Planar 27" QHD Monitor Review: Clarity Like We've Never Seen

Results: Brightness And Contrast

Uncalibrated

Before calibrating any panel, we measure zero and 100 percent signals at both ends of the brightness control range. This shows us how contrast is affected at the extremes of a monitor's luminance capability. We do not increase the contrast control past the clipping point. While doing this would increase a monitor’s light output, the brightest signal levels would not be visible, resulting in crushed highlight detail. Our numbers show the maximum light level possible with no clipping of the signal.

Our comparison group for this review is the last six displays that Tom's Hardware reviewed.

It seems like every new monitor we receive is brighter than the last. When you turn the PXL2790MW’s brightness control to 100, you are rewarded with over 445 cd/m2 of luminance. That's so bright in our test environment as to border on painful. Even with a lot of ambient light, fatigue quickly sets in if you try to use the display dialed all the way up. 

It also has a negative impact on the maximum black level.

Considering the extreme output level, .3816 cd/m2 isn’t a bad result, though. If you max out brightness like this, blacks look grayer, even if the overall contrast is decent.

Here’s the final contrast result.

This is decent on/off contrast for such a bright display. One thing that could make the PXL2790MW even more versatile is separate backlight and brightness controls. That way, we could improve contrast by turning down the backlight, but leave the brightness at a level that preserves detail. The monitor has plenty of dynamic range; it’s just concentrated at a brightness level that is too high.

For the next group of measurements, we turn down the brightness control to its minimum setting and leave the contrast unchanged. The PXL2790MW measures 174.7655 cd/m2, which is way above our minimum standard of 50 cd/m2. Below that, you risk fatigue and eyestrain. However, the monitor is too bright for a completely dark room. To reinforce our above comment about dynamic range, there is plenty available. It's just at a higher brightness level than necessary. A backlight control would allow the user to pull that down while retaining (or even improving) the display’s already solid contrast.

A .1480 cd/m2 measurement is respectable, but it could be so much lower if the overall brightness level weren’t so high. We do experience a quality black level, though. Dark areas in movies and games look nice and detailed, mainly due to the PXL2790MW’s excellent gamma performance.

We’ll wrap up this section with the minimum contrast comparison.

The minimum contrast number is only slightly higher than the maximum one, which shows consistency. While our result is very good, there is potential for even better contrast with the addition of a backlight adjustment, or a brightness control with greater range.

After Calibration

Since we consider 200 cd/m2 to be an ideal point for peak output, we calibrate all of our test monitors to that value. In a room with some ambient light (like an office), this brightness level provides a sharp, punchy image with maximum detail and minimum eye fatigue. It's also the sweet spot for gamma and grayscale tracking, which we'll look at on the next page.

We start with the calibrated black level. This can sometimes rise a bit from the monitor’s default state. We consider the tradeoff in contrast well worth the gain in color accuracy.

After calibration, the PXL2790MW’s black level is only a little higher than its minimum number, mainly because of the high minimum white level value. With a backlight control, it would be possible to lower the peak white enough to generate much better blacks.

Here are the final calibrated contrast numbers.

While 899.3 to 1 contrast won’t break any records, it still represents a solid performance. Thanks to its unequaled clarity and nearly perfect gamma, the PXL2790MW’s perceived contrast is a good deal higher than the measurements would indicate.

ANSI Contrast Ratio

Another important measure of contrast is ANSI. To perform this test, a checkerboard pattern of sixteen zero and 100 percent squares is measured. Our benchmark is somewhat more real-world than on/off measurements because it tests a display’s ability to simultaneously maintain both low black and full white levels, and factors in screen uniformity. The average of the eight full-white measurements is divided by the average of the eight full-black measurements to arrive at the ANSI result.

Although a result of 893.2:1 is pretty good, it could have been much better had there not been hotspots on the left side of the screen. The black squares there are visibly brighter than the rest. The PXL2790MW does suffer from a black uniformity issue, at least in the sample we tested. Had our measurements been a little more consistent, the ANSI contrast would easily have topped 1000:1.

