AOC U2868PQU 4K Monitor Review
4K gaming… it’s one of those phrases you hear now and again, and it’s always made me wonder what all that fuss is about. I mean can all those extra pixels really make THAT much difference?
Well I’m about to find out as I have been provided an AOC U2868Pqu 4K monitor to review. This 28″ monitor features a Widescreen TN panel with a 4K resolution of 3840×2160. The panel has a 1ms Response Time and screen is also equipped with x2 3W speakers. Connectivity is provided by way of 1x DVI, 1x MHL/HDMI, 1x DisplayPort & 1x D-Sub ports.
|‘Get superior performance from every inch of your screen! With four times the resolution of Full HD, 1ms response times and 60 Hz refresh rates, this 28-inch 4K Ultra HD monitor is in a class of its own. The speed and clarity make it perfect for industries like gaming, while the 1.07 billion colors will impress creative professionals. Picture-in-picture and picture-by-picture mode boost productivity and the 3-watt speakers offer richer sound. Connect devices with DisplayPort and USB 2.0 and 3.0, plus MHL over HDMI to mirror mobile content. At home or at work, this monitor is made for users who demand the best.’|
The AOC U2868PQU arrived to me in a rather large box. The front of the box itself features two images of the monitor one the standard angled front shot you generally see on these monitor boxes, the other one slightly different in that it shows the monitor on its stand in its portrait configuration. This shows the versatility of these AOC monitor stands (we’ve seen a few of these in the past). At the bottom edge of the box, there are some feature descriptions including, Ultra HD 4K, Adjustable Stand, MHL, HDMI, P Certified and PIP/PBP.
Opening the box allows us to see the top section of the packaging, in which is found the stand baseplate, all the cabling and the installation CD. On removal of this top section of packaging the panel itself can be seen (and removed). The packaging is certainly adequate for safe transport of the monitor and fits very well around the panel.
There isn’t anything too special about the contents in this box. It’s the usual suspects really, various interconnect cables (key ones being an HDMI cable, and a D-Sub cable), along with a power cable, a USB cable (for linking the monitors USB hub to your rig), an audio cable, and an installation CD. One notable omission here is a DisplayPort cable, which I think reading the specifications of the monitor should have been provided, but wasn’t in the box.
At the time of writing the AOC U2868PQU is retailing for approximately £325 on Amazon and comes with a 3 year on-site warranty.
courtesy of AOC
|Monitor Size||28 Inch|
|Visible Screen Size||620.93 x 341.28|
|Brightness||300 cd/m2 (type)|
|Dynamic Contrast Ratio||80M:1|
|Response time||1 ms|
|Scanning Frequency||Scanning Frequency||30-99khz/50-76hz|
|Signal Input||Analogue Input: D-Sub|
|Digital Input: DVI / HDMI|
|Display Port Input|
|Power||Power Source||100 – 240V 50/60Hz|
|Other Features||Plug & Play|
|OSD Languages||AOC 2K11 OSD/ English, French , Spanish, Portuguese, German, Italian, Dutch, Swedish, Finnish, Polish ,Czech, Russian, Korean, Traditional Chinese, Simple Chinese, Japanese|
|Regulations||Energystar 6, TCO 6, EPEAT Silver, TUV-Bauart, CE, FCC, EAC, Rohs compliant, Energy Class C|
|Other Features||Multiview, iCare, i-Menu, e-Saver, Screen+|
My first impressions of the AOC U2868PQU are that it looks like any other 28 inch monitor. The build quality is good, and the design looks nice, but on the face of it, it’s what I would expect any other 28 inch monitor to look like. It’s interesting to see that the monitor stand is already fitted to the back of the panel (previous AOC monitors have had a slot on arrangement with the stand on the back of the panel).
Of course this is just me looking at the panel not powered on. I have to remember that I have a 4K monitor here. So I can’t help feeling a little excited about how my favourite games are going to look at that lovely 3840×2160 resolution.
Assembling the stand was simplicity itself in that all you have to do is to slide the baseplate onto the stand arm and screw in a bolt that has been provided with a rather handy fold out ring that can be used like a wingnut. It’s interesting to note that out of the box the stand arm is rotated to it’s “portrait” position and this seemed the best place for it to be when adding the base plate as it kind of hovers in mid-air with the panel placed face down and makes access very easy.
Once the stand baseplate has been added, the stand arm can be rotated to allow the monitor to sit in it’s normal landscape orientation, and very nice it looks to.
At this point you can start to have a play with that wonderful AOC stand which is height, swivel and tilt adjustable. One of the party tricks we’ve seen with a lot of the AOC monitors that we’ve reviewed in the past is the “portrait” mode. This is achieved by raising the monitor to it’s full height, tilting back and rotating the whole screen on a 90 degree swivel where the arm joins the panel, then tilting back down. Once finished you have your monitor panel in portrait orientation!
I say this every time I have the privilege of getting my hands on an AOC monitor, but that stand is to die for!
The front of the monitor has one LED to show power state. Also of note, there are no buttons at all on this monitor. You’d think that this would make accessing the onscreen menu system difficult, but fear not, AOC have added touch sensitive areas on the front of the monitor for the standard menu/input selection features. These look great as you aren’t spoiling the lines of the monitor with tactile protruding buttons. Easy of use for these buttons will be interesting see in testing.
INPUTS & OUTPUTS
The AOC U2868PQU was tested using our Test Rig with a fresh installation of Windows 7 Professional 64bit (service pack 1) installed together with all the latest relevant drivers and software. No additional screen calibration software was used, all of the default modes were tested and then the screen was calibrated by hand and eye to the best of my ability.
