Buying a monitor? Please refer to this post before purchasing.
February 8, 2016 at 10:31 pm #37981RevDr
I am looking in the near future to purchase a 4k monitor.
I am particularly after 4k as I am keen hobbyist 3D modelling, compositing, video editing and programming. The monitors ‘day job’ will be much less intensive work docs/surfing (but it my hobbying that I will be using the 4k for). Also worth knowing I am not a gamer so FreeSync/Gsync are not of interest. I am using windows 10 and am sat 70cm from my current monitor.
I have read a large number of reviews and forums and from that I have a short list (which might not seem that shot) and number of questions (sorry if I should have split this over lots of threads).
My first decision – which I am still puzzling over – is whether to go for a 27 or 32 inch. I understand that if I go for a 27 inch monitor I will need to use operating system scaling but if at 32 may ‘just’ get away without it. However, some say a 32 inch is just too big.
If I go for 27 inch monitor I am considering the
There is quite a bit of info around on the Dell which I am reading very good reports about – although there seems to be lots of reports regarding ‘wake up’ syncing issues.
The BenQ seems more difficult to find anything about although the specs look very good and the little I have found seems positive – it also, I believe, has HDMI 2.0 (see below why I think this may be significant). I noticed someone (admin?) of this forum has used this monitor.
If I went for 32 inch I am considering the
BenQ BL3201PT (the very top of my budget)
There are lots of great reviews of the BenQ however there are lots of forum reports about ‘glitching’ happening multiple times a day. I read, in another thread , on this forum this is ‘normal’ for 4K using Display Port. There seems to be some discussion over other forums if this is an inherit DisplayPort & 4K issue or if this is due to the quality of cable being used. I also noticed on this forum it was suggested this ‘glitching’ does not seem to happen using HDMI 2.0. This is why I wonder if this is a significant feature and one that the BenQ BL3201PT is lacking.
The Philips seems a much lesser known monitor and only discovered its existence recently. Most of the reviews for the Philips were not in English so I have read via google translate (which is a very handy tool – even if the English is a little broken sometimes). Most of the reviews were very positive. It also has HDMI 2.0. However, one review (and the most detailed review there was) indicated that sRGB is only available when the brightness is set to maximum – which I imagine will be way too much (I will post a link – but I am not sure if that is against forum rules so havn’t down that). It is also a little cheaper than the BenQ – although I am a little unsure as to the build quality of a Philips.
So my questions…
1) Is 27inch OK for my needs – or will 32 be just too big?
2) Are there any disadvantages of using OS scaling? (other than some software compatibility issues).
3) How much of an issue is 4k display port glitching and does HDMI 2.0 fix it? Is there any disadvantage to using HDMI 2.0?
4) Does anyone know of Pro/Cons between the two 27 inch options or the two 32 inch options? (i.e. which of BL2711U/P2715Q has better colour etc). How big an issue is the sRGB only a max brightness on the Philips?
5) Is there anything else in the pipleline but not yet released which might be worth waiting for – I am happy to wait a few months if there is something new coming.
6. As I won’t be changing monitor again in the near future which company provides the best post-sales support (Dell are good, Philips I can’t find anything about)?
Many thanks to any who (have read all this!) and are able to answer any of my questions – very much appreciated.February 8, 2016 at 11:19 pm #37986PCM2
I must thank you for posting such a comprehensive and well thought-out post. And also for starting such an excellent topic, which will undoubtedly be something many users are scratching their heads over. The recommendations section features two of the models you mentioned; the Dell P2715Q and BenQ BL3201PT/PH. That’s because they are the best in category. Rather than me waffling on about why, I feel it would be most helpful if I get straight to answering your questions. Indeed this will cover the ‘why’ bit anyway:
1) 27” may be fine for your needs, but I personally find ~32” to be optimal for the ‘4K’ UHD resolution due to not needing scaling (as I’ll come onto) and the fact that the overall quality of some of the 32” options is unmatched. I don’t feel that 32” is too physically imposing at all. Just speaking of physical size, I even find 40” bearable, but obviously there aren’t any suitable models for you at that size and I think it’s pushing it – and 32” is plenty large enough for my tastes. As long as you’re able to accommodate the size on your desk and can sit a reasonable distance from it (>60cm really – so fine for your viewing distance).
