors for a bit as I’ve been thinking about how to upgrade my 27″ IPS 4K work display from 2017. I primarily use it for programming/web work so text clarity is extremely important. I picked up a Dell S3221QS and an Alienware AW3420DW. While I really liked the ultrawide of the Alienware, I preferred the higher pixel resolution of the Dell and the aspect ratio worked out well in my workflow.
However, I ended up sending the Dell back the other day due to a general feeling of blurriness/glare. Comparing them side by side, the pixel density on the Dell was great but overall the panel on the Alienware looked so much better because it felt sharper and brighter. I had to turn up the brightness on the Dell to nearly 100% to get near the colors on the IPS, which I’m a bit surprised by after reading reviews about how VA panels should generally have great colors.
I haven’t looked at any other VA panels in depth other than walking by them in Micro Center, but I was wondering if any of the blurriness/glare is due to the Dell being VA versus the Alienware being IPS, or if it’s just the antiglare coating on the Dell that’s bothering me. Thanks for your time!July 26, 2021 at 1:55 pm #65491PCM2
It’s most likely the anti-glare surface that you find disagreeable on the S3221QS. The screen surface of the AW3420DW with its LG Nano IPS UltraWide panel is ‘lighter’ and impedes the image less in comparison. There’s less of a ‘layered’ appearance in front of the image – it isn’t something everyone will notice either way. But if you’re sensitive to it, as you are (and I am as well) it can be quite bothersome. If you’ve got the budget for it I’d certainly recommend checking out a ~32″ IPS option like the BenQ EW3280U instead. Which combines the excellent pixel density with a very light screen surface.July 28, 2021 at 7:39 am #65499nighthink
As many others here, I really like your work and appreciate with respect your willingness to help others to find what they need :).
I’m searching for the right display for quite some time (I was here already discussing the Dell AW2721D) but it just didn’t fit my overall needs and at this point I’m fine to sacrifice refresh rate in favour of higher resolution and few other productivity features, which I really need much more often than gaming parameters after all.
I did fairly large research, went through this whole forum and few others here and also on many other places and I feel like there just isn’t a monitor I would really like to have :). With this I’d like to confirm if that is indeed true and maybe to find next best alternative with as little as possible sacrifices.
So this would be my standard usage:
– I do a lot of text work during my working day, so text clarity and all the eye-care-kind-of-stuffs are really important to me.
– architecture diagrams, programs developing (lots of various tools, let’s say just regular large corporate software architecture / development work)
– multitasking, many different windows opened at the same time and switching between them (that’s why 32” 4k)
– after the working day some occasional gaming, not competitive, mostly action adventure 3rd person shooters and similar.
What I would require from the monitor:
– 32” 4k with focus on text clarity. Colour accuracy is not that important for me, although if I think about it, would be still nice if the monitor does not show the stuff totally different as macbook pro 16, which I will use next to the monitor (but it’s not really mandatory).
– USB-C / Thunderbolt 3 with at least 80W+ power delivery – I have macbook pro 16 which I want to connect directly via USB-C cable to get rid of the cables on the desk.
– KVM switch – would be great as I have also my personal dektop PC which I will be switching to quite often, and monitor will be shared.
– PIP / PBP would be nice to have but not mandatory
– Personal PC will be connected via DP cable. I have EVGA GeForce 2070 Super+ graphics card.
– At least FreeSync combined with low input lag, if 100Hz+ is just not realistic. Anyway my current graphics card probably would not be able to drive 100Hz+ with 4k. This is to support in some way the light gaming usage.
– price around 800 Euro max
So obviously, I was considering first your recommendations and there are 2 alternatives, but I think both of them lack something:
– Philips 328E1CA does not have USB-C and KVM, so connecting to macbook pro could be somehow problematic (maybe) and it will not remove cables from the table. Overall without USB-C it just does not work for me.
– BenQ EW3280U is nowhere to find these days at least where I live, and then it has USB-C with power delivery 60W which I think won’t be enough, and also no KVM. But overall it is more fitting my needs (although I would need to buy some monitor stand as that one it comes with will for sure not be sufficient).
I can sacrifice the KVM. I can buy one separately, although, it will again bring some unnecessary devices to my table, which is not what I want, but I could live with that.
