The ASUS PB287Q Monitor offers full 4K UHD support at 60Hz without breaking the bank.
Two years ago, if you were in the market for an affordable 4K display, then you'd have been out of luck as they just didn't exist for those on a budget. Since then prices of consumer-grade 4K cameras have dropped significantly, so manufacturers have started releasing 4K consumer displays priced under $600 to suit the growing demand for native 4K playback.
In today's review, we are going to take a look at ASUS's PB287Q, an entry-level model that retails for just over $550 on Amazon. I purchased my unit back in October of 2014 and have been using it on a daily basis with my custom built PC running Windows 8.1. In this article, my views and opinions are based solely on my hands-on use with the PB287Q. Rest assured, no outside influences or bias have played any role in the outcome of this review.
Design & Build Quality
From my perspective, the PB287Q is not all impressive when it comes to esthetics. While I appreciate the relatively thin bezel, the matte black finish, and oversized rectangular base, give it more of a business appeal then the significantly sleeker Samsung U28D590D.
Luckily, what the PB287Q lacks in looks, it makes up for in regards to versatility. Unlike Samsung's offering, the panel can be adjusted in regards to height, tilt and orientation (portrait or landscape) without the need for any tools. Hidden under the plastic stand is a circular base that allows it to pivot left or right for a quick change in viewing angle without experiencing any friction from the desk or tabletop.
In regards to build-quality, the PB287Q is well-made although it lacks any of the premium materials that you often see in a more higher-end models like ASUS's PQ321Q. Since a monitor is a device that remains stationary for the majority of its lifespan, durability is not usually a factor to weigh heavily on and I can't be too hard critical on the PB287Q given its affordable price-point.
First things first, let me clear up a simple misconception with this monitor right off the bat. The PB287Q is not a true ‘cinema 4K' display, but it is a UHD monitor (often referred to as “4K UHD”). This means that the resolution of this panel is 3840 x 2160 pixels (exactly four times 1080P) whereas true ‘cinema 4K' is sized at 4096 x 2160 pixels. However, UHD has been adopted as the standard for 4K mainly since the 16:9 ratio (same as 1080P HD) is more suitable for our everyday needs at this current time.
With that being said, the panel in the PB287Q is quite impressive for the price. Most notably, it supports a 10-bit color range, 4K UHD at a full 60Hz and a quick 1 ms response time. There is a built-in on-screen display (OSD) which is fairly intuitive and is navigated via six buttons found on the back of the bottom right corner. This is where you'll go to accomplish tasks like tweaking the display's settings or switching to a different input.
Speaking of inputs, you get access to a standard HDMI, an HDMI/MHL combo, and a DisplayPort. The DisplayPort is the only input that will give you the full 60Hz output so take that into consideration when buying. Unlike some of the more expensive competitors, there is no integrated USB hub nor do you have access to a more traditional input like VGA or DVI. I was surprised to see ASUS opted to include integrated speakers within the PB287Q although, at only 2W per speaker, they should be a last resort since audio quality and volume potential considered marginal, at best.
Performance & Function
I've been utilizing this monitor for my day-to-day workload including emails, word-processing and a large amount of photo/video editing. So far, my experience has been positive overall, but there are some drawbacks. In terms of my specific panel's quality, I was impressed. After doing some serious pixel peeping, I was only able to locate two noticeably dead/stuck pixels. Are there likely more that I missed? Of course, but this is still a very acceptable number considering there are roughly 8 million pixels within the panel.
The PB287Q's is an edge-lit TN panel that helps to keep the overall form-factor relatively thin and appealing. This comes at an expense of color-shifting at different viewing angles as well as a noticeably uneven backlight with the brighter portions favoring the edges and corners of the display. While this is not ideal by any means, it is understandable and almost expected at the budget end of the 4K market.
In terms of color performance accuracy, I am not the best suited to judge since I was born colorblind. Despite this, I still obviously see colors and am picky when it comes to uniformity among the color spectrum of my displays. If you weren't aware already, this is NOT considered a panel suitable for professional, color-sensitive work so your color accuracy will often have a margin of error even when properly calibrated in comparison to a more high-end display.
To further improve my the panel's performance, I used a Spyder4Elite by Datacolor to calibrate my PB287Q to the most accurate settings and these are the recommended settings in my situation. Keep in mind, these settings may vary for your specific panel or viewing environment though it could be a useful base to start with.
Splendid = Standard
Brightness = 46
Contrast = 80
Color temp = Normal
Smart View = Off
Trace Free = 60
VividPixel = 25
GamePlus = Off
ECO Mode = Off
Once I got the display properly calibrated to the best of my abilities, I ran it through DataColor's analysis tools to see how the panel matched up over a series of tests and here were the results:
DataColor Spyder4Elite Results (Post-Calibration)
ASUS's PB287Q offers a real bang for your buck with a versatile design and impressive performance for its sub-$600 pricing. I'd recommend it as a suitable choice for any consumer or prosumer who is looking to upgrade to a 4K UHD display and doesn't have a large budget to work with. In comparison to the similarly priced Dell P2815Q and Samsung U28D590D competitors, I'd give the PB287Q as the advantage as they will all have comparable performance (besides the Dell's 30Hz limitation) although the ASUS gives you an extensive range of adjustments.
If you are a professional who requires the best panel performance in regards to viewing angles, sharpness and color accuracy then the PB287Q is likely not the right choice for you. You'd be better off investing in a more high-end 4K monitor with a better panel or simply choosing a model with a smaller panel/resolution that boasts better overall visual performance.