[Consider reading PC Perspective’s full look at such Korean 2560×1440 Monitors over here]
[See also update from August 3 2012 below, about the new Nixeus Vue US version]
I’ve been eager to move my primary display away from my always-a-little-blurry 24″ 1920×1200 CCD backlit 90 watt monitor, to a new and more-efficient 27″ LED backlit 63 watt 2560×1440 monitor. Boy am I glad I finally did. This is one happy IT Professional/Blogger. The profound improvement to the computing experience was kind of like going from HDD to SSD. Yeah, that good. Once you’ve experienced the great beyond-HD-view for yourself, you’ll never want to go back.
Back in May 2012, I started hearing about these panels on PC Perspective and other podcasts, and spotted these Korean-made panels on eBay, with an Apple 27″ Thunderbolt IPS display panel fitted into far more affordable housings. The names sound a bit strange, like Yamakasi CatLeap, Achieva ShiMian, Auria, QNIX, and many others. The idea for me was to see if I could get something more like a “retina” display, where I can no longer see individual pixels. Ideally using my existing, workstation-caliber ThinkPad W520 4282-A34 Laptop. At a reasonable cost. Looking around, I wanted a squatter stand (low, not tall), which narrowed my choice down to the QNIX.
Yes, the on screen physical size of the fonts are about 13% smaller, when moving from 94.34 PPI (Pixels Per Inch) versus 108.79 PPI (calculated here), given the distance to my monitor has stayed the same. But the font is just so much sharper. Even before I re-ran the Windows ClearType Tuner. Large, very noticeable difference. No need to tweak Windows DPI setting for me. And a nice productivity boost, now able to view side by side articles easily/clearly, and edit 1920×1080 HD video in a full resolution preview window.
Read onward for all the details. Or just look at the pictures. Or the demonstration video coming up soon, on the Tinkertry YouTube Channel, with the short unboxing video already available at the end of the article.
This admittedly risky $295 recent purchase is something I’m now glad to tell others about, given it seems to work well for me. Really well actually. Even on (an appropriate equipped) laptop. Very few folks have had any success with laptops at this resolution, actually, here’s an extreme case.
This particular Korean monitor has one DVI-D input only, no HDMI, no DisplayPort. But I think this picture says it all. I obviously got everything working fine, under Windows 7 x64 SP1 so far, with Windows 8 tests coming up next. At boot, I can see my BIOS (640×480) too. And I can put the laptop to sleep, and wake it up, without incident. And no bad pixels, phew (others are reporting similarly good luck here).
For a desktop system called gZilla, no problems, it worked fine with the provided 6′ DVI-D dual-link cable, straight from the NVidia 560Ti graphics card, no tweaks needed, and HDCP support indicated by the NVIDIA Control Panel:
For my tZilla laptop, I did also have to buy an Accell DisplayPort adapter, there’s a $87 and $100 versions on Amazon, I went with the $100 one (just in case I need 120Hz support someday), that plus in to my full size DisplayPort connector on the W520 laptop itself, or the ThinkPad Mini Dock Plus Series 3 (170W) for W520.
but perhaps I can avoid this somewhat-hot-running, active adapter in the future, possibly via future firmware update to my USB 3.0 to DVI-D Dock adapter, detailed at tinkertry.com/lenovo-usb-3-dock-deep-dive and discussed in this Lenovo forum. I will post more about laptop specific tests, and whether I figure out an accurate way to measure the watt burn of the Accell adapter, and will post more about it at Tinkertry in the future.
Here was my thinking/rationale, as I began my research last month.
- crisp fonts/edges, given I spend so many hours in front of a monitor, I value my vision, and wish to reduce eyestrain
- full 1920×1080 HD video editing in Camtasia, with the ability to see the video preview window unscaled
- side-by-side web pages, with no horizontal scroll bars
- less watts burned
- less heat output (in a small upstairs home office, this is important)
Questions I asked myself:
Do I really need the following features?
- Multiple input options, or will DVI-D (dual-link DVI) suffice?
DVI-D should be enough
no, I’m not a gamer, but it has no onscreen display which means an impressive 6ms response time
- Touch capability, for Microsoft Windows 8?
Probably not, given the distance I’d have to reach to touch all corners of a 27″ screen, and multi-monitor touch experience wouldn’t really make sense anyway
I don’t live near a MicroCenter, where the first Korean 27″ 2560×1440 monitors are beginning to show up at $400, the Auria, and discussed here:
But I also noticed that model is spec’d at 100 watts, and 1 watt standby, versus QNIX 63 watts/0.6 watt standby (I measure about 50 watts during medium-high brightness use). Guessing it’s the scalar using up those watts, thinking I don’t really want or need all those inputs that, especially if it adds latency too.
