Price: around £4,000
Pros: The best monitor on the market for creatives. Exceptional colour gamut and accuracy. Self-calibrating.
Cons: Hefty price tag.
Eizo's ColorEdge CG318K-4K is a true 4K monitor – twice over. And it's the best monitor for designers, artists (whether digital, CG or VFX) or video editors I've ever reviewed.
The first way in that the CG318-4K is a true 4K monitor is that it's 31.1-inch screen has a resolution of 4,096 x 2,160 pixels. Most '4K' monitors on the market have a resolution of 3,840 x 2,180 – so the CG318-4K has 6.6666 (and so on) per cent more pixels horizontally.
Eizo CG318K-4K review: Resolution
The key technical difference between the CG318-4K's resolution and the slightly smaller one offered by others is that 4,096 x 2,160 is the resolution of 4K filmmaking, while 3,840 x 2,180 is known as UHD (or Ultra High Definition, as it's twice as tall and wide as HD's 1,920 x 1080). If you're a graphic designer, this probably makes no 4King difference to you. If you're a video editor, animator or VFX artist - where the exact resolution could a dealbreaker when choosing a monitor, especially if you intend to use it as a reference display - this means the CG318-4K is potentially the right monitor for you.
Even if you couldn't give a toss about the intricacies of 4K vs UHD, the resolution has great appeal. From Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign to DaVinci Resolve, Nuke and Maya, the additional pixels the CG318K-4K gives you over even a 2,560 x 1,440 display means there's more room for your work - as the 31.1-inch screen's size means you don't necessarily need to increase the scale of Windows interface to still be able to see and use your apps' interfaces.
The difference if you're currently using an HD or 1,920 x 1,200 display is huge. It's smaller than the 5K screen of the 27-inch iMac we were drooling over last year - but as I'll come onto in a bit, the CG318-4K's colour accuracy puts it in a completely different league to Apple's best.
For video editors using the likes of Premiere Pro, even if you're not working in 4K, the resolution means that you can have show HD video at its native resolution in both your Source and Program panels with space for the panel borders around them (which isn't possible with a 3,840 x 2,180 UHD display like HP’s Dreamcolor Z27x).
Eizo CG318K-4K review: Colour accuracy
No monitor I've seen can match the CG318K-4K's ability with colour.
Measuring a monitor’s quality here comes down to two factors: the range of colours it can output and the accuracy with which it can do that. To test both, we used DataColor’s Spyder4Elite calibration hardware and software.
We found that the CG318-4K could output 100% of the colours in the sRGB colour space and 99% of the Adobe RGB colour space - as used by Adobe’s applications. This is more impressive than HP’s Dreamcolor Z27x (87% of Adobe RGB and 92% of sRGB) or the 5K iMac (78% of Adobe RGB and 100% of sRGB).
Eizo also claims that the CG318-4K can output 98% of the colours in the DCI-P3 colour space, as used in digital cinema grading and post-production – so feature film editors and colourists will love this monitor.
Using the buttons on the front or the bundled ColorNavigator NX software, you can constrain the CG318-4K’s output to these colour spaces (or to broadcast standards like EBU, Rec. 709 or SMPTE-C, if you prefer) – so you can ensure you’re looking at exactly what you will pass onto the next step in your pipeline or production process.
Being able to produce all of those colours isn’t useful unless a monitor can do it accurately – and here the CG318-4K excels again. The measurement of accuracy is called Delta-E – or perhaps I should call it a measurement of inaccuracy, as the bigger the number, the more inaccurate it is – and the Spyder4Elite measures colours its knows to check how close the monitor is to them.
The CG318-4K’s average Delta-E was 0.62 and the maximum was 1.04 – exceptional when compared to the Z27x, which had an impressive average of 0.9 but a max of 3.9. The 5K iMac’s average Delta-E was 1.66 – higher than the CG318-4K’s maximum – with its own maximum being 5.0.
In short, the CG318K-4K’s accuracy is the best around.
Eizo CG318K-4K review: Calibration
Calibrating the CG318K-4K using a device such as Spyder4Elite is unnecessary for anything else except testing. The monitor has a hardware calibrator built-in, that pops out like a robot arm when you trigger it from the monitor’s menu system or from ColorNavigator NX.
Besides amusing passers by, it also does a better job of calibrating your monitor than the Spyder, as tools like that essentially just change what colours the graphics card outputs to match what the hardware calibrators sees during testing. The built-in calibrator changes the monitor’s output to match what’s coming out of the graphics card – which gives more accurate results overall.
The built-in calibrator is also less hassle that hanging the Spyder4Elite off your monitor like a ocular yo-yo – though of course you can’t use it to calibrate more than one screen.
Eizo CG318K-4K review: Ports
The CG318K-4K has two DisplayPort 1.2 ports – so it can display its 4K resolution at 60Hz. Some older 4K or UHD monitors could only output 4K at 30Hz, so they wouldn’t show animation or video at more than 30fps, and movement of the mouse pointer and other elements wouldn’t be as smooth.
There are also two HDMI 1.4 ports for plugging in consumer devices if you want, though these will display video at 30Hz. As most professional graphics cards have DisplayPort 1.2 output these days, this isn’t a problem.
There’s also a USB hub, which you’ll either appreciate or find irrelevant.
Eizo CG318K-4K review: Software
The ColorNavigator NX software is currently still in beta, though we didn’t see any stability issues. As so much of the CG318K-4K’s calibration is taken care of for you, for many users the software is just a way to change trigger the calibration or change the monitor’s output colour space slightly easier than using the on-screen control.
There are some more advanced features that some studios will appreciate though – such as ways to match colours across multiple monitors and use custom LUTs.
Eizo CG318K-4K review: 4K screen, 4K price
The second way that you could describe the Eizo CG318-4K as a true 4K monitor is the price tag. Eizo hasn't confirmed exact pricing - and won't until the CG318-4K ships in April - but expects it to be around £4,000. Whether that figure makes you go 'how much?!' or 'sounds about right' will tell you if this is the monitor for you, as it's an appropriate price considering the quality and features of this display.
If the work you produce deserves a monitor that costs 4K and you can budget for it, this is the monitor you want.