ASUS PA246Q - Brightness and Contrast Ratios

As important as color accuracy is, everything starts with the dynamic range a display offers, which is based on its contrast ratio and brightness. If you have perfect colors but very little dynamic range, you won’t be able to distinguish light from dark, or have shadows or highlights that have any depth to them. Cranked up to the maximum with a calibrated screen, I obtained 284 nits of light from the PA246Q, and at the minimum setting I managed 104 nits. Since this is from a calibrated setting, the maximum output is reduced. You can push all of your settings to the maximum and get a brighter image from the PA246Q but it will be excessively green tinted as green has the highest light output of the primary colors.

White Level -  XR Pro, Xrite i1D2 and XR i1DPro

Even with it only producing 284 nits, this is more than enough for any work environment it will see in the real world. The minimum output is a little higher than I would prefer, as some people work as low as 80 or 100 nits for print work, but it isn’t awful. IPS traditionally doesn't excel in black levels compared to VA panels, and the PA246Q doesn’t have a dynamic LED lighting system or any other technology to try to improve this. Because of this we have a really high black level on the PA246Q, with the lowest value I could obtain being 0.16 nits. I don’t use a 100% black screen for these measurements as that allows some panels to totally turn off the backlight and it’s not applicable to any real-world use, but I have a small amount of light at the edges of the screen for testing. Because of this you can potentially coax better numbers out of some displays than whay I report, but I don’t feel they have any real world application.

Black Level - XR Pro, Xrite i1D2 and XR i1DPro

With this higher black level, we manage to get a contrast ratio that is pretty ordinary at best. Coming in at around 650:1 this comes in close to some of the inexpensive TN displays we've reviewed, along with the cheaper IPS panels that have been in the lab. Other models are able to pull out 1000:1 or better, which is what I would like to see out of a high-end panel now. Most of these panels aren’t using a wide spectrum backlight that can support the AdobeRGB colorspace, and that support might be what is causing the higher black levels and lower contrast ratio, so it is something users would have to consider when evaluating the PA246Q for their use.

Contrast Ratio -  XR Pro, Xrite i1D2 and XR i1DPro

Overall the brightness numbers for the PA246Q are good, but the black level and therefore contrast ratio numbers leave a little more to be desired from a display at this price point.

Design, OSD, and Viewing Angles ASUS PA246Q - Color Quality
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  • Leyawiin - Wednesday, July 4, 2012 - link

    Just submitted my order - time for a quality monitor for the first time in my life!
  • cheinonen - Thursday, July 5, 2012 - link

    As I mentioned above, they're very different monitors. The PA246Q is a 10-bit panel with a full AdobeRGB color gamut from CCFL backlighting, and the PA248Q is an 8-bit panel with LED backlighting and only the sRGB gamut. It's a more mainstream panel than the PA246Q so for non-print and photo editing users, it might be a better choice, but they aren't practically the same other than size, resolution, and vendor.
  • appliance5000 - Saturday, July 7, 2012 - link

    The reviewed monitor is an 8 bit panel interpolated to simulate a 10 bit panel - a little dubious.
  • Oxford Guy - Thursday, July 5, 2012 - link

    Is this actually a 10-bit panel?

    Also, since sRGB mode on some wide gamut monitors works (U2410) and is completely broken on others, whenever you review a wide gamut monitor you should separate its performance in terms of sRGB content and AdobeRGB content. The way you lump them together with a "color quality" chart makes little sense. For those dealing with sRGB content, having a monitor exceed the sRGB space can actually lead to poor quality if the monitor doesn't have an effective sRGB emulation mode.

    I would take a look at how and tftcentral separate sRGB and AdobeRGB modes in their reviews.
  • cheinonen - Friday, July 6, 2012 - link

    I will take a look at that. I've only had a couple come through with AdobeRGB support so far, so I haven't setup a separate test section for it, but I can do that in the future.
  • appliance5000 - Saturday, July 7, 2012 - link

    I hear you on the srgb - I have an nec p221w (which is an excellent spectraview compatible monitor for about $400.00. With hardware cal the delta e is well under 1 for adobe rgb at a brightness of 140 cd/m2. I highly recommend it)

    But, being a wide spectrum (97% adobe rgb) srgb seems tough to calibrate for print. My question is : Isn't s-rgb used mainly to proof for web use, particularly for non color managed environments, in which case a delta e of 3 - 5 is fine? The point being that most people pull a monitor out of the box and turn it on for 5 years - there's no way to know what they're looking at.
  • aranyagag - Tuesday, December 11, 2012 - link

    it clears eizo monitor test and other monitor tests which are supposed to weed out 8 bit monitors. Also I have an sRGB camera, which shows proper colours when the monitor is placed in rgb mode-- laparoscope.
  • Dug - Wednesday, July 11, 2012 - link

    I had always thought AdobeRGB was just a higher gamut allowing you to see for instance a raw file shot in AdobeRGB at its full potential. The problem is the assumption that this is better.

    I've found that most print shops don't have the correct profiles, don't use the embedded profile, etc.

    I've gone down the expensive road of getting the correct monitor, printer, and color profiling both to print myself.

    In all honesty its a pain in the ass with very little gain.
    If everything isn't done just right then you end up with dull colors.
    If everything is done right, there is a difference, but I wouldn't necessarily call it better. It may be more accurate, because you've been told it is, but it is subtle.
    If you have to email, show on web, print to a printer without correct profile, etc you've wasted all your time if using AdobeRGB.

    I kind of relate it to calibrated televisions. If anyone saw a true calibrated television, they probably wouldn't like it. It's very dull. Everyone likes a little extra contrast and run a little hot.

    Sense the entire world runs on sRGB, I say stick with it. There's less chance for error and it will look good on anyone's monitor and printer.
  • CrimsonFury - Thursday, July 12, 2012 - link

    Still using my 8 year old Lacie 22" CRT until something better comes along. 4:3 2048x1536 @85Hz. Still waiting for an LCD with that sort of pixel density around 24" in size.

    I dislike 27" and above screens, I find them too large for a comfortable viewing position. Also on the high res 27" - 30" panels pixels per inch are still lower than my old 22" CRT
  • AnnonymousCoward - Saturday, July 14, 2012 - link

    Looks like a great attempt at a quality monitor. But when are we gonna get past the 60Hz barrier??? At least 80Hz framerate would be so much better.

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