The largest issue with UltraHD displays, and any HiDPI display, is operating system and application support. Sure, you can run a desktop at full resolution with no scaling but that is almost impossible for anyone to actually use. To get any real benefit from any HiDPI display you are going to need OS and Application support.

In this area OS X is far ahead of Windows. With the Retina MacBook Pro released almost 18 months ago now, there has been a much bigger push to get OS and App support working there. It isn’t perfect still as there are many apps that lack HiDPI support (including Office). The exact nature of how well OS X works with HiDPI displays that aren’t the native display for the system isn’t perfect either.

Plugging my 2013 15” MacBook Pro into the Dell UP3214Q I expected to see options for scaling. Unfortunately I saw nothing of the sort with only the native resolution available for me to choose from. Attempting to use SwitchResX and other hacks to enable scaling also did not work for me. As always user error is a likely culprit for those, but that OS X isn’t aware of high-resolution displays by default is surprising. Perhaps Apple will not do this until they have their own UltraHD panel, but with the UltraHD support of the new Mac Pro being such a big deal the lack of support here is a shortcoming. (Note: this is updated in the first beta build of OS X 10.9.3 which I don’t have access to but Anand wrote about.)

Windows still lags behind here. Windows 8.1 was supposed to deliver better DPI scaling for multiple monitor setups but I have not seen that. Setting the UP3214Q to scale correctly means that my other 27” displays now have giant icons and are worthless for working on. Since running a single display is not a sacrifice I am willing to make I have to choose the option that best bridges the two.

Application support is still very lacking on the PC side. Most programs exhibit jagged edges and other issues when DPI Scaling enabled. Some applications are there, but it’s the exception rather than the rule. However, with Ultrabooks adopting HiDPI displays faster and faster, I fully expect Windows to push to get this right in the next 8-12 months.

What else is behind the times is the DisplayPort 1.2 interface. As I mentioned earlier, you need to enable MultiStream Transport mode to get a 60 Hz UltraHD image on the Dell. This really treats it as a pair of 1920x2160 displays instead of a single monitor, as there are no DisplayPort chips that can support the higher resolution. The specification should allow for it but no silicon vendors have taken advantage of that as there has been no need until now.

Unfortunately MST support is incredibly flaky. It works great, and then your computer hibernates and the monitor won’t wake up until you power cycle it. Or the two sides get out of sync and you have correct colors on one side and an incorrect color profile on the other side. I had half of the screen change resolution on me one day and the other side remain the same. After a firmware update I felt most of these issues were resolved, but as soon as I updated the Dell Calibration software, the monitor would no longer stay in sync in MST mode anymore. You also have to give up Uniformity Compensation on the Dell to use MST.

Note: The firmware update that I installed is not being provided to end users. You would need to exchange your monitor for a refurbished one with the updated firmware from Dell. More details can be read in the thread on Dell's website here.

HDMI 2.0 could also provide a solution to this, but no one currently ships HDMI 2.0 products. Most TVs claiming HDMI 2.0 are really only HDMI 1.4 that support a specific feature of HDMI 2.0 (4:2:0 chroma subsampling support) but they label them as HDMI 2.0 anyway. Until real HDMI 2.0 silicon is available, HDMI support for UltraHD is also limited to 30 Hz. So right now you have two real choices for UltraHD resolution support: 30 Hz that works, or 60 Hz that can be problematic.

The MST feature on the Dell UP3214Q started out working poorly for me. It didn’t wake up from sleep and the other issues I mentioned. A firmware update from Dell seemed to resolve all of these. It always woke up from sleep and the color profiles managed to stay in sync as well. Dell also released a new update to their calibration software that lets you take advantage of the two CAL presets in the monitor. As soon as this was installed a new issue cropped up. In MST mode, the two halves of the monitor would flicker, then it would turn off completely, then back on, then repeat. Only disabling MST fixes this, which then puts me back at a 30 Hz refresh rate.

