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Introduction

During 2013 the desktop monitor market made a noticeable advancement towards providing ultra high definition displays. This is matched in other multimedia areas including televisions where higher resolutions, and the necessary content, are starting to become more popular and widely available. The arrival of "4k" resolutions is still very new in the desktop monitor market place and so far there have only been a few screens with these ultra high resolutions. The term "4k" refers to a screen with a horizontal resolution in the order of 4000 pixels. In fact what we are talking about with most of the desktop monitors is a "4k Ultra HD" resolution, which is 3840 x 2160 (8.3 mega pixels), that being four times the number of pixels of a 1920 x 1080 resolution.

So far we've seen only a couple of mainstream models emerge with 4k resolution support, most notably the 31.5" sized Sharp PN-K321 and Asus PQ321Q models. Both were based on a new panel technology from Sharp called IGZO, which we will look at a bit more later on in the review. These screens were really the first attempts to deliver 4k resolutions in the desktop space. Dell have now released their competing model into the market, the 31.5" UP3214Q. This model is also based on an IGZO technology panel from Sharp, but actually offers some additional features and extras compared with the earlier models. There is a wide gamut LED backlight system being used, the screen offers a full 3840 x 2160 resolution at 60Hz, and there is even a hardware calibration feature like other recent UltraSharp range screens from Dell. 4k resolutions are here although there's quite a few considerations you need to make if considering a screen like this which we will discuss throughout the course of the review. Look out for the "important 4k consideration" sections scattered throughout the review for some of the key points.

Dell's website says "See your work in stunning Ultra HD clarity on our largest Dell  UltraSharp monitor featuring high pixel density and exceptional colour accuracy. Ultra HD 3840 x 2160: Get four times the resolution of Full HD and see the finest details with ultra-high pixel density. Vivid, accurate and consistent colour: With PremierColor, your monitor provides superb colour accuracy and 99% Adobe RGB and 100% sRGB coverage. Expansive display: Multitask with plenty of space to see all of your applications across an expansive 31.5" display."


Dell UP3214Q Now Available


Specifications and Features

The following table gives detailed information about the specs of the screen:

Monitor Specifications

Size

31.5"WS (80.1 cm)

Panel Coating

Medium AG coating

Aspect Ratio

16:9

Interfaces

DisplayPort 1.2a, Mini DisplayPort, HDMI

Resolution

3840 x 2160

Pixel Pitch

0.182 mm
140  PPI

Design colour

Matte black bezel with silver stand/base

Response Time

8ms G2G

Ergonomics

Tilt, height, swivel

Static Contrast Ratio

1000:1

Dynamic Contrast Ratio

2 million:1

VESA Compatible

Yes 100mm

Brightness

350

Accessories

Cable cover, power, DisplayPort > Mini DisplayPort, and USB cables. Factory calibration report

Viewing Angles

176 / 176

Panel Technology

"IPS mode" IGZO

Weight

monitor with stand: 12.15Kg

Backlight Technology

LED

Physical Dimensions

(WxHxD with stand max height)
749.9 x 572.4 x 214.0 mm

Colour Depth

1.07b (10-bit)

Refresh Rate

60Hz

Special Features

4x USB 3.0 ports, card reader, hardware calibration, factory calibration modes

Colour Gamut

Wide gamut
100% sRGB, 99% Adobe RGB

The Dell UP3214Q offering a reasonable set of connectivity options although some of the more common interfaces are left off here. There are DisplayPort, Mini DisplayPort and HDMI provided, since these are the only connections which have the bandwidth necessary to deliver the full 4k resolution to the screen. As a result, DVI and VGA have been omitted.


Important 4k Consideration
- The ability to display a 4k resolution relies on several factors. The DisplayPort interfaces can support the full 3840 x 2160  resolution at a refresh rate of 60Hz as they have the necessary bandwidth capacity. However you do need a graphics card which can offer this resolution/refresh rate over DisplayPort as well. The graphics card must also be DP1.2 certified with MST feature, and the driver must also be able to support Display ID v1.3. If you have the necessary graphics card and driver, you can connect to the UP3214Q from the DP output on the card to either the normal DP or the mini DP inputs without much issue. You should find that the graphics card detects the screen and automatically sets you to 3840 x 2160 first of all, but at a locked refresh rate of 30Hz. You need to go into the screen OSD and enable the DisplayPort 1.2 mode. This will only work if your graphics card can support it, and the instruction manual for the screen talks about this a bit more. Only the DP connections can support the full resolution at 60Hz, and HDMI is limited to only 30Hz which leaves you with a noticeably choppy and stuttery performance. If you try to switch to DP 1.2 mode and your graphics card doesn't support it, it can be very tricky getting things back since you can't actually get into the OSD menu when no signal is detected. You can only change the input. So you have to connect another device via HDMI, but it can't be a PC which supports 4k or a device which will struggle when it detected the screen is 4k compatible. Even when you have HDMI working and can get back into the OSD menu, you can't turn DP 1.2 off since it's greyed out when using HDMI, do instead you have to do a full factory reset which loses all other settings and calibrations you might have done.


The screen comes packaged with a DisplayPort > Mini DP cable but not a standard DP > DP cable or HDMI cable. The screen has an integrated power supply and so it only needs a standard kettle lead which is provided in the box. There is a built-in 4 port USB 3.0 hub as well on this model and the cable to connect back to your PC is provided too. There is even a 9-in-1 card reader located on the left hand edge of the screen which is a useful extra and nice to see it's been included. The supported card types are shown below from the Dell user guide:

There are no further extras such as integrated speakers, or ambient light or motion sensors. The screen is compatible with Dell's SoundBar if you want. Below is a summary of the features and connections of the screen:

Feature

Yes / No

Feature

Yes / No

Tilt adjust

DVI

Height adjust

HDMI

Swivel adjust

D-sub

Rotate adjust

DisplayPort

VESA compliant

Component

USB Ports

Composite

Card Reader

Audio connection

Ambient Light Sensor

HDCP Support

Touch Screen

MHL Support

Hardware calibration

Integrated Speakers

Uniformity correction

PiP / PbP



Design and Ergonomics



Above: front and back views of the screen. Click for larger versions

The UP3214Q comes in an all-black coloured design with matte plastics used for the bezel and stand. The bezel is relatively thin and attractive at ~25mm wide along all sides. The lower bezel features a shiny silver coloured Dell logo in the centre as you can see from the above images. There is no other writing on the bezel at all. The edges of the screen are a little rounded, and I personally like the design and it looks very nice on the desk. The screen is noticeably bigger than the 27" models we have become quite used to testing and it really was massive on the desk.

The base of the stand is fairly small considering the mammoth size of the display, measuring 250 x 215 mm (W x D) cross and is made from a matte silver coloured plastic like the recently tested P2414H and P2714H models. It seems the UltraSharp range will move to this new design stand as the U2414H is also the same. It provide a decent balance for the screen and it remains sturdy when positioned on the desk.

The back of the screen is again a matte black plastic and is nicely rounded and enclosed well. There is a round Dell logo at the top as shown above. The interface connections are located in the lower portion. Both the front and back of the monitor arm / stand is a matte silver plastic which looks nice and provides a good contrast to the black plastics elsewhere. There is a useful cable tidy hole as you can see from the images above.


Above: views of OSD operational buttons on the right hand edge of the screen

The touch-sensitive OSD operational buttons and power on/off are located in the bottom right hand corner and are situated on the front of the screen as shown, along the right hand side. The power is an actual pressable buttons but the rest are touch sensitive as they were on recent UltraSharp models from Dell, helping with the Premium feel of the display. These only light up when you use them and so are very well hidden during normal use. When the screen is turned on the power LED glows a subtle white colour, and it pulsates on and off in the same white colour when the screen is in standby.

The stand comes packaged disconnected from the screen in the box. It is incredibly easy to connection and you simply slot it into the panel and it clips in to place. You are able to VESA 100mm wall-mount the screen if you wish as well, and thanks to its thin profile might look pretty good on a wall. However the display is heavy, weighing 9.22Kg without the stand. The screen offers a decent range of ergonomic adjustment from the stand as detailed above, which we will look at in more detail below.


Above: side view showing full tilt range. Click for larger versions

The screen has a fairly thin profile from the side thanks to the use of a LED backlighting unit. It measures only 214 mm deep with the stand, with the panel only being 51.5mm on its own. There is a silver metal trim around the entire edge of the screen which looks attractive and enhances the premium feel of the design. On the left hand edge near the bottom is the 9-in-1 card reader slot. There are no USB ports on the sides of the screen sadly, they are all on the back with the video connections.

The tilt function is smooth and easy to use and provides a very good range of adjustment to meet your demands.


Above: front view showing full height adjustment range. Click for larger versions

The height adjustment is again smooth and easy to use and provides a reasonable range considering how big the screen is. Certainly adequate to get a comfortable viewing height. At its lowest setting the bottom edge of the screen is approximately 35mm above the top of the desk, and once at maximum height it is ~125mm. This gives you an adjustment range of ~90mm.

The side to side pivot offers smooth movement, but is very stiff to use. To the point that the whole screen and base tends to move as one, instead of the base staying stationary as you move it from side to side. There is no rotation function on this model as the screen it just too big to make that practical.

A summary of the screens ergonomic adjustments is shown below:

Function

Range

Smoothness

Ease of Use

Tilt

Yes

Smooth

Easy

Height

90mm

Smooth

Easy

Swivel

Yes

Smooth

Very stiff

Rotate

n/a

-

-

Overall

Good range of adjustments, tilt and height very easy to use, although swivel is too stiff

The materials were of a good standard and the build quality felt good as well. There was no audible noise from the screen, even when conducting specific tests which can often identify buzzing issues. The top of the screen gave off a reasonable amount of heat during use.

 
Above: dimensions and information for the UP3214Q. Click for larger version


Above: interface connections on back of the screen

The back of the screen features the video interface connections as shown above, along with the USB upstream and 3x USB downstream ports. We did find that sometimes when returning from PC sleep mode, the screen did not detect a video input. A quick unplug and re-plug of the DisplayPort cable from the back of the screen did the trick.

 



OSD Menu


Above: views of OSD operational buttons on the right hand edge of the screen

The OSD menu is controlled from a series of 5 touch-sensitive buttons located on the bottom right hand edge of the screen. There are 5 small grey coloured circles visible on the bezel and as you hover your finger near them the bottom button lights up. Pressing this button pops up the quick launch menu as shown below.

The quick launch menu gives you access to change the preset modes, brightness/contrast and input selection, as well we entering the main OSD menu. When this menu appears the other touch sensitive buttons also light up to show they are active, and they are situated next to these above options to make it easy to select what you want. You can also change the options available in this quick launch section from within the main OSD menu, using the 'personalize' section.

The input selection option gives you quick and easy access to switch between the available video inputs. There is also a handy "scan sources" option which will auto-detect the input in use. This wasn't available on some previous Dell models like the U2713HM, so you had to manually switch between inputs if you had more than one device connected.

Like other Dell OSD software we have seen in the past, the main menu is divided up into sections along the left hand side, here there are 9 available. The options and settings within those sections are then shown on the right hand side. The first section as shown above, is the brightness/contrast section.

The input menu is self explanatory.

The color settings section has quite a few useful settings to pay around with, particularly when it comes to calibration. You can access the preset modes here as well with the options shown above. There are options for various pre-defined colour temperatures here and also options to use the colour space emulation for Adobe RGB and sRGB if needed. The 'custom color' option is also available to allow you to manually alter the RGB channels to a higher degree if needed.

An interesting, and new option in this section is the 'Zonal Color Space'. This handily allows you to choose different colour spaces for the right and left hand side of the screen, since the display is actually detected as two distinct screens by your graphics card (more on that later). So if you want you can work with wide gamut on one side, and standard sRGB on the other. This is a nice feature and may well be useful for colour critical work or colour checking.

The 'Display settings' section allows you to control a few other useful extras. The aspect ratio control offers options for wide 16:9, auto resize, 4:3 and 1:1 pixel mapping. You can control the uniformity compensation feature in this section too which we will test later on.

