After spending 37 hours researching 22 4K monitors and testing eight finalists, we’ve found that the Dell P2715Q is the best 4K monitor. Recent improvements in technology and drops in pricing make a 4K monitor a good buy if you’re willing to live with some quirks, but it still isn’t something most people need.
The Dell P2715Q has everything you need in a 4K monitor. As a 27-inch IPS monitor with a 3840×2160 resolution, it offers lots of desktop space and fantastic image quality for 4K movies, YouTube videos, and gaming. Since it’s factory-calibrated, you won’t have to do anything to it (beyond tweaking its brightness and contrast) to benefit from its accurate colors. On the hardware side, it has a highly adjustable stand, it’s VESA-compatible for use with a monitor arm, and it comes with a built-in USB 3.0 hub. And unlike the technology on earlier 4K monitors, its single-stream DisplayPort connection can run the monitor at its full resolution at 60 Hz.
Our previous stance was that 4K wasn’t for “most people” yet. That’s still true, but getting a 4K monitor is no longer a bad idea, if you’re aware of the limitations. Although 4K hardware is more affordable and easier to work with now, using third-party software on a 4K display remains an imperfect experience. Apps can look fuzzy, blurry, or weird in Windows (and sometimes even in OS X), and you’ll need a powerful PC to game at high quality in 4K. But if you work with (or watch) a lot of high-definition content, have an amazing gaming computer, or just want more desktop space, you’ll be happy with the Dell, or any of our other picks.
The ViewSonic XG2700-4K is a factory-calibrated, 27-inch, 3840×2160 IPS monitor with image quality that’s as good as our top pick’s. Unlike the Dell P2715Q, it can run at 60 Hz over HDMI if your computer supports HDMI 2.0. (The P2715Q can run at 60 Hz, but only over DisplayPort.) The XG2700-4K also supports AMD’s FreeSync for tear-free gaming between 40 and 60 frames per second with a compatible graphics card. Though this monitor offers many more display-adjustment options than our top pick, they’re more confusing than helpful because ViewSonic does a poor job explaining them. The Dell P2715Q usually costs less, proves easier to use, and looks better on your desk (if you don’t care for the XG2700-4K’s red and black design).
If you want a monitor that’s big enough to run 4K without scaling (which can help you avoid quality issues with third-party apps), the BenQ BL3201PH is a great option. Its gigantic, 32-inch screen offers great color accuracy—even though it isn’t factory-calibrated. This monitor comes with DisplayPort and Mini DisplayPort connections, HDMI connections (1.4), a DVI port, and five USB 3.0 ports. It also has built-in sensors that will switch the monitor into a power-saving mode when you move away from your desk.
The 24-inch Dell P2415Q is every bit as good as the 27-inch version in color accuracy, connections, ergonomics, and ease of use. If you’re scaling 1080p to 4K (the default setting on some Macs), it looks great, because icons can appear a touch large at 1080p on a 27-inch screen. This model is not our main pick because a 24-inch monitor running at 4K resolution isn’t for everyone: Some people love smaller monitors with high-resolution displays, but others find them difficult to work with. Your enjoyment of the monitor depends on which operating system you’re using, how much scaling the OS is using, and how your favorite apps handle 4K. The scaling issues that affect most 4K monitors—blurring of upscaled elements and miniaturization of nonscaled ones—can feel pronounced on smaller screens.
Table of contents
- Why you should trust us
- Who should get this
- How we picked and tested
- Our pick
- Flaws but not dealbreakers
- Runner-up (with extra features for gamers)
- You’re gonna need a bigger desk
- For smaller spaces (with lots of scaling)
- Care and maintenance
- What to look forward to
- The competition
Why you should trust us
I kicked off my career as a tech journalist 10 years ago by reviewing monitors (and many other devices) as an associate editor for Maximum PC, and I’ve been testing and writing about PC components ever since. I’m back on the monitor beat at The Wirecutter, where I’ve researched, tested, and written about monitors for the past two years.
Our guides benefit greatly from the expert advice of Wirecutter writer Chris Heinonen—AnandTech’s former monitor guru and the guy a number of other reviewers go to for display-testing advice. He helped figure out the best hardware and software to use for our testing, and he designed the evaluation process we still use today.
