Artist Review: Dell U2421E monitor with USB-C and Ethernet

Big thanks to Dell Singapore for providing this loan unit for review..

This review will be from the perspective of a visual content creator, e.g. artist, graphic designer, photo and video editor.

The main selling point of the Dell U2421E LCD monitor is the built-in RJ45 Ethernet (1000Mbps) that features features MAC address pass-through, PXE Boot, and Wake-on-LAN. This is essentially the smaller brother of the Dell U2722DE monitor I reviewed a few weeks ago.

At the time of this review, the price of the Dell U2421E at the time of this review is SGD 519 (US $374). Price of the Dell U2722DE is SGD 879 (US $679). This smaller monitor is at least $360 cheaper.

These are the main differences between the two monitors

Model U2421E U2421DE
Display size 24.1 inch 27 inch
Resolution 1920 x 1200 @ 60Hz 2560 x 1440 @ 60Hz
Ports
  • HDMI 1.4
  • DisplayPort 1.4 (HDCP 1.4)
  • USB-C with 90W Power Delivery
  • DisplayPort 1.4 (out) - This is for daisy-chaining
  • 2x USB Type A (USB 3.2 Gen 1 speeds, 5Gbps)
  • 3.5mm audio line-out
  • RJ45 1000Mbps Ethernet port
  • HDMI 1.4
  • DisplayPort 1.4 (HDCP 1.4)
  • USB-C with 90W Power Delivery
  • DisplayPort 1.4 (out) - This is for daisy-chaining
  • USB-C - This is just for data transfer, no charging, no video
  • 3x USB Type A (USB 3.2 Gen 2 speeds, 10Gbps)
  • 3.5mm audio line-out
  • RJ45 1000Mbps Ethernet port

The U2421E has less resolution since it's just 1920 x 1200 but thankfully it's not a 1080P. By the way 1440P resolution has 60% more pixels.

Here's the bottomline for the Dell U2421E, if you don't need Ethernet, go with the Dell U2520D monitor (SGD 619) instead for the 1440P resolution. For SGD 100 more, you get a monitor with more resolution which also has less noticeable pixelation too because 1440P monitors are usually 27-inch instead of the smaller 25-inch. More resolution improves productivity significantly.

The smaller U2421E is also missing one USB-A and one USB-C port. The USB speeds are USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5Gbps) instead of USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10Gbps).

And there's no KVM switch, PIP and PBP.

Things included


The cables are

  • USB-C to USB-C
  • USB-A to USB-C
  • Full-sized DisplayPort to Full-sized DisplayPort
  • Power cable

No HDMI cable is included.


This is the same nice looking stand used by the Dell U2722DE. It has silver-coloured matte textured plastic exterior and metal support within. The stand is quite heavy and supports the monitor nicely.


Back of the display also uses the same silver-coloured matte textured plastic.


Power button and directional toggle OSD button is located at the right side (when viewing the display from the front).


VESA mount dimensions are 10 by 10cm.


The ports from left to right are:

  • HDMI 1.4
  • DisplayPort 1.4 (HDCP 1.4)
  • USB-C with 90W Power Delivery
  • DisplayPort 1.4 (out) - This is for daisy-chaining
  • 2x USB Type A (USB 3.2 Gen 1 speeds, 5Gbps)
  • 3.5mm audio line-out
  • RJ45 1000Mbps Ethernet port

There's the orange rubber insert that covers the downstream DisplayPort because that's used for daisy-chain, and does not support video input.


And there are USB Type A and USB-C ports at the bottom left (when viewing the display from the front).

These ports are downstream and provide 15W charging. The USB-C port here does not accept video input. And you can't connect the USB-C to USB-A cable here to turn the monitor into a USB-C. When I did that, my Logitech USB-A receiver did not work. To use the monitor as a USB-C hub, you have to use the USB-C port at the back.

All the five USB ports are USB 3.2 with Gen 1 with 5Gbps speed. File transfer speeds are incredibly fast though not as fast compared to the USB 3.2 Gen 2 speeds (10Gbps) on the Dell U2722DE.


This is a beautiful monitor with a clean and simple look.


The monitor is not that thick and does not take up much space on the table.


Bezels are 7mm thick and uniform on all sides. The LCD is flush to the bezel which is flushed to the exterior housing. This display just looks really nice, very minimalist.

The monitor resolution is just 1920 x 1200 which can be considered low especially when 1440P monitors are plentiful and competitively priced nowadays. It's still better than 1920 x 1080 resolution though, and 1920 1200 is still a very usable resolution. I edited all my photos and videos on this monitor for two weeks and it was alright, but obviously 1440P resolution is significantly better for productivity.

With this resolution on a 24-inch display, pixelation is very noticeable.


There is full adjustability for the height, tilt, rotation and swivel.

Shown above is the monitor connected to my Samsung Tab S7+ using the USB-C cable included. The USB-C port from the back has 90W power delivery and will adjust the power output to suit the connected device as long as the power demand is not above 90W.

There's no way for me to change the orientation of the content to vertical/portrait orientation either through Android or the monitor's OSD. To rotate the content/desktop, you have to do it through display settings in Windows or MacOS.

Colour support


Colours of the monitor look good out of the box. However, I need the colours on this monitor to match my other monitors so I need additional calibration on top of the Dell factory calibration.

I calibrated the display with a Spyder5Pro colour calibrator and measured colour support for 97% sRGB, 72% P3, 72% AdobeRGB and 67% NTSC.

