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AOC U2868PQU review

Michael Passingham
19 Jul 2014
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
500
inc VAT

The best budget Ultra HD monitor we've seen, with excellent image quality and many inputs

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Displays with huge 3,840x2,160 pixel resolutions have typically been very expensive affairs, but 2014 is the year in which Ultra HD (also known as 4K) displays become available to the masses, with several manufacturers set to launch Ultra HD monitors that cost around £500. The Dell P2815Q costs around £500, but it suffered from input lag and only had an Ultra HD refresh rate of 30Hz.

The AOC U2868PQU, however, is a 28-inch TN panel with a much smoother Ultra HD refresh rate of 60Hz. At first glance, the U2868PQU is a plain device that you wouldn’t expect to have an Ultra HD resolution. The black plastic base and stand are perfectly acceptable, though.

We were pleased to see a height-adjustable and rotatable stand that lets you move the monitor whatever position you find the most comfortable. There's a good array of inputs, too. You’ll need to use the DVI and DisplayPort connectors for Ultra HD, but there are VGA and HDMI connectors too. You can any combination of the inputs to make use of the screen’s picture-in-picture mode, which lets you view two inputs simultaneously with a smaller image inset into the main image. This function tends to squash the inset images into the wrong aspect ratio, though, which limits its usefulness. There are also four USB inputs, two of which are USB3-compatible, along with 3.5mm audio input and output jacks.

AOC U2868PQU side

IMAGE QUALITY

Our tests showed the screen was displaying 94.3 per cent of the sRGB colour gamut. This is a good score for a TN panel, and is at the top end of what we’d have expected it to achieve. We were happy with solid reds, blues and greens, which appeared bright and vibrant, while solid whites appeared pure. We’ve seen better colours from IPS screens, but were pleased with the U2868PQU’s coverage given its bargain price.

Contrast levels were measured at 759:1, which is high enough to see a reasonably high level of detail in our high contrast test photos. Blacks were a little brighter than we’d have liked, with 0.31cd/m2 of light leaking through images intended to be pure black. In everyday situations, however, this won't be noticeable and is nothing to worry about.

We did notice very slight input lag upon first using the monitor at 4K resolutions. Initially our hearts sank, as it felt very similar to how the Dell P2815Q behaved. However, the lag experienced here is much less significant than that of the Dell, and within minutes we’d become accustomed to the delay. This could be a major issue for twitchy gamers, though. Games which require speedy reaction times and fast mouse movements will suffer.

AOC U2868PQU front

The level of detail visible in images and Ultra HD movies is stunning, and while Ultra HD resolutions are better suited to huge TV screens you can see the difference between items viewed on an Ultra HD monitor and a 1,920x1,080 Full HD screen. It’s worth remembering, however, that 2,560x1,440-resolution monitors are a good halfway house between Full HD and Ultra HD screens.

This is especially true if you're hoping to play games in Ultra HD. While the level of detail is huge, you'll need a graphics card such as the Nvidia GeForce GTX 780 Ti if you want to run the latest games at the highest settings in Ultra HD. You could use a card such as the much cheaper AMD Radeon R9 270X, though, if you’re happy running your games at Medium or Low settings.

For desktop software, however, the amount of screen space available for multiple windows is immense. Multitasking becomes significantly easier, while the busy user interfaces of photo- and video-editing software become a lot more manageable in this large resolution.

While Mac and, to some extent, the latest version of Ubuntu Linux handle very high-resolution displays pretty well, Windows still struggles. Even Windows 8.1, which has improved scaling, still can't control third-party applications. This means that even the most popular software, such as Google Chrome, doesn't look quite right when used on an Ultra HD screen. This is something you'll need to take into account before purchase.

AOC U2868PQU ports

CONCLUSION

The AOC U2868PQU is the first viable Ultra HD display on the market for under £500, and we're seriously impressed by how it performed. If you need a Ultra HD monitor on your desk right now, the AOC U2868PQU is the monitor to buy. It’s worth noting, though, that 2,560x1,440-resolution screens are a good halfway house between Full HD and Ultra HD screens, and you can buy one for much less than £500. Indeed, you may be better served by the AOC q2770Pqu, a 2,560x1,440-resolution 27in monitor which displayed 100 per cent of the sRGB colour gamut and images looked fantastic.

Hardware
Screen size28in
Resolution3,840x2,160
Screen technologyTN
Contrast ratio1000:1
Brightness300cd/m2
Response time1ms
Response time typegrey-to-grey
Horizontal viewing angle170
Vertical viewing angle160
Screen depth18mm
Base (WxD)245x240mm
Screen elevation45-175mm
Portrait modeYes
Internal speaker (power)Yes (3W)
Detachable cablesYes
USB hub2-port USB2, 2-port USB3
Integrated power supplyYes
Video inputsDisplayPort, DVI, HDMI, VGA
Audio inputs3.5mm audio input
Buying information
Price including VAT£500
WarrantyThree-years RTB
Supplierwww.overclockers.co.uk
Detailshttp://www.aocmonitorap.com/
Part codeU2868PQU