Dell S2718D HDR Monitor Review

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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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Christian Eberle
Contributing Editor

Christian Eberle is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He's a veteran reviewer of A/V equipment, specializing in monitors. Christian began his obsession with tech when he built his first PC in 1991, a 286 running DOS 3.0 at a blazing 12MHz. In 2006, he undertook training from the Imaging Science Foundation in video calibration and testing and thus started a passion for precise imaging that persists to this day. He is also a professional musician with a degree from the New England Conservatory as a classical bassoonist which he used to good effect as a performer with the West Point Army Band from 1987 to 2013. He enjoys watching movies and listening to high-end audio in his custom-built home theater and can be seen riding trails near his home on a race-ready ICE VTX recumbent trike. Christian enjoys the endless summer in Florida where he lives with his wife and Chihuahua and plays with orchestras around the state.

    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

    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
    19973045 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
    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.