ASUS PB278Q Conclusions

I was very happy to see that Samsung was going to start making their own flat panels with a new technology so that someone could put some pressure on LG to innovate more or reduce prices on their panels, which only helps consumers. The new PLS panels should in theory excel at these higher resolutions compared to IPS because they allow more light through, which allows for smaller pixel sizes without losing light output, or needing a more complex backlighting system to provide the same light output.

Due to only having a single PLS panel so far to test, it is hard to make a determination on whether the performance is due to the panel or the electronics, as we’ve seen the same IPS panel perform very differently on various monitors due to the backlighting and electronics involved. The contrast ratio on the ASUS PB278Q isn’t up to the level of the Dell U2713HM that last passed through here, but it is still good and better than most of the IPS panels that have come through. The sRGB quality is also not quite to the level of the Dell, but it's better than everything else and at a level that most users will probably find acceptable.

Calibrated at 200 nits, the performance is slightly behind other displays while it's ahead at 100 nits, but both are so close to other displays that they are basically a wash. The main area for concern is the panel uniformity on the right side of the panel, where we had a good amount of light fall-off. Most large displays suffer from this, unless you pay the big bucks for an NEC or Eizo, but this particular LCD is worse than most. PLS also seems to have the same input lag issue that most 27” displays suffer from, though it has helped me narrow this down to probably being due to the multiple input board and not scaling.

The 27” display that this comes closest to in use is the Dell U2713HM. Both have the same set of inputs, a mild level of anti-glare coating that isn’t bothersome, LED backlighting, very adjustable stands, and reasonably well calibrated sRGB modes, though the Dell is a bit better there. The Dell also does slightly better with contrast ratios and has a USB hub, but it also sells for $100 more than the ASUS display. The OSD on the Dell is slightly better as well, but in no way is the ASUS the interface disaster that many displays are. Both also have very nice, 3-year warranties that provide good replacement policies.

Coming down to price, for most users the extra $100 probably won’t be worth it. The Dell sRGB profile is more accurate than the ASUS, but since most users probably don’t calibrate at all, the ASUS will still be better than what they are running today. The USB hub is nice as is the slightly better OSD, but those aren’t enough to convince me to pay the extra money. The main differences are in contrast ratio and the dimmer right edge, but in practice I didn’t find those to be an issue for normal use, though they are a bit unfortunate in a display that costs almost $700.

The ASUS PB278Q is a very nice 27” display, and is a good debut for PLS but not an outstanding one. Perhaps if used in one of the ASUS ProArt models with higher end calibration and backlighting we could see if PLS can offer superior, not just equal, performance to IPS panels. Hopefully this marks the start of a race for features and performance in higher end LCD panels that will benefit consumers. As it is, the PB278Q is one of the two 27” displays I can easily recommend now and it costs $100 less than the Dell, making it a great choice for those that want a high performance monitor.

ASUS PB278Q Input Lag and Power Use


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  • praeses - Monday, November 19, 2012 - link

    Can you get the PWM frequency used for the backlight? If its variable, then at 25%, 50%, and 75% brightness levels? Reply
  • DaFox - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - link

    PWM frequency is very important to me as well these days. Reply
  • martyrant - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - link

    +1 Reply
  • WoodyPWX - Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - link

    That's why I bought the Dell U2713HM. It doesn't use PWM at all => no visible flickering. My eyes are very sensitive to that. Reply
  • p05esto - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - link

    I would like some opinions on does PWM matter? I sit in front of a screen ALL day and most nights. Does PWM matter to my eyes and ability to stay focused? I think my currentl monitor uses PWM (I tried the camera test, just roughly but I saw lines). Reply
  • Death666Angel - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - link

    Huh? Only you can answer that question. If you don't have trouble with a monitor with a PWM back lighting, then it obviously doesn't matter to you. Great article about it: And they test PWM frequency with every monitor they get nowadays. :) Reply
  • gevorg - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - link

    Checkout this article on how to measure PWM of your monitor:
  • demonbug - Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - link

    Interesting. Discovered mine is at 240 Hz, which would explain why I get that flickering feeling (it's a cheap TN panel with an LED backlight, so not surprising). I'll have to try running it at higher brightness and see if that helps. Reply
  • Oxford Guy - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - link

    Eyestrain isn't always easy to detect.

    The bottom line is that there are PWM-free panels now and they simply don't flicker.

    A cheap way to stop PWM flicker is to turn a PWM monitor to full brightness. A TN panel can be tilted vertically to make the brightness more bearable. But, it's better, of course, to get a constant control backlight.
  • jjj - Monday, November 19, 2012 - link

    not bad not great so it comes down to price and that's not all that attractive.

    You should see if you can get your hands on that extra wide 29 inch Dell,they started selling it at 699$ (it can be had for 630 with a code atm).

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