Maybe I could also come down from 4k to 1440p and wait for ASUS PA328CGV, which on paper looks quite good and apart from 4k it lacks only KVM, plus it has high refresh rate which is nice. But I have no idea when Asus will release it and how much it will cost (this is really pain, having announced monitors officially, but no visibility if I need to wait 1 month or 1 year and how much it will actually cost once it is finally here).
I searched for alternatives like Dell U3219Q which would mostly fit the bill, but it is monitor from 2018, I feel like buying it in second half of 2021 is like opting for really old tech :), although I understand the market with monitors does not change that much. But I still believe it is progressing somehow and the evolution of the panels used shall be visible within time period of 3 years.
Then I was looking at Asus PA34VC, which is drifting away a bit from the reqs above (not 4k but maybe good for multitasking plus 100Hz as bonus), but still if I could find it around 900 Euro I would probably go for it. The problem is I can’t buy it neither as it is not available.
Anyway I would rather prefer 32” instead of ultrawide, but I searched also in ultrawides just in case :), still I didn’t find really an option that would fit my needs in theory similarly like Asus PA34VC probably could.
Then again, I don’t expect any research to be done here instead of me, jut based on your gut feeling :), is there some monitor you know about and I missed it? Or do you think I would be still good with picking one of the recommendations from your list?
Thank you.July 28, 2021 at 7:45 am #65505PCM2
That’s a tricky one. But ultimately monitors are all compromises one way or the other and it’s about picking which ones you can best live with. I think you should stick to your preferred size and resolution and go from there. That’s fundamentally the most important aspect and something you’ll keep on coming back to – if you went for something else you’d be forever wondering what your experience would be like if you’d stuck with your preferred ~32″ ‘4K’ instead. With that said, obviously if a monitor isn’t available for you locally (such as the EW3280U) then it’s automatically ruled out. What about the Dell P3222QE? I’ve received some good feedback about that model in general, although the PD tops out at 60W.
To be honest USB-C with high power delivery is a rarity on monitors and it massively restricts your options. This might be an area you’ll need to compromise with. The advantage of using USB-C is simply convenience – a single cable to provide power to your laptop, allow you to use downstream peripherals connected to the monitor and provide a display signal. The display signal is simply DP (DP Alt Mode), so you can connect using DP (or USB-C to DP etc.) and receive the same experience there. And you could use HDMI for the RTX 2070 Super without issue – just make sure the colour signal is corrected. So the Philips 328E1CA might still work, just in a less convenient way.July 28, 2021 at 1:07 pm #65506nighthink
Thank you. Dell P3222QE I missed for some reason. It really looks like alternative to EW3280U and I can get it for around 600 Euro (which is fine), maybe with missing any gaming-oriented features (like adaptive-sync), which opens a question whether it will be any good for light gaming as well (also can’t find information about exact panel used there).
But it’s on my shortlist now :).
There is one more Asus to eventually come soon – PA329CV. It looks interesting, but same as with PA328CGV no clue when it will be available and if it will be in budget.
Still, now I have at least 3-4 relevant candidates, it looks like it is not all lost after all :).
Thanks.July 29, 2021 at 11:04 am #65518nighthink
I was comparing Dell P3222QE with Dell U3219Q in details. They look quite similar, however the later has 90W power delivery and KVM and even higher contrast on the paper (1300:1 vs 1000:1 for P3222QE) plus U3219Q is factory calibrated. Is there actually anything that would favour the P3222QE apart being newer?
Price wise they are both in budget.
Thank you.July 29, 2021 at 1:10 pm #65520slurmsmckenzie
Hi PCM2, I’d like to echo the thanks of others for your excellent site, I’ve been visiting over many years and always interested to read about the latest monitor tech!
I hope it is okay to post this here, I thought it fit quite well but apologies if it isn’t on topic. I currently have a Dell U2717D which I got in 2017 and like a lot, although I’ve been hankering after an upgraded viewing experience (particularly in regards to contrast & black levels) since reading about OLEDs and FALDs that have been gradually coming through in recent years.
Before I bought the U2117D I tried out the Samsung S24E650C based on the review of the 27 inch version on this site but unfortunately couldn’t get on with it – even though it was a VA panel and the contrast was well reviewed, I found that it looked a bit washed out no matter how I set it up, especially at each side of the curve which looked to me like having a significant “IPS glow” effect. In addition to that, the screen “glowed” more than my old IPS monitor (U2412M) when showing a black screen in a darkened room. I also had issues with artifacts around text which I couldn’t solve, so I went for the U2717D instead and preferred it on pretty much all levels (including contrast, oddly). This is all to say that I’ve kind of been put off VA panels as a monitor choice, although maybe I am wrong to discount them due to a single bad experience?
