Grayscale, Gamma & Color
Our grayscale and gamma tests are described in detail here.
The EX341R has nine color temp presets and five of them are adjustable. Each starts at a specified temperature, expressed in Kelvins of course. Setting 4 is labeled sRGB, so that’s where we made our adjustments.
Native is the EX341R’s default setting, and you can see it runs more blue/green as brightness levels rise; red roll-off is the culprit. The errors are visible, and we recommend an OSD calibration at minimum.
The default state of the sRGB preset is clearly too warm with very high red levels throughout. This error is clearly visible as well and averages 4.31dE. A few changes of the RGB sliders takes us to . . .
. . . a chart that is not quite what we expected. We’re picking nits here because the image looks fine, but bear with us a moment. What concerns us is the non-linearity of the grayscale tracking. If there were a blue or green error across the board, that would be typical. But to see the tracking change from red to blue-forward is unusual. It required some compromise during our calibration to achieve this result.
Normally, we adjust an 80% pattern and everything falls in line. That approach left us with visible errors both above and below that point. By tweaking the sliders with a 30% pattern, we reduced the total error to where only 20% has a barely-visible issue. This isn’t a huge problem, but we expect more from NEC given its history of producing supremely accurate displays. Bottom line, SpectraView II will extract the EX341R’s maximum performance. We didn’t have in on hand for this review, but we’re confident it would produce better grayscale tracking.
We think a $1000 display should be ready to go out of the box with no need for calibration. The reality is that many such monitors need adjustment to get their grayscale errors under 3dE. The EX341R misses the mark by a small margin. After calibration, the errors are invisible at 1.83dE average, but tracking is not as smooth as many other displays at this price point.
Gamma was another area where we had to make some compromises. The default chart, representing the EX341R’s Native mode, shows dark tones at the low end and bright ones up high. The same thing occurs in the default state of the sRGB preset. There is no gamma control here, so we tried the Black Level slider to see if it would help our cause. It did nothing at the low end but reduce black levels. To fix the other side of the chart, we resorted to lowering the contrast slider. That helped eliminate some clipping in blue and took gamma to a decent, if not ideal state. Again, we recommend SpectraView II for the best gamma performance. And it will allow you to dial in different specs like BT.1886 for example.
Despite a less-than-ideal gamma trace, the EX341R stacks up reasonably well to the competition. Its .41 range of values puts it comfortably in fourth place. An average of 2.31, mostly due to low-end tracking, drops it down to fifth. The one saving grace here is the panel has plenty of contrast to compensate for its dark shadow tones. You can still clearly see detail in even the gloomiest content.
Color Gamut & Luminance
For details on our color gamut testing and volume calculations, please click here.
There are two main causes for what we’re seeing in the saturation and luminance charts. The native red primary is a little over-saturated and the gamma issues we described earlier contribute to some off-target results. Luminance levels have been properly engineered to compensate resulting in decent color accuracy. To the eye, only red looks a little too bold, though it is more apparent in test patterns than actual content. Again, we recommend calibrating the color temp 4 preset, or better yet, use SpectraView II to achieve an ideal gamut result.
Our calibration takes the EX341R from 2.71 to 1.93dE; a nice gain though not one that will be terribly obvious. Adjustments are more worth doing to fix grayscale and gamma than color, which isn’t significantly affected.
The extra punch in red takes sRGB gamut volume to over 105%. Since none of the primaries are under-saturated, a custom color profile will help dial things in for critical work. While this NEC is aimed more at the business-class, it’s conceivable that it will be called upon for graphics production. It wouldn’t surprise us to see a PA-series monitor using this panel in the near future.
MORE: Best Gaming Monitors
MORE: How We Test Monitors
MORE: How To Choose A Monitor
MORE: All Monitor Content