Review: PRISM+ W280 Max 4K HDR10 monitor

PRISM+ is a company based in Singapore that specialises in selling gaming monitors. When they contacted me to ask if I was interested to review their monitors, I say "yeah, sure". At the time of this review, they have 25 monitors in their line-up and I picked the only two non-gaming monitors, the W280 Max and C315 Max, both 4K monitors with good colours made for productivity work. Disclaimer first, the monitors I received are sponsored units that I don't have to return, but this is not a paid review.

My review is from the perspective of a visual content creator, someone who edits photos, videos, does graphic design and digital illustration.

About PRISM+

PRISM+ seems to sell their monitors exclusively through their website and Lazada.sg. They don't actually have any physical stores except for a showroom. Not having physical stores is actually an advantage because they don't have to pay rent, and that translates to extremely competitive pricing for their monitors. At the time of this review, the 28-inch W280 Max is S$449 and the 31.5-inch C315 Max is S$499.

Things included


This included are:

  • Monitor and stand
  • HDMI cable
  • Power brick and cable
  • Screws and screwdriver
  • Quick start guide


The long screws are for VESA mounting and short ones are for connecting the stand.


The metal stand is surprisingly lightweight because it's designed with thin profile for the legs and there's a big cutout hole for the cables to pass through. The stand is sturdy and on the bottom of the three feet are rubber feet to prevent scratching.


The stand only has adjustment for tilt. You can't turn the monitor sideways or adjust the height. PRISM+ do sell monitor arms if you need those adjustment. The height of the monitor is actually a bit lower for my liking and since I can't adjust the stand's height, I have to adjust my chair. No big deal.

The VESA mount dimension is 10 x 10cm.


The cable pass through makes cable management neat.


There's enough space beneath the stand to squeeze in a keyboard without numpad.


Monitor's side profile is quite thin, maybe 1cm and it curves to become thicker in the centre.


One advantage of having feet instead of a flat base for the stand is the stand won't take up much surface area. I was able to push the monitor quite close to the wall behind. Distance from the front of the monitor to the wall is 18cm. It's also easier to clear around the feet.

There are actually built-in speakers on the back. The audio is loud but sounds a bit hollow. I don't really expect much from built in speakers on monitors though.

The build quality of the monitor and stand seems good enough.


Ports from left to right are power, USB type A, 2x full-size HDMI, 1x DisplayPut, 3.5mm audio jack.

There are no ports on the side.


The buttons for the OSD menu are extremely firm. Those buttons do require some effort to press but it's not a big deal because you probably won't be going into the OSD after the initial setup.

The OSD has adjustments for brightness, contrast, sharpness, gamma, hue, saturation, picture mode. For colour temperature, you can only choose between normal, warm, cool and user. There's no specific Kelvin number you can choose.

The display


Design of the monitor looks clean and simple. Bezels are 8mm on the top and sides, 2cm at the bottom.


Colours are vibrant and look great out of the box. I measured 100% sRGB, 77% NTSC, 82% AdobeRGB and 86% P3 with my Spyder5Pro calibrator. PRISM+ claims 115% sRGB support but my colour calibrator is not able to measure beyond 100% sRGB.

This monitor is considered colour accurate enough for creators whose work will appear mostly online. If you want a monitor with good colours, this is a good one to consider.

I work with print so I need AdobeRGB and it's only 82%. S$459 for a sRGB monitor is reasonable. AdobeRGB monitors are significantly more expensive. That doesn't mean you can't use this monitor to create print work. You can, just that when it comes to comparing printed proofs against the display, AdobeRGB display will give you a truer representation of how your art or design will appear in print.

I measured a maximum brightness of 360 nits which is higher than the advertised 300 nits, and there's HDR10 support. At 50% brightness, it's 160 nits. This is a bright monitor.

Colour uniformity across the 28-inch IPS panel looks alright to my eye.

There are no deal pixels with my unit. FYI, the deal pixel return policy is 3 bright/5 dark/total 5.


Viewing angles are terrific. Colours don't shift much even when viewing the monitor from the extreme sides.

The monitor has a matte surface with anti-glare that works well. The anti-glare is able to diffuse reflections but don't affect the contrast and colours much.

4K

Main selling points for this monitor are the colours and 4K resolution.

4K is a significant and noticeable upgrade from 1080P and 1440P.