Who should get this
The most obvious reason to choose a 4K monitor is because it has a lot of pixels. Offering 3840×2160 pixels, a 4K monitor has four times as many as a 1920×1080 monitor (8.29 million versus 2.07 million), 3.6 times the pixels of a 1920×1200 monitor (such as our 24-inch monitor pick), and 2.25 times the pixels of a 2560×1440 monitor (like our 27-inch monitor pick).
That increased pixel density produces sharper, more detailed images, as you’ll see in our illustration below. A 4K monitor can give you a better-looking picture for games, the ability to edit high-res photos and videos at their native resolutions, and a lot more desktop space—useful if you’re a coder or you otherwise need a large amount of information on one screen. Such monitors are also great for enjoying 4K YouTube videos, Ultra HD Netflix streams, or 4K home videos from a smartphone, camera, or GoPro.
Most people sit too far from their 4K TVs to be able to tell the difference from 1080p, but monitors are a different story. Your monitor should stand about an arm’s length from your face, which is close enough for you to notice a difference between 4K and a lower resolution on a 27-inch screen.
Higher picture quality and more screen space can make 4K monitors look like an obvious upgrade, but they come with potential drawbacks that some people will find annoying and others will hate. You should check out a friend’s 4K monitor, or try one at the store, before buying one. Depending on your needs and your tolerance for weird display issues, you might find that an ultrawide monitor, a 2560×1440 monitor, or a 1920×1200 monitor might be a better fit.
The core elements of Windows 10 look great on a 4K monitor—even after the OS automatically scales the size of its icons and text. Third-party apps are a different story. They’re often not designed for high-density displays, so either they don’t scale at all (and look tiny) or their scaled-up versions look fuzzy. Some apps actually do both: Certain elements scale and others don’t, so the whole interface breaks. In our testing on Windows 10, Steam, Ubisoft’s Uplay, and iTunes looked fuzzy, while Adobe Photoshop CC, Battle.net, and Logitech Gaming Software were too small (to name a few examples).
Mac owners have it a little easier, as How-To Geek’s Chris Hoffman describes: “Mac OS X deals with [4K] better, as the scaling features that enable Retina displays on Apple’s Macs also work for 4K displays. Some applications still aren’t updated to work with this properly, but most Mac applications now support proper display scaling. Apple has also updated all the included Mac applications to look good on a high-resolution display, while Microsoft hasn’t done the same for some included Windows applications — though with Windows 10 things are much better.”
You’ll want to make sure that your computer can run a 4K monitor at 60 Hz. (Here’s a list of Macs that support it. For Windows PCs, you’ll want at least a Broadwell or AMD A10-7850K processor if you’re using integrated graphics, or a discrete Nvidia 600-series or AMD Radeon HD 6000 GPU. And your system should have a DisplayPort 1.2 or HDMI 2.0 connection.) Buying a 4K monitor is not worth the investment if your system can run 4K only at a refresh rate of 30 Hz; in that situation, you get more resolution, but you also get slower, laggier mouse movements that might drive you crazy.
If you’re a PC gamer, you’ll need to have a $500 to $700 graphics card to play at high quality settings on a 4K monitor. Otherwise, the image quality you gain from a higher resolution will be lost when you have to turn a game’s graphical settings to low to achieve a playable frame rate. If you’re a Mac user, you’re out of luck—not even the Mac Pro has a graphics card powerful enough to play games in 4K.
Finally, if you just want more screen space for work (say you want to view pages side by side), rather than a higher-density picture, consider an ultrawide monitor instead of a 4K monitor. A 34-inch ultrawide display with a native resolution of 3440×1440 gives you 1.3 times as much screen space as a 27-inch screen, all without scaling. That’s far fewer pixels than a 4K monitor has, so you won’t need as much computing power to run an ultrawide monitor. We’ve tested several ultrawides, and you can read more about our favorite model, the Dell U3415W, in our 27-inch monitor guide.
How we picked and tested
To generate our list of contenders, we combed through the best-reviewed IPS1 1 monitors on AnandTech, PCMag, and TFT Central back to January 2014. We also considered highly ranked IPS monitors from the most recent roundups at PC Monitors and Tom’s Hardware, as well as the 20 best-selling monitors on Amazon.
