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A Review of the LG Electronics IPS Digital Cinema 31MU97 31.0-Inch Screen LED-Lit Monitor – 31MU97-B

by on May 4, 2015
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Overview

When it comes to any sort of 4K display technologies, few companies can quite match the technical sophistication of LG and its manufacturing process. This doesn’t apply any less to UHD monitors than it does to TVs like the cutting edge OLED models from these guys.

Perhaps this is why the Digital Cinema 31MU97 offers some distinct features that won’t be found on just any ultra HD PC monitor on the market today. Starting with an ultra HD display resolution that goes above and beyond the more conventional 3840 x 2160 pixels to an Adobe RGB color spectrum coverage of a whopping 99.5%, the 31MU97 is not your usual 4K PC screen and this fact makes itself known quite quickly when you get your hands on the device.

Add into the mix technologies like IPS display and a great set of connectivity ports and you have yourself a 4K monitor that’s not only great for watching 4K videos but also highly useful when it comes to professional visual editing and even PC gaming in full, true 4K resolution. This monitor goes beyond your standard use and its built for professionals. The top rated consumer focused 4k monitor is the Samsung UE590.

The Good

Additionally, the 31MU97 offers a color spectrum rendering that’s definitely superiror to what most other 4K ultra HD monitors manage. In reaching a full 99.5% of the Adobe RGB color gamut range, this LG monitor performs far better than the average, in which most other 4K monitors only reach roughly 70 to 85% of the Adobe spectrum.

Furthermore, between the two main measurements of color gamut, Adobe RGB and sRGB, the adobe scale is the more difficult to fulfill, so the fact that LG pulled this off with the 31MU97 definitely indicates a wider overall quality of UHD monitor.

Finally, we should also mention the fine overall design quality of the monitor. With a narrowly bezeled screen, minimalist but sturdy stand and matte black overall coloration, the monitor is not only sturdy but also surprisingly elegant, particularly for a PC screen, a piece of technology that all too often forsakes visual appeal for functionality.


Check the Price of LG IPS Digital Cinema 31MU97 31.0-Inch LED-Lit 4k Monitor on Amazon:

3.8 - 79 Reviews

The Bad

For this particular monitor, poorly performing aspects are surprisingly hard to find and it’s clear that LG invested quite a bit of work into making the 31MU97-B a robust piece of technology. However, nothing is perfect and so a couple minor points are worth bearing out.

For one thing, some users have reported that the USB 3.0 hub at the back of the screen works well as the main connection between monitor and PC but that the USB ports refuse to send hardware information from the monitor itself to at least certain types of PCs via these USB 3.0 cables and ports.

Thus, at least for some users, the “True Color Pro” software that comes with the monitor, for tweaking and modifying the color calibration in personalized ways doesn’t work because it can’t receive the hardware info from the monitor. The end result is users having to stick to the factory calibrations of the screen.

Furthermore, the DisplayPort 1.2 cable has been reported as causing some screen flicker issues at the full 60Hz refresh rate combine with the cinema grade 4K resolution.

Again though, these are both issues that only some users have reported and may not reflect all units of the 31MU97-B.

Additionally, the monitor comes with HDMI 1.4 ports and does not include an HDMI 2.0 connection. For rendering 4K video at a full 60Hz, you’ll need to use the one DisplayPort connection between monitor and PC.

This is actually quite common for most 4K monitors (unlike 4K TVs, which usually do include HDMI 2.0 ports) but in this case, given the price of the 31MU97-B, we don’t think it’s too much to ask for one HDMI 2.0 port for eventual connectivity with PC GPUs that can accept HDMI and not just DisplayPort.

Final Thoughts

Our final thoughts on the LG 31MU97-B Digital Cinema 4K monitor are that it is one heck of a choice for photo and visual editing professionals. The enhanced resolution and stunning display graphics courtesy of the IPS panel technology and complementing characteristics really work together to create a spectacular level of 4K UHD visual display quality. Yes, the monitor is a bit pricier than many more affordable models but as a consequence it offers a better grade of 4K PC experience.

