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Introduction

The Dell UltraSharp range has been one of the most popular ranges of displays for over 10 years now. Dell seem to update their models and add new options to the range every year or two and we've reached the time where they've decided to refresh most of their popular models. We have with us now the latest 27" model in their range, the U2717D, which is designed to be a replacement to the successful U2715H model from a couple of years ago. Dell have stuck with a 2560 x 1440 resolution IPS-type panel, with standard gamut colour space. Dell have now moved to an "infinity edge" design for the U2717D, minimising the bezels and borders around all edges including the bottom. They have also moved to a different stand design, with darker silver finish like the recent gamer-oriented S2716DG model we tested recently. We will make further comparisons with the old U2715H throughout the course of the review.

It should be noted that Dell also have a version of this screen which comes with an arm mount instead of the stand. Look out for the U2717DA version if that is what you prefer. There is also another recent 27" model in their UltraSharp range which is the UP2716D (UP = UltraSharp Premium). This is different to the U2717D we have with us, as the UP model has a wide gamut backlight and hardware calibration and is aimed more at professional users and colour critical work. The U2717D is the more mainstream model.

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Dell U2717D Now Available
 


Specifications and Features

The following table gives detailed information about the specs of the screen:

Monitor Specifications

Size

27"WS (68.47 cm)

Panel Coating

Light AG coating

Aspect Ratio

16:9

Interfaces

1x DisplayPort (version 1.2a), 1x Mini DP, 1x HDMI (MHL), 1x DisplayPort out

Resolution

2560 x 1440

Pixel Pitch

0.2331 mm

Design colour

Matte black bezel with dark silver stand and base

Response Time

8ms G2G (normal mode)
6ms G2G (fast mode)

Ergonomics

Tilt, height, swivel and rotate

Static Contrast Ratio

1000:1

Dynamic Contrast Ratio

Yes (spec not listed)

VESA Compatible

Yes 100mm

Brightness

350 cd/m2

Accessories

Power cable, DisplayPort > Mini DP cable, USB cable

Viewing Angles

178 / 178

Panel Technology

Samsung PLS (IPS-type)

Weight

panel only: 4.5 Kg

Backlight Technology

W-LED

Physical Dimensions

(WxHxD)
611.3 x 410.2 - 540.2 x 200.3 mm

Colour Depth

16.7m

Refresh Rate

60Hz

Special Features

4x USB 3.0 ports (1 with charging), Factory calibration and report, 1x audio output

Colour Gamut

Standard gamut
99% sRGB, ~72% NTSC

The U2717D offers a good range of connectivity options with DisplayPort, Mini DisplayPort and HDMI (MHL) connections offered. There is also a DisplayPort output for Daisy Chaining support. The digital interfaces are HDCP certified for encrypted content and the video cables are provided in the box for DisplayPort > Mini DP only. Oddly Dell have actually reduced the number of connections compared with the old U2715H which had an additional HDMI port as well.

The screen has an internal power supply and comes packaged with the power cable you need. There are also 2x USB 3.0 ports located on the underside of the screen with the video connections and 2x port on the bottom left hand edge of the screen for easy access, one of which also has charging capabilities. Again Dell have done away with 1 additional USB port from the U2715H, although they have now moved 2 to the side of the screen which is much easier to get to than on the back.

Below is a summary of the features and connections of the screen:

Feature

Yes / No

Feature

Yes / No

Tilt adjust

DVI

Height adjust

HDMI

Swivel adjust

D-sub

Rotate adjust

DisplayPort

VESA compliant

Component

USB 2.0 Ports

Audio connection

USB 3.0 Ports

HDCP Support

Card Reader

MHL Support

Ambient Light Sensor

Integrated Speakers

Human Motion Sensor

PiP / PbP

Touch Screen

Blur Reduction Mode

Factory Calibration

G-Sync

Hardware calibration

FreeSync

Uniformity correction

Wireless charging



Design and Ergonomics

 

Above: front and back views of the screen. Click for larger versions

The U2717D is part of Dell's 'Infinity Edge' designed UltraSharp range with a zero bezel design around all sides, including the bottom. There is a very thin bezel around all the edges giving it a sleek and clean design, ideal also for multi-screen set ups. The old U2715H had a zero bezel design along the sides and top, but a 15mm thick bezel along the bottom edge. This is the first 27" model from Dell to offer a zero bezel design around all sides.

Around all four sides and top of the screen is a very thin plastic edge measuring ~0.8mm. This is an additional ~5.5mm inner panel border before the image starts along the sides and top (total of ~6.3mm black edges around the sides and top), and slightly wider at ~6.8mm along the bottom edge (total ~7.6mm border). Along the bottom edge the plastic bezel slopes away from you so it's not a flat edge like the sides and top (see some of the below images for a better idea). From a normal viewing position this slope cannot be seen though so the screen does look like it has a very thin border around all four sides.

There is a small silver Dell logo in the middle of the bottom panel border, seemingly stuck on to the front of the panel where the black border is. Along the bottom right hand sloping edge are the pressable OSD control buttons and power button in the right hand corner. These protrude out a little so you can just see them from a normal viewing position.


Above: base and stand. Click for larger version

The back of the screen, stand and base are finished in a matte dark silver colour as shown above. There is a circular cable tidy hole in the back of the stand as you can see from the above images. The stand and base are the same design as the recently reviewed S2716DG gaming display, and a move away from the lighter silver colours we have seen on previous 27" UltraSharp models including the U2715H before it.

 
Above: full tilt range shown. Click for larger versions

The screen offers a full range of ergonomic adjustments. Tilt is smooth to move but a little stiff. It offers a good adjustment range as shown above. The screen has a nice thin profile as well thanks to the W-LED backlighting unit.

 
Above: full height adjustment range shown. Click for larger versions

Height adjustment is also available with smooth movement which is a little stiff like the tilt adjustment is. At the lowest setting the bottom edge of the screen is ~60mm from the top of the desk, and at maximum extension it is ~190mm. This gives a total adjustment range of ~130mm which is decent.

