After reviewing the excellent Asus VG245H, we hope to see a trend towards more affordable gaming screens with refresh rates above 60Hz and adaptive-sync. G-Sync is still a premium technology found in higher-end displays, but AMD’s FreeSync adds no cost to the manufacture of a monitor. Therefore, we should be seeing some great deals as more choices become available.
It’s well established that displays equipped with FreeSync offer a cost savings over their G-Sync counterparts. But when you add in things like QHD or Ultra HD resolution, large IPS panels and refresh rates up to 144Hz, it’s hard to keep the price from creeping upward. By reducing both resolution and refresh to a level more in keeping with mid-priced gaming systems, it’s possible to buy a monitor well suited for gaming that won’t cost much more than a 60Hz business-class screen.
Today we’re looking at Dell’s SE2717H. Unlike much of its value-oriented competition, it offers IPS technology (rather than TN), along with FHD resolution and a 75Hz max refresh rate. Is this enough to satisfy a gamer’s needs? Let’s take a look.
$200 can buy a decent gaming monitor, but you’ll have to forgo high pixel density and fast refresh to get there. It is quite possible for an FHD screen to provide an equal gaming experience to a QHD or UHD product if other elements are present and implemented correctly. Adaptive-sync is at the heart of the SE2717H’s feature list. AMD’s FreeSync provides refresh rate matching over a range of 48-75Hz. This is somewhat narrow, and the lower number is a bit higher than most. But with a relatively low pixel-count, it isn’t too difficult to keep framerates above 48 FPS even with a modestly-equipped gaming system.
Many gaming monitors, even expensive ones, use a TN panel to ensure the fastest possible screen draw and the lowest input lag. IPS is no slouch though. In our experience, the differences are literally just a few milliseconds. In fact, refresh rate has a far greater impact on performance than panel type. We have yet to see a fast refresh gaming monitor with visible input lag.
The SE2717H looks quite attractive on paper. In addition to the features already mentioned, the backlight is flicker-free, and as you’ll see in our benchmark tests, color is very accurate out of the box, and contrast is competitive with other displays in its class. It’s also an 8-bit native panel which should keep banding to a minimum. While many users lust for QHD in the 27" size, that’ll raise the price by at least $200; more if you throw G-Sync into the mix. This looks like a great choice for more modest budgets. Let’s examine closer.
Packaging, Physical Layout & Accessories
Dell continues its current trend of eco-friendly lightweight packaging with a clamshell-type carton that opens to reveal a molded paper pulp insert holding the contents. It’s far lighter than Styrofoam and much easier to recycle too. Protection from shipping damage seems to be adequate. The SE2717H is now the third monitor we’ve reviewed that's packed this way, and so far, there hasn’t been a scratch on any of our samples. The base and upright are assembled with a captive bolt, and then snapped onto the panel at a point near its bottom edge.
The power supply is internal so an IEC power cord is provided in the box. You also get HDMI and VGA video cables. A printed quick start guide is included as well as a CD with the full user’s manual.
The bezel is fairly narrow at 10mm around the top and sides, and 15mm across the bottom. It fits tightly and won’t present an overly thick line between screens in a multi-monitor setup. The plastic is finished in a high gloss, which extends around the sides and back. These parts can pick up fingerprints with ease so handle with care once you’ve removed the protective wrap.
Controls consist of tiny buttons on the right-bottom edge of the panel. They aren’t marked, so you have to find them by feel. Once you press one, icons appear on the screen denoting their functions. Keys click firmly and respond without delay. To turn on the power, press the LED.
The stand offers only a tilt adjustment. There is no swivel, height or portrait feature. The fulcrum is low, so when you rock the screen back, its top moves further away. Since it’s an IPS panel, placement isn’t overly critical. Everything seems solid, and movements happen without any extra play. The finish looks like aluminum, but it’s actually a high-quality plastic. Underneath the shells are heavy cast and stamped metal parts. For a budget screen, the SE2717H has decent heft.
The side profile is slim, but we were disappointed to see USB ports omitted. The other missing element is any sort of audio support. You don’t get speakers or a headphone output.
The back is smooth and finished in the same piano black as the rest of the chassis. The low-mounted stand means there’s no provision for a VESA mount. It also means the input panel is a bit hard to reach. Fortunately, there isn’t too much to plug in.
Inputs include one each of HDMI and VGA. FreeSync and 75Hz work just fine without DisplayPort as long as you make sure to update AMD Catalyst. We were using an older version that doesn’t support FreeSync over HDMI. A quick download solved our problem. We haven’t seen a monitor with just one digital video input since the first G-Sync monitors came out only sporting a single DisplayPort. For most users it won’t be an issue, but those who wish to add a second source like a Blu-ray player or gaming console may wish for that extra HDMI port.
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