Dell UltraSharp 32 UP3214Q review: High-res, high-quality, high price

Dell UltraSharp 32 UP3214Q review: High-res, high-quality, high price

Summary: This is a very impressive but premium-priced 31.5-inch 4K monitor, primarily aimed at high-end content creators, scientists and engineers.

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TOPICS: Hardware, Reviews
12
  • Editors' rating:
    8.0
  • User rating:
    8.3
  • RRP:
    £2,299.00

Pros

  • Huge screen size and 4K resolution
  • Professional-level features, including optional hardware calibration
  • Excellent image quality

Cons

  • Premium price tag
  • High-end graphics card and DisplayPort connection required for 4K resolution at 60Hz
  • Text is very small and can be hard to read unless scaled up

In December, Dell unveiled a pair of professional-level UltraHD monitors, both with '4K' resolutions of 3,840 by 2,160 pixels: the 24-inch UP2414Q and the flagship 31.5-inch UP3214Q (£2,299 ex. VAT, or $3,500), reviewed here. Then at CES in January, Dell announced the 28-inch P2815Q at just $699 (£424): to achieve this price point, Dell equips the P2815Q with a reduced feature set, including a less capable TN-type panel.

If you're spending over £2,000 on a monitor, you're entitled to expect exceptional image quality, solid build, a professional-level feature set and good usability. So how does the UltraSharp 32 UP3214Q shape up?

dell-up3214q-thumb
The UltraSharp UP3214Q has a 31.5-inch IGZO LCD with a 4K resolution of 3,840 by 2,160 pixels (140 pixels per inch). The screen alone (without the stand) weighs 9.22kg. Image: Dell

Design

For a (very) large monitor, the UltraSharp 32 UP3214Q cuts a relatively trim figure on the desktop — although, of course, you'll still need a fair amount of real estate to accommodate it. The 31.5-inch (viewable image size) panel itself weighs 9.22kg, and with the solid tilt-, swivel- and height-adjustable stand measures 48.3-57.2cm tall by 75cm wide by 21.4cm deep. The design is businesslike, with a black and silver livery and unobtrusive Dell branding on the front and rear.

From the front, the matte, anti-glare-coated LCD panel obviously dominates. There's a Dell logo in the middle of the roughly 2.5cm-wide bezel, at the bottom, with the power switch and touch-sensitive OSD (on-screen display) buttons off to the right. On left-hand side, sitting in an otherwise unbroken cooling grille, is a card reader for SD-compatible media.

dell-up3214q-back
The UP3214Q's tilt-, swivel- and height-adjustable stand measures 48.3-57.2cm tall by 75cm wide by 21.4cm deep. Image: Dell

Video connections at the back are HDMI (1.4), DisplayPort (1.2a) and Mini-DisplayPort, with a Mini-DP to DP cable supplied in the box. There are also five USB 3.0 ports — four downstream one upstream. The video connections, the upstream USB port and three of the downstream ports are in a recess, while the fourth downstream port is on the back of the chassis — an easier location for plugging in a USB stick, for example.

dell-up3214q-ports
The UP3412Q's connector recess has DisplayPort, MiniDisplayPort and HDMI ports, plus four USB 3.0 ports (one upstream). A fourth downstream USB 3.0 port is conveniently located on the back of the chassis. Image: Dell

Features

The LCD panel itself is a Sharp-manufactured IGZO-TFT with in-plane switching (IPS). IGZO stands for indium-gallium-zinc-oxide, a semiconductor that, according to Sharp, can support bigger, higher-resolution panels than traditional amorphous silicon displays, with lower power consumption. The screen has an unobtrusive matte coating, so you shouldn't be troubled by reflections in brightly-lit workplaces. And because it's an IPS panel, viewing angles are very good in both horizontal and vertical planes.

As noted above, the 31.5-inch panel has a '4K' native resolution of 3,840 by 2,160 pixels, giving a very good pixel density of 140ppi for a monitor of this size. With a DisplayPort connection, the refresh rate at native resolution is 60Hz, but this drops to an unacceptably low 30Hz if you use the HDMI link. Even with a DisplayPort connection, many graphics cards will only achieve 60Hz with Windows treating the UP3214Q as though it were two tiled 1,920-by-2,160 displays. In this mode, you'll have to ensure that they're in the correct orientation, with any ICC profiles applied on both halves.

Some AMD and Nvidia cards allow you to create a merged display at 60Hz, and if you're prepared to drop the refresh rate to 30Hz, you'll also see a merged 3,840-by-2,160 display with lower-spec video cards. These compromises reflect the cutting-edge status of 4K displays, and will hopefully be resolved before long.

The contrast ratio is quoted as 1,000:1, with brightness of 350cd/m2, and a pixel response time of 8ms. Viewing angles are 176 degrees in horizontal and vertical planes, and the pixel pitch is just 0.182mm. Dell's power consumption figures are 100 watts in typical use, 170W maximum and 'less than 1.2W' on standby.

dell-up3214q-calibration
Dell offers the X-Rite i1Display Pro colorimeter as an optional extra. Image: Dell

An optional feature of interest to professional users will be the hardware calibration, courtesy of X-Rite's i1Display Pro colorimeter, to ensure that colours output on-screen are a true reflection of colours input through the rest of the digital workflow. We didn't have a colorimeter, but Dell supplies a factory calibration report for every UP3214Q monitor, which showed acceptably low deviation between desired and displayed colours (DeltaE<2) in both sRGB and Adobe RGB colour spaces, along with good brightness and colour uniformity.