Important 4k Consideration - to run the screen at the full 3840 x 2160 resolution and at 60Hz refresh rate you need to go into this section of the menu and enable 'DisplayPort 1.2'. This will only work if you graphics card and driver can support the relevant features. The Dell user manual explains you need to "ensure that your graphics card driver can support DP1.2 with MST feature, capable of displaying 3840 x 2160 at 60Hz and its driver supports DisplayID v1.3, or the display may not show correctly." After switching this setting on, we were able to run the screen successfully at 60Hz, eliminating the stuttering and choppy feeling we had before at 30Hz.

The PBP settings menu allows you to control the Picture By Picture options.

The 'Energy settings' section allows you to control the power LED and USB settings as shown above.

The 'Menu settings' allows you to control a few things relating to the OSD menu itself.

Within the 'Other settings' section you can change a few things, including turning the annoying Dell button beeps off.

The 'personalize' section allows you to change the shortcut keys if you want to from the quick launch menu.

All in all there were a very wide range of options and the menu was quick and intuitive to navigate. The touch buttons give a premium feel to the screen, which you would expect really given the very high price here. They worked well and all in all we were impressed by the menu.

 



Power Consumption

In terms of power consumption the manufacturer lists 100W typical usage (that's high!) during operation and <1.2W in standby. (*) The spec also lists maximum power consumption of 170W but that's with maximum brightness, USB in use and Dell's SoundBar connected as well apparently. We carried out our normal tests to establish its power consumption ourselves.

State and Brightness Setting

Manufacturer Spec (W)

Measured Power Usage (W)

Factory Default (50%)

100.0

88.8

Calibrated (19%)

-

61.0

Maximum Brightness (100%)

170.0

104.5

Minimum Brightness (0%)

-

45.4

Standby

<1.2

1.3

We tested this ourselves and found that out of the box the screen used a very high 88.8W at the default 50% brightness setting. At maximum brightness the screen used 104.5W of power, but that was without Dell's SoundBar connected or anything being powered on USB. Once calibrated (Custom Color mode, 120 cd/m2 brightness) the screen reached 61.0W consumption, and in standby it used 1.3W. We have plotted these results below compared with other screens we have tested. If you compare the calibrated power consumption (when each screen had been set to achieve a 120 cd/m2 luminance) you can see the power consumption of most W-LED models if quite comparable and nice and low. Those using modern GB-r-LED backlights (Dell U2413, U2713H, U3014) use a bit more power, and the older CCFL units (Dell 3008WFP and U3011 for instance) are even more power hungry. The Dell UP3214Q's LED backlight sits somewhere in between the GB-r-LED and CCFL backlights in terms of power consumption.



Panel and Backlighting

Panel Manufacturer

Sharp

Colour Palette

1.07 billion

Panel Technology

"IPS-mode" IGZO

Colour Depth

10-bit

Panel Module

LQ315D1LG9D

Colour space

Wide gamut

Backlighting Type

LED

Colour space coverage (%)

99% Adobe RGB, 100% sRGB

Panel Part and Colour Depth

The Dell UP3214Q utilises a Sharp LQ315D1LG9D panel. The panel technology is a little bit of a mystery as Dell list in their specs "In-plane switching". However, we know that this isn't always 100% true, as for example we've seen the same from their P2714H model, when in fact it uses a Samsung PLS panel. Sharp also aren't a manufacturer of IPS, that being an LG.Display technology predominantly. In the past Sharp have been focused on their MVA type technology, and ASV which is a Sharp equivalent to VA. This is a new panel though and as you will see from the review it is very "IPS-like" in performance characteristics and specs. It is expected that Sharp are producing an "IPS-mode" technology similar to LG.Display's IPS and it is that which is being used in the UP3214Q here. We assume Dell have just stuck with the well-known IPS name for ease, and perhaps in the absence of a definitive technology name for Sharp's panel. Studying the detailed panel spec sheets of these new panels doesn't reveal anything useful around the panel technology name either.

One thing we do know though which both Dell and Sharp talk about is that the panel being used is a new IGZO panel. IGZO is a revolutionary, transparent compound semiconductor that Sharp is the first to successfully mass-produce and bring to market. It was jointly developed by Sharp and the Semiconductor Energy Laboratory Co., Ltd and stands for Indium gallium zinc oxide consisting of indium (In), gallium (Ga), zinc (Zn) and oxygen (O), It has been introduced as an alternative to the common a-Si (amorphous silicon) commonly used to produce LCD screens. IGZO-TFT has 20-50 times higher mobility than that of amorphous silicon, which has been used for current LCD's and electronic papers; therefore, IGZO-TFT can improve operation speed, resolution and size of flat-panel displays, and is also considered as one of the most promising thin-film transistors to drive organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays. One of its main advantages according to Sharp is that it can offer almost twice the resolution of a-Si displays. Equally they talk about how IGZO can achieve power savings of 80 - 90% on still images.

The panel is capable of producing 1.07 billion colours. According to the detailed panel spec sheet this is done with a true 10-bit colour depth without an additional Frame Rate Control (FRC) stage being needed. However, you need to take into account whether this is practically useable and whether you're ever going to truly use that colour depth. You need to have a full 10-bit end to end workflow to take advantage of it which is still quite expensive to achieve and rare in the market, certainly for your average user. This includes relevant applications and graphics cards as well, so to many people this 10-bit support might be irrelevant. Given the UP3214Q's position as a professional grade, high-end screen, it's pleasing to see the support included.

The panel is confirmed when dismantling the screen:


Screen
Coating

The screen coating on the UP3214Q is quite similar to that featured on other recent Dell screens we have tested. It is a normal anti-glare (AG) offering as opposed to any kind of glossy coating. It is however a what we would call a medium AG coating which retains its anti-glare properties to avoid unwanted reflections, but does not produce too grainy or dirty an image like some old IPS panels. It is not as light or semi-glossy as some models we've tested and may appear a little grainy to some. We examined the screen surface but could not see any sign of any cross-hatching type issues thankfully.


Backlight Type and Colour Gamut

The screen uses an LED backlight unit. It is not specified what type of unit this is, but it is likely to be similar to recent GB-r-LED units we've seen from recent Dell U series screens (U2413, U2713H, U3014). It offers a wide colour gamut with an Adobe RGB coverage of  99% according to the specs. This means it can cover 100%+ of the sRGB colour space. You do need to keep in mind that wide gamut coverage is not necessarily to everyone's liking. Considering the price and positioning of this screen wide gamut is likely to be a useful selling point, and something which has not been offered to date from other 4k 31.5" rivals like the Asus PQ321Q for example. For those who don't want to work with wide gamut content or contend with complications around colour management or oversaturated colours, an sRGB emulation preset mode is also provided thankfully.
 

Backlight Dimming and Flicker

We tested the screen to establish the methods used to control backlight dimming. Our in depth article talks in more details about a common method used for this which is called Pulse Width Modulation (PWM). This in itself gives cause for concern to some users who have experienced eye strain, headaches and other symptoms as a result of the flickering backlight caused by this technology. We use a photosensor +  oscilloscope system to measure backlight dimming control with a high level of accuracy and ease. These tests allow us to establish

1) Whether PWM is being used to control the backlight
2) The frequency and other characteristics at which this operates, if it is used
3) Whether a flicker may be introduced or potentially noticeable at certain settings

If PWM is used for backlight dimming, the higher the frequency, the less likely you are to see artefacts and flicker. The duty cycle (the time for which the backlight is on) is also important and the shorter the duty cycle, the more potential there is that you may see flicker. The other factor which can influence flicker is the amplitude of the PWM, measuring the difference in brightness output between the 'on' and 'off' states. Please remember that not every user would notice a flicker from a backlight using PWM, but it is something to be wary of. It is also a hard thing to quantify as it is very subjective when talking about whether a user may or may not experience the side effects.


100%


95
%                                                                   70%

50%                                                                   20%

0%


Above scale = 1 horizontal grid = 5ms

At 100% brightness a constant voltage is applied to the backlight and it remains in a constant 'on' state as normal for most screens. As soon as you start to reduce the brightness control though you can see the characteristics oscillation on the graph, showing that Pulse Width Modulation is being used. Between a setting of 99% and 70% the amplitude increases steadily, until at 70% the backlight is being cycled completely off each time (0V on the graph). From 70% downwards the amplitude remains the same (since you can't go any further than 'off' anyway) and the  duty cycle is just decreased to produce a reduced luminance. You will see the 'on' portions of the oscillation on the upper peaks get progressively shorter, while the 'off' portions in the troughs get longer. Standard behaviour for a screen using PWM really.

0% zoomed

Above scale = 1 horizontal grid = 0.5ms

If we go to a smaller scale we can see that the backlight appears to be cycled in a slightly unusual way, with every third cycle reaching the desired brightness, and the other two cycles being a little lower. This is another way to produce an overall darker image for the user. The PWM is operating at 240Hz here and so may be problematic to users who are sensitive to its use.

Pulse Width Modulation Used

Yes

Cycling Frequency

240 Hz

Possible Flicker at

 

100% Brightness

No

50% Brightness

Yes

0% Brightness

Yes

For an up to date list of all flicker-free (PWM free) monitors please see our Flicker Free Monitor Database.

 


Contrast Stability and Brightness

We wanted to see how much variance there was in the screens contrast as we adjusted the monitor setting for brightness. In theory, brightness and contrast are two independent parameters, and good contrast is a requirement regardless of the brightness adjustment. Unfortunately, such is not always the case in practice. We recorded the screens luminance and black depth at various OSD brightness settings, and calculated the contrast ratio from there. Graphics card settings were left at default with no ICC profile or calibration active. Tests were made using an X-rite i1 Display Pro colorimeter. It should be noted that we used the BasICColor calibration software here to record these, and so luminance at default settings may vary a little from the LaCie Blue Eye Pro report.

OSD Brightness

Luminance
(cd/m2)

Black Point (cd/m2)

Contrast Ratio
( x:1)

100

341.43

0.44

776

90

323.36

0.42

770

80

307.88

0.40

770

70

289.42

0.38

762

60

274.01

0.36

761

50

258.64

0.34

761

40

212.55

0.28

759

30

169.36

0.23

736

20

122.83

0.16

768

10

79.18

0.10

792

0

35.20

0.05

704

 

Total Luminance Adjustment Range (cd/m2)

306.23

Brightness OSD setting controls backlight?

Total Black Point Adjustment Range (cd/m2)

0.39

Average Static Contrast Ratio

760:1

PWM Free? 

Recommended OSD setting for 120 cd/m2

19

The brightness control gave us a very good range of adjustment. At the top end the maximum luminance reached 341 cd/m2 which was very close to the specified maximum brightness of 350 cd/m2 from the manufacturer. There was a large 306 cd/m2 adjustment range in total, and so at the minimum setting you could reach down to a luminance of 35 cd/m2. This should be adequate for those wanting to work in darkened room conditions with low ambient light. A setting of ~19 in the OSD menu should return you a luminance of around 120 cd/m2.

We have plotted the luminance trend on the graph above. The screen behaves as it should in this regard, with a reduction in the luminance output of the screen controlled by the reduction in the OSD brightness setting. This was not however a linear relationship. The adjustments between 100 and 50% controlled a smaller range of luminance but as you went lower than 50% brightness the luminance changes were more pronounced. This did at least mean there was a very wide range available in total thankfully. It should be noted that the brightness regulation is controlled by Pulse Width Modulation at a frequency of 240Hz as described in the previous section of this review.

The average contrast ratio of the screen was 760:1 and it remained reasonably stable across the brightness adjustment range as shown above but with some fluctuation at the lower 30 - 0 brightness range.

 



Testing Methodology

An important thing to consider for most users is how a screen will perform out of the box and with some basic manual adjustments. Since most users won't have access to hardware colorimeter tools, it is important to understand how the screen is going to perform in terms of colour accuracy for the average user.

I restored my graphics card to default settings and disabled any previously active ICC profiles and gamma corrections. The screen was tested at default factory settings using the DVI interface, and analysed using an X-rite i1 Pro Spectrophotometer (not to be confused with the i1 Display Pro colorimeter) combined with LaCie's Blue Eye Pro software suite. An X-rite i1 Display Pro colorimeter was also used to verify the black point and contrast ratio since the i1 Pro spectrophotometer is less reliable at the darker end.


