NEC PA271W Professional LCD Monitor Review

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Performance Summary: NEC's MultiSync PA271W is the first monitor we've reviewed since adding DisplayMate to our suite of tests, which is both brutal and unapologetic when it comes to pointing out even the smallest flaws. As we review more panels, you'll see what we mean, but as far as the PA271W is concerned, there really wasn't much to criticize. The 10-bit panel didn't break a sweat throughout testing, whether we were looking for geometry imperfections or color tracking issues. That's impressive, even for a high-end IPS panel that's supposed to perform better than your typical TN screen. Usually we'll find something to gripe about, even if it's minor, but the PA271W didn't give us that chance. Black level was as good as we've ever seen, we didn't notice any backlight bleeding, and even movies and games displayed well. We were most impressed with the PA271W's performance out of the box. NEC told us it calibrates each unit before it leaves the factory, and they weren't kidding. The PA271W is ready to go as soon as you hook it up to your PC.


Let's go ahead and address the 900 pound gorilla in the room. As good as the PA271W performs, it's still a $1,400 monitor, and that's a lot of Skrilla to hand over for 27 inches of real estate. You can spend the same amount, and in some cases a little less, and grab a quality 30-inch panel with a slightly higher resolution. That's a fair knock against the PA271W, and we're not going to defend it .

We will, however, point out what the PA271W brings to the table that other similarly priced panels might not. The biggest feature is the integrated KVM switch, which NEC dubs DisplaySync Pro. For graphics professionals who do a lot of work with CAD design, photo editing, or other types of projects that don't fall under the "everyday use" umbrella, this alone might justify the added cost. Whether in landscape or portrait mode, there's enough screen space to where it feels like you're playing with two monitors when utilizing the Picture-In-Picture (PIP) or Picture-By-Picture (PBP) functionality, and the KVM makes it all the more easy to manipulate two PCs. On top of that, these technologies mesh with different platforms, so you can connect, say, a Windows machine to a Linux rig or a Mac and not have to futz with any complicated settings or hacks. It just works.

If you skipped straight to the conclusion, do yourself a favor and read the entire review. Sure we like the hits, but more importantly, NEC crammed too much into its PA271W to adequately cover in just a few paragraphs. From the integrated 3D Look Up Tables (LUT) to the intelligent backlight that compensates for degradation that comes with age, the PA271W represents a mind boggling collection of useful and leading-edge technologies. All that said, we do wish NEC would have included an HDMI port, and we suppose we could knock the PA271W for not including speakers, but who really uses integrated cans anyway? Our biggest complaint is the price, which puts the PA271W largely out of consideration for the average user, even if they're seeking a high-end panel. There are just too many worthy alternatives that offer more screen real estate and/or better pricing to recommend the PA271W to the typical user looking to graduate from a TN panel.

For the graphics professional, however, it's an entirely different story. There are other quality panels that don't cost as much, but few, if any, bring as much to the table as the PA271W does. The bottom line is the PA271W is a serious monitor loaded with useful amenities that make it easy to recommend to anyone looking for a high-end workhorse.



  • 10-bit panel
  • 3D Look Up Tables (LUT)
  • Integrated KVM
  • Tons of easy-to-follow OSD controls
  • Spectacular performance
  • No HDMI port
  • It's thick and heavy
  • Comparatively expensive

Tags:  LCD, display, NEC, monitor, P271W

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