Dell U series monitors are sRGB monitors so having good sRGB colours support is expected. Sure it's not 100% sRGB but 97% is good enough for visual content creators whose work are mostly going online. Those who need AdobeRGB should look elsewhere.

AdobeRGB support for sRGB monitors is usually under 80%. I'm mentioning this specifically because for some reason, the Dell U2722DE I tested few weeks ago had up to 86% AdobeRGB colour which pleasantly surprised me.

I'm using MacOS. From About this Mac > Overview > System Report > Graphics/Displays, it says "30-Bit Colour (ARGB2101010).". This display may be an 8-bit+FRC display. Anyway, what matters most is the actual sRGB support measured.

When I did the gradient banding test, I was able to see slight banding but it's not too bad.

The maximum brightness I measured is 271 nits. I'm using the monitor only at 65% brightness. It's a bright display.

Workflow for graphic design, digital art, photo and video editing

The main monitor I use at home has 2560 x 1440 resolution. The office monitors have 1920 x 1080 resolution and I've been using those for years.

While 1920 x 1200 is still a very usable resolution, 1440P resolution has at least 60% more pixels and will improve productivity significantly. So unless you really need the Ethernet port on your monitor, spending the money to get more resolution is going to improve your productivity, or if you have more budget, then go with the Dell U2722DE.


97% sRGB colour support is more than sufficient for visual content creators whose work are going online, for the web. After colour calibrating, I was able to get my scan to look quite similar to my original watercolour sketch.


The main issue with photo editing is with pixelation of the 1920 x 1200 resolution. But it's no big deal, at least to me. Colours are more important.


I edited over 10 Youtube videos on this monitor. There's less resolution to show my content, e.g. timeline, thumbnails, view port, but it's still usable. Having more resolution would so much better.


I use Adobe Illustrator more often than Photoshop. On a monitor with less resolution, it means I have to zoom in and out more. I also have to hide the palettes occasionally so that they don't block my work. This applies to Photoshop as well. But other than those minor inconveniences, no major issues.

Backlight bleed and uniformity


This is an IPS panel so there will be the unavoidable IPS glow.

For this particular unit, the backlight uniformity is quite good, relatively speaking. There is still corner glow which depends on your viewing angle.

I did not notice any backlight bleeding at the top and bottom. The performance here is actually better than the more expensive Dell U2722DE that I review a few weeks ago.


I've edited this photo to be as close to what my eyes actually see in real life. There is going to be the unavoidable IPS glow at the top and bottom black bars.

Daisy chain


Daisy-chaining monitor only works with Windows 10 and with DisplayPort and DisplayPort through USB-C. HDMI does not support daisy-chain.

With Windows 10, you will have extended desktop and you can configure the resolution for each display.

With MacOS, the daisy-chained monitor will just mirror the first display. MacOS can't detect the daisy-chained monitor, and hence can't change the resolution or colour calibrate it.

Dell Display Manager

This is a Windows software that can manage a group of monitors. There are settings to change the brightness, contrast, inputs, etc.

And then there's the Multi-Monitor Sync which allows Dell Display Manager to have some control over other daisy chained (DisplayPort only) monitors. For example, when you change the brightness of your main display, that brightness will sync to the 2nd connected display. This only works with selected compatible monitors.

Ethernet

The Ethernet speed is rated at 1000Mbps. The main ethernet features are MAC address pass-through, PXE Boot, and Wake-on-LAN.

The monitor has a permanent MAC address and it's labeled on the back of the monitor.

To get internet to your computer via Ethernet that's connected to the Dell monitor, you simply connect a USB cable to the monitor.

Conclusion

The Dell U2421E supports up to 97% sRGB as measured so colour accuracy is definitely suitable enough for visual content creators whose work are meant to go the web.

The Dell U2421E has many features missing compared to the Dell U2722DE but it also is significantly cheaper. You get what you pay for applies here.

1920 x 1200 resolution is still usable, and thankfully it's not 1920 x 1080. The other main issue I have is the exclusion of that one extra USB-C port on the back. With the Dell U2722DE, I was able to connect to the non-90W USB-C port to use the display as an USB hub, while I leave the 90W USB-C port free to charge or get video input from other devices. Here are different scenarios that can happen.

Scenerio 1 where your computer only has USB-A ports:
To use the display as a hub, you use the USB-A to USB-C cable. When you want to charge or get video input from another USB-C device, you have to unplug the cable from the display and use a USB-C to USB-C cable. Later you have to connect the USB-A to USB-C cable back to the display. This is inconvenient because the ports are on the back of the display.

Scenario 2 where your computer has USB-C ports:
To use the display as a hub, you use the USB-C to USB-C cable. When you want to charge or get video input from another USB-C device, you unplug the cable from the computer to connect to the device. This is easier since you don't have to access ports on the back of the display.

If you're just going to be using the Dell U2421E with just one computer or device, you'll not have much issues.

The main selling point for this display is the built-in Ethernet port. If you don't need the Ethernet port, there are so many other monitors you can get at much lower prices. However, I do recommend getting the Dell U2520D instead for the 2560 x 1440 resolution. You may be able to find Dell U2520D at lower prices on Lazada or Shopee compared to the original retail price of the U2421 from Dell Singapore.

4.5 out of 5 stars

Availability

You can find the Dell U2421E at Dell Singapore, or other Dell branches and Amazon

And these are Amazon links to Dell U2520D and Dell U2722DE.

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