Earlier today we met with Dell executives for a hands-on demo of their newest product here in San Francisco. Among them, a beautiful 27” 5K monitor. Yes, you read that right “5K” – and yes, your shiny 27” 4K monitor is already aging rapidly — well… to a point.
First of all, what is 5K? At first, it doesn’t sound like a big difference over 4K, but in fact 5K has 14.7 million pixels instead of the already impressive 8.3 megapixel of K4. That’s a huge 77% more pixels if you consider that 8.3 is 100%.
There are so many pixels that even the latest DisplayPort connectors don’t provide enough bandwidth to carry the data from the graphics card to the monitor. For that, two ports are required, which mean that the large majority of graphics cards won’t be able to connect to this monitor. You would need a workstation graphics card such as the NVIDIA Quadro or the AMD equivalent – and it’s not cheap.
Talking about prices, the Dell Ultrasharp 27 5K monitor will retail for $2500, which is expensive for a 27”, but not as bad as we thought earlier today when the pricing was not announced. Dell staff did mention that this was not a “sub-$2000” monitor, but this is not that far off.
"CAN I EVEN SEE THE DIFFERENCE WITH A 4K MONITOR? YES!" Of course, the immediate question that I got from everyone is: can I even see the difference with a 4K monitor? Well, yes, IF you have the right content. And that is really the deciding factor when people think about this screen.
If you work in CAD, Oil exploration, medical image analysis or other forms of high-end visualization, there may be a compelling use case. For demonstration purposes, photos or timelapses shot with DSLR cameras are just about the best content. I can easily tell that it is much sharper than 4K display because photos are shot in 12-,16 or even 24 Megapixel, so there is much more room if we wanted to push a little higher.
In fact, at 218 PPI (pixel per inch) it is still far from the 500+ PPI that smartphone displays can reach. On the other hand, the viewing distance is not the same, so we need to use these numbers with caution. The further you are from a display surface and the less PPI you need.
This is probably not a great monitor for the average gamer because you would need a lot of horsepower to run games at full resolution. Maybe a Quad-GPU setup? However, I am sure that someone at AMD and NVIDIA is already testing this (jealous!).
Resolution isn’t everything and to accompany its sharpness, Dell made sure that the color rendering was excellent as well. This monitor can reproduce 1 Billion colors (vs 16.7M for most monitors), but again, you need a workstation graphics card since consumer cards tend to stick to the traditional 8-bit per color component.
In any case, even if you don’t “need” one, it is really a thing of beauty to look at. Dell has been providing excellent monitors for some time now, and the company said that it was still leading in that segment. This should help them capture a lucrative niche market… before 5K becomes relevant to the rest of us.