Review – Dell U2711 Monitor

26Aug11

I’ve lusted after a 30″ monitor for a while now, and got to use one some time ago (an Apple Cinema display) . The price of those beasts is headed in the right direction, but still – ouch.

27″ seems to be a different matter. A few weeks ago my brother was being disparaging about my ancient dual 17″ LCD setup, and remarked that he’d kitted out the office for Boss Alien with Hazro 27″ screens that had come in at less than £400 a pop. He said they were great apart from the lack of a height adjustable stand.

I took a look at the Hazros, but the stand was going to be an issue, and so was the fact that they only had a single Dual Link DVI input. I wanted something with a range of inputs for the machines in my home office, and here the Dell U2711 fitted the bill perfectly. The only trouble was that it was still expensive (around £650).

Then I saw that Overclockers were doing the Dell with a reduced warranty for £499 for pre-orders. I was tempted. Then they sent me a 5% off voucher. I was more tempted. Then they did a one day only special at £479.99 inc delivery (and my voucher was still valid) – I caved.

I expect the price of 27″ IPS screens will now plummet to something like £250. If that happens I will try not to care, as the U2711 is absolutely gorgeous – a real pleasure to use.

Text is about the same size as it was on my old dual screen setup, but there’s simply more acreage, and more flexibility to use it. I like the way that Windows 7 can snap stuff into the left or right half of the screen – so I can have things similarly arranged to when they where maximised on each of my dual screens. There are however times when you just want to go large with something – and not have a couple of bezels in the way is a game changer.

As with all complex tech there are some niggles. My ThinkPad Ultrabase can drive it quite happily at the full resolution of 2560×1440 using the included Displayport cable – so that’s my main machine sorted. Sadly there’s only one Displayport input, so I’ll need a DP-DL-DVI converter if I want to hook up my work laptop, which means another £30 on eBay. And the ancient X800 card in my workstation doesn’t have dual link support, so I will need a new card for that, which will likely be another £25 (for a low end passively cooled nVidia).

I shouldn’t however let my cabling concerns detract from the pleasure of using this thing – at least it’s capable of being hooked up to 5 PCs at once.

Update 1 – 1 Sep – I noticed that my desktop machine, connected via DVI, wasn’t showing anything during POST. The monitor would go into power saving mode until the Windows login screen was showing. I hooked it up via the VGA port (using a DVI-VGA adaptor) and all was well. I think this may be down to the graphics card outputting analogue signal for the lower resolutions during POST and boot. I needed a new card anyway to do 2560×1440 over DL DVI, so this issue has forced my hand.



2 Responses to “Review – Dell U2711 Monitor”

  1. Great choice, Chris.

    Did you find space to put the 17″ twins either side of your new monitor? It’s lovely to have a main screen that large and crisp but I find that an extra monitor or two gives you space to throw a browser into without distracting you from your main work. I’m thinking of getting another (small) screen so I can have XCode on one, Chrome on another and Unity in glorious hi-def on the main screen.

    Be glad you’re not trying to drive it from a MacBook pro – the relevant adapters are 80 quid each!

    • There’s no space left for the old 17″ers, and since my main machine is now my tablet I’m out of digital outputs to drive anything else anyway – I’d rather use the native screen as an auxiliary than and analogue driven LCD. I do agree that having the extra space is always beneficial – it’s such a shame that my laptop at work can’t drive its own screen when I have 2 external monitors attached, as it would be great for IM (which I’m always missing).


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