Targets for these tests are as follows:

  • CIE Diagram - validates the colour space covered by the monitors backlighting in a 2D view, with the black triangle representing the displays gamut, and other reference colour spaces shown for comparison

  • Gamma - we aim for 2.2 which is the default for computer monitors

  • Colour temperature / white point - we aim for 6500k which is the temperature of daylight

  • Luminance - we aim for 120 cd/m2, which is the recommended luminance for LCD monitors in normal lighting conditions

  • Black depth - we aim for as low as possible to maximise shadow detail and to offer us the best contrast ratio

  • Contrast ratio - we aim for as high as possible. Any dynamic contrast ratio controls are turned off here if present

  • dE average / maximum - as low as possible. If DeltaE >3, the color displayed is significantly different from the theoretical one, meaning that the difference will be perceptible to the viewer. If DeltaE <2, LaCie considers the calibration a success; there remains a slight difference, but it is barely undetectable. If DeltaE < 1, the color fidelity is excellent.



Default Performance and Setup

Default settings of the screen were as follows:

Monitor OSD Option

Default Settings

Brightness

50

Contrast

50

Preset mode

Standard

RGB

n/a


Dell UP3214Q - Default Factory Settings

  

 

 

Default Settings

luminance (cd/m2)

263

Black Point (cd/m2)

0.33

Contrast Ratio

788:1

 

Out of the box you could certainly tell the screen featured a wide gamut backlight. Colours felt bright and vivid and looked more saturated than you will see from the common standard gamut screens out there. The screen was too bright for comfortable use which is fairly normal. We went ahead and measured the default state with the i1 Pro spectrophotometer.

 

 

The CIE diagram on the left of the image confirms that the monitors colour gamut (black triangle) extends beyond the sRGB colour space considerably, with a lot of over-coverage in greens mainly. In red and blue shades it did not really extend beyond the sRGB space much and so colours did not appear overly neon or unrealistic in those cases. We have also provided a comparison of the native colour space of the backlight above against the Adobe RGB space which you can see is met very well in fact. Some wide gamut screens extend beyond this space, but the backlight here was a close match to Adobe RGB natively.

 

 

Default gamma was recorded at 2.2 average, leaving it with a 0% deviance from the target of 2.2 which was very pleasing. White point was measured at 6162k leaving it a small 5% out from our target of 6500k which was also pretty good, just slightly too warm. Note that we are using a spectrophotometer to make these measurements which is not sensitive to the wide gamut backlight as some colorimeter devices can be. When using a standard gamut colorimeter not designed to work with modern backlighting units like W-LED, WCG-CCFL and GB-r-LED there can be a typical deviance of 300 - 600k in the white point measurement which is why some sources may refer to a different white point in this test incorrectly.

 

Luminance was recorded at a bright 263 cd/m2 which is too high for prolonged general use, but not too severe. The screen was set at a default 50% brightness in the OSD menu but that is easy to change of course to reach a more comfortable setting. The black depth was 0.33 cd/m2 at this default brightness setting, giving us a fairly moderate static contrast ratio of 788:1. Colour accuracy was poor in this measurement but this is a result of the monitors native gamut, being much wider than the reference sRGB in the test. DeltaE was recorded at 4.1 average, with maximum of 10.0. Testing the screen with various gradients showed very smooth transitions with no sign of any banding at all thankfully. Overall the default setup was ok for general uses, assuming you want to work with a wide gamut colour space, but still needs some tweaking to get a higher level of accuracy and the brightness certainly needs turning down.

 

 

 

Factory Calibration

 

The Dell UP3214Q comes factory calibrated to some extent, and the box even includes a calibration report from Dell specific to the unit you have. It states that every unit is shipped incorporating pre-tuned sRGB and Adobe RGB modes which offers an average DeltaE of <2. They have also apparently adjusted luminance and colour uniformity across the screen which is available from within the OSD as the uniformity compensation option which we will test later on. We've included a copy of the calibration report from the Dell factory below for you to review. Note that this report is only relevant to our specific test unit and they do state that results may vary with each setup and different test equipment.

 

We were interested to see if this factory calibration helped at all with default settings. Note that this is only relevant for the sRGB and Adobe RGB preset modes available through the OSD menu. You will need to change from the default 'Standard' profile to benefit from these factory calibrated settings.
 


Dell UP3214Q - Default Factory Calibration, Adobe RGB mode

  
 

 

Default Factory Calibration, Adobe RGB

luminance (cd/m2)

233

Black Point (cd/m2)

0.35

Contrast Ratio

674:1

 

The factory calibration of the Adobe RGB preset mode was very similar to the default standard mode. Gamma remained very close to the 2.2 target, with a small 1% deviance overall. The white point had improved by 1%, now being measured at 6235k and being 4% out from our target. Luminance was too high still while the monitor was at its default 50% brightness setting, and unfortunately the contrast ratio had dropped a little here to 674:1. If you compare the CIE diagrams from the standard preset and the Adobe RGB preset you can see that the colour spaces are identical, which suggests the native gamut is very close to Adobe RGB anyway, and so did not need "cutting back" for any emulation to a smaller colour space as you will often see on wide gamut screens, which often extend further beyond Adobe RGB natively. Since there's no change to the colour space here and the contrast ratio takes a hit, the Adobe RGB mode didn't really seem to be of much use when the standard mode was similar anyway, just with a better contrast ratio.

 


Dell UP3214Q - Default Factory Calibration, sRGB mode

  
 

 

Default Factory Calibration, sRGB mode

luminance (cd/m2)

233

Black Point (cd/m2)

0.32

Contrast Ratio

740:1

 

The factory calibration of the sRGB preset mode was very pleasing though. This mode offered a reliable emulation of the sRGB colour space, helping to cut back the large oversaturation of the screens native colour space and now very closely matching the sRGB reference. This might be useful for colour critical work in the sRGB colour space and also for those who want to avoid complications with wide gamut and colour management, not to mention with movies and games.

 

The gamma was now a little further out from the target of 2.2, being measured at 2.3 average (3% deviance). The white point was only slightly better than the default mode, now being measured at 6240k and being 4% out. Luminance was still too high, but easy enough to adjust through the OSD menu. The contrast ratio was better than the Adobe RGB mode and only a little lower than the standard preset at 740:1. Since we are now working with an sRGB colour space the colour accuracy tests are more useful since they are based on an sRGB reference. The dE average was an excellent 0.7 and maximum was only 1.5. This represented a very good accuracy from the factory calibration. We would have liked a slightly more accurate gamma and white point setup in this mode, but the emulation of the smaller colour space and the accuracy of the colours was very positive.

 

 

 


Colour Temperatures

 

 

Like other recent UltraSharp models, the UP3214Q features a range of colour temperature presets within the OSD 'color settings' menu as shown above. You have to choose the specific 'color temp' preset mode first but you are then asked to define your target colour temp from the 6 presets available. We measured the screen with the X-rite i1 Pro spectrophotometer in each of the preset modes to establish their colour temperature / white point. All other settings were left at factory defaults and no ICC profile was active. The results are recorded below:

 

Selected Preset Mode (k)

Measured Colour Temperature (k)

Deviance from target (k)

Deviance

10,000

9119

-881

-8.8%

9300

8481

-819

-8.8%

7500

6883

-617

-8.2%

6500

6202

-298

-4.6%

5700

5200

-500

-8.8%

5000

4667

-333

-6.7%

 

 

 

Some of the colour temperature modes offered reasonable levels of accuracy. Overall there was a maximum deviance from the target of 8.8% which wasn't too bad but not great. The 6500k mode was fairly close to the desired setting, being measured a little too warm at 6202k (-4.6% out). The cooler settings deviated more from their target. Over-all the preset colour temp modes were reasonable although not as accurate as you might see on some other high end pro grade screens from the likes of Samsung, NEC and Eizo. You will probably want to calibrate the screen, preferably at a hardware level to get a more accurate white point for your needs.

 

 

 

Software Calibration

 

The UP3214Q may well have a decent factory setup in some modes but given the market for this screen I expect many users will want to calibrate the screen personally to obtain even higher levels of accuracy and allow profiling and matching between different devices.  Remember, you need to ensure you have a calibration device capable of measuring and reading the spectra from the LED backlight unit properly. Many older colorimeter devices are designed to work with standard gamut CCFL units only and so they can often have difficulty reading LED (and wide gamut CCFL) units properly. A spectrophotometer does not have this problem and there are also some decent modern colorimeters like the X-rite i1 Display Pro which should be able to read LED without issue. While you can use other devices and various software packages to complete software profiling of the screen, you may come across issues if the device is not designed to work with an LED backlight unit.

 

The UP3214Q also offers hardware calibration which can give you very high levels of accuracy and control over the monitors hardware LUT itself. We will look at that in a moment, but we also wanted to carry out the usual software level "calibrations" (profiling) at a graphics card level. We used the X-rite i1 Pro spectrophotometer combined with the LaCie Blue Eye Pro software package to achieve these results and reports. An X-rite i1 Display Pro was used to validate the black depth and contrast ratios due to lower end limitations of the i1 Pro device.

 

 

Important 4k Consideration - Updated 15/1/14 -  the UP3214Q is actually seen by Windows by default as two displays when running at 60Hz refresh rate, and if you look in the 'display properties' section (shown above) you will see the single screen appears as if it were two 1920 x 2160 resolution displays. You may need to select the "extend these displays" option here, and you might need to switch round which "display" is primary, and which is secondary in the menu, if the taskbar/start menu appear on the wrong half of the screen. This is the same as all other current 4k screens at 60Hz which use MulitStream to drive 60Hz refresh rate. If you switch back to 30Hz refresh rate the screen shows as a single display again by default. If you leave it in this default configuration you also need to activate any ICC profile on both halves of the screen. This can be done via the Windows control panel as explained in this article as if you were setting it up for dual displays. This useful DisplayProfile tool is also handy for checking and activating different profiles. You can see that you can have different, or the same profiles active on each half of the screen as you drag the box from one side to the other. If you are making use of the zonal colour space setting from within the OSD menu (designed to allow you to have one half with Adobe RGB and the other with sRGB if you want) then make sure you've also checked which ICC profiles (if any) are active on each corresponding half. In this sense it is actually a benefit to have the screen detected as two displays as you can treat each half separately if you want to use the zonal colour spaces and have two different ICC profiles active.

 

It is also possible to get the screen to behave as if it were a single display when running at 60Hz. On AMD cards (like the one we are using for testing here) you can enable the Eyefinity setup within the Catalyst Control Center. Select the first display as the "preferred display" and follow it through the steps to add in the second as shown below:

 

 

Select 2 Displays (2 x 1) from the options and press continue

 

 

The resulting merged display is confirmed in the AMD software.

 

 

Windows now sees it as a merged display as above, at 3840 x 2160 resolution.

 

 

Confirmation that this is still running at 60Hz.

 

The same kind of thing can be achieved through NVIDIA cards as well so it is at least possible to get the display detected as a single screen if you need to. Your graphics card, software and drivers must be able to handle this of course but it should be supported fairly widely. This is a good way to overcome the issue with the screen acting as two displays and we were pleased to learn of it, albeit a few days after the review was originally published.

 

 

 

Monitor OSD Option

Calibrated Settings

Brightness

19

Contrast

50

Preset mode

Custom Color

RGB (Gain)

97, 100, 100


Dell UP3214Q - Calibrated Settings, Custom Color Mode

  
 

 

Calibrated Settings, Custom Color mode

luminance (cd/m2)

119

Black Point (cd/m2)

0.15

Contrast Ratio

768:1

 

We first of all reverted to the 'custom color' mode in the preset section of the OSD menu. This retains the monitors full native gamut and would allow us access to the individual RGB channels. There is actually a very wide range of controls here if you need them for gain, offset, hue and saturation, allowing the user to make finite adjustments where necessary. Adjustments were made during the process to the brightness control, and to the RGB channels as shown in the table above. This allowed us to obtain an optimum hardware starting point and setup before software level changes would be made at the graphics card level. We left the  LaCie software to calibrate to "max" brightness which would just retain the luminance of whatever brightness we'd set the screen to, and would not in any way try and alter the luminance at the graphics card level, which can reduce contrast ratio. These adjustments before profiling the screen would help preserve tonal values and limit banding issues. After this we let the software carry out the LUT adjustments and create an ICC profile.

