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Dell S2718D HDR Monitor Review

Brightness & Contrast

To read about our monitor tests in depth, please check out Display Testing Explained: How We Test Monitors and TVs.  Brightness and Contrast testing is covered on page two.

Uncalibrated – Maximum Backlight Level

We don’t have any other HDR-compatible monitors in our database, so we’ve included premium IPS/QHD screens for today’s comparison. All offer similar performance with SDR material. We have ViewSonic’s VP2771, Acer’s BE270U, BenQ’s PD2700Q, AOC’s Q2781PQ, and Nixeus’ PRO Vue 27P. It should be noted that the Acer offers 75Hz and FreeSync while the others lack adaptive-refresh and top out at 60Hz.

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The S2718D easily exceeds its claimed 300cd/m2 spec with over 330 nits peak brightness. Technically, it’s not enough for HDR, which recommends at least 1000. But you’ll see how Dell handles that limitation in our HDR tests on page five.

The black level is disappointingly high at .3857cd/m2 resulting in a static contrast ratio of 856.8. This is merely OK for SDR and computer content, but HDR needs the monitor’s dynamic contrast feature. That’s likely why it’s locked on. And it effectively improves perceived contrast.

Uncalibrated – Minimum Backlight Level

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If you like to work, play, or watch in a dark room, the S2718D drops to a perfect 49.5191cd/m2 when brightness is set to zero. Black levels decrease in proportion so contrast remains consistent at 839.2:1. While the image is not the most dynamic we’ve seen, it holds up well at every output level, making it easy to find your ideal luminance point.

After Calibration to 200cd/m2

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Contrast is slightly reduced after calibration to 761.4:1. Black levels are still at the back of the pack, and even though we increased the contrast slider by one click, dynamic range is still a bit below average. You can use the dynamic contrast feature in several of the fixed image presets, and it works reasonably well, but it’s grayed out in the Custom Color mode. Fortunately, it comes into play in both Movie HDR and Game HDR. These results suggest that the S2718D would benefit from the use of a VA panel. By comparison, IPS doesn’t quite have the chops for HDR.

ANSI Contrast Ratio

ANSI contrast holds steady at 771.7:1, 10 clicks above the static value. The panel is of good quality with decent uniformity, although our sample showed a few minor hotspots in the black field test. Intra-image contrast is only fair though. Again, we’d love to see a VA panel used for this application.

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Christian Eberle
Christian Eberle is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He's a veteran reviewer of A/V equipment, specializing in monitors.