Dell UP2414Q Three Monitors

As many of you know, I’m rocking a 13″ Retina MacBook Pro, and I love it. The screen is killer, it’s fairly fast, and it’s portable.

But as I begin to take on more “intense” projects, I’m starting to realize that I simply don’t have enough screen real estate to be the most productive I can be. I need an external monitor.

The problem is, and if you’re a current Retina MacBook owner you’ve no doubt faced a similar conundrum, most of the popular external displays pale in comparison to the Retina display. Even Apple’s mighty Thunderbolt Display, with its 27″ screen and 2560×1440 native resolution, looks downright grainy when placed side-by-side with the Retina screen of a MacBook Pro.

So what to do? You could hold off until Apple finally decides it wants to get with the program and offer a Retina capable Thunderbolt Display, or…or…or! You could get a ultra-HD 4K capable monitor right now and enjoy a “Retina” experience.

That’s exactly what I decided to do. Inside, I’ll break down some of the pluses and minuses of my latest pickup, Dell’s ($799 on Amazon) 24″ ultra-HD display, the UP2414Q.

To enjoy a Retina quality experience on an external display, an ultra-HD 4K monitor with a 3840×2160 native resolution is the very least that you’ll want to opt for, because it means that you’ll get 1080p resolution while running in pixel-doubled HiDPI “Retina” mode. All you need to do is divide the native resolution of the monitor by two on each axis, that is 3840/2 = 1920 and 2160/2 = 1080. So a 4K display will give you the working space of a 1080p monitor, while enjoying extremely sharp Retina assets for fonts and for graphics. It works out pretty well.

One could argue that 1920×1080 is not enough working real estate, but at this stage in the game, it’s the only viable solution if you want a true Retina quality experience. To enjoy the same sort of resolution that the Thunderbolt Display provides and have Retina mode enabled at the same time, you’d need a 5120 (2560×2) x 2880 (1440×2) native display. To my knowledge, no such thing exists as of yet, but if anyone was going to break that barrier, it would probably be Apple. In fact, Apple has already released assets with that exact resolution, hinting at least the thought of a 27″ Retina display, which would, admittedly, be amazing!

Dell UP2414Q Portrait Mode

But until Apple decides to bless us with something incredible like a Retina Thunderbolt Display, the best option we have is an ultra-HD 4K monitor running in Retina mode with 1920×1080 resolution. When you think about it, that’s still not too shabby.

Consider Apple’s largest Retina display, the 15″ MacBook Pro. That display features a 2880×1800 native resolution panel. That means that in Retina mode, the available resolution is 1440×900. That pales in comparison to the available resolution of an ultra-HD 4K monitor’s 1920×1080, even though the MacBook’s screen features a higher DPI (220.53 versus 183.58) rating. This means that even though an ultra-HD monitor is probably not what Apple has in mind when it comes to a full sized Retina screen, it still looks amazing, and will be a significant compliment to any 13″ or 15″ Retina display found in Apple’s MacBook line.

The UP2414Q

So that takes us to the actual monitor that I decided to go with, Dell’s 24″ 4K ultra-HD display, the UP2414Q. Despite the fact that its a company best-known for making PC’s, Dell has a really good track record for making high quality displays. Many professional graphic designers rely on its UltraSharp line of displays for work, as they feature the color accuracy, contrast, and other particulars that professionals need to do their jobs well.

Dell UP2414Q Stand

I’m far from a professional when it comes to doing things like color grading, or anything that requires a high amount of display integrity and accuracy. But regardless of that, it’s satisfying to know that I’m getting top-flight product. Dell even pre-calibrates its high-end monitors, including the UP2414Q, before they leave the warehouse. This ensures that you receive a display that’s largely ready to go, even if you’re a professional.

Unboxing and interfaces

I didn’t do an unboxing video, but the UP2414Q was packed in a thoughtful way so as to prevent it from being damaged. Dell uses a combination of foam and cardboard pieces to keep the monitor and stand from shifting around in the box during the shipment process. It also includes enough protective layers of thin styrofoam to prevent scratches on the screen.