Specs

Weight: 16.97.5 lbs without stand, 21.97 with stand
Dimensions: (WxHxD): 29 x 2.1 x 16.04" inches with stand, 29 x 9.5 x 19-24.5" inches without stand
Screen size: 31 inches, measured diagonally
Dynamic Contrast ratio: 1,000,000:1 (official)
Color Gamut: 99.5% of AdobeRGB
Colors: 1 Billion+
Brightness: 350+ cd/m2
Refresh Rate: 60Hz (60 fps)
Screen Lighting: LED
Resolution: 4096 x 2160
Aspect Ratio: 17:09
OS Compatibility: Windows, Mac
Connectivity Ports: 2 HDMI 1.4, DisplayPort 1.2, 1 DVI, 1 VGA, 4 USB 3.0
Viewing Angle: 178/178

Highlights

As far as highlights go, there are a surprising number of them packaged up with the sleek LG 31MU97-B. For a 4K PC monitor, it definitely packs a few extra aspects that make it interesting.

For starts, LG went the whole 9 yards with giving the 31MU97-B’s users some serious color depth. Thus, this particular monitor doesn’t play around with limited color spectrums and hands you full 10-bit color depth that sprays out from its cinema grade 4K screen. 10 bits offers 64 times the color richness of more common and conventional 8 bit color and this means a full palette of just over 1 billion different color tones.

In addition to all those color variations, we also have the already mentioned Cinema Grade 4K resolution. This is a feature even most 4K UHD TVs don’t manage to offer and because it gives you 4096 x 2160 pixels instead of 3840 x 2160, the total pixel count for the screen amounts to more than half a million more of these little buggers than in a normal UHD 4K screen. These extra half million pixels definitely create a resolution difference on the 31 inch screen.

Next, there is the Dual Color Space technology that has been built into the monitor. This interesting designer-oriented feature allows you to split the screen and view the same piece of imagery or video on one side in the AdobeRGB color mode while using the other side to view that image in sRGB at the same time. Thus, without jumping between one or the other, you can instantly see how something you’re editing will look as a finished product in both color gamut rating modes.

As far as adjustment flexibility goes, the 31MU97-B has a pivot function that lets you avoid resizing photos or dragging and scrolling to see vertically long pictures. You can also use the pivot technology to rotate original pictures by as much as 90 degrees. The overall result is a flexibly adjustable screen positioning system that maximizes comfortable working conditions.

Finally, we should also mention the built-in MAXXAUDIO 5W speakers of the 31MU97-B. These two bad boys genuinely deliver some excellent sound effects and keep their promise of giving you a wide range of vibrant, clean and crisp sound effects from all ends of the pitch spectrum. Speakers in a 4K monitor aren’t a run-of-the-mill feature and genuinely good speakers are even less common. These 5W speakers deliver the goods.


Check the Price of LG IPS Digital Cinema 31MU97 31.0-Inch LED-Lit 4k Monitor on Amazon:

3.8 - 79 Reviews

Visual Specs

The visual specs of the LG 31MU97-B are also quite impressive. As we’ve already mentioned, this PC display comes with powerful and extremely vibrant 10-bit color which covers a whopping 99.5% of the AdobeRGB spectrum and maximizes the realism of images for the most natural color schemes possible. Gradient transitions are also extremely smooth thanks to those 1 billion colors, thus allowing for far more detailed color editing.

The 31MU97-B uses IPS panel technology to maximize off-angle viewing and luminance while also delivering the above-mentioned wide color gamuts.

Finally, editing of full color video expression is also much easier on the 31MU97-B thanks to its DCP-P3 Digital Cinema Color Standard support. This technology almost perfectly recreates original digital content color as it was shot with a camera and thus lets you both view and adjust accurate video conditions like shadow details, saturation and differing points of brightness.

Connectivity

In terms of connectivity, the LG 31MU97-B doesn’t offer anything as thoroughly fleshed out to the point of extraordinariness as its visual parameters but it does give you the full standard package of connection ports that you’ll need for doing anything in maximum 4K-friendly conditions on a PC.

