Although still in its early days, consumer 4K UHD is here. While 720p and 1080p are destined to become anachronisms akin to 8-tracks and punch cards, our present day is the awkward transitional period between these old and newly evolving high definition standards.
No stranger to the business of high-end displays, long-time monitor manufacturer Dell has lunged into the UHD market with some solid offerings. The company has released two UltraSharp displays capable of ultra high-definition: a 24-inch at $1,299 and a 32-inch for $3,499. Dell has also been teasing us with a third 4K UHD-capable 28-inch model, but this in-betweener is worlds cheaper at $699. Too good to be true? Indeed. This aggressively priced display has the “same quality” panel as its more expensive cousins, but its refresh rate is limited to just 30Hz. Yuck.
For this review though, we’ll be taking a look at Dell’s monstrous 32-inch flagship, the UltraSharp UP3214Q.
Dell UltraSharp 32 UP3214Q – $3500
- Viewable Size: 31.5″ diagonal (16:9)
- Panel: IGZO LCD IPS, anti-glare with hard coat 3H, LED backlit
- Optimal resolution: 3840 x 2160
- Contrast Ratio: 1000: 1 (typical), 2 Million:1 (Max Dynamic)
- Brightness: 350 cd/m2 (typical)
- Response Time: 8 ms (gray to gray)
- Viewing Angle: 176° vertical / 176° horizontal
- Color Gamut: Adobe RGB 99%, sRGB 100%
- Colors: 1.074 Billion colors (10 Bits)
- Pixel Pitch/PPI: 0.182 mm / 140
- 1x HDMI, 1x Mini DisplayPort, 1x DisplayPort (1.2a), 4x USB 3.0 ports downstream, 1x USB 3.0 upstream, 1x media card reader
- Dimensions (with stand):
19.0-22.5″ x 29.5″ x 8.4″
- Dimensions (display only):
17.5″ x 29.5″ x 2.0″
- Weight (with stand/without): 25.3/20.3 lbs
- Height-adjustable stand, tilt, swivel and built in cable-management, VESA mount capable
Knowing the reputation (and price) the UltraSharp moniker commands, there would normally be little more to say than “immense IPS display”, “great image” but “prosumer price tag”. However, the UP3214Q’s defining feature isn’t its enormity, IPS panel, nor certainly the $3,500 sticker price. Rather, its most distinct feature is a glorious spread of 3840 x 2160 pixels which is, ironically, also the source of its biggest issues. More on that shortly.
Consider this hands-on to be as much a review of early-gen UHD monitors as the UP3214Q itself. Hopefully, the experiences outlined here will answer questions you may have regarding the value, compatibility, performance and practicality of this display and displays like it.
Unboxing and Accessories
Even for such a large monitor, the box was quite hefty at just past 35 pounds. Like many of its monitors, Dell shipped the UP3214Q in packaging made entirely from corrugated cardboard — no foam here. Avoiding the use of foam (extruded or otherwise) is part of Dell’s eco-friendly strategy.
Inside the box lives a sturdy, rotating aluminum stand equipped with Dell’s prototypical screwless VESA mount design. Dell also included the following cables: DisplayPort (mini to standard), USB 3.0 (A to B) and a C13 power (standard PC desktop) cable. HDMI is notably missing. Additionally, owners will find a color calibration report. Like certain other UltraSharp offerings, each UP3214Q is factory-calibrated to reproduce colors as accurately as possible (Delta E < 2) out of the box. No complaints here.
I’ll cut to the chase: the UP3214Q is impressive to behold. The screen is expansive, the picture is bright, the color is rich and everything about it appears well-designed. The monitor itself (without the stand) weighs a hefty 20 pounds — that doesn’t include the aluminum stand which adds a good 5 pounds.
There’s little question this is a premium display. Considering its retail price ($3,500) though, I’m certain consumers won’t tolerate anything less than perfection.