 

Average gamma was measured at 2.2 average, maintaining the accurate setup we'd seen in the default 'standard' mode for gamma. The white point was corrected to 6518k, sorting out the small 5% deviance we'd seen before. Luminance had also been corrected thanks to the adjustment to the brightness control, now being measured at 119 cd/m2. This also gave us a calibrated black depth of 0.15 cd/m2, and a static contrast ratio of 768:1 which was moderate for an IPS-type panel, and only very slightly lower than the default ~786:1 we'd seen in the 'standard' preset mode. Colour accuracy when validating the profile was excellent with dE average of 0.4 and maximum of 0.9. LaCie would consider colour fidelity to be excellent.

 

Testing the screen with various colour gradients showed very smooth transitions and no visible banding at all, something often introduced due to the adjustments to the graphics card LUT from the profilation of the screen. You can use our settings and try our calibrated ICC profile if you wish, which are available in our ICC profile database. Keep in mind that results will vary from one screen to another and from one computer / graphics card to another.

 


Dell UP3214Q - Calibrated Settings, Adobe RGB Mode

Monitor OSD Option

Calibrated Settings

Brightness

23

Contrast

50

RGB Channels

n/a

Preset Mode

Adobe RGB

 

Calibrated Settings, Adobe RGB mode

luminance (cd/m2)

119

Black Point (cd/m2)

0.19

Contrast Ratio

633:1

 

We also carried out the same process in the Adobe RGB preset mode. This mode was factory calibrated out of the box but had not offered quite the level of accuracy we had hoped for really. It doesn't really alter the colour space compared with the native full gamut, which to be fair very closely matched Adobe RGB anyway from the outset. There was also some slight deviation in gamma (1%) and white point (4%) which was actually a little worse for the gamma curve than the 'standard' preset mode which carried no factory calibration (0% gamma, 5% white point variance). The contrast ratio was also 114 lower than the 'standard' preset at 674:1.

 

The software calibration helped correct the 1% deviance we'd seen by default in the gamma. We also corrected the 4% white point deviance from the factory setting. Contrast ratio was now being measured at only 633:1 after profiling which was moderate for an IPS-type panel and only a little lower than the default 674:1 for this preset mode. This was still lower than we had achieved from the 'standard' or 'custom color' preset modes. Colour accuracy had been corrected, now with a 0.4 dE average and maximum 1.3 measured when validating the produced profile. Testing the screen with various colour gradients showed very smooth transitions and no visible banding at all, something often introduced due to the adjustments to the graphics card LUT from the profilation of the screen. You can use our settings and try our calibrated ICC profile if you wish, which are available in our ICC profile database. Keep in mind that results will vary from one screen to another and from one computer / graphics card to another.

 


Dell UP3214Q - Calibrated Settings, sRGB Mode

Monitor OSD Option

Calibrated Settings

Brightness

23

Contrast

50

RGB Channels

n/a

Preset Mode

sRGB

 

Calibrated Settings, sRGB mode

luminance (cd/m2)

118

Black Point (cd/m2)

0.19

Contrast Ratio

631:1

 

We also carried out the calibration in the monitors 'sRGB' emulation mode. Here you do not have access to the RGB channels at all, and so the only hardware changes being made are to the brightness control. The other corrections would be carried out at a graphics card LUT level through the profiling process. However this would of course allow you to work with the smaller sRGB colour space which we'd already established was being well emulated in this preset.

 

The results were mostly pleasing. The target for gamma had been met nicely, correcting the 3% deviance we'd seen out of the box. The white point had also been corrected, sorting out the 4% deviance we'd seen before. The luminance had been mostly corrected to the desired level with the change in the brightness control, and the static contrast ratio was a moderate 631:1 after calibration. This was a fair bit lower than the default 740:1 for this preset mode. Colour accuracy had been corrected from the already very good dE 0.7 average we had seen out of the box thanks to the factory calibration, now down to 0.4 dE average. Testing the screen with various colour gradients showed smooth transitions on the whole, with some slight gradation and some very slight banding in some darker shades due to the graphics card corrections made. You can use our settings and try our calibrated ICC profile if you wish, which are available in our ICC profile database.

 

 

 

Hardware Calibration

 

 

Updated 29 October 2014

 

One thing which separates this screen from many mainstream monitors, including the previous Dell 27" offerings, is the support for hardware calibration. Users can program the monitors 14-bit Look Up Table (LUT) if they have the appropriate software and hardware to achieve higher levels of accuracy, something which professional users require and one of the reasons why pro-grade screens from NEC and Eizo have always been popular in such markets. The software part of is easy, Dell provide their own free "Color Calibration Solution" software which is available to download from Dell.com. This is a piece of software made for Dell by X-rite and allows the user to access the hardware LUT to calibrate the screen in two available modes. Currently the latest version is v 1.5.3 for Windows operating systems (Win 7, 8, 8.1). There is also now a Mac OS version available here. These versions should work with all the hardware calibration supporting UltraSharp models, despite the download page only listing the UP2414Q and UP3214Q.

 

Important: The second part is not so easy however as you require a compatible calibration tool to work with this software and allow hardware calibration. Dell, or rather the software provider X-rite, have locked this so that you can ONLY use the X-rite i1 Display Pro colorimeter, or i1 Pro / i1 Pro 2 spectrophotometers. Other devices are NOT compatible at all, including the i1 Display 2, ColorMunki, Spyder series or any other colorimeter. The software was co-designed between Dell and X-rite and X-rite have recommended the use of the i1 Display Pro or i1 Pro devices with the wide gamut backlighting.

 

Users who already have another type of colorimeter will be disappointed as although they will be able to software calibrate their screen (profiling) as we have done in the previous sections as normal, they will not be able to use it for the all-important hardware calibration. I'm sure consumers will argue they should not need to buy a new colorimeter to use with this screen and that other devices should be compatible. We would be inclined to agree, but unfortunately the reality is that you can only take advantage of the hardware calibration of the U2413 (or 27" U2713H / 30" U3014) if you have a compatible X-rite device. If you don't own any device yet, these are obviously the ones to get for these displays.

 

 

Note from original review: When the UltraSharp U2413, U2713H and U3014 models were released at the beginning of 2013, these were the first in the range to offer hardware calibration. The Dell Color Calibration software at the time ONLY offered support for the X-rite i1 Display Pro colorimeter device, greatly limiting the options for hardware calibrating the screen. At that time, other devices including the i1 Pro spectrophotometer, i1 Display 2, ColorMunki, Spyder series or any other colorimeter were not supported. We were also told at the time that X-rite had no plans to allow support for other devices with this solution, but fed back our disappointment with this to Dell. Users were left with no choice but to buy an X-rite i1 Display Pro if they wanted to take advantage of the hardware calibration feature of their new U-series screen. Not a problem really if they didn't have a device already, and the i1 Display Pro is a very good tool in fact. However, for those who had maybe invested in something before, including the very expensive i1 Pro / i1 Pro 2 spectrophotometers it was not great news.

 

Now a year on we were very pleased to see that the Dell software had been updated. It now supports not only the i1 Display Pro, but also the i1 Pro and i1 Pro 2! Certainly a positive change for those wanting to use those devices, although Dell's website still seems to talk about needing an i1 Display Pro to hardware calibrate the screen. The actual software package has been updated and improved, bringing a lot of features from X-rites i1 Profiler package. We'd still like to see support for other devices like the ColorMunki, but support for the i1 Pro is great to see.

 

 

Dell Calibration Solution Software
 

 

We have already looked at the older version of the Color Calibration software in some detail in our Dell U2713H review from January 2013, so please see the relevant section there if you want more information and screen shots. At that time we used the original version of the software released at the time of those UltraSharp models. The new version currently available (dated 12/9/13) is a fairly significant update so we will look at it in detail here as well. Click all the screenshots for larger versions.

 

You will see from the main screen shown above that the interface has changed. In the bottom right hand corner you can switch between basic and advanced modes, and now you can select whether you have an i1 Display Pro or i1 Pro/i1 Pro 2 device. We did find initially that the software was only listed in "demo" mode and was only capable of carrying out a software level profiling of the screen. It should detect the screen connected and show a green tick in the licensing section as shown above. If you get stuck please try: 1) connecting the screen to PC using the provided USB cable, 2) switch manually in the OSD to either CAL1 or CAL2 presets first, 3) make sure you've rebooted after installing the software first time, 4) disconnect your calibration device and load up the software, 5) plug in the device after the software is loaded. Hopefully this should switch to a green tick and allow a proper hardware calibration. You may also need to experiment with the software window being on different sides of the screen before plugging in the device in the last step.

 

 

Confirmation above that you can use the i1 Pro spectrophotometer devices if you want now.

 

 

When switching to 'advanced' mode on the right hand side, the appearance changes in the left hand section, presenting you with more options. We will stick with the advanced mode now so we have full access to all the options to play with.

 

 

To begin a calibration the first step is to select 'profiling' from the Display part of the menu on the left. You are then taken to the above first screen where you can select your desired colour space (listed in the image above) and define your target luminance. If this 'RGB primaries' drop down is not visible you may be stuck in 'demo' mode, only allowing you to do a software profiling of the screen and not a proper hardware calibration. Once you have it working, thankfully you can select sRGB, Adobe RGB and the native gamut within these options, amongst others. Pressing the 'next' button moves you on in the process.

 

 

You can then choose a few options relating to the profile and chromatic adaptation as shown.

 

 

There is then an option to choose the sample size set for the measurement and calibration. The larger the set, the more accurate your overall results should be, but be warned, it can take a very long time for the calibration to complete. To test the software we selected "medium" for now, and even that took around 17.5 minutes to complete.

 

 

The next screen asks you to connect your device, and choose whether you want to calibrate the CAL1 or CAL2 preset mode. When calibrating at the hardware level you can choose whether you are going to calibrate either CAL1 or CAL2 modes, and once you've done so you can quickly and easily switch between them from within the monitors OSD in the preset section. This allows you to set up a couple of custom modes, perhaps working with different colour spaces (sRGB vs. Adobe RGB for instance) or with different target white points, gamma curves or luminance levels. You can also use both modes if you use the Zonal Color Space feature in the OSD menu.

 

Then you can start the measurements on the right hand side which begins the automated calibration process. The whole process from there is automated and completely controls the screen for you without the need for you to manually change anything.

 

 

Once it's finished you are asked to name your profile and create it, although no gamma corrections are activated at the graphics card level, as all changes have been stored in the hardware LUT instead.

 

 

The final screen presents you some very brief results. Ignore the contrast ratio specified here, we were using the i1 Pro device for the calibration and will validate the contrast ratio independently with a device which has a lower black level threshold in a moment. If you press the 'Display QA' button in the bottom section you are taken to some validation tests, something which was totally absent from the original version of the software when we looked at it a year ago.

 

 

The validation sections basically allow you to test a pre-defined number of colour patches to identify the dE colour accuracy. There are loads of different tests to select from the drop down, using different standards and different numbers of patches.

 

 

Once the test has been done, here using the default X-rite ColorChecker Classic option, you are told whether the screen passed or not and some dE figures as well. Useful to have some kind of validation report available now from the Dell software, and we were pleased with the upgrade X-rite had done. This particular validation process took around 1 min 10 seconds by the way, although others may be longer where more colour patches are checked.

 

 

 

 

Hardware Calibration Results

 

We went ahead and hardware calibrated the screen using the X-rite i1 Pro spectrophotometer. We carried out three hardware calibrations in different colour spaces, although ultimately only 2 can be saved to the screen in CAL1 and CAL2 presets. In each case we left the target luminance at 120 cd/m2. Once calibrated we tested the screen again using the test and report functionality from within LaCie's Blue Eye Pro software and used our i1 Pro spectrophotometer to see how well setup the hardware calibration seemed to be and present it back in a familiar format for our readers.

 


Dell UP3214Q - Hardware Calibrated, Native Gamut Mode

 

Hardware Calibrated Settings, Native Gamut

luminance (cd/m2)

129

Black Point (cd/m2)

0.17

Contrast Ratio

756:1

 

In the first case we defined the colour space as 'native' which just retains the native gamut of the backlight. You can see this from the CIE diagram on the left which extends beyond the sRGB reference considerably. From these validation results we can see that the gamma curve remained very close to the 2.2 target, with only a small 1% deviance resulting. The gamma had already been well set up out of the box in the 'standard' preset mode (which is based on the full native gamut of the backlight). The white point was measured at 6033k and so was actually a little warmer than our target of 6500k with a 7% deviance. There is no setting in the software to define your white point oddly. This was slightly worse than the default setup which was 5% out. It seems that the 'native' mode is not achieving a white point of ~6500k unfortunately and maybe it's set to reach 6000k instead?

