A First Unhappy Foray Into a 4K/UHD Display for My PC

Posted on December 21, 2016 by Paul Thurrott in Hardware, Windows 10 with 70 Comments

A First Unhappy Foray Into a 4K/UHD Display for my PC

Happy with my experiences with 4K/UHD displays on Xbox One S and modern portable PCs, I started scouting around for a 4K/UHD desktop PC display. My first choice was a horrible, horrible mistake.

That choice? A Dell S2817QR, which is described as a 28-inch Ultra HD 4K LED Widescreen Monitor. (Here’s the Dell listing for what I assumed was the same display, but is in fact not the same display.) I purchased it because it was a special holiday sale, at what I took to be a good price, of $300. (It’s $400 right now at Amazon; I bought from Office Depot.)

Sadly, this display is not a good choice at any price.

I did read the reviews. I knew, for example, that the display would arrive with a dull color cast, and that I’d need to fix that using its built-in controls. For $300, I was OK with that.

What I missed, sadly, was that this display can only output at its native resolution of 3840 x 2160 at a refresh rate of 30 Hz. And not at 60 Hz, which is not just desirable but a required minimum. At 30 Hz, even something as basic as dragging a window results in a terrible and distracting choppy visual effect.

It’s not just that, though that one issue is enough. After fiddling with the display controls for far too long, I never did get it right, and it’s overly bright and … just off. My eyes kind of hurt just looking at it.

So I’m sending it back. And now I’m in the market, again, for a 27-28-inch 4K/UHD PC display. One that can output 4K/UHD resolutions at 60 Hz or higher. It’s not for gaming, but it might be in the future, so maybe 120 Hz is even more desirable. But I also don’t have $1000, and I’d like not to break the back. If that’s not possible, I guess I’ll just wait.

Any thoughts or advice? Preferably $400 or less, though I realize this is probably unrealistic.

Ah well.


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Comments (70)

70 responses to “A First Unhappy Foray Into a 4K/UHD Display for My PC”

  1. 294

    Paul, are you sure it's the display that is the problem? I had a simililar one when I wanted to connect my Surface Pro 4 (miniDisplayPort) with my 4K TV (HDMI). 4K resolution, but only 30 Hz. The problem, as it turned out, was my mDP -> HDMI adapter. You have to have one, that supports 4K & 60 Hz. And they're actually quite rare :-) I bought this one https://www.amazon.de/gp/product/B017BQCUGW/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1


    The problem is that there are multiple versions of HDMI and DisplayPort standards. So your adapter must support the version, that supports 4K @ 60 Hz. I believe it's HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort 1.4 (if someone know better, please correct me). Your Surface surely supports 4K @ 60 Hz and I believe so does your Dell monitor. The problem lies in your adapter :-)


    • 2

      In reply to Maciek:

      Sure enough, it does do 60 Hz over DP with a different cable.

      Doesn't solve the terribleness of the TN display and the weird color cast. But ... Yes. 

    • 2

      In reply to Maciek:

      Right. I am looking into this now. But I believe the display only does 30 Hz. I do have a straight up DP cable I can test, and will do so.

      • 294

        In reply to Paul Thurrott:

        According to Dell spec sheet, it should do 4K @ 60 Hz just fine. So my money is on the adapter.


        Not sure if there are different types of cables. I think not, and the one connecting directly from your mDP in your PC to DP in your monitor should work just fine (but double-check that with Bing... ahem, Google, if it won't).


        Also, there might be a setting in your monitor, on which DP version should it operate. If the setting exists, make sure it's DP 1.4 instead of DP 1.1.

  2. 438

    You need to get Dell's Professional 4K 27".  It's a great display, but a little higher than your price range.  I've had one for a year and love it.


    • 5574

      In reply to bmacombe:

      I agree, Paul, you should buy this display. I've been using it for a year now, best monitor I ever owned. It does 60Hz just fine, but you have to go into Menu -> Display -> MST and turn it Off. If you don't, it only does 30Hz. Also, I use mine with the Mini DisplayPort, but I don't think that matters. On HDMI of course / sadly it will only do 30Hz, but it has Normal DP and Mini DP, too.