We narrowed our list down to eight monitors by eliminating those that weren’t manufacturer-calibrated, were way too expensive for their specifications (like a 24-inch monitor for $950), or were using DisplayPort’s multi-stream transport mode (MST) instead of single-stream transport (SST). MST was an older stopgap measure that treated a monitor as two separate displays in order to get a 4K picture working over older versions of DisplayPort. You should avoid any monitor that isn’t SST, though you might have to do some Internet detective work to confirm whether a monitor uses it.
The Wirecutter’s Chris Heinonen helped us design our monitor testing process, which relies on two measuring devices: a $1,200 i1Pro 2 spectrophotometer from X-Rite and a $170 Spyder4Pro. (The Spyder4Pro is better at reading black levels than the i1Pro.) We built customized tests in the CalMAN 2016 software calibration suite to measure each monitor’s maximum and minimum brightness levels, gamma, color temperature, and color accuracy.
Most people don’t change their monitor settings, and even fewer calibrate their displays, so a monitor’s default performance is critical. We measured each monitor in its default picture mode as well as in its sRGB (or “custom color”) mode where applicable. For each test we adjusted the monitor’s brightness to 140 cd/m²—a good value for everyday use—and set the contrast as high as it could go without losing white details. We left every other setting at the default value. After our testing, we used each of our finalists for a few days to get a feel for their features.
The Dell P2715Q is the best 4K monitor for most people because its display quality is exceptional, its price is reasonable, it has all the connections you’ll need for your PC (and USB devices), it comes with a highly adjustable ergonomic stand and a VESA mount, and it uses single-stream transport for its DisplayPort connection—much better than cheaper (or older) multi-stream transport monitors.
The P2715Q doesn’t carry Dell’s UltraSharp branding, but the company calibrates the monitor at the factory before shipping it to you. The result is a monitor with extraordinarily accurate color reproduction. It isn’t perfect, but it is close enough that you won’t see the difference. Since the calibration applies to the monitor’s default mode, you won’t have to adjust a single setting to get great results when you first set up the monitor. (You should still optimize the monitor’s brightness and contrast for your room’s lighting.)
On our CalMAN 2016 tests, the P2715Q’s brightness ranged from 50 cd/m² at its lowest setting to 435 cd/m² at its highest. That means you can use the monitor in dim rooms as well as in much sunnier places, though you should still try to avoid direct light for the best picture.
The monitor’s DeltaE values—representing how far away a displayed color is from what it should actually be—ranged from 1.114 on our saturations test to 1.224 on our ColorChecker test to 1.493 on our grayscale test. A DeltaE value under 1.0 is perfect. Under 2.0 is good enough for print-production work; you wouldn’t notice a difference even if you had a perfect reference to compare the results with. Above 3.0, and you’ll probably see a difference. In real-world terms, the P2715Q’s colors are almost perfect. Though the calibration software found that some displayed reds appeared oversaturated and the monitor had some hue/tint inaccuracies, they’re not perceptible.
The low DeltaE value for grayscales means that none of the monitor’s three primary colors (red, blue, or green) caused problems within a normal black-to-white gradient in our test. The grayscales stayed below a DeltaE value of 2.0—again, good enough for print-production work—until their very whitest point.
Our pick’s measured color temperature defaulted to 6,244 K on its Standard preset, a tiny bit below the 6,500 K temperature that we consider a good value for everyday use. Unlike the Dell UltraSharp U2715H, our 27-inch monitor pick, this model doesn’t allow you to target a specific color temperature in its settings. If you pick the “warm” or “cool” preset, you lose the benefits of the monitor’s factory calibration.
The P2715Q has all the connections you’ll need: one DisplayPort in (1.2), one DisplayPort out (1.2), one HDMI 1.4 connection (with MHL 2.0), one Mini DisplayPort connection (1.2), and a four-port USB 3.0 hub. The hub makes quickly connecting USB devices or flash drives easy, especially if your desktop doesn’t have any front-facing USB ports (or if you’re already using them).
Though the P2715Q lacks the ultrathin bezel of some of Dell’s UltraSharp monitors, its stand is every bit as good. You can adjust the panel’s height, tilt or swivel it, and even rotate it 90 degrees if you prefer a portrait orientation. A single button separates the panel from its stand, so you can easily mount the panel on a VESA monitor arm.