Side to side swivel is smooth and easy to re-position, and manages to shift side to side while the base remains stationary. Rotation is also offered but is stiff to use. Overall the screen remained stable on the desk with only minor wobbling.

A summary of the screens ergonomic adjustments is shown below:

Function

Range

Smoothness

Ease of Use

Tilt

Yes

Smooth

A little stiff

Height

130mm

Smooth

A little stiff

Swivel

Yes

Smooth

Easy

Rotate

Yes

Quite Smooth

Stiff

Overall

Good range of adjustments and easy enough to use overall.

The materials were of a good standard and the build quality felt good as well. There was no audible noise from the screen, even when conducting specific tests which can often identify buzzing issues. The whole screen remained cool even during prolonged use as well which was pleasing.
 


Above: interface connections. Click for larger version

The back of the screen features the interface connections as shown above. There are (from left to right) HDMI (MHL supported), DisplayPort in, Mini DisplayPort, DisplayPort out (covered with a red plastic stopper here), audio out, USB upstream and 2x USB 3.0 downstream. The lack of DVI connections may be limiting for some older systems, but most modern devices and graphics cards should be offering HDMI or DisplayPort nowadays.


Above: side USB connections. Click for larger version

On the left hand bottom edge of the screen are two additional easy-access USB 3.0 ports as shown above. The bottom port also offers charging support. Handy to have these located on the side and not the back of the screen as they are much easier to get to. This is a nice change since the U2715H which only had one "easy access" port on the back of the screen.



OSD Menu


Above: OSD control buttons on the bottom right hand edge. Click for larger version

The OSD menu is controlled from a series of 4 pressable buttons on the lower right hand edge of the screen. There is also a pressable circular power button which has a small rectangular LED on it which glows white during operation and pulsates on and off (white) during standby.

Pressing any of the four buttons pops up a quick access menu as shown above. There are quick access options to get to the preset modes and the input selection by default. These can be customised within the main OSD menu if you would prefer quick access to other settings as well.

 

An example of what the quick launch option look like when selected. The preset mode menu and the input selection menu are shown.

The main OSD menu is split into 8 sections down the left hand side as shown above. The software looks the same as we had seen on the recent S2716DG model, and an update to the older U2715H's menu style. In the top right hand corner is Dell's "energy use" bar which gives you an idea of your power consumption. You can scroll down the left hand menu sections and the options available within each section are then shown on the right.

The color menu is shown above where you can select the preset mode, and where you would be able to drill in to the RGB levels for calibration if you switch to the 'custom color' preset. We won't go in to detail about the other sections here, but the 'display' section has the response time control option, and also the aspect ratio options which we will talk about later on in the review.

All in all the menu felt familiar and intuitive to navigate. The buttons worked well and there was a reasonable range of options to play with.

 


Power Consumption

In terms of power consumption the manufacturer lists typical usage of 26.0W and <0.5W in standby mode. We carried out our normal tests to establish its power consumption ourselves.

State and Brightness Setting

Manufacturer Spec (W)

Measured Power Usage (W)

Default (75%)

26.0

27.3

Calibrated (30%)

-

19.5

Maximum Brightness (100%)

74.0

36.1

Minimum Brightness (0%)

-

15.4

Standby

<0.5

0.5

We tested this ourselves and found that out of the box the screen used 27.3W at the default 75% brightness setting. At 100% brightness this increased a little to 36.1W. Additional power draw could be seen by having USB and SoundBar devices connected. Once calibrated the screen reached 19.5W consumption, and in standby it used only 0.5W. We have plotted these results below compared with other screens we have tested. The consumption is comparable actually to the previous U2715H model as you might expect, but a fair bit less than the wide gamut LED backlights like the U2713H.



Panel and Backlighting

Panel Manufacturer

Samsung

Colour Palette

16.7 million

Panel Technology

PLS (IPS-type)

Colour Depth

8-bit

Panel Module

LTM270DL11

Colour space

Standard gamut

Backlighting Type

W-LED

Colour space coverage (%)

99% sRGB, ~72% NTSC

Panel Part and Colour Depth

The Dell U2717D features a Samsung LTM270DL11 PLS (IPS-type) technology panel which is capable of producing 16.7 million colours. As far as we know, this is achieved through a true 8-bit colour depth as with most modern IPS-type panels of this size range. It should be noted that this is a move away from LG.Display for Dell as the old U2715H model featured an LG.Display IPS panel instead. They've moved this time to a Samsung PLS (IPS-type) panel with four-side borderless design.

A note about PLS technology. This is Samsung's answer to LG.Display's very popular, and long-established IPS (In Plane Switching) technology. Testing of this technology has revealed that it is for all intents and purposes the same as IPS. Performance characteristics, features and specs are all pretty much identical. Samsung weren't allowed to simply call their technology IPS due to trademark issues, which is why they adopted their own new name of PLS. AU Optronics are the same with their AHVA panel tech, which is another IPS-clone. You will see pretty much all monitor manufacturers now simply use the term IPS, since it is so well known in the market, but underneath they may be using an IPS version from LG.Display, AU Optronics or Samsung potentially. People should not get concerned with the semantics here, which is why we will continually refer to this as an "IPS-type" panel throughout the review.

The panel part is confirmed when accessing the service menu as shown below.

Screen Coating

The screen coating is a light anti-glare (AG) offering. It isn't a semi-glossy coating, but it is light as seen on other modern IPS type panels. Thankfully it isn't a heavily grainy coating like some old IPS panels feature and is also lighter than modern TN Film panel coating. It retains its anti-glare properties to avoid too many unwanted reflections of a full glossy coating, but does not produce an too grainy or dirty an image that some thicker AG coatings can. Some very slight cross-hatching patterns were visible on the coating if you looked very closely and know what to look for, but certainly nothing you'd see in day to day use.


Backlight Type and Colour Gamut

The screen uses a White-LED (W-LED) backlight unit which is standard in today's market. This helps reduce power consumption compared with older CCFL backlight units and brings about some environmental benefits as well. The W-LED unit offers a standard colour gamut which is approximately equal to the sRGB colour space. Dell quote 99% coverage in their spec. Anyone wanting to work with wider colour spaces would need to consider wide gamut CCFL screens or the newer range of GB-r-LED type (and similar) displays available now. If you want to read more about colour spaces and gamut then please have a read of our detailed article.


