Dell S2718D HDR Monitor Review

Brightness & Contrast

To read about our monitor tests in depth, please check out Display Testing Explained: How We Test Monitors and TVs.  Brightness and Contrast testing is covered on page two.

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Uncalibrated – Maximum Backlight Level

We don’t have any other HDR-compatible monitors in our database, so we’ve included premium IPS/QHD screens for today’s comparison. All offer similar performance with SDR material. We have ViewSonic’s VP2771, Acer’s BE270U, BenQ’s PD2700Q, AOC’s Q2781PQ, and Nixeus’ PRO Vue 27P. It should be noted that the Acer offers 75Hz and FreeSync while the others lack adaptive-refresh and top out at 60Hz.

The S2718D easily exceeds its claimed 300cd/m2 spec with over 330 nits peak brightness. Technically, it’s not enough for HDR, which recommends at least 1000. But you’ll see how Dell handles that limitation in our HDR tests on page five.

The black level is disappointingly high at .3857cd/m2 resulting in a static contrast ratio of 856.8. This is merely OK for SDR and computer content, but HDR needs the monitor’s dynamic contrast feature. That’s likely why it’s locked on. And it effectively improves perceived contrast.

Uncalibrated – Minimum Backlight Level

If you like to work, play, or watch in a dark room, the S2718D drops to a perfect 49.5191cd/m2 when brightness is set to zero. Black levels decrease in proportion so contrast remains consistent at 839.2:1. While the image is not the most dynamic we’ve seen, it holds up well at every output level, making it easy to find your ideal luminance point.

After Calibration to 200cd/m2

Contrast is slightly reduced after calibration to 761.4:1. Black levels are still at the back of the pack, and even though we increased the contrast slider by one click, dynamic range is still a bit below average. You can use the dynamic contrast feature in several of the fixed image presets, and it works reasonably well, but it’s grayed out in the Custom Color mode. Fortunately, it comes into play in both Movie HDR and Game HDR. These results suggest that the S2718D would benefit from the use of a VA panel. By comparison, IPS doesn’t quite have the chops for HDR.

ANSI Contrast Ratio

ANSI contrast holds steady at 771.7:1, 10 clicks above the static value. The panel is of good quality with decent uniformity, although our sample showed a few minor hotspots in the black field test. Intra-image contrast is only fair though. Again, we’d love to see a VA panel used for this application.

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24 comments
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  • WINTERLORD
    cant wait till they have 4k in hdr at affordable prices
  • daglesj
    I'll take the features but ditch the stand for a standard removable with VESA and the controls built in as normal.
  • GentlemanGreen
    stopped reading at 60 hz
  • LionD
    How could 8 bit/sRGB display, with contrast 1000 and no local dimming, deliver true HDR experience? Total nonsense.
  • CarbonBased
    @GENTLEMANGREEN

    Lots of people have plenty of use for 60hz screens. stop poo-pooing products that cleary arent aimed at you. I have a rig for gaming, and sure, 60hz isn't really enough anymore. However, I take and edit photos as a hobby, so IPS, 10-bit, HDR, all very attractive features. Add that i can mate it to my photo editing laptop with a USB-C cable and were really getting somewhere. I'll be looking for this one come holiday season.
  • cbliss
    NOT AN HDR MONITOR.. FALSE ADVERTISING.. BUYERS BEWARE!! (HDR requires 10bit panel, this is 8bit.. It also lacks any form of local dimming). Bogus product for hdr, otherwise simply an overpriced QHD monitor).
  • CarbonBased
    Fair enough, I didnt realize that it was 8 instead of 10 bit. But I will stand by my point that 60Hz is fine for many, if not most, computer users, even if they are gamers. the market for high refresh rates is specifically gamer-centric. Dissing product thats arent built to gamer spec because you are a gamer does not lend one to being an unbiased source of opinion.
  • Scott____67
    i like to wall mount my monitor anyways so the stand is non existent and in a condo it keeps areas and desk spaces clear plus having a little height with a downward pitch is perfect for the lean back in the chair gamer that i am
  • alextheblue
    2460450 said:
    Fair enough, I didnt realize that it was 8 instead of 10 bit. But I will stand by my point that 60Hz is fine for many, if not most, computer users, even if they are gamers. the market for high refresh rates is specifically gamer-centric. Dissing product thats arent built to gamer spec because you are a gamer does not lend one to being an unbiased source of opinion.

    Agreed. A 60hz monitor isn't great for gaming anymore, so for my personal needs and budget I'm better off with a halfway decent TN panel with high refresh rate, wide freesync range, and low input lag. That might change in the future, as advanced displays come down in price. But today that's what best fits my needs.

    But as you said most non-gaming applications don't need high refresh rates. Users who don't game will typically favor resolution, contrast, brightness, viewing angle, and color reproduction over refresh rate and input latency. If you have a sub-$300 budget like I do you often end up with a display that either favors gaming performance and features, or image quality and advanced colorspaces. Just because you favor a high-refresh gaming monitor doesn't mean you can't recognize uses for a non-gaming display.

    Granted if you spend enough money you can get a display that doesn't compromise much and is fairly good at everything. Way out of my price range at this point, though.
  • alextheblue
    Quote:
    To see HDR content, you’ll need a compatible player or computer with an HDMI 2.0/HDCP 2.2 output. The latest Ultra HD Blu-ray players feature this interface. You can also connect with the right video card. Fortunately, there are quite a few choices. On the Nvidia side is the GTX 950 up to the Titan X (Maxwell), or the GTX 1050 to Titan X (Pascal). AMD users can employ an R9 390X or RX 460, 470, or 480.

    I thought anything with Polaris would support HDR10, such as Radeon 540/550 (Polaris 12). Maybe I'm misremembering. Also, on PC you have to have to use HDR10 compatible playback software to benefit.

    On the console side of things, Xbox One S has supported Ultra HD (4K HDR10) BDs for some time. If I was looking for a dedicated box, it's a good choice even if you don't play console games. It's not much more than a decent dedicated 4K HDR10 player, and it has better support for apps. You can add a Kinect if you want voice control. If you don't use physical discs but want a dedicated box for 4K HDR streams, then I'd recommend a Roku Premiere+ or Ultra.
  • rantoc
    This monitor is as much HDR as the consoles are 4k capable ;)
  • i-am-i-u-r-u
    Way over priced and phony marketing as HDR. The after calibration black luminance of .2663 and contrast ratio of 761 is pitiful.
  • cryoburner
    142182 said:
    I'll take the features but ditch the stand for a standard removable with VESA and the controls built in as normal.


    I don't get why they would give this relatively high-end monitor such a mediocre non-removable stand and no VESA mounts. It might make the monitor look relatively nice when viewed from the back and side, but that's not likely to be relevant in most usage scenarios, where the back will be facing toward a wall. Making the monitor slightly thinner is largely pointless when its at the expense of functionality.

    Also, the monitor's main feature seems only half-implemented. It's supposedly an "HDR monitor", but has weak static contrast ratios. Maybe it will often look better than a standard IPS screen when fed with HDR content, but a VA panel would probably look better overall, even without support for 10-bit input. This monitor reminds me of those standard-definition televisions from a decade ago that would accept an HD signal, but then downsample it to the screen's SD display, only here, we seem to be taking a high dynamic range image and displaying it on a screen with mediocre contrast. It might be a decent monitor for what it is, but it seems a bit overpriced considering what it has to offer.
  • Nintendork
    I wouldn't touch any shi*tty monitor with poor 1000:1 contrast when 3000:1 AMVA+ are available, at least till OLED floods PC.
  • bit_user
    I feel like I've been reading about >= 10-bit and HDR for like 10 years. HDMI has supported 30-bit (10 bits per channel) and 36-bit (12 bits per channel) "deep color" for about that long, and I thought there were supposed to be monitors that supported it.
  • jn77
    My Still camera's record in 14bit Raw, Photoshop and Capture One work with 12 and 14bit files. My video camera's record in 12bit raw. I don't own a business and I am not going to spend $6000 on a computer monitor.

    240 Htz 3D 10,12 and 14 bit panels are way over priced and need to come down. The same with OLE.

    All it is is a monitor, not even a TV. It is a dead screen to display anything you throw at it.

    Look at how TV's depreciate. All it is, is a system rigged to make you pay for stuff that is already obsolete and keep consumers on the hook for upgrades.
  • shrapnel_indie
    205977 said:
    I wouldn't touch any shi*tty monitor with poor 1000:1 contrast when 3000:1 AMVA+ are available, at least till OLED floods PC.


    All manufacturers tend use different formulas to calculate contrast ratio, and frequently manufacturers change their own formulas. This kind of makes contrast ratios irrelevant, unless this practice has changed and a universal formula has been agreed upon.
  • shrapnel_indie
    Lets see...

    IPS: Good
    gtg refresh: 6ms - outside what is considered good for gaming (5ms or less)
    Framerate: 60 fps - bare minimum to look at for gaming, and that being only for the really low budget concerns.


    No, not a gaming monitor.
    No, not quite a Developer's monitor.
    Office monitor? Too pricey.
    Executive's monitor? Now I think we have something. A monitor aimed to cater to the hipster exec who wants to look good flaunting the latest tech.
  • ceberle
    I tried to be clear in the review that this monitor correctly processes HDR signals but with its low native contrast and edge backlight, it doesn't deliver an optimal HDR experience. There are plenty of televisions that offer similar performance.

    The only way an LCD panel will do justice to HDR is with a zone-dimming backlight. I've recently seen demos of upcoming screens from Asus that have this feature. They look stunning to say the least. I also have the UP2718Q from Dell that has a 384-zone backlight with 1000nits, 10-bit color, and Ultra HD. That review will appear soon.

    I realize the S2718D is an early effort. It'll only get better from here!

    Christian
  • JTWrenn
    Why would anyone buy this when a 32" 4k hdr monitor from samsung is right around the corner for $699? Uh850 seems like a much better deal.
  • 10tacle
    This is a fraudulent marketing gimmick that attempts to mimic HDR. While there are no definitive IEEE-type standards for "HDR", the fact is that real HDR panels (HDTVs as well as PC monitors) have higher caliber panels. Specifically starting with being a 10-bit panel and then on to color gamut, brightness, and contrast ratio expectations.

    While there are no official standards of HDR, there are three generally recognized standards of HDR: HDR10, Dolby Vision, and the newest is Samsung's HDR10+. HDR10 is the "official" supported one by the UHD Alliance and is being pushed to make as standard similar to Blu-Ray winning over HD DVD format. They put their stamp of approval as "Ultra HD Premium" on the products.

    This monitor fails on everything and should not even have "HDR" in the description. Fraud if you ask me and I'm very disappointed as a long time Dell panel buyer. Otherwise the design looks great with a thin bezel and frame, but sacrificing height adjustment is inexcusable in this price range. They sacrificed style over function there and that's a fatal flaw for many.
  • DotNetMaster777
    Dell Monitor looks nice !
  • photonboy
    Yep, VERY DISAPPOINTED with the "HDR" label. The main reason for it is to have excellent black levels for which you frankly would want at least 3000:1 likely and 10-bit support (or higher) for the better color range which helps prevent things like BANDING.