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Results: Grayscale Tracking And Gamma Response

Samsung S27B971D 27-Inch QHD Monitor, Reviewed

A majority of monitors (especially newer models) display excellent grayscale tracking, even at stock settings. It’s important that the color of white be consistently neutral at all light levels from darkest to brightest. Grayscale performance impacts color accuracy with regard to the secondary colors: cyan, magenta, and yellow. Since computer monitors typically have no color or tint adjustment, accurate grayscale is key.

Given the S27B971D’s factory calibration and correspondingly-higher price, we are a little disappointed by the screen's out-of-box performance. We measured each picture mode and came up with similar results for all of them. There is a calibration data sheet included in the box. However, we couldn't duplicate those numbers without adjustment. You can see the color temp runs a little green as brightness rises. Errors are visible after the 50-percent mark.

Fortunately, a high-quality calibration is fairly easy.

This is a stupendous result, to say the least. The errors range from .11 to .98 Delta E, proving that a properly designed display can make do with just a single-point white balance control.

Here’s our comparison group again.

At default settings, the S27B971D is below average in grayscale performance. The S27B970D was only a little better.

After calibration, the 971 rockets to the top of the chart, besting its predecessor by almost .30 Delta E. Its .42 value is the best we’ve recorded to date for any display of any type.

Gamma Response

Gamma is the measurement of luminance levels at every step in the brightness range from 0 to 100 percent. This is important because poor gamma can either crush detail at various points or wash it out, making the entire picture appear flat and dull. Correct gamma produces a more three-dimensional image, with a greater sense of depth and realism. Meanwhile, incorrect gamma negatively affects image quality, even in monitors with high contrast ratios.

In the gamma charts below, the yellow line represents 2.2, which is the most widely accepted standard for television, film, and computer graphics production. The closer the white measurement trace comes to 2.2, the better.

This graph was generated before we noticed the incorrect HDMI Black Level setting. We're not sure why Samsung has this at Low by default. Not only it hose the gamma curve, but it also crushes both highlight and shadow detail noticeably.

This is the gamma measurement at the Normal setting. It’s even better, if only slightly, than the graph generated by the S27B970D. Aside from a tiny dip at 10 percent, it’s perfect. And that dip represents a measly .33 cd/m2.

Here’s our test group again for the gamma comparisons.

A value range of .14 indicates extremely tight gamma tracking. And that is caused by only a single aberration at 10-percent brightness. As you can see, it doesn’t get much better.

We calculate gamma deviation by expressing the difference from 2.2 as a percentage.

Only three other displays we’ve reviewed can match this result: AOC’s I2757FH, HP’s ZR2740w, and Asus’ PB278Q. For all intents and purposes, this is perfect gamma response.

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Top Comments
  • 13 Hide
    blackmagnum , February 19, 2014 4:19 AM
    Gamers... move along. Nothing to see here.
Other Comments
  • 8 Hide
    damianrobertjones , February 19, 2014 1:12 AM
    @cats_Paw: Did you read the article? It's FOR art professionals etc
  • 5 Hide
    c123456 , February 19, 2014 4:12 AM
    @damianrobertjones: Do you know what comparable products cost? Apparently not. Look up a Dell U2713HM.
  • 13 Hide
    blackmagnum , February 19, 2014 4:19 AM
    Gamers... move along. Nothing to see here.
  • 0 Hide
    Ceee9 , February 19, 2014 5:43 AM
    u2713h can be get around 500$usd...
  • 0 Hide
    ubercake , February 19, 2014 5:52 AM
    Contrast (even post-calibration) blows for that price. But you get a cool partially metal stand (?).
  • 2 Hide
    BoC_Gryphon , February 19, 2014 8:32 AM
    To my knowledge, Toms has never done a review of the Korean 27" QHD monitors that can be had for ~$300-400. Please do.
  • 1 Hide
    Bolts Romano , February 19, 2014 9:44 AM
    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
  • 0 Hide
    Bondfc11 , February 19, 2014 10:33 AM
    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.
  • 1 Hide
    ceberle , February 19, 2014 10:42 AM,3465.html

    We covered the Auria EQ276W last April.

  • 1 Hide
    Gurg , February 19, 2014 10:45 AM
    To my knowledge, Toms has never done a review of the Korean 27" QHD monitors that can be had for ~$300-400. Please do.,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.
  • 0 Hide
    ubercake , February 19, 2014 11:55 AM
    To my knowledge, Toms has never done a review of the Korean 27" QHD monitors that can be had for ~$300-400. Please do.,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 Hide
    W123 , February 19, 2014 12:52 PM
    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.
  • 2 Hide
    10tacle , February 19, 2014 5:54 PM
    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.
  • 1 Hide
    ikyung , February 20, 2014 12:49 PM
    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.
  • 0 Hide
    SuckRaven , February 20, 2014 10:05 PM
    How would this compare to something like an EIZO ColorEdge CG276 (also 2560 x 1440 IPS), or say something like the NEC MultiSync PA302W? (30" 2560x1600)'s should do a comparison between them.
  • 1 Hide
    falchard , February 22, 2014 12:24 PM
    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.
  • 0 Hide
    Crzy1 , February 22, 2014 5:17 PM
    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 Hide
    computerguy72 , February 24, 2014 12:22 AM
    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 Hide
    natoco , February 25, 2014 4:18 AM
    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.
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