There's a lot to say and tell about what we tested for you guys today. Fact is, Ultra High Definition at a 3840x2160 resolution kicks ass. Now that said, this won't be everybody's cup of tea alright as there are some drawbacks you need to keep in mind. Next to that sure, you need a whole lot of horsepower to be able to game at this resolution. But let's simply break down this page with a number of items I like to discuss.
First off, the monitor at 31.5" is just HUGE. Sitting in front of it browsing the desktop you will have to move your head from left to right a bit as there is that much surface area to cover. Now I am not complaining, but that will not for everybody. It's a lot of information at eyesight to seach in. Normally I work with 2560x1440 screens in my office. That for me was the golden resolution to work in. I say was as after spending a couple of days with the Ultra HD screen, honestly I hate to go back to 2560x1440. In my case, more screen resolution is more productivity. But the main complaint really is simple, the pixels are pretty close to each other and as an end result you'll notice that fonts and icons look rather small. You can enlarge these of course. Once you open up Photoshop at 3840x2160 you'll get a smile on your face the size of Godzilla. That DSLR showing RAW photo's definitely does more justice now. Fantastic quality. We didn't do any color tests on the monitor BTW but the color gamut I feel is very close to accurate at default setup. The screen only needed a little less brightness. But other then that it delivers an excellent color spectrum.
Mild annoying stuff
The monitor at the lower side of the screen has some edge bleeding. I hate that. And overall at night time the screen is one shade too bright so black is never 100% black like you have on a nice LED panel. Don't get me wrong, It's good .. but at 3000 EUR you expect perfection. On that topic, the screen has build in speakers that probably didn't cost more then a dollar each. Dirt cheap speakers have been installed, I don't get that at this price level. A word of advise, the EU model of this monitor won't have the HDMI connectors, the US version does have them. Since not everybody is on DisplayPort just yet that we feel is a miss. By all means though we do recommend everybody to use this monitor with the DisplayPort connector as it is the more convenient way to setup.
Here's the thing, the screensize is too small to notice the horrendous details a 4K screen can offer. The pixels are just to close to each other. So if you like to enjoy and notice the difference of 4K then you'd need to be say 30cm away from the screen. But if you watch 4K content at say a meter and a half away, it kinda does look like Full HD, slightly more crisp and detailed though. BTW I tested this incredible subjective explanation with Elysium the 4K trailer. Within the trailer once you fly over the city, that's where all the detail really pops out. Fantastic trailer BTW, go have a look. It's a 500MB download.
Gamers buying this screen should be aware of some drawbacks. The screen can be a bit hard to setup and you do need to have a serious gaming rig. As shown a single dedicated GPU really isn't cutting it unless you would like to forfeit on image quality or AA, which is a paradox as we imagine you are buying a screen like this to game at the best possible quality. Dual high-end GPUs are the way to go here, until the next generations graphics cards from AMD and NVIDIA arrive of course. Image quality wise I have to admit, it looks just gorgeous. But once software houses will really start to support Ultra HD that'll be the moment in time where the real difference will be made as you can expect UHD texture packs in the future. Some software houses already have committed to that, I just am not allowed to tell you which games will have it. But most of the games will look great as they are, other fantastic.
Click image to load up full 3840 x 2160 pixels sceenshot and watch it at 100%. Warning, that is a 9MB .PNG file
Battlefield 3 for example, it is nearly retarded how nice it looks in Ultra HD. I'm not joking here, I had some other people have a look at it and had them play a level with Battlefield 3. Their mouths where literally open and ending with the words, I want that too! Another example is playing RTS games like Anno 2070, I started the game .. and lost 4 hours of my time. It is incredibly immersive to have that much resolution at your disposal.
Click image to load up full 3840 x 2160 pixels sceenshot and watch it at 100%. Warning, that is a 11MB .PNG file
There's a lot more land to cover and see, well just awesome. So these monitors are brilliant for RTS games. For FPS, well the 8ms latency wasn't a big deal for me. But FPS games want incredibly high framerates, even better at 120Hz. You guys should stick to your current monitor for now. But for the less critical gamer run of FPS gaming this monitor will function absolutely fine. So yes UHD does make a difference.