The combination of 28-inch display and 4K resolution makes everything look sharp. User interface elements like text, icons, palettes will look crisp. When you're editing photos, you will be able to see extra details. Watching 4K videos at 1:1 ratio is extremely satisfying due to all the details you can see.


When going with 4K resolution, I usually recommend getting a monitor larger than 31-inches. When you view the user interface elements without scaling at 4K, text can look small. In the photo above, the names of software from the Windows start menu are almost the thickness of that 0.7mm pencil lead. Basically, the text is small and some people would consider this tiny.

With Windows 10, you can run 4K and scale the user interface elements to 150% so that everything will look big, but still sharp.


On MacOS, there are scaling options but there are some issues with scaling. I'm using MacOS 10.14.6 by the way.

For MacOS, you can choose "Default for display" for resolution and it will display 4K at 100% scaling, or no scaling in this case. So on a 28-inch display, text can look small.


With "Default for display", a 4K photo will take up the entire screen. Basically you see a 1:1 representation.

Note the anti-glare diffusion at the top right side of the monitor. My window is just beside.


When you choose "Scaled" resolution, the user interface elements will become larger, but 4K files will not display as true 4K files. In the photo above, the zoom level for the photo is shown as 100% but obviously that cannot be true because that 4K photos should fill the whole display. This is the behaviour with Photoshop CC 2020 and Affinity Photo 1.8.4. MacOS's Preview works properly though.

So the dilemma for MacOS users is this. If you choose "Default for display" you will get all the 4K features but text will look small. And you want to scale up the text, you won't get to see true 4K files in certain software. For MacOS users, I recommend getting at least 31-inch or larger displays for 4K.

For Windows users, it doesn't matter which small or large 4K monitor you get because the scaling options work predictably without issues.

Workflow

Having more resolution improves productivity.


In this case here, I can place windows side by side and still able to see the icons on my desktop. With a 1440P display, I can place windows side by side too, but there won't be enough resolution to show the icons on the desktop.


When editing photos and videos, you will be able to see more thumbnails. You can pick your photos and video clips without much scrolling.


When you're using software that uses palettes, you can place many palettes on the display and still have a good amount of canvas to see and work on. Click the picture above for a larger file.

From a productivity standpoint, the more resolution there is, the better. That's why some people get dual monitors or an ultra wide monitor.

Backlight

This is an IPS panel so it will have the typical IPS glow that's noticeable when you look at the monitor in total darkness.


I've edited this video to show how the monitor looks to my eyes. There's some glow at top left and right which is actually not as bad as you think. Taking photos of backlight glow is difficult because you have to make sure the camera is pointing straight on, and every tilt in angle, maybe half degree, can give the illusion that there's more glow than usual.


This photo has been enhanced to show the IPS glow and backlight more clearly. I noticed wavy light pattern at the bottom.

The IPS and backlight glow situation here is alright. It's certainly not the best but it's also not the worst I've seen. Given the price of the monitor, I can live with that. I've reviewed more expensive monitors that have slightly better backlight and evenness but those are not perfect either.

Issues

Since I use MacOS, I have the scaling issues mentioned above.

I'm actually using a 2013 Mac Pro (that cylinder looking computer) and the graphics card is not powerful enough to run 4K smoothly. For example, the animation of just dragging windows around can be choppy and not fluid. Computers from 2-3 years ago, even if they are using integrated graphics card, should run 4K just fine.

Conclusion

The PRISM+ W280 Max has a good design and the colours look great.

4K resolution is ideal for productivity work and just makes visuals look so sharp.

This is monitor is suitable for visual content creation where the work will go online.

S$459 for 4K monitor with good colours is very competitive pricing. And that includes shipping and 3 years warranty.

Just for comparison purposes, Dell monitors do have better build quality but Dell doesn't have monitors with the spec and price combination that comes close to this monitor. PRISM+ is for people who really want to stretch their dollar to the max.

This monitor scores high in terms of value for money.

Anyway, do check out the full specs and more details for W280 Max on their website, and also visit their Lazada page to read more reviews.