Backlight Dimming and Flicker

We tested the screen to establish the methods used to control backlight dimming. Our in depth article talks in more details about a common method used for this which is called Pulse Width Modulation (PWM). This in itself gives cause for concern to some users who have experienced eye strain, headaches and other symptoms as a result of the flickering backlight caused by this technology. We use a photosensor + oscilloscope system to measure backlight dimming control with a high level of accuracy and ease. These tests allow us to establish

1) Whether PWM is being used to control the backlight
2) The frequency and other characteristics at which this operates, if it is used
3) Whether a flicker may be introduced or potentially noticeable at certain settings

If PWM is used for backlight dimming, the higher the frequency, the less likely you are to see artefacts and flicker. The duty cycle (the time for which the backlight is on) is also important and the shorter the duty cycle, the more potential there is that you may see flicker. The other factor which can influence flicker is the amplitude of the PWM, measuring the difference in brightness output between the 'on' and 'off' states. Please remember that not every user would notice a flicker from a backlight using PWM, but it is something to be wary of. It is also a hard thing to quantify as it is very subjective when talking about whether a user may or may not experience the side effects.


100%                                                  50%                                                  0%


Above scale = 1 horizontal grid = 5ms

At 100% brightness a constant voltage is applied to the backlight. As you reduce the brightness setting to dim the backlight a Direct Current (DC) method is used, as opposed to any form of PWM. This applies to all brightness settings from 100% down to 0%. The screen is flicker free as a result which is excellent news (as was the U2715H before it).

Pulse Width Modulation Used

No

Cycling Frequency

n/a

Possible Flicker at

 

100% Brightness

No

50% Brightness

No

0% Brightness

No

For an up to date list of all flicker-free (PWM free) monitors please see our Flicker Free Monitor Database.

 


Contrast Stability and Brightness

We wanted to see how much variance there was in the screens contrast as we adjusted the monitor setting for brightness. In theory, brightness and contrast are two independent parameters, and good contrast is a requirement regardless of the brightness adjustment. Unfortunately, such is not always the case in practice. We recorded the screens luminance and black depth at various OSD brightness settings, and calculated the contrast ratio from there. Graphics card settings were left at default with no ICC profile or calibration active. Tests were made using an X-rite i1 Display Pro colorimeter. It should be noted that we used the BasICColor calibration software here to record these, and so luminance at default settings may vary a little from the LaCie Blue Eye Pro report.

OSD Brightness

Luminance
(cd/m2)

Black Point (cd/m2)

Contrast Ratio
( x:1)

100

358.04

0.40

895

90

306.61

0.34

902

80

257.43

0.29

888

70

219.06

0.24

913

60

194.88

0.22

886

50

170.25

0.19

896

40

143.78

0.16

899

30

118.25

0.13

910

20

90.85

0.10

908

10

64.42

0.07

920

0

37.25

0.04

931

 

Total Luminance Adjustment Range (cd/m2)

320.79

Brightness OSD setting controls backlight?

Total Black Point Adjustment Range (cd/m2)

0.36

Average Static Contrast Ratio

904:1

PWM Free? 

Recommended OSD setting for 120 cd/m2

30

We conducted these tests in the default 'standard' preset mode. The brightness control gave us a very good range of adjustment. At the top end the maximum luminance reached 358 cd/m2 which was slightly higher even than the specified maximum brightness of 350 cd/m2 from the manufacturer. There was a very good 321 cd/m2 adjustment range in total, and so at the minimum setting you could reach down to a low luminance of 37 cd/m2. This should be more than adequate for those wanting to work in darkened room conditions with low ambient light. A setting of 30 in the OSD menu should return you a luminance of around 120 cd/m2 at default settings in this preset mode (standard). It should be noted that the brightness regulation is controlled without the need for Pulse Width Modulation, using a Direct Current (DC) method for all brightness settings between 100 and 0% and so the screen is flicker free.

We have plotted the luminance trend on the graph above. The screen behaves as it should in this regard, with a reduction in the luminance output of the screen controlled by the reduction in the OSD brightness setting. This is not linear relationship as you can see, with the adjustments between 100 and 70 controlling a slightly steeper luminance range.

The average contrast ratio of the screen was decent for an IPS-type panel at 904:1. This was stable across the brightness adjustment range as shown above.



Testing Methodology

An important thing to consider for most users is how a screen will perform out of the box and with some basic manual adjustments. Since most users won't have access to hardware colorimeter tools, it is important to understand how the screen is going to perform in terms of colour accuracy for the average user.

We restored our graphics card to default settings and disabled any previously active ICC profiles and gamma corrections. The screen was tested at default factory settings using our new X-rite i1 Pro 2 Spectrophotometer combined with LaCie's Blue Eye Pro software suite. An X-rite i1 Display Pro colorimeter was also used to verify the black point and contrast ratio since the i1 Pro 2 spectrophotometer is less reliable at the darker end.

Targets for these tests are as follows:

  • CIE Diagram - validates the colour space covered by the monitors backlighting in a 2D view, with the black triangle representing the displays gamut, and other reference colour spaces shown for comparison

  • Gamma - we aim for 2.2 which is the default for computer monitors

  • Colour temperature / white point - we aim for 6500k which is the temperature of daylight

  • Luminance - we aim for 120 cd/m2, which is the recommended luminance for LCD monitors in normal lighting conditions

  • Black depth - we aim for as low as possible to maximise shadow detail and to offer us the best contrast ratio

  • Contrast ratio - we aim for as high as possible. Any dynamic contrast ratio controls are turned off here if present

  • dE average / maximum - as low as possible. If DeltaE >3, the color displayed is significantly different from the theoretical one, meaning that the difference will be perceptible to the viewer. If DeltaE <2, LaCie considers the calibration a success; there remains a slight difference, but it is barely undetectable. If DeltaE < 1, the color fidelity is excellent.




