While Ultra HD (3840 x 2160 pixels) may have started working its way into our living rooms as more and more manufacturers turn their attention to 4K/UHD TVs, things are proving a little slower to take off in the world of IT, with very few UHD monitors currently available. So after the Asus PQ312QE, we've got our hands on the Dell UltraSharp UP3214Q, a 31.5" Ultra HD monitor with an IGZO-TFT screen and a wide colour gamut.
DESIGN & BUILD
In typical Dell style, the UP3214Q has a black screen bezel with aluminium edges. The rear is finished in textured black plastic. This UltraSharp monitor also gets a matte screen with an anti-glare filter—and we've got no complaints about that. The design is clean and subtle, and the general finish is good.
The stand is pretty sleek too. With its all-metal build, it gives the monitor a sturdy and robust feel, and there's a handy opening at the rear to thread cables through and keep them out of the way. The stand is height-adjustable to 9 cm. The screen doesn't spin round into portrait mode but it does swivel 30° left and right, as well as tilt 4° forwards and 21° backwards.
The choice of connections is as comprehensive as the rest of the hardware features. There's a four-port USB 3.0 hub and an SD card reader on the left-hand edge, which hook up to a PC via a USB 3.0 cable plugged in next to the video connections. To connect this monitor to a PC, you have the choice between DisplayPort, mini-DisplayPort and HDMI. Note, however, that you'll have to use the DisplayPort connection if you want to enjoy Ultra HD at 60 Hz. You'll also need to switch on the DisplayPort 1.2 option in the onscreen menu. For gaming or movies in Full HD resolution (1920 x 1080 pixels), the image scaling function works fine. It gives a relatively clean image, but it's nothing special.
The monitor was immediately detected as 3840 × 2160 pixels and 60 Hz with Nvidia's GTX 660 and GTX 780 graphics cards with the latest Nvidia drivers (332.21). However, it proved more temperamental in a twin-screen set-up, and had to be unplugged and reconnected to the computer a few times in order to get things working properly. When used alone, however, we didn't have any such problems.
It also proved impossible to get the UP3214Q monitor working with an Intel HD integrated graphics processor. We unfortunately weren't able to try it out with an AMD graphics card as we didn't have one available at the time of testing.
Touch-sensitive menu buttons are located on the monitor's right-hand side, just above the power button. Like in other Dell monitors, the device's energy use is displayed in real-time in the OSD. There's a comprehensive range of options in the menu, including Adobe RGB and sRGB colour spaces, plus two user calibrated preset modes. A "Zonal Color Space" function even lets you set half of the screen to wide-gamut mode and the other half to sRGB, which will be handy for photo editors, graphic designers and other imaging professionals looking to compare and contrast results in two different colour spaces.
When using this monitor day to day, we noticed that Windows 8.1 automatically increased the default size of running applications so you don't end up with loads of tiny windows. Although there's no doubt that this improves onscreen readability, this automatic upscaling function tends to make things look a little blurred. This is something we saw when Apple's Retina display first hit the market, as the apps available weren't yet fully optimised to handle the new higher resolution. It is possible to switch this function off in the onscreen menu, but everything will end up looking four times smaller. You can always try sitting closer to the screen to get around that, but your poor old eyes may not thank you for it. Over to you to find the best solution.
Power use is pretty high for this monitor. The UP3214Q runs on 85 W with its out-of-the-box settings and 75.5 W with the brightness set to 200 cd/m². It's therefore quite power-hungry.
COLOURS & CONTRAST
With its wide-gamut colour space, the UP3214Q can display more shades of colour than a standard computer monitor. The Adobe RGB wide-gamut mode is often used by photographers and print-shop specialists to process and edit photos taken with SLR cameras compatible with this wider colour space. We tested the UP3214Q both with its factory settings and after calibration using the UltraSharp Calibration Solution software supplied and the X-Rite i1 Display Pro colour sensor (sold separately). Note that Dell promises in-factory calibration for a Delta E under 2 straight out of the box.
Colour temperature over grey scale - factory settings
Gamma — factory settings
Delta E (colour fidelity) — factory settings
Dell's factory calibration lives up to expectations, with a colour temperature of 6540 K and an average gamma at 2.2—which is a fine, but it's far from evenly distributed (see above). The average Delta E works out at a very impressive 1.3, so colours are reproduced accurately onscreen. With results like that, you can clearly use the UP3214Q straight out of the box. Still, you can get even better results by calibrating the display with Dell's software and a colourimeter, which is well worth it if you've just forked out over £2,000 for this monitor.
Colour temperature over grey scale - after calibration
Gamma — after calibration
Delta E (colour fidelity) —after calibration
After calibration, the colour temperature drops very slightly to 6521 K, and the gamma stays at 2.2 but evens out nicely. The average Delta E also drops to 1. It would have been nice to see contrast a little higher than the 756:1 measured here, but that's still within average compared with the other computer monitors we've reviewed. All in all, we've got no real complaints. In fact, the Dell UP3214Q is an excellent monitor for working on photos in the Adobe RGB colour space, which is good news, as that's exactly what it's intended for.
The screen is generally very even and consistent, but we did notice some light leaking through in the top corners. Thankfully, though, it's only very slight. The IPS screen also makes for nice, wide viewing angles.
When testing responsiveness with our ghosting time test, we realised that this monitor uses Pulse Width Modulation. PWM modulates the backlight brightness by alternately switching the LED backlights on and off. As a result, filming the screen at 1,000 frames per second shows a black scan passing across the screen. The lower the brightness setting, the more frequent the scan becomes. Some users who are particularly sensitive to PWM systems could notice a slight shimmer to the screen, which can, in some cases, lead to eye strain and headaches.
Ghosting time (in ms): the time it takes for the screen to totally remove an image.
The lower the ghosting time, the smoother motion will look onscreen.