Eizo ColorEdge CG318-4K review – to 4K and beyond

£4000
Price when reviewed

Eizo doesn’t do things by halves. While other manufacturers were dashing to whip their 4K monitors through the production line, Eizo’s engineers were toiling quietly to create their vision of the ultimate 4K monitor: the result is the ColorEdge CG318-4K. Due to launch in April 2015, and with a price of around £4,000, this self-calibrating display is designed to provide broadcast and post-production professionals with the colour accuracy that they can rely on.  See also: The best monitors from £200 to £2,000

Eizo ColorEdge CG318-4K review - to 4K and beyond

Eizo ColorEdge CG318-4K: features and design

We suspect that much of the CG318-4K’s target market won’t get past the first few paragraphs of this review before reaching for the (company) credit card: the specifications read like every pro’s wishlist. Suffice to say, this is no ordinary 4K monitor.

To prove the point, Eizo has reached beyond the Ultra HD resolution found on most monitors to support the full Digital Cinema (DCI) 4K standard, which requires a resolution of 4,096 x 2,160. This huge resolution is stretched across a 31.1in IPS panel that delivers a pixel density of 149ppi – from normal monitor viewing distances, it’s pin-sharp.

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In addition to the usual self-calibrating wizardry we’d expect from the ColorEdge CG range, Eizo has bestowed the CG318-4K with a mouth-watering roster of capabilities. The panel covers 99% of the Adobe RGB colour space and 98% of the Digital Cinema DCI P3 colour space. It boasts an unusually high claimed contrast ratio of 1,500:1. There’s support for 10-bit colour via both the DisplayPort and HDMI inputs, and the 16-bit 3D lookup table promises supreme colour accuracy. A single DisplayPort 1.2 connection is all that’s required to carry a 60Hz full-resolution 4K image (although HDMI has to make do with 30Hz), so there’s no need to throw out your old graphics card, either.

We described Eizo’s previous ColorEdge monitors as being “monolithic” and “chunky”, and it’s clear that the CG318-4K’s design team took these comments to heart: this is the sleekest-looking addition to the ColorEdge range yet. The screen bezels are much narrower than before, and despite the huge 31.1in panel, the chassis is now altogether more slender and curvaceous. It still feels every inch the pro monitor, though. The stand won’t spin into portrait mode, but it provides 149mm of solid-feeling height adjustment, swivels left and right, and the carry handle at the rear makes it easy to lug from desk to desk. Eizo includes a shading hood to keep reflections at bay.

Connectivity also hits the mark. There are pairs of full-sized HDMI and DisplayPort inputs, and a three-port USB 3 hub on the monitor’s left-hand edge. Thankfully, you don’t need to shell out on wires, either: DisplayPort, HDMI and mini-DisplayPort to DisplayPort cables are included.

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Eizo ColorEdge CG318-4K: performance

Placed side by side with our reference ColorEdge CG275W and Asus’ 4K ProArt PA328Q, it comes as little surprise to find that the CG318-4K is in a different class. It shares the same anti-glare finish as Eizo’s more recent monitors, so there’s not a hint of graininess or any sign of IPS glow. The latter is a trait of IPS monitors that causes a grey or colour-tinted shimmer to appear when you view the panel slightly away from head-on.

In fact, from pretty much any reasonable viewing angle, colours are evenly lit across the panel, blacks remain deep and lustrous and motion is smooth and judder-free. In tandem with the obscenely high pixel count, this helps the CG318-4K to deliver astonishing clarity for both still and moving images.

Put to the test with our X-Rite i1Display Pro colorimeter, the Eizo put in a near-flawless performance. With the sRGB mode enabled, the CG318-4K covered 99% of the sRGB gamut with an average Delta E of 0.46 and a maximum deviation of 1.27, while contrast hit an exemplary 1,204:1 and colour temperature an almost-perfect 6,522K. Engaging the Adobe RGB mode threw up almost identical results: the panel covered 99% of the colour gamut, with an average Delta E of 0.59 and a maximum of 1.26. Contrast hit 1,204:1 and colour temperature 6,495K.

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The LED backlighting is stupendously good, too. To the naked eye, there are no dim or bright spots to be found, and colours look wonderfully solid and even across the panel. We measured the brightness across 15 points on the panel and found most of the panel deviated by no more than 2%, with a peak of 4.4% in the top-left corner. This might sound disappointing, but in practice it’s barely noticeable, and well within the bounds of what we’d expect from any high-end display. In our experience, there’s no such thing as a truly perfect panel.

Eizo ColorEdge CG318-4K: onscreen display and software

Crucially, though, you don’t need a doctorate in colour management to get the best from the CG318-4K: Eizo has spent some time simplifying and redesigning both the onscreen display and the matching ColorNavigator software. It’s incredibly easy to access and activate the various features – manually activating the in-built calibration and colour modes are now just a couple of button presses away.

The presence of touch-sensitive rather than physical buttons is something of a surprise, especially since Eizo has studiously avoided touch buttons on all its professional monitors to date, but they work perfectly. Adjustable backlighting allows you to adjust the brightness to suit the ambient lighting, or you can set them to only light up when pressed, and they respond reliably to every dab of the finger. Onscreen legends hover just above the buttons, so you’re never in any doubt as to which button to press.

In reality, though, once you have everything set up, there’s precious little need to touch the Eizo’s controls, save for turning it on and off. Indeed, the combination of an integrated colorimeter and factory presets for all the major design, broadcast and cinema standards mean the CG318-4K comes as close to a fit-and-forget monitor as you could possibly ask. Choose from the comprehensive array of preset colour targets (the Eizo supports sRGB, Adobe RGB, Rec. 709, Rec. 2020, EBU, DCI and SMPTE-C as standard), select when and how often you’d like the self-calibration process to take place, and you’re done – the monitor handles the rest and leaves you to get on with your work. Exactly as it should be.

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As you’d expect, hardware calibration is a given at this price, and Eizo’s ColorNavigator software provides recourse to tweak the monitor’s self-calibration schedule and precisely set your own white point, black point and brightness levels. The software is clear and straightforward to use, even for those not well versed in colour management, and once everything is configured just so, it’s possible to lock out the monitor’s controls so that users can’t unwittingly compromise the desired settings by fiddling with the OSD.

Eizo ColorEdge CG318-4K: verdict

For any sane, normal human being, the concept of splashing the best part of £4,000 on a monitor is utterly alien. That kind of money would also buy a premium 65in 4K TV with all the trimmings – a far more tempting prospect for us mere mortals.
But for those professionals whose job depends on pixel-perfect, colour-accurate images, day after day, and with minimum hassle, the ColorEdge CG318-4K is a hugely sensible investment. Take into account the five-year, on-site warranty, and the fact the monitor’s brightness and colour accuracy are warrantied for 10,000 hours of use, and it makes a perfectly formed package.
The ColorEdge CG318-4K is destined to find a loving home in studios and editing suites worldwide, and rightly so – it’s the best monitor to ever pass through PC Pro’s labs.

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