Default Performance and Setup

Default settings of the screen were as follows:

Monitor OSD Option

Default Settings

Preset Picture Mode

Standard

Brightness

75

Contrast

75

RGB

n/a


Dell U2717D - Default Settings, Standard mode

   

 

Default Settings

luminance (cd/m2)

247

Black Point (cd/m2)

0.26

Contrast Ratio

951:1

 

Initially out of the box the screen was set in the default standard preset mode. It was set at a high 75% brightness setting out of the box and so felt bright. The colour balance felt good and you could tell the screen was using a standard gamut backlight as well with the naked eye.

 

We went ahead and measured the default state with the i1 Pro. The CIE diagram on the left of the image confirms that the monitors colour gamut (black triangle) is fairly equal to the sRGB colour space. There is some minor over-coverage in all shades but not by anything significant. It should still be considered an sRGB standard gamut backlight although you may have some minor over-saturation in some colour shades. The previous U2715H's gamut more closely matched the sRGB reference incidentally.

 

Default gamma was recorded at 2.0 average, leaving it with a fairly small 8% deviance from the target which was not too bad. Given there is no gamma control (other than switching between PC and Mac modes) in the OSD menu, this could have done with being a bit closer to the 2.2 target as it might be tricky to correct without a calibration device. White point was measured at a slightly warm 6244k, being 4% out from the 6500k we'd ideally want for desktop use.

 

Luminance was recorded at a bright 247 cd/m2 which is too high for prolonged general use. The screen was set at a default 75% brightness in the OSD menu but that is easy to change of course to reach a more comfortable setting without impacting any other aspect of the setup. The black depth was 0.26 cd/m2 at this default brightness setting, giving us a decent (for an IPS-type panel) static contrast ratio of 951:1. Colour accuracy was not that good out of the box with an average dE of 4.3, maximum of 6.9 recorded in this preset mode. We will see if the factory calibrated sRGB mode is any better in a moment. Testing the screen with colour gradients showed smooth transitions in all shades, with some moderate gradation evident in darker tones.

 

We also tested the 'custom color' preset mode out of interest but found an almost identical setup. The only difference really was a  slightly more accurate white point at 6528k (0% deviance), and a slightly improved contrast ratio at 976:1. The standard and custom color modes offered a moderate default setup. It's a shame the gamma is a little off really and colour accuracy could have been a bit better.

 

 


Factory Calibration

There is also a factory calibrated sRGB preset mode on this screen. In the box there is a calibration report provided which is unique to your particular unit. This shows that the sRGB preset mode has been factory calibrated to offer a dE of <2 and tighter grey scale tracking.

The report provided with our test sample is shown below:

Monitor OSD Option

Default Settings

Preset Picture Mode

sRGB

Brightness

75

Contrast

75

RGB

n/a


Dell U2717D - Factory Calibration, sRGB mode

 

Factory calibrated
sRGB mode

luminance (cd/m2)

253

Black Point (cd/m2)

0.27

Contrast Ratio

938:1

 

The factory calibrated sRGB mode offers a decent setup which was a bit better than the default standard mode. The 2.2 gamma target is nicely met here with a 0% deviance, and correcting the 8% offset we'd seen in the other modes. White point is also good at 6536k, leaving a minor 1% deviance only from our target. Colour accuracy is almost within targets, with dE of 2.3 average.  Contrast ratio is slightly weaker at 938:1 but still good for an IPS-type panel. This factory calibration may well be useful to a lot of users as it's a good setup. You will want to adjust the brightness control to taste, but apart from that it provides a reliable performance.

 

This factory setup was a little more accurate than we'd seen on the U2715H. That had a more significant 5% offset to the gamma curve at 5% which was the only significant difference between the two screens. The gamma is more tricky to correct than other areas if you don't have a calibration device, so it was good to see the factory calibration on the new U2717D was better in this regard.

 

 

Calibration

 

We used the X-rite i1 Pro 2 Spectrophotometer combined with the LaCie Blue Eye Pro software package to achieve these results and reports. An X-rite i1 Display Pro colorimeter was used to validate the black depth and contrast ratios due to lower end limitations of the i1 Pro device.

 

Monitor OSD Option

Calibrated Settings

Preset Picture Mode

Custom Color

Brightness

30

Contrast

75

RGB

97, 99, 99


Dell U2717D - Calibrated Settings

  
 

 

Calibrated Settings

luminance (cd/m2)

118

Black Point (cd/m2)

0.13

Contrast Ratio

906:1

 

We changed to the 'custom color' preset mode which offered us access to the RGB controls from within the menu. We adjusted the RGB channels and brightness setting as shown in the table above. All these OSD changes allowed us to obtain an optimum hardware starting point and setup before software level changes would be made at the graphics card level. We left the  LaCie software to calibrate to "max" brightness which would just retain the luminance of whatever brightness we'd set the screen to, and would not in any way try and alter the luminance at the graphics card level, which can reduce contrast ratio. These adjustments before profiling the screen would help preserve tonal values and limit banding issues. After this we let the software carry out the LUT adjustments and create an ICC profile.

 

Average gamma was now corrected to 2.2 average with a 0% deviance, correcting the 8% deviance we'd seen out of the box in this and the 'standard' preset mode. The white point had now been corrected nicely to 6491k, bringing it in line with the target and correcting the small 4% deviance we'd seen by default where it was a little too warm. Luminance had been improved thanks to the adjustment to the brightness control and was now being measured at 118 cd/m2. This left us a black depth of 0.13 cd/m2 and gave us a good static contrast ratio (for an IPS-type panel) of 906:1. Colour accuracy of the resulting profile was excellent, with dE average of 0.4 and maximum of 0.8. LaCie would consider colour fidelity to be very good overall. Testing the screen with various colour gradients showed smooth transitions. There was some moderate gradation in darker tones and some minor banding introduced due to the adjustments to the graphics card LUT from the profilation of the screen. You can use our settings and try our calibrated ICC profile if you wish, which are available in our ICC profile database. Keep in mind that results will vary from one screen to another and from one computer / graphics card to another.

