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Monoprice 28-inch CrystalPro 4K monitor review: low-priced but hurt by cheap build

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The Monoprice 28-inch CrystalPro 4K monitor looks like a competitive budget monitor on paper, but audible coil noise and poor design ruin its potential.

The monitor market is more competitive than ever, so companies must compete with design, quality of life tools and unique features to stand out. The 28-inch Monoprice CrystalPro 4K monitor struggles to excel in any of these categories.

While this 4K monitor isn’t terrible for its price, it’s in a highly competitive part of the market where there are a few dozen options with varying features. So for every problem this monitor has, there are several that don’t.

Monoprice 28 inch CrystalPro 4K monitor design

There’s a lot to like at first glance about Monoprice’s screen design. The display bezels are slim on three sides, and the thicker bottom frame bears a discreet logo.

The base swivels so the sides can be flush with the corners of your desk, with the monitor facing the user diagonally.

We like the extreme difference between the lowest and highest height settings of the stand. You’re much more limited if you’re using the portrait mode display, but the tilt options provide some interesting angles.

The entire screen is covered in black plastic, which is standard for monitors in this price range. The screen has a slight wobble when typing, thanks to the way it’s mounted to the stand.

Monitor controls aren't labeled, but they're not difficult to understand

Monitor controls aren’t labeled, but they’re not difficult to understand

The screen has a matte texture, which is ideal for bright office environments. However, this texture is very noticeable and causes a slight blurring effect on the content.

Overall, the design is in line with what we’d expect from a display that costs less than $400, but some critical oversights exist. The monitor itself is okay, but the stand it sits on is another matter.

First, the stand has a cable management system, a fancy way of saying a hole in the post for cables to pass through. But, curiously, this hole is not big enough to pass the power cable.

The power cable cannot pass through the cable management hole in the stand

The power cable cannot pass through the cable management hole in the stand

The power cable is wired to the large power brick on one end, while the other has one of those ferrite cores near the AC outlet. The ferrite core is too large to fit through the cable management hole, so it cannot fit.

You end up with one cable sticking out on its own, but pretty much any other cable that’s able to fit through that management hole.

If you’re the type of person who doesn’t want to see cables on your desk, look for another monitor. The cable management hole is front and center, so any cables that pass through it are fully displayed.

Using the Monoprice 28″ CrystalPro 4K Monitor

If you can overcome bad design decisions, the Monoprice CrystalPro monitor isn’t so badly used. The colors are accurate enough for general use but maybe not accurate enough for a photographer.

Once you enable HDR mode in monitor settings and on macOS, the display immediately dims to an off-green hue. Look elsewhere if you plan to use your monitor for editing or HDR content.

Using the monitor through the USB-C port works just fine, and we appreciate that it can keep our 14-inch MacBook Pro charged during use. The two downstream USB-A ports can also be connected to accessories that the Mac can access.

There are many port options to connect multiple devices to your desktop

There are many port options to connect multiple devices to your desktop

There are built-in speakers in the CrystalPro display, but they should not be used except as a last resort. The audio quality is reminiscent of music on hold – flat, empty and oddly tinny.

We enjoyed testing this monitor in portrait orientation. The overall footprint is much nicer with the stand tucked behind the big screen, and it acts as a great second monitor companion for our Studio Display.

Note that this is a 28-inch monitor with a 2160p display, which means it’s not Retina by Apple standards. At arm’s length, the pixels stand out to a trained eye, especially when the monitor is placed next to a MacBook Pro.

There is a significant problem with the monitor during use – the whine of the coil. While we can’t say if this is present in every Expedition model, it is in this one.

Whenever the monitor is turned on and displaying any content, a slight electrical noise may be heard coming from the monitor. The moan is enough to be drowned out by the music, but those who are particularly sensitive to noise and frequency will still get by.

Should you buy the Monoprice 28-inch CrystalPro 4K monitor?

The 28-inch Monoprice CrystalPro monitor would make a good secondary monitor in portrait

The 28-inch Monoprice CrystalPro monitor would make a good secondary monitor in portrait

We cannot recommend the Monoprice 28-inch CrystalPro 4K monitor. The lack of attention to detail with things like the cable management system and the constant whining of the coil make this monitor a poor option.

If you think you can ignore the reel whine and want a cheap 4K monitor that can be used in portrait orientation, then this isn’t a bad choice. It should never be someone’s first or only monitor.

Again, it’s not a terrible display with its 2160p panel and decent color accuracy. Its specifications are in line with what is expected for a monitor of this price and size.

However, the poor design and build trade-offs make this display less desirable overall.

We’d rate this monitor a 4 out of 5 if the coil whine wasn’t present and there was some thought to the cable management system. Instead, it has a lower score, which only really matters if you’re able to ignore the whine of the reel.

  • Low-cost monitor with tilt and height adjustments
  • Correct color reproduction and contrast
  • 65W USB-C single cable connection
  • Audible coil during use
  • The cable management system is basically useless, the power cable does not pass
  • HDR mode dims the display adds tint
  • Built-in speakers should never be used except in the worst case

Rating: 3 out of 5

Or buy

The Monoprice 28-inch CrystalPro monitor is available from Monoprice’s online store, priced at $359.99.

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