AOC Q2963PM Monitor Review: 2560x1080 Is A New Way To Play

Results: Brightness And Contrast


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, detail would be clipped at the upper end of the brightness scale. Our numbers show the maximum light level possible with no clipping of the signal.

We chose a mix of QHD and FHD monitors from recent reviews to create our comparison charts for the Q2963PM. It’s evident from the results that neither resolution nor price is a factor in any performance metric.

AOC claims 300 cd/m2 for the Q2963PM, but we were unable to measure more than 237.8049 cd/m2. This is still plenty of output unless you have a lot of sunlight shining into your workspace.

The upside to a dimmer screen can sometimes be excellent black levels. Let’s see if this is the case:

AOC runs mid-pack turning in a very respectable .2729 cd/m2. Aside from the Samsung’s low measurement, our cross-section of monitors is all within a whisker of each other for maximum black level.

Turning up the brightness usually results in a lower contrast ratio than you would see at 200 cd/m2.

While the Q2963PM is second from the bottom in this group, a contrast ratio of 871.3:1 is still quite good. If you are forced to peg the brightness slider, you still get a very good picture from this AOC display.

For the next group of measurements, we turn down the brightness control to its minimum setting, and leave the contrast unchanged. The Q2963PM measures 80.9444 cd/m2, which is comfortably above our standard of 50 cd/m2. We recommend staying above this level to avoid eyestrain. At this low brightness setting, we often see amazing black level numbers.

AOC’s ultra-wide monitor comes within striking distance of our current champ, the Samsung S27B970D. And it embarrasses some more-expensive screens in the process. With a max white number of over 80 cd/m2, this makes for great contrast if you use your computer in a darkened room.

Here’s the contrast round-up at minimum brightness.

Again, we see excellent performance at this price point. In fact, the Q2963PM takes second place for Minimum Contrast among all the monitors we’ve tested this year.

After Calibration

Since we consider 200 cd/m2 to be an ideal average 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.

The Q2963PM actually improves on its black level measurement from default. This demonstrates solid engineering and attention to detail on AOC’s part. Remember that the white level only went down 37 cd/m2 from its maximum.

We consider any calibrated contrast ratio over 1000:1 to be excellent performance.

The Q2963PM handily tops our standard of excellence for contrast. Its measurement of 1220.2:1 puts it in second place for this comparison, and overall third place for 2013. This monitor provides a punchy image with plenty of depth and pop, regardless of content. High contrast like this makes any picture look good, whether you're talking about photos, business graphics, or gaming.

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. This 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.

A high ANSI measurement like this is related to the quality and design of an LCD screen’s grid polarizer. One that is well-made allows little to no light bleed between the brightest and darkest parts of the image. A checkerboard pattern is the most extreme test of this. Maintaining a low black level while half the screen is covered with 100 percent white squares is a challenge for any monitor. You can see AOC does well, though. Achieving an ANSI contrast ratio over 1000:1 is actually quite rare.

Christian Eberle
Contributing Editor

Christian Eberle is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He's a veteran reviewer of A/V equipment, specializing in monitors. Christian began his obsession with tech when he built his first PC in 1991, a 286 running DOS 3.0 at a blazing 12MHz. In 2006, he undertook training from the Imaging Science Foundation in video calibration and testing and thus started a passion for precise imaging that persists to this day. He is also a professional musician with a degree from the New England Conservatory as a classical bassoonist which he used to good effect as a performer with the West Point Army Band from 1987 to 2013. He enjoys watching movies and listening to high-end audio in his custom-built home theater and can be seen riding trails near his home on a race-ready ICE VTX recumbent trike. Christian enjoys the endless summer in Florida where he lives with his wife and Chihuahua and plays with orchestras around the state.

  • Simos Kozanidis
    Does it tilt?
    Having 2 in chain of those, tilted on the side, would be very nice for productivity apps, like coding, etc.
  • eddieroolz
    Good to see 21:9 monitors come down in price. I don't ever watch movies so the width is no use for me, though what I'd like to see in the future is a vertical VESA mount to stack 2 of these monitors in the vertical orientation. That would result in a 2560x2160 resolution that would be great for productivity purposes.
  • cobra5000
    If only it was 21:10.
  • giovanni86
    I'm actually in the market for the LG 21:9 primarily for gaming. Though i was disappointed that the veritcal length is smaller then others. Its still a very nice display. Looking forward to buying it and playing BF4 on it :)
  • christop
    I would like to try gaming with 3.
  • ubercake
    Seems like a good choice for an RTS/MMORPGer. The input lag of the IPS panel is still going to keep me away from using something like this for shooters.
  • vertexx
    With the multiple sources, does it force a 50-50 split or is that adjustable?

    I currently run two PCs for my daily work and could probably use something like this. Two 1080p monitors side by side is too much back and forth, so this may be a good solution. But I'd want to be able to adjust the split between the sources if needed.

  • cknobman
    I know no one wants to hear this and I will be instantly down voted but this resolution seems ideal for Windows 8 Metro/Modern interface.

    Everything in Windows 8 Metro/Modern is designed for horizontal screen orientation vs. vertical.

    Besides that point this monitor seems like a great piece of hardware for the money. Nice review!
  • major-error
    11424113 said:
    Good to see 21:9 monitors come down in price. I don't ever watch movies so the width is no use for me, though what I'd like to see in the future is a vertical VESA mount to stack 2 of these monitors in the vertical orientation. That would result in a 2560x2160 resolution that would be great for productivity purposes.
    What you're looking for comes from Ergotron:
    I have this stand holding up a pair of Dell U2412M displays. My only real concern when hanging displays on this stand is the panel weight, although I bet the bottom-mounted of a pair of 27" 16:9 displays would end up touching the desk...
  • nekromobo
    You totally forgot to compare it to Dell U2913WM for little more there's 3years NBD warranty etc.. not to mention how does it compare picture-wise? Probably same panel used on both.