What I’d really like from a new monitor is a 32 inch 4K non-curved screen that has nice colours and a strong contrast ratio with good black levels and reasonable viewing angles. Ideally I’d like an OLED or an IPS-type with FALD (1152 zones like the latest ASUS models), but I also don’t want to be spending £4K on it. I think my aim would be to stay under £1K, possibly going above that if it was a truly exceptional screen which would last many years and not be overtaken by new (affordable) models in the following 2-3 years, leaving me with buyer’s remorse!
So, my case is probably pretty hopeless 🙂 All of the ASUS 1152-zone FALD screens I know of are £3K+ (if they are available at all) and the one 32 inch OLED I know of from LG is way beyond that (and not available yet either). They are mainly professional screens with more features that I’d possibly need (I’d like perfect colours and a plethora of HDR options but I certainly don’t need them) or in the case of the ASUS gaming monitors they are filled with gaming features I wouldn’t really need or use. I do play a few games but they are not the kind that need high refresh rates or low response times – I’m talking Monkey Island Special Edition on Steam! I’d be fine with 60Hz as far as I know. I like to watch a lot of content, both streaming and offline videos / blu-ray etc. which is why I’m interested in good contrast. I do RAW photo editing but I’m not publishing my photos so it isn’t colour-critical work.
I guess what I’d appreciate some input on would be – are there any screens around for under £1K that would be worth upgrading to from my U2717D given what I’m interested in? I can’t really find any when searching this site and others like it TBH, as it feels like the improvements over my current screen are all in areas I don’t really care about (high refresh rates, G-Sync, low-mid quality HDR etc.). Incidently, I’m assuming that G-Sync is only useful in games BTW, is this the case? Or would it work with watching movies etc. also?
If there aren’t any screens that would be an upgrade for what I want right now under £1K, then do we think that there would be anything that would come down to that sort of price in terms of OLED, FALD etc. in the next few years? I was really interested to read about the Innolux “Megazone” panels, they sound great, but news about them appears to have dried up – plus I’ve no idea what the pricing would be on monitors that use them. From recent experience it feels unlikely that anyone is going to put them into a simple monitor that doesn’t have a load of bells and whistles and is reasonably affordable – but maybe I’m a pessimist 😉
Would appreciate thoughts, many thanks!July 29, 2021 at 1:31 pm #65524PCM2
The backlight is quite different, notably the P3222QE includes ‘ComfortView Plus’. As covered in the news piece this includes a shifted peak of blue light which some will find more comfortable. Oddly Dell specifies ‘99% sRGB’ for the P3222QE and leave it at that, but it appears to offer a 90% DCI-P3 gamut according to testing. So the native gamut is not as wide as it is on the U3219Q (95% DCI-P3) and therefore things will appear with less oversaturation using the native gamut. The U3219Q has a fairly well-calibrated sRGB setting that will cut down on this – not sure about the P3222QE in that respect, it doesn’t appear to include an sRGB emulation mode.
Welcome to the forum – I appreciate your kind words and also your support. I’m digging the name as well, as a big Futurama fan. I’m sure you can tell that from the fact Futurama has been used as one of the longest-running test titles for monitor colour reproduction. 😉
Based on what you’ve said and your experiences with the S24E650C (S27E650C review for reference) and also the U2717D, I’m inclined to agree that you should stick with the IPS options. With your budget in mind, you would certainly be able to find a model that surpasses that in various areas such as terms of pixel density, colour gamut, responsiveness and refresh rate. But unfortunately you wouldn’t be getting a far superior contrast performance without one of these fancy and currently expensive backlights. I too was very excited when news of the Innolux Megazone panels hit. But there has indeed been radio silence since then and I’m not sure what the status of these is. Perhaps we will see decent FALD solutions, with some becoming more complex and others ultimately more affordable. Perhaps that is worth waiting. I’d expect the price of models like the PG32UQX to continue to get driven down as well. But with the current market being as it is, I honestly don’t know what we’ll see.
