Best HDR Monitors 2018 – Getting the Best Possible View

Today if you are looking for a great monitor there are a ton of different things that you’ll need to consider.  Some companies are pushing that you need 4K, others will push that you have to have 144 Hz speeds, and still others will push HDR.  But what are all of these things and do you really need all of them?  Well, today we are going to focus in on just one, HDR.  We’ll go over what this abbreviation means, what you’ll get with this kind of monitor and things to consider when looking to purchase one.

To start off this journey, we’ll be highlighting some of our picks for the best HDR monitor on the market.  We’ll give you not only the details where these shine, but if any short comings flare up we’ll discuss them as well so that you have a balanced view of what to expect with each choice.  After that we’ll break down our buyer’s guide.  Here we’ll go over what HDR and what it will do for you.  We’ll look at some of the different levels of HDR and which you should consider.  So without further delay, let’s track these monitors down.


Best HDR Monitors 2018

We’ll start off with giving you a look at eight different options for the best choice on the market.  We’ve categorized each to help you zero in on the one that you are most interested in.  Though if you aren’t quite sure which way you’d like to go, look over all of them to get an idea of what is out there.  After that you’ll be able to make an informed decision.

Best Value HDR Monitor – BenQ EW277HDR

BenQ EW277HDR 

About the BenQ 27″ HDR10

This monitor features a 27 inch panel with a 16:9 Aspect ratio.  It tops out at a resolution of 1080p, but it can also handle HDR10 content.  It does have built in speakers and can connect to your system via one of the 2 HDMI ports or via the VGA port.

Features

Perhaps the top thing you’ll notice is that this monitor gives you 1080p and HDR support at under $250.  And it doesn’t strip everything out to get to that price point, in addition to built in speakers this monitor will adjust the brightness levels based on what is currently on the screen and filter blue light to reduce eyestrain.

Drawbacks

As you might expect from a monitor at this point you aren’t going to get top of the line performance.  While the views will look great compared to some other 1080p monitors, this one won’t offer the jaw dropping views of other monitors on this list.


Best Performance HDR Monitor – Samsung CHG90 49-inch

Samsung CHG90 Ultrawide HDR Monitor

About the Samsung CHG90

This monitor is a stunningly wide 49 inch wide screen curved monitor.  It sports a 32:9 aspect ratio that allows for quite the wide field of view.

Features

With the size of this monitor you’ll find that it is the same as pushing two 1080  monitors together, but without the line of the frames right in the middle of things.  This one can handle refresh rates up to 144 Hz, but can easily step back to 60 Hz or 120 Hz to give you an amazingly smooth view.  It also sports a 1 ms motion picture response time, that it amazingly fast.  This one also will give you HDR visuals and will work with AMD’s Radeon FreeSync 2, so long as your video card supports it.

Drawbacks

There are a few things to note with this particular screen.  First there are no speakers built in, while this isn’t a deal breaker, you will just need to make sure you have a different speaker set up.  Additionally this monitor has a DPI of about 80.  Again, this isn’t bad per say, but if you have been using screens with a much higher DPI, you’ll likely to notice the difference as you swap over.


Best 1080p HDR Monitor – Dell S2418HN 24″

Dell S2418HN 24-inch HDR Monitor

About the Product

This one is a 24 inch monitor that gives you the ability to connect with VGA, HDMI and also gives you an audio line out to your speakers.  The screen appears to have nearly no border as the picture seems to go right to the edge.  It sports a 6 ms response time and filters blue light for reduced eye strain.

Product Features

One of the strongest points for this monitor is that it can accept 4K data over the HDMI 2.0 port.  So if you are looking to plug in, say a PS4 Pro, you’ll be in luck.  The screen will only be able to display it at 1080p, but you won’t get any errors with the higher resolution input.  Additionally, with the line out after you bring in the sound on the HDMI you’ll have all dual channel frequencies.

Product Drawbacks

One of the drawbacks of this device is its connectivity options.  It is rare for a gamer who wants HDR content to be connecting over a VGA port.  Additionally, why be limited to a single HDMI option.  The choice to not have a DisplayPort might make sense for pricing, but there is no reason to not have a pair of HDMI ports.


Best 4K HDR Monitor – LG 32UD99-W

Best 4K HDR Monitor LG 32UD99-W

About the LG 32UD99-W

The LG 32UD99-W is a great pick for a standard 16:9 monitor that provides not only the power to give you HDR eye candy, but can do it at a 4K resolution.  It rocks a 31.5 inch panel to give you plenty of space to see what is going on as well as HDR10 support.

Features

This is a rather bright screen at an LG claimed 550 nits.  It also comes with game assist that can help brighten darkened areas in your games to make sure that you have no problem finding the bad guy that might be hiding in the back corner of a cave.  This one also has quite an impressive color palette, so everything can be just the right shade.

Drawbacks

The biggest downside to this monitor is its price tag.  While it is great to have the ability to have a 4K HDR monitor, is it worth paying about $1,000?  Right now there might not be enough 4K HDR content easily available on the market to make that price point workable for most users.