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33 comments
    Your comment
  • no award?
    6
  • 16.2ms SMTT reviewed catleap or crossovers from greensum/korea LG S-IPS have been out for well over 2 years now at a $300 or less starting price. Get with the times toms.
    -1
  • I agree with stoogie - also Toms needs to get an Overlord tempest and take a look at a real gaming 1440 panel that can do up to 120hz refresh rates. This screen isn't that special and the housing has been around in other variants for a year now as well.
    -2
  • 445 cd/m2 of luminance as maximum and 174.7655 cd/m2 as minimum ? Why do monitor manufacturers insist on delivering brighter and brighter monitors ? People don't use them like they are on display in a very well lit showroom, if you want to use one of these at home with just an indirect light source on the wall for some gaming at night, you're out of luck, this doesn't even reach the industry standard of 120 cd/m2 as adequate regular brightness, let alone the 50 cd/m2 that Tom's and many others consider an acceptable minimum to have in a darker room.
    2
  • 1058785 said:
    no award?


    What do you seriously think that another 27" 2560x1440 60Hz monitor that is already in class with a dozen other models identical to it, deserves an award?
    5
  • How about a "First in Class" Award? There should be something... ;)
    1
  • Looks exactly like the "new" QHD Iiyama. Doesn't perform well. Costs a lot. What's the advantage, again?

    As for those overlord monitors, I wasn't impressed by them, mostly because I had it sitting next to a lightboost 2 120hz TN panel. Yes, the overclocked IPS panel has better colour (though that's largely negated by using it on minimal brightness in a dark room, like we've already been talking about), and it's certainly pretty and gives a lot of screen real estate... but it can't compare to a real 120Hz monitor, especially not one with a strobing backlight.
    0
  • "With the new PXL2790MW, we quickly discovered there was no need for scaling in any program. The image is so clear that even the smallest text is fully legible." Technically admirable, but not enough for people like me with middle-aged eyes. The more pixels per inch, the happier my eyes are, but they still want decent-sized fonts.

    Now this sort of monitor clarity plus an OS that supports decent enlarged fonts would be really nice. Apps that scale well over a range of sizes would be even nicer. A 1000 pixel wide frame may be good for some people no matter how small it is; others of us would like at least a certain number of inches. Support all of us.

    (Yes, I know that this isn't the monitor's fault. It's a poor convention in many parts of the software industry.)
    1
  • I have never had a major problem with text clarity with pretty much any LCD since the first thing I make sure to do is set the panel or monitor to native resolution hardware scaling and turn off all windows text or font smoothing and windows set to the same monitor native resolution. I haven't seen one of these 2560 screens in person but I have experienced the default font issue that happens when you try and let windows smooth or scale. I don't like monitors with radiused corners because that makes the bezels even thicker then they need to be. I also don't like the way most monitor manufacturer try to hide the input plugs by making them inset and pointing down. It is a pain to try to plug or unplug anything when you can't see the plug without laying the monitor on its side. Also it makes no use to label the inputs if they are inset dark on dark. Make the text white.
    -1
  • This deserves a "meh" award at most.

    QHD is not ready for gaming prime time yet, sorry folks.

    Cheers!
    -2
  • 933870 said:
    Looks exactly like the "new" QHD Iiyama. Doesn't perform well. Costs a lot. What's the advantage, again? As for those overlord monitors, I wasn't impressed by them, mostly because I had it sitting next to a lightboost 2 120hz TN panel. Yes, the overclocked IPS panel has better colour (though that's largely negated by using it on minimal brightness in a dark room, like we've already been talking about), and it's certainly pretty and gives a lot of screen real estate... but it can't compare to a real 120Hz monitor, especially not one with a strobing backlight.


    When you say a real 120Hz - I don't get that. I have both 248s and Tempests and I prefer the Tempest all day every day. Monitors are clearly very subjective. Some people complain about strobing, PWm, etc. but it doesn't affect me at all. I prefer an IPS panel over a TN panel. The Tempest is a real 120hz monitor once OC'd so your comment makes little sense to me. Gaming on an IPS 1440 is much preferred and the added Hz makes the overlord the best gaming display for me.
    0
  • How is this different from how Apple is affixing the glass and LCD of their new iMac Panels?
    0
  • Got my new LG 27EA83R-D colorprime factory calibrated QHD, for $550.00. Gaming, surfing, really everything at QHD is amazing and if you sit in front of your monitor like I do you won't go back to 1080P at 27". It's a pixelated joke.
    0
  • And this notion that 120hz is some profound requirement and experience for gaming is a joke. Just like the hype you get from Best Buy, there is no predominant, visible difference between 60 and 120Hz that you don't have to work hard to notice any difference. I bought and sold a state of the art Asus 120Hz TN 27" "gaming" panel. Don;t buy into the 120Hz hype. It's way overrated hyperbole. You will notice a profound difference with a 60Hz QHD screen with EVERYTHING you do with it. You'll love it every single day!
    3
  • 73949 said:
    This deserves a "meh" award at most. QHD is not ready for gaming prime time yet, sorry folks. Cheers!