So at the moment, UltraHD is half-ready when it comes to hardware and software. It has improved a bit over the past few months ago, but it still isn’t quite ready for everyone yet.

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  • Kevin G - Tuesday, April 01, 2014 - link

    On the Windows site of things, what video card and driver was used? How AMD and nVidia handle MST support varies slightly so you might have better luck with one over the other. Reply
  • Samus - Tuesday, April 01, 2014 - link

    Wow, $2800 bucks...you can have a whole WALL of ZR2740w's for that price. Reply
  • nathanddrews - Tuesday, April 01, 2014 - link

    ... or a wall of U28D590D for $699 each. 60Hz TN 4K. I'm glad to see the major players offer up affordable 60Hz 4K. Of course, I'd rather have 120Hz 4K DP1.3. Doesn't matter if you can't play games, it would be of tremendous value to me just for desktop operations. Reply
  • Gunbuster - Tuesday, April 01, 2014 - link

    Or you could run 4 39" 4K's at 1080p 120hz in multi-monitor and still have 4k resolution and some change left over...

    Bad pricing is bad.
    Reply
  • WithoutWeakness - Tuesday, April 01, 2014 - link

    If I'm correct in assuming you're talking about the 39" Seiko TV then I must inform you that those are not 120Hz screens in the same sense that a computer monitor is 120Hz. Those Seiko TV's only take an HDMI input which is currently limited to 4K@30Hz. They then interpolate frames between frames of source material to give the illusion of 120Hz. A 120Hz monitor takes in a 120Hz signal and displays it natively. There are currently no 4K 120Hz monitors on the market (there aren't even any 2560x1600 120Hz monitors I'm aware of). Reply
  • nathanddrews - Tuesday, April 01, 2014 - link

    The 50" Seiki 4K TVs do native 120Hz 1080p over HDMI 1.4, but it seems to be a lottery as to whether it needs to be hacked or not. While this resolution is not officially supported, creating a custom EDID makes it possible. In addition, several people have been loading the 50" firmware on the 39", making native 120Hz 1080p possible there as well. So you can have your desktop and videos at 30Hz 4K (not ideal, but still razor sharp) while also gaming at 120Hz 1080p. Some are claiming 720p at native 240Hz... but I'd have to see that to believe it.

    http://www.avsforum.com/t/1473728/official-seiki-s...
    Reply
  • houkouonchi - Friday, April 04, 2014 - link

    All seiki 50 inch displays will natively display 1080p@120Hz. The 39 inch models all will to (with a firmware update). The 39 inch monitors with the firmware update do pixel doubling which means ideal scaling for gaming (almost identical to gaming on a big 1080p display with no scaling artifacts).

    Both the 50 inch (and 39 with the right firmware) will accept 720p@240Hz. It sitll only displays 120Hz but this does halve the input lag from around 9ms to 4.5 ms which is why for games where it really matters (only quakelive for me) I ran at 1280x720@240Hz.
    Reply
  • dave_rosenthal - Tuesday, April 01, 2014 - link

    Actually, the 39" inch Seiko *does* accept 1080@120hz over hdmi (when flashed with the firmware from 50" Seiko) and output all individual 120 frames per second (it looks very smooth!). You're right that it's limited to 4k@30hz. Reply
  • inighthawki - Tuesday, April 01, 2014 - link

    Enjoy your massive bezel and spanning content across monitors. Reply
  • Samus - Tuesday, April 01, 2014 - link

    For <$400 and 2560x1440, I'll take a thick (matte finish) bezel with an IPS panel. Infact, I'll take 6 of them and keep the change instead of buying a "Dell"

    Samsung just announced a direct-competitor to this monitor for $800 starting price. So maybe just 3 of those and keep the change, and they have a razor thin bezel and aluminum frame construction.

    I mean...I just can't get over the price here. $2800 bucks. It's not even worth $1000.
    Reply

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