We haven't had a display review since our desperately seeking quality LCDs article. That doesn't mean there haven't been interesting displays released during that timeframe, but the trends highlighted in that last article have continued. TN panels are everywhere and are by far the cheapest option, although they do have a bit of competition from E-IPS displays. For example, we have 1080p 23" TN LCDs starting at under $200, compared with 1080p 23" E-IPS LCDs for $300. However, E-IPS isn't the highest quality implementation of IPS (in-plane switching) LCD technology; what if you want to go for the real deal?

Despite the preponderance of TN panels, it's still possible to find some good quality IPS displays. The catch is that you need to be prepared to spend two or three times as much money (or more!) to get that quality. Most consumers will look at the 24" TN panels starting at $200 and then they'll look at an IPS or PVA display costing $550 or more and they'll wonder why anyone would spend the extra money. The answer, quite simply, is quality. Dell offers U-series UltraSharp displays that look to satisfy professional users without quite getting into the professional display price range, and they'll provide substantially better quality than any entry-level display. That brings us to today's review.

Dell UltraSharp U2711 Specifications
Video Inputs 2 x dual-link DVI with HDCP
DisplayPort w/HDCP
Panel Type IPS (Unknown Manufacturer)
Pixel Pitch 0.233mm
Colors Up to 1.07 billion (10-bit color)
Brightness 350 nits typical
Contrast Ratio 1000:1 advertised
80000:1 Dynamic advertised
Response Time 6ms GTG
12ms TrTf
Viewable Size 27" diagonal
Resolution 2560x1440 (WQHD)
Viewing Angle 178 horizontal/vertical
Power Consumption 113W typical
Power Savings <2W
Screen Treatment Matte (anti-glare)
Height-Adjustable "Yes - 3.5"""
Tilt Yes
Pivot No
Swivel Yes
VESA Wall Mounting Yes - 100x100mm
Dimensions w/ Base (WxHxD) 25.46" x 16.84-20.38" x 7.87" (WxHxD)
Weight w/ Stand 23.06 lbs.
Additional Features 4 x USB Ports
8-in-1 flash reader
Audio 2-channel headphone/line out
Optional AX510/AY511 Soundbar
Limited Warranty 3-year warranty standard
4-year and 5-year extended available
Accessories DisplayPort, DVI, USB, VGA, and power cables
Price $1050 MSRP

The latest offering in the U-series is the U2711, a 27" beauty sporting extremely impressive features. For starters, it has an IPS panel, but this isn't your granddad's IPS panel. The U2711 has an extremely high resolution 2560x1440 panel - similar to the panel that's used in the Apple 27" iMac. Notice that we highlighted the word similar? That's because the two panels aren't identical; the glass might be the same, but there are definitely differences.

For one, Apple uses LED backlighting whereas the U2711 sticks with CCFL technology. But isn't CCFL worse? That depends on what you're after; the iMac 27 offers a 72% color gamut while the U2711 has a 102% color gamut (based on the CIE 1931 standard). Using RGB LEDs, it would be possible to get a similarly high color gamut, but our experience with RGB LEDs to date is that they cost more and consume more power than regular LEDs, so we can understand Dell's interest in sticking with the "older" technology. (We've only seen RGB LEDs in a few laptops so far, and as one example it's a $175 upgrade on the Dell Studio XPS 16 compared to a regular white LED display.)

Since this is a display rather than an all-in-one computer, there are plenty of other differences between the Apple and Dell LCDs. Dell includes just about every input you might want on the back of the LCD - DisplayPort, HDMI, two dual-link DVI connections (all with HDCP support, naturally); and just for good measure they toss in VGA, component, and composite video connections as well - not that we would recommend using those if you can avoid it, though the VGA connection is always good to have "just in case". Like most UltraSharp displays, you also get a couple USB ports on the back, two more on the side, and a handy flash memory reader.

Besides having a higher color gamut and different backlighting technology, Dell uses 12-bit internal color processing with the ability to output 10-bit color. That means you can get 1024 levels of grey instead of just 256, reducing the amount of banding present in certain situations. 24-bit vs. 30-bit color also means you get a color palette of 1.07 billion instead of 16.7 million, though we were unable confirm this in testing. First, you need to have a graphics card with the ability to output 30-bit color, which typically means you need a workstation class GPU. You also need some sort of "special sauce" - specifically, you need an application that knows about deep color support. We connected the U2711 to a Dell Precision M6500 notebook (Quadro FX 3800M GPU) via DisplayPort. NVIDIA tells us that the GPU is aware of the deep color capability of the display at that point, but it requires an appropriate application before 30-bit color output would start. Despite our inability to test this feature, considering the cost of other 30-bit displays (often they are priced upwards of $1800), the U2711 becomes a very interesting option for users that need (and know how to use) "deep color" support.

So what's not to like? As with so many other things in life, all of these lovely features don't come free. The U2711 has an MSRP of $1050, so it costs quite a bit more than lesser 27" displays. Then again, it has a higher resolution, better features, and it's still $200 cheaper than most 30" LCDs. Overall, the U2711 makes a very good impression if you're after a high quality LCD; it's just not intended for users that are merely looking for a decent display at an affordable price. If you're a discerning image professional or just someone fed up with lackluster consumer LCDs, read on to find out if the U2711 is the right display for you.