I have a DisplayLink port on my W520 that is spec’d to be 2560×1440 capable , and I have 2 DisplayLink ports on my Lenovo USB 3.0 Dock. None of the DVI-D ports on the dock make any such claims.
So I took the plunge/gamble, and figured I’d try the eBay auction of this direct-ship-free item, given the reputation of the seller seemed pretty good, and the return policy that esmstart states looks reasonable, seen here on the listing:
- extremely sharp, great looking display panel
- wide viewing angles with no noticeable color shift
- extremely minimal visible banding of smooth color gradients (far better than my old, now-in-portrait-mode FPD2485W)
- brightness controls
adjustable via buttons under the front right edge
- no light bleed at the edges noticed so far
- no slowdowns of screen draws noticed
not even during intense YouTube 4k video playback (4096 x 3072 scaled by my NVidia 1000M down to 2560×1440)
- fast, free shipping
I ordered on Friday night July 6th, the unit arrived Thursday 9am here in Connecticut, with the US Postal Service requesting my signature at delivery
- from an aesthetic perpective, yeah, the bezel is a little thick (see my actual photos, not the touched up eBay photos)
- very rew resolution supporting, so scaling work depends on your graphics card
only 640×480 (at power on of system), 1280×720, and 2560×1440 resolutions seem to work
- no onscreen display
- “cheesy” font on the top left of the bezel
will probably cover mine with black electrical tape
- the shipment is not double boxed
color adjustments need to be done through video card
- buttons are pretty hard to push
but power goes on and off automatically, so I don’t need them much anyway
- somewhat wobbly display stand (which does pivot and tilt), as seen in the video
- I wedge mine against other monitors on a solid table, so typing vibration isn’t an issue at all, but a possible desk stand replacement is discussed here and found at Monoprice for $20.63 here
- glossy coating
if I had a bright window behind me, this would be a problem, but I don’t, so having crisp fonts and deep colors with minimal light scatter is preferable for my environment
- no UL label on the power supply brick, or the monitor itself (so buyer beware, your safety is your responsibility)
for me this means I plug it into my power strip with remote button control, so when I leave my office and turn off all non-essential items, all power is removed anyway, enhancing safety
- the PC power cord it comes with isn’t for US, and the fit into the included US adapter is a bit loose
your probably better off just using an extra US PC power cord you may already own, such as the IEC 320 EN 60320 C13 (F) power USA 3-pole (M) model seen here:
- if you do have flaws or want a refund within 14 days, having to pay the return shipping to Korea could be costly
- if this monitor breaks down the road, no idea if I could find service
- if you have a laptop, be sure its integrated or discreet graphics chip specifications specifically state it’s capable of 2560×1440 before you buy such a monitor
I’m only stating that this particular monitor works with my particular laptop, your results may vary!
- with all such small circular power connector equipped products, never plug in the circular connector from the brick to the monitor if the brick is powered up already (green LED), since it could cause some arcing
not that I would do something so stupid
- actual HDCP support may be suspect, read here for discussion on this, I did not test (other than run NVIDIA Control Panel on a desktop).
The bottom line:
- It’s a good monitor with a terrific looking display, with very basic functionality (one DVI-D input, no on screen menus)
- If it’s still 3rd quarter 2012 and you’re reading this, try this QNIX QX2700 LED, or one of the similar Korean monitors that also have good online reputations for returns. It would seem they’re all very similar, with basic differences in pedestal stability and style.
- If you wait a few months, you’ll probably have more choices and/or US distributors, so you may then want to shop elsewhere for your 2560×1440 glory, allowing for easier return shipping if something goes wrong.
- If you wait, you may also be able to snag a 120Hz compatible model, for possibly smoother scrolling and/or gaming (if your GPU and cables and adapters support that refresh rate).
If I had it to do all over again, knowing what I know now, would I have gone with the Auria EQ276W US model from Microcenter? While it likely has a UL label and standard US power cord and would avoid the $87 adapter, it still has a higher overall cost, and the 100 watts of burn bothered me. If I get my USB 3.0 dock working at 2560×1440 someday, I might get along fine without the adapter, we’ll have to wait and see what Lenovo/DisplayPort do about getting the DL-3900 chip enabled.
Whatever brand you go with, I doubt you’ll regret the crisp fonts and amazing colors that such a beautiful, big display gives you!
Jul. 19 2012 Update:
Please note that I’ve now heard of concerns about using the included Nanjing Frontek AC Adapter Model FPS0120-05A in the United States, pictured here, since it doesn’t specifically state 110V-120V compatibility. I will add more info as I learn more, meanwhile, read existing very active threads about this here here and here. It appears this may be resolved by simply spending another $23.95 (including shipping) on a suitable replacement adapter on eBay, such as this one,
and a suitable laptop style “Mickey Mouse” power cord to go for that new adapter, such as this one for $3.75 (nevermind, it came with the power cord).