Dell gives P2715Q buyers a three-year limited hardware warranty, advanced exchange service, and a Premium Panel Guarantee. (Dell replaces the entire monitor if you encounter one bright pixel across those three years.) On Amazon, the P2715Q had a rating of 4.1 stars (out of five) across more than 640 reviews at the time we wrote this article—and 77 percent were four- or five-star ratings.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
There’s little we don’t like about Dell’s P2715Q. Previous purchasers have reported that the monitor doesn’t always work, or work well, with various MacBooks. Given how many different kinds of MacBooks exist, how many different ways people have tried to connect the monitor to their laptops, and how many different versions of MacOS people are using, we haven’t found a one-size-fits-all solution for some of the reported issues.
We recommend checking to confirm that your MacBook can even run 4K at 60 Hz; if not, don’t bother buying a 4K monitor. If you purchase a P2715Q, familiarize yourself with the retailer’s return policy in case the monitor has problems with your Mac. Upgrade to the latest version of MacOS, and use the Mini DisplayPort–to–DisplayPort cable to go from your device’s Thunderbolt port to the monitor’s DisplayPort connection. If you’re using a cheap cable, try replacing it. If after those steps you’re still encountering problems, you’ll need to troubleshoot in a third-party forum, as neither Apple nor Dell officially supports the display on Apple computers.
The P2715Q can run at its full resolution at 60 Hz through DisplayPort, but not via its HDMI port. For a monitor to run at 60 Hz over HDMI, both the monitor and the computer need to have HDMI 2.0 ports. The P2715Q has HDMI 1.4, so it’s limited to 30 Hz. That isn’t a huge omission, though: Few laptops or desktops have HDMI 2.0 connections yet, and those that can support a 4K monitor at 60 Hz have DisplayPort connectors too.
We like the ultrathin bezels on some of Dell’s latest UltraSharp monitors, which look a lot better on your desk and fool you into thinking you have more screen space than you actually do. The P2715Q has a fat, antiquated bezel and physical buttons rather than capacitive buttons. Though some people love physical buttons, we prefer the invisible touch-sensitive buttons that Dell uses on monitors like our 27-inch pick, the UltraSharp U2715H.
Runner-up (with extra features for gamers)
Rotating the XG2700-4K’s panel rotates its entire base, which means you’ll need to clear more space on your desk if you’re planning to move your monitor around a lot.
The ViewSonic XG2700-4K isn’t just a runner-up; it’s an excellent alternative to the Dell P2715Q if you’re a gamer or a power user and you like digging into your monitor’s features. We would have no problem recommending this monitor if it cost less than our primary pick. It offers accurate colors, excellent stand adjustability, an even better array of connections, and FreeSync (for AMD gamers). It also has far more configuration options than the Dell, though they’re not explained very well. But the Dell P2715Q is a lot more user-friendly (and currently cheaper), which is why that model gets our recommendation.
In our CalMAN 2016 testing, the XG2700-4K had a slightly better grayscale DeltaE than the Dell P2715Q (0.9428 versus 1.493). The same held true for our saturations test (0.5073 versus 1.078) and our ColorChecker test (0.7491 versus 1.224). In reality, all of those values indicate excellent display quality for most people—you can’t tell whether one monitor is more accurate than the other without a calibration device.
Among our finalists, this ViewSonic monitor is one of the few to have an HDMI 2.0 port. The connection allows you to run the panel at its full resolution in 60 Hz, twice HDMI 1.4’s 30 Hz limit if you have a newer graphics card with an HDMI 2.0 port. The XG2700-4K also comes with a single DisplayPort connection (1.2a, required for FreeSync), a Mini DisplayPort connection (1.2), and two other HDMI (1.4) connections. Like our pick, the XG2700-4K has a built-in four-port USB 3.0 hub.
The XG2700-4K’s stand lets you easily adjust the height of the display, tilt it backward and forward, or pivot it into portrait orientation. However, If you want to swivel it left and right, the entire monitor base spins around, so this model requires a little more desk space than monitors that have a stationary base and a swiveling arm. If you’d rather use a VESA monitor arm, you’ll have to unscrew the XG2700-4K’s panel from its stand. That isn’t as convenient as the design of our top pick, which lets you pop the panel off the stand with one button.
