A 28-inch TN screen is the cheapest way to put Ultra HD on the desktop. Today, we're looking at a new example from AOC: the U2879VF. It includes FreeSync for gaming enthusiasts and a factory calibration for the professional user.
Like all new display technologies, Ultra HD commands a premium price. But users have found welcome relief in the 28-inch TN category. Asus was first to market with its PB287Q over two years ago. At the time, it sold for around $650 but that price has dropped to $450, thanks to time and competition. Every other major manufacturer has introduced products based on the same series of panel parts from Innolux. They are characterized by accurate color, reasonably fast panel response and most significantly, low cost.
The world of Ultra HD gaming lives in a rarified atmosphere. At this time even the fastest video cards can manage only 50-60fps at moderate detail levels in titles like Crysis 3 and Far Cry 4. And the genre is further hampered by a maximum refresh rate of 60Hz. Until newer interfaces like DisplayPort 1.3 are included at both ends of the signal chain, that limitation will remain.
But for users who want to push the envelope, there are a few choices available. We looked at Acer's XB280HK in July of last year. It was the first Ultra HD screen to include adaptive refresh in the form of Nvidia's G-Sync technology. While still limited to 60Hz, it represents a major step towards increased resolution for games.
Now that FreeSync is appearing in many new displays, it's only logical that its less-expensive architecture be used in creating a value-oriented hi-res gaming product. There may be a temporary imbalance between the cost of the monitor and the video card needed to drive it, but that is likely to change as hardware prices fall. The latest example here for review is AOC's U2879VF.
To the Innolux panel seen in every 28-inch TN monitor, AOC has added FreeSync and a couple of unexpected features. When we unpacked our sample, the first thing that fell out was a calibration data sheet, which is something one doesn't typically see with a gaming monitor. But two of our recent review displays also included them, ViewSonic's XG2700-4K and Acer's Predator X34.
AOC does tout the U2879VF's professional cred on its website and we're always happy to see a company put the effort into color accuracy. On initial assessment, this display looks promising. The panel has a 10-bit color depth courtesy of FRC. And it did report that fact to our AMD Catalyst driver, which allowed us to run 10-bit color with a Radeon R9 285.
The other surprise is a uniformity compensation mode. We've reported on this feature several times in the past, but only associated with dedicated professional displays. To see it here is unusual. You'll see in our tests that it is well-implemented with minimal impact on contrast.
The backlight is flicker-free so users sensitive to pulse-width modulation will have less eye fatigue to look forward to. Given the U2879VF's spec sheet, feature set and low price, we expect it will prove to be a compelling choice for those seeking an easy path to Ultra HD. Let's take a look.