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NEC EA274WMi Monitor Review: Eco-Friendly At 2560x1440

NEC EA274WMi: A High-Performance 27" Monitor

Over the past 14 months or so, we’ve reviewed 11 different QHD displays at 2560x1440. In that time, more consistent contrast performance, greater image accuracy, selectable color gamuts, and factory calibration have all become more prevalent. But one trend we haven't seen yet is lower price points. Unless you opt for a Korean gray-market screen, you’re still looking at an outlay of at least $600. And if you need capabilities like an Adobe RGB gamut or pinpoint accuracy, expect to write an even larger check.

Because of the standstill in LCD panel prices (across the board, really; cheaper displays aren't going down either), QHD remains more of a resolution for professionals and power users rather than mainstream gamers. Cost isn't the only obstacle, either. There still aren't any high-res monitors suitable for the latest fast-paced titles. Unless you mod the control board, you’re stuck with 60 Hz and enough input lag to make quick-reacting enthusiasts cringe as their TN-wielding opponents deliver the kill shot.

For business and graphics users, however, QHD is now a must-have. The 27-inch size is a price and performance sweet spot when you’re talking about high pixel density. The last few 2560x1440 screens I reviewed set new benchmarks for clarity; so much so, in fact, that DPI scaling is no longer necessary to see small text. And when we get an old-school FHD monitor in for review, Windows suddenly looks like a large-font children’s book. I find myself reaching for the scroll bars much more often as a result. Trust me, once you acclimate to QHD, it’s really hard to go back!

Our subject today is NEC’s EA274WMi. Looking at the company's description and specs, we can see this display isn’t aimed at graphics pros or photographers. Rather, NEC is catering to the “high-performance enterprise user.” There’s no factory calibration or wide-gamut option. Nor is there 12- or 14-bit color output. What you do get is a well-engineered monitor built to a high standard and packed with features that are appropriate to a productivity-oriented desktop.

Panel TypeAH-IPS
BacklightW-LED, edge array
Screen Size27-inch
Max Resolution2560x1440
Max Refresh Rate60 Hz
Aspect Ratio16:9
Native Color Depth8-bit
Native GamutsRGB
Response Time (GTG)6 ms
Brightness350 cd/m2
Speakers2 x 1 W
DisplayPort v1.21
HDMI 1.41
Audio In1
USBv3.0: 1 up, 2 downv2.0: 2 down
Media card reader-
Panel DimensionsW x H x D w/base25.2 x 16.5-21.6 x 9.1 in639 x 418-548 x 230 mm
Panel Thickness2.6 in / 67 mm
Weight19.2 lbs / 8.7 kg
WarrantyThree years

NEC differentiates the EA274WMi from its other QHD offerings in a few different ways. First is the price. At $800, this is the least-expensive high-res model in the line. Second, the next-up PA272W includes the wider Adobe RGB gamut, a 14-bit internal LUT, and software calibration options. Look for that screen in an upcoming review.

The EA274WMi is lit by a white LED edge array like the majority of IPS monitors on the market. NEC specs this panel as IPS versus AH-IPS for its higher-priced screens, but a check of the panel part database tells us the EA274WMi is AH-IPS as well. The core is made by LG, features a native sRGB gamut, and 8-bit color depth for both the input and output signals.

We talked about bit depth recently in ViewSonic VP2772 27-Inch QHD Professional Monitor Review. While a 10- or 12-bit panel is a normal complement for a pro photographer’s workstation, you also need a full 10-bit signal path to take advantage of it. NEC's monitor is spec’d just fine for any task you might need it for.

What you’re really paying for here is rugged build quality and energy-saving features. NEC takes those characteristics very seriously by including controls to automatically lower brightness and even shut down the screen when you leave your desk. Admittedly, there's a bit of fun in using the carbon footprint and energy cost indicators on the EA274WMi, sort of like watching the charging gauges on a Prius. Let’s take a closer look.

Christian Eberle
Christian Eberle is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He's a veteran reviewer of A/V equipment, specializing in monitors.