Test Configuration – Hardware
- Intel Core i7-4790K (reference 4.0GHz, HyperThreading and Turbo boost is on to 4.4GHz; DX11 CPU graphics), supplied by Intel.
- ASUS Z97-E motherboard (Intel Z97 chipset, latest BIOS, PCOe 3.0 specification, CrossFire/SLI 8x+8x)
- Kingston 16 GB HyperX Beast DDR3 RAM (2×8 GB, dual-channel at 2133MHz, supplied by Kingston)
- GeForce GTX 980, 4GB reference clocks, supplied by Nvidia – tested as a single GPU and in SLI
- GeForce GTX 980, 4GB reference clocks, supplied by Nvidia – used in SLI
- 2TB Toshiba 7200 rpm HDD
- Corsair CX 750, 750W power supply unit
- Cooler Master Seidon watercooler, supplied by Cooler Master
- Onboard Realtek Audio
- Genius SP-D150 speakers, supplied by Genius
- Thermaltake Overseer RX-I full tower case, supplied by Thermaltake
- ASUS 12X Blu-ray writer
- HP LP3065 2560×1600 30″ LCD display
- ASUS VG 278, 27″ 120Hz 3D Vision ready display, supplied by ASUS.
Test Configuration – Software
- Nvidia GeForce 347.52 WHQL drivers for the GTX 980 and GTX 980 SLI. High Quality, prefer maximum performance, single display.
Windows 7 64-bit; SP1 very latest updates, and Windows 8.1; very latest updates
All games are patched to their latest versions.
VSync is off in the control panel.
AA enabled as noted in games; all in-game settings are specified with 16xAF always applied; 16xAF forced in control panel for Crysis.
All results show average, minimum and maximum frame rates except as noted.
Highest quality sound (stereo) used in all games.
Windows 7 64, all DX10 titles were run under DX10 render paths; DX11 titles under DX11 render paths.
The 30 Game benchmarks & synthetic tests
- Firestrike – Basic & Extreme
- Heaven 4.0
- The Witcher 2
- Borderlands 2
- STALKER, Call of Pripyat
- Max Payne 3
- the Secret World
- Sleeping Dogs
- Hitman: Absolution
- Far Cry 3
- Tomb Raider: 2013
- Crysis 3
- BioShock: Infinite
- Metro: Last Light Redux (2014)
- Battlefield 4
- Splinter Cell: Blacklist
- ArmA 3
- Total War: Rome II
- Batman: Arkham Origins
- Sniper Elite 3
- GRID: Autosport
- Middle Earth: Shadows of Mordor
- Alien Isolation
- Assassin’s Creed Unity
- Civilization Beyond Earth
- Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
- Far Cry 4
- Dragon’s Age: Inquisition
- Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes
- The Crew
- Total War: Attila
All of the above games were tested at 1920×1080, 2160×1600, and at 3840×2160 with Windows 7 and with Windows 8.1 for comparison using a single GTX 980 and also GTX 980 SLI. However, not all of the results are given; they are summarized.
Now that we have our Monoprice Crystal Pro 4K display unboxed and set up let’s check it out and play some games at 4K resolution!
Testing the Display
We set up theMonoprice Crystal Pro 4K directly next to our ASUS VG278 120Hz 3D Vision ready display that we got from Nvidia for our original 3D Vision review and also next to our 30″ HP LP3065. The ASUS display on the right is much brighter and is more accurately “white”. The HP is also accurately white but it is much less bright and easier on the eyes for long time use.
The Monoprice Crystal Pro 4K is a monitor that is OK for print work as the grayscale quality is OK out of the box. Colors are very good also, although green and red appear a bit overemphasized at maximum brightness, and that is easily adjusted. In our unit, the Gamma is off a bit and needed adjustment to lessen the detail brightness.
Viewing angles are limited as with all TN panels and although the color balance of the Monoprice Crystal Pro 4K display can never be adjusted perfectly as with the HP display, it is still very decent as a gaming or general-purpose display just as the ASUS display is ideally suited for twitch gaming at 120Hz. That said, there is very little motion blur with the Monoprice display and it only appears to live up to its rated 1ms response time for a very best case scenario, at least compared to the faster ASUS display.
There is no perfect display and all of them have their strengths and weaknesses. The ASUS display excels at its response time, while the Monoprice Crystal Pro 4K sits between it and the HP display. After nearly 3 weeks with the Monoprice Crystal Pro 4K, we find 4K very enjoyable for gaming, and decent for everything else PC related. It is a surprise to us that we got such a decent display for $429 although this week we have seen a Samsung 4K and an ACER 4K display also drop to this price range.
Both the Monoprice 4K and the ASUS 120Hz displays are very good for gaming but we would have to give the overall edge to the 120Hz panel for its more trace free images using fast-paced shooters in 2D. The HP display is in a class by itself and it has superb color accuracy, great image quality, and doesn’t shift colors with changing angles although it is a slower panel to respond in gaming.
Performance Issues with 4K
It is very demanding to drive 3840×2160 resolution with a single-GPU video card, but a GTX 980 is up to the task – and by extension, so are the GTX 970 and R9 290X cards – if some settings are lowered. FXAA or SMAA would be picked instead of MSAA and shadow settings can be set to medium, and other settings can be moved from Ultra or Extreme to High. We had a very good experience playing with a single GTX 980 at 4K and appreciated the crispness and the detail of the higher resolution. We were surprised at the excellent quality of the experience with only a few compromises. The GeForce Experience is also a great resource for 4K gaming.
If the player wishes not to compromise, then SLI or CrossFire for two top cards would be a perfect solution as in most cases, 4K settings may then only need minor adjustments, such as lowering 4xMSAA to 4xMFAA, and/or lowering Shadow settings which are rarely noticeable while playing.
4K and Windows 8.1
We found minor frustrations with 4K gaming in Windows 7, and setting or changing to or from 4K resolutions would cause some games to crash to desktop. A better DP cable helped, but the change to Windows 8.1 stabalized all of our issues. It may have to do with Windows 8.1 using a newer WDDM model.
Gaming performance did drop slightly overall, about 1-2% depending on game – and a few games perform better on Win 8.1 – but the abstraction layer uses some resources over Windows 7. The Windows 8.1 UI has been greatly improved over Windows 8, although it is still a bit frustrating to have to take an extra step or two with the Metro screen that Windows 7 desktop users don’t have to deal with. Overall, the move to Windows 8.1 was OK for us and BTR will use it for future benching.
Fonts are not as much of an issue as we had expected. Windows 7 allows for 150% scaling which brings the tiny default fonts at 4K to a par with the default font size at 2560×1600. Windows 8.1 has more adjustments than Windows 7, and we now have no issues with font sizes as we are are nearsighted anyway.
It is time to head to our conclusion.