Dell P2414H: A Great Monitor for Gaming
P2414H is the newest 24-inch monitor from Dell's "P" (Professional) series. While these monitors were previously known to use budget TN Film panels more suitable for simple office tasks, the P2414H utilizes a much more modern AH-IPS technology, meaning it offers better colors and viewing angles. At the same time, the price is more than reasonable compared to the more expensive UltraSharp series.
This monitor uses full HD (1920x1080) native resolution, which is pretty much a standard in gaming these days. I was upgrading from a much lower resolution, so I had to get a new video card as well; my low-end Radeon 7750 wasn't quite up to the task of running the newest titles at 1080p.
Top 5 Reasons Why I like This Monitor
- No PWM. This display doesn't use pulse-width modulation to dim the backlight even at the lowest brightness setting. I have experienced some ill effects from monitors using a low PWM frequency before, so I was specifically looking for one which would eliminate this source of flicker.
- Low minimum brightness. According to TFTCentral, the lowest minimum brightness of this monitor is just 53.49 cd/m2. I have no way of measuring it myself, but the important thing is that I can use it comfortably in a dark room. Many modern monitors can't be dimmed as much; my last one was extremely bright even at the lowest setting and hurt my eyes.
- Low input lag. One of the most important characteristics when looking for a gaming monitor, it means that there's very little delay between you moving your mouse or doing some other action, and the result actually appearing on the screen. Some current LCDs - especially larger ones - have input lag as high as 20 ms. P2414H's was measured by TFTCentral to be just a bit over 1 ms. Generally, anything less than 16 ms (1 frame at 60 Hz refresh rate) is great for video games.
- Great colors. Coming from a TFT display, IPS technology is a huge improvement. Colors look incredibly real and sharp compared to what I had before, not to mention the higher resolution which is great for gaming, movies, and internet as well. I was concerned about sharp colors hurting my eyes, but when the brightness is lowered the screen is quite pleasant to look at.
- Matte coating. As you probably know, LCD monitors can be either glossy or matte (also known as anti-glare). Glossy ones usually have brighter images, but they suffer from glare and reflections. I was specifically looking for a matte screen as I've used a glossy one before and the glare was extremely annoying. No such problems with the P2414H, even when there's sunlight in the room.
As I've mentioned before, the price is also not too bad, since "P" series monitors usually cost lower than "U" ones. I didn't really need all the bells-and-whistles that an UltraSharp monitor offers, so I welcomed the chance to save some money.
Dell P2414H Flaws
What about the downsides? There are few things that I didn't like about this display, none of them deal-breakers. First off, rather than having true 8-bit colors, it only offers 6-bit and uses technology called "AFRC" to generate the rest. It's not uncommon at all, in fact, most monitors use it, so that didn't prevent me from purchasing the P2414H. Furthermore, since I was upgrading from a TFT monitor which also used the same technology, I knew it wouldn't cause any problems for me.
Now, I would have preferred if it was a "true 8-bit" monitor because then it would be the ideal package, but in the end, I doubt I would be able to notice a difference between 8-bit and 6-bit + FRC with a naked eye.
There's also the minor annoyance of the silvery Dell logo at the bottom bezel. It's reflective and shiny, and inevitably ends up drawing my eyes to it when the room is brightly lit. I suppose it's just something I'll have to get used to, although I would have preferred a solid bezel without any reflective surfaces.
Speaking of the bezel, it is also somewhat thick, so don't expect a very sleek looking monitor. If you want a display with a thin border for a multi-monitor setup, you will have to shell out more money for a "gaming" or a "professional" class product.
Overclocking to 80 Hz (or 78 Hz)
While the P2414H is a good monitor for gaming due to its low input lag, it doesn't exactly hold a candle to more expensive 120 Hz and 144 Hz models. However, it can actually be overclocked a little bit to make it display smoother motion, which is especially important for video games. The folks at Overclock.net discovered out that by using software called Custom Resolution Utility (CRU) and setting the correct timings, it's possible to make this monitor refresh at 80 Hz (as opposed to its default, 60 Hz mode) without frame skipping. Visit this forum thread for a guide.
Unfortunately, I've found that the lower timings cause my graphics card's memory to operate at full frequency without downclocking, which means higher power consumption and more heat even if all you're doing is browsing the web. This is actually documented in the CRU instructions, so it's not a particularly surprising issue. However, by lowering the refresh rate to 78 Hz, I was able to use the default ("LCD Standard") timings, which gave my graphics card the ability to downclock its memory on idle again.
To sum up, you have to decide whether you prefer a slightly higher power consumption and 80 Hz refresh rate, or normal graphics card operation and 78 Hz refresh rate. Since the difference is a mere 2 Hz, I highly recommend the latter.