If you have a compatible high-end AMD graphics card—sorry, Nvidia owners—you’ll be able to take advantage of the monitor’s FreeSync feature, as long as you remember to enable it in the monitor’s setup menu. Once you do, the monitor will synchronize its refresh rate to your video card’s output, which helps eliminate visual deformities (such as screen tearing) in games. Though the feature works only when you’re hitting 40 to 60 frames per second in a game, that should be good enough if you have a decent system and you’re bumping up to 4K gaming for the first time.
Christian Eberle of Tom’s Hardware writes, “[We] think the XG2700-4K represents a pinnacle of color accuracy, quality and video performance. Our gaming experiences were extremely enjoyable once we dialed in the right balance of detail and framerate. FreeSync kept the action tear-free and smooth and we loved the deep contrast and vibrant color delivered by this exceptional display.”
Our biggest complaint with this monitor is that its settings are hard to understand and navigate. We normally don’t mind the kitchen-sink approach in a settings menu, but most of this monitor’s options aren’t explained in the documentation. Most people won’t know what many of the features are, or even the difference between some of the viewing modes (like the “FPS 1” and “FPS 2” options nestled under the “Game” preset). How is black stabilization different from dynamic contrast? How do you adjust the monitor’s aspect ratio? What the heck is “Ebu”? What does the monitor’s “panel native” setting mean in its “User Color” mode?
That said, we love the XG2700-4K’s robust multi-picture mode, which lets you use one monitor to view multiple connected sources at once (either in a split screen, a quad-window display, or picture-in-picture). If you have a calibration device, you can tweak the display to your own precise needs, with options to adjust brightness, contrast, sharpness, and gamma, as well as gain, offset, hue, and saturation. If you’re willing to spend the time to learn the nuances of the XG2700-4K, it offers more functionality than our primary pick. For most people, though, the XG2700-4K’s features are overkill and underexplained.
The XG2700-4K earned an Editor’s Choice award from Tom’s Hardware, and it had a rating of 4.6 stars (out of five) across more than 50 total reviews on Amazon at the time we wrote this article. ViewSonic offers a three-year limited warranty for the monitor.
You’re gonna need a bigger desk
The BenQ BL3201PH is a beast. It’s the best 4K monitor you can buy if you have room on your desk for its 32-inch screen. The biggest benefit of a giant 4K monitor is that you might not need to scale your display when running the monitor at its native resolution. That way, you’ll avoid one of the main issues plaguing 4K—third-party apps that look ugly, blurry, or too tiny to use when Windows “embiggens” your on-screen items.
Of all the large 4K monitors we looked at, the BL3201PH offers the best combination of price and performance, plenty of connectivity, all the right ergonomic adjustments, and a good assortment of features in an easy-to-navigate configuration screen.
Though most of our finalists are factory-calibrated, the BL3201PH is the one exception in this group. Despite its lack of factory calibration, however, in our tests its default color accuracy was still strong—even better than that of some precalibrated monitors we tested. Its Delta E values for grayscales, saturation, and ColorChecker all landed between 1.4 and 1.75 in our CalMAN 2016 tests, results good enough that you probably wouldn’t notice a difference if you had a perfect reference to compare the monitor against.
Adam Simmons of PC Monitors writes that this BenQ monitor is large enough to use without scaling: “Overall we found that this screen size provided something of an optimal UHD experience. We didn’t need to rely on scaling, which can be hit and miss, whilst games and movies benefited in much the same way as on smaller UHD models. Meanwhile the large screen size provided a good level of immersion and a visually engaging experience.”
The BL3201PH has one DisplayPort (1.2), one Mini DisplayPort (1.2), two HDMI 1.4 ports, and, oddly, a dual-link DVI port—which doesn’t have the bandwidth to run the monitor’s full 3840×2160 resolution. The monitor also provides five USB 3.0 ports: two on its side near an SD card reader and three on the bottom of the panel. In addition, it comes with a puck-shaped remote that plugs into the monitor’s single Mini-USB 2.0 port for better control over the on-screen display, if you don’t want to use the touch-sensitive buttons on the lower-right corner of its fat bezel.
The arm of the BL3201PH swivels on the monitor’s stand, and you can also adjust the monitor’s height and tilt. Pivoting the monitor into portrait mode feels a little funny, given the screen’s immense size, but it’s possible. Removing the panel from its arm takes just one button press, after which you can attach it to a sturdy VESA-compatible monitor mount. (And it better be sturdy—the monitor weighs around 25 pounds without the stand.)