The display comes with two main components—the stand and the display itself. The stand is a heavy-duty piece of aluminum that instills confidence in its ability to securely hold the 24″ display. It’s not at the obsessive level of Apple polish, but it’s close. Save for a few seams and a plastic piece that’s largely hidden on the stem of the stand, the build quality is outstanding.

Dell UP2414Q Rear

The display attaches to the stand without the need for any tools. It locks into place and can be easily removed using a quick-release button on the rear of the display. For those of you interested in mounting the monitor on a  third-party stand or wall mount, you’ll be happy to know that standard VESA holes are included for easy mounting.

One of my favorite things about Apple’s Thunderbolt Display is that it’s actually two devices in one: it’s a high quality display, and it’s also a thunderbolt hub for your Mac. In other words, you can connect it to a single Thunderbolt cable running from your Mac, which will allow you to interface with other devices connected to the other ports on the display itself. This means that you can connect keyboards, external sound cards, and even Gigabit ethernet directly to the display, and your Mac will interface with those devices via Thunderbolt. It also means that you can easily daisy chain additional Thunderbolt devices from the display itself i.e. RAID arrays or an additional Thunderbolt display.

The UP2414Q doesn’t feature a Thunderbolt dock, which is kind of a bummer, but it has the next best thing. On the back of the display is a USB 3.0 uplink port that can be used to connect to your Mac. This uplink cable functions similarly to the Thunderbolt cable connected to a Thunderbolt Display. It means that you can connect additional devices directly to the Dell display, and interface with them from your Mac. Now you can leave your keyboard, external Hard Drive, and other devices connected to the display and instantly connect to them all via a single USB cable connected to your Mac.

Dell UP2414Q USB Uplink and DisplayPort

Of course, USB 3.0 doesn’t provide the same throughput as Thunderbolt 2.0. The majority of USB interfaces also lack the daisy chain ability present with Thunderbolt. But I think that most will find that USB 3.0 is good enough, and it’s much more flexible and ubiquitous than Thunderbolt.

Along with the USB 3.0 uplink connection, you’ll find four USB 3.0 ports for connecting your favorite peripherals. You’ll also find a DisplayPort 2.1 connector, a Mini DisplayPort 2.1 connector, and an HDMI 1.4 connector. To process 4K video at 60Hz, you’ll need to use one of the DisplayPort inputs, as HDMI 1.4 is capped at 30Hz. The display also features an SD Card slot on the left side of the panel that uploads via the USB uplink adapter.

One of the ports that you won’t find on the Dell display is an audio output port of any kind. I don’t expect a monitor like this to feature built-in speakers, in fact, I’m glad it doesn’t. What I would like to see, however, is the ability to draw audio out of the HDMI connection and forward that to an external source. As it stands now, there’s no way to get the audio sent through HDMI back out of the display once it has been routed there. For gamers, this can be a real bummer, especially if you own a console like the WiiU with no native method for routing high definition audio from its source.

The 30Hz conundrum

I connected my 13″ Retina MacBook Pro to the UP2414Q using the included DisplayPort to Mini DisplayPort cable. The display immediately detected my connection, and configured the output to 1920×1080 in HiDPI mode. This means that I was able to get Retina quality graphics on screen at a 1920×1080 resolution.

Unfortunately, as mentioned, the Late 2013 13″ Retina MacBook Pro lacks the bandwidth necessary to output 4K video at 60Hz. While 30Hz is passable for some tasks, I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t miss the buttery smoothness of 60Hz, which basically equals 60 FPS. For that reason, if you’re a gamer, playing games on a the 13″ Retina MacBook over 4K is pretty much unplayable. Even if you aren’t a gamer, you will notice that the display refresh rate is below what you’re used to on a computer monitor. I found that my eyes started to dry out after prolonged use, and it even resulted in headaches. The screen looks amazing—this is truly a Retina capable external display—but the hardware pushing the pixels has a limitation that is bothersome.