The ports in the monitor include a DisplayPort 1.2 connection for transferring 4K graphics between PC and screen at a smooth, full 60Hz (60 frames per second) and the 2 HDMI ports for connecting other devices. There are also 4 USB 3.0 connection ports and even a Mini DisplayPort socket.

Basically, the 31MU97-B is ready to let you do gaming, visual editing and general content viewing/browsing in full cinema grade 4K resolution at a full 60Hz. Perfect for watching content and movies on Netflix, Amazon etc.

Pricing

The price of the LG 31MU97 is not one of its strongest features due to its steepness (for a 4K monitor) but then again, you probably can’t yet expect cheaper for such a high performance ultra HD PC display with IPS panel technology. The 31MU97-B is currently selling on Amazon.com for $973.28.

Check the Price of LG IPS Digital Cinema 31MU97 31.0-Inch LED-Lit 4k Monitor on Amazon:

3.8 - 79 Reviews


Not so Great

As we’d already covered, the LG 31MU97 comes with very few general defects and the most notable things so far have only been pointed out by a minority of users, so they might not apply across the board to all units.

Most importantly, the lack of HDMI 2.0 ports is something LG could address if they really wanted to and because this is an IPS monitor, it could suffer from two minor but potentially annoying problems: the first of these is that, because IPS monitors are built to let maximal light through to the screen surface, they sometimes do have a normal but irritating “light- bleed” effect along their edges. This is minor but it might be an issue. The second problem is that IPS isn’t as responsive as IGZO or even the cheaper TN display technology and gamers might find this problematic.

These two issues aside, this is a fantastic monitor and would be particularly awesome for any sort of visual design or graphic editing professional.

Positives

• Excellent refresh rate
• Comes with great 5W built-in speakers
• Excellent AdobeRGB color gamut performance
• Large 17:9 aspect ratio
• Full connectivity, including Mini DisplayPort
• IPS Panel brightness

Negatives

• Possible light bleed due to IPS
• expensive
• would be perfect with HDMI 2.0 port

Editor Rating
 
Features
A

 
Quality
A

 
User Friendliness
A

 
Connectivity
A+

 
Price
B

Total Score
A-

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User Rating
 
Features
B

 
Quality
B+

 
User Friendliness
B+

 
Connectivity
A-

 
Price
B

User Score
76 ratings
B+

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Bottom Line
 

The bottom line for the LG 31MU97-B is that you simply can’t go wrong with this monitor if you’re a professional in the video, visual and graphic editing fields. It’s also excellent for any normal use. Though you should be ready to spend a bit more than usual.

Check the Price of LG IPS Digital Cinema 31MU97 31.0-Inch LED-Lit 4k Monitor on Amazon:

3.8 - 79 Reviews

 
11 comments
 
Leave a reply »

 
  • August 17, 2015 at 7:06 pm

    I’m on my second 31MU97 because of the backlight bleed. The replacement is 98% as bad as the one I sent back. I gave up.
    I’m used to the solid blacks of the HP LP3065 (I have two of these) and found the LG display to have a translucent, glowing black that kills the contrast of darker parts of images. I have to rely on my waveform scopes to know if my black levels are right, because they don’t look right on this monitor.

    Another issue is that the screen tearing is annoying when playing video. I have a Titan X driving it through DP at 60Hz. I’ve tried 50Hz, with no improvement. Even though the video material I’m playing was shot at 23.976FPS, this effect is still present.

    Reply

  • Felix Milovanov
    September 3, 2015 at 8:51 am

    This can not be considered as a review, just as opinion. First of all: the most important parameter of a monitor, MINIMAL brightness (excessive brightness in number one reason for eye strain) is not measured. The second most common problem for eye strain in PWM in brightness control – and I do not see any mention of this in the article.

    Finally, author mentions contrast as 1,000,000:1 – which shows he does not understand the difference between dynamic (can be as high as manufacturer wants to advertise) and real (1000:1 for IPS) contrasts.

    So this article can not be considered as a REVIEW of a monitor, just a mere OPINION.