    • 314

      In reply to bmacombe:

      Had the same monitor for a year and really enjoy using it. 

    • 627

      In reply to bmacombe:

      Also using it. Very nice display. Also got it at a considerable discount because of a mate who works at Dell

    • 389

      In reply to bmacombe:

      I'm currently using two of these monitors (Dell P2715Q). Very nice display, IPS not TN, already calibrated at 99% sRGB. Highly recommend checking this monitor out.

    • 349

      In reply to bmacombe:

      I can also concur, excellent display.

  3. 5530

    I thought this was going to be a Windows display scaling rant :) but thank god it isn't.

    I can't help but to say that display connectors and standards are an incredible mess today. In the spotlight these days is USB-C, which is clever enough to control stuff like display brightness, volume, etc....but is also somehow stupid enough to timeout while typing. I miss HDMI and DisplayPort already. Hell I had no issues like these with DVI.

  4. 2706


    I know it's more than you want to spend, but I cannot recommend this monitor enough. Once you experience G-sync @144Hz you will never want another monitor. I have the 2k one, it's like $700.

  5. 5510

    A few things:

    1. I am not a fan of Dell products. Their stuff is overall mediocre at best. The quality of their products are cheap. Cheap as in sub quality.

    2. Was it really necessary to get a 4K monitor now? I know 4K has been out for a while now, but it's still relatively new, meaning that the price correction for many of these tech products hasn't settled to their equilibrium point.

    3. Will a 4K monitor actually improve your work? If Yes, then by all means buy a 4k monitor now. If NO, then I suggest you wait. Better monitors always come out with better technologies,better features, and better prices.

    Just my 2 cents.

  6. 4094

    This summer I built a new home PC and got 2- Samsung U28E590D monitors.   So far very happy with the monitors.  Amazon has it for 369.00 (less than what I paid.)  And it does support 3840 x 2160 at 60Hz.   

  7. 4327

    I wanted to get me one last monitor that had great color calibration so that if a client sent me a picture, I knew what color the picture really was so could print to that color. Also for photography, when you change a color balance or whatever, you want to know what you are actually doing without the worrying whether the monitor is actually displaying it correctly. I got an Asus ASUS 32" LED LCD Widescreen Monitor (PA328Q Black)

    And I must say although paid some pretty big bucks for it have been thrilled. But would cost you around $1000--but difference between 32 and 28 inch is nice since I have room. I really do love this monitor. I bought it from Walmart as they were having a sale and was $799.  Super pleased but make sure use correct cords/adapters and have a good mouse. 



  8. 7317

    I have the Monoprice 28 inch 4K monitor on one of my computers at work and I think it is great especially for the $350 price.  The stand wasn't very good but I have it wall mounted anyway.  The Monoprice monitor will only do 4k 30hz via HDMI but 60hz via display port maybe yours works the same way...

  9. 2354

    I have a Samsung unit, but its got a DisplayPort instead of clunky HDMI 1.4 (the 30Hz refresh rate limiter).

    It had a single defective pixel and I saved $470 because of something so small you can't even see it haha.

    Other than the annoying stand, its a stunning screen, the only drawback being the expensive video card I had to also purchase to drive games at UHD resolutions, but that $470 saved helped with that.

  10. 6747

    Hey Paul,

    I just picked up a Samsung U28E590D 28-Inch UHD at Fry's for $249 a couple of weeks ago. It does full res at 60Hz through display port, or its HDMI 2 connection. Fully adjustable, and you can control the brightness. I really love this monitor and a lot of my friends have commented on how great it looks. Something to look into.

    Good Luck

  11. 2376

    I've had good luck with Monoprice monitors in the past and have had my eye on their 28" UHD Crystal Pro Monitor.  It outputs at 60hz and is currently available for $350.

    • 6676

      In reply to Rowegd:

      Came here to make this exact suggestion. Have one on my primary computer. Great display for the money.


  12. 5394

    Prices are still dropping for monitors as well as video graphics cards. Maybe wait a year and get a 2fer at a cheap price for both. 

  13. 442

    Dell, like HP and others sell different levels of displays.  Good ones, and cheap ones.  I too have been bitten by this, and you really have to do your homework these days, along with double checking the part numbers.  Since 4K is the "thing" right now, there are some dirt cheap displays that just don't deliver enough to be usable.  Bottom line, don't bother spending less than $1000 right now, wait until next year.  You might get lucky now, but probably not nearly as well off as waiting for the early buyer time to subside and the display makers to get more serious about good specs for proper pricing, and not trying to gouge the market.

  14. 4370

    4k at this screen size is a waste of money IMO (except for a small minority of people that need it for their work). 1440 is the sweet spot. But the power of marketing....

    • 427

      In reply to digiguy:
      I also like 1440p at 27" but 27/28 seems to be the size that 4K comes in aside from a very few others.


    • 2354

      In reply to digiguy:

      The power of never having used a 27/28" 4K display perhaps.  4K IS absolutely worth it at this screen size.

      Now on notebooks, its just plan stupid for many reasons, the biggest being the greatly reduced battery life such a screen results in, and 1440 makes sense, but this ain't some 15.6" screen, its 28".

  15. 462

    The LG 27" 4K screens are pretty good for display quality...the problem some people have with them are they are FreeSync instead of Gsync...but if you don't care about gaming then that probably doesn't matter for you.


    Newegg has the 27UD58-B on sale now for $349.  The 27UD68P-B is a little better with its port version support (HDMI 2.0 for example) but if you don't care; you probably could get the cheaper one...

  16. 2461

    We have 43" LG 4K TVs as monitors on our main 2 computers.



  17. 9445

    Paul, sorry your having problems.  You may want to try a Hisense 4K TV for about the same price to use as your monitor.  This way it can be more functional than just a monitor.

  18. 1801

    I think 28 inches is too small for a 4k monitor.  I am using a Phillips 40 in model with my surface.  With windows snap you are able to snap together the equivalent of 4 20 inch monitors.  I was able to drop the idea of 2 monitors after going to the 40.  It is great for business.

  19. 4555

    LG 27" IPS LED 4K now 399 at BestBuy.  Really good.

    • 1273

      In reply to cjhawkins3rd:

      I just purchased the monitor that you mentioned after looking at it based on your recommendation and I can agree! This monitor is amazing at color reproduction without any calibration. I used to be a fan of Samsung, but judging by the monitor that I had from them a year or so ago, it appears they are going downhill. I have been very impressed with LG! I have never seen the colors in the photos that my father took pop so much. Absolutely amazing!

  20. 4927

    Happy Holidays Paul,

    I picked up the Samsung U28E590D. It's in your price range and with a little color calibration is solid. I would say right out of the box it was a win. The only cons were it being a TN rather than IPS panel, and lacks some connectors you probably had with the Dell, but for the price, who cares. 



    • 8834

      In reply to Z00macher:

      I have the same monitor and definitely concur.  This is a very good screen for the price range.  Samsung US has it at a $369 price point.  One of my favourite little details is the ability to turn off the power LED on the front.  There is also no branding or buttons on the front at all, other than a small Samsung logo and a removable Energy Star sticker, making for a very clean, uninterrupted bezel.

  21. 5553

    Lol. Bitten by the 30 hz output only scam.

    Also HDR  has more than one flavor 

    Dolby Vision requires royalties be paid but is 12 bit color.

    The other one is free but two bits lower color output as well as DV being more sophisticated in other areas too.Too early to bite IMO wait for things to sort out and prices to drop.

    Given one of Dolby's theoretical displays—capable of 10,000 nits brightness and fullBT.2020 color saturation—you would see a massive difference between current HDR10standards and fully realized Dolby Vision. However, in the real world, the visible differences are going to come down to the TVs you're comparing.Aug 17, 2016

  22. 9441

    The LG 27UD68 looks decent, IPS and HDMI 2.0. Best Buy has it on sale for $399.