The BL3201PH’s on-screen display lets you fine-tune the monitor’s brightness, contrast, sharpness, gamma, and color temperature on its default preset (Standard). You also get 10 other viewing modes to pick from, as well as split-screen and picture-in-picture capabilities for working with multiple connected devices simultaneously. The manual describes all of the features well (which isn’t the case for the ViewSonic XG2700-4K). The monitor’s built-in speakers aren’t great, but they function decently in a pinch. Built-in sensors can automatically brighten and dim the monitor’s backlight depending on the measured ambient light level of your room, and they’ll even switch the monitor to a power-saving “Eco” mode when the BL3201PH senses that you’re no longer sitting in front of it.
PC Monitors describes the monitor as one of the “best UHD models we’ve tested,” and Tom’s Hardware gave it an “Editor Approved” award—not quite an Editor’s Choice, but still a recommendation. At the time we wrote this article, it had a rating of 4.4 stars (out of five) across more than 290 reviews on Amazon, with 84 percent giving it four or five stars. BenQ offers a three-year limited warranty.
For smaller spaces (with lots of scaling)
The Dell P2415Q is a great alternative if you don’t have enough space on your desk for a larger monitor, if you prefer a smaller monitor, or if you simply want to save a little money. Its factory-calibrated picture is slightly less accurate than our primary pick’s, but the difference is imperceptible. This 24-inch monitor has the same panel type (IPS) and resolution (3840×2160), the same display connections, the same audio connection, the same USB 3.0 hub (with one fewer port), and the same physical adjustability and VESA support as the larger P2715Q.
The biggest issue with the P2415Q is the amount of scaling you’ll need to do in your operating system so that you don’t go blind staring at tiny icons and text. Windows’s native elements work well at 200 percent scaling, and scaling in OS X looks even better. You’ll still have issues with third-party apps on both platforms, though.
According to The Wirecutter’s senior associate editor Michael Zhao, who has been using the P2415Q with OS X since June 2015, “Everything looks great and scales perfectly. The only things that look blurry or pixelated are the things that look blurry or pixelated anyway on a native Retina Display.”
Scaling the monitor to 200 percent gives you the same screen real estate as a 1920×1080 monitor—a little less space to work with than on the 1920×1200-pixel 24-inch monitor we prefer. But if all you’re seeking is that smooth “Retina” effect, this setting offers an easy way to get it looking good with minimal adjusting. Since you’re basically running 1080p, the resulting image will look more natural-size on this smaller screen than if you had scaled it to the same level on a 27-inch monitor. (On a 27-inch screen, 200 percent scaling will make icons look quite large.) You do, however, lose some flexibility, as scaling to 1200p or 1440p resolution will look cramped on the smaller screen.
Before you buy a 24-inch 4K monitor, try one to confirm that you don’t mind its combination of high resolution and smaller physical size. We generally think that 24 inches is too small for 4K, but you might enjoy the experience, especially if you’re a MacBook Pro owner accustomed to Retina Display scaling. If you do prefer such results, Dell’s P2415Q is the 24-inch 4K monitor to get. Adam Simmons of PC Monitors calls it “a rather capable all-rounder,” and at the time we wrote this article, the monitor had a rating of 4.1 stars (out of five) across nearly 640 total reviews at Amazon. Dell backs the monitor with a three-year limited hardware warranty.
Care and maintenance
Dell’s factory calibration for the P2715Q’s Standard mode is very accurate, so you don’t need to buy a hardware colorimeter to calibrate your display unless you need absolute perfection (as professional photographers, graphic designers, or video editors do). You can (and should) adjust the monitor’s contrast: Go to Lagom.nl’s white saturation test and set your contrast at the highest it will go before you can’t see the difference between the higher-numbered values and the all-white background.
You should also adjust the monitor’s brightness to your liking. We use a colorimeter to set our monitors to 140 cd/m² for our testing, but you have no real way to tell your monitor’s exact luminance just by eyeballing it. If your monitor is too bright, you could experience discomfort after extended computing sessions. Too dim, and it’ll look lifeless and drab. Just use a setting that feels good to you.