    Reply

    • Stephen
      Stephen
      September 4, 2015 at 10:12 am

      the reference to contrast ratio for this particular review was indeed to dynamic contrast, thus the description of 1 million to 1. The author does indeed know the difference between real contrast and manufacturer designated “dynamic contrast”. And correct, real contrast in an IPS monitor is normally around 1000 to 1, though higher is possible.

      Reply

      • Felix Milovanov
        September 8, 2015 at 11:22 am

        If author knew the difference, he would not post dynamic contrast to the specs, as it means ABSOLUTELY NOTHING – besides a nice number is specs.

        So I stick to my original opinion: this is not a REVIEW of a monitor, it’s just author’s opinion of thereof.

        Reply

  • Bunny Evans
    March 9, 2016 at 1:21 am

    I’ve been using one of these for over a year now as my testing monitor for signage and main desktop at work.

    Display Port hotplug *SUCKS* the big one, but that is nothing compared to the horribly unfriendly user interface.

    Just count how many presses of the nipplemouse you need to change inputs.

    Reply

  • Dario
    July 4, 2016 at 8:22 pm

    I’m tempted to get one of these, but I’ve heard terrible stories about its input lag. I would use it mainly for web/game development, but I do like to play some FPS games here and there … and I’ve seen the input lag rated at over 20ms, which is more than one frame — horrible! Can anyone confirm this ?

    Reply

    • Stephen
      Stephen
      July 17, 2016 at 4:14 pm

      Hello Dario, I can’t be sure about the experiences of other reviewers or users with different units of this model (unit or batch-specific manufacturing defects can certainly happen in all electronics) but the response time for this monitor was decent for regular use at about 8 ms (fairly common for IPS monitors. Input lag however is different from response time and we didn’t get a chance to measure it, so I can’t say for sure what it was. However, from what I’ve heard, the 31MU97-B can have a somewhat slow input lag of over 25 ms.

      Reply

  • maxfps
    July 27, 2016 at 5:25 am

    Hi Stephen,

    Would you recommend this monitor for gaming?

    I have 2x MSI 1080 gaming x in SLI / i7 4770k / 16gb DDR3 RAM and i am looking for a 4K-IPS monitor for gaming.

    Would the lack of HDMI 2.0 port or Gsync cause any problems while gaming?
    Also, do we actually get 5ms response time while gaming or is it more than 5m while actually gaming on this monitor.(Will this matter while gaming cuz this will be my first IPS monitor)

    Other than that, i really liked your review of this monitor.

    Thank you

    Reply

  • O I
    September 26, 2016 at 1:02 pm

    has anyone had issues with their display ports? I’m running two GTX 1080’s in SLI. the problem is that using the display port cable is not working properly. my systems is perfectly fine when using HDMI, but if I want to use the display port it sucks. if the display port is plugged in, then I reset the input on the LG 31MU97-B to use it, I do get the full 4K resolution. However, when I shut the system down and restart, I get a black screen and some sort of error code on my PC. (there’s an LED display that shows codes on motherboard)
    nothing I do will correct this. all firmware is up to date also. basically, I have to shut down and use the HDMI cable again and the computer/monitor are working fine again. its super frustrating. I bought this monitor for the full 4K , and I cannot use it!
    any advice is very welcome.
    Thanks in advance 🙂

    Reply

  • Ghiro
    November 3, 2016 at 7:53 am

    Seams like the ports hub is a common problem.
    My display started to show signs of troubles after a couple of months , it first showed up when connected to DP ports, it was taking a lot of time before the screen turns the image on and most of the time the image was flickering and suddenly disappears. All in a sudden the DP ports died. I’ve changed the connection to HDMI and attached it to a BMD card and it lasted for few more months when one day i turned on the workstation an suddenly the display was completely dark with no signal at all. Sent t to customers service when i contacted them they’ve said the motherboard was changed. I will pick it up tomorrow from Service and hope they solved the problem otherwise it’ll go for sale somewhere

    Reply

  • mike
    November 28, 2016 at 5:34 pm

    Please can you help me to choose between this one and BenQ BL3201PT? I need one of those for photo editing.
    Thank you in advance!

    Reply

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