Features, Adjustments and OSD
The aluminum stand offers some basic adjustments including height, tilt and horizontal swivel; however, the display cannot be vertically rotated (i.e. no portrait mode). The UP3214Q’s screen can be adjusted 1.75 to 5.25 inches high, tilted 20 degrees backward and rotated 45-degrees left and right. All adjustments feel solid and smooth; however, horizontal rotation is very stiff and the stand will move unless you hold it down.
There are few connectivity options (DisplayPort 1.2, mini-DP and HDMI 1.4), but the inclusion of 4 x USB 3.0 ports and a 9-in-1 media card reader are welcome accoutrements. Of the four USB ports, three are located at the bottom rear alongside HDMI and DP inputs. This area is difficult to access and isn’t practical for USB drives. The fourth USB port is located in plain sight on the rear of the display.
The OSD (on-screen display) “buttons” are located along the bottom right edge. Quotes are necessary here because the controls — except the power button — are actually touch-sensitive and not old school push buttons. The menus and controls are intuitive and simple to navigate. Most people won’t spend much time here, which manufacturers know, so they often load primitive-looking, painful-to-use OSDs — a common sighting amongst bargain monitors. The UP3214Q’s OSD though is pleasant and very similar to other UltraSharp displays.
Image Quality and Performance
As with most larger IPS monitors, the screen is matte with non-reflective coating. It’s thoroughly matte and not somewhere between, like satin or semi-gloss. This is particularly good for brightly lit office environments where evenly distributed fluorescent lighting is the norm.
Subjectively, the UP3214Q’s coating is unobtrusive. Very occasionally manufacturers apply matte finishes that are so aggressive though, they become distracting (e.g. Dell’s four-year old UltraSharp U2711). Anti-glare coatings are great for reducing reflections, but intense ones create a grainy effect — sometimes perceived as “shimmering” — which is particularly noticeable for bright images. The visibility of this shimmer can vary widely, but the UP3214Q seems very middle of the pack: not very noticeable but not quite invisible either. As a point of reference, it fares far better than the U2711 (prominent shimmer), but isn’t as transparent as Dell’s own U2713HM (hardly noticeable).
The UP3214Q’s image is bright, rich and uniform. Subjectively, it lives up to its impressive specs and it definitely compares well to Dell’s other high-end IPS offerings. Additionally, the 140 PPI density (~50-percent higher than many common displays) really lends itself to sharply rendered text and a smooth image overall.
One noticeable imperfection on our unit is a very slight yellow tinge around the edges of the panel. When I say slight, I do mean barely perceptible. I was unable to capture this with a camera and is only somewhat noticeable on a 100% white background.
“IPS glow” is present, but definitely with an acceptable range and certainly not unique to the UP3214Q. In fact, all large panels I’ve seen (including TN and PVA) exhibit a similar “glow”, so as commonly as this term gets thrown around, I consider it a misnomer. This glowing effect is most visible when a black image spans the screen, but the UP3214Q performs similarly to other high-end IPS panels.
The UP3214Q’s advertised 8ms (gray to gray) is fairly typical with larger IPS these days. Bigger G2G values tend to indicate more “ghosting”, an undesirable phenomenon where fast-moving elements leave ghostly remnants of past frames due to slow pixel refresh times. As with many IPS-based displays, a detectable amount of ghosting is present. Subjectively though, this was a non-issue during gaming sessions and only became obvious during synthetic tests. The UP3214Q provides a solid gaming experience in this regard.
Input lag is the delay between the output of your graphics card and the image which appears on your screen. I attempted to objectively capture input lag by cloning a digital timer across two displays: the Dell UP3214Q and a TN-based LG Flatron E2771. I enabled “Thru-mode” (a.k.a. game mode) on the E2771 which effectively eliminates input lag. The result? The Dell showed about 20ms of input lag. Okay — that’s not phenomenal. However, enabling “Gaming Mode” completely eliminated input lag. Visually speaking, the trade-off for gaming mode was a slight change in color reproduction. Gaming mode did not affect ghosting.
Oh, and backlight bleeding? Not an issue here.