I get it, you’re excited about this technology called HDR.
People say that this technology will make your gaming experience much better.
And in this article, we’ll be going through everything that has to do with HDR monitors in an effort to simplify the process of deciding whether you should get one or not.
What does HDR mean?
HDR stands for “High Dynamic Range”. Not to be confused with the resolution of a screen –which is the number of pixels that are displayed horizontally and vertically-, HDR is a technology that monitors use to enhance different aspects of its visual performance like extending the contrast ratio and peak brightness or widening the color gamut.
These improvements play a great role in bringing your image to life and making it look more realistic and captivating.
Who benefits from HDR?
Some consoles like PS4 Pro and Xbox One X come with HDR support, so you can get the best visuals out of your game when you play it on a compatible HDR monitor.
An IPS panel monitor will give you wider viewing angles and better colors and brightness, but for a competitive or hardcore gamer who joins tournaments, a TN panel’s performance might be a more favorable option.
For professional graphic designers, video editors, or photographers, however, the perks of an IPS panel with the enhanced image quality of the HDR technology would ultimately be the best choice.
This is especially true when you consider how little difference the refresh rates and response times make to them.
The Different Standards of HDR
The various HDR standards may not be well-known because only two of them are very common: The HDR10 and HDR10+. The other 3 are Dolby Vision, HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma), and Advanced HDR.
HDR10 and HDR10+
What makes the former two more common is that they don’t require insane monitor specs to work, just a color depth of 10-bit and a brightness of 1000 nits.
The only difference between HDR10 and HDR10+ is that the latter is capable of using dynamic metadata instead of using static one at the beginning of a video.
Dolby Vision may not be as popular as the first two standards.
This is for a good reason: it requires a very high-end monitor with high specs such as a contrast ratio of 200000:1, a brightness of 4000 nits, a color depth of 12-bit and REC.2020 color space coverage.
If you find these requirements on a monitor, it’s probably going to cost you a lot.
But as demanding and pricey as it is, the Dolby Vision HDR is the most high-end of the 5 standards.
It uses dynamic metadata which works on improving the colors of each frame of the video individually.
Its dynamic metadata is superior to that of the HDR10+’s because it’s programmed to deal with every frame independently of the other, unlike the HDR10+ which –as you progress through the video- might make the images look a little washed out or murky because of the difference in illumination of each frame.
HLG and Technicolor’s Advanced HDR
The HLG and Advanced HDR aren’t quite as popular as their rivals although they integrate a very smart technology.
They are both capable of supporting broadcast signals and live feeds –unlike HDR10, HDR10+, and Dolby Vision- as they add metadata on the fly.
The lack of backward compatibility that the other HDR standards lack leaves out older TVs. It also means that content has to be produced in both HDR and non-HDR versions.
However, both HLG and Advanced HDR solve this problem by being backward compatible, which means they’re able to upscale SDR content to be HDR.
Does HDR affect the overall performance?
To enhance the image quality, you’d usually need to increase your screen’s resolution (Full HD, Quad HD, or 4K UHD).
This requires more GPU power, so you will need either a high-functioning graphics card or to overwork your average one.
However, HDR improves the image quality without interfering with the performance whatsoever as it only has to do with whether its technology is supported by your monitor or not.
This brings us to another point.
What types of panels support HDR?
Only IPS (In-plane switching) panels support HDR.
The problem with IPS panels, however, is that their response time which is 4 milliseconds on average and refresh rate which is 75 Hz on average are subpar when compared to the TN’s (Twisted nematic) 1 millisecond response time and 240Hz refresh rate.
These numbers affect the way frames transition and how fast actions are carried out on your screen.
Generally, IPS panels are known to have better color reproduction and contrast ratios. They also flaunt wider color gamuts and viewing angles.
Whereas TN panels have superior performance that spares you any lag in input or latency.
This means that even though you get a superior image quality from IPS panels, you do compromise the superior performance of TN panels and vice versa.
Real HDR and fake HDR
There aren’t any certifications that can guarantee that a monitor properly supports HDR, so an “HDR-Compatible” monitor needs more scrutiny to make sure it’s not fake or pseudo-HDR (which means that it only gives the effect of HDR but not real HDR performance and picture enhancement).
In the latter’s case, it’s better to get a monitor with a higher resolution that doesn’t support HDR as it would cost considerably less.
To make sure that your monitor genuinely supports HDR, you should look at its specs.
Namely, the peak brightness, color gamut, and contrast ratio. Having the VESA DisplayHDR or Ultra HDR Premium certificate should also reassure you of the monitor’s HDR compatibility.
VESA has a free application that lets you test your HDR’s effectiveness, which ranges from DisplayHDR 400, DisplayHDR 600, and DisplayHDR1000.
The difference between them is that the higher the number is, the more luminance, lifelike quality of the images, and color gamut you get.
You should bear in mind that the VESA standards came around after some HDR monitors had already been released.
So just because a monitor doesn’t have the VESA certification doesn’t mean it’s not HDR compatible.
As long as you keep the specs in check and make sure of the extent that your monitor is HDR-compatible, you’re good to go.
Is an HDR monitor worth buying?
In brief, yes. Whether you’re using it to enjoy the scenes of your game, movie, or series better, or because you’re working on an important graphic designing project, you’re going to enjoy the captivating colors and depth of the images.
However, waiting could be a more economically wise decision as not all the content available is in an HDR format which renders an HDR monitor obsolete.
Moreover, the specs required on a monitor to support HDR makes these monitors a lot more expensive.
Some monitors that allegedly support HDR don’t even fully support it, but only enhance the images a little.
So if you have the budget to spare, prefer playing your games with the best visual performance, or if you need the enhanced quality for work, we’re going to recommend you the best HDR monitors you can get.
Top 3 Best HDR Monitors in The Market
1. Dell UP2718Q
4K resolution, 27-inch widescreen, a 99.9% sRGB coverage, exclusive zone-dimming backlight with an astonishing 20,000:1 contrast ratio and a lot of integrated technologies that work on giving you the best vivid colors that bring your image into life, like custom color mode, the SDK, or the optional X-rite i1 display Pro Colorimeter.
The Dell UP2718Q is truly the best consumer-level HDR display that you can get.
2. LG 27UK650-W
The more affordable LG 27UK650-W delivers 4K resolution (3840 x 2160-pixel) on a 27-inch screen that supports HDR10, so it delivers superb picture quality.
It also emphasizes its visual capabilities with the 99% sRGB coverage, has on-screen controls, various connectivity options, and AMD’s FreeSync.
Flicker-free technology and its ergonomics work together to provide you with the most comfort during your use, while the advanced gaming features like Black Stabilizer and Dynamic Action Sync and game modes including FPS and RTS make it a very good value for the money.
3. Asus PG27UQ
It combines 4K resolution, 163-PPI pixel density, 8.3-megapixel resolution, a 97% coverage of the DCI-P3 color space, and a wide gamut palette that delivers 25% more colors than the average sRGB standard.
The Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ also has an official HDR1000 certification and UltraHD Premium certification, which means it will deliver great brightness (1000 cd/m2), color, and contrast.
The latter is also enhanced with the 384 local dimming zones that enable the PG27UQ to display the blackest of blacks.
This looks great with the brightness of the whites and results in a more realistic image overall. It also doesn’t stop at the visuals as its refresh rate is an amazing 144Hz (higher than usual IPS panels), and it has NVIDIA’s G-Sync which works on giving you the most seamless transitions between frames and thereby the best experience.