 

 

 

 

Calibration Performance Comparisons


 

The comparisons made in this section try to give you a better view of how each screen performs, particularly out of the box which is what is going to matter to most consumers. When comparing the default factory settings for each monitor it is important to take into account several measurement areas - gamma, white point and colour accuracy. There's no point having a low dE colour accuracy figure if the gamma curve is way off for instance. A good factory calibration requires all 3 to be well set up. We have deliberately not included luminance in this comparison since this is normally far too high by default on every screen. However, that is very easily controlled through the brightness setting (on most screens) and should not impact the other areas being measured anyway. It is easy enough to obtain a suitable luminance for your working conditions and individual preferences, but a reliable factory setup in gamma, white point and colour accuracy is important and not as easy to change accurately without a calibration tool.

 

From these comparisons we can also compare the calibrated colour accuracy, black depth and contrast ratio. After a calibration the gamma, white point and luminance should all be at their desired targets.

 

 

Default setup of the screen out of the box was moderate in the 'standard' preset mode. The gamma curve was off by 8% which was probably the main issue. White point was reasonably close to the target with only a 4% deviance, contrast ratio was decent for an IPS panel at 958:1, but colour accuracy was poor really with dE average of 4.3. Thankfully the factory calibrated sRGB preset mode was quite a bit better, correcting the gamma and white point nicely and bringing the dE values down to 2.3 average.

 

If we compare the U2717D in the table above to the old U2715H, then the old model looks to have the edge. It has a lower deviance for gamma (5%), small white point offset (1%) and lower dE of 2.7. However, it's perhaps an unfair comparison as the default setup of the U2715H in the standard mode was in fact the factory calibrated state. On the new model we have to switch to the sRGB preset to benefit from the factory calibration, at which point the performance is a bit better on the U2717D. In summary, the U2717D does offer a slightly better setup than the U2715H did, with a more accurate gamma curve being the main difference. You need to switch to the correct sRGB preset mode on the U2717D to benefit from this though. The new model also carries a better calibrated contrast ratio of 906:1, compared with 856:1 on the old model.

 

 


 

 

The display was decent when it came to contrast ratio for an IPS-type panel. It offered a 906:1 calibrated contrast ratio, which was a bit better than the old U2715H at 856:1. The recent 23.8" Dell U2417HJ is our current champion for an IPS-type panel at 1228:1, showing that it is possible to push the contrast ratio beyond 1000:1 in some cases. VA panels (not shown here) are capable of much higher contrast ratios though, up to >3000:1 if you need them.

 

 


Viewing Angles


Above: Viewing angles shown from front and side, and  from above and below. Click for larger image

Viewing angles of the screen were very good as you would expect from an IPS-type panel. Horizontally there was very little colour tone shift until wide angles past about 45. A slight darkening of the image occurred horizontally from wider angles as you can see above as the contrast shifted slighting. Contrast shifts were slightly more noticeable in the vertical field but overall they were very good. There was some slight pink tone introduced from wide vertical angles. The screen offered the wide viewing angles of IPS technology and was free from the restrictive fields of view of TN Film panels, especially in the vertical plane. It was also free of the off-centre contrast shift you see from VA panels and a lot of the quite obvious gamma and colour tone shift you see from some of the modern VA panel type offerings. All as expected really from a modern IPS panel and comparable to the old U2715H. The viewing angles were better than we'd seen from the recently tested Dell U2417HJ (also with a Samsung PLS panel). That model had surprised us as it had more restrictive viewing angles than we are used to from this technology, but it's good to see that those steps in the wrong direction are not carried over to other modern PLS panels.


Above: View of an all black screen from the side. Click for larger version

On a black image there is a characteristic white glow when viewed from an angle, commonly referred to as "IPS-glow". This is common on most modern IPS-type panels and can be distracting to some users. The level of glow here is the same as other recent gaming IPS panels we've seen, including the old U2715H, and is pretty typical of a modern IPS-type panel. If you view dark content from a normal head-on viewing position, you can actually see this glow slightly as your eyes look towards the edges of the screen. Some people may find this problematic if they are working with a lot of dark content or solid colour patterns. In normal day to day uses, office work, movies and games you couldn't really notice this unless you were viewing darker content. If you move your viewing position back, which is probably likely for movies and games, the effect reduces as you do not have such an angle from your eye position to the screen edges.


Dell U2717D Now Available



Panel Uniformity

We wanted to test here how uniform the brightness was across the screen, as well as identify any leakage from the backlight in dark lighting conditions. Measurements of the luminance were taken at 35 points across the panel on a pure white background. The measurements for luminance were taken using BasICColor's calibration software package, combined with an X-rite i1 Display Pro colorimeter with a central point on the screen calibrated to 120 cd/m2. The below uniformity diagram shows the difference, as a percentage, between the measurement recorded at each point on the screen, as compared with the central reference point.

It is worth noting that panel uniformity can vary from one screen to another, and can depend on manufacturing lines, screen transport and other local factors. This is only a guide of the uniformity of the sample screen we have for review.
 


Uniformity of Luminance

The luminance uniformity of the screen was moderate. There was a drop in luminance towards the left hand edge and lower areas, where it range down to 98 cd/m2 in the most extreme case. The upper edge, and particularly upper right hand corner, seemed to be a little brighter as well, up to 131 cd/m2 maximum. Around two thirds of the screen was within a 10% threshold of the centrally calibrated point which was reasonable.


Backlight Leakage


Above: All black screen in a darkened room. Click for larger version

We also tested the screen with an all black image and in a darkened room. A camera was used to capture the result. The camera showed there was some clouding detected from the bottom two and top right corners with some minor backlight bleed evident. It was not possible to see this during normal every day uses.

Note: if you want to test your own screen for backlight bleed and uniformity problems at any point you need to ensure you have suitable testing conditions. Set the monitor to a sensible day to day brightness level, preferably as close to 120 cd/m2 as you can get it (our tests are once the screen is calibrated to this luminance). Don't just take a photo at the default brightness which is almost always far too high and not a realistic usage condition. You need to take the photo from about 1.5 - 2m back to avoid capturing viewing angle characteristics, especially on IPS-type panels where off-angle glow can come in to play easily. Photos should be taken in a darkened room at a shutter speed which captures what you see reliably and doesn't over-expose the image. A shutter speed of 1/8 second will probably be suitable for this.