  23. 528

    If you want UHD resolution there is one questions. Do you want it for the added screen estate or for a higher ppi? You can only have one of those. I choose the former and there is a small selection of displays that has about the same dotpitch as a 27" (2560x1440) but with 3840x2160 resolution. Those monitors are between 39.5-42.5". Brands are liyama (MVA panels), Philips (VA and IPS panels) and Dell/Acer/Benq (IPS panels). Here in Sweden the price starts at $483 and ends with the Dell model at $897. 

  24. 378

    I always hesitate to recommend monitors unless the person can see a unit in person. Monitor reviews always seem very polarized, either 5 stars ~ best monitor ever or I'd give it a zero if i could.


    That said, I have had an Acer S277HK for while and really like it. The only thing I don't like is the lack of height adjustment on the stand but that's on about every monitor I have ever owned. Unfortunately,  this monitor lacks any kind of vesa mount so no help there. The stand is pretty stylist (imho) and i added an inexpensive glass shelf for some height and it works pretty well.  http://www.monoprice.com/product?p_id=16355

    it's more than your budget. It's $576 on newegg at the moment but I managed to pick it up July 2015 for $500 so a savvy shopper should be able to find a deal.

  25. 5496

    According to the specs, it does 60hz. So the problem is not the monitor.

  26. 114

    I know it's almost 8 hundo but I have been loving this sucker


    I think the article should be updated to note the monitor does support 60hz, but with Microsoft hardware in particular you need to make sure you have the right adapter or cable...

  27. 6600

    I recently purchased this LG panel from Best Buy and have been very happy with it. It comes with both a DP 1.4 and a HDMI 2.0 cable.


  28. 5714

    This website:    http://www.rtings.com/tv      knows what the hell they are talking about.

    Some 4K 40" TV's are so damn good....once people figure this out, the PC Monitor industry is going to die.....  Serve's them right.


  29. 7361

    If you are willing to deal with suboptimal off-axis performance, the Monoprice 4K 28" is pretty damn good for the money. 

  30. 7235

    You got the wrong dell.  Get the P2715Q. It's fantastic and absolutely does 60hz at 4k. You just have to turn off MST in the settings otherwise it will be stuck at 30hz.

  31. 169

    There is an older version of this display that only did 30Hz at 4K.  Mine was horrible and it just burnt out after just over a year.  I saw the deal and ordered two of these - hope this unit is better....

  32. 1251

    I love Planar displays: http://www.planaronline.com/product/?id=997-8314-00

  33. 4288


    It doesn't really answer your question but what I am looking to do for a family member is get a 4K panel that is approx 46" and use it at 100% scaling.

    This is the equivalent of having four 23" 1080p monitors set up in a 2x2 array. 

    In terms of price, I can then start looking at TVs and not just monitors (and you can get 4K TVs pretty cheaply if you aren't worried about things like colour gamut and accuracy too much). The key is just making sure the TV can do 4:4:4 chroma sub-sampling.

  34. 9437

    This looks good: HP ENVY 27 Inch 4k UHD Display

    On the high end of your budget, but as they say, "you get what you pay for".


  35. 413

    Asus PB287Q. 


    Paul I have tried several and had various issues.  This is the best at a budget.   HDMI 2 for Xbox as well as perfect color on desktop.  


    Won't find a better one for the price.  For a bit more can get 28 inch version

  36. 2


    Is a contender. But it is $500. Gulp.

    • 180

      In reply to Paul Thurrott:

      That looks really nice. HDMI 2.0 so you could do UHD Blu Ray on it, USB-C, and an IPS Display. I spent $600 on my 2 year old Samsung TN 4K panel, so, y'know... that price doesn't seem unreasonable to me.

  37. 9438

    Why did you even go for TN panel!? For any 4k display, it has to be IPS (that goes for any HD panel also) and support 60Hertz, thats all! Cheapest one thats good enough is LG 27ud68 (or 58), for around $450. There no good 4k below that price, at the moment.

