Dell U3011 review
Dell has finally released a new 30-inch monitor to replace the ageing 3008WFP. It’s called U3011
and has a quality IPS panel inside. The IPS panel has an impressive 2560x1600 resolution in the 16:10 aspect ratio and Dell also promises good gaming and movie playback with a 7 ms (g2g) response time. Dell has not cut down on the inputs either. U3011 has literally every input you could want from a PC monitor.
But can U3011 compare to the smaller much acclaimed Dell monitors? And is it a real improvement over the 3008WFP or U2711
? We’ll examine U3011 in depth in this FlatpanelsHD review and will also include a Dell U2410
comparison.Subscribe to our Newsletter to receive an e-mail when new reviews are online. You can also subscribe to our RSS feeds here.
Price and retailer:
Our first impressions
Dell U3011 looks very similar to other Dell monitors from the professional range. It has a black, matte finish and a rectangular stand.
The bezel is a bit wider than on the U2410
but not much. The buttons are located on the right side of the frame as usual.
The stand allows users to adjust the monitor freely. It offers height, tilt and swivel adjustment which is nice.
Inputs have been integrated at the back of the monitor. Here we found 2xHDMI, 2xDVI, DisplayPort, VGA, component, 4-port USB hub, and stereo audio output + subwoofer output. Dell U3011 also incorporates a 7-in-1 media reader and USB inputs on the side.
The PIP (picture in picture) mode has three alternative PIP sources; component, HDMI1 and HDMI2. Below you see the side-by-side PIP option.
The OSD menus look similar to other Dell monitors and have these picture setting options: Brightness, contrast, sharpness, color temperature and RGB (red, green, blue). An aspect ratio menu is also available.
U3011H has these picture modes: Standard, Multimedia, Game, Movie, Warm, Cool, AdobeRGB, sRGB and Custom Color. Also, if you input a xvYCC input you can extent the color gamut.
You can see our energy measurements on Dell U3011 below.
| ||Out-of-Box ||After calibration |
|Standby ||0.8 W ||0.8 W |
|PC||97.5 W||83 W |
After calibration I measured energy consumption on Dell U3011 to 83 W. This is quite a lot for a monitor and also more than the 27-inch NEC PA271W SpectraView
model and Dell U2711
Also, please note that LCD monitors uses less power after calibration. This is common on flat panel displays because many picture parameters are reduced during calibration.
We use the DVI input for testing. The graphic card is Geforce GTX260.
The monitor has been measured and calibrated with a LaCie Blue Eye Pro. We also examine the monitor with the help of our monitorTest
. And finally we test the monitor in games, movies etc.
Picture quality on Dell U3011
Out-of-box picture quality on Dell U3011 is measured below in the default picture preset called Standard.
The graph says this:
The number on the left is the delta value. Delta is a difference between two factors; here it’s the difference between the measured color on the panel and the actual color that is our target.
A delta value lower that 2 results in a visible deviation from the actual color.
A delta value over 4 or 5 results in wrong colors.
A delta value between 1 and 2 results in precise but not perfect colors.
A delta value lower than one results in almost perfect colors. The target is 0.
Everything between 0 and 1 is barely visible to the human eye.
The out-of-box picture is fair but not fantastic. Color deviations are too visible and gamma is not stable rising from 1.75 in the bright colors to 2.1 in the darker shades. This means that the bright colors are too bright and the dark colors are also slightly too bright.
The color temperature is a bit too low at 5730 Kelvin. This creates a too warm / reddish picture compared to our 6500 Kelvin reference target.
I went on to measure picture quality in the sRGB mode on U3011.
The sRGB mode is far better. Gamma is not 100 % accurate rising from 2.1 to 2.15 but gamma is all in all fair. Color deviations are low and the picture is natural and balanced.
The brightness value is too high for office use but this is just a matter of lowering the brightness slider in the OSD menu. Color temperature is a bit too low.
