In forum threads across the web, enthusiasts have been swapping stories of amazing deals on 27" monitors with beautiful IPS panels imported from Korea. Unable to resist this prospect, we ordered up one on eBay to see what it was like.
The short answer? Pretty amazing. It was delivered by a man riding a unicorn made of bacon, and when we turned it on, it shot rainbows of ecstasy into our eye sockets. Our full review follows:
What matters most is the basic proposition, and I can tell you from first-hand experience that it's very real: these are truly excellent panels at a ridiculously, embarrassingly low price. I'd say every self-respecting PC enthusiast should get one, except there are some real risks you'll want to consider before scouring the eBay listings and pressing the "Buy it now" button.
Even with those last couple of quirks uncovered, I still feel like I won this thing in a drawing or something. $337 for a display of this quality is absolutely worth it, in my view. You just need to keep your eyes open to the risks going into the transaction, risks I hope I've illustrated in the preceding paragraphs. In many ways, grabbing a monitor like this one on the cheap from eBay is the ultimate tinkerer's gambit. It's risky, but the payoff is huge: a combination of rainbow-driven eye-socket ecstasy and the satisfying knowledge that you paid less than half what you might pay elsewhere for the same experience.
I'm now fighting the temptation to repeat the purchase a couple more times in order to assemble a triple-screen array. If I don't do that, I'm liable to order up a different brand of monitor based on the same panel, possibly the one with a matte anti-glare coating. Other models offer even more exotic possibilities. Some folks have actually been "overclocking" their monitors, ramping the refresh rates up from the default 60Hz to twice that. That prospect is... awe-inspiring. 120Hz refresh rates would be perfect for gaming. Also, recently, listings for 30" Korean displays for under $700 have been popping up on eBay. They're presumably the same sort of deal, only with higher stakes.
If you don't want to go the eBay route, you may be able to pay a little more to grab one of these monitors at MicroCenter. Our local store is selling the Auria EQ276W for $399, and it currently has "10+" in stock. Paying a little more for retail should at least grant you the ability to return a monitor with too many dead pixels.
The story keeps unfolding, too. You can find info about the various brands and models, along with overclocking procedures and other recent developments, in various forum threads around the web, including our own here at TR and the apparent granddaddy of them all at Overclock.net.
Or you might want to hold off a bit. Surely, these panels will go mainstream in time. I expect eventually we'll see this class of monitor selling from major brands here in the states for something closer to $600, complete with English documentation, solid warranty coverage, precisely engineered backlight diffusion, HDCP support, and all the rest.