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The Best 4K of Monitors 2017
If you've never had the opportunity to use a 4k monitor, it's hard to explain what you're missing. I certainly wouldn't call it a monumental change like going from black and white or upgrading to high definition, but it's a big deal.
While the rest of the industry lags behind there's already a lot to enjoy in a 4k monitor for your PC. The extra screen real estate is used in literally everything I do each day. This includes video and photo editing, gaming, surfing the web, and even watching movies. So, if you're thinking about making the switch, here's a little bit about 4k as well as my review of some of the latest 4k monitors in 2016.
What is 4K Technology?
4K is really pretty simple to understand. It's called 4K because it has 4 times the amount of pixels as a standard full definition 1080p display. That being said it's also somewhat confusing because a 4K HD monitor is 3,840 x 2160 while full HD is 1920 x 1080p.
While those numbers only double, the amount of pixels in place of what currently would be 1 pixel quadruples. More confusion stems from referring to a screen by it's number of vertical pixels like 480p, 720p, and 1080p to calling it something else entirely.
The result of 4K is easy to see when up close and very difficult to see from far away. In my opinion, this is one of the main reasons why it makes such sense in a monitor market where most people sit no more than 2-3 feet away from their screen.
TN Vs. IPS Panels - Yes, It's still there.
It goes without saying that a higher-quality 4K panel is going to cost you more. Just like in every other world I know of you get what you pay for when paying for a 4K display. TN panels are probably good enough for many who aren't worried about viewing angles or color accuracy, and for those who do need it there are some IPS models already available.
Enjoying 4K at 30 Hz. Vs. 60 Hz.
If you plan on using an HDMI port with your computer, then you'll need to wait until HDMI 2.0 before expecting the full 60Hz refresh rate out of your display. DisplayPort has a workaround that works in some cases and not others.
Newer models can often handle these issues without a problem. That being said if you're buying right now, then you'll need to know what to work for to avoid these issues as well as others you may come across as an early adopter to the technology.
Best 4k Monitor for Gaming
Acer XB280HK 4k G-Sync Monitor
While driving games in 4k is a lot more challenging than in 1440p or 1080p, the payoff is worth it. I personally use a pair of 980Tis to give me the best experience at that resolution right now, but when the GTX 1080 is here, I'm sure I'll upgrade.
For a 4k gaming monitor that is responsive and looks great, I recommend Acer XB280HK. It's over a year old now, but still the best option that also doubles as a good G-Sync monitor. If you're not familiar with G-Sync it gives you a faster and smoother gaming experience by eliminating tearing and ghosting. In my opinion, this is a must-have for gaming as your framerate may dip a bit in AAA titles in 4k.
For response time, the XB280HK comes in at 1ms and as far as connectivity the Acer XB280HK is just ok with a DisplayPort and 5 USB 3.0 ports.
Overall, it's the monitor to own if you plan on doing a lot of gaming in 4k. If gaming isn't your thing or you don't plan on doing it much, I'd steer you in the direction of one of the monitors below.
Budget 4k IPS PC Monitor
Dell Ultra HD 4k - 2415Q and 2715Q
A Good Entry-Level 4k Option for Photographers and Video Editors
If you're looking for color accurate monitor to get into the 4k world, the first one I'd recommend is Dell's P2415Q. It's reasonably priced for a 4k IPS monitor at around $400 for the 24" model and $550 for the 27". If you want 5k it'll cost you three times the price.
These monitors come with a good factory calibration out of the gate that'll give you 99% sRGB coverage as well as a deltaE of <3. For me, that's good enough to work with out of the box and since I don't have calibration equipment, it works even better.
A good monitor for MacBook users, this one is plug and play out of the box and has colors identical to what you'll see on your retina display side by side.
Whether you have a Mac or PC, I still feel like this is the first monitor you should look at if you've got a budget of around $400 to $500. Go take a look.
Good 4k Monitor for Photo Editors
Dell UltraSharp 4k UP3216Q
First of all, I know I ended up reviewing 3 dell monitors this year and I don't really apologize for it. My job is to bring you what I think is the absolute best of a product and in the 4k space, Dell really does it for me.
If you just don't like Dell, an alternative to this would be the Samsung 32" U32D970Q. Still, I think you'd be making a mistake.
The Dell UltraSharp 4k UP3216Q offers you not only a ton of pixels to work with but a 32" screen as well. For specs it offers 99.5% Adobe RGB, 100% sRGB, 100% REC709, and 87% DCI-P3 coverage. In other words, this one is for video and photo editing professionals looking for an accurate and large display.
For design, the monitor looks great with a thin bezel. If you're like me and adjust your monitor often, this one also comes with tilt, swivel, and height adjustment.
For connectivity you get DP, mDP, HDMI (MHL), 4 x USB 3.0 with one charging port, and a media card reader.
Overall, this is the monitor I'd recommend to professionals in the 4k space who don't need to pay four times this price for verified color like you'd get in a ColorEdge CG series from Eizo. That's most of us.
Is It Too Early for 4k?
Interactive Reader Poll
Older 4k Monitors
Asus PB287Q Vs. Samsung U28D590D
If you're looking in the under $500 category, then most likely you'll run into the Asus PB287Q (above) and the Samsung U28D590D which both have the same TN panel and viewing angles.
The biggest benefit that both of these monitors have is the DisplayPort connection that can do DP1.2 which allows you to run 4k at 60Hz on a single stream. This is much improved over some of the 2013 models we saw last year.
While both of these monitors are nice what sets the Asus model apart is the stand which allows you to tilt, swivel, and pivot and even allows VESA compatibility. If they're similarly priced I'd recommend the Asus model; however, the Samsung model does still hold appeal during certain sales events.
Another Budget IPS 4k Option for Photo Editors
If you need substantially more color accuracy, then you can still get it at an affordable price if you go with Dell's new UltraSharp UP2414Q. There's no question here that older 1440p displays offer slightly higher quality with a few less kins; however, the market here to me is clear as well. Editors that need the space right now.
You can get it with the UP2414Q right now and for the price you won't feel bad about it either.
Additional specifications include 1.07 billion display colors, 2M:1 contrast ratio, 6ms response time, UHD display, IPS panel, HDMI, DisplayPort, USB 3.0, with height, swivel, and tilt adjustment. The UP2414Q also comes with a 3 year parts and labor warranty.
While it's still pretty early for 4k, manufacturers have solved a lot of the problems that plagued 4k monitors last year. In 2016, we'll continue to see improvements in 4k for both gaming and color accuracy.
© 2014 Brandon Hart