It’s worthwhile to take some time to read your monitor’s manual to understand the features. For example, if your monitor has a dynamic contrast feature, turn it off. You’ll get a higher contrast ratio when it’s on, but your screen’s brightness will shift up and down depending on how dark or light a particular scene is. That effect can get annoying.
If you’re daisy-chaining monitors together using the P2715Q’s DisplayPort-out connection, make sure DisplayPort 1.2 is enabled. If it isn’t, daisy-chaining won’t work—and some monitors run DisplayPort 1.1 mode by default. If your monitor supports DDC/CI (Display Data Channel Command Interface), enable that so you can adjust its settingsusing a software app instead of its on-screen display.
If your monitor’s screen gets dirty or smudgy, don’t use an ammonia- or alcohol-based cleaner on it (no Windex). Don’t use a paper towel, either. A microfiber cloth and some distilled water (not tap) will work just fine. And don’t spray the screen when cleaning it—spray the cloth, and then wipe the screen.
What to look forward to
BenQ recently debuted the SW320, a 31.5-inch 4K Ultra HD monitor with a 3840×2160 resolution. Designed for creative professionals, the SW320 supports HDR content, Adobe RGB color space, and IPS. It also has a detachable shading hood to reduce screen glare, as well as a built-in SD card reader. It will be available in early 2017 for $1,000.
LG unveiled the UltraFine 5K Display, a 27-inch IPS monitor with a 5120×2880 resolution. LG and Apple partnered to create the UltraFine for Apple’s new line of MacBook Pros; included with the monitor are a Thunderbolt 3 cable and three USB-C ports. It will be sold exclusively through Apple for about $975.
ViewSonic’s VP2780-4K performed similarly to our runner-up pick, the ViewSonic XG2700-4K, in our testing. It has the same ports as the XG2700-4K but lacks a few features that non-gamers won’t care about, such as FreeSync, advanced input lag reduction, and the XG2700-4K’s black-stabilization technology. This model is a good alternative if you’re not a gamer and can find the VP2780-4K for less than the XG2700-4K, but at the time of our testing it was more expensive.
We tested HP’s Z27q, which has a 5120×2800 (5K) display, to see if it offered a better experience than a 4K display. Specifically, while a 4K monitor at 200 percent scaling has an effective resolution of 1920×1080, a 5K monitor at 200 percent scaling gives you the same screen space as a 2560×1440 monitor like our 27-inch pick. In our evaluations, the Z27q’s color accuracy was poor, landing at a DeltaE of about 2 for grayscales but above 5 for saturations and our ColorChecker test. The biggest problem, though, is that the Z27q needs two DisplayPort connections from your PC to work at its native resolution at 60 Hz, which rules it out for most (if not all) laptop users. This monitor is just too expensive to justify its bad color accuracy and input quirks.
Asus’s PA329Q is an expensive 32-inch 4K monitor whose default color accuracy wasn’t very good in our testing. Though it was more accurate in sRGB mode, that mode prevents you from adjusting the monitor’s brightness at all—and BenQ’s BL3201PH is still cheaper and slightly more accurate.
We eliminated other monitors on our initial list for not being factory calibrated (and for having fewer features than monitors that were), for using MST instead of SST, and for being older models that newer versions have replaced.
(Photos by David Murphy. Illustration by Elizabeth Brown.)
1. IPS stands for in-plane switching, a monitor panel technology that provides better color reproduction and viewing angles than the less-expensive TN (twisted nematic) technology. Jump back.
- Chris Heinonen, 4K Calculator – Do You Benefit?, Reference Home Theater, March 4, 2013
- Tyler Wilde, How far away from your monitor should you sit?, PC Gamer , August 3, 2015
- Chris Hoffman, Should You Buy a 4K Computer Monitor?, How-To Geek, January 3, 2016
- Joe Rossignol, 4K and 5K Display Buyer’s Guide for Macs, MacRumors, January 15, 2016
- Richard Anderson, Monitor Calibration and Profiling, dpBestflow.org, September 22, 2015
- Chris Hoffman, G-Sync and FreeSync Explained: Variable Refresh Rates for Gaming, How-To Geek, September 19, 2015
- Chris Hoffman, The How-To Geek Guide to Cleaning Your LCD Monitor Screen, How-To Geek, August 12, 2013