I also took a measurement in the adobeRGB preset on Dell U3011 and below you can see the result.
Again, U3011 is convincing. Most colors are reproduced very accurately with only few exceptions. Gamma is almost stable and varying between 2.1 and 2.19. We aim for a flat 2.2 gamma curve.
Color temperature is still a bit too low.
Also, notice that the adobeRGB preset has an extended gamut on U3011, shown in the left gamut diagram.
I went on to do a calibration in the custom color preset. This is the only preset that allows you to calibrate with RGB gain, offset, hue and saturation settings. I also created an ICC profile.
The result is good and after calibration gamma is pretty much perfect and color deviations are very low. But notice that U3011 has an extended color gamut in the Custom Color preset. This means that you can’t use this as a sRGB mode and for most users the sRGB preset is preferably.
This is the case because U3011 does not utilize hardware calibration like the more expensive Eizo ColorEdge and NEC SpectraView series. These monitors use a color gamut emulator instead of factory pre-calibrated color gamut presets such as the sRGB preset on Dell U3011.
Therefore I also recommend regular users without a calibrator to use the sRGB preset. Below are my calibrated settings but please notice that if you use the sRGB preset you should refrain from entering the RGB values. You can use the brightness, contrast and sharpness settings, though.
| ||After calibration ||Brightness: ||8 |
|Contrast: ||50 |
|Sharpness: ||50 |
|RGB: ||Gain |
|• R: ||95 |
|• G: ||90 |
|• B: ||99 |
Color gradation is just as important as color accuracy. Color gradation tells how well a monitor reproduces the many different color shades and if it is able to distinguish these colors from each other.
Dell U3011 has an internal LUT (look-up table) to ensure good internal color handling. And this also pays off in practice. We used smooth color gradients to examine color gradation and U3011 does a very good job. I saw no tendency to bands in the smooth gradients and only the very dark colors showed some minor issues. The color gradation is not 100 % as good as on the Eizo ColorEdge CG243W
and NEC SpectraView 271
but better than on U2410
I arranged a side-by-side comparison of U3011 and U2410. Below you see the two monitors in the default preset. Notice that the green color on U3011 (to the left) is brighter and not accurate. The blue sky is also a bit too saturated.
I now changed to the sRGB presets. The sRGB modes on the two monitors gave us almost identical results. See the picture below.
The extremely high 2560x1600 resolution in the 16:10 aspect ratio is fantastic. Personally I prefer a very high resolution because it allows me to work with many different windows at the same time. The 16:10 aspect ratio also ensures extra vertical pixels. See the picture below with U3011 to the left and U2410 to the right.
Both monitors have the FlatpanelsHD website loaded up but the difference in size and resolution is remarkable.
The IPS panel on U3011 is matte but no A-TW polarizer has been incorporated. This means that U3011 has the same “dirty screen look” as most IPS based monitors today. Unfortunately this is the case on pretty much all IPS monitors today.
Below I have measured black depth and brightness (contrast ratio).
| ||Out-of-Box ||After calibration |
|Black level ||0.26 cd/m2 ||0.19 cd/m2 |
|Brightness ||213 cd/m2 ||121 cd/m2 |
|Contrast ratio||819:1||637:1 |
Contrast ratio +/- 50
After calibration I measured a black depth of 0.19 cd/m2. This is not really impressive but common on IPS based monitors. The VA panels reproduce deeper black today but naturally have some other problems.
We tested the U2711 some time ago and measured 0.12 cd/m2 black depth at a 106 cd/m2 white point (883:1 contrast ratio). The 24-inch U2410
gave us 0.18 cd/m2 black with a 123 cd/m2 white point (724:1 contrast ratio). This means that U2711 performs visibly better in this regard and U2410 is a tad better.
Black depth is also reduced if you look at U3011 from an angle. This is also a characteristic of the IPS panel technology. See a picture of the phenomenon in the Viewing Angles section.
