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To sin or not to sin: 4K for Windows?

uhd-logoFor some years, FullHD was the sufficient resolution  for many areas
of entertainment, be it PC gaming, TV or console gaming. the PC
community however has evolved faster than the others and soon
2560×1600 became state of the art, also called 3K.

However a fast change to this should occur soon when the TV segment of almost all major brands announced 4K TV sets to be released to the public in near time. Samsung was the first to issue 4K displays for TV purpose although there are no 4K sources yet. Nevertheless, all major brands quickly followed to bring up 4K displays to have a slice of the cake. And still not having any 4K material in reach, the prices have dropped very fast. A 4K TV at 55 inches diameter was price-tagged 6.000 US$ upon release in in winter 2013 but checking prices in Q2 2014 spits out TV sets that cost as less as 1.700 US$ nowadays.

LU28D590DSFront1Have rumors also woken up the PC gamers in March 2014, when Asus, Dell and Samsung were about to release 4K displays for computers, the price tag was a hefty 3.400 US$ at that time. No option for any sane PC gamer though.

But with the interest growing vastly and the PCs being capable of delivering 4K via DisplayPort at 60Hz, Samsung initiated the price fight together with Dell who issued their 27-inch model for 700 US$ in April 2014. Samsung didn’t take much longer to throw in the today tested LU28D590DS for a mere 650 US$ MSRP. Time for me to grab the opportunity and lay hands on one of these image puppies.

The delivery didn’t take long and soon I was able to open the rather small shipping package one knows from their TV sets. Small, sleek, lightweight. A motto, Samsung always tries to keep up. The unboxing was rather easy as the display isn’t by far as big as a 60-inch TV which can become a real challenge even for larger men, like me (6.2ft btw – 183cm!).

LU28D590DSBack1There’s not much space in the package hence Samsung decided to disassemble the stand into two pieces, but no worry. they’re easy to assemble if you follow the steps of the guide. Covered in styrofoam, it can become a real dirt mess if you start crumbling the buffers that protect the display from transportation damages. But when I unpacked my display, the crumbling was almost not present and I was able to unpack everything without a mess.

So when you have unpacked everything, you’ll find yourself with a display, 2 pieces of stand, a power supply (19V, 4A), a DVI-D cable, a HDMI 1.4 cable and (not natural!) a DisplayPort 1.2 compatible cable. DisplayPort? Why use that, there’s DVI and HDMI! That’s what most of you may ask when you see the cables. But one word of advice in advance! Since DVI is a rather old standard and may support display resolution only up to 2560×1600 and HDMI being capable of displaying 4K but only with 30Hz, you’ll find yourself quickly into using the supplied DisplayPort cable to gain the full 60Hz support! Also make sure that your graphics card is equipped with a DisplayPort (version 1.2 to be exact!) and if you want to enjoy games at full resolution with all details enables, make sure, your graphics card(s) do have a whole load of processing power to fire at the display!

LU28D590DSSideMy equipment I was testing the display with, is a Pentium CoreI7-3930K with 2xNVidia GeForce 780 GTX (SLI).

So here are my first impressions: Games simply look stunning. Antialiasing is not necessary but if you enable it, you’ll be hardly able to see any vector steps on object borders anymore. It’s like as if you were staring at a real image, so small are the pixels (216ppi for those who want to know in detail). Some older games might run into trouble being played at such high resolutions but Diablo III, WoW, TERA, C&C RA3, C&C Generals and many Steam titles work pretty well with the display so far. Windows 7 becomes mandatory if you plan to use the full 4K resolution at 60Hz as WinXP and Vista seem to run into trouble according to some rumors. But in these times, the actual graphics cards themselves make the update to a modern OS mandatory. While Windows 7 has a scaling problem at the Logon GUI (Screenshot will follow!), the UI scaling after logon works well with many applications that tie to Microsoft’s UI styling guideline. Other applications using fixed-size images for UI styling, may become teared or mashed up. That’s not an issue of Windows, it’s the programmer’s fault!

You will want to use a scaling of 150% and large (64px) icons in order to see the icons and read their titles with ease. Everything else is, frankly said, a challenge for your eyes and my stress them more than necessary.