 


General and Office Applications

The U2717D feature a large 2560 x 1440 WQHD resolution, a significant step up from the wide range of 1920 x 1080 screens on the market. The pixel pitch of 0.233 mm is quite small as a result, and by comparison a standard 16:10 format 24" model has a pixel pitch of 0.270mm and a 30" model has 0.250mm. These ultra-high resolution 27" models offer a tight pixel pitch and therefore small text as well. We found it quite a change originally coming from 21.5 - 24" sized screens back in the day, even those offering quite high resolutions and small pixel pitches. Although now we are very used to working with 27" 1440p screens all the time and find them very comfortable and a significant upgrade over 1080 / 1200p models. Some users may find the small text a little too small to read comfortably, and we'd advise caution if you are coming from a 19" or 22" screen for instance where the pixel pitch and text are much larger. The extra screen size takes some getting used to over a few days as there really is a lot of room to work with but once you do, it's excellent. For those wanting a high resolution for CAD, design, photo work etc, this is a really good option. The image was very sharp and crisp and text was very clear. With its WQHD display, you enjoy 77% more desktop space than a full HD screen to spread out your windows and palettes.

The ultra thin bezel design around all 4 edges mean that the screen could be easily integrated into a multi-screen set up if you wanted. The light AG coating of the PLS (IPS-type) panel is certainly welcome, and much better than the older grainy and 'dirty' appearance of older IPS AG coatings. The wide viewing angles provided by this panel technology on both horizontal and vertical planes, helps minimize on-screen colour shift when viewed from different angles. We were pleased these had not taken a step in the wrong direction like the recent PLS panel in the Dell U2417HJ had. The default setup of the screen was good once you switched to the factory calibrated sRGB preset, offering a decent gamma curve, accurate white point, strong contrast ratio and low dE.

The brightness range of the screen was excellent, with the ability to offer a luminance between 358 and 37 cd/m2. This should mean the screen is useable in a wide variety of ambient light conditions, including darkened rooms. A setting of ~30 in the OSD brightness control should return you a luminance close to 120 cd/m2 out of the box. On another positive note, the brightness regulation is controlled without the need for the use of the now infamous Pulse-Width Modulation (PWM), and so those who suffer from eye fatigue or headaches associated with flickering backlights need not worry.

There are a couple of extras provided here as well including a 4 port USB 3.0 hub (2x easy access on the left hand side) and an audio output for speaker connection. There were no further extras such as ambient light sensors or card readers on this model which can be useful in office environments. There was a good range of ergonomic adjustments available from the stand allowing you to obtain a comfortable position for a wide variety of angles. The VESA mounting support may also be useful to some people as well.

 
Above: photo of text at 2560 x 1440 (top) and 1920 x 1080 (bottom)

The screen is designed to run at its native resolution of 2560 x 1440 and at a 60Hz recommended refresh rate. However, if you want you are able to run the screen outside of this resolution. We tested the screen at a lower 1920 x 1080 resolution to see how the screen handles the interpolation of the resolution, while maintaining the same aspect ratio of 16:9. At native resolution the text was sharp and clear. When running at a the lower  resolution the text is still clear, with low levels of blurring. You do lose a lot of screen real-estate as well of course but the image seems to be interpolated quite well from lower resolution sources.

 


Responsiveness and Gaming

Quoted G2G Response Time

6ms G2G (fast)
8ms G2G (normal)

Quoted ISO Response Time

n/a

Panel Manufacturer and Technology

Samsung PLS (IPS-type)

Panel Part

LTM270DL11

Overdrive Used

Yes

Overdrive Control Available to User

'Response time' setting

Overdrive Settings

Normal, Fast

The U2717D is rated by Dell as having an 6 - 8ms G2G response time, which indicates the panel uses overdrive / response time compensation (RTC) technology to boost pixel transitions across grey to grey changes. There is a user control over the overdrive impulse within the OSD menu under the 'response time' setting, with options for 'normal' and 'fast' available. We've found this setting on other Dell screens to not really offer anything practically useful and would expect the 'normal' mode to be optimal, but we will test both settings anyway.

The part being used is the Samsung LTM270DL11 PLS (IPS-type) panel. Have a read about response time in our specs section if you need additional information about this measurement.

We will first test the screen using our thorough response time testing method. This uses an oscilloscope and photosensor to measure the pixel response times across a series of different transitions, in the full range from 0 (black) to 255 (white). This will give us a realistic view of how the monitor performs in real life, as opposed to being reliant only on a manufacturers spec. We can work out the response times for changing between many different shades, calculate the maximum, minimum and average grey to grey (G2G) response times, and provide an evaluation of any overshoot present on the monitor.

We use an ETC M526 oscilloscope for these measurements along with a custom photosensor device. Have a read of our response time measurement article for a full explanation of the testing methodology and reported data.
 


The response times were tested in both overdrive modes. First of all with the 'response time' set to 'normal' we measured an average 8.6ms G2G response time, fairly typical for a 60Hz IPS type panel and pretty much in line with the 8ms spec from Dell. However, some quite high levels of overshoot started to creep in on some transitions which was a shame, even though the response time was at its most modest setting available. We have seen good 60Hz IPS panels reach to around 8.6ms G2G before without any overshoot issues, so this was a bit of a shame. We will evaluate this mode in more detail in a moment to see if the overshoot is widespread or any major problem.

With the 'response time' setting pushed up to the 'high' mode, the overshoot became even more problematic, and up to very high levels indeed. It was obvious in practice s well as you can see from the PixPerAn images. We really fail to see the point of manufacturers providing these response time modes when they are basically unusable in practice and lead to huge amounts of overshoot. It's purely to get a better spec on paper, but in reality you're much better off sticking to the 'normal' mode.
 


More Detailed Measurements
Response Time setting = Normal

Having established that the normal setting offered the best response/overshoot balance we carried out our normal wider range of measurements as shown below.

