Hard Choices: The £200/$300 2560×1440 27″ Monitor

By Alec Meer on August 24th, 2012 at 4:00 pm.

She's much fatter now than she is there

It’s true! Top-end monitors for the same price as any old stinky crap in PC World. Read on for details of what/where/how, but please keep in mind even as you tremble in raw excitement that there is A BIG RISK FACTOR.

In a change from your irregularly-scheduled Guy Who Knows A Ton About Hardware, I’m afraid it’s me. But I bring glad, intriguing tidings from the silicon mines. If you cast your minds, or at least your browsers, back a few months, you may recall our recommendation of 27″, 2560×1440 monitors as your point of eyeball-based connection to your beloved gaming PC. Specifically, a 27″, 2560×1440 Hazro monitor for approximately £400, and which used the same LG LM270WQ1 IPS panel as those in Apple’s top of the range 27″ Cinema Displays/iMacs, amongst other £800+ 27 inchers. That was already half the price of its similarly-specced contemporaries, albeit housed within a less gorgeous casing and with but one input. It still, quite understandably, remains prohibitively expensive for a great many people.

Myself included, to be honest, to the point that when I did order one a couple of months back and, quite by chance (I’ve learned many times over the years that this just happens with hardware, it doesn’t necessarily imply something about a particular model), it died three days later, I opted for a refund rather than a replacement in the hope of assuaging my enormous guilt. Then I moaned incessantly about the old, 1920×1200 monitor I had to revert to, how it chucked out enough heat to boil a bear and how it had a growing number of funny-coloured vertical lines on the right-hand side. Specifically, I moaned at Jeremy in the vain hope he might be able to spare one of the approximately twelve thousand 27 and 30″ monitors he keeps alongside all the bits of chopped-up cat in his basement. Then, initially on The Tech Report but later following the discussion trail across all sorts of frightening forums to establish which of several models was the one to get, I found a solution.

Models of what? Models of 27″, 2560×1440 IPS monitors available for approximately £200/$300 from Korean resellers on eBay, using exactly the same panel as in the Hazro and Apple models. It sounds dodgy. It is a bit dodgy, because as far as I can establish many if not all of these monitors are built around the panels that have for one reason or another been rejected or returned by the big-name companies that buy them in bulk for their branded, high-end screens.

In practice, this means there is a moderate risk of dead/stuck pixels, although it is a total lottery (mine has none), many of the sellers will guarantee no problems if you pay a little extra and, my enquires suggest, the total pixel count of these panels is so high that you are extremely unlikely to notice if a couple don’t work. We’re talking 3,686,400 pixels in total – it’s like finding one grain on white sand on a brown beach, but I do understand the principle of not wanting something imperfect.

First I, and then later John after hearing my excited noises, have bought such a panel. Neither of us can find any dead pixels in ours. The fusspot in me has noticed that there’s a bit of backlight bleed on the corners, but this only shows when the image/scene is predominantly black, and even then on slightly. I am, I assure you, very happy with it, and happy to have spent £206 of my own money on it. The image it offers is glorious – sharp and vibrant (without being over-saturated), and there’s oh-so-much screen real estate. The only problem I face is that using a smaller/low-res monitor ever again will likely prove extremely frustrating after such glory.

There are certain things to bear in mind, however – both regarding the source of the screens and how you can use them. Firstly, if you’re ordering from the UK be aware that you will most likely be subject to a customs charge as the screen’s coming from abroad. Allegedly you could ask the seller (they have a decent grasp of English, it appears) to mark down the value of the screen to, say, $200 rather than $300 when filling out the delivery form, allegedly. If such thing was as possible as alleged, I might wildly guess to be charged around £35 by Fedex, who by default put everything they carry through a customs inspection. Of course I would never so brazenly flout the rules of Her Majesty’s empire, so I am of course only guessing. Allegedly.

Secondly, going on my experience the seller might attempt to wheedle some extra cash out of you. Mine told me that he was out of stock of the ‘standard’ screen until the next week, but if I paid $30 extra he could send me one that definitely had no dead pixels right away. Being a tight-fisted SOB as I am, I decided not, though immediately regretted it when considering that perhaps £220ish on a more sure thing was better than £200 on one more likely to have issues. A mere five days later, my screen arrived anyway, and was as I say dead pixel-free. John’s arrived similarly quickly, but he does have one problem with his that I don’t. I shall quote him directly: “It’s not very good at going on standby. Sometimes it flashes madly, and other times the screen gets filled with the most extraordinarily colourful lines. Other times it goes black like it should.” I suppose there could be a risk that this becomes a permanent condition, but it’s only guesswork either way at present.

Thirdly, the housing for these panels is very cheap, and there are no menus or on-screen displays. It’s certainly not unattractive, being as it is a very slim black bezel (and LED backlighting makes it incredibly thin and heat-free), but due to its fixed base simple if you like to swivel, rotate, pivot or other such geometry, you will need to invest a VESA mount. These are about £30. I’m just fine with only being able to tilt it forwards or backwards a bit. As for menus and controls, all you can do is alter the backlight brightness and the volume of the nasty, best-ignored built-in speakers with some rear-mounted physical buttons. I haven’t needed to alter anything, so that’s academic to me, but fiddlers and calibrators will have to rely on the options in their graphics card drivers.

Fourthly – nearly there, honest – and not specific to this monitor, bear in mind that you need a reasonably beefy graphics card to drive games running at 2560×1440, at least if you want high settings, anti-aliasing and all that jazz. You can always set the resolution lower for games if your main interest is desktop programs, of course, but it’s a shame to miss out on how gloriously crisp they look at 1440p. I’ve got a GeForce GTX 670, which aside from running hotter than the rage of Metal Gear Solid fans reading an 8/10 review is more than up to the task. Obviously if your preference is for older or low-spec games an older or lower-spec card is going to be just fine – keep it in mind, is all.

Fifthly – one more to go! – and relatedly, your graphics card must be capable of dual-link DVI display output to even manage the 2560×1440 output. This has been available on most mid and high-end cards for quite a few years now, but you’re gambling if you try to do it on a low-end one or especially integrated graphics. You will need to use the dual-link DVI cable supplied with the monitor, not a standard one, otherwise you’ll get a black screen. Unless of course you already own a cable you know to be dual-link, and replacements are widely available.