2) Software incompatibility is the main issue with OS scaling, but of course you lose work space if you’re scaling everything up. This is covered in our ‘experience’ article on the topic. As you can see, though, with the relatively low levels of scaling you might require on a 27” screen (28” used for the article) you still get a lot of space to work with. I prefer the pure experience and absolute advantage of using the resolution without scaling, as 32” provides (or 27” for me at a push) but still find 27” perfectly practical with 125% scaling.
3) I don’t see the occasional flickering over DisplayPort on ‘4K’ monitors to be an issue worth worrying about. I’ve tested several UHD displays and always choose to connect them via DP, even if they actually support HDMI 2.0. It’s simply because the flickering is extremely occasional if it even occurs at all. You’re correct, the quality of the cable is important (shorter and thicker is better) but you don’t have to go crazy. Simple 1 – 2m cables from the likes of StarTech and Accell are absolutely fine in my experience.
4) There are a few reasons that the Dell P2715Q is recommended. It essentially comes down to price, the fact it is very well tuned and partly the benefits of Dell’s generally strong customer service and warranty support. It’s similar to the P2415Q in terms of being finely tuned to give good accurate colours and good 60Hz responsiveness, but has a less grainy screen surface. In addition to being better than the 23.8” model in that respect, it is significantly less grainy than the models which use the much more common AU Optronics AHVA panel – as used on the BenQ BL2711U. Truth be told I actually tested a BL2711U fairly extensively but decided not to go the whole hog and publish a review simply because I much prefer the P2715Q. The screen surface makes a big difference. And although the overall image setup of the BL2711U was very nice and I did approve of some of the extra features (OSD controller and light/proximity sensors/HDMI 2.0), the pixel overdrive is a bit too strong for my tastes in the optimal ‘AMA High’ mode. Not as well tuned as on the Dell, in that respect.
The 32” options are a bit less clear-cut, but that’s because they usually use the same AU Optronics M320QAN01.0 panel as the BenQ (noteable exception being the Samsung U32E850R). So yes, they all have a lot of potential to be very good monitors. But from my testing, the BenQ BL3201PT is known to be excellent. And you’d be hard pushed to find the other models better as the BenQ really did do an excellent job at pushing the panel it uses to its full potential. Marginally cheaper, yes, but very unlikely to be better (and possibly worse). As above I don’t feel the lack of HDMI 2.0 is worth fretting about, either. I should note that ‘sRGB’ is just a preset on the Philips and is likely not even as useful as some of the other modes where brightness can be adjusted. It’s similar to how things work on the BDM4065UC, for example.
Philips are quite decent as far as customer support goes. They’re quite responsive and as long as you’re under warranty they’ll try quite hard to get your problem solved. You’re right the Dell are a bit of a step ahead in this regard, though, as they will usually give you a replacement monitor before your defective unit has even been picked up (a swap and drop). Aside from my thoughts on 32” being optimal for the ‘4K’ UHD resolution and 27” still being decent, there are two other things I prefer about the 32” models. One is that the screen surface is even lighter/smoother with even less graininess than the already decent P2715Q. The other is that the AHVA models (like the BenQ and Philips above plus ASUS PA328Q and AOC U3277PQU) are ‘low glow’. Not only is ‘glow’ lower than you’d expect from a 32″ panel, it’s actually slightly subdued even compared to 27″ models. Not a huge difference in that regard, it’s just a lot better than you’d expect from a ~32″ IPS-type panel. The Samsung U32E850R lacks this advantage, for example, and is only recommended by us if a user is really keen to have the greater FreeSync range.
