Crucially, how good are their displays? We look at the whole picture…
The good news is that, broadly, all these displays are at least competent, and if you’re wondering if 4K is worth it, the answer is yes – especially at these prices. Whether you opt to power them at their native 3840×2160 (which means minuscule interface elements but massive amounts of space) or at pixel-doubled ‘Retina’ mode at, say, 1920×1080 (which means bigger, more usable interface elements with bags of detail), you quickly appreciate the extra pixels. If you do creative work especially, the detail you see in photos and film is a huge boon, and apps are quickly becoming Retina-optimised.
There is an obvious winner here in terms of image quality, though, and that’s the model from Dell. It’s not really a surprise, since its panel is IPS, generally considered to produce richer images with wider viewing angles compared to the TN technology used by the other displays here. And that certainly proved true in our testing.
We calibrated all the displays using X-Rite’s i1Display Pro, and then ran a quality check on them; the Dell had the most colour-accurate display, with a ΔE value of 0.85. That sounds technical, we know, but you just have to know that in this context a ΔE value under three is usually considered to be good enough for general use, though image professionals will usually demand a ΔE value of less than two. What’s more, the Dell was the only display here that worked at 60Hz with the Mac Pro, and is the only one here listed on Apple’s support page. Images were terrific on it, and viewing angles superb.
Viewing angles for the others were worse – especially vertically – which was exacerbated by the big panels. Indeed, though we couldn’t confirm it, it’s possible they’re all using the same panel – although differences were still evident.
The model from Lenovo gets a poor rating partly because its glossy screen is prone to reflections, but also because its black levels look a little grey. It had the second worst colour accuracy score (ΔE 2.08, compared to the AOC’s 2.64), but even those values are perfectly acceptable for most people.
The rest are all within spitting distance of each other, though the Philips deserves a nod since its backlighting seemed the most even of the TN displays.
Lenovo Pro 2840mD