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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  • BMNify - Tuesday, April 1, 2014 - link

    tjoynt, find the best visual quality "2001 A Space Odyssey Opening in 1080 HD" or higher clip you can find and play that , tell us you cant see the ringing due to the 8 bit per pixel pseudocolor, that why we need Rec. 2020 color space, in fact 10bit isnt really enough as it takes 11bit's or more to get true real colour but consumers have to make do for a reasonable price (this is not reasonable)
  • Panzerknacker - Tuesday, April 1, 2014 - link

    Way too high input lag, useless display tbh.

    I guess displays like this are for the niche market where people will buy it anyway to show off. There simply isnt much engineering behind a screen like this anway, they just slap a 4k panel and some electronics into a box and call it a 4k display. The many unacceptible flaws listed in this review prove this point.
  • CSMR - Tuesday, April 1, 2014 - link

    The Windows dpi comments are exaggerated.

    This monitor is not ultra-high dpi. It is just high dpi. The 4k is just a good resolution for 32".

    150% is a suitable dpi setting in Windows for this monitor.

    People using this monitor will typically not be using it with other screens at the same time, or low res monitors. The typical uses will be as a single screen connected to a desktop, or to a laptop. 150% might also be suitable for a good laptop screen, say 1080p 13".

    Also most software has worked well with high dpi settings in Windows for several years.

    The only problem with windows is the lack of per-screen dpi but the extent to which this poses a problem with this screen is exaggerated. The pixel-war 4k resolutions for small screens, e.g. 24", are more likely pose a problem because they would require a dpi setting close to 200% which would be very inappropriate for most other screens.
  • Penti - Tuesday, April 1, 2014 - link

    The problem is if you use this as the primary monitor in Windows with 150%, say your 27" 2560x1440 monitor that you run at 100% will be 150% bitmap scaled to 100% in Windows 8.1. If you choose you 100% screen as primary the results will be really disastrous. One screen will always look blurry and bad if you do not use the same scaling. Plenty of Microsoft's own software doesn't work decent with DPI-scaling and stuff like the browser ignores the native scaling and just scales by zooming. 24" 200% still produces some oddities even if it's your only screen. You can't really speak of any improvements here in Windows yet. OS X seems to do multiscreen better at least. Having different scaling on your laptop screen and external screen seems like a given to me.
  • CSMR - Tuesday, April 1, 2014 - link

    I agree that this is a problem in principle, but not so much here because:

    - Using 32" and 27" is unlikely given the size of screens. (And using non-identical dual screens is not recommended anyway because of differing color profiles needed anyway.)

    - 27" 1440p is quite high dpi. So if 150% is preferable for this monitor then 125% is preferable for 27". So you'd end up with things only slightly too large on the 27".

    Coping well with screens at different dpis should be done but it is quite challenging for OSes and software and will take many years.

    A gradual increase in dpi (as in this Dell) is the best approach at the moment IMO.
  • Hxx - Tuesday, April 1, 2014 - link

    hey Chris, other reviewers found input lag to be less than 20ms. How come your results are so skewed? Aren't you suppose to use the best setting to test this? Why are u testing at a non native resolution? TBH you're better off not testing for it.
  • BinaryTB - Tuesday, April 1, 2014 - link

    He already mentioned why he's testing at non-native resolution, because most graphics cards (even the higher end ones), can't drive all games at high settings at a 4k resolution.

    Makes sense to me, if I'm going to be playing at <4k resolution, that's where I want the input lag tested.
  • apertotes - Tuesday, April 1, 2014 - link

    there are many games that can perfectly be played at native resolution, like Civ 5, or FIFA, or WoW, or any 2/3 years old game. Also, he used HDMI at 30 hz instead of DP at 60 hz.

    I do not see the point of giving figures if they are not the best the monitor can do.
  • cheinonen - Tuesday, April 1, 2014 - link

    The HDMI input is driving at 1080p at 60 Hz, not 30Hz. 30Hz would be if it was using a 4K signal. Tom's Hardware is measuring using a 1080p signal as well, so their results should be similar but they're using a high speed camera instead of the Leo Bodnar device. TFT Central measures it using SMTT which I find slightly odd as that would require a CRT that can do UltraHD resolution, of which I'm not aware of any.

    I'm working on a better way for input lag but for right now it's a static test that is as accurate, and comparable, as I can make it.
  • NCM - Tuesday, April 1, 2014 - link

    Regarding the unexpectedly high case temperature the author measured, I'd expect that to be a function of high pixel density, which blocks a greater proportion of the backlight. This in turn requires more backlight intensity to produce a given panel illumination.

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