As for future models, there isn’t really anything that will be of particular interest for your uses which exclude gaming. There is of course the potentially incredible Dell UP3017Q, which is also going to be incredibly expensive and probably more of a glimpse into the future for most people than a serious option for today. And then there is the transition to DP 1.3 which will enable higher refresh rates such as 120Hz. Again, not of particular interest for your uses and not something that we’ll see in the immediate future either.February 9, 2016 at 5:49 pm #37987RevDr
Firstly thank you for your reply that is all very helpful in thinking through things.
I had previously read the links you had given me and was aware of the other 32 inch models which I crossed off the list for different reasons.
Today I created cardboard templates to better help me visualize the size of the monitors – seems to be somewhere between the two sizes would be ideal – but that is obviously not an option (UP3017Q!!!!).
Your reply has given rise to a couple of other questions.
1. is there a reason you don’t use HDMI 2.0 when it is available? Does DisplayPort do a better job?
2. what exactly is and is not scaled in OS scaling? I have read your article on this but am a little unsure exactly what is scaled – is it simple UI elements or is there more to it than that?
Thanks in advance for any reply.February 9, 2016 at 9:58 pm #37992PCM2
I love that cardboard idea to help visaulise things, that’s great! 🙂
DisplayPort doesn’t do a better job at running 3840 x 2160 @ 60Hz. It does support extra features like FreeSync and G-SYNC at that resolution as well, so naturally I’d use DP when reviewing a monitor with such features. And I also use an AMD GPU for some reviews, which lacks HDMI 2.0. Essentially I usually always have a DP cable connected to my GPU from testing various models which require the use of DP for their full functionality. So it’s just easier than switching to HDMI 2.0 for no reason (if using my Nvidia GPU). And really that was the point I was making – HDMI 2.0 doesn’t really offer an advantage over DP so the draw isn’t there to switch even if the option is available.
As for the OS scaling, it is designed to make things more readable and easier to interact with. So it is text and UI elements such as buttons that are typically scaled. You wouldn’t generally get image content scaled if photo editing, for example. And if it is for some reason there would usually be an indepedent zoom control which can be used to counteract this. All scaling really does for the main content on applications like web browsers, Microsoft Office applications, Adobe applications and suchlike is increase the default zoom level. If you lower this you will be able to achieve something equivilent to 100% zoom without scaling, in other words. But using the zoom control has no effect on those UI elements.February 10, 2016 at 8:35 pm #37997RevDr
Thanks for all the info. That is very helpful.
I shall keep thinking and pondering (and playing with my UHC – Ultra High Cardboard 😎 ) screens as I am not sure which way to go (although under no pressure to decide) – but will report back once I do make a call.
Thank you.April 23, 2016 at 10:20 pm #38993PCM2
Did you make a decision in the end?April 25, 2016 at 1:47 pm #39040RevDr
In a word ‘no’ 😎
Well I liked the idea of the BenQ – but was bothered by all the reports of the ‘glitch’, which I know would really annoy me – even if it is a couple of times a day. Whilst sitting on the fence between monitors it became apparent we need a new family PC build – so in the end the budget went on that… so I will be waiting a little longer now… may be to a 3201PT Mark 2?
Thanks for your help thoughApril 26, 2016 at 12:51 pm #39042PCM2
Understandable. Hopefully when the time comes there will be something that will take your fancy. 🙂July 4, 2016 at 11:53 pm #39536katzolik
In Germany there are three 4K models right around the 500€ available.
LG Electronics 27MU67-B
LG Electronics 27UD68-W
Acer B6 B276HKymjdpprz
of course you can read a lot about them on the internet and everybody says there are good monitors “For the Price” but i don´t think a 4K monitor should cost more than that measured on the TV´s that are available for less with in my opinion the better display technology (VA).
So can you tell me if they are not only good for the price but genuinely good monitors?
i am quite sensitive to IPS Glow so how do they fair in that regard?
