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

Results: Grayscale Tracking And Gamma Response

The majority of monitors, especially newer models, display excellent grayscale tracking (even at stock settings). It’s important that the color of white be consistently neutral at all light levels from darkest to brightest. Grayscale performance impacts color accuracy with regard to the secondary colors: cyan, magenta, and yellow. Since computer monitors typically have no color or tint adjustment, accurate grayscale is key.

This is an average out-of-box result. The Delta E error becomes visible at 40 percent brightness and increases to a maximum of 5.97. The overall tint is slightly green, which is a more visible error than blue or red. If you don’t calibrate, you can improve on this by simply setting the Color Temp preset to User rather than the default of 6500K.

The calibrated result is much better.

All we did was set Color Temp to User and reduce blue and green by one click each. This is as close to perfection as it gets. Of the monitors we tested this year, only ViewSonic's VP2770-LED posted a better average Delta E value. We especially enjoyed the 60 percent brightness level, which has an error of only .15!

Let’s bring our comparison group back into the mix.

A stock error of 3.27 Delta E is barely visible to the eye. It’s also below many other screens. If you set Color Temp to User and leave the RGB sliders alone, the error drops to 1.56.

The calibrated result is nothing short of excellent.

Only one other screen we’ve seen tests better than the PXL2790MW, and that was ViewSonic’s VP2770-LED, which measures .60 Delta E for calibrated grayscale. A difference of .07 is pretty much a wash, and you won’t see a difference between the two.

Gamma Response

Gamma is the measurement of luminance levels at every step in the brightness range from 0 to 100 percent. It's important because poor gamma can either crush detail at various points or wash it out, making the entire picture appear flat and dull. Correct gamma produces a more three-dimensional image, with a greater sense of depth and realism. Meanwhile, incorrect gamma can negatively affect image quality, even in monitors with high contrast ratios.

In the gamma charts below, the yellow line represents 2.2, which is the most widely accepted standard for television, film, and computer graphics production. The closer the white measurement trace comes to 2.2, the better.

This is an ideal gamma result. To achieve it, we set the gamma to 2.4, which is the highest available option. If you leave it at 2.2, the tracking is equally good, but the average value is closer to 2.0, making the image a little flat-looking. Because the PXL2790MW’s gamma is so accurate, it reduces the visible effects of its average contrast results.

Here’s our test group again for the gamma comparisons.

This is the flattest gamma tracking we’ve measured, aside from Samsung’s S27B970D (not on the chart), which displays the same .10 variation. Gamma this good means you’ll see maximum detail and maximum contrast no matter what the content. The PXL2790MW tracks the incoming signal perfectly at all brightness levels.

We calculate gamma deviation by simply expressing the difference from 2.2 as a percentage.

The Planar’s 1.36 percent variation from the 2.2 gamma standard represents a maximum brightness error of only 2.58 cd/m2. The values range from a low of 2.12 to a high of 2.22.

The PXL2790MW aces our grayscale and gamma tests, and equals the best displays we’ve seen this year. Luckily, its color performance is equally impressive. Let’s take a look.

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.