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Dell S2718D HDR Monitor Review

Our Verdict

HDR is a work in progress but Dell has wisely chosen to support HDR10 in the S2718D. This IPS panel offers QHD resolution, UHD signal compatibility, and excellent accuracy in its HDR modes. While contrast is a bit low to truly appreciate the technology, it does offer an image quality upgrade over other SDR-only monitors. We’d love to see the addition of a VA panel and gaming features like adaptive-sync and fast refresh. For now though, it’s about the only game in town if you’re shopping for HDR. Early-adopters will want to check it out.

For

  • HDR10
  • Good color after calibration
  • QHD resolution
  • HDMI 2.0
  • USB-C
  • Accepts UHD signals
  • Styling
  • Thin panel

Against

  • Contrast
  • Out-of-box accuracy
  • No adaptive-refresh
  • 60Hz

Features & Specifications

IPS panels with QHD resolution have become the premium displays in nearly every category. Today we’re looking at a style-conscious model from Dell. On the surface, the the S2718D is no different than many other good looking business monitors. It sports a thin bezel, an all-metal stand, and clean cable management, along with one of the thinnest panels we’ve ever seen. If that were the extent of its virtues, it would be a good monitor. But Dell has added something to set it apart from other displays – HDR10 support. This is the first product we’ve seen that incorporates the standard and we’re curious to see how a typical 1000:1-contrast monitor will handle the new High Dynamic Range content found on Ultra HD Blu-ray.

If you look past the S2718D’s HDR-support and high-end styling, it is similar to many displays in this class. The panel is an IPS part with QHD resolution, 8-bit color depth, sRGB color, 60Hz refresh rate, and a flicker-free LED backlight. That makes it ideally suited to the premium enterprise desktop as well as home office dwellers looking for something nicer than the norm.

To this it adds a super thin 7mm bezel and a slick, integrated stand that moves the control buttons and inputs off the panel and down to the desk surface. Cable management will be a breeze, especially considering there are only HDMI and USB-C inputs. The big attraction though, is HDR10 support.

Current displays can integrate either Dolby Vision or HDR10 (or both) for a wider dynamic range and compatibility with the latest Ultra HD content from both Blu-ray and streaming services. The latter is much easier to find and therefore the most logical choice for this monitor. Dolby Vision is still a work in progress, though Sony has announced its first title using the format, Resident Evil: Vendetta, shipping in July.

HDR10 is found on every other Ultra HD Blu-ray disc currently available and will likely be the dominant format for the near future. If Dell wanted to add Dolby Vision to the S2718D, it might be possible with a firmware update.

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. And for Blu-ray users, the S2718D will accept a 3840x2160 signal at up to 60Hz over its HDMI input.

We’ll run our standard benchmarks in SDR mode as well as a new suite of tests for HDR content. We’ve added new tools to our kit, and we’ll explain how the S2718D handles the new format. And we’ll tell you how to enjoy this new content on your own system. Let’s take a look.

Packaging, Physical Layout & Accessories

Dell certainly takes a creative approach to its packaging. The S2718D arrives in a box like a television’s, where you remove four plastic plugs and lift off the top to reveal the contents. Foam is used sparingly, so to protect the monitor Dell uses corrugated cardboard in various shapes. It worked effectively in our case; the sample arrived without a scratch. The panel lifts out fully assembled with its stand.

An external power supply keeps the panel as thin as possible. Additional cables include HDMI and USB-C. Supporting documentation can be downloaded from Dell’s website.

Product 360

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The S2718D’s styling is the first thing everyone will notice. It’s one of the most minimalist designs we’ve seen. Most of the internal components are in the all-metal base that houses control buttons and the inputs. It’s connected to the panel with a metal upright and a small hinge that allows 45° swivel to each side, 21° back tilt, and 4° forward. There is no height adjustment, but we found the fixed position to be ideal on our desktop. The hinge does a good job of holding the panel in place, but its small size means there is some wobble after you make a change.

The panel measures just 20mm at its thickest. The back is plastic, but color and texture match the base and upright’s satin aluminum finish perfectly. It’s smoothly tapered and completely unmarred by vents or holes. During operation, the bottom edge is warm to the touch but only slightly. Heat management is exemplary. The screen’s front layer is shiny and should be placed carefully to avoid image-damaging reflections. The 7mm flush-mounted bezel is situated behind that layer for a smooth, integrated look.

The base features control buttons across its front edge. They click with a high-end feel and provide easy and quick access to commonly-used functions and the excellent OSD. In back are HDMI 2.0/HDCP 2.2 and USB-C inputs along with two USB 3.1 downstream ports and an analog audio output. There are no built-in speakers.


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