Thanks!July 5, 2016 at 7:32 am #39537PCM2
I can’t as I have no experience with them. However; I have received a good amount of user feedback on the LG 27UD68 and that seems to suggest that it’s a very solid choice. It uses a newer iteration of the panel used in the Dell P2715Q but seems very similar aside from the thinner bezels. I have not received any useful quantitative data from users and just general comments like them finding the glow ‘fine’ and the colours ‘vibrant and inviting’.
Plus the screen surface of the 27UD68 seems from comments to be similar to the P2715Q, so relatively smooth rather than obtrusively grainy as on some models. Speaking of which, I have a feeling the B276HK uses an AHVA panel with grainy screen surface (same as seen on the ASUS PB279Q, BL2711U and others). See my comments above and on relevant reviews regarding the screen surface of this.July 16, 2016 at 2:21 pm #39578katzolik
I still have the LG Electronics 27UD68-W for testing purposes and I stumbled onto another strange behavior.
The monitor seems to have a lot of input lag in native 4K resolution!
But when I mirror it with my 1280×1024 SyncMaster 940B It is nearly 2 frames faster than the SyncMaster 940B (tested using http://tft.vanity.dk/inputlag.html and slow shutter speed).
I also tested 4K input lag by expanding a window over both monitors and filming a solid color transition in 30fps (I have no higher frame rate camera but it is enough to prove my point) and there the LG Electronics 27UD68-W is mostly one frame behind the SyncMaster 940B meaning a possible 4 Frames Slower Than it is in 1280×1024 mode.
I also tested it mirrored in 1080P against the BenQ BL2700HT using http://tft.vanity.dk/inputlag.html and lowest shutter speed and there it was also up to 2 frames ahead of the BenQ BL2700HT.
The 27UD68-W is advertised with a very low input lag and also tested by other sites under 10ms. But in 4k it deviates a possible 4 frames for me meaning an input lag up to 64ms.
Is it possible that the HDMI 2.0 connection and the option “HDMI ULTRA HD Deep Color” (seems to be a chip that does additional processing so it might have influence) that i have to activate to get 60Hz is causing th3 input lag? Could This be resolved with a Displayport Cable?
I really feel it moving my mouse. That’s the reason I tested it.
Thank you in advance!July 16, 2016 at 2:27 pm #39579PCM2
That is indeed strange. Monitors that exhibit this sort of resolution-dependent input lag may be undergoing additional processing that is specific to the connection used. So whilst it is no guarantee of better results, I do feel it’s worth trying to hook it up via DisplayPort.October 6, 2016 at 7:15 am #40182rephil
I am trying get some info and thought would try this site. I would like to buy a 4K monitor or 4k TV what is the best way get a TV and use it as a monitor or, get a monitor and thru my cable box use it as a TV I have an Alienware 17 R3 with and UHD screen and would be using that as a desktop hooked to either monitor or TV. If this is the wrong forum sorry just cant find any advice on thisOctober 6, 2016 at 7:19 am #40187PCM2
You have to be careful buying a 4K TV as a monitor as it must support something called 4:4:4 Chroma to display text correctly. Many users don’t realise this and are disappointed by the sharpness. It’s also not something manufacturers readily specify, so you’ll have to do research on this by typing something along the lines of the TV model and 4:4:4 Chroma into Google.