During the review I used the following Benchmarks and Games to help in the evaluation of the monitor.
I connected up the AOC U2868PQU to the Test Rig, powered it on using that touch sensitive power button and fired up windows. The first thing that was obvious was that I really needed to up my icon size! Everything looked tiny on the display due to that massive 4K resolution.
The display looked very good right from the start and the colours and brightness were pretty much spot on to my eyes on first power on. I had a play around with the menu buttons, not being totally sure about the touch sensitive features of the controls, but in fact found them easy to use and responsive.
Initial checks with various coloured screens didn’t expose any dead/stuck pixels. The picture was very impressive in all colour hues and even after looking for wallpapers that might expose issues with the setup of the image, I couldn’t fault what I was seeing. So I left the settings well alone and carried on with my testing.
Now, having never gone near 4K gaming in the past I was on a bit of a steep learning curve here, and I will look to pass on some of that wisdom to you the reader now.
4K gaming requires power, lots of it.
Driving any game at these sorts of Resolutions really needs some oomph in your rig setup. I ran Elite Dangerous on a single XFX 290X for a period of time and got some reasonable frame rates out of it (40-55 fps) but pretty much all the games I tried struggled, big time! You have to consider that my current monitor is a 24 inch 1920×1080 model (yes I know I need to upgrade it 😉 ) and I am used to seeing 150-170 fps in Elite and around 80-90 in Metro Last Light at 1920×1080 with a single card. So first lesson is, you need good cards (yes cards as in more than one). I ended up using two XFX 290X cards in Crossfire configuration to get my framerates up to reasonable levels. Once driven with two cards I was getting 70-90 fps in Elite and around 45 fps in Metro at 4K resolutions.
4K gaming requires Graphics card memory, lots of it.
The other thing to consider is that when running higher resolutions, you will potentially be loading higher resolution textures (assuming the game in question supports 4K). Case in point was Elite, which has been developed with 4K in mind and loaded my cards up with 4079 Mb of textures at it’s most busy, 3Gb cards aren’t really going to cut it!
DisplayPort required, cables are not all made the same.
To get 4K resolution at 60Hz you have to go through DisplayPort, HDMI will offer 4K at 30Hz, but not 60Hz. When reviewing this monitor I found that on my first gaming session I was noticing some popping and “static” flashes across the screen. It got so bad that a few times the screen just blanked out altogether. I check the drivers and crossfire settings, I moved my graphics cards around so that what was the primary card was now the secondary and vice versa (checking for a faulty DisplayPort connector), all to no avail. I even changed the DisplayPort cable. Nothing fixed the issue. I discussed this with some online friends (gaming buddies) and heard that there can be cables that just aren’t that good and sometimes are wired outside of the DisplayPort standard. I found out from one of these friends that they had ordered a slightly more expensive cable and had no issues. I ordered the same cable (Ugreen Premium Displayport 1.2v) and all my issues with popping and blanking out disappeared. So moral of the story here is… all DisplayPort cables are not made equal, choose carefully.
All that aside, the view you get gaming on a 4K monitor has to be seen to be believed. Every on screen line and edge is razor sharp (no need for any kind of AA setting here, turn it all off and gain some FPS). I exited one of the space stations in Elite and flew away a little distance, then requested docking and turned back to the station. I was greeted by so much detail that I just hadn’t noticed before. The stations on Elite have panel lines on the outsides that although were there at 1920×1080, now almost leapt out of the screen at me. I was shocked at how much clearer everything looked. Elite was a pretty game anyway, but now seeing it as Frontier Developments have coded it to be seen, it just shocked me at how beautiful it was. This general sharpness and extra detail theme continued on the other games I played. It really was an eye opener.
This revelation (and the need for me to upgrade my monitor) had me hovering over a buy button for this AOC U2868PQU on more than one occasion, but I was always mindful that if I hit buy, then I needed to furnish my machine with a second XFX 290X and there would also be a reasonable large cost for that as well. In the end my mind overruled my heart and sense prevailed and I held off on the purchase, 4K gaming is beautiful, but definitely comes at a price!
The AOC U2868Pqu is a well designed, good value 4K monitor that provides a stunning image, if you have the power to drive it!
The AOC U2868PQU came in a large, sturdy and well branded box. The panel itself looks like pretty much any other 28-Inch monitor, apart from those cool touch sensitive menu buttons.
The stand was very simple to assemble requiring just one bolt to be screwed in, but offered (as with most AOC monitors) an amazing range of movement, especially with the height being adjustable (a feature that seems to be missing from so many very highly priced monitors). The stand is even versatile enough to allow the panel to be placed into portrait mode.
Although the panel itself doesn’t look particularly special the 4K image it produces does! The image quality and sharpness is incredibly good and the colour and tone of the images are to my eyes well balanced and accurate.
The big issue with this monitor, is in fact not an issue with the monitor. It’s an issue with the power needed to drive an image at 4K resolution. If you buy this monitor, you either need to already have a dual graphics card gaming rig, or the money to buy a new graphics card (or cards) at the same time as the monitor purchase. This is a downside of 4K gaming, not of this monitor itself, however I can’t help feeling that it will directly impact who can effectively afford to buy into the 4K gaming arena.
All this being said, I loved my time with the AOC U2868PQU. It allowed me to see a game I love (Elite Dangerous) in the quality that the developers worked so hard to achieve, and I was extremely sorry to see it go. Realistically though, I knew that I really couldn’t justify the money that I would need to spend to get a reasonably quick 4K gaming rig.
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Where possible we always use Amazon’s price for Value…
Many thanks to AOC for providing this sample for review