To evaluate this condition objectively, I used the colorimeter and software to run through the profile creation but didn’t make any adjustments to the monitor whatsoever, effectively evaluating the Alienware monitor’s performance in Vista, as just described, after simply plugging it in, turning it on, and checking that the supplied profile was active:
The color difference chart shows an average deviation from the profiling software’s reference colors of only 1.27, which is excellent regardless of panel type at this brightness level. The worst case, which I noted after scrolling through the result chart, just happened to occur for dark colors with a bluish hue overall and was below 3.4. Most of the displayed colors could not be distinguished by eye from the reference colors, having difference figures lower than 1.0. The gamut chart confirms Alienware’s stated gamut figure of 85% (CIE 1976), a standard sRGB color range. The overall white balance is just a little on the cool side of an ideal 6500K at 6800K, and the measured static contrast ratio is an excellent 1010:1. Of further interest, the relatively bright measured white level of 202 nits is considered by many to be an ideal level for viewing multimedia and for gaming, while the rated maximum brightness for the OptX monitor tops out at 300 nits. The Alienware OptX HD monitor definitely comes ready to play!
Having gotten such great measured reference performance from the monitor with the initial factory settings, I attempted to ‘overclock’ the monitor by manually creating a new profile at the X-Rite recommended target for white level of 120 nits. This white level is more commonly used by professionals performing color sensitive work and is easier on the eyes for long viewing sessions in a dim or darkened room.
I began the procedure by setting the monitor’s brightness and contrast settings each at 50, then changing the active color profile to the Windows default sRGB file setting – as though the supplied Alienware color profile had never been installed – then rebooted. Adjustments were made on the monitor to brightness, contrast, and the individual color output levels for the Custom Preset Mode of the Color Settings using the OptX monitor menu controls at the appropriate points within the process, as prompted by the iMatch3 calibration software.
It was very pleasing to see this large an improvement, and speaks exceedingly well of the Alienware monitor’s capability for color accuracy. The average deviation across the range of the reference colors dropped by more than 30% to 0.80, with the worst case deviation dropping from 3.37 to below 2.0 – more than 40%. The white balance became an ideal 6500K and the contrast ratio increased a modest amount from 1010:1 to 1193:1. For reference, the custom profile was established with the Brightness set to 35, Contrast set to 77, Red color level set to 100, Green color level set to 94, and Blue color level set to 91.
Subjectively, Windows backgrounds and color photos gained more apparent depth and richness overall. In Tomb Raider Underworld, an overall color intensity increase was readily apparent and the edges of objects became more distinct. Subtle texture details became more apparent as well. Dark areas retained their details and the brightest of objects became somehow more tangible, increasing the impact very bright objects shown against much less illuminated background items induces.
I can imagine that tiny or distant objects and features in any game would become easier to discern. As for video, Planet Earth episodes were displayed wonderfully with no ghosting apparent in sequences containing fast movement while displaying excellent color saturation and accuracy, with impressively pleasing contrast.