OLED is so popular with buyers looking for premium picture quality that its acronym is being expanded (see: QD-OLED). But for PC monitors, OLED means limited size options and high prices. Mini-LED is a strong alternative, but it has also long carried high price tags, partly because the devices are so commonly marketed to creative professionals. But with this week’s announcement of mini LED PC monitors, the technology is becoming cheaper than ever.
Mini LED monitors can incorporate more LEDs into their backlights because each individual light emitting diode in a mini LED monitor is about half the size of the diodes in regular LED monitors. On a Local Dimming Full Array (FALD) monitor that has independently controlled lighting zones, this should result in greater contrast because the display has better control over brightness in different areas of an image. However, the contrast won’t be as extreme as you might expect from OLED.
The Cooler Master GP27 FQS monitor will be released sometime between late Q2 and early Q3 with an MSRP of $699. However, a Cooler Master representative told Ars Technica that there will be “most likely” retail prices “closer to $550.”
Even at the expected MSRP, the GP27-FQS is likely to be the cheapest mini LED monitor. The current holder of this title appears to be the $2,000 Asus ProArt PA27UCX-K. It’s a 27-inch IPS monitor with 576 local dimming zones, a 60Hz refresh rate, and 3840 x 2160 resolution. Today’s mini-LED options range all the way up to the budget-priced Apple Pro Display XDR, a 32-inch 6K screen with a $5,000 from RRP.
You might expect to move away from the creative, professional side of the technology, which tends to be expensive for more affordable monitors. But today’s non-professional mini-LED options are still expensive due to their extreme refresh rates. Asus’ ROG Swift PG32UQX has one $3,000 MSRP is available at the time of writing though $2,900. There’s also the massive Samsung 49″ Odyssey Neo G9 G95NA you can find for $2,200.
The GP27-FQS should also have a price advantage over upcoming mini-LED monitors, including the stack of non-professional products announced at CES last month. For example, Acer plans to launch the Predator X32 FP mini LED monitor in Q2 for $1,800.
Why so cheap?
An obvious reason for the lower price of the GP27-FQS is that it has a 2560 x 1440 resolution instead of 4K and is 165Hz. AOC’s upcoming 170Hz AG274QXM is also 1440p, but it was announced at about $450 more than the GP27-FQS.
The GP27-FQS also doesn’t use any variant of Nvidia G-Sync, which often comes at a cost. (The GP27-FQS uses AMD FreeSync Premium, and you can usually get G-Sync monitors to run unofficially on such monitors with varying results).
Cooler Master’s cheaper mini LED monitor also has 576 local dimming zones. There are FALD monitors and TVs with fewer zones, but you can also find mini LED monitors with over 1,000 zones. For example, the aforementioned Neo Odyssey Neo G9 has 2,048.
More local dimming zones result in greater dynamic range and greater control over how different parts of an image look. This means you can have an image that is very bright in some areas, but still has strong blacks in others. With OLED, each pixel is like its own zone. So if you’re considering mini-LED as an OLED alternative, more zones are especially important.
As of this writing, Cooler Master’s upcoming mini LED monitor doesn’t have VESA certifications for its HDR delivery, which many rivals have.
Cooler Master also announced a 4K 160Hz version of this monitor, the GP27-FUS. This device is also cheaper than other mini LED monitors. With similar specs to the GP27-FQS aside from a bump up to HDMI 2.1, the monitor will cost $1,100 when it debuts alongside its lower-resolution sibling.
Brighter than OLED
An advantage of mini-LED over OLED is that it is generally brighter. The GP27-FQS claims to hit up to 1,200 nits, which it does with HDR content. With SDR content, you can expect a maximum brightness of 600 nits.
In terms of color, the monitor claims a DCI-P3 coverage of 97 percent with the help of quantum dots. That doesn’t quite compare to what QD-OLED is claiming, a supposedly more colorful type of OLED that also uses quantum dots. (Meanwhile, Alienware’s AW3423DW claims 99.3 percent.) But the GP27-FQS still has a wide color gamut.
Image quality aside, the price of a monitor is influenced by its feature set. The GP27-FQS features a pair of 2W speakers, USB Type-C connectivity (90W power delivery), as well as two HDMI 2.0 ports (instead of the latest HDMI 2.1), DisplayPort 1.4, two USB-A ports and a USB port. B. There is also a backlight on the back of the panel.
List image from Cool master
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