With all of this in mind, I went ahead and traded in my 13″ Retina for the 15″ version. The Late 2013 15″ MacBook Pro can handle 4K video at 60Hz courtesy of its Iris Pro on board graphics. If you’re interested in running a 4K monitor, make sure that your hardware can support 60Hz. It’s just not worth the trouble otherwise.

Display Quality

This is where the UP2414Q really shines. For starters, the screen is an IPS display, the same type of display tech that Apple employs in all of its products, including the Thunderbolt Display. IPS ensure that you can view the screen with accuracy from wide viewing angles. You can find some cheaper 4K monitors out there, but the cheap monitors will almost always have major tradeoffs. A cheaper price will usually yield a non-IPS TN panel, which is good for reducing input lag for gaming, but has serious faults with viewing angles and color accuracy. You may even find some cheap monitors that max out at 30Hz, which is a definite no-no. TN panels may be a personal preference, but no one in their right mind would buy a monitor that maxes out at 30Hz. Please do you research before pulling the trigger.

Dell UP2414Q Anti Glare Coating

There’s also the matte anti glare finish that the display sports. Don’t get me wrong, I love the look of shiny reflective displays, but my eyes are thanking me that I no longer have to contend with reflections all day as I work.

Most importantly, I just want to emphasize how good it feels to have a Retina quality display that’s this big. Enjoying a screen with clarity similar to the Retina MacBook Pro is a real treat.

Conclusion

If you have the means and you have the hardware that can push a 4k display at 60Hz, then I recommend the UP2414Q. It’s a high quality display that’s factory calibrated for color accuracy, and it gives you the Retina experience that’s so hard to deviate from once you’ve experienced it.

Dell UP2414Q OSD

If you’re looking for a good 4K monitor, then you will not be disappointed with the UP2414Q. It’s a monitor that I plan on using for years to come. Unless, of course, Apple drops the aforementioned 5120×2880 Thunderbolt Display they’ve been rumored to be working on.

Good

  • Tons of real estate in native ultra-HD mode
  • Awesome clarity in HiDPI full-HD mode
  • High quality aluminum stand that tilts, rotates, and rises
  • Screen rotates 90 degrees
  • USB 3.0 Hub with 3 USB ports
  • SD Card slot
  • Easy to use OSD
  • IPS monitor with wide viewing angles
  • 4K @60Hz
  • Anti-glare screen
  • Factory calibrated out of the box

Bad

  • Pricey
  • A bit on the thick side
  • Small size may not satisfy some
  • No audio output
  • HDMI 1.4 only

You can purchase the UP2414Q on Amazon for $799. It’s pricey, but the picture quality is second to none in its price range, and it’s the closest thing to an external Retina display that I’ve found. If you’re a current Late 2013 15″ MacBook Pro with Retina display owner, it’s by far one of the best investments you can make. What do you think? Sound off down below in the comments section.

  • Thanh

    I’m also rocking my 13′ MBP and running near 4k on a budget. I normally have my Mac runs on “More Space” resolution but find it a little small compare to my Windows 8 desktop screen. I found a simple program that allows me to set my MBP at its native resolution at 3360×2100 but in exchange, having a small screen at such high res will scale everything down to ant’s size. I don’t normally do this but when I edit my photos using Photoshop or really any other programs, I find this very useful since I have more space to work with.

    • Falco

      it’s native resolution is 2560×1440 not 3360×2100

      • Thanh

        actually 2560-by-1600 pixels but the software allows it to push even higher.

    • Pablo Nebrera

      What is this program push to higher resolution ?

  • abdullah575

    what a waste of money!!

    • Not when you’re doing what Jeff is doing. He does video editing which I’d imagine requires a lot of screen space to work with and incredible colour accuracy. If you aren’t a graphic designer or video editor then you probably don’t need a 4K display.

      • Tommy Gumbs

        The jailbreak videos he makes can be made with an iPad, or even windows movie maker. That by itself does not warrant the money needed to be spent.

        I agree, it is a waiste of money.