Best HDR QLED Monitor – Samsung C32HG70

Samsung C32HG70 Curved HDR Monitor

About the Samsung C32HG70

The Samsung 32CHG70 is the big brother of the Samsung C27HG70 that we looked at above.  This one steps up to a 32 inch curved screen.

Features

As far as the refresh rate goes you have the option of going with the 60 or 120 Hz rate that is popular for a many televisions if you will mostly be watching shows, but if you want the quickest speeds to eliminate nearly all motion blur you have the ability to bump it up to 144 Hz.  It sports a resolution of 2560 x 4400, giving you an extremely sharp picture and with a static contrast ratio of 3000:1 the picture is sure to pop.  With the QLED technology this monitor can display over a billion shades, making sure that every last detail is rendered just right, not just close enough.

Drawbacks

At $700 this screen might be worth the price tag for many consumers just yet.  Also, there have been reports of some of the monitors having ripples on them that become very noticeable on greyish backgrounds.


Best Curved HDR Monitor – Samsung CF791

Samsung CF791 Best Curved HDR Monitor

About the Samsung CF791

This monitor sports a 1500R curve for a very slight curve across width of the screen.  It sports a 21:9 aspect ratio giving you a screen that is wider than most normal 16:9 widescreen monitors.

Features

This screen sports a 100 Hz refresh rate as well as a 4 ms response time.  Even as slim as this screen is it sports a pair of 7 watt speakers so that you will have built in sound.  It also has a contrast ratio of 3000:1 meaning that you’ll get nice deep blacks during game play.  It supports FreeSync to keep your screen from experiencing tearing.

Drawbacks

One thing that you may notice is that since this screen has a 21:9 aspect ratio the resolutions will be a bit off of the standard resolutions that most people discuss.  You’ll also tend to find a bit lower of a pixel density.  With this you’ll see that there are some things that don’t look as crisp, such as a chunk of the text on the monitor.


Best FreeSync 2 HDR Monitor – AOC FreeSync 2 AG273QCX

AG273QCX AOC FreeSync 2 Monitor

About the AG273QCX

When it comes on the market this monitor should offer 2560 x 1440 resolution and do it with a blazing fast 0.5 ms response time.  The screen should be a 27 inch offering and it is going to support FreeSync 2 with HDR support.  And the company says that it will be a curved screen.

Features

This is a monitor that is set up for amazing gaming resolution as well as quite the fast refresh rate.  This should be a great set up for gamers.  Add these speeds with an impressive color palette and the HDR support will mean this might become the monitor to beat when it comes to HDR gaming.  The price points should be around $700.

Drawbacks

Since this monitor isn’t coming out until April of 2018 (or so the company is planning), we don’t have any word on a solid price tag.  Additionally, since it isn’t on the market it hasn’t yet seen thousands of users trying to push it to the max, so we don’t know if anything else will pop up just yet.


Best G Sync HDR Monitor – Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ

Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ

About the Asus PG27UQ

The first 4K monitor that sports a blazing fast refresh rate of 144 Hz is the ASUS ROG Swift PG27UQ.  This one will be a 27 inch monitor sporting an aspect ratio of 16:9. While it has been announced to be released in March 2018 there is still no word on pricing.

Features

As mentioned about this is your first chance to have your AAA titles presented in 4K at 144 Hz, so long as your GPU can handle that load.  This model will also support HDR (high dynamic range) meaning that any game that you start off with it should look absolutely fantastic.  It also sports G Sync, which is nearly mandatory for viewing anything in 4K at a 60 fps frame rate.

Drawbacks

Currently there is no word on how much this monitor will set you back, so we really can’t determine if it is worth the price tag. Additionally, there is a little concern over how the information will get from your computer to the monitor.  Even with the DisplayPort 1.4, 4K at 144 Hz won’t have the optimum 4:4:4 sampling.  While these are not game enders they are things to ponder.


HDR Monitor Buyer’s Guide 2018

If you have a handle on what an HDR monitor and after seeing our picks you are good to go, however, if you are just starting to look into the specs of HDR monitors, we’ve got you covered.  We will be going over some of the basic specs and choices that you might need to consider when looking at purchasing yourself an HDR monitor.

1. What is HDR?

HDR is an abbreviation for High Dynamic Range.  Think of a photograph for a minute, normally the photo will have the middle part well exposed, the highlights will seem blown out and can appear just white, the shadows can appear as just black.  If we look at the same photo taken with an HDR set up we will get details in the middle ground, highlights and shadows.  This is a great boost for anyone that wants to view things that might feature areas that would normally appear without any details, particularly dark areas such as many that appear in games.

Summary

  • HDR gives you a good view of shadows and highlights

2. What Makes an HDR Monitor?

 

Now, since you have an understanding of what HDR is in general, how does that apply to a monitor?  For your monitor it can almost be boiled down to the word more.  While an HDR monitor will be able to give you both a brighter more detailed highlight area as well as a deeper finely detailed dark area, it will also give you more vivid colors overall.  This will allow you to get a better overall view of what you are looking at.