I measured the maximum brightness and minimum brightness on U3011, too. At 0 % brightness in the menu, U3011 gave me 115 cd/m2. At 100 % brightness I measured 330 cd/m2.
Shadow detailing on Dell U3011 is very good. I compared U3011 to the 24-inch U2410H standing next to it and U3011 definitely gave us better detailing in the very dark colors. Only the grey tone closest to black was hard to distinguish on U3011. Very positive.
Finally I've taken a picture of U3011 in a completely dark room to examine clouding / backlight bleeding issues. This is especially important because of the large 30-inch format. Larger panels often have more visible clouding because of the larger area.
Dell U3011 has no real clouding issues and this is very pleasing. But the reduction in black depth from an angles means that if you sit close to the screen you will experience slightly greyer corners on the panel. This is also seen on the picture above but not an actually case of clouding / backlight bleeding.
Response time and games
Dell U3011 is a true movie and gaming companion. The 2xHDMI inputs allow it to talk with gaming consoles and Blu-ray players so naturally response time is important.
And response time on Dell U3011 is convincing. It has low blurring on fast motion and very accurate overdrive controlling. Actually I didn’t experience any Overdrive trailing at all and I’m very pleased with that.
U3011 is definitely not blur-free and not as fast as the dedicated gaming monitors with TN panels but it’s faster than Dell’s own 24-inch U2410.
I measured input lag on Dell U3011 to 24 ms.
For most gaming and movies watching U3011 is ideal and very recommendable with the huge screen size and very nice resolution (although I doubt most of us can run games in 2650x1600 resolution with a reasonable frame rate). For the most discerning gamers the 120 Hz TN based monitors are still preferably, however.
I also tried to load up a PlayStation 3 on Dell U3011.
The picture quality is pretty good although the scaling from the PS3 resolution to Dell U3011’s 2560x1600 makes the picture appear a bit softer – only visible from a close distance. The gaming experience was good and I saw no distracting trailing or blurring on fast motion. Input lag, when connected to a gaming console, was decent as well but not perfect.
Color shifting from angles is very minimal. Most colors keep intensity even from large angles. See a picture of the horizontal and vertical viewing angles below:
Black depth is reduced form angles, however. See the picture below that illustrates how black is getting greyer from an angle.
Dell U3011 has a range of analogue and digital inputs and outputs, including HDMI, DisplayPort and DVI. It also features advanced picture setting options and a PIP (picture in picture) mode. The stand is solid and allows users to tilt, swivel and height adjust U3011
The default picture mode could have been better but was fair. The sRGB and AdobeRGB presets are great and very accurate which ensures that users without calibrators can get a decent result. The color reproduction in general is very good and our smooth gradients were reproduced without any bands. Black reproduction was not very deep and this is still one of the issues with the IPS panel technology. Shadow detailing, on the other hand, was near-perfect.
The response time was fairly low for an IPS based panel and actually lower than on the Dell U2410
that we compared U3011 to in the picture quality section. This was primarily due to very accurate Overdrive controlling. The viewing angles are wide but black depth is reduced from an angle.
Dell U3011 is a great monitor for graphic work and users that require desktop space, as well as multimedia. It is an improvement over the previous 3008WFP in terms of color reproduction and U3011 also has a lower price compared to the starting price on 3008WFP. The extremely high resolution in 16:10 aspect ratio is very attractive, too. All in all U3011 is a great addition to Dell’s IPS range of monitor and has many of the same characteristics as the smaller models. The slightly smaller U2711
has an advantage in terms of black reproduction, however.
Price and retailer:
|Pros ||Cons||Target group |
|Color reproduction ||Black depth ||Graphic work |
|Response time ||Dirty screen look ||CAD |
|sRGB and AdobeRGB presets ||Price ||Discerning users |
|High resolution || ||Photographers |
|Height, tilt, swivel adjustment stand|| || |
Dell U3011 debate
For questions and comments please visits this thread in our forums: Dell U3011 debate