Sixthly- finally, and most importantly – there are a whole bunch of different models to choose from. There isn’t too much in it in terms of the out-of-the-box experience as far as I can ascertain, but there are different housings and bells and whistles to choose from, such as inputs and poseable stands. There’s also the fact that some models can be ‘overclocked’ to enable higher refresh rates, reportedly even as high as the fabled 120Hz in some cases.

Personally, I went for the safest and cheapest bet – the Achieva Shimian QH270-IPSBS. It only has the one input, it can’t be overclocked (well, I got it up from 60hz to 65hz, which is an entirely invisible difference) but it doesn’t have the pretty but glare-inducing, dust-trapping glass cover that other models do. It has exactly the same housing as that Hazro 27″ Jeremy recommended, which means it looks quite nice but it’s very basic and the buttons are a little hard to access – manually switching it to standby involves reaching around the back.
Like I say though, I’m very happy with it, and if I have a bigger PC room come the next time I get a windfall, I would seriously consider getting an additional one as a secondary monitor.

The one to avoid, I think, is the Achieva Shimian QH270-IPSB (note no S at the end), because it does have one of those glass panels, and you’ll quickly wish it didn’t even though it looks posher for it. If you want a greater chance of overclocking the refresh rate – i.e. if you’re a framerate junkie who wants his games to run at higher than 60FPS with vysnc on – you should investigate the range called ‘Catleap’ further. Do research beyond this post if you’re seriously considering buying, as I cannot overstate enough that THIS IS A GAMBLE.

Anything could happen in terms of postage/customs, in terms of faults, and in terms of random eBay folk trying to rip you off. Here are some links to start with, but basically what you want to do is type ‘QH270′ into eBay, find the cheapest hit and then Google for its model name to see what you find. ‘Shimian’ and ‘Catleap’ will also yield tons of results. For reference’s sake , I (and John) purchased ours from this fellow, and the only issue was his attempt to have me pay more for no dead pixels, which worked out fine in the end.

Here’s some further reading about these screens to start you off:

One
Two
Three

OK? Good luck. I mean it. If it all works out as well as mine did, you’ll be very happy – but again HUGE RISK FACTOR, for the love of Jesus, Buddah, Mohammed, Yahweh and all those guys PLEASE don’t do it just because I mentioned it and please, please, please do further, careful research before you splash out.

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114 Comments »

  1. Quasar says:

    Tempting, but I fear that my single GTX 560 wouldn’t be able to fill it with enough graphics.

    • Njordsk says:

      exactly.

      I mean I playing in 1680×1050 with my 7970 on a 120hz and I much much prefer that over a 27″ screen. More size, more resolution, more power required

      • spelvin spugg says:

        This sounds sort of silly but I have no idea why you would even want resolution above a certain point, though the larger the screen is the larger the pixels are. I can’t tell Skyrim in 1440 from Skyrim in 1680, except for the first few seconds after switching– my eyes just aren’t that good anymore. :(

        I am old enough to remember when 280×160 was considered “hi res.”

        • LintMan says:

          Higher resolutions reduce jaggies and the need to anti-aliasing.

          They also can provide more screen “real estate” – you can fit more “stuff” on screen – more windows, more icons, etc wothout reducing their pixel count. This is especially true in the Windows desktop environment.

          Some games (especially FPS’s) scale everything to fill your screen proportionally regardless of pixel count, so for those, the higher res only gets you smoothness and more detail. But games don’t have to do that and can be smarter – especially those with fixed HUD elements. In those cases,they can keep the HUD the same pixel size (no loss in detail) and use the extra pixels to provide more space for the main action area. IIRC, the original Supreme Commander was really good about this, supporting multiple HUD sizes.

    • El_MUERkO says:

      These monitors have a greater number of pixels-per-inch than your monitor, which means you can lower or disable anti-aliasing to improve performance when playing GPU stretching games.

      As the owner of a 2560*1600 monitor (with two 1920*1200 monitors either side of it) I eagerly await retina display PPI desktop monitors.

      For even more info on these cheap monitors you can read http://techreport.com/articles.x/23291

      • taedkmila says:

        Wow! Come take a look! Great stuff! PS3 and PC Bluetooth Gaming Headset for FPS Games! Only $ 56.57! Can get it! I believe you will like it! Ha ha! http://9oo.jp/lFILY

      • Foozlekiller says:

        How do you like having a different resolution on middle monitor?

    • innociv says:

      Yeah. I’m not sure why this is on RPS.

      It’s hard enough to get a good framerate at 1900×1200 in a high end game. Nothing can even do crysis maxed at at minimum of 60fps, can it? Not even a 680gtx or 7970 afaik.
      And I’m not sure why 16:9 is being recommended on a gaming site as well.

      You can get a more legitimate 24″ monitor for $300-$400 now days. They probably have a better response time and such, as well.
      There is no such thing as a 27″ or larger monitor that’s good for gaming.

      I love RPS, but the lack of technical savvy in these sorts of “news” posts bothers me some time. I wish RPS would stop it.

      • Wisq says:

        There is no such thing as a 27″ or larger monitor that’s good for gaming.

        Really? I’ll be sure to tell my 27″ monitor that. I’ve been using it for the past year and a half, and I’m sure it would like to know how bad a job it’s been doing all that time.

        I’m sure my late-2009-model dual-GPU video card will be interested to hear that too, as it’s been pushing 2560×1440 to my 27″ monitor at a decent framerate for all that time as well. I guess it’s just not good enough.

      • PoulWrist says:

        Because some of us care more about visual fidelity than we do about keeping 60FPS? My 27″ 2560×1440 games just fine for my level of gaming, and it would appear, most the rest of everyone who games. Not up to your standards for 120 fps? Then it’s not for you… however, it IS for me. And a GTX 680 does a marvelous job of running pretty much all modern games at close to 60fps maxed out. And as mentioned above, due to the much higher pixel density, I can keep antialiasing at 2 or 4 x without issue.

    • ripclaw says:

      I’ve been working and playing on a 30″ for years now, with a 560Ti, no problems at all. Plus, thanks to nvidias in driver scaling, it looks fine at 1920×1200 as well, if need be. I would never go back to a 24″.

