Asus PB287Q: Ultra HD At An Ultra-Low Price
As with most bleeding-edge technologies, most of the discussion about 4K monitors revolves around price. The first-generation displays hit the market at an eye-watering $3500, and even now are still selling for over $2500.
Thanks to Chi Mei Optronics’ new 28-inch 4K TN panel, we now have the PB287Q available to us at an expected $650, which is about what you'd expect to pay for a mainstream 27-inch QHD display. In the near future, we’ll be reviewing Samsung’s UD590 and Dell’s P2815Q based on the same underlying technology. But for now, Asus owns the day.
Compared to the 32-inch screens we looked at a few months ago, the PB287Q is more refined, especially when it comes to signal handling. Because we're dealing with a single scaler, the dual-HDMI option available on Asus' tiled PQ321Q is no longer available. Rather, if you want to run at 3840x2160 at 60 Hz, you need to use DisplayPort 1.2. I had no problems getting the monitor to work with my Radeon HD 7770 graphics card, which isn't even officially rated to support a resolution that high. If you're using a multi-GPU setup from Nvidia, make sure you have the company's newest driver first.
The monitor's performance is generally good, especially considering Asus' price point. Color, grayscale, and gamma results are on par with other gaming screens and a tad below much more expensive professional displays. Even though contrast is decent compared to the average IPS monitor, we were hoping to see the greater dynamic range offered by the other TN panels we’ve reviewed. Our conclusion for now is that the extra pixel density of Ultra HD seems to lessen the contrast advantage of a TN-based product.
We're glad to see a breakaway from the typical 6-bit with FRC bandwidth limitation of nearly every TN screen out there. The PB287Q uses an 8-bit/FRC panel, which means it can render 1.07 billion colors either by up-sampling an 8-bit signal or passing a 10-bit one. While this feature is of greater interest to photographers and graphics professionals, it's good to know you can have greater bit-depth and greater resolution in one product.
It seems to us that the PB287Q is best suited for gaming. Its most attractive performance attributes surface in the response and input lag tests. Don't expect the PB287Q to match the speeds of a 144 Hz display; however, it competes quite favorably with the 60 Hz BenQ RL2460HT gaming monitor. We also like the inclusion of GamePlus, which we first saw on the VG248QE. Hardware-based aiming reticules are always a handy option, especially when they don’t introduce any processing overhead.
If your gaming rig is well-equipped for high resolutions, but you can't fathom doubling its price (or more) with a first-gen 4K monitor, Asus' new PB287Q has to be looking tantalizing right about now. Really, it represents a new reason to get excited about Ultra HD, which was previously fun to read about, but prohibitively expensive. All of a sudden, testing high-end graphics configurations at 3840x2160 is going to become a lot more important, as the audience previously interested in QHD shifts focus to 4K.
For its unprecedented value and respectable performance, we’re giving Asus' PB287Q our Tom's Hardware Smart Buy award.