On the monitor side of things there is nothing stopping you using the cable box (assuming it is an HDMI one) as a ‘TV’ at all. And you get a better selection of sizes and usually more capable models for PC use. Some are discussed here, others are featured in the recommendations section and/or reviewed on the website.October 17, 2016 at 1:03 pm #40279John 82
Hello there! , i’m searching from a glossy or semi glossy ips 4k screen , i don’t need 1ms or 144hz gaming thing , 60hz 4k would be good! someone can help me??October 17, 2016 at 1:07 pm #40282PCM2
Hi John 82,
This thread, which I’ve merged yours with, and the recommendations section should provide good food for thought. I’m afraid you won’t find a glossy ‘4K’ UHD display of that size as there aren’t any. ‘Semi-glossy’ is quite a misleading term and is open to a great degree of interpretation. All it really means is that the haze value (level of diffusion) is some way between ‘traditional matte’ and ‘traditional glossy’. Pretty much all the 27″ and 32″ IPS-type ‘4K’ UHD models on the market feature such a screen surface as covered in relevant reviews. But even then you need to be careful as a monitor can have a ‘light’ matte screen surface which some users would call semi-glossy, yet still have a grainy surface texture.January 7, 2017 at 7:55 pm #41249DrewDM
Hey guys, I’m an Apple user so I’ll disclose that first.
I’m currently using a 2013″ MacBook Pro 15″ Retina display, but by either December 2017 or early 2018 I’ll be either buying a new MacBook Pro, or a 21″ 4K iMac and I want to buy a 4K monitor to go along with it.
Any recommendations for a 4K monitor that’s up to 24″…. I’m not looking for advice outside of actual monitor suggestions. I know LG partnered with Apple and they have a 4K display with USB-C but I’m wondering if you guys think there’s a better option? Those monitors aren’t compatible with my current MacBook.
I saw this monitor on amazon – https://pcmonitors.info/reviews/dell-p2415q/.
the only problem with it is I would need to buy an adapter to use it with the new MacBooks or potentially new iMacs if they upgrade to USB-C.
Thanks for the replies guys and taking the time to read this thread. 🙂January 7, 2017 at 8:02 pm #41252PCM2
I’ve merged your thread with this one as it’s an appropriate thread. Hopefully this doesn’t cause too much confusion as sometimes notifications don’t work correctly when threads are merged like this. It would be nice to talk about some options for Mac users and for that matter ~24″ options here.
I feel that the Dell P2415Q would be an appropriate choice and I don’t think you should worry about future compatability with USB-C systems. USB-C is designed to be very ‘friendly’ (compatible without issue) with DP signals. The adaptors are highly reliable and not too expensive – they will simply work without negatively impacting your experience.
P.S. I realise you’re from Canada and would want to buy from the Canadian Amazon. We do have quite a decent following in Canada, so I’m looking to put up some links there in the very near future. If you do decide to go for that model, please look out for a link at the bottom of the review or the recommendations section. 🙂January 8, 2017 at 1:08 am #41253DrewDM
Thanks, I’ve been looking at the DellP2415Q for a while now, is that the best option? Any idea how the new LG 21″ 4K monitor compares to it? The monitor you can buy directly off the Apple website?
Follow up question, that I’ve always wondered but figured I’d ask the “experts” of this site: HDMI adapters or USC-C adapters don’t reduce image quality or response time do they?
I’m trying to figure out exactly how I want to configure my set up now and in the future and I’m wondering what I should be aiming for in terms of ports/connection type (thunderbolt 3/USB-C/Display port 1.2HDMI? etc etc)
My desk supports 2- 24″ Monitors MAX. I can link the table or a picture if needed.
I’m not a PC gamer, I’m a console gamer and I have a BenQ 1080p monitor for that right now (PS4)
I’ll be using the 4K monitors for video watching and that sort of stuff.January 8, 2017 at 9:13 am #41254PCM2
I have no experience with that monitor so can’t say how it compares to the Dell. If I were buying an accessory monitor for a laptop, though, I’d find 21.5″ a bit small anyway. The P2415Q is as good or better than any other UHD model of the size.
As mentioned above, USB-C connects to DP with an adaptor or even the right cable without issue. It was designed by VESA to support “DisplayPort over USB-C” in exactly this way. Thunderbolt 3 also uses a direct DP signal without issue. HDMI is designed by a completely different consortium and is best to use on its own. Adaptors do exist and some work fine, but mileage will vary at UHD bandwidth levels.
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