As for G-SYNC, it’s designed for VRR gaming and usually movie content will just be run in a browser at the full static refresh rate (144Hz etc.) If you’re using certain movie software then I believe it will adjust the refresh rate to match the framerate of the content. Either way, most people wouldn’t really notice a real positive impact from the technology outside of gaming. Where the frame rate is constantly fluctuating rather than staying at a fixed and relatively low value.July 29, 2021 at 4:04 pm #65525slurmsmckenzie
Hi PCM2, many thanks for the reply! Heh, yes, I had noticed the Futurama colour tests and thought it was a great choice! I’ve been using names from Futurama for years – my favourites are probably the ThunderCougarFalconBird for my old Windows phone and the Infosphere for my home NAS 😉
Re: G-Sync, thank you for clarifying that, I had assumed it was pretty much for gaming only – remains very much a “nice to have” but not at all necessary for me. I’m unlikely to get into games that need high refresh rates as “open world” games give me motion sickness! Same applies for response times, refresh rates and the other stuff you mention that reflects about the only things I could improve on currently without spending huge amounts – they wouldn’t do much (if anything) for me unfortunately.
For the more general thoughts, thank you – thought that might be the case! I should probably just wait and not spend money I don’t need to on something which is really not that important, the U2717D is a nice screen TBH. But the not knowing about what is on the way, when and how much it will cost makes it more difficult – can’t imagine the pandemic hasn’t contributed to this in some way. I’ve found a lot of articles from 2019 talking about exciting new screens on the way in the next 12-18 months from then, but…..
I guess another reason to wait is that really my ideal screen would be a 32 inch OLED I think, and I’d probably regret spending a wedge of cash on an IPS-type FALD display with 1152 dimming zones if we start to see consumer-focused 32 inch OLED screens in the next few years.
And yet….. the itch is always there to upgrade, even if I don’t really need to. Ever since reading the review of the PA32UCX on Tom’s Hardware I’ve been dreaming about having one, even though it is almost £4K and meant for professional use that I would never get close to making use of.
What has really prompted this recently is that I need to get an additional screen for a work-from-home setup, and my usual logic of “upgrade my own stuff and hand-down” has kicked in – the idea of using the U2717D for the work setup and replacing mine with something better. Or of course I could just get a perfectly good sub-£300 IPS-type for my work screen and keep dreaming…..July 30, 2021 at 7:15 am #65532nighthink
Just to give a conclusion to what I came here for, after all the comparisons I finally decided for Benq PD3220U. This monitor was not originally on the shortlist, but the more I learned about it here in the forum as well as other sources, the more this monitor looked like fitting mostly my requirements. Apart from the price 🙂 as it is clearly over budget. But considering I will be hopefully using that monitor for several years to come, I decided to wait a bit more and then go for it.
This Benq might be in some areas clear overkill for my needs, but it has many different preset settings including M-book and Reading profiles which look like very convenient for what I will be using quite often, all the eye care technologies Benq is so famous about, 85W power delivery via thunderbolt 3 (+ daisy chaining option), KVM, and based on the reviews overall very nice and accurate picture. I also like the stand and that whole monitor can be put very close to the edge of the table so it does not take too much from the space on the table, which means I probably don’t need to buy a monitor arm, which I thought I will have to.
I was strongly considering all the alternatives mentioned before including Dell P3222QE, but at the end all of them had some flaws which I did not want to accept. Thanks again for the advice and help, at the end this forum helped me to decide on the final solution for me.July 30, 2021 at 7:16 am #65536PCM2
I’m sure you’ll enjoy the PD3220U. It’s a very capable and well-designed monitor. Feel free to share your thoughts here when you’ve had a go with it.July 31, 2021 at 7:24 am #65540slurmsmckenzie
Hi PCM2, I’ve been continuing my quest and have only just found out about the DELL UP3221Q which I’d somehow missed on PCM when it was previewed last year. Obviously this is another crazy-money monitor but as it appears to have 2000 local dimming zones I’m surprised I haven’t seen it at least mentioned when reading about the Asus screens that have 1152 zones. There is very little written about it or said about it on YT either.
It is actually a similar price to the PA32UCX on Amazon UK and there is also a “like new” used option on there for £2,100 at the moment (assuming these are “refurbished” returns) which is quite interesting. Although that does make me wonder if there is something about them which is making people return them….
