NEC PA243W 24" Wide-Gamut Professional Monitor Review: Out-of-the-Box Excellence

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Technological advancement in the professional display realm moves at a more relaxed pace than what we’ve seen in the gaming and enthusiast categories. That's understandable given that prices are higher and users keep their monitors for longer periods. But advances like DCI-P3 color, HDR, and Ultra HD resolution demand mastering tools that can create the latest content. Accuracy and reliability are key, and pros need a display that simply works--something that becomes part of a larger system without calling attention to itself.

As we noted earlier, the PA243W doesn’t have HDR or Ultra HD resolution, but it does provide perfect color in the three major color gamuts used today: sRGB/Rec.709, Adobe RGB, and DCI-P3. The quest towards Rec.2020 color is ongoing but we aren’t there yet, and are unlikely to be for some time, at least outside the lab.

As a mastering tool for photographers, the PA243W has few equals. Adobe RGB is a tried-and-true standard that has produced richly saturated photographs and graphics in both the print and digital realms for years. NEC could have stopped there and simply marketed a super-accurate monitor. But today’s video and gaming content relies increasingly on the DCI-P3 gamut as it exists within the larger Rec.2020 envelope. Ultra HD standards specify that ambitious gamut, but DCI is as close as we’re going to get for now. With perfect factory calibrations for all three color specs, the PA243W is well-suited for a wide variety of tasks.

Still, we can’t ignore the omission of both HDR and Ultra HD resolution here. Even though the number of consumer displays that render HDR well is small, it is a capability that pros will increasingly need in their systems as time progresses. Resolution is less important in our opinion. Though more pixels would be nice to have, it isn’t absolutely necessary. What NEC has done here is to provide the absolute best quality IPS panel we’ve seen in any monitor, at any price. Not only does it have perfect color, there is good contrast and almost flawless uniformity besides. The huge feature set and flexible calibration options are just icing on the cake.

It may be difficult for most to get excited about a 24” monitor that costs nearly $1000, but when you need a precise display tool without oodles of pixels, the PA243W is it. If it fits your professional needs, this screen should be on your short list.

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Christian Eberle
Contributing Editor

Christian Eberle is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He's a veteran reviewer of A/V equipment, specializing in monitors. Christian began his obsession with tech when he built his first PC in 1991, a 286 running DOS 3.0 at a blazing 12MHz. In 2006, he undertook training from the Imaging Science Foundation in video calibration and testing and thus started a passion for precise imaging that persists to this day. He is also a professional musician with a degree from the New England Conservatory as a classical bassoonist which he used to good effect as a performer with the West Point Army Band from 1987 to 2013. He enjoys watching movies and listening to high-end audio in his custom-built home theater and can be seen riding trails near his home on a race-ready ICE VTX recumbent trike. Christian enjoys the endless summer in Florida where he lives with his wife and Chihuahua and plays with orchestras around the state.