This can be a boost if you are looking at doing editing work on either photos or videos, since you’ll have more range to see what is going on.  However, the bigger draw is gaming.  Now instead of looking at a shadowy area as just a lump of black pixels you’ll get a more detailed view of what might be hiding in the corner of that cave.

Section Summary

  • HDR monitor provides better detail in shadows and highlights
  • HDR monitor also provides more vivid colors

 3. Benefits of an HDR Monitor?

The overall boost in going with an HDR monitor, particularly a 4K HDR monitor, is that you are going to get the best picture out there.  You’ll need to remember that in order to get that picture you’ll need the monitor that can handle this kind of data, as well as a graphics card that can output it to the monitor.  Add to that you’ll actually need some kind of game or other media to make use of the HDR monitor.  It will look amazing, but you’ll need to overcome a bunch of hurdles to get there.

Section Summary

  • HDR monitor will provide a top notch view of HDR content

4. HDR vs HDR10 vs HDR10+

 

One thing you’ll no doubt come across when you are looking at HDR is that various models have different labels on them.  Some will say just HDR, others will say HDR10 and still others claim to be HDR10+.  But what is the difference and does it really matter?

We’ll start with the simplest, HDR.  This merely means that a monitor has some kind of HDR technology.  This could be HDR or HDR10+ but it could also mean that it sports Dolby Vision or Hybrid Log Gamma.  Dolby Vision is Dolby’s proprietary HDR set up and HLG is a prototype that isn’t widely used just yet.  Most likely HDR will appear in a name and then in the specs another format will be specified.

HDR10   is currently the most used standard and is pushed by a number of different companies.  The overall requirements to meet for this standard aren’t overly taxing.  Most of the content that you will come across on Ultra Blu Ray discs will be in the HDR10 format.  The one downside is that this will set an HDR “filter” based on the beginning of the content, so while some shots and frames may look amazing, others can appear washed out.

HDR10+ is the next step from HDR10.  Here the metadata from the frame is used.  Instead of getting one setting the HDR levels and set up will change with each frame that is brought up.  While this does take more processing power, it gives you a much better overall experience, as all of your frames should look amazing.

Section Summary

  • HDR is the overall umbrella term
  • HDR10 is the most popular standard, but is a static setting
  • HDR10+ is a dynamic HDR setting

5. Which Brands Offer the Best HDR Monitors?

 

Right now the best HDR monitor brands aren’t a big surprise.  As it seems with most of the monitors on the market, Samsung and LG are really the ones pushing for the biggest and the best.  These two companies are putting out some amazingly powerful screens, but the downside is that they have the price tag that you might expect from a top notch screen from these companies as well.  AMD and ASUS however, are putting out a number of monitors that can handle HDR content solidly and not break the bank.  They might not have as much overall power, but they won’t drain your account either.

Section Summary

  • Samsung and LG are putting out some top notch HDR monitors
  • AMD and ASUS are making solid yet affordable options

6. Where Can I Find HDR Content for My Monitor?

 

One of the biggest things that you’ll want to know prior to spending the money for an HDR monitor is if you can find some amazing content to really make the colors pop on your new screen.  There are a few things to consider when you go on this quest.  First, if you are going to end up with more data shown on the screen that data needs to come from somewhere.  In most cases the two major methods of getting data into your system and then onto a monitor are optical media and a network connection.

Since these data files are quite large, if you are going with a connection you’ll either need a very fast one to get an HDR stream and be able to use it in real time or near real time.  Otherwise you may be able to download the data over a period of time and use it later.  The other option is optical media.  You’ll quickly find that even with all the extra space when compared to a DVD a standard Blu Ray disc doesn’t have enough space.  You can get it packed into an Ultra Blu Ray, but you’ll have to remember that these won’t work with a standard Blu Ray player.

Section Summary

  • Content will need to come via a fast connection or ultra blu ray disc

7. FreeSync 2 vs G Sync HDR

 

We’ve covered the basics of what the FreeSync 2 and G Sync set ups will do in other articles.  The quick rundown is that these technologies come from AMD and Nvidia and are in place to reduce screen tearing when dealing with higher resolution set ups.  When it comes to HDR both companies have made sure that they are teamed up with various companies to ensure that their solution to the problem is the one that makes it through to your next screen.

The good news for those on the market is that both of these can do a good job at what they set out to accomplish, even with HDR content.  The area that it gets murky is making sure that you pair the right one to your system.  If you already have a FreeSync or G Sync set up, it is easy, go with the one that you have.  If you are looking to jump into the area, remember you’ll need a graphics card that will match the monitor solution that you’ll be using.

Section Summary

  • Both FreeSync 2 and G Sync HDR work well to minimize screen tearing
  • You need to be sure to have a matching graphics card

Wrapping Up

 

And with that you should have all the information that you need in order to pick out the best HDR monitor for your particular needs.  We’ve covered not only 8 of the top choices on the market today, but we’ve also given you a buyer’s guide to help you wade through all the different choices out there today.  At first HDR might seem like it is a little confusing, but once you work through all of the information that we have you’ll be wowed by the amazing views that these new monitors will afford you.

James