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3 power-sipping monitors lower energy bills

Brian Nadel | Oct. 29, 2014
Can you have a great monitor that also scrimps on electricity -- and helps the environment? We test three 27-in. power-saving displays to find out.

Saving power

The Dell comes with a seductive-sounding PowerNap feature, which triggers the display's sleep mode when the computer's screen saver comes on. The monitor first dims the screen's brightness and then shuts itself down. The screen comes back on when the host computer's screen saver shuts off. In my tests, the screen woke up in 1.5 seconds.

While being used, the Dell UltraSharp 27 consumed 23.6 watts of power, the least amount of the three. This drops to 1.1 watts when in sleep mode, half what the Philips monitor uses in the same mode.

Based on a typical usage scenario (assuming it's on for 10 hours a day for every business day and in idle mode the rest of the time, and that power costs 12 cents per kilowatt-hour), this adds up to an estimated annual power cost of $9.45, halfway between the higher-cost Philips and less expensive AOC monitors.

How well it worked

The display was able to deliver 246 candelas per square meter of brightness, the brightest of the three reviewed here. Its reds and greens were spot on, but the screen's blues appeared slightly washed out. The screen was able to render smooth video; however, its video response time of 8ms is the slowest of the three.

The Dell monitor's on-screen menu has controls for tweaking brightness, contrast and sharpness as well as adjusting the display's gamma settings for using a Windows PC or a Mac. To do any meaningful customization, though, you'll need to load the included Display Manager software. This application, which only works with Windows PCs, includes the ability to change the display's color temperature as well as choose among Standard, Multimedia, Gaming or Movie modes.

The Dell is a fine all-around monitor; it excels at delivering all the audio-visual accessories that a modern desktop requires. These include an HD webcam for video conferences as well as a dual-microphone array that does a good job of capturing your voice while reducing noise.

The display's pair of speakers sounded surprisingly good and can actually get too loud for an office. There is a headphone jack on the side, but the Dell lacks the AOC's audio-in jack.

Other features

The Dell display has the best assortment of ports as well, including one VGA, one DisplayPort and two HDMI ports, both of which can work with an MHL adapter and a compatible phone or tablet. The ports are oriented vertically rather than the more convenient horizontal orientation of the AOC display.

Unlike the others, the display has two USB 2.0 ports and a single USB 3.0 port. All of its cables can be routed through a hole in the back of the monitor's stand to keep them tidy. On the other hand, the stand's adjustability is limited: It tilts forward by 5 degrees and back by 22 degrees, but it can't go up and down, rotate or swivel.


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