This thread should be used as a "meta thread" for all discussion regarding these monitors.
Good evening guys!
Earlier today, i managed to make a bit of cash by selling off some old computer parts. For quite some time, i've wanted a large resolution monitor. Not for gaming. No. I wanted it for design work. I wasn't interested in a lot of fancy features, but i needed simply something that had a large resolution greater than 1080p. When i'm developing software, much of the time, i have to resize the side areas that contain project files, components and such to be able to design a large enough interface and most importantly, to be able to see the longer lines of code without scrolling.
The problem is that high resolution monitors are expensive. For example, there's UK, which has a 20% tax charge on ANY product. Since it's also an island, much of what is sold is imported, especially when talking about electronics. Tax is added to this, and when you add in business margins and such, you end up with an expensive price. You guarantee warranty and often guarantee quality this way, and it keeps the economy healthy (ok, healthy-ish).
For a large resolution monitor, you are lucky if you find one at £400 GBP. These are the absolute budget models. They're quality, but they're at the ultimate low end.
So, what happens if you're willing to forego that peace of mind and easily handled warranty? South Korea is what happens. You see, when monitors are made, they're made in mass assembly lines. You'll have one, or multiple, lines for each type of monitor. Each line is basically being pinned on what type of panel the screens actually use, whether it's TN, or IPS, and what type and grade of each, and then by specific features and components they require.
Once assembled, the monitor is then fixed into a branded bezel, with it's stand added, and the it's all packed up in a branded box and shipped out. This is the way the system works, and it works well.
The problem with this, is that exporting and the costs associated with a branded product mean we typically pay well over the odds when it's imported and sold in our territory (US, UK or otherwise outside of Asia). Of course, this is a subjective and opinionated view, but i feel it bodes well for everyone with the prices we've become so ready to accept.
The solution, are OEM monitors. These are branded, but they are NOT big names in our territories. They'll have very Asian-esque or neutral brand or model names. In a lot of cases, they lack the extra features such as color controls, an OSD, or even a Scalar. For the non-techies among us, a scalar is what scales non-native resolutions up to fill the monitor. It basically takes, for example, a 720p image, and allows it to be scaled up to a 1080p screen without black bars around the edge.
"But Scott!" i hear you cry, "If it's got no scalar, what am i to do for fullscreen applications running at lower resolutions?!". Never fear, a vast majority of modern GPU's are built to handle scaling. The issues arise when you want to use it with consoles or such that perhaps don't have such support.
So, as i was saying, they're branded, but they're foreign names we may not have heard. There's several different prominent ones, such as Achieva Shimian, Yamakasi, Crossover, Wecube, and so on. You're probably hiding your wallet away already for the mention of an "unbranded" monitor may cause it to desert you. You may even be locking your children away for the sheer horror that is mentioning "unbranded" monitors.
However, you would be wrong to do so. These monitors typically use IPS panels. IPS is generally regarded as being "better" in many regards and is much preferred. Since they lack a big name, and many of the "useless extras", you'd still expect price to be pretty high. Again, you'd be wrong. It is absolutely not a hassle to find a 2560x1440 27" IPS-based monitor for under £230 GBP shipped, and look a little harder and some go for under £200 GBP shipped (or ~$350 USD). These are using A- quality panels, which pass for what are used in the Apple and numerous other branded displays!
As these monitors lack lots of extras, they typically have very good response times. As an added bonus, there's even reports of some people overclocking theirs to 97hz refresh rate from 60hz! They're essentially barebones monitors, but using quality panels. They do use a "power brick" transformer, but these take a standard PSU cable as their input and this means they're ready to go the moment you get them home (assuming of course, you've got a spare PSU cable/kettle lead for your socket). They include a Dual Link DVI cable (you need a Dual link DVI cable for these monitors, but since one is included, this is a null point).
You're probably still wary. I don't blame you. It sounds too good to be true, almost a scam. There's a 240 page thread over on Overclock.net and a 200 page thread over on HardForum. There's many different websites that provide a good feeling that it is indeed genuine. There are some caveats such as them reportedly not being compatible with laptops, or not working with certain "low end GPU's". You'll want to investigate your particular setup more beforehand.
There's many different sellers, but they're all selling the same sort of monitors. General consensus seems to be it's not worth paying extra for a "pixel perfect" one, and that you'd choose a seller based on your impression from reviews that others have given of said seller as well as extras such as their service, shipping cost, etc.
So, what about me?
Personally, i've ordered one for £195 shipped (import duty to the UK would make it approx. £240-250 total in the end assuming they do decide to tax it, US import i believe is a more modest 5%). It's obviously a budget model, but for the price and the overall good impression other people have given (despite the odd failures being reported), i think it was worth the risk. They're sold through numerous auction sites, including the ever popular eBay. As i only intend to really use it for design as opposed to gaming (though i may try that too), it's not so much that i care for extra features. In all honesty, i HATE monitor OSD's. They're fiddly and i never use mine.
I'm very much wanting to make the community aware of this as well as provide a place for us to discuss it. They've been around and selling these for quite some time now so it's possible many know about them already, but for those that don't, this could truly prove to be a bargain. I'll definitely be providing an overall impression and pictures once mine arrives. I'm like a kid at christmas while waiting, but with quite a few people saying they received theirs within a week, i'm optimistic it won't take long to arrive.