At the moment, getting an HDR gaming monitor is not worth it due to the lack of content and support for it. Moreover, most gaming monitors don’t offer the true HDR experience as they lack proper hardware capability. Of course, there are exceptions.
Looking for a new monitor for gaming and wondering whether you should get one that supports HDR while you’re at it?
We’ll help you decide.
HDR or High Dynamic Range has been getting a lot of attention lately. We’ve seen many HDR monitors released in 2017 and we’re expecting more of them in 2018. Does this mean HDR is the next big thing and a must-have specification for your next display? Well, it depends.
What does HDR do?
HDR monitors accept the HDR signal of the compatible content and improve the picture quality by extending the contrast ratio, color gamut, and peak brightness thus bringing the image closer to how its creator intended it.
There are various HDR formats, but when it comes to PC gaming, the most important one is HDR 10 as it’s an open standard and mainly used by video game and monitor manufacturers.
Not all HDR 10 monitors will give you the same viewing experience. Some offer a significantly better image quality while some provide you with a barely visible upgrade.
This is due to the lack of proper certification and straightforward clarification about the HDR capability of a specific monitor by their manufacturers.
VESA’s (Video Electronics Standards Association) DisplayHDR certification is one way to know exactly what the HDR on the monitor means.
You can learn more about HDR and how it works here.
True HDR Monitors
Currently, there’s is only one true HDR monitor available with the Ultra HD Premium certification by UltraHD Alliance – the Dell UP2718Q. This 4K HDR10 monitor offers outstanding image quality with 1,000-nit peak brightness, true 10-bit color support, and stellar contrast ratio.
However, since it is aimed at professional designers, it naturally has a basic response time, refresh rate, and input lag performance as well as a hefty price tag. So, it’s not recommended for gaming, even though it’d deliver an amazing picture quality.
AU Optronics, a monitor panel manufacturer, will in co-operation with Nvidia release the first true 4K HDR gaming monitors in Q1 2018 (unless delayed again). Not only will these displays be the first true HDR10 gaming monitors but they will also be the first monitors to offer 144Hz refresh rate at 4K resolution and Nvidia’s G-SYNC HDR technology.
The price? Around $2,000. Are they worth it?
Well, if you want the absolute best gaming monitor, you may consider starting to save up for it. However, keep in mind that you’ll also need a next-gen graphics card to reach more than 60Hz at 4K with HDR enabled and high picture settings.
Determining whether a gaming monitor such as the Acer Predator X27 is worth the money will only be feasible once (or if) we get 4K 144Hz models without HDR and then compare their image quality and performance.
If you want the best gaming experience and you have the money for it, then these HDR gaming monitors will be definitely worth it once they’re released as you’d future-proof your display for a long time.
Limited-HDR Gaming Monitors
Some HDR gaming monitors are already available, but these lack hardware specifications needed for the most immersive HDR viewing experience. Moreover, most of them are not certified by VESA DisplayHDR standard.
The Samsung C49HG90 was the first monitor to receive DisplayHDR 600 certification. This unique 49-inch display features 32:9 aspect ratio and 3840×1080 screen resolution for an engaging ultra-wide gaming experience. While its image quality may not be as striking as that of a DisplayHDR 1000 display, it’s still much better than the standard.
The Samsung C27HG70 and C32HG70 are the first 144Hz HDR gaming monitors and they’ve been available for a while. Besides offering HDR with 600-nit peak brightness and 1440p at 144Hz, these displays feature a high-contrast VA panel with quantum-dots, FreeSync 2, and 1ms MPRT technology.
Now, the Samsung CHG70 series monitors are more affordable than some 1440p 144Hz gaming monitors with IPS and G-SYNC technology, though that is partially due to the added cost of G-SYNC. So, these Samsung gaming monitors are a great bang for the buck regardless of their HDR support as they offer extra unique features.
Software-Enabled HDR Monitors
Lastly, some “HDR monitors” specify HDR support without specifications that would back that claim up and make the picture notably better than that of a standard monitor. These monitors, such as the Dell S2418NX – for instance, can process the HDR10 signal, but their hardware cannot improve the picture quality by much, yet they cost more.
In this case, you’re better off spending that money on a higher resolution or a higher refresh rate monitor as it’d give you a better experience overall than an HDR monitor with software-enabled HDR only.
We have a dedicated list of all HDR monitors available which you can check out here and make sure you know what HDR means for the HDR monitor you’re getting.
HDR support has still to improve for PC in terms of better OS implementation and more compatible content, so you don’t have to rush to get an HDR-ready display. Whether it is worth it depends on what kind of HDR support the monitor has. Getting a display with software-enabled HDR only definitely isn’t worth it.
The answer is a bit more difficult regarding other HDR monitors with limited or full support; mainly because these monitors aren’t available without HDR – there’s no mention of 4K 144Hz or 3440×1440 200Hz models without HDR, there are no other 144Hz 1440p FreeSync monitors with IPS or VA panels, and there is only one 32:9 gaming monitor.
Therefore, some may be satisfied with the Samsung CHG70, for example, even if it didn’t have HDR while others would be disappointed by it solely because its HDR support is imperfect. Most importantly, you need to make sure that your favorite games support HDR or will do so in the future. In the end, it comes down to the personal preference, at least until we have more models available.