Results: Brightness And Contrast
To read about our monitor tests in-depth, please check out Display Testing Explained: How We Test Monitors and TVs. Brightness and Contrast testing is covered on page two.
Uncalibrated – Maximum Backlight Level
We don’t have too many jumbo screens in our review database, so we’re filling out the group with LG’s two ultra-wide models, the 34UM95 and 34UC97. We’re also including the BenQ BL3200PT, which is probably the Monoprice’s closest competition at present. The DoubleSight DS-309W is a 30-inch 16:10 monitor as well, and even though we reviewed it nearly two years ago, it’s still available for sale. We bring the count up to six with Auria’s EQ276W, another value-priced QHD/IPS display.
Monoprice claims a max brightness of 350cd/m2, though we couldn’t quite get there by just turning up the brightness all the way. A result of 275cd/m2 is enough output for any indoor use we can think of, but there is a way to run it up to over 474cd/m2: turn on the dynamic contrast option. We don’t normally recommend this. If you need the extra light, though, it’s the only way. We’ll show you its effects throughout the contrast tests.
The max black level falls mid-pack. An outcome of .3998cd/m2 isn’t too bad, though we discovered that lowering the brightness control does not reduce the black level like it should.
We’d like to see higher contrast, though it seems the DoubleSight and Auria displays come in even lower. The top three monitors perform well, albeit at a higher cost. You’ll have to decide if an extra 310:1 is worth the additional $200-300.
Uncalibrated – Minimum Backlight Level
Dropping the brightness slider to zero doesn’t have much effect on the overall output level. In fact, at this point, we don’t believe it actually modulates the backlight. Rather, it seems to work like an HDTV. Read on to see what we mean.
The minimum black level is exactly the same as the maximum. That tells us that brightness is actually a black level control with no usable adjustment range. Lowering it at all simply crushes detail and destroys gamma accuracy.
Because of the major loss in contrast, we recommend maxing the Monoprice’s brightness control. It’s the only way to avoid clipping the darkest image elements. It’s also the only way to achieve a decent gamma measurement.
After Calibration to 200cd/m2
Calibration doesn’t cost us much in terms of black levels. A difference of .0019cd/m2 is not visible, even in a side-by-side comparison.
Calibration really affects overall dynamic range because we have to use the contrast slider to control peak output. But among our comparison group, Monoprice's offering isn't the worst-performing monitor. The real takeaway is that we should all wish for more VA panels. Its advantage over IPS is significant in our contrast tests.
ANSI Contrast Ratio
The ANSI result is harmed by a visible hotspot in the lower-right corner of our review sample’s screen. Not every sample will perform the same way, so your mileage may vary. If not for that fact, this result would have been closer to the calibrated contrast number.