An odd bug is, that Diablo II forces you to use arbitrary percentage values to make the ingame cursor work properly (at 150% the cursor is frozen, for whatever reason). Other games did not suffer from this bug in any case.

LU28D590DSFront2The display itself comes set up at 100 Brightness and 100 Contrast. WAAAAAY too bright for my taste. You’ll find yourself running the display at 50/100 and still be able to have a bright screen.

A thing, many displays suffer from is a glossy coating. Although the pixels are so tiny and tend to mash up when being stuck behind matte coating, Samsung did a great job and the display is matte and still you can see every pixel clearly. This is not natural and many manufacturers failed to present us clear-matte 3K displays!

The colors look fine although they might look a bit faded. Although no display comes at a perfect color calibration, you’ll have the options to set the display’s color temperature and saturation manually to fit your needs. I haven’t tested the settings, yet as I do not have a colorimeter to calibrate the display. Also this display is hooked to a mainly-to-be-game-PC and rarely being used for proper image editing.

For connectivity, the display has them (almost) all: DVI-D, HDMI and DisplayPort. VGA does not make any sense with such display as tha analogue signal could not be scaled up enough to serve the full 4K resolution at reasonable frame rates (60p) and also the signal may become unstable and subject to distortions with the increase of Bandwidth and vertical frequency! Most RAMDACs of today’s graphics cards still cannot handle such high bandwidths and frequencies, that’s why digital signals have been evolved to fill this gap!

LU28D590DSBack2About the background lighting. As you might already have heard, some monitors use PWM for regulating the display’s brightness. Sensitive eyes may notice a flickering when the LEDs are quickly switched to set the brightness. Other displays use voltage regulation which defeats any flickering at the beginning. Although I cannot gurantee that the Samsung display also uses native Voltage regulation, I was unable to see any flickering when setting the display’s brightnes a tad lower, so I guess, Samsung uses native Voltage regulation prior to PWM.

For Gamers it might be interesting, that the display does not show any artifacts of Overdrive in games. A trend that’s greatly welcome as many display manufacturers buy short latency times (1ms GTG for example) with hefty overdrive usage. the result is some nasty border burning or bleeding and also tearing effects. Not with this display though.

About the material and the haptics of the display itself. Although the casing is all plastic and the stand is plastic, too, the haptics is okay as it feels like brushed aluminum. Mostly you set up the display once, and that’s it. The ergonomy of the display is okay, not world class. You have no pivot function and the display is only capable of being tilted approx 15 degrees back. Tehre’s no forth tilting. My model seems to have a small glitch as the display is a tad tilted to the left when compared to the stand (bezel and stand do not set up a parallel line!) but that’s okay. The more important factor for me is that the display has no(!) defective Pixels or subpixels. That’s great! At a mere 52 Watts the display seems to be a power-gobbling monster but hey, there are four million pixels to be fed. Some FullHD monitors also suck up to 70 watts out of your wall socket. So it can be considered fair tradeoff. A good detail: The standby LED only lits when the display is off or in standby. During operation, there’s no disturbing or irritating light. If there’s no big error between monitor and PC, the display will show a picture and you know, it’s on and working, so a status LED is quite obsolete here IMHO!

All in all, you get a decent piece of monitor for a fair price which is able to handle games well and also video material up to 60p at native 4K resolution.

I hope this introduction review could give you a hint which display to buy for 4K gaming.

Here’s my rating for the display:

Samsung LU28D590DS
Connectivity (10%): ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Ergonomics (20%): ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Image (25%): ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Gaming (15%): ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Video (15%): ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Accessories (15%): ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Overall Score: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Price: 699 US$ (MSRP)

Final verdict:

At the moment there’s no better display for 4K gaming and entertainment hooked to a computer. The monitor comes with a good set of accessories, can charm with a good image quality for gaming, office work and video playback and all this at a reasonable price. The downside is, that you have to miss USB and VGA as connection options and according to ergonomy, the display cannot be tilted left/right or forward. Only backward tilting is possible without moving the stand. Also you do not have a pivot function to use the display in portrait mode. All in all I can still recommend this display for all those who want to enter the workd of 4K imaging at a fair-calculated price.

June 24, 2014 Netspark - 1594 posts - Member since: May 9th, 2011 No Comments »

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