    15sec after googling that Dell panel you see how bad specs it has ...

  38. 289

    4K sounds nice in theory but I think I'll stick with 25" 2560 x 1440 for another year or so. It's a great balance of clarity and usable real estate.

  39. 8616

    Bought http://www.lg.com/us/monitors/lg-27MU67-B-4k-uhd-led-monitor some time ago.  Was around 500 euros then, but since it's a discontinued product you might be able to find it cheaper now.

    I need a displayport cable to run at 60Hz.

    The feature I'm most happy about is the IPS panel.  I really do like the vibrant colors.

  40. 217

    After being a Mac user from 2007-2015, and thus using a retina screen, I don't miss OS X or Apple all that much, but I do miss having a high res display. I'm currently on a 28" Samsung 1080P, and no matter what I've tried to do to make it look better, there's just no going back from a hi-res display. I've been in the market for a 4K display but the price and low refresh rate have kept be back for now. I don't know if I'm getting a 4K display or a high end VR headset in 2017 :)

  41. 1766

    Hi Paul, I thought you had got the HP Envy display for yourself after you were so happy with the HP widescreen all-in-one, which you have a positive review.

    Did that not work out for you in the end? I though it looked great but didn't go for it sure to the low resolution, and small height of the display.



  42. 1329

    Hi Paul,

    I have the Samsung LU28E590DS mentioned a couple of times here. I use it with my Surface Pro 4 and it is exceptionally good for the price. I have it connected using DP from a Surface Dock. No trouble recommending it.

  43. 2944

    Paul check out the LG 27UD58-B.

    It's under $400 and the reviewers on Amazon and Newegg seem to like it.



  44. 3275

    I purchased the Samsung 28" recommended by C0rk for my wife who has a small video creation business. She had purchased a high end custom Puget system because the previous computer was choking too much when she was working with her 4K footage and rendering was terribly long. I bought hers at Best Buy for $399 and it may even be on sale now for $369. It is found in the TV department and does not have speakers, hub, etc.  just a plain old monitor. She has had not complaints. Trust me if there were issues I would have heard about it.  I did read somewhere there was a small knock on it due to the actual display type not having a large viewing angle capability, but has not been an issue. Especially at under $400. It is amazing to me though how all the monitor vendors have dropped the higher resolution displays (over 1080, but less than 4K) and only produce either 1080 or 4K. My conspiracy theory is it is a pure business decision to try and drive more revenue. They keep the pricing of the 1080 around the same because those customers will not pay any more than that pricing, but push the high resolution desiring group a bit higher by springing for a 4K. Just a thought.  By the way, Asus makes a similar monitor to the Samsung that is around the same pricing. 

  45. 943

    I use a Seiki Pro SM28UTR 28-Inch 4K monitor with my Surface Book at work with MiniDP via Surface Dock. It's not going to win head to head battles with the Surface Studio display, but for $250 I have no complaints. (Yes I got a deal on mine and haven't seen it that cheap since.

  46. sonance207

    I have this Monitor and I was having the same issue where it was stuck on 30Hz. For me I had to enable HDMI 2.0 on the monitor setting to get 60hz mode. I also found this article helpful


    After that change it is working great for me.

  47. 4838

    I have a Dell P2715 and it's decent enough, it reviews better than the S model (the Dell P series is their middle of the road series).  As somebody else mentioned, you do need to pay attention to the various connections and whatever standard they are built to.  

    Don't expect to do much 4k gaming unless you have a powerhouse of video cardS behind it, it's just not there yet for the average middle of the road computer, and a 120Hz 4k display will bump the price up quite a bit.  

    Also be prepared for the typical Windows scaling nightmares you've reported on in the past, just turned up to 11, when something doesn't scale, be prepared to break out the magnifying glass and be ready to throw stuff and fore-warn the family of the imminent use of bad language (don't be surprised if your mouse covers 2 different options and it takes some trial/error to get things right).

