Dell is heralding computer users into an era beyond 4K with its new 32-inch UltraSharp 32 Ultra HD 8K monitor, which is a sight to behold. But there's a caveat: Most PCs may not be ready for this cool display.
The monitor will ship on March 23 for US $4,999 (around £4,060), Dell announced. In the UK, that'll be May – with UK pricing announced then. Around another 10 countries will follow, in limited quantities.
The 8K monitor has a resolution of 7680 x 4320 pixels, which is about four times that of 4K. It will feature 33.2 million pixels and more than 1 billion colours. It has a video refresh rate of 60Hz and a viewing angle of 178 degrees.
It looks sleek – it is slim and built into an aluminium cover. There's a thin 9.7mm bezel around it.
A simple eye test concluded that the 8K monitor was a sight to behold, and stunning colors screamed out of the screen. But the picture was so overwhelming that instinctively I took a few steps back to enjoy the majestic display. It was conclusive: Sitting close to a large-screen 8K monitor may not be for everyone.
Gamers and creative professionals may be the first to hop on the 8K monitor bandwagon, while regular users may stick to 1080p or 4K for years before jumping to 8K.
8K is just reaching monitors, and Sharp has shown off a display at that resolution. Japanese broadcaster NHK experimented with 8K broadcasts at last year's Olympics and will switch over to full-scale 8K video transmissions for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
Even Dell admits that 8K monitors are not for everyone. The UltraSharp 32 Ultra HD is targeted at architects who need to view finer details of a room or content creators who want to work with 8K photos or videos. The monitor could also be used for space exploration, where scientists are trying to get deeper details on planets.
"[8K] is not practical, not yet," said Michael Turner, product launch manager for displays at Dell.
Dell's new 8K monitor may be tempting for designers and artists, but it may be wiser to save up and wait for better 8K technology. The UltraSharp 32 Ultra HD showed brilliant pixels but took a long time to re-draw images on screen.
That's because GPUs aren't ready for 8K yet, and Dell had to work with Nvidia until the last second to tweak drivers to support 8K.
"When the next round of graphics cards refresh, they'll get to the point where 8K is mass consumable," Turner said.
It may be prudent to wait for GPUs based on Nvidia's Volta and AMD's Vega architectures, which are due out this year.
Dell was running the monitor via a Precision workstation, which was being pushed to demonstrate the UltraSharp 32 Ultra HD. But the GPU drivers will get better, and the monitor's performance will get better, Turner said. Right now, drivers are a work in progress.
Dell UltraSharp 32 Ultra HD specs
The 8K monitor has two DisplayPort 1.4 ports, which support 8K. It has no other ports, though options are popping up. HDMI at CES announced the HDMI 2.1 specification, which supports 8K. MHL Consortium's SuperMHL also supports 8K at 120Hz, but it is targeted more at TVs than PCs and has gone quiet on progress for the last year.
The UltraSharp 32 Ultra HD 8K monitor has a contrast ratio of 1,300:1 and supports 100 percent Adobe RGB, sRGB, and Rec709 color gamuts. The monitor also has four USB 3.0 ports.
Dell has been innovative with monitors, but the company has seen rough times. Dell two years ago released a 4K monitor priced at only $700, but it had a refresh rate of only 30Hz, which was seen as a major flaw.