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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  • Death666Angel - Tuesday, April 1, 2014 - link

    On the topic of HiDPI and scaling: I have a 11.6" 1080p laptop (XE700T1C) and have no issue with it running at 125% and that is with using my finger most of the time (I only use the pen when I am already holding it because of note taking). 11.6"@1080p is 190 DPI, this is just 140. Unless you are using multiple monitors and suffer issues because of that, you need to get your eye sight fixed if you have having "high DPI" trouble with modern Windows .
  • Bob-o - Tuesday, April 1, 2014 - link

    Would love to see Anandtech evaluate all products on linux. . . at least a 1 paragraph "I tried it" kind of thing. . .
  • houkouonchi - Friday, April 4, 2014 - link

    I tested this monitor on linux. Works better on linux than all the rest because of the MST BS. On linux you just set it in a config file and never have problems and you don't have to worry about drivers 'dancing' their way around the problem. Not only that only on linux allows both GPU and monitor scaling of all resolutions while the display is in MST mode. People can't get scaling working at all on this on windows when the display is in MST mode.
  • lord solar macharius - Tuesday, April 1, 2014 - link

    Just FYI - these issues have all know since the monitor went on sale last December. Dell's stance currently is if you want one with a fixed firmware you have to give up your new monitor and accept a refurbished replacement.
  • Darrenn - Tuesday, April 1, 2014 - link

    170 watts power usage! Are you kidding me? Typical 32 inch led monitors use around 30 watts. Somebody had to tell manufacturers that power usage is supposed to go down not increase by a factor of almost six.
  • MrSmartyAss - Tuesday, April 1, 2014 - link

    Hey, it's still April's fools day... that price is a grotesque joke. Just save your hard earned $$$ for the Vizio P-series and forget that DELL even offers this HDMI 1.4 embarrassment of an UHD monitor.
  • AnnonymousCoward - Tuesday, April 1, 2014 - link

    Ok seriously. The picture on is stretched, to give the screen an aspect ratio of 2.24! But no, this isn't a 21:9 screen.
  • dgingeri - Wednesday, April 2, 2014 - link

    "Sure, you can run a desktop at full resolution with no scaling but that is almost impossible for anyone to actually use."

    I use a 27" WQHD (2560X1440) monitor without any scaling, and it works beautifully. That's ~109DPI. It's not that much harder for a 32" UltraHD monitor to do the same. The DPI for that monitor calculates out to about 137DPI. I don't agree that it would be "almost impossible for anyone to actually use."
  • nquery - Wednesday, April 2, 2014 - link

    The key is having good OS support for HiDPI. This is at least coming to OSX in 10.9.3.

    I have a 2013 retina MBP driving a Dell UP2414Q on 10.9.3. It works really really well. I have it set to 2x scaling most of the time ("Retina" in Apple parlance) and so have a super super crisp display for software development/text all day long. I don't game much but all apps work perfectly. It is like looking at a 24" recent smartphone, iPad. The only issue I have is that on occasion the display will not wake from sleep, but a quick cycle of the monitor power button resolves its and all windows return to where they were. Once Dell fixes the firmware for this I will likely exchange it. Otherwise the build quality and image is superb.

    Before people chortle that it is waste to have an OS scale a 4k monitor to 1080p, remember that even though the effective resolution is 1080p for text with OS X scaling, the full 4k resolution is still available for use by imaging apps, games, etc. And sometimes I simple change the OS scaling to provide a 2560x1440 desktop if I need more 'real estate'. But my primary goal with HiDPI is to finally have crisp, sharp readable text on a big screen. 4k @ 32" is not about HiDPI, it's about desktop real estate. So it depends on what your needs are.

    fyi, I was recently able to buy the 24" Dell Ultrasharp for < $1000 all in with some careful shopping. That's a few hundred more than the recently announced Samsung UD590 but it's far nicer IPS panel.
  • CalaverasGrande - Wednesday, April 2, 2014 - link

    I don't know what is wrong at Dell. They never had the industrial design chops of Apple or IBM/Lenovo's products. But they were still head and shoulders above the other PC and display makers. The current Dell displays are just ugly. Not talking bout the picture quality, rather it's chassis and stand.
    Seriously, what is up with that hideous stand? There is not one angle that looks right on it. And the chassis with the silver and dark grey is very out of place on a $3k monitor.
    The Lenovo UHD-4k designs are far more professional looking. Asus qhd/4k/uhd displays are also more pleasing in a Honda CRX kind of way.
    Samsung and LG's professional offerings are similarly far less ugly.
    I know it may sound trite, but hey, if I am sitting in front of it 40+ hours a week it matters.

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