      • I don’t know of any software as good as FinalCut Pro for the iPad (if you know of something I’d be interested to know what). 4K monitors are the future anyway so if you don’t buy in now chances are you’ll have one in the future. If you’re doing any (that’s right any) video editing, graphics design or web design a 4K monitor is essential if not now then certainly in the future it will be. Lets not forget that if you’re working with media in a 4K resolution then you really should have a 4K display to view it on…

      • How many video editors view their content in fullscreen?

        Also, anything now-a-days that’s consumer accessible that records 4K is highly expensive. I’m not saying that a 4K panel isn’t needed, but if you’re a web developer, why would we need to be able to see 300 lines of code at a time? Your opinion is skewed in this regard.

      • Also, anything now-a-days that’s consumer accessible that records 4K is highly expensive.

        The Samsung Galaxy S5 records video in 4K so there goes that theory…

        but if you’re a web developer, why would we need to be able to see 300 lines of code at a time?

        It’s not about how many lines of code you can see it’s about ensuring the site your designing works and functions as you’d expect on displays with a high resolution (such as 4K displays)…

      • I hope you understand that the video sensor in the S5 is nowhere near capable of the stuff that’s consumer available… It’s more of a marketing stunt to help them check off another box to convince you to buy it. How about you watch a “4K” video taken from the S5 in full screen on a 4K monitor? You’ll see what I mean. You really need to do your homework with this stuff before you try to prove someone wrong…

      • Marketing stunt or not it’s still 4K. Jeff Benjamin actually filmed a few of his videos for iDownloadBlog on the myjailbreakmovies YouTube channel back when he owned an S5. It might not be as good as some of the expensive products out there but it’s still 4K video.

      • It’s scaled (up) 4K video. Geez, do you even read my comments?

      • Does it matter if it’s scaled up? You said (and I quote) “Also, anything now-a-days that’s consumer accessible that records 4K is highly expensive”. You did not say “Also, anything now-a-days that’s consumer accessible that records 4K that isn’t upscaled is highly expensive”. The point I’m making is 4K is here right now and if people don’t have products to view and record 4K videos right now within the next five years people probably will…

      • Spoken like a true lawyer (or future lawyer), but your reference would show that in reality, upscaled 4K video isn’t 4K video at all. Imagine a TV show being aired in 720p; if it’s being displayed on a 1080p panel (this happens a LOT), it’s being scaled up to 1080p. Would you declare it to be 1080p still? It’s not. Please stop trying to act as if you have any argument here.

      • Let’s agree to disagree then 😉

      • The reasoning for your argument had no merit, but technically it’s still that resolution. But in a whole, shouldn’t be referenced to as that resolution since it’s being deceptive and (to be honest) scummy. That’s what Samsung did with the S5. So you were being right, in the wrong ways 😉

      • Jack Wong

        Whenever you see a Audi, BMW… pass by you… are you going to say the same statement?

      • Arthur Geron

        You guys are just jealous, he earns his money with his own work and now he needs to spend HIS money the way some random people want? Senseless at the least. This is a review, hold yourself to the subject of this post, and not that senseless and childish crap.

    • Sachin

      For you. Not for professional video editors.

  • Thanh

    Here’s a screen shot

    • Please tell me you don’t work like that? How can you do that…

      • Thanh

        I do sometimes, not always.

      • In one of the latest versions of Mavericks, Apple added a feature to scale the graphics natively. It works quite well and it’s pretty sharp. Some people have the reasoning for having such a high pixel density; and no, it’s not only for web developers/designers or video editors like that one-sided comment somewhere else in this feed.

      • Some people have the reasoning for having such a high pixel density

        Scaling everything down isn’t real giving you a high pixel density though is it? It’s basically faking it hence my comment as to how could someone work like that…

      • It is still giving you that high pixel density, it’s just not all going towards providing you with the highest resolution possible. The Retina devices scale 2x and everything is super crispy. Are you saying that Apple would be better off making every Retina screen actually show the content pixel-for-pixel?

      • When it comes to 4K no which is exactly why I commented as I did. You need some sort of a retina / high dpi mode for 4K displays therefore it’s pointless scaling everything down to fake a 4K resolution on a display that isn’t 4K since everything is just so tiny it’s unnecessary and I’d even go as far as to suggest it’s stupid to work this way.