  2. mouton says:

    Am I the only one who feels little to none pressure for better resolution? Maybe it is not yet now, but sooner than later graphics will arrive at the same point that audio cards are – no further development needed, except for a bunch of audiophiles.

    • Alec Meer says:

      THE ONLY ONE IN THE ENTIRE WORLD

      • rocketman71 says:

        Wrong. I’m with mouton. I could gladly stay at 1920 x 1080 for 5 years in exchange for getting those damned SSDs to an acceptable price in a decent size range (250-500 GB and up).

        • Alec Meer says:

          THE ENTIRE WORLD

          • Richard Beer says:

            27″ has its downsides. I game on a 27″ iMac booted into Windows (which is just fine btw) and a friend had to actually point out the peripheral vision dots you helpfully get at the edge of the screen when playing DayZ (or any other Arma II game). I’d been playing for weeks and never noticed them.

            The screen is absolutely stunning, but when you sit close enough to use a keyboard and mouse on the same desk as a 27″ screen you start missing things around the edges because it’s not just your GFX card that needs an upgrade to cope, it’s your eyes.

          • magnus says:

            Bah! I’m perfectloy happy with 1680X1050 and my GTX 560 handles that perfectly well.

          • SuperNashwanPower says:

            Just came here to say I laughed my bottom off at Alec’s replies. Ta, I needed that :)

          • Zugbop says:

            1366 x 768. No shame.

        • Xari says:

          Woooosh.

        • JohnP says:

          256Gb SSDs are at a pretty decent price now, and you can RAID-0 two together to get 512Gb equivalent…

          • Sakkura says:

            RAID + SSDs can be problematic since that sometimes means giving up TRIM support.

          • wicko says:

            Yeah recently intel released drivers that allow RAID 0 with TRIM on 7 series motherboards. Unfortunately I have a 6 series..

          • trjp says:

            Let’s be clear here – the ONLY way to make already unreliable and risky SSDs even more unreliable and risky is by RAID 0′ing them.

            Well, you could suspend them over boiling water or attach explosive charges linked to a random IP address I suppose…

            Seriously tho – you’d have to be insane to do that – why not just load your PC with RAM – run everything from a massive RAM disk and pray your power never fails eh? :)

        • protospork says:

          We’ve been stuck at 1920×1080 for well over five years already.

    • ElvisMZ says:

      I have a 22 inch Samsung (1080) and I feel the same. This seems to be the perfect size for me. I guess I shouldn’t knock it till I’ve tried it

      • Eophasmus says:

        I recently bought a Samsung 22″ monitor after my 15″ laptop screen died. I (unfortunately) can only game on said laptop and have done so for a few years now, so the change to 22″ is massive enough for me to be satisfied.

        I’d need to upgrade my entire rig or at least graphics card before even considering monitor / resolution boosts to 2160×1620.

    • frightlever says:

      1080P is fine for me. My eyesight is piss-poor anyway even at three feet away.

      • Jesus H. Christ says:

        I thought the same, but in a moment of insanity I hit the “buy it now” ebay button on a crossover 27q, which I’m pretty sure is pretty much the same as is described in the article (including the slight light bleed on pure black screens). And I’m blown away by the crispness and the color accuracy, and for only 345 including 2 day shipping from korea (marked as gift).

        I’m glad I gambled cuz I love it.

    • Llewyn says:

      For games? No, I’m with you there – happy with 1080p for the foreseeable future.

      For anything else, especially work? The more pixels the better, though I’d rather have some (sadly non-existent) 2160×1620 monitors for that.

    • Lev Astov says:

      Sound cards most certainly need more development, it’s just no one wants to invest the effort into it yet. Case in point: footstep sounds in FPS games are a joke and you’re fooling yourself if you think otherwise. I think when graphics finally get to where you’re talking about we might give them another go, though.

      Right now any form of environmental sound modifiers are merely crude filters. We need sound cards that really calculate the way sound bounces off of and is affected by various surface materials. This would take great strain off of the sound development in any game and allow for far greater realism of sound and spacial awareness.

      • InternetBatman says:

        Isn’t that something that can be handled by the CPU as speed goes up? I’m not a tech guy, so I’m legitimately asking.

      • Wisq says:

        Am I the only one who still invests in a discrete sound card that is supposed to be able to do this sort of stuff via the various 3D sound APIs?

        It sure seems like it, what with every motherboard coming with onboard sound, and everyone just plugging in to it and leaving it at that.

      • alundra says:

        Blame it on both Creative and Microsoft. Back in the Audigy era Creative was working on all sorts of sound realism effects thru the EAX api, to make it an universal standard they decided to start swallowing competing APIs like A3D, all was sailing ok for Creative until M$ decided to devour everything and remove support for everything but their proprietary sound layer from Vista and then Windows 7.

        Creative was forced to come with the software wrapper for their APIs known as OpenAL.

        By then integrated sound devices were offering mucho improved quality and support and Creative, after devouring most mayor competitors, lagged behind.

        These days I hardly see a game needing OpenAL/EAX and due to Creative’s stupid monopolistic tactics I’d rather have no sound card or one that has a c-media chipset.

        • LJFHutch says:

          I still haven’t seen a game produce sound that’s better than EAX; I’ve heard good quality sound files but still nothing quite like EAX.

    • alexheretic says:

      No way man, we need to keep pushing. Once we get to ~300ppi we can relax, and forget about AA. There is an end point, 1080p is not it!

    • Ragnar says:

      I will take more monitors over bigger monitors any day.

      I have a Dell 23″ 1920×1080 and two Samsung 21.5″ 1680×1050 monitors at home, and it’s pretty awesome with SoftTH. I would happily replace the side panels with two more of the Dell 23″ IPSs. I feel like the 23″ display is about as big as I would want.

      At work I have a Gateway 24″ 1920×1200 (along with a Dell 17″ 1920×1200 laptop), and the 24″ feels almost too big. While I like the higher vertical resolution, I think I’d prefer it in a smaller 23″ form factor.

      A previous boss had a Dell 27″, and I felt like I had to sit 5 feet back from the screen, at which point why not just using a 24″ and sit 4 feet back?

      Also, sound cards have devolved. They’ve gotten to the point where people don’t care because they’re built into the motherboard and are listened to via crappy headphones / spakers, and so the add-on sound card market has dried up and they’ve gotten cheaper and crappier as companies work to cut costs above all else. It’s sad that 5 year old X-Fi cards are better than the current SoundBlaster offerings. I’m no audiophile, but I did just upgrade to a $25-30 pair of headphones that put my old $30 headset to shame.

