Samsung S27B971D 27-Inch QHD Monitor, Reviewed

Results: Brightness And Contrast

Uncalibrated

Before calibrating any panel, we measure zero- and 100-percent signals at both ends of the brightness control range. This shows us how contrast is affected at the extremes of a monitor's luminance capability. We do not increase contrast control past the clipping point. While doing this would increase a monitor’s light output, the brightest signal levels would not be visible, resulting in crushed highlight detail. Our numbers show the maximum light level possible with no signal clipping.

Our comparison group consists of the last four desktop monitors reviewed at Tom’s Hardware, plus Samsung’s previous-generation S27B970D QHD screen.

This is not an exceptionally bright display, but it is bright enough for pretty much any environment we can think of (and it's slightly brighter than Samsung's previous-gen effort). There is more output available in the High Bright mode, though it comes at the expense of clipped detail and a too-cool white point.

The black level results reveal a little surprise.

The S27B971D takes a step backward from Samsung's 970 in our maximum black level measurement. While this mid-pack result isn’t bad, the 971’s black level is higher by more than double. Stick with us though; the outcome it isn’t as bad as you might think.

Here’s the final contrast result:

While the maximum contrast result is around half that of the S27B970D’s, it’s still about average for all the screens we measured in 2013. And as you’ll see, the newer Samsung has much more consistent contrast at all output levels.

We believe 50 cd/m2 is a practical minimum standard for brightness. Any lower and you risk eyestrain and fatigue. Many monitors do register under that level. The S27B971D, specifically, measures 59.8483 cd/m2 when the brightness control is bottomed. That's within a hair of the S27B970D’s result.

Samsung's previous-gen flagship returned a super-low black level of .0145 cd/m2, while the S27B971D once again runs mid-pack with a .0840 measurement. That's still pretty low, falling in line with the newer screen’s more consistent contrast performance.

We wrap up this section with the minimum contrast comparison.

And here's the consistency we’re talking about. From the top to the bottom of the S27B971D’s output range, contrast is pretty much the same no matter where you choose to set it. Since there’s no sweet spot per se, you can set the light output to more precisely match your room’s lighting conditions.

After Calibration

Since we consider 200 cd/m2 to be an ideal point for peak output, we calibrate all of our test monitors to that value. In a room with some ambient light (like an office), this brightness level provides a sharp, punchy image with maximum detail and minimum eye fatigue. It's also good for gamma and grayscale tracking, which we'll look at on the next page. In a darkened room, many professionals prefer a 120 cd/m2 calibration. We find this makes little to no difference on the calibrated black level and contrast measurements.

By now, you know what we're going to say. The calibrated black level is right where it should be to maintain a contrast ratio of just over 700:1. And it’s a tad lower than the S27B970D.

Here are the final calibrated contrast numbers.

The S27B971D’s consistent contrast performance is a vast improvement over the S27B970D’s more varied numbers. Just look at the values: 720.3, 712.2, and 718.9 to 1. That’s amazing! We measured the results at a 120 cd/m2 output level and came up with 717 to 1, with a black level of .1690 cd/m2. Although monitors with greater calibrated contrast do exist, there are none as consistent at multiple output levels.

ANSI Contrast Ratio

Another important measure of contrast is ANSI. To perform this test, a checkerboard pattern of sixteen zero- and 100-percent squares is measured. The result is somewhat more real-world than on/off measurements because it tests a display’s ability to simultaneously maintain both low black and full white levels, and factors in screen uniformity. The average of the eight full-white measurements is divided by the average of the eight full-black measurements to arrive at the ANSI result.

When a display’s ANSI and on/off measurements are this close, we can reasonably draw conclusions about good engineering and the use of high-quality components. It also suggests excellent screen uniformity, which we should be able to confirm on page nine.

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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