ASUS PQ321Q UltraHD Monitor Review: Living with a 31.5-inch 4K Desktop Displayby Chris Heinonen on July 23, 2013 9:01 AM EST
If you are going to use the ASUS PQ321Q, you’re going to want DisplayPort 1.2 support. HDMI will work, but it’ll be choppy with its 30Hz refresh rate. If you have a video card with dual HDMI 1.4 outputs, you can use both of them to drive it at 60Hz if your video driver supports it. DisplayPort 1.2 allows for Multi-Stream Transport (MST) support, letting you drive two displays with a single DP cable. But why does that matter if the ASUS is your only monitor? Because to get the full 60Hz refresh rate out of it, DisplayPort needs to see it as a pair of 1920x2160 monitors that each get their own signal.
The ASUS has MST mode disabled by default. With my NVIDIA GTX 660 Ti I had to manually enable it in the monitor for it to turn on. I’ve been told that with ATI or Intel GPUs over DisplayPort 1.2 it is automatic, but I don’t have those to test with. Once enabled, it quickly went from 30 Hz to 60 Hz while staying at 3840x2160 resolution.
Since I run multiple displays like most people, this seemed to be an ideal time to test out Windows 8.1 and its ability to offer individual DPI scaling on monitors. For this test I used the ASUS PQ321Q, connected over DispayPort, and a Nixeus VUE 30 (review forthcoming) connected over DVI running at 2560x1600. With a single universal setting, you use a percentage setting for scaling in Windows 8.1. With individual control, you use a slider more like on a Retina MacBook Pro. The percentage is hidden, which I dislike. I don’t understand why we have a different way to select the scaling level if you have two monitors versus one. Perhaps it is a beta issue, but I think they should be uniform.
Moving beyond that, when I attempted to scale the PQ321Q, I had an image that was still fuzzy instead of sharp. Thankfully a driver update (as 4K MST panels are new) fixed this issue quickly. The independent display scaling in Windows 8.1 still didn’t work the way I wanted it to. The choices are unclear, including which monitor you are adjusting, and I never could get it setup exactly how I wanted it. I wound up setting it to 150% for both displays and dealing with my 27” running with larger icons than I prefer.
Now I have an effective 2560x1440 desktop, only everything is sharp. Amazingly sharp. It is like moving from my iPhone 3G to the iPhone 4 and its retina screen. The text as I write this in Word is crisp and clear, and editing gigantic spreadsheet in Excel is much easier when the cells are so easy to read. Unfortunately not every application in Windows plays well with DPI scaling.
Chrome is scaled 150% as Windows asked, but it is hazy and blurry. Disabling DPI scaling for the application and then scaling to 150% inside Chrome produces crisp, clear text. Firefox also didn’t scale automatically, but it has a setting to adjust to make it follow the Windows DPI scaling rules. Once set, Firefox looks very nice and crisp. For most people, that setting should already be set to follow DPI scaling.
Finding a chat client that works well is a challenge. Both Pidgin and Trillian don’t do DPI scaling and are fuzzy by default. Another app that had issues is Steam. Right-clicking in the System Tray icon brought up a menu in the middle of the screen, where it would be without DPI scaling. The reality is that some apps are great and support DPI scaling, and some need work, just like when the retina MacBook Pro was released. Evernote looks great, but Acrobat is a fuzzy mess. This is all a bit of growing pains, but I find myself disabling DPI scaling on applications that don’t support it because I prefer tiny and sharp to fuzzy and large.
Because the 2560x1440 resolution is what I’m used to with my usual 27” monitor, I found there to be no real difference in how I used the ASUS monitor. I typically split items to different sides of the screen, with Word on the right and Evernote on the left as I type this. The application that benefitted for me was image editing. Being able to fit more on the screen, or zoom in to higher levels, made working with images on the ASUS better than on a 27” of the same effective resolution. I don’t do that much image editing, but for the work I have done it has been wonderful.
You’ll also quickly find out how much people need to go back and fix up programs or websites to use images and text separately. Text combined in an image scales very poorly, but is often easier than doing proper layout for two separate elements. I feel a bit bad for all the developers that need to go back to fix everything to work with high-DPI screens, but that time has come.