I think that the main question I have about the UP3221Q which I can’t find an answer to is – do the 2000 local dimming zones work when viewing SDR or are they HDR mode only? There is a YT review (one of only a few) which casts doubt on the idea that you get local dimming without HDR, but at the same time why on earth wouldn’t they do this? Is it cheaper to leave that part out and only have it for HDR?July 31, 2021 at 7:47 am #65542PCM2
That’s a good question. The UP3221Q isn’t really a model I’ve received any direct user feedback on. And I’d kind of neglected the news piece – still has the old-style Amazon link on it without proper geographic redirect (now fixed). I’ve looked through the manual and still don’t have the answer. There’s no setting listed that would control the local dimming, so it’s either going to be always on or always off for SDR. Another thing I’m not sure about is the backlight regulation method, but Dell doesn’t market it as ‘flicker-free’ so there’s a chance it uses a reasonably low PWM frequency. Alternatively it might use a high and unlikely to be bothersome frequency, or (I’m sceptical) DC dimming. They would usually specify ‘flicker free’ if DC dimming were used.July 31, 2021 at 12:40 pm #65543slurmsmckenzie
Thanks PCM2 – why didn’t I think about reading the manual?! It doesn’t seem hopeful, in the specs it says the following for the contrast ratio:
• 1300 to 1
• 1,000,000 to 1 (HDR On)
Which implies that you only get the bigger contrast with HDR. Although it is interesting that it gives 1300:1 in SDR, that seems quite high for an IPS-type panel to me?
There is also this part, which I assume is about being able to view HDR content that does not yet have the metadata or something similar (i.e. content creation)?
Manual HDR mode without color volume metadata presented in video content may be achieved via User 1,User 2, or User 3, allowing force selection of HDR EOTF between ST.2084(PQ) and HLG.
I’m guessing that if you force HDR for SDR content it won’t look right at all, even if local dimming is then enabled.
I’m sure it is a fantastic monitor but it wouldn’t be worth a huge price tag to me if local dimming didn’t work without HDR. And I certainly don’t want a monitor that isn’t flicker-free (although the DisplaySpecifications site does list “flicker-free technology” in the features for it). Shame (once again)!July 31, 2021 at 12:50 pm #65545PCM2
1300:1 is specified for some panels (typically LG Display panels) for static contrast – that was also the case for the U3219Q mentioned further up the page. Although specified values there can be a bit misleading as they’re usually without the full calibration applied. And it’s not unusual for some models to have 1000:1 specified but for the contrast to generally exceed that by a bit. Even if local dimming can be used under SDR, manufacturers rarely specify anything other than the standard static contrast ratio. As the luminance level is usually always much more limited under SDR than HDR and the number is ultimately less impressive. It isn’t really a ‘static’ contrast ratio that can be compared to the static contrast values given under SDR, either, as it isn’t measured in the same way.
SDR content never looks right under HDR, unfortunately. Some models show it better than others and it sounds as if this one does decent corrections to stop it looking terrible. But you typically lose control over many things and the way gamma works under SDR and HDR is completely different. Unfortunately ‘DisplaySpecifications’ isn’t always correct and collates information from multiple sources. Sometimes that includes manufacturer product pages which initially list certain things incorrectly or even news articles from other sources which copy such information. And it’s rarely corrected afterwards. It’s a useful resource for sure, but don’t trust everything it says. As far as I can see there’s no mention of ‘flicker-free’ on the product page or manual for the UP3221Q so it shouldn’t be assumed it is.August 3, 2021 at 1:54 pm #65549slurmsmckenzie
I’ve been continuing my research and trying to narrow down what I think is available in 32″ 4K which would give me some benefit over my U2717D beyond uplift in resolution & PPI. What I’m looking for besides these is a richer colour experience and better contrast ratio / deeper blacks, ideally local dimming. HDR would be a bonus (might be useful in future) and I’m not fussed about refresh rates or response times (unless I should be!). I’m only really looking at IPS-type non-curved (although I may consider the Philips 328M1R with VA and glossy coating, if it ever comes out…).
For reference, TFT Central measured the U2717D as having an average contrast ratio of 904:1 and a max luminance of 358. I do find it a nice, sharp screen without too much IPS glow, but of course blacks look grey when watching content in low light (which is the majority of the time for me). I do have an LED strip around all four sides of the back of the monitor for bias lighting, I think it does help a bit and would probably do the same again in future (if recommended).
I’ve put together the following list of monitors that I think I can currently get hold of new and that I think would be an upgrade (besides 1440p -> 4K) and would greatly appreciate any input (the questions I’ve written as I go are more open-ended thoughts I’m asking myself as opposed to direct questions that I’m asking or expecting anyone to answer BTW!):
BenQ EW3280U – ~£550 (only used available on Amazon)
Asus PA329C – £1,100
Asus PA32UC – £1,800 (BTW I noticed the Amazon link from your review of this takes you to Amazon.com?)