 

The luminance had been corrected pretty nicely here which was good, although it was a bit brighter than the intended 120 cd/m2. You don't actually have access to the brightness and contrast controls in the OSD when using the CAL1 or CAL2 modes, so if you want to reduce the brightness further, or change it, you need to carry out a full calibration again. This might be a bit of a pain if you wanted to change your brightness for different working conditions. We would have liked to see independent control over the brightness in the hardware calibrated modes, as ultimately that shouldn't impact other aspects of the calibration anyway. The resulting contrast ratio of 756:1 was only slightly lower than the default contrast ratio of 788:1 in 'standard' mode, and so remained moderate for an IPS-type panel. Colour accuracy was very good with dE average of 0.4. The hardware calibration was a success and had worked well apart from the white point which was 500k too warm. Colour gradients showed smooth transitions with no visible banding. A positive result on the most part.

 


Dell UP3214Q - Hardware Calibrated, Adobe RGB Gamut

 

Calibrated Settings, Adobe RGB mode

luminance (cd/m2)

132

Black Point (cd/m2)

0.17

Contrast Ratio

759:1

 

We performed the same process again, but this time choosing the 'Adobe RGB' setting within the software. This is designed to emulate the Adobe RGB space, much like the specific Adobe RGB preset mode in the OSD menu. However, as we found earlier, the colour space isn't really much different to the 'native' anyway. We had already tested the OSD preset mode based on its factory calibration and found it a little disappointing, mostly because of the reduced contrast ratio to 674:1 from the native 788:1. We had also found that a software calibration in the Adobe RGB mode left us with an even lower contrast ratio of 633:1.

 

Through the hardware calibration in this mode we can see that the monitors colour space has been reduced a little in greens, but still closely matches the Adobe RGB reference as intended. Gamma had been improved now to 2.2 average which was good (correcting the 1% deviance in the factory calibrated Adobe RGB preset), and the white point was 6550k and only 1% out from our 6500k desired white point. In this setting in the Dell software it has achieved a white point very close to 6500k which is good, and in the absence of a white point target setting it's at least good to see this has been achieved. The 'native' setting had been about 500k too warm, so it was good to see a better result in the Adobe RGB setting.

 

Luminance had again been corrected pretty nicely, but was again a bit too bright. As before, since you have no access to the monitors brightness setting you will either have to live with this slightly high luminance, or perhaps re-do a calibration but define a slightly lower target to reach a final result nearer to the desired 120 cd/m2. Contrast ratio was 759:1 which is significantly better than we'd seen from our software calibration (633:1) and even the default factory calibrated Adobe RGB preset (674:1). A good result in the hardware calibration in this mode, and pleasing to see we could get a better contrast ratio than the other methods we tried. Again there was no visible banding from gradients thanks to the finite adjustments to the hardware LUT.

 


Dell UP3214Q - Hardware Calibrated, sRGB Gamut

 

Calibrated Settings, sRGB mode

luminance (cd/m2)

131

Black Point (cd/m2)

0.18

Contrast Ratio

747:1

 

Lastly we used the sRGB option to calibrate to this smaller colour space which was well met. Gamma was improved mostly, correcting the 3% deviance and now at 2.2 average (1% out). The white point was 6554k so again met the 6500k we had hoped for pretty nicely (1% out) and improved the 6240k we'd seen from the factory calibrated sRGB preset. Contrast ratio was 747:1 which was again better than we'd achieved through our software calibration (631:1) and remained very close to the factory calibrated default sRGB mode. Again there was no visible banding from gradients thanks to the finite adjustments to the hardware LUT.

 

 

Hardware Calibration Conclusion

 

Overall the process was pretty simple to use although it did take an awful long time for each calibration to complete. Thankfully the updated reporting functionality allows you to validate some aspects of your calibration which is nice to see. We were of course pleased by the software upgrade and in particular the added support for the i1 Pro devices.

 

The native mode left the screen at the full gamut of the backlight as you'd expect, but in reality this was very close to the Adobe RGB colour space anyway. We found the only problem with hardware calibration in the native mode was that white point was 500k too warm. Using the Adobe RGB mode would be better since it more closely matches 6500k, and there's no real change to the colour space anyway. The sRGB mode offered a reliable emulation of the smaller colour space as well which was great. The contrast ratio for the Adobe RGB mode was quite a bit better after a hardware calibration than we'd seen from the default preset, or from our software calibration. So if you're wanting to work with that colour space, hardware calibration would be a preferred option. The sRGB mode had a decent factory setup, and with a contrast ratio about as good as you can get from the screen anyway. The hardware calibration allowed you to make some adjustments without taking a big hit to contrast like we'd seen from our software calibration so again is the preferred option if you need to move away from the pretty decent factory calibrated sRGB preset.

 

The Zonal Color space option in the OSD menu means you can choose different presets for each half of the screen which is a nice added feature. You can even choose CAL 1 and CAL 2 as each side, so it might be useful to set one up as Adobe RGB and one as sRGB. One thing which is annoying is the inability to change the brightness setting manually in the OSD when using the calibrated CAL1/CAL2 modes. This means you have to re-do the whole lengthily calibration again if you want to change your brightness. We'd have preferred to see a manual control over that setting at least, since really it shouldn't impact other aspects of the calibration anyway.

 

Like the previous UltraSharp screens we tested last year the uniformity compensation feature is not available when using the CAL1 and CAL2 modes. We will look at that feature later in the review but without meaning to spoil that section, it's not really practical to use in reality anyway. It is a little odd however that Dell have not made the two available together. Had the feature worked properly without its current restrictions (as it did on the Dell U2913WM we've also tested), it would have been nice to be able to combine it with the hardware calibration modes.

 


 

Calibration Performance Comparisons


 

The comparisons made in this section try to give you a better view of how each screen performs, particularly out of the box which is what is going to matter to most consumers. When comparing the default factory settings for each monitor it is important to take into account several measurement areas - gamma, white point and colour accuracy. There's no point having a low dE colour accuracy figure if the gamma curve is way off for instance. A good factory calibration requires all 3 to be well set up. We have deliberately not included luminance in this comparison since this is normally far too high by default on every screen. However, that is very easily controlled through the brightness setting (on most screens) and should not impact the other areas being measured anyway. It is easy enough to obtain a suitable luminance for your working conditions and individual preferences, but a reliable factory setup in gamma, white point and colour accuracy is important and not as easy to change accurately without a calibration tool.

 

From these comparisons we can also compare the calibrated colour accuracy, black depth and contrast ratio. After a calibration the gamma, white point and luminance should all be at their desired targets.

 

Default setup of the screen was good overall, and should be fine for most casual users. There was no deviance in the desired gamma which was pleasing. The white point was close to the desired 6500k (4% out) as well which was good, with only a 5% deviance and being a little too warm. We will ignore the dE results since we're comparing a wide gamut screen to an sRGB reference there.

 

 

 

The panel was moderate in terms of black depth and contrast ratio. It uses an IPS-type panel from Sharp and so this was probably to be expected. It couldn't live up to its specified 1000:1 figure, and was only around 768:1 after calibration (here, based on the software calibration of the Custom Color mode). This was comparable with other Dell IPS screens like the U2413 (783:1) and competing models like the AHVA based BenQ BL2710PT (788:1). Other IPS panels have managed to reach over 1000:1 though in recent times (e.g. Dell P2414H, 1010:1) so we were a little disappointed in the UP3214Q. Other technologies like VA can reach much higher, including the Sharp VA panel used in the Eizo FG2421 for instance (4845:1).

 


Dynamic Contrast

The Dell UP3214Q features a dynamic contrast ratio (DCR) control, which boasts a spec of 2,000,000:1 (2 million:1). Dynamic contrast ratio technology in theory involves controlling the backlight of the screen automatically, depending on the content shown on the screen. In bright images, the backlight is increased, and in darker images, it is decreased. We have come to learn that DCR figures are greatly exaggerated and what is useable in reality is often very different to what is written on paper or on a manufacturers website.

For this test we would use an i1 Display Pro colorimeter to record the luminance and black depths at the two extremes. Max brightness would be recorded on an almost all white screen. Black depth would be recorded on an almost all black screen. In real use you are very unlikely to ever see a full black or full white screen, and even our tests are an extreme case to be honest. Carrying out the tests in this way does give you a good indication of the screens dynamic contrast ratio in real life situations however.

The DCR feature is available in the Movie and Game preset modes within the 'Display Settings' menu section. It has a simple setting for off and on, and is labelled as "Dynamic Contrast". The Movie preset mode is actually only available when using the HDMI input on the screen, so as we are testing over DisplayPort here, we will just measure the DCR in the 'game' preset mode.

 

Dynamic Contrast

Specified DCR Range

2 Million:1

Available in Presets

Game, Movie

Setting Identification / Menu option

Dynamic Contrast

Settings

Off / On

Measured Results

Game

Default Static Contrast Ratio

723:1

Max luminance (cd/m2)

348.23

Min Black Point (cd/m2)

0.17

Max Dynamic Contrast Ratio

2048:1

Useable DCR in practice

Yes

Backlight turned off for 100% black

Yes

We tested the DCR feature in the game preset mode which gave us a static contrast ratio similar to that which we'd measured in the standard default preset mode (723:1), albeit slightly lower. When switching between an almost all-white and almost all-black screen you could spot the brightness changing to the naked eye, and you can also watch the energy meter in the OSD menu go up and down as well which confirms the brightness is being altered. The transitions were quite slow overall but quite smooth. It took around 30 seconds to increase from the lowest setting (almost all-black screen) to the highest setting (almost all-white) so it's questionable how much this would be regulated during normal day to day use, in movies and games where content is changing regularly. Nevertheless the backlight was able to be controlled up to a maximum luminance of 348 cd/m2, and a minimum black depth of 0.17 cd/m2, giving us a useable DCR of 2048:1. This wasn't bad and at least it did something on this model.

This was of course nowhere near the adverted 2 million:1 figure. If you switch to a complete 100% black image, the backlight actually switches off after ~8 seconds. Given that you're unlikely to ever get a 100% black image in practice, especially continuously for 8 seconds or more, this feature seems pointless and is more of a marketing number than anything else. The high 2 million:1 spec is achieved in the lab when the backlight is turned off, but in day to day use you're never going to be able to use it.

 


Viewing Angles


Above: Viewing angles shown from front and side, and  from above and below. Click for larger image

Viewing angles of the UP3214Q were very good as you would expect from an IPS-type panel. Horizontally there was very little colour tone shift until very wide angles. A slight darkening of the image occurred horizontally from very wide angles but actually we felt the stability of the image was a little better than some IPS panels we've seen in recent times. Viewing angles were very good vertically as well, with contrast shifts perhaps slightly more noticeable. The screen offered the wide viewing angles of IPS-type panel technology and was free from the restrictive fields of view of TN Film panels, especially in the vertical plane. It was also free of the off-centre contrast shift you see from VA panels and a lot of the quite obvious gamma and colour tone shift you see from some of the modern AMVA and PVA offerings.


Above: View of an all black screen from the side. Click for larger version

On a black image there was a characteristic white glow from an angle which can be problematic on some IPS-variety panels. This is often referred to as "IPS glow". If you are working in darkened room conditions and with dark content on the screen this may prove difficult. As you change your line of sight the white, silvery glow appears across the panel. This was fairly typical on the UP3214Q and may be a little problematic for those using a lot of dark content given the especially large screen size. You need to keep in mind that you are likely to see this glow from the corners as you look head on at the centre of the screen, just due to the sheer size of the 31.5" screen. A characteristic of IPS type panels sadly, and hard to avoid without adding additional corrective films like an A-TW polarizer, which is rarely used nowadays at all.


