The evolution of the multimedia PC at Reztek Systems has taken a few twists throughout 2016. The initial combination of a 29″ LG IPS 21:9 widescreen monitor with support for AMD’s FreeSync solution was paired with an AMD-based video card. While the viewing angles and overall screen real estate were excellent, it lacked that “next generation” or “wow” factor that enables immersive experiences with various interactive entertainment titles. The launch of nVidia’s 2016 Pascal-based products provided a compelling enough boost to make the switch from the display adapter perspective. Although frame rates increased considerably when compared to the outgoing GPU, there was still a disconnect due to tearing in the absence of vertical sync being enabled. Last week, Best Buy had the Dell S2716DG monitor on sale for $480 USD. Current price at the time of this writing is back up to the standard MSRP of $700 USD. Does the combination of higher refresh rates, G-SYNC support, and QHD resolution (2560×1440) outweigh the fidelity and benefits/tricks for workflows that are enabled via an IPS monitor with 21:9 aspect ratio? It depends.
The Dell S2716DG contains additional bells and whistles, such as a 4 port USB 3.0 hub, a headphone output, the ability to rotate for working with developing and modifying bodies of work, and a fairly thin bezel that doesn’t take focus away from the screen. Initial out of the box performance required some manual adjustment, but the end result is perfectly serviceable with solid and deep colors. When the switch is flipped within the display settings to enable the desktop to run at 144Hz, the fluidity of the Windows 10 interface matches the fit and finish experienced within macOS at a lower refresh rate. Launching a quick game of the 2016 DOOM further highlights the benefits of G-SYNC. Fast frame rates (60 frames per second or higher) only go so far when there are visual artifacts that can detract from the overall experience. These anomalies were not experienced with the new monitor; the subtle improvement and enhanced rendering consistency resulted in a more engaging experience. Even when the frame rate varies, it’s far less noticeable than the alternative solutions used by AMD and Intel.
While it does not appear that G-SYNC is going to achieve mass market status due to the dramatic increase in price related to the proprietary nVIDIA circuitry requires to make this technology work, it honestly does provide a better experience for traditional client compute. If you’re part of the Green Team and haven’t gone “all in” for the full display chain, the Dell S2716DG is a solid and reasonably priced value compared to alternative (and more expensive) offerings.