      • I was talking about scaling the 4K resolution (ya know, on a 4K monitor?) DOWN. Obviously scaling upwards in resolution will provide pixelation…

      • This is what my comment (that you replied to) was in reference too. If you look at the screenshot you can clearly see “Built-In Retina Display” in the about screen…

      • Then it was a simple misunderstanding on our parts. After all, you seem to not understand the reference of scaling. (You referenced that the original screenshot was scaled down, when in actuality, it was scaled up).

      • My bad. You’re correct I said scaled down when what I actually meant was scaled up. Thanks for pointing that out.

      • Jonathan

        And how do you do that?

    • queen_ir3ne

      Ok, that’s insane!

    • nzswedespeed

      Off topic – but nice photo. Did you edit that in PS? Mind em asking what sort of stuff you did to it? Curves etc? Cheers

  • Al

    I’d rather wait until the 4K gets more mainstream to pick at monitor up… I’m sure it’s going to be awhile.

    I have 2 23 inch HP Monitors hooked up to my 2012 Quad Core Mac Mini… And I’m ok with what have. Awaiting a refresh of the Mac Mini

    • I too am awaiting a Mac Mini refresh. I’d buy one right now but they’re overpriced considering their specs and the last time they were updated…

    • Jack Wong

      Waiting for new Mac Mini, so I will setup a Virtual Windows for my wife to work, then she can remote desktop into it with her iPad Air!

      Also HTPC, file sharing…

  • highNiggaPie

    Might have to cop this for my xbox my tv is too big to play on

  • Eli Montoya

    I hear you can crawl inside that screen and go 20 years into the future.

  • Okay first of all, what’s with the referral in the Amazon link? Second, gaming at 4K is barely possible with the highest end graphics cards. The graphics horsepower of a MacBook Air doesn’t even come close to those. Also, the Retina definition was never to be seen as the highest amount of pixels packed into one panel; it was more to do with how you had the same screen-size, except the pixel ratio would be doubled (per-say). So unless the scaling that Mac OS has can recreate that same effect (which it doesn’t as of right now), then we’re still without having Retina in screen sizes above the MacBook Pro.

    • Jonathan: With all due respect, in no place did I mention a MacBook Air. That (obviously) would be underpowered for this application. In fact, as mentioned several times in the post, even the 13″ Retina Pro hasn’t the necessary bandwidth to make 4K a reality at a usable refresh rate. I also know that the point of a Retina display isn’t to pack in as many pixels as you can, as I, again, mentioned several times during the post and multiple times in the video as well. And yes, the scaling in OS X can indeed replicate Retina very well, as it has been capable of doing since OS X 10.9.3. I’m not sure if the point of your comment was to be sarcastic or facetious, but I took it that way. I apologize in advance if you were being serious.

      And as far as gaming goes, well, again, that goes without saying for this application. But I can assure you, and I’m assuming you have used this setup since you reply with such matter-of-fact details, that this it works great for virtually every application that most Mac users would use it for. It’s a bonafide external Retina display that runs great with an Iris Pro equipped MacBook. I’ve tested it myself. With multiple 4K monitors no less. 🙂

      P.S. You also question the referral link. I’m sure you’re wise enough to know what those are for.

      -Jeff

      • I wasn’t aware that Iris Pro graphics was capable of running multiple 4K displays. I do in-fact own a 4K display and I agree with you on that the scaling is relatively perfect for Mac OS (Windows still needs some work in that department).

        On a side note, pertaining to the referral link; I believe it’s a little deceptive to not at least tell the readers/viewers of posts that contain such links.

      • Regarding affiliate links, it is clearly stated in our Disclosure page http://www.idownloadblog.com/disclosure/

  • dannytang

    How well does the 15″ rMBP run it’s own display with the two UP2414Q’s?

    • If it’s running Iris Pro graphics or something third-party, then it should be alright. Don’t expect the Iris Pro version to handle it well though.