Dell UP3214Q Now Available



Panel Uniformity

We wanted to test here how uniform the brightness and colour temperature was across the screen, as well as identify any leakage from the backlight in dark lighting conditions. Measurements of the luminance and colour temperature were taken at 35 points across the panel on a pure white background. The measurements for luminance were taken using BasICColor's calibration software package, combined with an X-rite i1 Display Pro colorimeter with a central point on the screen calibrated to 120 cd/m2. Measurements for colour temperature (white point) were taken using BasICColor software and the i1 Pro spectrophotometer which can more accurately measure the white point of different backlighting technologies. The below uniformity diagram shows the difference, as a percentage, between the measurement recorded at each point on the screen, as compared with the central reference point.

It is worth noting that panel uniformity can vary from one screen to another, and can depend on manufacturing lines, screen transport and other local factors. This is only a guide of the uniformity of the sample screen we have for review.  Like the other new UltraSharp models, the UP3214Q features a uniformity compensation feature which we will test here as well, but first of all we left this setting off.
 


Uniformity of Luminance
Uniformity Compensation = Off

The luminance uniformity of the screen was moderate overall. There appeared to be a darker region along the bottom edge and left hand side of the screen to a smaller extent. Here the luminance dropped down to 99 cd/m2 minimum (-21.21% deviance). The upper and central regions of the screen were more uniform. Around 63% of the screen remained within a 10% deviance from the central calibrated 120 cd/m2. The average deviance across the screen was -8.53%.  Not great from a uniformity point of view really, but nothing too severe.


Uniformity Compensation Feature

Like the other recent UltraSharp models the UP3214Q features a uniformity compensation feature within the OSD menu as shown above. This isn't something Dell have made much fuss of oddly, but it's a feature again normally reserved for pro-grade screens. We've seen similar technologies used on NEC and Eizo screens in the past with some positive results. The Dell manual states: "Uniformity Compensation adjusts different areas of the screen with respect to the centre to achieve uniform brightness and colour over the entire screen. For optimal screen performance, Brightness and Contrast for some preset modes (Standard, Color Temp) will be disabled when Uniformity Compensation is turned On. When Uniformity Compensation is turned On, Energy Smart cannot be activated. NOTE: Screen Uniformity performance is optimized at default out of factory luminance setting."

We had seen from the U2713H testing that this uniformity compensation mode seemed to do nothing in reality to change the actual performance of the screen. When switching to the "calibrated" mode you could see a visible change in the brightness of the screen but when verifying the variations across the screen with a colorimeter, no improvements had been made. This was a disappointment certainly, especially when we then later tested the Dell U2913WM which had the same feature which seemed to work pretty well. When we then tested the feature on the U2413 and U3014 we found it did help improve the already pretty decent luminance uniformity of the screen but concluded it was largely pointless in practice. It could not be used in the factory calibrated preset modes (Adobe RGB and sRGB), or in the hardware calibrated modes (CAL1 and CAL2) which are surely the modes most users are going to use. If you then wanted to use it in one of the other modes (e.g. standard preset), you had to have the screen at a bright 50% brightness setting, and you cannot change it from this. So really it was pretty useless in real use. It's a shame, and it seemed a very odd choice really considering the type of screen these models are.

Thankfully on the UP3214Q Dell have made a few improvements to its use, although it's still not perfect. The uniformity compensation feature can be used in the standard, color temp and custom color modes only. Again, as with the other models it cannot be used in the factory calibrated sRGB of Adobe RGB modes, or in your hardware calibrated CAL1 or CAL2 modes. This in itself severely limits its practical usage. When using the feature in any of the three preset modes we mentioned, you can at least enable it no matter what brightness setting you are at. You no longer need to revert to the default and overly bright 50% brightness, and instead it can be activated at whatever brightness setting you have set the screen to already. Once enabled in the 'standard' or 'color temp' presets, the brightness and contrast options are then locked so you cannot change away from your setting without first turning the uniformity compensation feature off. At least you have some flexibility to use the feature at differing brightness settings though. When using the 'custom color' preset mode, you CAN change the brightness even with the feature active, so that gives you even more flexibility thankfully in that mode. All of this does mean that you can only use the feature when using the screens native colour space, and there's no way to use sRGB or the Adobe RGB emulation modes and have uniformity compensation active at all.

When you enable the feature in any of the 3 modes it is compatible with you can see that the screen takes a hit to the overall luminance. It drops by around 27 cd/m2 by our measurements. We went ahead and set the screen back to 120 cd/m2 at a central point, which meant increasing the brightness control a little first, and then measured the luminance uniformity relative to this central point. Measurements were made in the 'custom color' mode.

 


Uniformity of Luminance
Uniformity Compensation = On

The overall uniformity had certainly changed with the feature enabled. Overall the screen was actually more uniform than before and the feature seemed to be doing a pretty good job. The only issue was the slightly brighter left hand edge of the screen which ranged up to 135 cd/m2 maximum. The average deviance across the screen had dropped to 1.99% which was pleasing and 100% of the screen remained within the 10% deviance threshold. A useful feature than here, and we were glad you could use it at different brightness settings too. It's just a shame you can't use it in some of the modes you are probably more likely to use day to day.



Backlight Leakage


Above: All black screen in a darkened room. Click for larger version

As usual we also tested the screen with an all black image and in a darkened room. A camera was used to capture the result. Three was some slight leakage in top right hand and bottom right hand corners, and a slightly more obvious section along the upper left edge. It wasn't perfect, which was a shame given the cost of the screen but it's a big old panel and probably quite tricky to get even. In day to day use there was no noticeable problem though.

 


General and Office Applications

The Dell UP3214Q's primary target use is probably office type applications, CAD/CAM, design apps etc. Basically anything which could truly benefit from the massive 4k resolution. For gaming and movies the 3840 x 2160 resolution is probably unnecessary, if not hard to handle for most graphics cards. However, you don't need to worry about the same intense demands on your GPU for every day use. We've already discussed the need for a compatible graphics card with a suitable output which can handle this resolution, and preferably at 60Hz refresh rate. DisplayPort is the only option to run the screen at its native 3840 x 2160 res at 60Hz, so is certainly recommended.  When running at 60Hz the display is recognised as two screens by default, and does not operate as a single stream in the traditional sense. As a result you might need to fiddle around with the setup in your graphics card settings. This also presents some added complications when carrying out calibrations and we've already talked about how you need to activate ICC profiles on both halves of the screen for instance. One other added niggle is that when you maximise a window to go full screen, it actually only fills half the screen (i.e. 1 of the 2 displays it thinks is there). You can drag the edges to fill the whole screen if you want, but it makes it a bit annoying to do so. Trying to view full screen images or movie clips is also a problem as they only fill one half of the screen. Your Windows taskbar also only extends by default across the bottom of one half of screen which can be a bit confusing for a while. All in all the day to day use feels a bit more complicated running in MultiStream mode.

Updated 15/1/14 - The alternative is switching back to 30Hz refresh rate so that the screen is seen as a single monitor. It then behaves more as you'd expect but the reduced refresh rate means you get jumpy and choppy movement all the time. Since the review was originally published we have also found a way round the "dual screen issue", thanks to user feedback as well on our forum. You can set the screen up to act as if it were a single display via your graphics card drivers. For AMD cards this is using the Eyefinity option, and a similar thing is possible using NVIDIA's software (we are using an AMD card for the tests here). We talked about how to do this earlier on in the review, but once set up in this way the screen behaves as a single display again. The taskbard extends across the bottom of the whole display, maximised windows fill the whole screen, video clips played full screen fill the whole display etc. All this and still running at 3840 x 2160 at 60Hz over DisplayPort. Much better!


So how is this 4k resolution for office work? Personally we felt it is probably going to be too much for most normal users to be honest. Even with a massive 31.5" screen size, which really does look huge on your desk by the way, the 3840 x 2160 resolution leaves you with a tiny 0.182mm pixel pitch. Even the 0.233mm pixel pitch on 2560 x 1440 27" models is too small for some people, and this is one step further on the UP3214Q. On the plus side, you get an absolutely massive amount of desktop space to work with. Split screen working is a joy as you can basically have 4x normal 1920 x 1080 screens in one as shown in the diagram above. So it's almost like having a quad screen set up for your office work, word processing or whatever else you want to do. Dell even provide a useful "Dell Display Manager" software package which runs in your system tray and allows you to quickly an easily drag windows into different grid configurations, defined in the software settings. So it's pretty easy to set up a 4 screen grid like the one shown above, allowing windows to 'snap' into position when you move them (or hold 'shift' as you move them if you want to manually resize / move them). The desktop real-estate is staggering and if you need to run any specialist apps which would benefit form super-high definitions then it's a real step-change in the desktop monitor market.

However, we felt text was too small really for prolonged comfortable use, even if you position the screen to only be a couple of feet away from you. We ended up changing the Windows font scaling to 125% which resulted in a text size more comparable to a 27" 2560 x 1440 screen. This was certainly more comfortable for text use and reading, although you do then of course lose some of the desktop real-estate. Windows seemed to handle the scaling well on the most part although some applications didn't change and some fonts looked a little wrong. It's not an ideal solution really, and some applications and operating systems will no doubt handle the scaling differently. To be honest we were a little unconvinced by the practical usage of such high resolutions on desktop monitors for normal uses. Cramming that same resolution into a 24" screen like the forthcoming Dell UP2414Q is surely going to be even more problematic?!


The medium AG coating of the panel is at least a bit better than the grainy and 'dirty' appearance of older IPS AG coatings although it's not as light as some coatings we have seen. The very wide viewing angles provided by the panel technology on both horizontal and vertical planes, helps minimize on-screen colour shift when viewed from different angles.
The default setup of the screen was reasonable really in terms of gamma and white point, although perhaps a little too warm. The factory calibrated Adobe RGB and sRGB modes were similar in those areas, although the latter did offer a very reliable emulation of the smaller sRGB colour space which is very useful for those not wanting to work with wide gamut content or contend with the complications of colour management in such a situation. The zonal colour space option in the OSD menu was also a great addition, allowing you to have half the screen set to one colour space, and the other half set to a different colour space. You can also split the hardware calibrated CAL1 and CAL2 modes in this way. This is very useful if you want to work with both wide gamut and standard gamut colour spaces or content, or check how your wide gamut image may appear on a normal sRGB screen. A very nice feature we felt.

The contrast ratio was moderate for an IPS-type panel at around 750:1 after hardware calibration. The brightness range of the screen was also very good, with the ability to offer a luminance between approximately 341 and 35 cd/m2. This should mean the screen is perfectly useable in a wide variety of ambient light conditions, including darkened rooms. A setting of ~19 in the OSD brightness control should return you a luminance close to 120 cd/m2. Unfortunately for some users the brightness regulation is controlled using Pulse-Width modulation (PWM), and at a relatively low frequency of 240Hz. Those who suffer from eye fatigue or headaches associated with flickering backlights may need to keep this in mind, but remember it doesn't affect every user. Given the high cost of this screen it would have been nice to see a flicker free backlight control really. Sometimes you lose the resizing of your applications when waking the PC up from sleep which can be a bit annoying, but a minor thing to mention.

There was no audible noise or buzzing from the screen, even when specifically looking for it using test images with a large amount of text at once. The screen remains fairly cool during prolonged use although the top back does get pretty warm. Power consumption is reasonably high, consuming more than a GB-r-LED backlit screen, but a little less than older CCFL units. There is a 'paper' preset mode available from the menu which may be useful if you want to set up the screen for different uses perhaps and makes the image a little yellow. The DisplayPort connection provided a sharp and crisp image and should be used where possible to allow you to run at the full native resolution and at 60Hz refresh rate.

The screen offers 4x USB 3.0 ports which can be useful, and it was nice to see the latest generation included. They were all located on the back of the screen next to the interface connections which was a bit of a shame, as we would have liked some to be on the side of the screen for quick and easy access. There is also an integrated 9-in-1 card reader which is located on the left hand edge of the screen and is a useful addition we felt for office work. There was a great range of ergonomic adjustments available from the stand allowing you to obtain a comfortable position for a wide variety of angles. Some of the movements were a little stiff but not exactly hard to move still. The VESA mounting support may also be useful to some people as well, especially given the nice thin profile of the screen although keep in mind its a heavy panel.

