Just as Computex 2021 was about to begin, PC-powerhouse Gigabyte unveiled the latest edition to their line of “big features on a budget” monitors: the Gigabyte M28U KVM Gaming Monitor. Not only did this monitor boast 4K resolution, HDR400 support, and high refresh rates, it was also going to be a KVM (keyboard, video, mouse) monitor. This is exceptional news for people running multiple systems with limited desk space! Well, we had to get our hands on one to check out the feature set to determine if this Gigabyte can provide the best monitor in this price point to make the jump to 4K.
- MSRP: $599.99 (at Newegg.com)
- Display Size: 28 inches
- Display Resolution: 3840 x 2160 UHD
- Panel Type: Super Speed ISP
- Viewing Angle: 178°
- Color Saturation: 94% DCI-P3, 120% sRGB
- Display Color: 8-bit
- Refresh Rate: 144Hz (via DisplayPort), 120Hz (for Consoles)
- Adaptive Sync: AMD FreeSync Premium Ready, G-Sync Compatibility Ready
- Response Time: 1ms (2ms MPRT)
- Contact Ratio: 1000:1 (Static)
- Brightness: 300 cd/m2 (HDR-Ready)
- VESA Mounting: 100mm x 100mm
- Connection Type: 2x HDMI 2.1, 1x Display Port 1.4 (G-sync/FreeSync compatible), 3x USB 3.0, 1x USB-C
- Sound: 2x 3W Built-in speakers, Headphone jack
- Accessories: Power cable, HDMI cable, DisplayPort cable, USB cable
In case you need a refresher, Gigabyte has been in the PC parts game for quite some time. In more recent years, the AORUS product line has been Gigabyte’s brand geared toward enthusiast gamers, but in more recent history the parent company has been making some moves to prove that they are still in the game!
Frankly, Gigabyte has been crushing it with their budget-conscious options, specifically as it relates to monitors. While the AORUS line has provided the model to follow, the G-series of monitors boasted premium features in the $300-range with very little compromise. We are talking about high resolution, high refresh rate monitors with premium features like AMD FreeSync Premium / NVIDIA G-sync compatibility.
Over the past year, I have become quite familiar with Gigabyte’s line of monitors as they have served as my daily drivers. The Gigabyte G32QC and G27QC has been my go-to for gaming and day-to-day tasks. So, when the M28U was announced, the prospect of a 4K monitor designed under Gigabyte’s product philosophy, I was pretty giddy about it.
While I am going to draw some comparisons between the G32QC, G27QC, and the M28U, the reality is that the M28U is a whole different animal - and I’m not just referring to the resolution differences here. The M28U is a 4K monitor whereas the G32QC and G27QC, respectively, are 1440p monitors, the M28U is utilizing a flat SS IPS (Super Speed In-Plane Switching) panel instead of the curved VA (Vertical Alignment) panels used in these G-series, in particular. While both have their advantages, the M28U’s IPS panel provides for a rich color gamut as well as higher fidelity at different viewing angles.
Panels aside, one of the biggest features the M28U brings to the table is that it is a KVM monitor. This is great news for the PC gamer seeking to run multiple desktops, but to save space (and extra money) on peripherals. Utilizing both USB-B and USB-C connections, the M28U allows the monitor to share devices between systems at the push of a button. With simple setup through the monitor’s control panel or OSB Sidekick (more on that in a second), a button located on the back, right-hand side of the monitor is an easy press for quick switching, but not too easy to accidentally be triggered!
OSD Sidekick: The Desktop Companion
We talked about this feature in our reviews of both the Gigabyte G27QC and the G32QC, but the M28U also takes advantage of Gigabyte’s OSD Sidekick. OSD Sidekick is a piece of software that allows users to adjust monitor settings from their desktop, as well as creating and saving customized user profiles.
These settings let you set up features like picture-in-picture/picture-by-picture displaying, updating monitor firmware, and setting up hotkeys to control your monitor in-game. OSD Sidekick makes your display an extension to your peripherals, with features geared toward enhancing the overall gaming experience.
Out of the Box and On the Desktop
I have been using the Gigabyte M28U as my daily gaming monitor in place of the Gigabyte G32QC and there are some noticeable similarities and differences. Let’s begin with the overall customization.
While the interface and the physical design of these monitors are nearly identical, the M28U offers a greater degree of color control than the G32QC. This feature, called 6-Axis Color Control, gives users the ability to sculpt their color-scape by adjusting red, green, blue, cyan, magenta, and yellow. This is amazing if you need a monitor with color precision. Aside from this feature, the M28U has seven picture presets with three customizable preset slots. Each setting is tuned to ensure that you get the M28U’s best possible settings for your use case.
