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Dell's affordable 4K screen is a compromise too far for PC gaming

Back at the beginning of December I got excited about the prospect of actually affordable Ultra High Definition (UHD) screens coming to our desktops in the very near future. As well as announcing the 24-inch UP2414Q - a lovely IPS IGZO panel with a hefty price-tag - Dell also hinted at a sub-$1,000 28-inch 4K screen.

That sounded perfect for PC gamers hoping for affordable 4K screens in future. Sadly it looks like this particular screen was a little too good to be true.

Despite the uber-res of 3840x2160, and a reported 5ms response time, the P2815Q is restricted to just a 30Hz refresh rate when running at its native resolution. That's simply not good enough for PC gamers.

It's a real shame as Dell had been showing the screen off at CES last week in Vegas, and framed the $699 monitor as a great choice for 4k gaming. When I first heard the reports that it was restricting the panel refresh to 30Hz at 3840x2160 I had hoped that was purely on the aging HDMI connection, but sadly it's the same for the DisplayPort connection too.

Dell has had to make that compromise, along with using a twisted nematic (TN) panel instead of an in-plane switching (IPS) option, in order to keep the price of their 28-inch monitor down. But for gamers it's just a compromise too far.

I had the impressive (though frighteningly expensive) Asus PQ321Q running at 30Hz while I was struggling to get the big screen running happily with my test rig and its simply not a pleasant experience no matter how big the resolution is.

But while 4K is a possible future for PC gaming, it's still a way off becoming anywhere near a mainstream option. What you can get very soon though are some rather lovely-looking 27-inch 120Hz G-Sync screens, like Asus' RoG Swift PG278Q. I'm hoping to get my mitts on one when they arrive in the Spring.