Setup of the screen on an AMD Radeon card isn't that difficult but as it is right now you will need to create an Eyefinity setup and merge the two panels embedded in the monitor to 3840x2160 / 60 Hz. Also the first time you apply UHD it'll configured at 30 Hz. With AMD in-between the two screens there is a 1px wide line visible from top to bottom (vertical). Once you enforce 60Hz on the screen that clears up.
Gaming wise I'll be upfront and honest, AMD has got work to do as there are two issues to deal with. For example in-game if you move quickly from left to right (and that is visible on screen) with dual-HDMI then you can see a vertical tear / a delay in-between the two panels. Enabling VSYNC will probably solve this partly. This does not happen over DP btw. To battle that problem AMD's competition already has included technologies like Fliplock and Scanlock to combat vertical tearing in multi-GPU and multi-monitor scenarios. Basically Fliplock forces each GPU to flip frame buffers in sync and Scanlock forces each GPU and each head to display scanlines in sync. It won't be hard for AMD to implement this into their drivers. Secondly AMD of course still needs to support frame-pacing to prevent micro-stuttering. The lower your FPS is the more you will notice it. And at this resolution trust me, FPS overall and often can be low. Back when Catalyst 13.8 Beta was released AMD already announced that higher resolutions like UHD would be supported in a next phase driver. We received this statement from AMD yesterday:
AMD - As AMD has already publicly stated when the frame pacing feature was first introduced with Catalyst 13.8 beta, it does not address resolutions above 2560x1600. At the same time, AMD has also committed to addressing these cases in a future update. Details of the rollout for this solution will become very evident, and made public in the very near future.
So as stated above within a short time frame 4K gaming issues like mentioned above will be fixed, as well as Frame Pacing at Ultra HD. So give them a little time I'd say, this technology is so new. Once they have the Phase 2 updated Catalyst driver, we'll report and examine this again.
With a GeForce solution pretty much everything is going as planned. You install a compatible driver, select MST mode and the driver will do the rest. Seconds later you have your panel configured at 3840x2160 / 60 Hz and you are ready to rock and roll. Overall these graphics cards are fast enough gaming is a pleasant experience and none of the problems we described at team red are a problem here, meaning fliplock and scanlock already is working allowing an incredibly smooth gaming experience inbewteen the two panels. NVIDIA jumped on all this fast and has the monitor well supported. Very nice and props to NVIDIA for being on top of this so fast.
I'm not saying the ASUS panel is top notch, but it really is darn good. Sure there is a little back-light bleeding and the speakers are crap. But the setup as is works incredibly well. For gaming we feel the size and resolution is perfect though as the entire line of sight is covered. Realistically only the most expensive graphics card setups can handle Ultra High Definition. But when working and active, it is an incredible sexy experience. Once the software houses are going to release Ultra HD texture packs then that where it will be easy to convince basically everybody. I am a fan alright, but do understand that a lot of you guys will be very sceptical about gaming in UHD on a 3000 EUR/USD panel. I forsee that in a year from now these screens will get more common. Once they drop to the 1000 EUR marker, that's where we'll see wider support and way more interest.
Until then like any new technology there will remain to be some issues that need to be adressed. Overall though, I am stoked and incredible enthusiastic about this new technology. Bring on UHD texture packs and the smile on my face will get even bigger. This article is a first of probably many, we'll look into the driver updates and we'll likely start using 4K benchmark testing in the high-end graphics card reviews. So until soon ;)
PC Gaming in UHD - Ultra High Definition - benchmarks review We review the ASUS PQ321 monitor in Ultra High Definition PC Gaming, we'll start off with a quick overview of the 3840 x 2160 pixels monitor, then do some regular benchmarking at UHD and then some FCAT results. This article will not be deep in technology, just an easy read and overview of what the new revolution in PC gaming can be. PC Gaming in UHD - Ultra high definition with the ASUS PQ321.