Dell recently released the world’s first consumer-targeted 8K monitor, and we’ve been wondering what it’s like.
4K TVs and monitors already offer incredible sharpness and detail. We’ve only recently begun to appreciate them, now that prices have become reasonably affordable and the amount of 4K content has gradually increased.
So what more could 8K possibly offer?
The 8K resolution on Dell's UP3218K monitor means it has four times as many pixels as a 4K monitor, which already has four times as many pixels as a 1080p one.
That means an 8K monitor has more than 33 million pixels.
Most monitors need just one cable to connect to a computer. To work best, Dell's 8K model needs two.
You can use one single DisplayPort (DP) cable, but you'll get a less-than-optimal experience.
Dell's 8K monitor can refresh 8K images at 60Hz, which means it will redraw each of its 33.2 million pixels 60 times a second. That allows it to display ultra-smooth videos and games. But transfering all that information requires some serious bandwidth between the computer and the monitor.
A single DP cable just doesn't have enough capacity to pass along that much data. So if you use just one DP cable, the monitor will slow down its refresh rate to 30Hz. That's still perfectly smooth for most people, but if you're going to spend $US5,000 on a monitor, you'll probably want to take advantage of all its capabilities.
To get 8K resolution at 60Hz, you'll need to a graphics card in your computer that has two DP ports. Oh, and Dell's 8K monitor won't run on just any old DP cables. It requires the latest DisplayPort 1.4 cable to work properly.
Dell tunes its 8K monitors before shipping them to ensure they have the best colour accuracy. Each monitor comes with its own individualized calibration report to show you how it's tuned.
Watching video in 8K 'is not like anything else,' Linus Sebastian of the Linus Tech Tips YouTube channel said. Sebastian shot 8K video on an 8K camera and said the result was 'fantastic.'
'You can sit as close as you want to the monitor and you still can't perceive any drawbacks,' he said.
Programs like Adobe's Premiere Pro video editing software look 'absolutely razor sharp,' Sebastian said. Indeed, Dell's 8K monitor is so sharp it even reveals things like dust specs 'that you may not necessarily want to show,' he said.
Meanwhile, Marques Brownlee said the homemade 8K videos he watched on the monitor were 'lifelike.' They were 'almost like looking through a window...It is just so sharp,' he said.
The display isn't quite as bright as other monitors, Brownlee noted. But that's to be expected at that resolution.
So, it's insanely sharp, but there's one big problem: There very little 8K content to view or watch.
There are a few 8K videos on YouTube, but they're mostly demo videos designed to showcase 8K's insane sharpness. There aren't many 8K movies or TV shows at the moment that would make full use of the Dell monitor's 8K resolution.
Sebastian played games like 'Doom' on Dell's 8K monitor using a top-of-the-line PC with powerful parts, and he said the image quality was 'phenomenal.' But the experience came at a frustrating cost: the games would often crash.
For his part, Brownlee said playing games like 'Dirt Rally' on his PC and the 8K monitor 'feels like I'm watching a really good video.'
So far, no console can play games in 8K. In fact, only one so far can play 4K games -- Sony's PlayStation 4 Pro. Project Scorpio, the code name for Microsoft's next Xbox console, will also support 4K gaming.
There's not a lot of 8K content, but there's still some.
YouTube streams some 8K videos, and there are 8K video cameras available. So there's a market for 8K monitors among both people who want to view 8K videos and those who need to edit them. To be sure, that market is minuscule at the moment. Dell is simply the first to come out with a consumer 8K monitor; we'd expect more to follow.
But an 8K monitor can be useful even for those not interested in viewing or editing super-high resolution videos. Professionals often use monitors with high resolutions to give them more space for their programs and projects, Sebastian noted. That's largely the reason why LG made a 5K monitor for Apple.
The bigger picture: Does Dell's 8K monitor mean 8K TVs are soon coming out and you should regret buying a 4K one?
Right now, 8K cameras are incredibly expensive. There's little reason for YouTube creators to invest in them to make 8K videos, because very few people have -- or will buy -- a $US5,000 8K monitor.
Yet, like 4K, the expense of going 8K will soon start to decline, and the market for 8K monitors will eventually grow. Brownlee noted that the 4K monitors he purchased a couple years ago each cost $US4,000, but you can buy similar 4K monitors for about $US1,000 a piece today. It's likely pricing for 8K monitors will follow that same trend.
(image url='http://static.businessinsider.com/image/57d18bc7b996eb7a018b6aae/image.jpg' alt='LG 60UH6150 60″ 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV' link='lightbox' size='primary' align='center' nocrop='false' clear='true')
Still, there's no reason why any regular person who recently bought a 4K TV or monitor should regret their purchase. So far, only one movie has been shot in 8K -- 'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.' We'll probably see more movies being shot in 8K, but it will take some time before there's a sizeable library of them.
Moreover, 8K video games seem a ways away. Console gaming is only now embracing 4K with Sony's PlayStation 4 Pro and Microsoft's upcoming Project Scorpio.
PC games, meanwhile, don't appear to be designed for 8K resolution. As Sebastian reported, they can frequently crash during gameplay, making them unplayable. While current graphics hardware can handle 4K gaming fairly well, asking them to play games in 8K could be a taller order than they can handle.