Planar 27" QHD Monitor Review: Clarity Like We've Never Seen

Planar's PXL2790MW Gets Top Marks For Clarity And Performance

Planar may not be the very first manufacturer you think of for mainstream computer displays, but the company does make a full line of screens to suit most computing needs. And if you get a chance to see the PXL2790MW in person, you will almost surely want to own one. Its clarity and sharpness are simply unparalleled, and with no tests to back that up, we hope you’ll take our word for it. The display delivers a truly compelling image. We’ve tested a few other screens that are nearly as accurate in color, grayscale, and gamma. But none offer the crisp picture that we enjoyed from Planar's PXL2790MW.

This monitor makes style a high priority; but don’t be fooled, its performance does not compromise. Planar's design process very specifically addressed the desire for a Retina-type screen available to the rank-and-file office warrior. While pricing remains premium, this is a monitor that will improve the look and feel of any desktop.

Planar has a reputation for its high-quality displays. Not only does the company make computer monitors, but it also sells large commercial screens and video wall products. One example is the Clarity Matrix system. These monitors have a thin 1/16” bezel that minimizes the separation between them in a video wall configuration. Seeing this system in operation at the recent CEDIA Expo was quite impressive. Planar is also an early adopter of 4K. Its 84-inch UHD touchscreen display is available now. Words can barely describe how stunning that screen looks in person. And a product we're hoping to test soon is Planar's 39-inch 4K monitor.

For the time being, though, we have a 27" monitor in front of us with a native 2560x1440 resolution, and we strongly recommend you consider a display like this for your desktop workstation. Unless you need the high refresh rate of a more gaming-oriented screen, Planar's PXL2790MW checks off all of our boxes for productivity and media. Its contrast is not the highest we’ve seen, but it is above-average. Top-tier gamma results elevate the image’s perceived contrast to a high level. For color and grayscale accuracy, it’s also one of the best. Those are all criteria that any discerning computer user should take seriously. This display has superb out-of-box accuracy, and if you want a great picture, simply replicate the settings we just published.

Anyone concerned about the readability of text at high resolutions has their solution in the PXL2790MW. We've been using this monitor for several weeks now, and not once have we messed with DPI scaling options in Windows or any other application. The output is just that sharp. Moreover, once you have the extra desktop real estate of a QHD screen, it's really hard to settle for FHD again, or any monitor smaller than 27" for that matter. With brightness to spare, you'll be hard-pressed to find a situation where the PXL2790MW doesn't look amazing.

Though Planar markets this display as a business-class product, we believe enthusiasts should take a serious look at the PXL2790MW as well.

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.

  • Llorelie
    no award?
  • stoogie
    16.2ms SMTT reviewed catleap or crossovers from greensum/korea LG S-IPS have been out for well over 2 years now at a $300 or less starting price. Get with the times toms.
  • Bondfc11
    I agree with stoogie - also Toms needs to get an Overlord tempest and take a look at a real gaming 1440 panel that can do up to 120hz refresh rates. This screen isn't that special and the housing has been around in other variants for a year now as well.
  • tpi2007
    445 cd/m2 of luminance as maximum and 174.7655 cd/m2 as minimum ? Why do monitor manufacturers insist on delivering brighter and brighter monitors ? People don't use them like they are on display in a very well lit showroom, if you want to use one of these at home with just an indirect light source on the wall for some gaming at night, you're out of luck, this doesn't even reach the industry standard of 120 cd/m2 as adequate regular brightness, let alone the 50 cd/m2 that Tom's and many others consider an acceptable minimum to have in a darker room.

  • s3anister
    12033250 said:
    no award?

    What do you seriously think that another 27" 2560x1440 60Hz monitor that is already in class with a dozen other models identical to it, deserves an award?
  • vaughn2k
    How about a "First in Class" Award? There should be something... ;)
  • DarkSable
    Looks exactly like the "new" QHD Iiyama. Doesn't perform well. Costs a lot. What's the advantage, again?

    As for those overlord monitors, I wasn't impressed by them, mostly because I had it sitting next to a lightboost 2 120hz TN panel. Yes, the overclocked IPS panel has better colour (though that's largely negated by using it on minimal brightness in a dark room, like we've already been talking about), and it's certainly pretty and gives a lot of screen real estate... but it can't compare to a real 120Hz monitor, especially not one with a strobing backlight.
  • WyomingKnott
    "With the new PXL2790MW, we quickly discovered there was no need for scaling in any program. The image is so clear that even the smallest text is fully legible." Technically admirable, but not enough for people like me with middle-aged eyes. The more pixels per inch, the happier my eyes are, but they still want decent-sized fonts.

    Now this sort of monitor clarity plus an OS that supports decent enlarged fonts would be really nice. Apps that scale well over a range of sizes would be even nicer. A 1000 pixel wide frame may be good for some people no matter how small it is; others of us would like at least a certain number of inches. Support all of us.

    (Yes, I know that this isn't the monitor's fault. It's a poor convention in many parts of the software industry.)
  • warezme
    I have never had a major problem with text clarity with pretty much any LCD since the first thing I make sure to do is set the panel or monitor to native resolution hardware scaling and turn off all windows text or font smoothing and windows set to the same monitor native resolution. I haven't seen one of these 2560 screens in person but I have experienced the default font issue that happens when you try and let windows smooth or scale. I don't like monitors with radiused corners because that makes the bezels even thicker then they need to be. I also don't like the way most monitor manufacturer try to hide the input plugs by making them inset and pointing down. It is a pain to try to plug or unplug anything when you can't see the plug without laying the monitor on its side. Also it makes no use to label the inputs if they are inset dark on dark. Make the text white.
  • -Fran-
    This deserves a "meh" award at most.

    QHD is not ready for gaming prime time yet, sorry folks.