The only way to sum up daily use of the ASUS PQ321Q is “awesome”. It’s not perfect, but much of that is the fault of Windows or other programs and websites. When you have something that can scale and look correct, it is amazing how much the extra pixel density and sharpness helps. Yes, this is the future for displays, and we are entering the transition period to get there.
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cremefilled - Wednesday, July 24, 2013 - linkEven putting aside your syntax issues, almost all audio equipment depreciates in value quickly. The rare exceptions would be (the minority of) tube based amplification, and maybe a very few speakers (Quad ESL 63's).
Calista - Thursday, July 25, 2013 - linkWhat's even worse, judging from the pictures of the homes of audiophiles the same person spending 10-20k or more on his stereo spend little to no thought on how the room effect the sound. Something we all know is incredibly important for the way sound-waves behave.
cheinonen - Thursday, July 25, 2013 - linkAs an audiophile as well as a video guy, I don't think the problem is that audiophiles are the worst hobbyists when it comes to paying for diminishing returns. I think the problem is that the press around audio focuses far too much on those diminishing return pieces. I'm considering writing a piece on budget phono amps, as more and more people buy turntables, but it's going to be hard. You can find 100 reviews of a $2,500 phono stage, but none of a $130 one that most people might buy. I think audio has a bad, bad marketing problem that the press reinforces.
vgroo - Monday, July 29, 2013 - linkDiminishing returns is an understatement. Whenever I hear the word "audiophile", it always reminds me of those numerous sound-clarifying snakeoil products (e.g. the magnificent Bedini Clarifier, http://www.bedini.com/clarifier.htm) and the praising reviews they get around the web.
Shadowself - Wednesday, July 24, 2013 - linkThe low end of what anyone with any knowledge of the subject says is *easily* discernible by a person is one arc minute per pixel. (There are things like vernier acuity, rotational acuity and such that can push that by a factor of 10 or more -- to 0.1 arc minute per pixel or less.)
A commonly accepted, comfortable viewing angle is 60 degrees. (Some "experts" put it at 90 degrees or more.)
Combining the minimum 1 arc minute per pixel with the minimum 60 degrees gives a horizontal pixel count of 3,600 as the minimum that the average person can easily discern given an optimum viewing distance. (If you take that to the other extreme of 0.1 arc minute and 90 degrees this becomes 54,000 horizontal pixels at the optimum viewing distance.)
So is 2160 (v) x 3820 (h) worth it to the average person with good eye sight? Absolutely. It just barely crosses the 3600 horizontal pixel count.
If you can't tell the difference between UHD (2160p) and HD (1080p) then I humbly submit you need to get your eyes checked. If you can't tell the difference between 720p and 1080p then you REALLY need to get your eyes checked.
1Angelreloaded - Wednesday, July 24, 2013 - linkNo believe me playing games for long enough, on low end and high end screens def makes you more aware to PPI, in fact it is funny that most HDTVs look horrible to me, even at the optimized distance. There are things you just notice, if anything I thing being around PC for 2 long makes us somewhat sensitive just like the difference between 30fps and 60fps typically you shouldn't be able to tell a difference but as so many had said yes you can.
cremefilled - Wednesday, July 24, 2013 - linkAnyone with knowledge of the subject knows that 60 Hz versus 30 or 24 Hz is easily discernible, and 120 vs 60 is also easily discernible. The confusion here stems from 24 fps being the standard for film, but the difference is that film has built-in artifacts like motion blur that make 24 Hz the bare MINIMUM for smooth motion.
If you've seen IMAX presentations, you know that even for true film, 60 vs. 24 is a huge difference.
entrigant - Friday, May 30, 2014 - linkSound is as quantifiable as video. The accuracy of each can be measured and known beyond question. It's just that nobody does it because they don't want to admit their $2000 stereo is measurably terrible despite how good they've convinced themselves it sounds.
ImSpartacus - Tuesday, July 23, 2013 - linkThey sit too far away ON AVERAGE.
Sitting distance is a random variable and it has non-trivial variance.
I made a spreadsheet to measure this effect: http://goo.gl/dNkj6
n13L5 - Thursday, July 25, 2013 - linkI'm glad I don't have to worry about yanking $ 3.5k from somewhere, cause years of computer use has caused my 20/20 vision to weaken to the point where 1080p on a 27" screen works just fine...