Samsung S27B971D 27-Inch QHD Monitor, Reviewed

OSD Setup And Calibrating Samsung's S27B971D

The S27B971D's OSD is identical to the S27B970D. It is almost minimalist in nature, yet still powerful. You get everything you need and nothing you don’t. In fact, the only menu item missing is a wide-gamut option.

Touching the menu icon in the lower-left of the control panel brings up the first screen.

Dynamic Contrast is only enabled in the High Bright picture mode. If you turn it on, you won’t have access to the brightness or contrast sliders. As such, we recommend leaving it off.

Naturally, Brightness modulates the backlight, not the actual black level. This can be set to taste since the overall contrast ratio stays the same no matter what the output level. Contrast clips information at values above 70. Response Time is Samsung’s term for TraceFree. Setting it to Faster reduces motion blur, though in some cases also causes ghosting. HDMI Black Level should be set to Normal for all PC signals, or Low for video signals (such as those coming from a Blu-ray player).

The second sub-menu is called Color and contains a standard set of calibration controls.

To enable the RGB sliders, you need to be in the Standard or Cinema Color Mode. You can choose a preset color temp based on Kelvins, or set the option to Custom and adjust yourself. We’re happy to see the sliders start in the middle of their range. This makes dialing in the white point much easier. And 100-step resolution means a very precise calibration is possible. The gamma presets range from 1.6 to 2.7, and they measure accurately. The correct choice is 2.2.

Next up are the aspect and menu position controls.

For PC signals, there are two aspect ratio choices: Wide and Auto. Wide stretches a lower-than-native resolution signal to fill the screen, while Auto maps the source image in a 1:1 ratio. So, for example, a 1920x1080 signal would be shown windowed in the center of the screen without any scaling.

This menu also contains controls for positioning the OSD. You can place it anywhere, which is particularly convenient for viewing test patterns.

These are the remaining ergonomic features in the Setup & Reset menu:

Turning on Eco Saving reduces the monitor’s power consumption, along with its light output. Menu Transparency is an on/off option. Language offers 14 choices. PC/AV mode is designed to make the S27B971D more compatible with sources other than computers by changing the aspect ratio and color mode options. Ultimately, the best bet is to stay in PC mode and make sure the signal from your video sources (optical disc player, DVR) is in PC mode also. If you are forced to connect a video-mode only device, change the HDMI Black Level option to Low to have the correct dynamic range.

The final screen reports the horizontal and vertical refresh rates, in addition to the input resolution.

Samsung S27B971D Calibration

There are two ways to calibrate this monitor, either through the OSD or with Natural Color Expert, which is provided at no charge by Samsung. For our testing, we used the OSD. But I also ran through the procedure in NCE using an X-Rite i1Pro spectrophotometer.

I settled on Standard mode as the best starting point for my OSD-based calibration. The other modes lock out different controls and limit adjustment (sRGB mode, for instance, locks out everything, including brightness and contrast). And unfortunately, none of them are terribly accurate out of the box. In fact, this monitor takes a slight step backwards from its predecessor in that regard.

The most glaring flaw we found is that the HDMI Black Level is set to Low by default, which, as it turns out, is incorrect for PC-level signals. If you don’t change it to Normal, blacks get crushed and the overall gamma curve ends up quite far off of the 2.2 standard. Once you change this setting, flat grayscale tracking is only a few clicks away. There are no adjustments for the color gamut, but it tracks sRGB fairly well. A more notable omission is an option for Adobe RGB 1998. Any display aimed at professionals, especially at this price point, should include presets for both gamuts.

Samsung S27B971D Calibration Settings
Brightness
74
Contrast
70
Sharpness
60
Color Mode
Standard
Color Temp
Custom
RGB
Red 51 / Green 50 / Blue 54
Gamma
2.2
HDMI Black Level
Normal

If you attempt to calibrate with HDMI Black Level set to Low, you will have all sorts of difficulties setting brightness and contrast correctly. Once you change it to Normal, the sliders work as they should. Contrast clips information above a setting of 70. The Sharpness slider softens the picture when set below 60. Any higher and you'll experience edge enhancement.