See also “My new Qnix.” at www.overclock.net/t/1279975/my-new-qnix
Jul. 20 2012 Update:
I do not have definitive responses from the seller yet. I’m also following a very similar conversation going on about the Crossover (slimmer bezel with white trim) model that uses the same power supply, over here, and more overall info on the Crossover here.
Jul. 26 2012 Update:
The only word I got back from the seller was the following, no subsequent attempts at making contact have succeeded:
Here’s some photos I took, original power supply at left, new power supply at right. Neither power supply makes any noise, and both seem to run pretty cool, even after hours of operation. Neither are UL listed though, cannot seem to find anybody making such a power supply with the UL label.
Aug. 03 2012 Update:
Because all my subsequent attempts to reach esmstart have failed, I cannot recommend ordering from that eBay site. I’m not going to bother editing and publishing the video overview I recorded either. And the graphics on the eBay listing are noticeably Photoshopped, showing a thinner bezel than the actual bezel. Not surprising, but worth noting.
Last month, QNIX was the price and efficiency champ of the current round of 2560×1440 monitor clones, with DVD-D input only, on eBay for $295. This month, US power supply and US pre-orders available on this “Nixeus Vue 27″ version of the same LCD panel, for $430:
You’ll note it uses 72 watts instead of the QNIX’s 63 watts, but that’s far less than the 100 watts of MicroCenter’s back-ordered, $395 Auria version. Paying $135 more up front, and 9 additional watts (~$6 per year at 10 hours per day), seems to be a reasonable amount for the added flexibility of having multiple inputs, avoiding the need for a separate Axxell DisplayPort to DVI-D adapter for laptop owners with high-end GPUs that don’t support 2560×1440 over DVI-D (like the Lenovo ThinkPad W520).
Apparently, nobody makes 2560×1600 resolution versions or 30″ versions or anti-reflective coatings at anything approaching affordable, yet. But in my room and configuration, things worked out fine, with the 27″ QNIX turning out to work well for using all day long, even at the default DPI, given the extreme clarity of all on screen fonts. And the color saturation of a glossy screen is starting to win me over as well. Finally, extended use has revealed that the monitor also supports the following resolutions off my W520 (specs here). Some resolutions are apparently GPU scaled though, and they look blurry of course:
ThinkPad BIOS screen works fine, as well as:
2560×1440 (can be thought of as four 1280×720 displays)
Aug. 07 2012 Update:
The Nixeus model is now available for pre-order on Amazon here:
if you’re in the UK, it appears there may be 120Hz options coming soon as well:
Aug. 21 2012 Update:
I have decided to return this monitor, working closely with the seller, who offered me very fair terms for a refund. While shippping costs ~$100, I was able to print the labels and customs forms myself at usps.com, and fully realize I was taking a risk in purchasing a monitor directly from South Korea, and that that doesn’t have a native DisplayPort input. It worked well, but occasionally I was getting the monitor turning off randomly (2-3x per week), not sure if it was related to the power supply, or to the DisplayPort to DVI-D adapters, but ran out of time to find out for sure. I’m genuinely hopeful that this monitor helped folks make informed decisions, with full disclosure about the risks of trying something new, given there was NO good info out there that I could find, about running laptops with 2560×1440. Only time will tell what monitor eventually winds up working out best for my requirements, but I strongly suspect it’ll be a Korean monitor offering direct attachment from my laptop’s DisplayPort, which has states support for up to2560x1600 resolution. Yes, it will likely be from Nixeus, which admittedly does cost more, $449 versus $295, but doesn’t require a ~$100 DisplayPort to DVI-D adapter.
Aug. 24 2012 Update:
I have the Nixeus monitor on order, read all about it, and stay tuned for updates and unboxing, at:
Sep. 22 2012 Update:
Keep in mind if you have to do a return that is not due to defect in the monitor itself, then you are loosing the shipping cost for the unit originally sent to you (built into price, not really “free”), and the cost to you to send it back. For me, that was a $195 dollar ouch.
Here’s the math, rounded off to nearest $5, so yes, this mistake/gamble that it’d work with DVD-D adapters for my laptop was a very costly mistake.
-$295 original eBay purchase ($200 monitor plus $95 of that is non-refundable shipping)
-$100 USPS from Connecticut, USA to Korea, using cheapest USPS shipping method (1 week)
+$200.00 eBay refund
-$195 lost overall, for shipping fees in both directions.
At least I got my Nixeus for $450 and it is working quite well, read more here (basically same monitor with a US power supply and a lot more inputs):
Jul. 2013 Update:
Not a monitor I’ve used or read much about, but wow have prices come down, QNIX QX2710 2560×1440 Samsung PLS Panel PC Monitor just $288.90 on eBay here, ships free from South Korea (so returns would be a problem).