Pros and cons at a glance
+ Design looks good
+ Sturdy stand
+ Stand does not take up much space on table
+ Stand allows for neat cable management
+ Good build quality
+ VESA mount support
+ Good size with 4K
+ 100% sRGB support
+ Good viewing angle
+ Matte surface with good anti-glare
+ 360 nits brightness with HDR10 support
+ 2x HDMI and 1x DisplayPort
+ Competitive pricing
+ 3 years warranty
- No swivel and height adjustment for stand
- OSD buttons are almost too firm
- Alright audio quality from built in speakers
- 4K scaling issues with older software, and with MacOS
- DisplayPort cable not included, HDMI cable included
- Backlight evenness not that great but not the worst

http://www.prismplus.sg/parkablogs

Hey Yi Chie,

Enjoyed reading your review! Really detailed and candid and now I'm seriously considering this PRISM+ W280 MAX. However, I am also considering the PRISM+ PL270, which appears to be a very similar monitor with very similar specs. The difference, as far as I can tell are the W280 MAX being a 28 inch monitor and having a 115% sRGB color gamut, while the PL270 is a 27 inch monitor with a 120% sRGB color gamut.

In your opinion, which is a better 4K UHD monitor for work and movie screening? Hope to hear your honest comments. Thanks!

In reply to by Nick (not verified)

@Nick
There's not going to be visible difference between 115% vs 120% sRGB.

At the time of this comment, they are selling at the same price. Personally I will go with the W280+ Max because it's 1-inch larger and the stand with 3 feet takes up less space compared to the other stand.

If you're MacOS user, don't get 4K monitors smaller than 32-inches.

In reply to by Teoh Yi Chie

Thanks for the response, Yi Chie!

Have you had any experience with the W270 Pro? It seems rather similar to the W280 Max, with the main differences being screen size (27" vs. 28"), resolution (1440p vs. 2160p), and refresh rate (95Hz vs. 60Hz).

I've read some comments that scaling is definitely necessary for 2160p 28" monitors because the native resolution is too small. At the same time, I've also read that a 2160p monitor will still look more crisp and sharp even when scaled, compared to a 1440p monitor.

Would love to hear your thoughts on these comments, thanks!

In reply to by Nick (not verified)

@Nick
I've not used the W270 Pro before, but my main monitor is actually a 27-inch 1440P monitor.

Pixelation is noticeable with 1440P on a 27-inch display. It's not a big issue. 1440P resolution is the sweet spot for 27-inch displays.

Pixelation is not noticeable on 2160P 27/28-inch monitors but without scaling the user interface (UI) elements (menus, icons, buttons, text) are going to look small, as in it's uncomfortable for the eyes to see clearly that sometimes I have to move my head closer to see. That's why for 2160P resolution, I recommend 32-inch monitors instead.

Here's the difference between the 1440P 27-inch monitor vs 2160P 27/28-inch monitor with and without scaling:

  • 1440P 27-inch: Pixelation is noticeable with UI and files (photos and videos). Everything looks big, easy to read
  • 2160P 27/28-inch without UI scaling: Pixelation not noticeable, everything looks small, more difficult to read
  • 2160P 27/28-inch with UI scaling: Pixelation noticeable with UI (easier to read), but not noticeable with files (eg. 4K videos, high res photos).

UI scaling on a 2160P 27-inch monitor allows you to enjoy 4K resolution while still making sure UI elements are comfortable to read with eyes.

As for 95Hz vs 60Hz, that only matters to gamers. You'll need a computer that's actually powerful enough to play games at 95Hz in order to take advantage of that. Otherwise, no point getting a high refresh rate monitor if you only game at 60Hz.

Hi thanks for this review. I'm using a mac so if you suggest to get at least 32inch, what other models can u recommend? around same budget if possible
Thanks

In reply to by Darren Chow (not verified)

@Darren Chow
The ones from Dell and BenQ are good too.

For the BenQ, you can consider PD3200U or PD3220U (Thunderbolt 3 but more expensive). For Dell, just look for those with similar specs to the two BenQ models.

Thunderbolt 3 connectivity is nice but it also cost more money, so it's really up to how much you value that feature. Personally, I will save money and go without TB3 because the savings is significant.

In reply to by Teoh Yi Chie

Hi, I am using a 21.5" iMac with Retina 4k display.

The user interface text looks just fine on my iMac display, so I can't understand why the user interface text would look much smaller when using a 28" (larger) 4k display?

