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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  • WINTERLORD
    cant wait till they have 4k in hdr at affordable prices
  • daglesj
    I'll take the features but ditch the stand for a standard removable with VESA and the controls built in as normal.
  • GentlemanGreen
    stopped reading at 60 hz
  • LionD
    How could 8 bit/sRGB display, with contrast 1000 and no local dimming, deliver true HDR experience? Total nonsense.
  • CarbonBased
    @GENTLEMANGREEN

    Lots of people have plenty of use for 60hz screens. stop poo-pooing products that cleary arent aimed at you. I have a rig for gaming, and sure, 60hz isn't really enough anymore. However, I take and edit photos as a hobby, so IPS, 10-bit, HDR, all very attractive features. Add that i can mate it to my photo editing laptop with a USB-C cable and were really getting somewhere. I'll be looking for this one come holiday season.
  • cbliss
    NOT AN HDR MONITOR.. FALSE ADVERTISING.. BUYERS BEWARE!! (HDR requires 10bit panel, this is 8bit.. It also lacks any form of local dimming). Bogus product for hdr, otherwise simply an overpriced QHD monitor).
  • CarbonBased
    Fair enough, I didnt realize that it was 8 instead of 10 bit. But I will stand by my point that 60Hz is fine for many, if not most, computer users, even if they are gamers. the market for high refresh rates is specifically gamer-centric. Dissing product thats arent built to gamer spec because you are a gamer does not lend one to being an unbiased source of opinion.
  • Scott____67
    i like to wall mount my monitor anyways so the stand is non existent and in a condo it keeps areas and desk spaces clear plus having a little height with a downward pitch is perfect for the lean back in the chair gamer that i am
  • alextheblue
    Anonymous said:
    Fair enough, I didnt realize that it was 8 instead of 10 bit. But I will stand by my point that 60Hz is fine for many, if not most, computer users, even if they are gamers. the market for high refresh rates is specifically gamer-centric. Dissing product thats arent built to gamer spec because you are a gamer does not lend one to being an unbiased source of opinion.

    Agreed. A 60hz monitor isn't great for gaming anymore, so for my personal needs and budget I'm better off with a halfway decent TN panel with high refresh rate, wide freesync range, and low input lag. That might change in the future, as advanced displays come down in price. But today that's what best fits my needs.

    But as you said most non-gaming applications don't need high refresh rates. Users who don't game will typically favor resolution, contrast, brightness, viewing angle, and color reproduction over refresh rate and input latency. If you have a sub-$300 budget like I do you often end up with a display that either favors gaming performance and features, or image quality and advanced colorspaces. Just because you favor a high-refresh gaming monitor doesn't mean you can't recognize uses for a non-gaming display.

    Granted if you spend enough money you can get a display that doesn't compromise much and is fairly good at everything. Way out of my price range at this point, though.
  • alextheblue
    Quote:
    To see HDR content, you’ll need a compatible player or computer with an HDMI 2.0/HDCP 2.2 output. The latest Ultra HD Blu-ray players feature this interface. You can also connect with the right video card. Fortunately, there are quite a few choices. On the Nvidia side is the GTX 950 up to the Titan X (Maxwell), or the GTX 1050 to Titan X (Pascal). AMD users can employ an R9 390X or RX 460, 470, or 480.

    I thought anything with Polaris would support HDR10, such as Radeon 540/550 (Polaris 12). Maybe I'm misremembering. Also, on PC you have to have to use HDR10 compatible playback software to benefit.

    On the console side of things, Xbox One S has supported Ultra HD (4K HDR10) BDs for some time. If I was looking for a dedicated box, it's a good choice even if you don't play console games. It's not much more than a decent dedicated 4K HDR10 player, and it has better support for apps. You can add a Kinect if you want voice control. If you don't use physical discs but want a dedicated box for 4K HDR streams, then I'd recommend a Roku Premiere+ or Ultra.
  • rantoc
    This monitor is as much HDR as the consoles are 4k capable ;)
  • i-am-i-u-r-u
    Way over priced and phony marketing as HDR. The after calibration black luminance of .2663 and contrast ratio of 761 is pitiful.
  • cryoburner
    Anonymous said:
    I'll take the features but ditch the stand for a standard removable with VESA and the controls built in as normal.


    I don't get why they would give this relatively high-end monitor such a mediocre non-removable stand and no VESA mounts. It might make the monitor look relatively nice when viewed from the back and side, but that's not likely to be relevant in most usage scenarios, where the back will be facing toward a wall. Making the monitor slightly thinner is largely pointless when its at the expense of functionality.

    Also, the monitor's main feature seems only half-implemented. It's supposedly an "HDR monitor", but has weak static contrast ratios. Maybe it will often look better than a standard IPS screen when fed with HDR content, but a VA panel would probably look better overall, even without support for 10-bit input. This monitor reminds me of those standard-definition televisions from a decade ago that would accept an HD signal, but then downsample it to the screen's SD display, only here, we seem to be taking a high dynamic range image and displaying it on a screen with mediocre contrast. It might be a decent monitor for what it is, but it seems a bit overpriced considering what it has to offer.
  • Nintendork
    I wouldn't touch any shi*tty monitor with poor 1000:1 contrast when 3000:1 AMVA+ are available, at least till OLED floods PC.
  • bit_user
    I feel like I've been reading about >= 10-bit and HDR for like 10 years. HDMI has supported 30-bit (10 bits per channel) and 36-bit (12 bits per channel) "deep color" for about that long, and I thought there were supposed to be monitors that supported it.
  • jn77
    My Still camera's record in 14bit Raw, Photoshop and Capture One work with 12 and 14bit files. My video camera's record in 12bit raw. I don't own a business and I am not going to spend $6000 on a computer monitor.

    240 Htz 3D 10,12 and 14 bit panels are way over priced and need to come down. The same with OLE.

    All it is is a monitor, not even a TV. It is a dead screen to display anything you throw at it.

    Look at how TV's depreciate. All it is, is a system rigged to make you pay for stuff that is already obsolete and keep consumers on the hook for upgrades.
  • shrapnel_indie
    Anonymous said:
    I wouldn't touch any shi*tty monitor with poor 1000:1 contrast when 3000:1 AMVA+ are available, at least till OLED floods PC.


    All manufacturers tend use different formulas to calculate contrast ratio, and frequently manufacturers change their own formulas. This kind of makes contrast ratios irrelevant, unless this practice has changed and a universal formula has been agreed upon.
  • shrapnel_indie
    Lets see...

    IPS: Good
    gtg refresh: 6ms - outside what is considered good for gaming (5ms or less)
    Framerate: 60 fps - bare minimum to look at for gaming, and that being only for the really low budget concerns.


    No, not a gaming monitor.
    No, not quite a Developer's monitor.
    Office monitor? Too pricey.
    Executive's monitor? Now I think we have something. A monitor aimed to cater to the hipster exec who wants to look good flaunting the latest tech.
  • ceberle
    I tried to be clear in the review that this monitor correctly processes HDR signals but with its low native contrast and edge backlight, it doesn't deliver an optimal HDR experience. There are plenty of televisions that offer similar performance.

    The only way an LCD panel will do justice to HDR is with a zone-dimming backlight. I've recently seen demos of upcoming screens from Asus that have this feature. They look stunning to say the least. I also have the UP2718Q from Dell that has a 384-zone backlight with 1000nits, 10-bit color, and Ultra HD. That review will appear soon.

    I realize the S2718D is an early effort. It'll only get better from here!

    Christian