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Samsung S27B971D 27-Inch QHD Monitor, Reviewed

Samsung S27B971D 27-Inch QHD Monitor, Reviewed
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Samsung's S27B971D is a refreshed flagship 27-inch QHD monitor selling for $200 less than last-gen's model. It certainly looks impressive on paper, with its factory calibration and internal look-up table capability. Does it measure up in our lab, though?

A little more than a year ago, I wrote VP2770-LED Vs. S27B970D: 27" Monitors At 2560x1440, reviewing Samsung's flagship S27B970D at $1200. It offered high-end luxury, slick styling, a large feature set, and factory calibration. After a handful of tweaks and a $200 price reduction, the follow-up S27B971D is ready for our suite of display tests.

QHD monitors, with a native resolution of 2560x1440, are becoming more commonplace on enthusiast desktops, despite the fact that they still start north of $600. There are a few gray-market exceptions. For example, Auria's EQ276W remains a terrific value at around $400. At the other end of the spectrum, a few manufacturers distance themselves from the pack by adding features and improving performance at a correspondingly higher price point. Atop the price ladder sits the Samsung S27B971D.

Any display selling for four figures needs to offer lots of pixels, a long feature set, or, preferably, both. Top-end performance goes without saying. The only other screen we’ve tested that includes a factory calibration is Asus’ PA279Q, which also boasts a CMS and selectable color gamuts. The PA279Q sells for $850. So, we want to know how Samsung justifies that extra $150.

Brand
Samsung
Model
S27B971D
MSRP
$1000
Panel Type
PLS
Backlight
W-LED, edge array
Screen Size
27-inch
Max Resolution
2560x1440
Max Refresh Rate
60 Hz
Aspect Ratio
16:9
Response Time (GTG)
5 ms
Brightness (cd/m2)
300 High Bright, 220 Standard
Speakers
Yes
VGA
-
DVI
1
DisplayPort
1
HDMI
1
Audio In
via HDMI or DP
Headphone
-
USB
1 up, 2 down
Panel Dimensions
W x H x D w/base
25.4 x 18.4-22.3 x 9.7 in
645 x 467-567 x 247 mm
Panel Thickness
.9 in / 23 mm
Weight
16.5 lbs / 7.5 kg
Warranty
Three years

On paper, the S27B971D's specifications don't necessarily explain why the display is so expensive. It’s not terribly bright, nor does it have the higher refresh rate that would make it attractive to gamers. What we can see is that it's aimed squarely at graphics professionals. Samsung touts factory calibration and out-of-box accuracy as the main selling points. And there's one feature it offers that no other company does: the ability to interface a calibration instrument directly with the monitor’s internal look-up table.

We’ve discussed LUTs in the past. This is best way to add functionality to a monitor’s OSD so you can arrive at a more precise calibration than would be possible otherwise. Samsung eliminates the need to add expensive software and pattern sources to your graphics toolkit. Its application, Natural Color Expert, is included in the package, along with support for all meters commonly in use today like the X-Rite i1Pro and Display2 products. Not only does this software address the usual calibration parameters, but it adds screen uniformity correction to the mix.

During the course of today's review, we'll run through NCE’s entire process. You'll also see us calibrate using more conventional steps. Samsung isn't a company we know to cut corners; however, our tests will show whether it comes up short in any particular metric to achieve that $200 price reduction.

Display 22 Comments.
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  • 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
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/auria-eq276w-review-ips,3465.html

    We covered the Auria EQ276W last April.

    -Christian-
  • 1 Hide
    Gurg , February 19, 2014 10:45 AM
    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.
  • 0 Hide
    ubercake , February 19, 2014 11:55 AM
    Quote:
    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 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.
  • 0 Hide
    Sean76 , February 20, 2014 7:07 AM
    BenQ makes all Samsung Monitors, better off going straight to the source and buy a BenQ, and save a ton of money.
  • 1 Hide
    ikyung , February 20, 2014 12:49 PM
    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.
  • 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),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.
  • 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.
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