    • Muzman says:

      There’s something vaguely offensive to an old school PC user to have a monitor that is merely the same res as a television standard.
      *pshaw*
      (and yes, when 4k is the norm I will have a 5k monitor, so nyer)

    • daf says:

      Eventually when the screen resolution is high enough that it surpasses the capacity for our eyes to perceive the individual pixels. But as far as desktop monitors go we’re not even close to it.

      Unfortunately only apple seems to make any progress on that with their retina displays, everyone else just makes bigger screens wile keeping the same resolution which is bloody pointless as it lowers your ppi making images and specially text on them look worse as the pixels get larger and more noticeable.

      So for 27″ screen a resolution of 7680×4320 would get close with 326ppi.

  3. Psymon says:

    Is it really ok to give this person money for what he’s offering?
    Is it a knock off of sorts?
    Is it legit?

    Am I going too far if I were to draw parallels to someone doing the equivalent with software?

    • orta says:

      Word is that they are the same LCD’s as Apple use in the Cinema Displays, but they’re not the A grade that Apple use, but they can’t be sold to other big name brands.

      • Jesus H. Christ says:

        yeah, the seller I bought it from (dream_seller) explains it in their listings: a- grade, which means light bleed and or some dead pixels. Mine has no dead pixels.

        • Ignorant Texan says:

          Perhaps grade A- is more akin to the old “factory seconds” that American textile manufacturers(honest, we once had a domestic textile industry in the US) used to sell. My mother, who freelanced for JP Stevens, told me that one of their staff told her that was a way to keep the production lines running while not flooding the market. In other words, there was no way that they could make so many sub-standard products and stay in business, while still generating revenue from excess production.

  4. Celt says:

    It’s perfectly legitimate.

    Instead of buying one of these, I decided to ‘play it safe’ and go with the DGM IPS-2701WPH from overclockers for £319.99. Quite a price premium, but you get a proper fleshed out OSD, multiple connections (HDMI, D-L DVI, VGA and DP), quick delivery and 3 year UK warranty – all of which I considered worth it!

    Still has a shitty stand though.

  5. orta says:

    I grabbed one of these about 2-3 weeks ago and just thought I’d say that it’s been solid so far ( Mine is made by Yamakasi. ) It required that I buy a Mini DisplayPort to DVI Dual Link adaptor which cost an extra £60 for the adaptor. But it works fine, no dead pixels and no options.

  6. JohnP says:

    I’ve been doing some similar research recently, and I’m almost certainly going to go with the new Dell 2713HM to replace my Dell 2405FPW, instead of one of these Catleaps.

  7. roryok says:

    oh my god THE BACK OF IT IS A MEGADRIVE

    • baby snot says:

      Child of the Megadrive era here. First thing I thought too. It’s that circular bezel wot fooled me.

      • roryok says:

        has a cartridge slot and everything. If there was a monitor with an MD on back I would buy it.

    • PoulWrist says:

      I thought the same thing O.o

      • jrodman says:

        I thought it was a genesis… but I’m a dirty unwashed yank.

        But I would buy a monitor with an included megadrive, even PAL.

  8. mikmanner says:

    I got the Hazro monitor based off that older Hard Choices article, it has been excellent – no problems so far, touch wood.

    And yeah, there’s no going back to 1080p now.

  9. Qwentle says:

    I’m using one of the Hazros. When I first got it the monitor would switch off randomly during games, which seriously freaked me out. Just as I was about to return it I tried another dual link DVI cable and it turns out it was that (my mouse cable was tweaking it during fast FPS snaps). I also have the same issue as John has above, in that the monitor garbles all input on exiting standby (and when initially switching on, I need to ensure the PC is switched on before the monitor).

    Other than that it’s a gorgeous panel, and I’ve had no complaints about the quality. My main horror is trying to find my mouse cursor with that real estate to play with.

  10. po says:

    I’ve got 3 of the 27″ Hazros hooked up to a GTX690.

    The 3rd is connected using a Dr Bott mini-displayport to Dual Link DVI converter, as the GTX690 won’t support SLI across 3 displays using just it’s 3 DVI connectors, due to the way they’re hooked up to the GPU cores. Avoid the Apple made mini-DP to DVI converters like the plague (you can check the comments on the apple store).

    I got 2 of my monitors from Overclockers, and the 3rd direct from Hazro. One has a cluster of always on pixels big enough to qualify for a replacement, but I couldn’t be bothered, as it’s not noticable unless that area of the screen is full black.

    I specifically went for the models with the glass fronts, because one of my old monitors got broken by something hitting the screen. The bigger your monitor the more chance it has of getting hit by something, and 3mm of toughened glass is likely to take more abuse than the sandwich of two 0.5mm glass sheets that comprise the LCD. Even if it doesn’t crack, impacts can leave dark/light patches on the screen, that have a tendency to grow over time.

  11. slannmage says:

    1. Ignore dynamic contrast ratio, it’s a pointless false stat. Most only advertises it as contrast ratio to try scam the consumer, however try to find static contrast ratio. A good LCD monitor (all LCD, LED is another marketing thing) will be like 800-2000…. not these 5million+ numbers unless it’s OLED.

    2. The higher the resolution the less need for AA, naturally a higher resolution sharpens the image and gets rid of jaggies as a result. 1080p is old, it’s crap and I’d focus on going a higher resolution, that way you wont need to turn on AA, which MSAA uses a shit load of video memory, way more than a higher resolution.

    3. Ignore Billions and trillions of colours, again it’s false and most don’t even have the advertised 16.7 million.

    4. Watch out for 18bit monitors that use dithering that allows them to advertise it as 24bit

    5. Ignore 120hrz for now in cheap monitors. The problem is the higher the refresh rate the lower you need the response time to be. Sadly most monitors don’t have their advertised response time and are actually a lot slower. For 60hrz you need a response time of around 16ms and for 120hrz it’s around 8ms, which is why these 120hrz displays tend to have lots of ghosting. The problem is they’re cheap because they’re built for 3D so when that’s active it’s 2 60hrz images and you wear glasses that make the screen darker. It’s way better to get a good 60hrz monitor for cheap than a 120hrz one.