    Herpa Durp? QHD has been ready for "gaming prime time" for years now. Fortunately, panels are coming down in price and adoption is increasing as a result.

    Your argument would be totally valid for 4K displays right now...excessively expensive, complicated input requirements, killer HW requirements. Very much a niche market.

    1440p is **like** totally the new 1080p. Psshhya
    -1
  • 1407143 said:
    When you say a real 120Hz - I don't get that. I have both 248s and Tempests and I prefer the Tempest all day every day. Monitors are clearly very subjective. Some people complain about strobing, PWm, etc. but it doesn't affect me at all. I prefer an IPS panel over a TN panel. The Tempest is a real 120hz monitor once OC'd so your comment makes little sense to me. Gaming on an IPS 1440 is much preferred and the added Hz makes the overlord the best gaming display for me.


    It's not a real 120hz display i.e. designed for it. It has significantly more latency, and serious issues with motion blur... where a monitor designed for high refresh rates has virtually no input lag, and (if using lightboost technology set up to strobe), zero motion blur. An overclocked ips panel is still better than a non-overclocked ips panel, but I'll take a TN panel any day. The very high end TN panels look nearly as good as lower-end IPS panels, yet perform way better... and IPS panels don't handle being set to low brightness very well. I agree that IPS is superior for certain things; most notably tasks that require color accuracy. But for a gaming setup, I disagree. (Though a 1440p monitor, you're right, is a wonderful thing.)

    229774 said:
    And this notion that 120hz is some profound requirement and experience for gaming is a joke. Just like the hype you get from Best Buy, there is no predominant, visible difference between 60 and 120Hz that you don't have to work hard to notice any difference. I bought and sold a state of the art Asus 120Hz TN 27" "gaming" panel. Don;t buy into the 120Hz hype. It's way overrated hyperbole. You will notice a profound difference with a 60Hz QHD screen with EVERYTHING you do with it. You'll love it every single day!

    That... is absolutely not true. Have you set your monitor up with lightboost, if you aren't using it? Have you gone into windows and your video drivers and told them to run the monitor at 120hz? Most of the time, when people say they can't see the difference between 120hz and 60hz, it's because they didn't set it up and never actually saw 120hz.

    If you have it set up right, there is a VERY noticeable difference between 120hz and 60hz. Yes, 1440p is nice too, but you can't just say that one is worthless and the other isn't; I personally bought and returned a VERY nice iiyama recently, because even though it was basically the best on the market, there were notable issues with it while gaming - if there were a 1440p TN panel that didn't have all the issues that IPS panels have (yes, I know TN panels have issues of their own, but those are unimportant for gaming), then I would buy it on day one, and use it for MMOs and, say, racing games, for which a 120Hz monitor isn't as helpful, but which you still want a decent response and minimal ghosting.
    0
  • I would recommend for gamers to ignore this monitor and to buy a monitor with no on screen display and direct link DVI. This will get rid of all your latency woes for playing first person shooters. Not to mention these other monitors are available for a fraction of the price (screw aesthetics, I want performance). Clarity is a subjective issue, like they stated. I've NEVER had problems with small text on Windows 7 @ 1440p and I'm using a $200 Korean IPS panel (which you can order ones similar on newegg for $300 now)

    For me, this is just another overpriced piece of equipment. Next.
    0
  • 434937 said:
    Herpa Durp? QHD has been ready for "gaming prime time" for years now. Fortunately, panels are coming down in price and adoption is increasing as a result. Your argument would be totally valid for 4K displays right now...excessively expensive, complicated input requirements, killer HW requirements. Very much a niche market. 1440p is **like** totally the new 1080p. Psshhya


    Well, I know there have been QHD monitors for quite some time, but they're still expensive as hell and don't offer a better "gaming experience" IMO to justify them over FHD@120/144Hz. Until QHD comes in 120/144 Hz, they won't be on my "must have" list at all. Specially with the crappy as hell colors.

    Cheers!
    0
  • 60hz refresh rate with 6.5ms response, i'll pass
    1
  • I got 15 minutes before work is over and I got nothing better to do but comment on something so boring that I forgot what I was going to say. So...

    Happy Thanks Giving!
    0