Being the proud owner of a 28-inch 4K monster should be reason enough for men to want to be you and women to want to be with you. But are all those extra pixels actually worth the massive financial investment required? We’ve had the delightfully-large, 28-inch ASUS PB287Q 4K monitor on test to find out.
But before we get going, it is important to understand what the 4K standard actually means. In the cinema industry, “4K” denotes a resolution of 4 096 x 2 160 with an aspect ratio of 19:10; however, when it comes to TVs and monitors 4K has become synonymous with the Ultra High Definition standard, which boasts fewer pixels. Thus these screens have a resolution of 3 840 x 2 160 and stick to the traditional widescreen aspect ratio of 16:9.
The ASUS PB287Q is a 28-inch monster screen that boasts a 4K UHD resolution of 3 840 x 2 160, and uses a Twisted Nematic (TN) panel, which explains why ASUS can boast a 1ms Grey-to-Grey response time (it’s one of the technology’s strengths).
The traditional downsides of TN panels, namely poor colour reproduction and viewing angles, aren’t as noticeable in this premium panel and only become obvious under serious scrutiny and testing.
8.29 million pixels vs 2.07 million pixels
While testing did highlight the slight shortcomings of the PB287Q’s TN panel, the tests also showed it’s pretty decent once you’ve played around with all the settings. ASUS has equipped this screen with a host of image and colour settings which allow for a vast array of adjustments and corrections to be applied.
One such setting is VividPixel, which ASUS claims is there to reduce image noise and enhance outlines, but during testing it proved to have an undesirable impact on image sharpness. Needless to say, once the monitor was tweaked it passed almost every test. The one test in which the PB287Q didn’t amaze me was the white saturation test in which the last three blocks in the Lagom.nl test were indistinguishable from one another.
In real-world tests the PB287Q delivers one hell of a performance, with no indications of ghosting with colour representation almost as good as an IPS panel; in fact it was hard to distinguish between this TN panel and Dell’s IPS-equipped UH2713HM screen. Watching HD and UHD movies was a real treat with vivid colours and blacks, for the most part, as deep and rich as a TN panel can provide. However, the bottom edge of the screen is subject to a fair amount of backlight bleed, certainly enough to irritate a purist.
But does it game?
Playing games on the PB287Q was a feast for the eyes no matter whether the game was DOTA 2, Battlefield 4 or Far Cry 4.
The only problem with playing games at 3 840 x 2 160 is that anything less than a flagship GPU simply won’t cut it, at least not at any detail level worth playing at. A normal 1 920 x 1 080 resolution display has 2.07 million pixels, a 2 560 x 1 440 display has a little over 3.68 million pixels, but a UHD display has over 8 million pixels which, naturally, requires a lot of power from the graphics card, especially when you factor in the 60Hz refresh rate.
This means that over and above what you spend on the ASUS PB287Q, you will also need to drop at least R7 000 on a high-end graphics card. Mid-range cards need not apply – they simply won’t be able to keep up.
With all that extra real estate, one would assume that browsing the web and editing documents would be a dream, but due to the massive resolution of the PB287Q it’s actually problematic. Browser tabs are so small that those without decent eyesight might be forced to lean towards the screen and be mistaken for a short-sighted geriatric. You will need to employ the various zoom and scaling options in Windows and web browsers in order to read comfortably.
It’s not an unsolvable problem, but it is definitely something to keep in mind.
Get out your screwdriver
ASUS is known for making premium quality products and one can feel that when putting the PB287Q together. Unfortunately, some assembly is required if you purchase this screen: the stand needs to be screwed onto the monitor, and the base must be connected to the stand. For those planning to use the included stand this will be an inconvenience, however those who wish to use a VESA stand or mount instead this is quite useful.
The PB287Q’s stand allows for height, tilt and swivel adjustment, but since the swivel is built into the underside of the stand, the entire base swivels rather than just the screen. No matter how the screen is adjusted, the movement is firm and controlled with no wobble, even when being moved into portrait mode.
The PB287Q is rather limited in terms of inputs featuring only two HDMI ports (one of which supports MHL) and a DisplayPort. The lack of input options is due to the limitations of the DVI and VGA standards. In addition to those ports, there are 3.5mm audio-in and audio-out jacks. There are also two 2W speakers built into the tough plastic bezel but are so unexceptional that they can’t compare to even to a cheap pair of stereo speakers.
The onscreen display is detailed and feature-rich, allowing for various adjustments as well as access to the screen’s Picture In Picture functionality. The only negative aspect is the placement of the buttons, which are found on the rear of the monitor and take a bit of practice to master.
The ASUS PB287Q could be considered a premium product given that it’s sporting a UHD resolution. Further supporting that idea is the price tag: at R13 000 it’s neither affordable nor the cheapest UHD monitor on the market. Samsung’s U28D590D has similar specs and is over R2 000 cheaper but lacks any height or swivel adjustments. Both monitors have TN panels, which is not what you’d expect from screens at this price.
If you do buy this, you will have the benefit of knowing you are one of a select lucky few who has pockets deep enough to purchase a monitor sporting this crazy resolution. I would go so far as to say gaming at UHD resolutions is by far the most visually pleasing experience known to man, but bear in mind that you could also buy a new graphics card and a smaller 1440p monitor for just over half the price. That lower resolution is a little easier on the eyes in a desktop environment, and you get the benefit of choosing between TN, IPS and VA panels.
No matter whether you choose to buy a UHD display or one with a cheaper 1 440P panel, there is no denying that 1 080p is old hat, and with the power of today’s high-end graphics cards there is almost no reason not to spoil yourself with a monster display. The only limitation here is whether you can justify spending this much or not.
Panel Size : Wide Screen 28-inch (71.12 cm)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
True Resolution : 3 840 x 2 160 at 60Hz (DisplayPort), 3 840 x 2 160 at 30Hz (HDMI)
Pixel Pitch : 0.16mm
Brightness(Max) : 300 cd/㎡
ASUS Smart Contrast Ratio (ASCR) : 100 000 000:1
Viewing Angle (CR≧10) : 170°(H)/160°(V)
Response Time : 1ms (Grey to Grey)
Display Colours : 1073.7M (10bit)
LCD ZBD Warranty : Yes
Stereo Speakers : 2W x 2 Stereo RMS
Signal Input : HDMI , HDMI/MHL, DisplayPort
PC Audio Input : 3.5mm Mini-Jack
Earphone jack : 3.5mm Mini-Jack (for HDMI & DisplayPort Only)
Dimensions (with Stand): 660 x 414 (lowest) x 220.06 mm