Samsung S27B971D 27-Inch QHD Monitor, Reviewed

Samsung S27B971D: High-End Luxury At A High-end Price

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.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Panel TypePLS
BacklightW-LED, edge array
Screen Size27-inch
Max Resolution2560x1440
Max Refresh Rate60 Hz
Aspect Ratio16:9
Response Time (GTG)5 ms
Brightness (cd/m2)300 High Bright, 220 Standard
Audio Invia HDMI or DP
USB1 up, 2 down
Panel DimensionsW x H x D w/base25.4 x 18.4-22.3 x 9.7 in645 x 467-567 x 247 mm
Panel Thickness.9 in / 23 mm
Weight16.5 lbs / 7.5 kg
WarrantyThree 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.

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.

  • 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.