The average G2G response time was measured at 8.7ms which was very good overall for a 60Hz IPS-type panel. Rise times (changes from dark to light shades) and fall times (changes from light to dark shades) were pretty consistent. Some measurements reached below the 8ms advertised figure as well.

If we evaluate the Response Time Compensation (RTC) overshoot then there are some transitions which show quite high levels of overshoot. These mostly seem to appear when changing from black to grey (0 > x). A lot of transitions show very little overshoot though which is good, so it's unlikely to be a problem all the time, only on certain colour changes. We know that the 'fast' mode was far more problematic, so certainly stick to the 'normal' response time mode.

 

The above comparison table and graph shows you the lowest, average and highest G2G response time measurement for each screen we have tested with our oscilloscope system. There is also a colour coded mark next to each screen in the table to indicate the RTC overshoot error, as the response time figure alone doesn't tell the whole story.

The response time performance of the U2717D was about on par with the better 60Hz IPS panels we've tested. With an 8.7ms G2G response time average it was very good, but it was let down a little by some moderately high overshoot on some transitions. It was not as good as the Dell U2415 for instance which reached 8.6ms without any significant overshoot being visible. Still, the U2717D was probably a little better than the old U2715H which had 9.9ms G2G average. True, that had lower overshoot than the new model, but the motion clarity was a bit better overall on the new screen thanks to the improved response times. High refresh rate IPS-type panels like the Asus ROG Swift PG279Q and Acer XB270HU for instance can reach lower response times of around 5 ms G2G and provide obvious improvements in motion clarity thanks to the boosted refresh rate.

 

The screen was also tested using the chase test in PixPerAn for the following display comparisons. As a reminder, a series of pictures are taken on the highest shutter speed and compared, with the best case example shown on the left, and worst case example on the right. This should only be used as a rough guide to comparative responsiveness but is handy for a comparison between different screens and technologies as well as a means to compare those screens we tested before the introduction of our oscilloscope method.


27" 8ms G2G Samsung PLS (IPS-type) @ 60Hz

In practice the Dell U2717D showed low levels of blurring on moving images and no noticeable overshoot in these particular tests. We know there might be some overshoot evident on certain transitions from black > grey shades, but they weren't picked out in these PixPerAn tests. the motion clarity/blurring was basically the same as we had seen from other decent 60Hz IPS-type panels in the past. It didn't have the motion clarity of high refresh rate panels, which offer improvements thanks to reduced response times and the increased frame rate.


27" 8ms G2G Samsung PLS (IPS-type) @ 60Hz


27" 8ms G2G LG.Display AH-IPS (Response Time = Normal)


25" 8ms G2G LG.Display AH-IPS (Response Time = Normal)


23.8" 8ms G2G Samsung PLS (IPS-type) @ 60Hz


23.8" 8ms G2G LG.Display AH-IPS


24" 8ms G2G LG.Display AH-IPS (Response Time = Normal)

If we compare the U2717D with a range of other recent UltraSharp screens you will see that the motion performance is very similar between all 6 models. There's very little to separate them all in practice, although the U2515H and U2715H are perhaps ever so slightly slower with a little more pronounced blur in practice.



Additional Gaming Features

Aspect Ratio Control - Like the previous U2715H model, the new U2717D has 3 options for aspect ratio control through the OSD 'Display' menu as shown above. There are options for wide 16:9, 5:4 and 4:3 only. There is no 1:1 pixel mapping mode specifically but given a lot of content from external devices is 16:9 aspect ratio by default, the native aspect of the screen can at least accommodate that nicely. You will have to put up with the screen interpolating content up to the full size of the screen when using an external device, as you can't use any kind of 1:1 scaling option on this model. Which is probably how you'd want to use it anyway.

Preset Modes - There is a specific 'game' available in the OSD which appears to make the image a tad more yellow than our calibrated custom mode. It gives you access to the dynamic contrast ratio control if you want to use it as well.



Lag

We have written an in depth article about input lag and the various measurement techniques which are used to evaluate this aspect of a display. It's important to first of all understand the different methods available and also what this lag means to you as an end-user.

Input Lag vs. Display Lag vs. Signal Processing

To avoid confusion with different terminology we will refer to this section of our reviews as just "lag" from now on, as there are a few different aspects to consider, and different interpretations of the term "input lag". We will consider the following points here as much as possible. The overall "display lag" is the first, that being the delay between the image being shown on the TFT display and that being shown on a CRT. This is what many people will know as input lag and originally was the measure made to explain why the image is a little behind when using a CRT. The older stopwatch based methods were the common way to measure this in the past, but through advanced studies have been shown to be quite inaccurate. As a result, more advanced tools like SMTT provide a method to measure that delay between a TFT and CRT while removing the inaccuracies of older stopwatch methods.

In reality that lag / delay is caused by a combination of two things - the signal processing delay caused by the TFT electronics / scaler, and the response time of the pixels themselves. Most "input lag" measurements over the years have always been based on the overall display lag (signal processing + response time) and indeed the SMTT tool is based on this visual difference between a CRT and TFT and so measures the overall display lag. In practice the signal processing is the element which gives the feel of lag to the user, and the response time of course can impact blurring, and overall image quality in moving scenes. As people become more aware of lag as a possible issue, we are of course keen to try and understand the split between the two as much as possible to give a complete picture.

The signal processing element within that is quite hard to identify without extremely high end equipment and very complicated methods. In fact the studies by Thomas Thiemann which really kicked this whole thing off were based on equipment worth >100,1000 Euro, requiring extremely high bandwidths and very complicated methods to trigger the correct behaviour and accurately measure the signal processing on its own. Other techniques which are being used since are not conducted by Thomas (he is a freelance writer) or based on this equipment or technique, and may also be subject to other errors or inaccuracies based on our conversations with him since. It's very hard as a result to produce a technique which will measure just the signal processing on its own unfortunately. Many measurement techniques are also not explained and so it is important to try and get a picture from various sources if possible to make an informed judgement about a display overall.

