4K HDR. Is it worth the investment?

I recently purchased a 4K 10bit HDR Monitor, the Acer ET430K, and without a doubt it’s lovely in 4K. But this week saw a much needed update to VideoLan (VLC), it now finally supports 4K and 8K hardware playback, something severely lacking in previous releases, even 4K playback was tricky and I used MPC-HC for that, now VLC also supports HDR too.

When I bought the monitor I also dropped £50 on a new BDXL drive (Asus BW-16D1HT), this will let me rip UHD movies to my WD EX4100 and play them back anywhere. I was initially surprised by the file size, they’re big, but only twice the size of a bluray at 1080p, yet they contain  four times the resolution, 10 bit colour (instead of 8 bit) and for the most part improved audio with more channels and higher resolution.

So I went to my local CEX and bought some UHD movies, The Hateful Eight, The Martian, Logan, and Alien Covenant, and after watching them initially in 4K SDR or 8bit colour I was a little unimpressed, but I was using MPC-HC to play them back, MPC-HC has hardware playback but no support for HDR, and at the time VLC didn’t. My initial misgivings were found-less, once VLC 3.0 launched I immediately saw the difference that HDR gives. I will say that 4K is very nice, but to be honest, it’s the difference with HDR that you’ll immediately notice. And all I can say is WOW. It’s HDR that will sell more TV’s and monitors than 4K alone.

Here are some screenshots from these films, sadly you really won’t be able to enjoy them as they are… you’ll need a 4K HDR screen.

What is HDR? Basically HDR (High Dynamic Range) means richer colours, more contrast and brightness this gives a scene better definition without losing details like increasing brightness and contrast will. It’s one thing that’s hard to quantify, but once you’ve seen it you’ll know it.

So does 4K 10bit HDR make a real difference… OH HELL YES it does. Be warned though, there are many 4K 8bit HDR screens out there, and they use software to push this to 10bit, they are severely lacking, they cannot and never will render 10bit properly. So be warned… don’t be duped into buying an 8bit screen, insist on HDMI 2.0 (this meets the bandwidth requirements of 4K HDR @ 50hz) and you should be ok, though always check with the internet before buying.

So is it worth the investment? For gaming on the PS4 and PC, yes it’s worth the entry fee alone. As for movies? HELL YES.

Another thing to consider, if you don’t use the TV’s built-in tuner or smart services then why bother with a TV, get a monitor instead. Monitors don’t have this stuff and as a result you should get a better image from it than a similar priced TV.

ACER ET430 Monitor Review

I had to wait a while for this to come back into stock at Currys.co.uk, I’d had my eye on it for a while, it’s just a little outside my budget of £500, but the delay gave me an extra few weeks to save the extra £50.00

Now I’ve finally got it, I have to say I’m impressed, its 4K and supports 10bit HDR, 43 inches corner to diagonal corner, it supports HDMI 2.0 and Display Port normal and mini.

Initially I could not get my PS4 Pro to display in anything other than 1080P, after some time messing around with safe mode and nothing working, I started to unplug the PSVR and Elgato HD 60, and there lay the problem, the ELGATO HD 60 will only pass-through 1080P, so I stripped out the HD 60 and left the PSVR connected and boom! Everything worked fine, 2160P full RGB and HDR 🙂

I fired up The Last Of Us remaster and it’s utterly stunning, the resolution upscale and the HDR inclusion just made it look stunning. But I also noticed another thing, if you play TLOU for any amount of time, your team GLOW when they walk out of sight, this means you can see where your team is. On my previous monitor, an LG ultrawide monitor, there was some ghosting from the glow, not on this bad boy though. I will miss the ultrawide, they’re awesome for PC gaming and movies. Movies don’t have the black bars and the extra width give you an edge in almost any game that supports 2560 x 1080, which is most modern games.

Did I have to get a 4K panel? Not really, it doesn’t complete me, but having a 4K capable Mac, PC and PS4 Pro and not having a 4K screen… it’s a waste, it’s like employing a cleaner to do the dirty work, but in another life they were a world renowned network admin. But that’s what this panel does, it restores the balance, and seeing what 4K HDR looks like… it’s like going from VHS to 1080P.


Response 5ms

2 x HDMI 2.0

2 x display port

1 x mini display port

43 Inches

4K and 10bit HDR

Contrast: 100,000,000:1

Brightness: 350 cd/m²

Screen type: IPS

There is a minor downside though, who ever thought that having the ports underneath the back of the screen is a numpty. Getting access to them has meant taking the panel down, connecting/disconnecting and putting it back. It’s all a bit of a farce. Still, once you’ve finished you should be good for quite some time.

Overall I’m seriously impressed, it’s a beautiful screen, 4K looks amazing, HDR also looks nothing short of stunning, and considering there’s no TV tuner, no catch-up TV or anything like that, you can see why this monitor is probably a better purchase than a TV of the same price. You’ll get more bang and less stuff you don’t need.

AWESOME Screen, if you’re in the market for a monitor. It even sounds OK too. Not as good as dedicated speakers… but seriously, not too bad either.

Nice one Acer.

DOOM on the PC running a 6600K (watercooled) and a GTX 1070

Destiny 2 on the PC running a 6600K (watercooled) and a GTX 1070