Impressions of the U2711
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  • Zebo - Friday, January 22, 2010 - link

    I only buy NEC after dozens of tries and finally found nirvana on 20wmgx2 and 2490wuxi. I hope NEC comes out with high res 27 like this then I'm in.

    IMO- Most LCD's tend to look grainy - as in I can see pixels, especially so in the 26/27's current out there. This panel will alleviate much of that.
  • GTVic - Friday, January 22, 2010 - link

    Thanks for the article, there are many people who don't mind spending more for a quality display. 24" 1920x1200 would be my next choice, this is a bit too large/costly if you want multiple displays.

    My guess is that the 11 in U2711 is distinguishing it from the U2410 which had some issues that are mostly fixed now. Doesn't sound like they will come out with a U2411 or will they?
  • Affectionate-Bed-980 - Friday, January 22, 2010 - link

    If you're gonna compare this monitor, it HAS to be compared against the Dell 2707. I see the 2707 in many of the tests, but not all. WHY? The best candidates to test against are the U2410, 2408, 2707, and even 3008. Why the heck would you be so inconsistent and use only some monitors in some test and different batches in others? Sigh @ anandtech inconsistency. I know you want to use old data and stuff that's available, but when you make these reviews, please consider reviewing against things that matter.... and KEEPING those test candidates in 100% of the time.
  • strikeback03 - Friday, January 22, 2010 - link

    Probably depends what tests they were doing when they had that monitor. If it was a test unit sent by Dell they had to send it back, so unless someone bought one of those it is no longer available for all tests.
  • JarredWalton - Friday, January 22, 2010 - link

    As far as the monitors you mentioned, the 2707WFP and 2408WFP are in all of the graphs, with the exception of power -- I didn't test that on the 2707WFP way back when. Same goes for input lag testing -- I started that long after my tests of the 2707WFP and 3007WFP. As for the U2410 and the 3008WFP (along with the 3007WFP-HC), I never have tested any of those and thus can't include data for them.

    The HP LP3065 will perform very similarly to the 3007WFP-HC and 3008WFP (but the 3008 will have more processing lag). For the charts where I limited the results to a few monitors, I specifically chose the monitors in order to show good, high-end offerings that would compete with the U2711. Obviously, I'm limited to what I've tested, so I used the 2408WFP, 2707WFP, HP LP3065, Samsung 245T, and LaCie 324.

    Hope that helps... I'd love to provide results for the 2707WFP, but I can't. I could run tests on my 3007WFP (non-HC), but it's failing on me because it's three years old. Not *failing* really, but I've got some definite image persistence problems now (e.g. if I have content open where there's a start green/white vertical area, and then move that image a bit after 10 minutes, I can see an afterimage for at least 30-45 seconds.)
  • thedeffox - Friday, January 22, 2010 - link

    Nice article.

    I'd be interested in hearing more about deep color selling point of this display. Perhaps it'd be worthy to explore in a future article. Specifically the complete line of components to enable it, and whether there is any noticeable difference.

    It sounds like all the parts are out now for the non-pro to use deep color. Windows 7, the GT240 (are there any better gaming cards with DC support?), and a couple LCDs.
  • araczynski - Friday, January 22, 2010 - link

    as a gamer, i'll take my 28" hanns-g for $240 over the "latest and greatest milking scheme" from anyone else.

    although i can see professional (not pretend professional) photographers being quite excited at this one perhaps.

    as a programmer (at work) i'm happy with my 4 other LCD monitors, 24 dell, 20 dell, 19 acer, 18 nec (they still around?).

    i think we're at the point of 'them' just trying to milk the lcd technology for every last dollar they can before moving on to the next 'in' thing.
  • Griswold - Sunday, January 24, 2010 - link

    Considering that hanns-g is below average even for the (low) standards of gaming, it doesnt really matter what your opinion on this higher quality product is. Stick to what you know...
  • kmmatney - Saturday, January 23, 2010 - link

    As a gamer, I can tell you that the 28" Hanns-G is terrible for gaming. At least if you've ever used something better. I had one for about 2 years, used mostly for work, but I did try to use it for gaming. It is horrible with dark scenes, the top of the screen is darker than the rest (viewing angle limitation) and the contrast was poor. About the only acceptable scenario were bright outdoor games like Farcry. After using my Soyo MVA panel, I could never go back to using the HannsG anymore for gaming. The HannsG was fine for work (I'm a programmer/engineer), but not games.
  • yacoub - Friday, January 22, 2010 - link

    "The final potential drawback with the U2711 that we want to discuss is lag. There are actually two types of lag we noticed during testing, and neither one is likely to be a deal breaker if what you're after is high quality image. Processing lag (a.k.a. "input lag") is definitely present, and it appears to be due in part to the digital scaler."

    Blah. IPS is all about NOT having the input lag PVA panels have. Making an IPS panel that has noticeable input lag means it no longer has one of its biggest benefits.

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