Dell was one of the first to jump on 4K monitors, offering models to consumers as early as winter 2013. Perhaps too early, as those first models had serious handicaps like a 30Hz refresh rate (annoyingly laggy) and a twin-panel design that crammed two separate LCDs into a single frame. While it did achieve 3840 x 2160 pixel resolution the experience was hardly ideal.
Now, Dell is ready to redeem itself with a new line of more affordable 4K displays: the P2415Q and the P2715Q. Both 16:9 screens promise Ultra HD with an IPS panel, numerous connection options, and a wide color gamut.
None of that’s a surprise, but the price may take you off-guard. The 24-incher sells for $600 and the 27-incher is just $700 before the frequent price drops Dell rotates. These are affordable high-end monitors targeting professionals and enthusiasts that, if they live up to their promise, could set a new standard of quality and value.
The P2715Q doesn’t impress out of the box. Dell’s traditional matte black design is livened by silver plastic trim, but the material doesn’t look expensive, even at a distance. Monitors like the Acer B286HK, which has a glossy bezel, provide more visual punch.
Take a closer look, though, and you’ll notice this monitor means business. Its relatively slim panel doesn’t include any unnecessary frills and feels durable when handled. Unlike many less expensive alternatives, which include cheap touch controls, this display offers chunky buttons that seem ready for abuse.
An ergonomic stand is included and provides a full range of adjustability: height, tilt, pivot, and swivel. It tracks true with just enough resistance to keep it in place but not enough to make it difficult to move with one free hand. The monitor is VESA compatible, too, so you can switch to a third-party stand if needed.
Search around back and you’ll find a wide variety of connection options including DisplayPort and Mini-DisplayPort for video in as well as DisplayPort out (so the monitor can be daisy-chained). Two 4K displays can be daisy-chained at once, but doing so drops the refresh rate to 30Hz.
HDMI, speaker-line out, and four USB 3.0 ports are also part of the package. All the USB ports are on the rear panel, however, so the P2715Q isn’t a great place to plug thumb drives and other peripherals that you’ll frequently move.
Simple, but you’re not in control
Let’s get back to those buttons. Silly as it may sound, Dell’s reliance on physical buttons is one of our favorite features. We’ve seen no shortage of alternatives over the last year ranging from resistive touch controls to joysticks, but traditional clicky buttons still work best. They’re easy to find quickly and provide positive feedback.
Calibration provided minor but noticeable improvements.
Dell’s on-screen control menu is precise and simple to use. Everything is easy to find and labeled with clear text rather than with vague icons. Having said that, there’s not a lot of adjustment available. Users can only change brightness, contrast sharpness and RGB values. If you’re curious why this IPS monitor isn’t sold as an UltraSharp, well, here’s your answer.
The lack of adjustability is disappointing; this is a $700 monitor, after all. That said, we haven’t encountered a 4K display that offers more for less. You’ll need to spend at least $1,000 for an Acer B326HK if you want professional controls.
We didn’t need much time to realize Dell’s P2715Q is a very special display. Its IPS panel offers wide viewing angles, strong color and deep blacks. Throw in the sharpness of 4K on a 27-inch panel (which translates to 163 pixels per inch) and you’ve the formula for a spectacular experience.
Objective tests made it clear our impressions weren’t misguided. The gamut spans 100 percent of sRGB and 79 percent of AdobeRGB while maintaining a contrast ratio of 690:1 at maximum brightness and 650:1 at half that.
Only the $2,000 Samsung U970HD offers a wider gamut; most monitors manage just 70 to 75 percent of AdobeRGB. The contrast figure, meanwhile, is the highest we’ve yet seen from any 4K monitor.
Color accuracy is good, too, with an average difference of only 1.74 (most of which is in the cyan and green range). A difference below one is generally undetectable, so this is close to perfect. Gamma was just a tad off the perfect 2.2 curve.
You won’t be impressed until you turn the display on.
All of this adds up to image reproduction with no easily detected faults. The color variance in cyan can make scenes look a tad cool at times, but even here the P2715Q is better than most, and the outstanding contrast ratio gives content real depth.
While viewing Interstellar‘s 4K trailer, for instance, we were stunned by how well the monitor handles the inky nothingness of space. It’s not on par with a good HDTV but it’s obviously better than an average LCD monitor.
Dell’s monitor is great out of the box. We decided to calibrate it, though, to see what more we could extract.
We eventually settled on a calibration that lowered average color difference to 1.39 while preserving the gamma curve and increasing gamut to 80 percent of AdobeRGB. Contrast ratio at half of maximum brightness didn’t budge from 650:1, but the contrast at maximum increased to 720:1.
Speaking of brightness, there’s plenty here, as we saw a maximum output of 332 lux. That figure, combined with the semi-gloss panel coat, makes the monitor usable in almost any environment. We turned it down to about 180 lux for use in our office.
The numbers suggest a minor improvement overall, and that’s what we saw in our viewing. Switching the calibration on and off made it clear our adjustments slightly tamed the coolness of the default settings, but it wasn’t a night-and-day difference.
While this monitor isn’t an UltraSharp it’s also not a standard consumer monitor and, as a result, receives a better warranty than usual. Dell offers three years of coverage with “advanced exchange service,” which means the company will send you a replacement immediately if it can’t troubleshoot a problem over the phone (instead of waiting for you to ship your old monitor back).
It’s not unusual for a monitor this expensive to have a three-year warranty, but the advanced exchange service gives Dell a slight edge.
Dell’s P2715Q is an incredibly important product. We’ve reviewed many 4K monitors before, of course, some of which were excellent, but all had a catch; you were paying a serious premium for 4K resolution. This monitor is different. It offers excellent image quality, a great ergonomic stand, and Ultra HD at the same price as the company’s popular 1440p model, the U2713HM.
Is the U2713HM better? Maybe a little. It has a few extra image quality options, like gamma adjustment, and looks a bit more expensive. The gap is tiny, though, and we had a hard time seeing any advantage in the U2713HM’s picture with our naked eye.
What Dell has delivered is a no-compromise 4K display. Yes, it’s still expensive, but no more so than a 1440p display of equivalent quality. Fence-sitters, prepare to move; this is the monitor that will make you switch.
- Plenty of connectivity
- Intuitive on-screen controls
- Ergonomic stand
- Beautiful picture
- Boring design
- Limited image quality adjustments