For our tests we will continue to use the SMTT tool to measure the overall "display lag". From there we can use our oscilloscope system to measure the response time across a wide range of grey to grey (G2G) transitions as recorded in our response time tests. Since SMTT will not include the full response time within its measurements, after speaking with Thomas further about the situation we will subtract half of the average G2G response time from the total display lag. This should allow us to give a good estimation of how much of the overall lag is attributable to the signal processing element on its own.

 

Lag Classification


To help in this section we will also introduce a broader classification system for these results to help categorise each screen as one of the following levels:

  • Class 1) Less than 16ms / 1 frame lag - should be fine for gamers, even at high levels

  • Class 2) A lag of 16 - 32ms / One to two frames - moderate lag but should be fine for many gamers. Caution advised for serious gaming and FPS

  • Class 3) A lag of more than 32ms / more than 2 frames - Some noticeable lag in daily usage, not suitable for high end gaming


For the full reviews of the models compared here and the dates they were written (and when screens were approximately released to the market), please see our full reviews index.

(Measurements in ms)

 

Total Display Lag (SMTT 2)

25.25

Pixel Response Time Element

4.35

Estimated Signal Processing Lag

20.90

Lag Classification

2

 Class 2

We have provided a comparison above against other models we have tested to give an indication between screens. The screens tested are split into two measurements which are based on our overall display lag tests (using SMTT) and half the average G2G response time, as measured by the oscilloscope. The response time is split from the overall display lag and shown on the graph as the green bar. From there, the signal processing (red bar) can be provided as a good estimation.

The screen showed a total average display lag of 25.25 ms as measured with SMTT 2. Taking into account half the average G2G response time at 4.35ms, we can estimate that there is ~20.9 ms of signal processing lag on this screen which is a little over one frame. This is a similar lag to the old U2713H (higher end professional screen) but a fair bit slower than the U2715H (7.05ms) which was a shame. For fast gaming, the new model isn't quite as suitable as the older model it seems.



Movies and Video

The following summarises the screens performance in video applications:

  • 27" screen size makes it a reasonable option for an all-in-one multimedia screen, much smaller than LCD TV's and many larger format desktop monitors which are now emerging.

  • 16:9 aspect ratio is more well suited to videos than a 16:10 format screen, leaving smaller borders on DVD's and wide screen content at the top and bottom.

  • 2560 x 1440 resolution can support full 1080 HD resolution content.

  • Digital interfaces support HDCP for any encrypted and protected content

  • Good range of connectivity options provided with DisplayPort, Mini DisplayPort and HDMI (with MHL) offered.

  • Cables provided in the box for DisplayPort to Mini DP only.

  • Light AG coating a positive change providing clean and clear images, without the unwanted reflections of a glossy solution.

  • Wide brightness range adjustment possible from the display, including a maximum luminance of ~358 cd/m2 and a decent minimum luminance of 37 cd/m2. This should afford you good control for different lighting conditions. Contrast ratio remains stable across that adjustment range as well and is good for an IPS-type panel. Brightness regulation is controlled without the need for PWM and so is flicker free for all brightness settings.

  • Black depth and contrast ratio are good for an IPS-type panel at 906:1 after calibration. Detail in darker scenes should not be lost as a result.

  • There is a specific 'movie' preset mode available for movies or video if you want but it is much cooler than our calibrated custom mode. May be useful to some though.

  • Good pixel responsiveness which should still be able to handle fast moving scenes in movies without issue. Moderate overshoot issues which should not preset any major problems.

  • Wide viewing angles thanks to IPS-type panel technology meaning several people could view the screen at once comfortable and from a whole host of different angles.

  • IPS glow is at a normal level meaning you might experience some annoying white glows on darker content from an angle.

  • Very good and easy to use range of ergonomic adjustments available from the stand, so should be easy to obtain a comfortable position for multiple users or if you want to sit further away from the screen for movie viewing.

  • No particularly major backlight leakage, and none from the edges which is good. This type of leakage may prove an issue when watching movies where black borders are present but it is not a problem here.

  • No integrated stereo speakers on this model but it is compatible with Dell's SoundBar if you want. There is also an audio output connection.

  • Moderate range of hardware aspect ratio options with 16:9, 5:4 and 4:3 modes available which should be fine for most uses.

  • Picture in picture (PiP) and Picture By Picture (PbP) are not available.
     


Conclusion

Dell haven't changed a huge amount with the new U2717D compared with the old U2715H but there are a few differences of note. The new model has a zero frame design around all sides which looks attractive and smart, and we think we like the new darker silver stand and base a little more than the light silver stand of previous models. There's one less HDMI port provided on the new model (oddly), but the connectivity and functionality are still excellent, and we did like the easier access USB ports on the side of the screen. Underneath all that, Dell have switched from an LG.Display IPS panel to a Samsung PLS panel but really the performance remains very comparable. The new screen does carry a more accurate factory calibration and a slightly better contrast ratio which is good news. Viewing angles, IPS glow levels, backlight range and other general characteristics remain very similar to before. They've thankfully stuck with a flicker free backlight as well which is always good news, even if they don't promote this as a feature. The response times are slightly better on the new screen, but the lag is more of a problem and so for fast or competitive gaming, the U2715H has the edge. To be honest, there's not a massive amount to separate these two screens. The U2715H will likely go end of life soon and so the U2717D is a decent and solid replacement at least. There's no real reason you'd want to upgrade from a U2715H to a U2717D but if you're looking to buy a new screen you can be safe in the knowledge that the U2717D is a solid all-round performer like its predecessor. A very good 27" IPS model for a range of uses and another great screen from Dell.

If you appreciate the review and enjoy reading and like our work, we would welcome a donation to the site to help us continue to make quality and detailed reviews for you. We'd like to thank our readers for the continued support they show the site, it is appreciated.
 

Pros

Cons

Improved factory calibration and contrast ratio over old U2715H

Lag is a little higher than we had hoped

Decent infinity edge design, connections and stand

Typical IPS glow levels maybe off-putting to some users

Good all round performance thanks to IPS-type panel

No significant improvements really over old U2715H


Dell U2717D Now Available

 

 

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