    • It’s been confirmed that an Iris Pro MacBook can run multiple 4K monitors. (Credit to Jeff Benjamin for letting me know this information). I do apologize if pointing in the wrong direction about my previous comment inconvenienced you.

  • arvindb02

    Off topic but can someone confirm that all the “continuity” features in iOS 8 b4 work on the 4s? It’s the main reason i’m updating and want to make sure if its even supported first. Thanks

    • The 4s lacks the AirDrop capability (although it has the capacity to do so, except a tad slower). So Mac OS might not get the phone answering feature with the 4s; maybe some other features, but I can’t go beyond saying that since I have yet to test it.

      Can anyone else provide more information to this?

  • philgin

    would 3 of it in vertical side by side be awesome too?

  • Eikast

    Some people are saying that this is a waste of money. It is not. If you spend a lot of time on your computer doing work whether it be video editing, picture editing, programming, etc.
    Using a retina MacBook Pro is much nicer when it comes to programming. If you’re just watching videos and casually using your computer then this isn’t for you.

    Thanks for posting this review. Would this work on a high end mid 2012 CMBP? I may get one down the road if my wife can use it too.

    • It would probably drive the display, but not at 60Hz, which is a dealbreaker.

    • Completely agree with you. I am coding 6-8 hours a day and I can clearly see a difference between the Retina display and my 1080p external display. Having in mind that I mostly read text during this time.

  • scottfnm

    OK so I realize I’m coming in a few days late but I have a question about the 30Hz situation between the 13 and 15 inch models. I am looking at the specs listed on the Apple website for the current MBP Retina systems and Apple lists the current MBP’s as both having the exact same refresh rates for the HDMI video out but Apple does not list the refresh rates for the DisplayPort output. Looking at the technical specs, Apple lists both models as having the same video capabilities. Where did the 30Hz information come from for the DisplayPort? I’m considering a 13 inch MBP purchase and was not aware of this difference.

    • The 13″ is definitely 30Hz at 4K, even from DisplayPort. Beware, because it lacks Iris Pro graphics, you can’t go over 30Hz at 4K.

  • Alvin

    Is anyone using the monitor with the new Mac Pro? Any problems? What cable connection are you using? DP to mini DP? HDMI? Does it make a difference?

  • Abe Froman

    Very nice article. You say in your article the new macbook 15 inch supports 4k at 60 Hz, but the website says that the iris pro only supports 3840-by-2160 resolution at 30Hz. Is the website wrong, or dos the iris pro at 30Hz just look better than that iris in the 13 inch? thank you!

  • kobachi

    Does this require an expensive “thunderbolt” cable, or is a normal mDP/DP or mDP/mDP cable sufficient?

    • Rune

      A mDP/DP cable is in the box and does the trick.

  • Joshua Guenther

    Hey Jeff, great article and video. Are there any options for smaller displays? Like 21.5 inch displays that are compatible? I’m using a 15-inch mid-2014 macbook pro with retina display. Cost is a major driver for me, I work in Uganda but I’m Canadian. Currently the cheapest price for this monitor is about $800 for me! I’m a photographer and videographer but mainly I’m looking for extending my useable monitor space.

  • Michaelb

    Great review, I am on the point of buying one to use with late 2013 15″ rMBP, but one thing holding me back. You say the highest res true retina experience is 1920×1080 (half native res), but does the display prefs still offer the non-integer scaled “more space” options and are these still sharp as they are on the basic rMBP?
    I would normally use 1920×1080 but would like option sometimes for more real estate.
    Thanks

  • Adam

    How does it behave performance-wise? Is the MacBook Pro still fast when “powering” its own Retina display + an external UHD display?

  • Boolean Corporation

    I know this is an old post, but hadn’t found anything on the matter for the past month:
    Question: I have an EARLY 2013 MBP and would like to know if there’s any resolution in which this very same display can attain 60hz, that doesn’t look like crap.
    Thanks!

  • Neal Deep

    Dells are garbage.

  • coreai

    I have a late 2012 retina MBP … Can I use this monitor to do 1920×1080 in HiDPi at 60Hz ? or am I stuck to 30Hz ?