Is HP's EliteDisplay E271i A Budget User’s Ideal Monitor?
It's evident to us that you don't need a boutique display to get high performance on your desktop. Even though this is a business-class product, it boasts superb build quality, excellent results in almost all of our benchmarks, and a competitive price. While you forgo the higher pixel density of a QHD monitor, this is still a 27" screen for about half of the money. Priced around $350, HP is packing quite a lot into the EliteDisplay E271i's package. And with little to no movement in LCD prices right now, that strong value is likely to endure.
As far as benchmarks go, the E271i’s single greatest achievement is its excellent contrast. In fact, it delivers the best on/off result we’ve ever measured. The screen also delivers fantastic out-of-box grayscale accuracy and decent color performance. Even though you’re not paying a calibrated-at-the-factory price, you’re getting quality that comes very close. Our only complaint is below-average gamma values. This could easily be fixed with a firmware update, should HP decide to issue one. For business and entertainment use, however, we expect few would find fault with this new monitor.
Another impressive extra you get with the E271i is HP’s Desktop Assistant software. This tool was bundled with many of the company's past displays, but this was our first opportunity to test drive it thoroughly. Having the ability to manage monitor settings from the desktop is much more convenient than using the OSD. And the by-eye calibration feature integrated into the package is unique, in our experience. We prefer making adjustments to the display directly, rather than creating look-up tables for our calibrations. But if you don't have access to meters and test patterns, HP’s tools are really the next best thing. Then again, we found that the E271i is set up well enough from the factory that you'll probably want to set brightness to a comfortable level and leave the other options alone. Out-of-the-box performance is just that good.
More superficially, the updated styling is a welcome change to HP’s industrial design, and we feel the look appeals equally to enthusiasts and business users. Moreover, the fit and finish of the materials continues HP’s tradition of well-made hardware. The E271i is equally at home in a cubicle as it is in an enthusiast’s techno-lair. We suspect it will also stand up well to being moved around. Transporting gear to a LAN party challenges durability, and in our experience, this monitor is up to the task.
For those who spend most of their time using their computers for business rather than entertainment, the FHD resolution is not really a shortcoming. And if you’re gaming on a graphics card sporting less than the latest bleeding-edge GPU, 1920x1080 might actually be a good thing. Gaming at 2560x1440 requires a fair bit of additional horsepower, and that means spending more money on a higher-end GPU. Budget-oriented gaming rig builders take note: HP’s E271i is worthy of your consideration.