A couple of months ago our resident smartphone guru, Brian Klug, told me about a super affordable, Korean made 27-inch 2560 x 1440 display that used the same panel as Apple's 27-inch Cinema and Thunderbolt Displays. Brian first heard about the displays in the comments to our review of HP's ZR2740w. You lose nearly all of the frills (no USB, no Thunderbolt, no inputs other than DL-DVI) but what you get is a great looking, high-resolution display for around $300. A good friend of mine, Manveer, ordered one of these displays and brought it over the other day. I ran a few quick tests on it and decided to toss up some data and shots here.

Manveer picked up the Achieva Shimian QH270. It features an LG made S-IPS panel with LED backlight, the same hardware used in Apple's 27-inch displays. The panels used in these displays often have dead pixels, although the eBay seller that Manveer bought from offered a guarantee of 0 dead pixels for an extra $30. With his total (including shipping from Korea) at $334, the display was a steal.

Brightness tops out at 400 nits, and black levels are just as good at below 0.4 nits for a total contrast ratio of over 1100:1. You'll note that this is actually better than the first Cinema and Thunderbolt Displays I reviewed, but it's also likely that the panels have improved over the past year.

White Level -  XR Pro, Xrite i1D2 and XR i1DPro

Black Level - XR Pro, Xrite i1D2 and XR i1DPro

Contrast Ratio -  XR Pro, Xrite i1D2 and XR i1DPro

Color accuracy is spot on with the Apple displays, and color gamut is pretty good at 74.8% coverage of the Adobe 1998 color space:

Color Tracking -  XR Pro, Xrite i1D2 and XR i1DPro

LCD Color Quality

The monitor performs extremely well, and this particular model had no issues with backlight bleeding although your mileage may vary there. As I mentioned earlier, you only get a dual-link DVI input which is unfortunate but something I'd be willing to overlook given the price. The cheapest models also don't have any integrated scaling hardware, you have to instead rely on your video card for all scaling duties. You also need to make sure that you buy one with the right power supply for your region. Many of these panels sold on eBay ship with a 240V-only power brick.

There's also no on-screen display, leaving you with just the brightness controls on the back of the monitor and your PC for calibration work. There are placeholder buttons on the back of the display but they do nothing here.

The Achieva's build quality isn't all that great, and doesn't ship with any top glass (which may not be a problem for many users). The display looks pretty good and for the amount you save you could actually buy a ridiculously fast video card to drive it (or multiple displays). I don't usually touch my monitor a lot so I wasn't overly bothered by the build quality. The Achieva's stand isn't height adjustable, and doesn't tilt all that smoothly either. From what Brian tells me, the more expensive Catleap's stand isn't really worth the extra money either. I'm a big proponent of having a height adjustable chair and desk for ergonomics, in which case having a fixed height display isn't an issue.

Although it's often problematic with non-Apple displays, Apple's mini-DP to dual-link DVI adapter actually worked perfectly with the Achieva display.

If you're looking for an affordable, bare bones 2560 x 1440 display, definitely give the Achieva Shimian QH270 some thought. Just keep in mind the caveats associated with these displays (potential for dead pixels, unimpressive build quality, limited input choices, no easily serviceable warranty, etc...).

Source: Overclock.net

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  • Whedonic - Sunday, June 3, 2012 - link


    These are glossy displays. If you get the version with the glass front, then it's extra reflective. The regular version, that's reviewed here, is definitely reflective, but I've certainly seen worse. Basically, if you put it near a bright window you'll have trouble, but otherwise the monitor is bright enough that the reflections mostly disappear. Plus you don't have that annoying grainy anti-reflection coating like whats on the dell u2412.
  • Whedonic - Sunday, June 3, 2012 - link


    It's only the Catleap brand version of this monitor that's possibly overclockable, and only the 2B version had the board that let it get up to 100hz. Unfortunately the 2Bs have long since been replaced subsequent manufacturing runs. On the bright side, it looks like you can now order a special edition Catleap that has the old board. And with a top of the line nVidia, you can actually push them up to 120hz over displaylink. Sexy monitor magic!
  • Roland00Address - Sunday, June 3, 2012 - link

    One of the forum regulators made a deal with Catleap about ordering more of the 120hz version of the Catleap in a limited quanity run. They are orderable at 120hz.net

    They cost $459 though and even though the monitors are capable of 120hz most video cards can only do 85 hz or 100 hz. The only video cards that can do 120hz at 2560x1440 currently are the 600 series of nvidia (but not in sli)
  • Zoomer - Monday, June 4, 2012 - link

    Somone just hacked it so a GCN card can drive a catleap at >100 Hz in both single card and xfire. Good news.
  • Roland00Address - Sunday, June 3, 2012 - link

    Love it, has no dead pixels and I have no regrets. Cost me $374 at the time but as you said the prices have now dropped to $300.
  • hammer256 - Sunday, June 3, 2012 - link

    Nice review. Got one of these 2 months ago and it's been pretty sweet. I've been using the 220v rated power brick that came with the monitor in my 120v outlet without problems so far The brick doesn't even feel that warm. Worst case, it'll be 30 bucks to get a 110v brick.
  • geforce912 - Sunday, June 3, 2012 - link

    This blog has a nice write up of the different versions that use this same display.

  • Death666Angel - Sunday, June 3, 2012 - link

    ...to buy one of these from Korea. Too much of a hassle when it comes to complaints with the display.
    I'm happy with my Samsung 1440p display that wasn't too expensive either (570€) and I like having an OSD and some more inputs. :-) But if you are in the market for a few 27" the saved cost could be well worth it. :-)
  • Taronga - Sunday, June 3, 2012 - link

    Thanks Anand for the write up. I've been using the Catleap version of this monitor for 2 or 3 months and have been VERY happy so far--no bad pixels, minimal light bleed, and good uniformity.

    Also, it's worth noting that Microcenter appears to be selling a version of these monitors for those concerned about state-side warranty issues (although slightly more expensive at $399 but also with HDMI input).

    Link for the monitor is at http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results....
  • duffman55 - Sunday, June 3, 2012 - link

    The article mentions there's no scaling hardware on the cheaper models. What happens when you connect something like a PS3 where many games only output a 720p signal? Is there just a laughably small picture surrounded by a huge black border? That might actually be kind of funny, but not so useful.

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