 


Responsiveness and Gaming

Quoted G2G Response Time

8ms G2G

Quoted ISO Response Time

n/a

Panel Manufacturer and Technology

Sharp "IPS mode" IGZO

Panel Part

LQ315D1LG9D

Overdrive Used

Yes

Overdrive Control Available to User

No

Overdrive Settings

n/a

The UP3214Q is rated by Dell as having an 8 ms G2G response time and the panel uses overdrive / response time compensation (RTC) technology to boost pixel transitions across grey to grey changes. There is no user control over the overdrive impulse within the OSD menu and so we are reliant on the factory setup. The part being used is the Sharp LQ315D1LG9D "IPS mode" IGZO panel. Have a read about response time in our specs section if you need additional information about this measurement.

We will first test the screen using our thorough response time testing method. This uses an oscilloscope and photosensor to measure the pixel response times across a series of 20 different transitions, in the full range from 0 (black) to 255 (white). This will give us a realistic view of how the monitor performs in real life, as opposed to being reliant only on a manufacturers spec. We can work out the response times for changing between many different shades, calculate the maximum, minimum and average grey to grey (G2G) response times, and provide an evaluation of any overshoot present on the monitor.

We use an ETC M526 oscilloscope for these measurements along with a custom photosensor device. Have a read of our response time measurement article for a full explanation of the testing methodology and reported data.

The response time performance overall was a little off the specified 8ms G2G figure, with an average G2G response time of 11.2ms being measured. Rise times (changes from dark to light) were a little slower overall at 11.8ms average, with fall times (changes from light to dark) averaging 10.5ms. Across all the measured transitions the response times remained fairly even and there were none which stood out as being very slow or particularly fast.


Transition: 50-100-50
(scale = 20ms)

Above is a fairly classic example of what we saw from the response times where transitions were close together. The brightness changes were not smooth and fluctuated a little. The rise and fall times were similar.


Transition: 50-100-50
(scale = 20ms)

Where transitions were further apart the graph was smoother as shown in the above example. You will also notice a very minor overshoot on the fall time shown here.

If we evaluate the Response Time Compensation (RTC) overshoot then the results are mostly ok. There were a few transitions which resulted in very minor overshoot, mostly on fall times where the transitions were close to one another. Those showing as blank had no overshoot incidentally. This gave us a pleasing result, as although response times weren't that fast, at least there didn't appear to be any major overshoot to contend with. This isn't really a gamer orientated screen so the response times should be adequate for normal uses anyway. Perhaps the overdrive could have been applied a little more aggressively to try and reduce response times down to nearer the 8ms advertised spec, but it would probably have introduced some overshoot artefacts. Given we'd seen some severe overshoot on recent UltraSharp screens like the U2413, U2713H and U3014, we were glad there were no such issues here with the UP3214Q.

As we begin to measure more screens with the oscilloscope system we can begin to plot them on a graph like the above for easy comparison. This shows you the lowest, average and highest G2G response time measurement for each screen. There is also a traffic light style circle mark to indicate the RTC overshoot error for each screen, as the response time figure alone doesn't tell the whole story.

As you can see, the UP3214Q was not quite as fast as some IPS based screens we've tested. Ignoring those which had severe RTC overshoot (U2413, U2713H and U3014) the fastest response time you can get from an IPS panel at the moment, without introducing a lot of overshoot, is around 8.7 - 8.9ms. Those IPS panels without any overdrive being used (e.g. the Achieva IPS Zero-G here) are slower at around 15.9ms average G2G. The Dell UP3214Q's IPS-mode panel from Sharp was a little slower than the faster models with a 11.2ms average G2G response time. This put it on par with the AHVA based BenQ BL2710PT we'd tested recently. The AMVA panels like the BenQ GW2760HS had a similar  average figure, but transition times fluctuated much more with some much faster, but some much, much slower. All in all we were comfortable with the response time of the UP3214Q given its target audience and intended usage, and pleased with the absence of overshoot too.

 

Display Comparisons

The screen was also tested using the chase test in PixPerAn for the following display comparisons. As a reminder, a series of pictures are taken on the highest shutter speed and compared, with the best case example shown on the left, and worst case example on the right. This should only be used as a rough guide to comparative responsiveness but is handy for a comparison between different screens and technologies as well as a means to compare those screens we tested before the introduction of our oscilloscope method.


31.5" 8ms G2G Sharp IPS-mode IGZO

In practice the Dell UP3214Q showed fairly low levels of motion blur, and no obvious ghosting. There was some some trailing in the best case images as you can see above but overall the movement felt reasonably good. There was no sign of any obvious overshoot artefacts in these tests either which was pleasing. We know from our oscilloscope tests that there are no overshoot and that response times are moderate for an IPS-type panel. It felt a little more blurred than some fast IPS panels we have tested though.


31.5" 8ms G2G Sharp IPS-mode IGZO


27" 8ms G2G LG.Display AH-IPS


27" 8ms G2G Samsung AD-PLS


23.8" 8ms G2G LG.Display AH-IPS


24" 8ms G2G LG.Display e-IPS

We have provided a comparison of the UP3214Q first of all against a few other Dell screens. The UP3214Q felt a little slower in practice than the U2713HM, P2714H and P2414H with a slightly more noticeable blur. The Dell U2412M was also faster and had lower levels of blur than the UP3214Q, but as you can see did exhibit an obvious dark trail overshoot which can be problematic.


31.5" 8ms G2G Sharp IPS-mode IGZO


30" 6ms G2G LG.Display AH-IPS


27" 6ms G2G LG.Display AH-IPS


24" 6ms G2G LG.Display AH-IPS

Comparing the UP3214Q then to the professional range of UltraSharp screens we can see all three of the other models were similar to one another in practice. They all showed lower levels of blurring to the moving image than the UP3214Q which was a result of their more aggressive overdrive application. While it isn't shown in these tests, due to the particular colour transitions the PixPerAn software uses, these other three models shown very high levels of overshoot however which makes them unusable really for gaming. The UP3214Q is probably a better choice based on that aspect.



31.5" 8ms G2G Sharp IPS-mode IGZO


27" 4ms G2G AU Optronics AHVA (AMA Setting = High)


27" 5ms G2G Samsung PLS (Trace Free = 40)


27" 12ms G2G Samsung PLS (Response Time = Advanced)

We have also provided a comparison of the UP3214Q above against 3 popular 27" high res screens we have tested. The  BenQ BL2710PT performed quite similarly to the UP3214Q in practice, showing moderate response times and no noticeable overshoot. The Asus PB278Q and ViewSonic VP2770-LED both feature PLS panels from Samsung, and both were again pretty fast in these tests although in the case of the Asus there was a small amount of overshoot introduced, but not much at all while at the modest Trace Free setting of 40.
 


31.5" 8ms G2G Sharp IPS-mode IGZO


27" 2ms G2G Chi Mei Innolux TN Film +144Hz (Trace Free = 60)


24" 2ms G2G AU Optronics TN Film + 120Hz (AMA = On)


27" 1ms G2G Chi Mei Innolux TN Film + 120Hz (Over Drive = 0)

We've also included a comparison above against three very fast 120Hz+ compatible screens we have tested. In all cases these other screens are using TN Film panels and are aimed primarily at gamers. Firstly there is a comparison against the Asus VG278HE with its 144Hz refresh rate. This showed very fast pixel response times and smooth movement thanks to its increased refresh rate. You are able to reduce the motion blur even more through the use of the LightBoost strobed backlight which we talked about in depth in our article about Motion Blur Reduction Backlights.

Then there is a comparison against the BenQ XL2420T. This showed very low levels of motion blur, but some dark overshoot was introduced as a side-effect. The Iiyama G2773HS was very responsive and even has a quoted 1ms G2G response time. This showed very low levels of blur and had minimal issue with overshoot.

While these pixel response tests show the Dell to have reasonable pixel transitions and freedom from any overshoot, there is something else going on as well here which can't be picked out by the camera. All of these other TN Film models are running at 120Hz (or higher) refresh rates, which allows for improved 120fps+ frame rates and the support of 3D stereoscopic content as well. This can really help improve smoothness and the overall gaming experience so these screens still have the edge when it comes to fast gaming.


Gaming Summary and Considerations

The responsiveness of the UP3214Q was decent enough we felt for its target audience. This isn't a gamer orientated screen at all, and if you want a 4k screen for gaming you may be better waiting for some of the TN Film based 28" models (with 3840 x 2160 resolution) which are emerging soon. This includes Dell's own P2815Q model, which is expected to retail for around $699 USD, making it a lot more affordable than the UP3214Q. Gaming isn't the focus of the UP3214Q though and we've already looked at the other performance areas in this review. For casual, light gaming the response time is moderate but should handle moving images and certainly movies without too much of a problem. We were pleased that unlike Dell's other pro grade UltraSharp models, there was no overshoot here so that's a big plus in favour of this screen.

On another note many gamers like to use exaggerated settings to make colours look brighter and more vivid. Wide gamut screens can serve this purpose well as they natively produces more saturated colours. This might not be strictly accurate but a lot of people prefer this more vivid and cartoony appearance and so it's useful that the option is available from the UP3214Q. There is also an sRGB emulation mode if you want to revert to standard gamut as well.


Important 4k Consideration
- one big consideration you need to make is that the 3840 x 2160 resolution is likely to be a major drag on even high end graphics cards and PC systems when it comes to gaming. You really need to think about the type of game you want to play, the settings you want to use, and whether your system can handle outputting such a high resolution effectively. Don't forget that many gaming titles don't support this resolution either, so that could be another issue. Those that do can present further problems as well when it comes to the user interface as lack of scaling results in tiny text or hard to read maps etc. One option of course is to run the game at a lower resolution and let the screen scale it. That's probably the most sensible option in most cases although you then have to contend with how the display is detected as two screens when using 60Hz mode, something which we look at more in the next section. In fact it may be problematic when using MultiStream mode to deliver 3840 x 2160 resolution at 60Hz, since the display is seen as dual monitor. That in itself could create issues with games running on only half the screen and not spanning across "both screens" as it were. One option is to revert back to 3840 x 2160 at 30Hz which then allows the screen to operate as a single stream simply, and single display. That then means you are limited to a very low refresh rate and frame rate of only 30fps which isn't great for gaming. (updated 15/1/14) The better option is to set up the screen via your graphics card software as an Eyefinity display group (or the equivalent from an NVIDIA card), allowing the screen to act as if it were a single display. That negates the problems with it being seen as dual displays at least. It does then get a bit problematic if you try to switch to lower resolutions as it seems to revert to different configurations again and dual screens by default. All in all, gaming is probably very complicated on this screen, and probably shouldn't be encouraged.

 



Additional Gaming Features

Aspect Ratio Control - The screen offers four options for hardware level aspect ratio control, available within the 'Display settings' menu as shown above. There are options for wide 16:9, auto resize, 4:3 and 1:1 pixel mapping modes which should cover a wide variety of uses. The auto-resize mode is useful, as is the defined 1:1 pixel mapping option would also have been handy for some. Given a lot of content is native 16:9 aspect nowadays anyway, and the screen is of course 16:9 itself, there will hopefully not be the need to scale content as often as on a 16:10 aspect screen for instance.

The hardware scaling doesn't always work as intended however. The problem seems to occur when running the screen at 30Hz to allow for a single stream desktop of 3840 x 2160, or if your graphics card cannot support MST for 60Hz refresh rate. No matter what resolution you set the screen to in your graphics card settings, the OSD menu seems to think you are still running at 3840 x 2160. If you select the 4:3 mode in the aspect ratio control that will work, and forces the aspect to 4:3 for you as intended. That part is fine. However, all other resolutions seem to result in the image being stretched to fill as much of the screen as possible, although it does maintain the correct aspect ratio for you at least. So selecting 1920 x 1200 (16:10) or 1600 x 1200 (4:3) will result in black bars down the sides no matter whether you are using the wide 16:9 mode (which should in theory force it to fill the screen and skew the aspect), the auto resize (which is actually what it's doing), or the 1:1 mode (which should in theory 1:1 pixel map for you and put borders around all sides). The main issue here is that the 1:1 mode doesn't work at all for any non native resolution when running at 30Hz refresh rate.

