If you are going to use the ASUS PQ321Q, you’re going to want DisplayPort 1.2 support. HDMI will work, but it’ll be choppy with its 30Hz refresh rate. If you have a video card with dual HDMI 1.4 outputs, you can use both of them to drive it at 60Hz if your video driver supports it. DisplayPort 1.2 allows for Multi-Stream Transport (MST) support, letting you drive two displays with a single DP cable. But why does that matter if the ASUS is your only monitor? Because to get the full 60Hz refresh rate out of it, DisplayPort needs to see it as a pair of 1920x2160 monitors that each get their own signal.

The ASUS has MST mode disabled by default. With my NVIDIA GTX 660 Ti I had to manually enable it in the monitor for it to turn on. I’ve been told that with ATI or Intel GPUs over DisplayPort 1.2 it is automatic, but I don’t have those to test with. Once enabled, it quickly went from 30 Hz to 60 Hz while staying at 3840x2160 resolution.

Since I run multiple displays like most people, this seemed to be an ideal time to test out Windows 8.1 and its ability to offer individual DPI scaling on monitors. For this test I used the ASUS PQ321Q, connected over DispayPort, and a Nixeus VUE 30 (review forthcoming) connected over DVI running at 2560x1600. With a single universal setting, you use a percentage setting for scaling in Windows 8.1. With individual control, you use a slider more like on a Retina MacBook Pro. The percentage is hidden, which I dislike. I don’t understand why we have a different way to select the scaling level if you have two monitors versus one. Perhaps it is a beta issue, but I think they should be uniform.

Moving beyond that, when I attempted to scale the PQ321Q, I had an image that was still fuzzy instead of sharp. Thankfully a driver update (as 4K MST panels are new) fixed this issue quickly. The independent display scaling in Windows 8.1 still didn’t work the way I wanted it to. The choices are unclear, including which monitor you are adjusting, and I never could get it setup exactly how I wanted it. I wound up setting it to 150% for both displays and dealing with my 27” running with larger icons than I prefer.

Now I have an effective 2560x1440 desktop, only everything is sharp. Amazingly sharp. It is like moving from my iPhone 3G to the iPhone 4 and its retina screen. The text as I write this in Word is crisp and clear, and editing gigantic spreadsheet in Excel is much easier when the cells are so easy to read. Unfortunately not every application in Windows plays well with DPI scaling.

Chrome is scaled 150% as Windows asked, but it is hazy and blurry. Disabling DPI scaling for the application and then scaling to 150% inside Chrome produces crisp, clear text. Firefox also didn’t scale automatically, but it has a setting to adjust to make it follow the Windows DPI scaling rules. Once set, Firefox looks very nice and crisp. For most people, that setting should already be set to follow DPI scaling.

Finding a chat client that works well is a challenge. Both Pidgin and Trillian don’t do DPI scaling and are fuzzy by default. Another app that had issues is Steam. Right-clicking in the System Tray icon brought up a menu in the middle of the screen, where it would be without DPI scaling. The reality is that some apps are great and support DPI scaling, and some need work, just like when the retina MacBook Pro was released. Evernote looks great, but Acrobat is a fuzzy mess. This is all a bit of growing pains, but I find myself disabling DPI scaling on applications that don’t support it because I prefer tiny and sharp to fuzzy and large.

Because the 2560x1440 resolution is what I’m used to with my usual 27” monitor, I found there to be no real difference in how I used the ASUS monitor. I typically split items to different sides of the screen, with Word on the right and Evernote on the left as I type this. The application that benefitted for me was image editing. Being able to fit more on the screen, or zoom in to higher levels, made working with images on the ASUS better than on a 27” of the same effective resolution. I don’t do that much image editing, but for the work I have done it has been wonderful.

You’ll also quickly find out how much people need to go back and fix up programs or websites to use images and text separately. Text combined in an image scales very poorly, but is often easier than doing proper layout for two separate elements. I feel a bit bad for all the developers that need to go back to fix everything to work with high-DPI screens, but that time has come.

The only way to sum up daily use of the ASUS PQ321Q is “awesome”. It’s not perfect, but much of that is the fault of Windows or other programs and websites. When you have something that can scale and look correct, it is amazing how much the extra pixel density and sharpness helps. Yes, this is the future for displays, and we are entering the transition period to get there.

Introduction, Design and Specs Internal Scaling, Brightness and Contrast
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  • 1Angelreloaded - Wednesday, July 24, 2013 - link

    Your brain can process more than that from your optical socket. Reply
  • Kamus - Wednesday, July 24, 2013 - link

    What a load of crap. You have no clue what you are talking about do you? Reply
  • piroroadkill - Thursday, July 25, 2013 - link

    I can 100% tell the difference between 720p and 1080p on my 24" monitor at a reasonable difference.

    The fuzzy edges and aliasing are a dead giveaway.

    Film on the other hand, tends to soften the crap out of edges anyway, and has natural motion blur built in, and at only 23.976 frames per second, tends to give little in the way of real resolution when motion is occurring.

    However, games are not film. They are not rendered at a low framerate, and objects and absolutely, perfectly crisp. Rendered geometry. You can easily tell the difference.
    Reply
  • SlyNine - Friday, July 26, 2013 - link

    Where did you come up with that?? You need to substantiate your comments with some sources and objective tests.

    I can DEFENETLY tell the difference between 720 and 1080 on SOME moving content. Even if it is not as noticeable.
    Reply
  • mdrejhon - Wednesday, July 31, 2013 - link

    Integr8d, that's only because the display has motion blur. On a CRT, motion clarity is the same during stationary motion and fast motion (this is known as the "CRT effect"). You get that on LightBoost LCD's too as well. So fast-panning motion of a constant speed (e.g. horizontally strafing left/right while you track eyes on moving objects), the panning image is as clear as stationary image. This is the "CRT effect", and you don't get that on most TV's except for certain modes like Sony's new low-latency interpolation-free "Motionflow IMPULSE" mode (Game Mode compatible) found in some TV's such as KDL55-W802A -- it's essentially Sony's version of LightBoost. Reply
  • 1Angelreloaded - Wednesday, July 24, 2013 - link

    Your statement would be fine if we came from the same mold, but we don't people vary and the capabilities of their bodies also vary, kind of why certain army personel are chosen to become snipers. Reply
  • random2 - Friday, July 26, 2013 - link

    People need to look a the the recommended viewing distances on HD TV's. Most people sit way too far away to take advantage of HD content. Distances are recommended between 5.5 ft to 6.5 feet for 42" to 50" TVs. The whole idea being to move close enough to replicate the feel of a large movie screen. Reply
  • Impulses - Wednesday, July 24, 2013 - link

    Audiophiles are just terrible at objective testing, but the differences between a $500 stereo and a $2K one are definitely measurable and not terribly hard to pin down... They're also not very large in many cases (audiophiles are also amongst the worst hobbyists when it comes to paying for diminishing returns). Reply
  • 1Angelreloaded - Wednesday, July 24, 2013 - link

    Huh? you could have fooled me vintage stereo equipment goes for thousands over the original retail. Cars have the worst diminishing return of any other hobby that exists btw. Reply
  • cremefilled - Wednesday, July 24, 2013 - link

    "Diminishing returns" != "depreciation." He's saying that if speakers that cost $500 would rate 90/100, and $5,000 would rate 95/100, and $50,000 98/100, audiophiles would spend the $50,000 or more if they had the money, even though each 10-fold price increase gets you a smaller increment of quality. Average people would say that they all sound pretty good. Reply

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