    6. Always check how reflective the monitor is, if it’s glossy and you’re gonna be using it in a sunny room, then the monitor will be like a mirror and you’ll never see any colours. Generally matted screens are better for the day and glossy screens are better for night. People tend to say glossy screens improve the colours, this is a cheap way of doing it. However if there is sun or any other light source it ruins the contrast ratio anyways to far worse than a matted or screen with some non reflective coating on it. Brightness is also important if you want the colours to come through a well lighted room or from the sun, if the monitor is dim then you’ll have a worse picture.

    7. Ignore viewing angles, most LCD monitors are the same, they like to advertise false claims too.The other thing is generally with a monitor you’re looking directly at it anyways.

    IPS monitors have a better contrast ratio than standard LCD, again ignore the LED part, it’s still an LCD. However in my experience IPS monitors tend to have a higher latency atm and are really expensive so not totally worth it unless you’re photo editing or something.

    In the end the best thing to do is go to a store and see yourself and read great reviews based on ghosting and other things. Never buy a monitor based on what you see from a picture, remember your monitor is producing the colours you see so it’s not representative of the one you’re purchasing. I’ve always had better experiences going round a few stores, seeing for myself and then ordering online.

    • Celt says:

      Monitors have vastly differing viewing angles depending on the type of panel. Try comparing viewing angles on a TN+ display next to an IPS display.
      Also, IPS panels have a much higher latency but EVERYTHING looks better on them. Excel, Chrome, photos, videos, games etc etc etc.

    • asshibbitty says:

      Your second point is about pixel density, not resolution. And even on the new iPad you can still see stepping so aa is needed.

  12. HothMonster says:

    I skimmed this article quickly and based on your glowing recommendation have ordered 200 of these for my company. I am considering this article to be a consultation and have sent you a 1$ check to make it legally binding. There shouldn’t be any problems though as long as the monitors are of the amazing quality you mention.

  13. Tom De Roeck says:

    I would rather buy 3 screens for that money, than one big one. But I need a lot of screens for my work, so I guess Im biased that way.

  14. CommanderZx2 says:

    I have a 30″ Dell with a native res of 2560×1600, I couldn’t imagine going back to anything smaller. I can easily have multiple full page size applications open at the same time with all this screen space.

    • jon_hill987 says:

      But no one wants to have more than one app showing at once! Otherwise why would Microsoft have invented the interface formerly known as Metro?

    • Lev Astov says:

      I was thinking the same thing. Fortunately, the shady ebay dealers also have low cost 30″ 2560×1600 IPS panels for around $700. I’m seriously tempted.

  15. tailzdru says:

    This is one hard choice I do not need to make.

    I used to use an Old enourmus 22inch CRT monitor before I discovered the joys of using my Tv as a monitor…

    42inch tv – Have never looked back

    • Meathead says:

      1920×1080 42inch TV as well.

      Been using it for 3 years now, would never go back to a teeny little computer monitor for home use, and the price isn’t much different. Who needs all that resolution?

    • mashakos says:

      heh, this is intersting considering the abov 4 comments.

      I have a 30″ Dell, but moved my HTPC to the living room, now hooked up to a 42″ Philips.

      Each has their advantages and drawbacks: colour is definitely more vibrant on the TV (tv’s sacrifice colour accuracy for a more pleasing look), while the 30″ Dell was by far the best screen to play FPS games on.

      The distance imposed by a living room setup also meant I couldn’t notice all the little imperfections you get from playing games at 1080p close up or watching bluray movies. The 30″ Dell is brutally unforgiving: anything below a fully uncompressed 2560×1600 feed would expose all kinds of little compression artifacts or pixellation.

      For the most part, I love both. That’s why I’m setting up a multiseat environment where I have my HTPC hooked up to my Dell 30″, while at the same time being hooked up to the tv in the living room via a LAN hdmi / usb extender combo.

  16. Astatine says:

    regarding the graphics card: You need a decent one, but not a ludicrous one.

    I’ve had a Dell U2711 for a while (an expensive monitor with OSD and many inputs, using the same 2560×1440 panel. I had money to burn, don’t judge me).

    My single GTX 570 drives it absolutely fine, at max or near-max details in most cases (I only had to turn one setting down from max in the Guild Wars 2 beta, for example — I flipped Shader Quality down to medium for a little more smearing and about +40% framerate in a busy problem spot.)

    Granted, I play mostly RPGs and MMOs, but my FPS days left me sufficiently attuned to these things that I notice and get grouchy if the framerate drops below about 50.

  17. TechnicalBen says:

    Honestly, if one pixel in a billion on my screen was dead… I’d notice it. Until it’s at a resolution too small for my eyes to see, I will notice it. I have a dead “subpixel”. It’s red, so I can only see it when a red thing is on the screen, but it’s annoying none the less.

    • wicko says:

      Sometimes you can fix those stuck pixels – have you given anything a try? Usually a full screen application that cycles through colours very quickly, or something along those lines.

  18. T4u3rs says:

    I’ll add this to my wishlist after cpu/mobo upgrade.

    Linking a more in-depth review:
    http://techreport.com/articles.x/23291/1

    It seems like some of these monitors don’t have HDCP support, so you might have problems trying to use a Blu-Ray or DVD-player. DHCP is one of those evil DRM schemes that didn’t get a lot of public attention and it’s completely ridiculous by design. I even had problems with it in the past because of some xbox360 update that didn’t recognise my monitor as an HDCP enabled device. Couldn’t get any sound via HDMI cable for a month:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-bandwidth_Digital_Content_Protection

  19. Nim says:

    I feel poor and old, my screen is 1280 x 1024. I have another supporting 1024 x 768 lying about somewhere. Gosh-darned first generation flat screens.

    • Ross Angus says:

      Phew. I’m rocking 1366 X 768. I thought I was alone.

    • NathanH says:

      I use 1280×1024 and 1366×768, anything higher makes my head hurt. They bought me a really huge screen at work once and it took ages before I could work as efficiently on it.

    • Rikard Peterson says:

      I have an old 1280×1024, too (An LG L1730P) and I’m still pretty much happy with it. I don’t think I’ll be replacing it until it dies.