— below probably too much —
Dell UP3221Q – £1,900 (Dell approved returns unopened from the factory on Amazon)
Asus PA32UCX-PK – £3,800 (BTW I noticed your Amazon link from the photo/video editing recommendation page is going to the EW3280U instead?)
Asus PG32UQX – £3,300 (not available on Amazon UK yet)
So…. starting with the BenQ EW3280U, which your review says has an average contrast ratio of 982:1 – so a bit better than my U2717D. This display is well thought of, with my only reservations being lack of USB hub (I do use mine for 2-3 things currently although I could work around this) and the BI+ auto-dimming which can’t really be turned off when using the HDRi modes to improve SDR contrast. I wonder if the HDRi modes and slightly better contrast ratio would be a noticeable upgrade in typically low light conditions?
With the Asus PA329C, it really seems these ProArt screens hold their value – it is a 2019 screen and currently costs more than your product page said it would back then (£1,000). Obviously a capable professional monitor beyond my needs, but feels like the cheapest option that has local dimming with 32 zones (I’d guess this is about the minimum to get a good result?) and that ticks all the other boxes.
Asus PA32UC has 384 local dimming zones and so should give a better contrast experience, and going by your review is generally a very good monitor (again beyond my needs) – at £1,800 though it is pushing at the very edge at what I’d be prepared to spend and does the FALD offer enough to justify £1,800? Again has held value well, £1,800 doesn’t seem far away from the MSRP back in 2018.
Those are the three monitors that I think I would consider at the moment, and I am having a hard time deciding whether they would offer me enough to justify the cost right now or whether the outcome of the whole exercise is telling me that it is best to wait for cheaper OLEDs or “MegaZone” panels in the future (although quite when anything affordable in either area will come along seems very unclear). Of course, I don’t really want to wait….
As for the rest, I was hopeful about the UP3221Q with 2000 dimming zones but the fact that it doesn’t offer local dimming in SDR and it doesn’t appear to be flicker-free (many thanks for pointing that out) means it isn’t worth the cost to me personally. The PA32UCX-PK or PG32UQX would be wonderful for me I think, but of course the cost is very high. Even if I could afford them, it would be hard to justify to myself spending that much considering what you get (or indeed don’t).
Thank you again PCM2 for the excellent reviews and insight, I only wish I could get you to review my very own U2717D to use as a comparison 😉August 3, 2021 at 2:19 pm #65552PCM2
Thanks for pointing out those link issues – these have now been resolved. You’re doing the right thing having bias lighting behind the monitor, it is something I recommend if you’re sitting in a dim room. You might find you can improve perceived contrast further by using even brighter bias lighting. But it obviously has to be at a comfortable level and has to work in the room you’re in. I also find that whilst bias lighting like this can help, it doesn’t work miracles and having a stronger contrast ratio can certainly help.
I don’t think the EW3280U‘s HDRi mode should be of particular interest. It just employs Dynamic Contrast (which various monitors can do) that also responds to ambient lighting. Without dimming zones for the backlight, this is always going to be a compromise. It’s only able to improve black depth or the depth of dark shades at the expense of brighter content also on the screen. Nothing you couldn’t achieve manually on any monitor by reducing brightness. Because it responds to the content, it will brighten up again for predominantly bright content. I appreciate some people do like this ‘effect’, but in my experience it’s just a nuisance more than anything. I do feel local dimming is really the way to go for a proper improvement to perceived contrast. And yes, generally speaking the more the merrier when it comes to dimming zones.
Even with a relatively limited number of zones (32 as on the PA329C), you certainly get a nice situational boost in contrast. It works very well for some scenes. Although you also become quite aware of the dimming zones on other scenes as the brightness of that ‘strip’ of screen suddenly changes. Particularly if there are large areas of individual texture or a specific surface such as a wall – in more complex scenes with plenty going on it’s hard to notice this. ASUS tends to implement their local dimming quite aggressively, so it’s very reactive to moderate or even relatively slight changes in overall brightness for content covering a particular zone. The advantage there is that it does create a more dynamic experience that way, but the disadvantage is that you’re more likely to notice the brightness fluctuations of the zones. With an FALD solution you deal with ‘halos’ in places instead, but I find this less jarring than large strips of the screen changing brightness. 🙂
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