    Don't be afraid to look at the latest/greatest 34" UltraWide monitors, you can get more refresh rate out of them, but give up a little resolution, they are the equivalent of about a 27/28" monitor in height, but obviously you get more width.  But you need to be aware of all the docking options you have in Windows (or via 3rd party software), most webpages and such look really silly maximized on an ultrawide.

  48. 4949

    A few thoughts for you:

    1) Look on eBay for Korean panels.  These are typically Samsung panels that don't quite make the grade.  A bad pixel or two, not 100% up to the color requirement, or any number of other minor issues.  Typically they end up looking pretty nice, and you can get a great deal.  The down side? While there is a return policy, it does not include shipping, so a return means you are out a monitor for weeks, and the shipping price can cost as much as the panel did.  I have not bought one myself, but several friends have purchased and been vary happy with 1440p displays, and I hear there are some 4K panels available now for similar prices.

    2) Any particular reason for a PC monitor?  There are quite a few 'smallish' TVs that will do the trick, and you can grab year's models for pretty cheap.  With 2017 models starting to come out in a few months you can sit and wait a little bit and get some of today's models on clearance.
    Now; the down side to these small cheap TVs is that they tend to be 4-2-0 displays, which means that the chroma resolution is at 1920x2160 stretched, while the B&W resolution and detail is up at full 4K.  It sounds weird, but I can say from my own experience that while it can look weird on text, images and video still look great.  Plus, with scaling turned on (as you need to on a 4K PC under 40") it would gloss over this issue anyways.

    3) If you have a local Micro Center or Fry's, check out their clearance.  I picked up my 40" 4K TV for $350.  Full array backlight with local dimming.  Great visibility angle (important on a large display sitting close to it). 60fps input.  Only down side is text with the 4-2-0 issue.  If I had the money (maybe next year?) I would pay extra for a 43-46" display with a curve, and a full 4-4-4 color... but for $350 I am pretty happy with mine.  Send your 'Cincinnati Branch' up to MicroCenter up in SharonVille, we have a great store up there... they have taken several of my paychecks over the years lol.

    4) Good luck with a 120Hz input on a 4K panel... I mean, even if you find a display with the input (which would be difficult), you would be hard pressed to find a GPU that can do 120Hz output at 4K.  I mean... that would be nearly 1 Billion pixels per second... that's a lot of throughput.  Now, you can find a 120Hz panel, or 240Hz panel, but that is not the same as the input.  That just means that it doubles (or quadruples) the input to allow for faster frame switching (less blurr/smear).


    Good luck!

  49. 475

    I found the benefits of Ultrawide far outshine 4K.

    I have a 28" Samsung 4K (LU28E590DS) at home which I chose specifically over the dell for the exact issue you encountered with the refresh rate of 30 at 4K resolution. It's nice, but I vastly prefer the Dell 34" Ultrawide (U3417W) I have at work to the 4K. So much so that I'm thinking about selling my 4K, and getting another Ultrawide for home. Ultrawide is far superior for the multitasking/side-by-side work scenarios in which I spend most of my day. Spendy for sure, but given the amount of time I spend in front of it and the sheer delight I have with it on a daily basis... I can't feel too bad about dropping the necessary coin for the Ultrawide.

    One can hope that 4K level Ultrawide will be available for a reasonable price in the future.

    • 442

      In reply to C0rk:

      Ultra-wides are a niche market.  Depending on your needs, it's either a blessing or a curse.  I've seen a lot of folks return ultra-wides due to incompatibilities, and difficulty in controlling them for what they wanted.

    • 2354

      In reply to C0rk:

      I think Paul had an HP 32" ultrawide right?  This Dell 4K was going to replace it.

  50. 367

    Yes....you will be very happy with the LG 4k monitors....I was so impressed that I purchased the LG OLED 55" tv. My upgrade to my first 4k monitor is what started this (LG). You WILL be happy!


  51. 5767

    We know Windows 10 has problem with high-DPI displays in legacy apps. What's new?

  52. 7077

    dell duh