    • DanDeath says:

      Same. I don’t really feel like I need more than 1280×1024, and if I really wanted higher resolution, I could just use one of my monstrous CRTs that are lying around.

      • Boarnoah says:

        I had a 1366×768 (19′) well its back light (I believe) burnt out so moved to a 1600×900 (22′) but yeah its too big as it is, web pages look weird in the middle of the screen >.<

  20. LennyLeonardo says:

    Sigh. I wish I had a cat.

  21. Tacroy says:

    I have one of these and I can confirm that it’s like having sex via your eyes. Tribes:Ascend and Skyrim are just glorious on it. Not only is it plain huge, but the IPS technology really makes things a lot more vibrant – everything looks dull when I toss it on my old monitor.

    I haven’t experienced any of the weird issues John has, but I also didn’t get quite the same model – the one I have is the FSM-something Jeff Atwood recommended on Coding Horror.

    The only problem so far is that the difference between idle, monitor off and idle, showing desktop is now about 30 degrees F on my graphics card. So there is that.

  22. felisc says:

    well thanks alec, i was all happy with my 1920×1080 and you put doubt in my mind. do you want your readers to run out of money ? i knew it.

  23. Rath says:

    I’ve just bought the Samsung LS27A950DS, and I am incredibly pleased with it. It is truly the finest thing I have ever witnessed. 120hz via DisplayPort.

    Tip: Through the Amazon Marketplace, I managed to get one cheaper from a German seller with no delivery charge than it would have been from the UK with delivery charge.

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Samsung-LS27A950DS-EN-Widescreen-Monitor/dp/B004UWZ5TK

    The colour control system Samsung use is incredible. For example, the black backgrounds of Audiosurf are such a true dark black that it’s nearly indistinguishable from the black casing, while the colours are like having a neon sign in front of you. Cannot emphasize the love enough.

  24. Freud says:

    I’m happy with dual monitors and 1900*1200 is good enough for gaming. If one of my current monitors die, I’ll think about getting a second graphics card and adding one of these. But I really wouldn’t want to use just one, albeit giant, monitor. I’m so used to having several (had three before).

  25. Boozebeard says:

    I bought the Hazro last year but ended up getting refunded and shelling out for the Dell. The first one came broken on arrival, weird green lines would keep appearing on screen, I got that replaced and it worked for about 6 months when the backlight started going strange and would change brightness of it’s own accord, I ignored this for a while until the glass panel one day actually fell off… Obviously I returned the monitor again but as so much time had passed it was sent back to Hazro for repair. I heard nothing for 6 weeks (good thing I had a second monitor to use, especially as this was over the period all my deadlines were due) and then out of the blue I received a full refund. It took them 6 weeks to not even fix it.

    Worked out for the best though; I bought it when it first launched at a price of £500~ this was when the dell was £800+ but now the dell has come down to about £550 I was able to grab one without paying much more and I have 0 regrets. The build quality is just so much better and I get dells fantastic next day replacement service if I get so much as one dead pixel. Honestly I would never gamble on buying one of these, especially from Korea where you are fucked if it goes wrong which in my experience and from many other Hazro users seems more than likely to be the case eventually.

    On the note of the Hazro’s glass panel and glossy finish on the monitor panel, I actually really liked it, it had a really lovely effect on the picture quality and I didn’t really have any glare issues. That’s actually the only thing I don’t like about the dell, the antiglare coating it is really harsh and makes the whites especially look a bit grey and sparkly.

  26. RuySan says:

    I’m using a samsung 22” 1680*1050 monitor for 4 years and i’m perfectly happy with it. It already feels quite big in my desk and my 5 year rig can still run everything perfectly fine. I’m not that fussed about jaggies anyway…they give some character to the games themselves…almost like scars.

  27. Mark says:

    Great article, but you’ve missed out on some of the other brands using the same panels, there’s something like 6-7 in total.

    I bought a Crossover 27Q last week and it’s absolutely beautiful. Games, (RTS’s and EVE especially) look spectacular. The colours are lovely, I make games for a living but struggle coming back to my work PC every day now it’s such a downgrade.

    If you think you’ll not notice the difference or the higher res isn’t nicer to have you’re very wrong ;)

    Barely any need for AA either since the pixels are so small and numerous. Obviously you need a card that can handle the higher res but you can somewhat offset this by lowering other settings.

    Check out the Crossover i’m pretty sure it’s got the best build quality out of the different brands using these panels and the LED-P version comes with an adjustable stand.

    http://www.overclock.net/t/1226917/crossover-27q-led-p-available-on-ebay-next-week/140

    http://forums.redflagdeals.com/merged-various-korean-branded-27-2560×1440-s-ips-lcds-280-450-us-shipped-ebay-1146004/

    There no looking back after using one, brilliant.

  28. CaLe says:

    I use my monitor for my gaming consoles too so the amount of connections is an important factor for me. I currently have 2xHDMI, 1xDVI, and component cables connected to my NEC 24WMGX3. The VGA is the only one not being used. I seriously doubt any of these monitors can fill my insatiable hunger for connections.

    I also sold a brand new 27″ Samsung monitor because it just couldn’t compete. It was worse in every aspect, even though the NEC is 2-3 years older.

    • Llewyn says:

      I bought, a few years ago, a 1080p monitor with DVI and single HDMI to double as primary PC display and Xbox screen. When I later bought a PS3 I bought a cheap HDMI switcher to try out with the consoles. I’d heard rumours of performance issues or HDCP failing to work but I’ve been using it for nearly 3 years without any problems at all, although I’ve admittedly never tried it with the HDMI output from my PC.

    • Carra says:

      For a plus, you can have a monitor with extra connections. You could always pull out a cable and put in another one if you still don’t have enough.

  29. Carra says:

    I bought one a month or two ago to go with my Geforce 670, using a €120 22″ screen with a €400 graphics card just didn’t feel right.

    And I’m very happy with it. The screen colours look fabulous and it’s huge in comparison to my old screen. Those two things stick out most of all. Playing games like the Witcher 2 or Diablo 3 look ten times better than on my previous PC, especially the special effects. The casing on my Crossover looks nice too, it’s all in metallic and feels sturdy. And it magically went from Korea to Belgium in 5 days.