Much like the G32QC, using OSD Sidekick provides monitor controls from your desktop alongside gaming-related features. Some of these features, like setting timers or adding reticles to your screen can be helpful for gaming encounters that require extra precision. The ability to adjust brightness on the fly is great if you are playing games with darker settings.
My evaluation of OSD Sidekick remains the same as my experience with the G27QC and G32QC: it can be a powerful utility for moments where you need every tool at your disposal, but it is going to take time to learn it and experimentation to find the best ways to implement it.
To see just how the Gigabyte M28U handles color accuracy (and my gaming needs) in the day-to-day, I spent time testing the monitor in a game that I have spent a fair amount of time with: Destiny 2’s Beyond Light expansion. This game serves as an ideal testing ground to put this monitor’s depth of color through its paces because of the diversity of environments, the use of light, and the contrast between effects. What I discovered was this:
The M28U handles 4K like a champ. The quality of the resolution brings new detail to a game whose textures and effects I am extremely familiar with. Its high refresh rate paired with NVIDIA G-sync makes for an incredibly smooth experience, but there is a hitch: the M28U does suffer ever-so-slightly in the HDR department.
While there is only a difference of 50-nits between the G32QC and the M28U, the difference is enough in some of Destiny 2’s darker spaces (i.e. the Gorgon’s Labyrinth in the Vault of Glass raid) that it almost gives me pause about using that feature within this game. This may be a place with the OSD Sidekick’s hotkeys can be helpful or where I need to spend more time tweaking the monitor.
To take a closer look at how the M28U handles color, I turned to Datacolor’s SpiderX utility for calibration and for reading just how color-accurate it is. Here is what I found:
The results were, as I commented on both the G32QC and the G27QC, “surprisingly true to advertising.” Typically, when it comes to advertising product specifications, what is on paper is the “best case” scenario. The M28U did reach into those areas despite being outside of “best case” - with one exception, perhaps. The sRGB rating sets (which matter most in gaming are) exceeded the sRGB tests from Datacolor SpiderX Pro - reaching over 100% sRGB - and this was on the “Standard” preset. This means that the visual fidelity of the games you are playing (what you are seeing on the scene) will be more naturally matched to the color schemes as developers intended.
The place where the M28U struggles a bit to match its advertised numbers is in the area of DCI-P3. DCI-P3 (or Digital Cinema Initiatives - Protocol 3) is defined by the color spectrum used for digital videos. In our tests, the M28U falls 6% shy of the mark, however, this was without HDR enabled. The depth of color saturation presented by Gigabyte in DCI-P3 values for this display is likely being reflected with HDR enabled. Our numbers could be off because the Datacolor SpiderX gets a bit fussy with this feature enabled.
The final feature that we need to cover here is the most unique aspect of the Gigabyte M28U: KVM utility. Conceptually, the idea of sharing peripherals between devices is amazing. After all, if you are limited in what desktop real estate you have to work with and you need to run multiple systems, this feature could open up a myriad of possibilities for you to utilize space.
The setup is extremely simple, too: just connect one system via USB-C and the other via USB-B. Then, in the monitor’s settings menus just point each connection to the display input it coincides with. With a few clicks of the knobby menu control on the monitor’s backside and a click of the large KVM button nearby and you could be off to sharing peripherals between systems in no time - so long as you have a high-speed USB-C cable laying around. My box didn’t have one.
It is also worth noting that if you are going to be using USB-B, you MUST use the included USB-B cable from the box - even if you have a cable for, say, one of Gigabyte’s other recent monitors. In the process of testing out the M28U, I accidentally grabbed the USB-B cable that came with the Gigabyte G32QC. What I discovered is that it would not share the KVM features properly. This was not mentioned in the documentation, but I learned my lessons… and I made the mistake now so you don’t have to later!
The Gigabyte M28U is Gigabyte’s entry-level 4K experience that is anything but entry-level. Providing the feature-rich options that we have come to expect from their offerings, Gigabyte ups their game by giving the M28U a high refresh-rate 4K display capable of being utilized by multiple systems with its KVM functionality.
At $599.99, the M28U does come at a price tag that isn’t quite “entry-level,” but it is not unreasonable when considering the playing field it is entering. Its feature set and price point put it toe-to-toe with the dominant names in 4K gaming displays while bringing new tricks to the table - especially if you are taking full advantage of the KVM feature set and sharing this display between devices! It also wasn’t long ago that a 4K, 144Hz panel would run over a thousand dollars, so the M28U is a harbinger for this combination of features making its way to the masses. If you are looking for a 4K monitor that can do just about everything and then some, the Gigabyte M28U KVM Gaming Monitor might just be the hybrid peripheral hub-meets-space saver you are looking for.The product described in this review was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes.