Dell S2718D HDR Monitor Review

Conclusion

The S2718D is quite clearly a style-oriented product with its super thin panel, narrow bezel, and minimalist stand. And having the controls and inputs in the base just adds to its appeal for an uncluttered desktop. You won’t see any pesky cables sticking out or dangling down its backside. And it redefines the word slim with a panel that’s less than an inch thick. But the addition of HDR10 support makes it so much more than just a good looking monitor with a nice picture. While we would consider it an early implementation of the technology, it’s a step forward that the competition would be wise to imitate.

Taken without HDR, we’d recommend the S2718D for well-funded users with high-end systems. At around $600 at this writing, it’s more expensive than most other IPS/QHD displays. But if you’re looking for the bleeding edge, the addition of HDR pushes it into its own category.

HDR10 is the standard found on Ultra HD Blu-ray and looks to be well established. There are other approaches to the technology coming soon in the form of Dolby Vision and Hybrid Log Gamma. But for now, HDR10 is what you’ll need at minimum. Perhaps the other two standards will be supported with a future firmware update.

It’s clear from our test results that the S2718D does not break new ground in the area of contrast. It lacks the light output to truly present the full dynamic range of HDR, nor does it have sufficiently low black levels. Dell pre-empts this by stating in the manual, “HDR: Adapted High Dynamic Range appropriate for monitor usage.” Obviously, a contrast ratio below 1000:1 won’t truly cut it. But there is a silver lining here.

Our HDR test results show that it will properly track luminance to the EOTF standard for HDR10. And it will render color in both Rec.2020 and DCI-P3 up to its native primary limit. It hits all the targets except the ones outside its capabilities. What this adds up to is an excellent movie-watching experience. We’ve watched a lot of Blu-rays on a lot of computer monitors and none but the S2718D and a handful of VA-based displays can truly replicate what can be seen on a mid-priced television. Those TVs simply have a lot more native contrast. We’re not saying the S2718D will stand up to a OLED panel, but it will present Ultra HD Blu-ray and HDR content in a way that makes it look better than you’d expect.

You’ll need a compatible player and/or video card to make the magic happen, but with the right signal path, you can truly enjoy watching movies or playing games on the S2718D. Some games will cry out for adaptive-refresh and lower input lag, but for most casual play, this is a fine display.

The price isn’t low, but if you’re itching to get your feet wet with HDR on the desktop, there aren’t a multitude of choices out there right now. Unless a similar display appears with a VA panel, competing products aren’t likely to eclipse the performance seen here. For its HDR10 implementation, sleek styling, and good calibrated performance, we’re giving the Dell S2718D our Tom’s Hardware Editor Approved Award.

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  • vasras
    No FALD, no Quantum Dots, 330 cd/m2, 8-bit panel...
    And it is supposed to be HDR? Don't make me laugh, Dell :-D
    Wait for the REAL HDR 1000 displays to come out. This is a total joke. HDR in name only