    For the downsides? I had to cough up €90 for taxes, customs put the value at €350, which is €50 more than I paid. Seeing how the seller marked it as €200, I didn’t want to make a fuss about it. And it has been flickering like once week. Powering it on and off does the trick though. And as Alec says, going to work and having to work on a 19″ + 20″ setup with very bland colours feels very limited after working with a decent screen.

    Overall, I’m very happy with it and I’m wondering why they’re not selling them over here. Would be nice to have two of these at work…

  30. desolateshroud says:

    On a side/related note, did anyone buy the Benq monitor recommended in the hard choices article? If so wot do you think?

  31. TheAngryMongoose says:

    I suppose that if I ran such a screen on my Radeon 6850 (Dual-link DVI with HDCP – Max resolution: 2560×1600), then there wouldn’t be much hope of a second monitor along side it?

    • Conrath says:

      Would assume you can handle more screens and that’s probably just the maximum res for any single one of them. I’ve got my older 5850 connected to three screens without any problems and the middle one is a 30″ 2560×1600.

      Also, 16:10 for lyfe!

  32. bad guy says:

    I play on a 15″ screen 1366*768, 100Hz …. OLED *gg*

  33. Cold Steel says:

    I’d rather have a 30″ 16:10 screen with LED backlight, but sadly I haven’t seen one yet. Eizo and NEC still stick CFL’s in there. My current 24″ is a bit too small to comfortably watch the occasional movie from the couch.

  34. Solidstate89 says:

    2560×1440 on a single screen? That’s cute. How about 3840×2400 on a single screen? :-P

    http://sdrv.ms/OfOsnx

    Just click on “View Original” and be prepared to scroll.

  35. adammtlx says:

    Fair warning, I ordered a Catleap Q270 IPS monitor (similar to the ones mentioned in the post) off eBay from a dealer in South Korea for $350ish and when I plugged it in it bricked my video card (570 GTX) and itself. Fortunately the dealer was very cooperative and gave me a full refund, and I was able to RMA my video card, but it was a pretty lame experience.

    After that little nightmare I think I’ll just wait until the more reputable manufacturers have 27″ IPS monitors for around the $350 mark.

  36. DD says:

    I bought one of the120hz monitors from 120hz.net and love it. I have been able to reach 106hz through overclock with a lowly 6870. I just got a brand new GTX 670 today however so I should be able to reach 120hz! Time to test it.

  37. Servizio says:

    So if I’m reading this right, I should go ahead and buy one of these monitors and if I’m not completely happy, Alec will personally reimburse me? Sounds good.

  38. Muzman says:

    I’ve got a Dell U2711 which I paid a fair bit for (and I’m not rich by any stretch). It’s very nice, despite it’s annoyingly OTT glare coating and the res is well worth seeking out. I read stuff like this and I’m glad this cheaper stuff is out there though. If it was around at the time I would have seriously reconsidered the big name purchase.
    Still, as the pain of the price has worn off I have come to appreciate the bells and whistles. It’s got crazy connectivity (multi sources, for two computers and dvd players etc, USB ports, SD card reader) which I never thought I’d need but now use all the time. The stand is good and strong. It has zero dead pixels and comes standard with the Dell mega warranty. I haven’t been forced to use it yet but when you hear all these stories about the variability of cheaper panels and the complexity of shipping internationally from small time dealers and how they can die after only a year, it is a relief.

  39. changeofpants says:

    I got one a week ago, the $290 Shimian lite or something like that. I had the same misgivings, but there are no dead pixels or other problems as far as i can tell. The colored lines issue only happens to me on coming back from sleep mode and can be solved with a single power cycle.

    My seller on ebay gave free expedited shipping, so it got to my place in the US in about four days. I had to buy a korean plug to us plug adapter to get it to work, but other than that its been great. The only problem i’ve had with it is lack of horizontal desk space from sharing with my hp w2408. I should also mention i didn’t get any kind of insurance or anything like that. I think by now the manufacturers have worked out most of the kinks.

    Really, its the best deal monitor-wise that there has been for a long time. I have two other friends who bought the same model and have the same things to say about it. One of them got an older model capable of 120hz, though the new ones have a different pcb that prevents this. The users of 120hz.net have been talking with the manufacturer to get more of the panels released with the old pcb, since being able to do 120hz was not something theyd planned for (and is actually a little out of range of the official dual-link dvi spec). They’ve gotten a few runs released, but they are only receiving them sporadically. It should also be noted that running a lot of things at 120hz takes a fair bit of tweaking, the official support for the standard is pretty sparse at the moment.

    My model only does 60hz, but its still an incredible deal anyway. Sitting next to my old TN panel (which gets hotter and has much inferior viewing angles) really drives that point home.

    • trjp says:

      I’m curious about this obsession people have with viewing angles – do you all use your PC as some sort of communal TV or something?

      It’s just I sit in a chair at a desk and my monitor is bang-in-front of me. The only change to my ‘viewing angle’ is if I release the backrest of the chair when – to be fair – I’m viewing the fucking ceiling :)

      Is this all about the “come and look at this” factor or am I missing out on some aspect of PC gaming that requires me to move around a lot and look at my screen from weird angles?

      Are you hanging from the ceiling like Batman as you type the reply?:)

      • Solidstate89 says:

        If you’re using a 27″ monitor at the usual distance, it doesn’t matter how you angle it, or the fact that you’re looking at it straight on – if it’s a TN panel there will be color distortions. It’s just a fact of a monitor that large using that shitty of a panel technology.

        It’s especially true for notebooks. Instead of having to find the absolute dead center of the display in which you can view it without getting color distortions, it can be off by a few degrees and not matter. You don’t seem to have a firm grasp at just how important good viewing angles are, especially on larger monitors or laptops.

        • trjp says:

          If I don’t have a firm grasp it’s because people like you can’t explain it properly.

          To give you an idea, I stood in PC World last night staring at a range of monitors. There were 19s though 27s on a variety of systems but no matter where I stood or how long I stared, I could not really tell the difference between any of them in terms of noticeable colour balance or distortion or anything like it.

          Yeah, the vibrancy of the colours varies a bit – even accounting for a store’s tendency to whack-up the brightness on everything – and certainly the IPS panels seemed to have a more even tone and were viewable from sillier angles BUT the difference was not the life-changing event you seem to be making it out to be and I had to stand in a really silly place (like 1m to the side of the monitor) to really notice the difference.