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21 comments
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    Top Comments
  • blackmagnum
    Gamers... move along. Nothing to see here.
    13
  • Other Comments
  • cats_Paw
    1000 dollars for a monitor 27 inch... nah.For that you can get a huge plasma TV if its for single player or a 300 dollar 27 inch monitor and use the 700 on something else.I still cant understand how companies expect to sell those expensive monitors to anyone but art/graphics/textures developers who actually need that picture quality.
    -11
  • damianrobertjones
    @cats_Paw: Did you read the article? It's FOR art professionals etc
    8
  • c123456
    @damianrobertjones: Do you know what comparable products cost? Apparently not. Look up a Dell U2713HM.
    5
  • blackmagnum
    Gamers... move along. Nothing to see here.
    13
  • Ceee9
    u2713h can be get around 500$usd...
    0
  • ubercake
    Contrast (even post-calibration) blows for that price. But you get a cool partially metal stand (?).
    0
  • BoC_Gryphon
    To my knowledge, Toms has never done a review of the Korean 27" QHD monitors that can be had for ~$300-400. Please do.
    2
  • Bolts Romano
    is it better than Apple Cinema Display in terms of color gamut and contrast?I wish i can find this monitor here in Canada so i can compare myselfSamsung Canada is very weird, it has its own flag stores here but it does not carry all the products
    1
  • Bondfc11
    You know this a pay to play for a review right? Of course Tom's doesn't do the korean models - or heck the Overlord Tempest lineup. What people don't get with QHD, and this includes Tom's staff, is LG has strict Tier 1 requirements for companies buying their panels that include minimum price points.
    0
  • ceberle
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/auria-eq276w-review-ips,3465.html

    We covered the Auria EQ276W last April.

    -Christian-
    1
  • Gurg
    Quote:
    To my knowledge, Toms has never done a review of the Korean 27" QHD monitors that can be had for ~$300-400. Please do.
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/auria-eq276w-review-ips,3465.htmlMy Auria was great for 4 months and then while gaming had a wavy pattern and quickly went black and died. Haven't tried to warranty yet.
    1
  • ubercake
    Anonymous said:
    Quote:
    To my knowledge, Toms has never done a review of the Korean 27" QHD monitors that can be had for ~$300-400. Please do.
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/auria-eq276w-review-ips,3465.htmlMy Auria was great for 4 months and then while gaming had a wavy pattern and quickly went black and died. Haven't tried to warranty yet.


    Poor contrast was also observed with the Auria in the reviews. Sure... The Korean IPS monitors can accurately display colors, but you don't get all of the in-between shades (contrast)?
    0
  • W123
    Having a Samsung S27b970D, i can say either your testing methodology is wrong, equipment faulty, or Samsung sent you a ringer. There's no way the black level you measured was correct. Average contrast ratio on the 970d is 800:1. Your numbers are WAY off. Also, considering the 970d's glass panel that makes the blacks look grey instead of black, i'd say this model is better. Im dumping this one and getting a Dell or Asus though.
    0
  • 10tacle
    I don't care what segment this monitor is geared towards: gamer, professional graphics, or photography and video creation. This is just too much money these days for a 27" QHD. Even as admitted in this review, most people hold on to their monitors for many years. Anyone who spends a grand (or more on a 30" QHD) will regret it within two years when 4K monitors dip below the two grand price point.

    Love ya Samsung, have many of your HDTVs and monitors here, but this thing should be $799 tops. Even high end QHD monitors are not brand new technology anymore. Time to adjust the prices to reflect it.
    2
  • ikyung
    Quote:
    BenQ makes all Samsung Monitors, better off going straight to the source and buy a BenQ, and save a ton of money.
    What? Source? Why would BenQ make Samsung monitors? BenQ doesn't even make PLS panels, or any panels for that matter.
    1
  • SuckRaven
    How would this compare to something like an EIZO ColorEdge CG276 (also 2560 x 1440 IPS),http://www.eizo.com/global/products/coloredge/cg276/index.html or say something like the NEC MultiSync PA302W? (30" 2560x1600)http://www.necdisplay.com/p/desktop-monitors/pa302w-bkTom's should do a comparison between them.
    0
  • falchard
    Watchout Samsung, Apple sells monitors to artists that are rectangular in shape and come in some degree of gray. People may confuse it for an Apple product.
    1
  • Crzy1
    I have the S27B970D and it's a great monitor. I'll have to admit that I purchased it for looks alone, but it has one of the most impressive panels I've laid eyes on. I would not, however, think to compare it to a true 10-bit professional display. While it may be able to hold it's own with similarly priced monitors, I doubt that it will come close to a $2.5k+ monitor that is meant for nothing but professional video or image editing.
    0
  • computerguy72
    Wow on balance that Planar PXL seems to really hold up. If nothing else compares to it's price/performance over the next few months I think that will be my next monitor. For future I bet IGZO panels might be the thing to beat in years to come. Time will tell.
    0
  • natoco
    Even though its only a 60hz screen, if it had Nvidia G-Sync I would have taken a lot more notice since it would have been a very nice screen to look at as well as smooth enough for gaming. If only these things had the sales volume of tablets, maybe then we would get something that's not oh so 2009.
    0