Yi Chie,
Thank you very much for a detailed review. I've been wanting to get a reasonably priced 4K monitor for some time now, to replace my aging Dell U2711 (1440p), and finally got my Prism+ W280 today (bought during the Lazada CNY sale 3 days ago).
Can you please share with me your RGB Colour settings/Brightness (I find the default 50% brightness too bright for my eyes) as I do not have a calibration device?
Regards & thank you for an awesome review (YouTube as well).

In reply to by NT (not verified)

@NT
You can scale the UI bigger on a 28-inch 4K display, but with certain graphic software, 4K content may not be presented as 4K (at 1:1)

In reply to by Alf (not verified)

@Alf
You can adjust the brightness using the OSD control buttons located on the back of the monitor.

As for RGB settings, every monitor is different so using shared settings is not going to make your monitor look better.

And also I no longer have the review unit.

In reply to by Teoh Yi Chie

Thanks for your reply.

Are you referring to scaling by actually reducing the resolution to lower, or scaling using retina mode where the actual resolution remains 4k, but things just appear bigger?

If it's the second option, then there shouldn't be any downside? Let me know if I'm wrong...

In reply to by NT (not verified)

@NT
Note that all these below applies to MacOS. On Windows there are no scaling issues.

When you scale the UI bigger on a 4K display...

For example in Photoshop, when you view a 4K photo/graphic at 100% zoom, that file doesn't fill up the whole screen which it should. Certain apps will have this issue.

However, if you use Affinity Photo to open the same 4K photo/graphic, that 4K file will fill the screen at 1:1 so you see actual 4K file on a 4K display.

So whether you can see actual 4K with certain files will depend also on the software you use.

For watching 4K videos, no problem, you will see 4K content in actual 4K.

Regardless of all those issues, you'll still see really sharp images in all scenarios.

Sidenote:

Apple choose to make their 27-inch iMac 5K instead of 4K is so that MacOS can scale UI to 2x and there won't be any of those scaling issues mentioned.

Good point about what Apple is using / marketing. In the Apple Store, the LG Ultrafine 4K they are selling is 24".

Do you think that means, for Mac users wishing to use 4K, the scaling will only look good at 24" or 32" (as you said), but not in between like 28" (the one you tested)?

I know for sure that 24" 4K is perfectly fine because that's my iMac's retina display

In reply to by Teoh Yi Chie

Thanks for your reply. I don't do photo editing and usually use only browser, video, Word and Excel. Even if I wanted to photo edit, I could do it on my primary display, which is the iMac 4K retina.

Things like web browsing, PDFs and Word documents wouldn't be affected by UI scaling because you can always adjust the zoom in those apps

So does this mean the UI scaling issue you mentioned would only be applicable to Mac users who use photo editing software?

In reply to by NT (not verified)

@NT
The UI scaling issue on MacOS only applies to certain apps. For web browsing, PDF and Word that probably won't matter as much because all the text is going to be sharp anyway.

Thanks a lot. So does this mean Mac users should get either 24" 4K or 28" 5K, but not other options like 28" 4K? To avoid the problem you mentioned.

It is assumed that the UI scales appropriately with those specifications otherwise Apple wouldn't use them...

In reply to by NT (not verified)

@NT
Yes. Basically, just go with whatever resolution that Apple is using for their own iMacs and displays.

Thanks! I would have almost bought the same monitor as the one you tested if I had not read your post. Super helpful and much appreciated

Hi, I saw your youtube videos comparing the curved to the flat panel monitor. Since you are a designer like myself, how do you find working on a curved monitor? Does the curve distort your design that its difficult to design? Thanks.

In reply to by Lain (not verified)

@Lain
Curved monitors are more suitable for gaming. For graphic design, get flat panel. Designing graphics that's meant to go on flat surfaces using a curved monitor feels weird, all the time.

I just bought this monitor but I found out it doesn't support HDCP 2.2, means no Netflix UltraHD

Hi Yi Chie, I always enjoy your youtube videos and now I found your blog as well.

I have a M1 Mac Mini and has been using Prism+ X340 curved monitor at the default resolution of 3440 x 1440. I intend to upgrade the display to 4K and is quite interested on the W280 Max but as I read the comment you made about MacOS is recommended to use display that is 31" or larger for 4K due to scaling. Is this still the same recommendation for MacOS Monterey 12.1?

I use both Lightroom and Affinity Photo for photo editing.

M1 Mac Mini did not specify what the native resolution should be, it only says it would support 4K at 60Hz via the HDMI 2.0 port.

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