          Why would I be standing/sitting 1m to the side of my monitor again? :)

          Perhaps my old eyes no longer appreciate the fine details yours do – but I strongly suspect the real issue here is one of “I must have what I KNOW to the be the best” rather than “I need that because the other one looks terrible by comparison”.

          Are you really saying that a 27″ monitor is so big that the ‘viewing angle’ for the sides of the screen is radically different to the centre? Do you sit so close to your monitor that there are bits of nose skin on it!!!!!

          • Solidstate89 says:

            I sit no further than 3-4 feet away from my monitor.

            A 27″ or even 30″ monitor – even staring straight on – would be having color distortions in the outer edges/corners. That’s how bad TN panels are. An IPS panel would not have that kind of problem. And as I said, that rings especially true for a laptop since that display can be (depending on the model) anywhere within a 180 degree range.

  40. trjp says:

    This article comes at a time where I’m staring at a 19″ 1440×900 monitor which is 5 years old and bleeding blacklight in stripes across it’s width whilst it’s showing me a bank statement which says I can afford a new AON IPS 23″ perhaps (just under £140)

    Why did it have to come at THAT time – WHHHHHHHHHAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

    • trjp says:

      Mind you, when you step back from this it’s really a bit like suggesting on a car forum that people buy cars from the Armenian Mafia.

      They were likely stolen from the UK in the first place and MAY have had their innards replaced with those from a Lada but they’re BIG, SHINY and CHEAP.

      “Look at how MASSIVE my monitor is – admiteddly it turns-off quite regularly, gives me migraine-inducing coloured-lights from time and time and may melt my GPU/PC/HOUSE/BRAIN at some point but it’s MASSIVE”

      Also slightly amused that someone brought up Diablo III – it’s OK that it might disappear from your screen but if Blizzards servers wobble there WILL be tantrums :)

      p.s. if you’re a retro gamer and want to play something which is resolutely and forever locked to 640×480 or maybe even the racier 800×600, will you need binoculars? :)

  41. emotionengine says:

    It’s interesting to read about these monitors on RPS, as I am in Korea right now, and you can get your hands on one of these for as less as £120, or $186 here – which I’ve got to admit is more than tempting.

    Here’s a link for the curious, ( £1 = 1,800 Korean Won) – although if or how you’d get it sent over to ye olde Europe/US if you could somehow manage to make a purchase from one of those sites from overseas I have no idea.

    Actually, if this price search engine is to be believed, there’s somehing like over a hundred models sporting what I presume is the identical panel (maybe?).

  42. Radiant says:

    Has anyone done any lag testing on these?
    Not trying to get a monitor that’s pretty but not up to gaming.

  43. protospork says:

    I have an enormous desk (seriously, as wide as I am tall and half as deep) but 27″ is still enormous by my standards. I just want to see higher resolutions at lower sizes, so I could one day replace my cheap mismatched 1080p displays with a matched pair of 23″ 2560×1440 ones.

    And I’d love to see laptops climb back out of the 1366×768 ghetto they’ve fallen into. What the hell is that all about?

    • trjp says:

      The laptop thing is the effect of a global recession. For the first time ever, PCs are neither getting cheaper nor better – and so manufacturers have to cut-back on specs to keep offering cheap systems/systems which APPEAR to be an upgrade for people.

      Last Christmas the usual people bought themselves ‘new’ laptops and in many cases discovered the machines they’d bought were actually less powerful (overall) than the machines they got the year before. Some things were better (more memory, usually) – but HDD sizes, CPUs and particularly screen sizes had often regressed.

      I’m guesses there’s huge demand on screen manufacturers which will be having an effect on prices for everyone.

      On the bright side tho, 1366×768 makes a lot of sense given the woeful state of laptop GPUs – putting a higher-res panel into a laptop is arguably a bit stupid, really.

  44. trjp says:

    I was talking to someone today who picked-up one of these in late spring and his tale may contain useful info for prospective purchasers.

    His monitor arrived and worked AOK – he was DELIGHTED at the visual quality and he reckoned he could live with the neolithic controls too.

    Paradise lasted about 2 weeks – when the ‘won’t go to sleep properly’ thing became a ‘won’t wake up at all’ thing. Power cycling (pulling the plug) worked for ever shorter periods – but would usually get better after a break (overheating somewhere then??)

    At that point he realised he’d bought a shiny Rolls Royce with an 80s Lada engine and so he contacted the seller who ignored him so he contacted PayPal who raised a case which the seller also ignored but which didn’t result in a refund (the reason for which PayPal have not yet come back on)

    So he contacted his credit card company and they agreed to refund him his monies in full. They said they ‘may’ collect the monitor and that he should retain it for at least 3 months. This resulted in PayPal closing his account – still without any reasoning.

    So – use a credit card when you buy the thing – and use a new PayPal account or that ‘pay without an account’ option if you have it eh? :)

  45. RockandGrohl says:

    Alec. Oh Alec, Alec Alec.

    1440p. :( I’m sad to say it doesn’t bladdy exist. In fact, the only HD denominations with a P at the end are 720p and 1080p because these are defined as HD standards. You don’t name any other denominations with a P. 1680×1050 isn’t 1050p, it’s just 1680×1050.

  46. electristan says:

    Well, i bucked under the pressure of having an amazing monitor ant a great prize and ordered the same model you guys did from the same dealer.

    Arrived today to Norway after five business days and it’s perfect. didn’t pay for the “pixel perfect” version nut mine showed up without any issues bar some slight light bleed when black, but you really have to look to notice it.

    Just wanted to say thanks for the tip.

  47. Sardukar says:

    I’ve run three monitors including a central 30″ Dell at 4720×1600 for years, usually keeping up with games via buying a $300 graphics card every few years.

    I recommend Soft TH http://www.kegetys.fi/SoftTH/ if you are leary about unusual resolutions or different-sized monitors.

    Skyrim and Deus Ex HR were glorious at 4720. Wrap-around until you run out of peripheral.

    Also keep an eye on the new VR glasses tech bouncing around right now, specifically Oculus Rift.

  48. basstaverns says:

    Just to say that I bought an Achieva Shimian QH270 lite from an ebay seller called ta_planet and it’s bloody smashing, turned up in 4 days, perfect nick, no dead pixels – thanks for putting me on to this!