Samsung S27B971D 27-Inch QHD Monitor, Reviewed

New Monitor, New Price: Is The S27B971D A Better Value?

Most of us don't upgrade our monitors very often. If you already own an S27B970D, there is nothing about the newer model that warrants shelling out another $1000. The two main improvements are that contrast, while lower, is more consistent, and the screen’s new anti-glare layer is vastly superior to the old one.

If you’re still shopping for your first 27-inch QHD screen, however, Samsung does offer a few reasons to spend more on its new flagship instead of the competition's best efforts.

Performance is this display's top strength. Its accuracy is second to none. The benchmark results for grayscale, gamma, and color are either the best we've ever recorded or close to them. The only metric where the S27B971D falls short is contrast. But that story requires a deeper analysis. Yes, the raw contrast numbers are lower than some less expensive QHD screens (and even Samsung’s own S27B970D). But overall contrast performance is now much more consistent at all brightness levels. You can set the backlight control anywhere in its range and you’ll see around a 700-to-1 contrast ratio, both on/off and intra-image. Look over the other monitors' numbers, and you'll find that it's rare for a display to maintain its ratio so steadily in every scenario.

The only caveat is that you really need to calibrate in order to achieve peak performance. Samsung advertises a factory calibration and includes a data sheet along with each monitor showing impressive results. Our measurements did not correspond to those figures right out of the box, though. And so, without your intervention, the S27B971D is not significantly better than other QHD displays. It falls within reasonable parameters; errors are barely visible. But for $1000, we expected more accurate results.

We’re finding more monitors at lower price points that offer solid performance without calibration. And paying more doesn’t guarantee greater accuracy, either. You will always get the most out of your display with calibration. But if you don’t invest in the software and instruments, there are value-oriented choices out there too. This is not one of those options.

Samsung aims the S27B971D at professional users. We think it will appeal more to luxury-oriented buyers who attach equal importance to aesthetics as they do to performance. The most likely deal-breaker for Samsung's target market is the lack of a wide-gamut option. Now that Asus includes that feature in its PA279Q, manufacturers without it are at a disadvantage. We applaud Samsung’s price drop compared to last-gen's model. However, the company could still do a better job of improving value.

We hope that the 27-inch QHD segment is hit by a price drop soon. Cost reductions for LCD panels in general have slowed considerably in the past year. But now that the entire Tom's Hardware team is using displays with high pixel densities, we have no intention of stepping back to 1920x1080. Perhaps the inevitable ramp-up of 4K displays will knock QHD down a bit. For now, it remains predominantly high-end tech at a high-end price.

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    Top Comments
  • blackmagnum
    Gamers... move along. Nothing to see here.
  • 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.
  • damianrobertjones
    @cats_Paw: Did you read the article? It's FOR art professionals etc
  • c123456
    @damianrobertjones: Do you know what comparable products cost? Apparently not. Look up a Dell U2713HM.
  • blackmagnum
    Gamers... move along. Nothing to see here.
  • Ceee9
    u2713h can be get around 500$usd...
  • ubercake
    Contrast (even post-calibration) blows for that price. But you get a cool partially metal stand (?).
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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.
  • ceberle,3465.html

    We covered the Auria EQ276W last April.

  • Gurg
    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.
  • ubercake
    Anonymous said:
    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)?
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • ikyung
    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.
  • SuckRaven
    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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.