Conclusion

Although it's impressive to have such an enormous amount of screen real estate at your disposal (four document windows side-by-side on-screen is no problem), it's arguable that this monitor is overkill for mainstream business workloads. Type is tiny at native resolution, for example, and many people will have to increase the DPI scaling in Windows to make text and user interface elements more readable. That reduces your real estate, which is basically what you're spending a lot of money on, and you may also find that applications vary in how well they scale.

That leaves the kind of customers you might expect for an expensive and cutting-edge large-screen monitor: specialist content creators, scientists and engineers with a need for high-resolution visualisations of one kind or another. In this restricted market, Dell's UltraSharp 32 UP3214Q looks a good choice, coming in slightly cheaper than the similarly specified Asus PQ321Q for example.

If you're a mainstream user and are determined to get your hands on a 4K monitor, you might want to consider one of the more affordable 28-inch options announced at CES, such as Lenovo's ThinkVision Pro2840m, the Asus PB287Q or Dell's aforementioned P2815Q. Be aware, though, that type will be even tinier at native resolution on a 28-inch 4K monitor with a pixel pitch of 0.16mm.

Specifications

General
Dimensions (W x H x D) 75 x 57.2 x 21.4 cm
Certifications ENERGY STAR 6, EPEAT Gold, TCO Certified Displays, RoHS Compliant
Weight 9.22 kg
Display size 31.5 in
Image
Native resolution 3840 x 2160 pixels
Contrast ratio 1 : 1000
Brightness 350 cd/m2
Pixel size 0.182 mm
Vertical viewing angle 176 °
Horizontal viewing angle 176 °
Pixel response time 8 ms
Video input
Digital video input DisplayPort, Mini-DisplayPort, HDMI
Connections
USB Yes
Slots SD-compatible media card reader
Power
Power consumption in operation 100 W
Power consumption on standby 1.2 W
Expand

Prices

Price
Price GBP 2299
Price USD 3500

Topics: Hardware, Reviews

About

Charles has been in tech publishing since the late 1980s, starting with Reed's Practical Computing, then moving to Ziff-Davis to help launch the UK version of PC Magazine in 1992. ZDNet came looking for a Reviews Editor in 2000, and he's been here ever since.

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Talkback

12 comments
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  • No Touch

    6.0

    For that price I would also expect touch. What I want is ~2K 24" with touch under $1000. I will buy 2 immediately.
    MichaelInMA
    • Huh?

      8.0

      Touch? For a Pro monitor? Never seen a graphic or video designer who'll touch (or let anyone else touvh) his/her screen...
      vgrig
      • It really needs touch

        I worked on a system with a 4K monitor for about 4 hours one day. It seemed like the mouse spent 1/3 of the time in the air resetting is position on the mouse pad. This is a lot of pixels and to get from one corner to the other is a real pain.

        I have 3 touch monitors on my desktop computer. I use the touch to get to the major area. Most often I use the mouse next to fine tune into the position I want before a click. Otherwise it would take forever to get from one end to the other.
        MichaelInMA
      • Touch?

        10.0

        I know what you are saying here - but it seems that everything needs to be touch enabled now days.
        I find that I go to touch my work monitor and then remember that its not gonna work. I really think there is a place for the feature on all displays going forward. Touch screens have started becoming second nature to many people.
        pethers
        • Typical touched in the head comments here...

          This is for pros and high end gamers, touchies can stick to their little units... and see how long you can sit at a desk and try to maintain a touch based pattern here before requiring a fairly good masseur, or after a few days, a fairly good shoulder, neck and back surgeon...
          btone-c5d11
  • Awesome Monitor

    10.0

    I absolutely love this monitor, great resolution, fabulous for watching 4K video from youtube. Yeah it is expensive but you have to pay for the best and this is exactly that! Would not trade if for the world!!
    discokachina
  • In$ult me.

    Collectively, we've all seen thousands of new products come out at stupidly high prices. Most of us didn't buy right away and we simply waited until the insult went away. 4K displays will eventually be dirt cheap and common but until then we'll use other stuff and grumble because our feelings are hurt.
    trm1945
  • Would make a Superb Additional Display for an iMac....

    10.0

    If you want High quality then you have to pay for it.
    5735guy
  • Mostly great, a few problems

    8.0

    I have two of these monitors driven from a high-end AMD card. The monitors are extremely good, and the colors out of the box are excellent.

    The main problem I have is with the monitors awaking from their low-power state after the computer has been left alone for a while. Around one out of every 5 or 6 times, one or the other monitor does not power up when I move the mouse, forcing me to turn the monitor off and on to get it to wake up. And when I do that, all the windows reset to a small size and arrange themselves at the top-left of the primary monitor.

    This is a major annoyance. When I first purchased the monitors I was using an nVidia card, and I thought the nVidia drivers were the problem. So I switched to a very new high-end AMD card, and the problem persists. So I believe it may be a monitor driver, or maybe a hardware issue.

    Hopefully Dell will figure this out and issue a new driver to fix the problem. Or if another ZDNet reader knows of a solution I am all ears.
    Speednet
    • Thanks for the tip

      10.0

      Good consumer advice thanks! This would annoy me too.
      pethers
  • Most of the problems mentioned above...

    8.0

    ... Are virtually solved with a 2013 Mac Pro and OSX's excellent text scaling on the fly. This is really a match made in heaven for the Mac Pro more than almost any imperfect windows solution right now. Which is exactly why Apple sells the Sharp version for virtually the same price.

    I'm sure once the technology matures a bit Apple will recase and distribute their own.
    Playdrv4me
  • Speed Up Your PC

    5.0

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    johneco378