The Dell UltraSharp U3011 is an incredible piece of technology. Its maximum resolution is awe inspiring to see when playing games, either a fast paced FPS or more strategic games like Civilizations 5. There is just something about having your vision filled by a screen, so large you find yourself having to move your eyes in order to focus properly on action in the corners. In the strategy games you have the advantage of seeing significantly more geography that you do on a smaller screen. Something similar happens in FPS games which give you a larger viewing area, you won’t be seeing behind you but you will be seeing more than your smaller screened opponent. With the H-IPS technology behind this display you can also forget your worries of the ghosting that was the bane of early generations of large screen LCDs. At no point was gameplay effected negatively by having tracers follow quick moving players or scenery.
As a display for watching movies it is perhaps not as stellar as it is when gaming; go on and try find something to watch that is natively 1600p. 1080p almost looks stretched on this monitor, not distractingly so but enough to slightly bother someone who doesn’t like their pixel ratio fudged in any way. The OSD does allow for 1:1 display to try to mitigate the effect somewhat and using inputs other than DisplayPort do make that a moot point. Perhaps it is more that watching movies and TV is more comfortable from a couch than it is a computer chair and that the extra distance that usually exists between your eyeballs and the screen is usually so much greater that it helps soften the image more than when you are 2-3" away from the monitor.
As a monitor for professional graphics designers and engineers it is a powerful tool to enhance their productivity. The size is certainly one thing in this displays favour as you can easily see a full 1080p image with space left on the sides for your programs toolbars and even an IM client or Skype window. That can be a great help to someone who really does need to see all of an image, at a large resolution as they do not need to scroll to the edges or constantly be moving controls off of a piece of the picture they need to see right that moment. The ability to display 30bit colour depth when paired with a FirePro or Quadro card is a must for designers and the fact that this monitor can handle it as well as a rated 117% colour gamut (CIE 1976) lets the designer see colours you can’t on a lesser display. That does really help when creating print and should help colour gradients smooth out even on monitors lacking such a wide colour gamut.
After saying so many good things about this monitor it is a bit of a let down to talk about the bad points. Well, point … as in price point. This monitor will currently set you back about $1500, though that really is only $0.00035/pixel which must be a bargain! Unfortunately that is how much it costs to join the big boys, resolutions this high are vanishingly rare as are displays this large with such a decent response rate. There was no substitute for this type of monitor until AMD and NVIDIA got serious about multi-monitor support. The game has changed somewhat with EyeFinity and NVIDIA Surround you can suddenly emulate a similar or higher resolution using 2 or 3 smaller and significantly lower priced monitors. You do then have to contend with bezels blocking your view and the cost of a good mount will drive the price up towards the Dell again, so it is not a perfect solution either. Even with thin bezels you still have dead space distracting your eyes instead of uninterrupted screen and that fact is what ensures the Dell is still competitive.
I am going to miss this monitor.
If you can convince work to pay for it or use it as a task write off, pick this display up. If you have the disposable income to buy it then it comes heartily recommended. If you’d need to live on Ramen for a year then seriously consider that multi-monitor gaming is now possible and that a mid-range GPU just is not going to have the power to push this display and have quality settings turned up at the same time.