When using MultiStream mode (i.e. at 60Hz refresh rate) the scaling seems to work better. You can define different resolutions for each half of the screen (as the monitor is seen as two displays) and the setting in the OSD governs how non native resolutions would be handled. The only issue with this though is that you can't easily for instance set the screen at 1920 x 1080 resolution overall and have the whole image scaled to fill the screen. As each half acts independently you end up with two smaller 1920 x 1080 sized screens side by side. The 16:9 forced mode means you fill the whole half of a screen no matter what, so that massively skews the aspect. The 4:3 forces 4:3 aspect for both sides of the screen as well. The 1:1 mode works better thankfully so you can have two different sized windows if you want and still keep the 1:1 mapping. All this is a bit pointless though because of the way the screen is seen as two monitors. Running as a single monitor at 30Hz is certainly easier if you want to work with lower resolutions and only contend with 1 screen as normal, although you are then limited to a low refresh rate with choppy feel to everything.

For external devices you are probably most commonly going to be using HDMI and so limited to 30Hz maximum. Not necessarily a problem of course for games consoles or Blu-ray players. We were not able to test this specifically but the scaling options should act as described above for 30Hz mode.



Preset Modes -
There is a defined 'game' preset mode available in the menu. This actually operates in the sRGB colour space which is an interesting change, but probably more desirable for a lot of gamers. The screen goes blank for a couple of seconds when you switch to this mode which suggests some of the internal electronics are maybe being bypassed like on other recent UltraSharp models, in an effort to reduce the display lag. We will test that in a moment.
 



Lag

We have written an in depth article about input lag and the various measurement techniques which are used to evaluate this aspect of a display. It's important to first of all understand the different methods available and also what this lag means to you as an end-user.

Input Lag vs. Display Lag vs. Signal Processing

To avoid confusion with different terminology we will refer to this section of our reviews as just "lag" from now on, as there are a few different aspects to consider, and different interpretations of the term "input lag". We will consider the following points here as much as possible. The overall "display lag" is the first, that being the delay between the image being shown on the TFT display and that being shown on a CRT. This is what many people will know as input lag and originally was the measure made to explain why the image is a little behind when using a CRT. The older stopwatch based methods were the common way to measure this in the past, but through advanced studies have been shown to be quite inaccurate. As a result, more advanced tools like SMTT provide a method to measure that delay between a TFT and CRT while removing the inaccuracies of older stopwatch methods.

In reality that lag / delay is caused by a combination of two things - the signal processing delay caused by the TFT electronics / scaler, and the response time of the pixels themselves. Most "input lag" measurements over the years have always been based on the overall display lag (signal processing + response time) and indeed the SMTT tool is based on this visual difference between a CRT and TFT and so measures the overall display lag. In practice the signal processing is the element which gives the feel of lag to the user, and the response time of course can impact blurring, and overall image quality in moving scenes. As people become more aware of lag as a possible issue, we are of course keen to try and understand the split between the two as much as possible to give a complete picture.

The signal processing element within that is quite hard to identify without extremely high end equipment and very complicated methods. In fact the studies by Thomas Thiemann which really kicked this whole thing off were based on equipment worth >100,1000 Euro, requiring extremely high bandwidths and very complicated methods to trigger the correct behaviour and accurately measure the signal processing on its own. Other techniques which are being used since are not conducted by Thomas (he is a freelance writer) or based on this equipment or technique, and may also be subject to other errors or inaccuracies based on our conversations with him since. It's very hard as a result to produce a technique which will measure just the signal processing on its own unfortunately. Many measurement techniques are also not explained and so it is important to try and get a picture from various sources if possible to make an informed judgement about a display overall.

For our tests we will continue to use the SMTT tool to measure the overall "display lag". From there we can use our oscilloscope system to measure the response time across a wide range of grey to grey (G2G) transitions as recorded in our response time tests. Since SMTT will not include the full response time within its measurements, after speaking with Thomas further about the situation we will subtract half of the average G2G response time from the total display lag. This should allow us to give a good estimation of how much of the overall lag is attributable to the signal processing element on its own.

 

Lag Classification


To help in this section we will also introduce a broader classification system for these results to help categorise each screen as one of the following levels:

  • Class 1) Less than 16ms / 1 frame lag - should be fine for gamers, even at high levels

  • Class 2) A lag of 16 - 32ms / One to two frames - moderate lag but should be fine for many gamers. Caution advised for serious gaming and FPS

  • Class 3) A lag of more than 32ms / more than 2 frames - Some noticeable lag in daily usage, not suitable for high end gaming

For the full reviews of the models compared here and the dates they were written (and when screens were approximately released to the market), please see our full reviews index.

(Measurements in ms)

Standard Mode

Game Mode

Total Display Lag (SMTT 2)

29.0

25.0

Pixel Response Time Element

5.60

5.60

Estimated Signal Processing Lag

23.40

19.40

Lag Classification

2

2

 Class 2

We have provided a comparison above against other models we have tested to give an indication between screens. Those shown with blue bars in the bottom half represent the total "display lag" as at the time of review we did not have access to an oscilloscope system to measure the response time element and provide an estimation of the signal processing. The screens tested more recently in the top half are split into two measurements which are based on our overall display lag tests (using SMTT) and half the average G2G response time, as measured by the oscilloscope. The response time is split from the overall display lag and shown on the graph as the green bar. From there, the signal processing (red bar) can be provided as a good estimation.

We first tested the lag in the default 'standard' preset mode. An overall display lag of 29ms average was recorded. Taking into account an approximate 5.6ms of that is down to pixel response times (average G2G is 11.2ms), we can estimate a signal processing lag of 23.4ms. When switching to the game mode, movement felt a little snappier, but not by much. The SMTT measurements confirmed a slight drop in overall display lag to 25ms, which means the signal processing appears to have been reduced to about 19.4ms now. In both cases we classify the lag of the UP3214Q as Class 2 as described above.

 


Movies and Video

The following summarises the screens performance in video applications:

  • 31.5" screen size makes it a reasonable option for an all-in-one multimedia screen, but being quite a bit smaller than most modern LCD TV's of course. It's at the very large end of desktop monitors though.

  • 16:9 aspect ratio is more well suited to videos than a 16:10 format screen, leaving smaller borders on DVD's and wide screen content at the top and bottom.

  • 3840 x 2160 resolution can support full 1080 HD resolution content easily, and can also support 4k content which is starting to become more mainstream.

  • DisplayPort, Mini DisplayPort and HDMI connections available, providing good connectivity choices for modern DVD players, Blu-ray, consoles etc.

  • Cables provided in the box for DisplayPort and Mini DP, but not HDMI.

  • Medium AG coating providing fairly clean and clear images, without the unwanted reflections of a glossy solution.

  • Wide brightness range adjustment possible from the display, including high maximum luminance of ~341 cd/m2 and a good minimum luminance of ~35 cd/m2. This should afford you very good control for different lighting conditions. Contrast ratio remains stable across that adjustment range as well, although brightness regulation is controlled by PWM which may put off some users.

  • Black depth and contrast ratio are moderate for an IPS-type panel at around 768:1 after calibration. Detail in darker scenes should not be lost on the most part, and shadow detail should be reasonable.

  • Dynamic contrast ratio is available and works reasonably well, offering DCR up to around 2048:1 (as measured in the 'game' preset).

  • There is a specific 'movie' preset mode available for movies or video if you want, but only when using HDMI

  • Adequate pixel responsiveness which should be able to handle fast moving scenes in movies without issue. No overshoot issues which is pleasing.

  • Very wide viewing angles thanks to IPS-type panel technology meaning several people could view the screen at once comfortable and from a whole host of different angles. IPS glow is present at common levels so be aware of this if you're viewing a lot of dark content from an angle.

  • Good range of ergonomic adjustments available from the stand, so should be easy to obtain a comfortable position for multiple users or if you want to sit further away from the screen for movie viewing. Some are quite stiff to use however.

  • No major noticeable backlight leakage, although a little from the edges on our sample. This type of leakage may prove an issue when watching movies where black borders are present but it is not a a major issue here.

  • No integrated stereo speakers on this model but it is compatible with Dell's SoundBar if you want.

  • Decent range of hardware aspect ratio options available which should be fine for most uses.

  • Picture in picture (PiP) and Picture By Picture (PbP) are available on this model.

  • (Updated 15/1/14) When running at 60Hz from a PC over DisplayPort the screen is seen as two displays by Windows by default. This means making videos full screen to cover both halves of the display can be tricky. It can be achieved, as if you had a dual screen set up, but it's not "natively" easy to do. One option is to revert back to 30Hz refresh mode so that the screen is seen as a single display. The low refresh rate isn't really a problem for movie and video playback actually so that's one option, but it could be a pain having to switch between 30Hz single stream and 60Hz Multi Stream modes regularly. One way we found to do it easily was just to deactivate and activate the DisplayPort 1.2 setting in the OSD, which forces the PC to redetect the display and set it accordingly to the relevant resolution and refresh rate. The other preferred option would be to use Eyefinity (or equivalent NVIDIA setup) to allow the screen to act as if it were a single display. We explained that earlier on in the review. Once set up in this way you can make a video full screen and it fills the whole display as you'd expect, not just half of the screen as if it were dual displays.
     


Conclusion

The UP3214Q was an interesting first venture for us into the world of 4k desktop monitors. The screen is absolutely huge and the resolution is so massive it takes some real getting used to. Returning to a 1920 x 1080 screen afterwards seems like a huge drop in desktop real-estate and is quite a shock. The resolution and desktop area are obviously the main selling point of these new 4k displays and we were impressed by what it offered. However, we were left uncertain about the suitability of 4k resolution for desktop monitors to be honest. Even with such a large 31.5" screen, the text was tiny and could become hard to read. Scaling the font size up is an option but a bit pointless when you've invested all that money in a 4k panel like this we would think. If you have a specific need for 4k support for certain applications of very high definition content, then this is one of the only viable options available at the moment. We will see a big influx of 4k res screens during 2014 though so more choices will emerge although many are aimed at more mainstream audiences so this is likely to remain one of the more 'premium' options.

Forgetting about the 4k res for a moment we were impressed by the range of features and extras that the UP3214Q offered, keeping up with other recent UltraSharp models released. Hardware calibration is an attractive feature for professional users, and we were pleased with the update to the Dell calibration software and calibration device support. The screen supports wide gamut colour spaces unlike some of its competitors while also offering a reliable sRGB emulation. This makes the UP3214Q a good choice for colour critical work and certainly separates it from models like the Asus PQ321Q which is only a standard gamut screen. The panel also has 10-bit colour support for those who need it and a partly useful uniformity correction feature too. A few extras like touch-sensitive buttons, USB 3.0 ports and a card reader add to the premium feel of this display as well, along with its decent stand and adjustment range. All of these somewhat help to justify its high price tag compared with smaller non-4k models.

From a performance point of view the Sharp IGZO panel performed very similarly to LG.Display IPS panels of recent times. This offered good all round performance, particularly notable are the wide viewing angles and decent colour rendering of these types of panel technology. Contrast ratio was a little lower than we'd like to see and response times were mediocre, although at least free from overshoot problems. Despite this, the practical usage of this screen for gaming is questionable due to resolution support, graphics card demand and scaling complications. The use of PWM for backlight dimming was a shame and may put off some users perhaps. Perhaps one problematic area was the way a screen like this is detected when wanting to run at 60Hz refresh rate. The MultiStream mode means it is seen as dual displays by your graphics card by default and this in turn can be problematic and complicated for full screen work, movies and games. Running at 30Hz is an option to allow it to operate as one single display, but that in itself leaves you with some issues related to the low refresh rate. The best way around this is to configure your display via your graphics card to act like a single display, which thankfully worked well.

The screen obviously carries a high price tag and at ~2063 GBP (inc VAT) at the time of writing, it is obviously a lot more than most monitors in the market. Clearly high end 4k panels don't come cheap and the Sharp IGZO panel being used here is expensive in its own right. The UP3214Q is substantially cheaper however than its main current rival which is the Asus PQ321Q, retailing for around 3000 GBP at the moment. If you're looking for a 4k res screen at a lower cost we will see an influx of TN Film based models (like the Dell P2815Q for instance) later this year but it will lack most of the advanced features offered here. If you are looking for a high end screen with 4k support then the UP3214Q is certainly a very good option and an attractive option compared with its competitors.
 

Pros

Cons

Massive screen size and huge resolution for multi-tasking and high res content

Detection of screen as two displays when using 60Hz can be problematic in some cases

High end features like hardware calibration, wide gamut and 10-bit support

PWM used for backlight dimming

Good all round performance thanks to IPS-type panel

Mediocre contrast ratio

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