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Introduction

We have seen quite a surge in the popularity of HDR (High Dynamic Range) in the monitor market over the last 6 months or so, as this technology extends beyond the TV sector and in to desktop displays as well. We have already written an in depth article about what HDR is, what it will offer and some of the differences you will find in the market where the technology is promoted. The term HDR is being used very freely at the moment in the monitor market and not all HDR screens are created equal. Some just support limited HDR content and functionality, some are higher end and try to conform to defined standards (such as the Ultra HD Premium specifications defined in the TV market). Many are somewhere in the middle, and the waters are quite murky at the moment for HDR in the monitor sector. It's still very much in its infancy from a display point of view, not to mention the many complications with content, software and hardware along the way. We will talk about HDR more later on in the review.

HDR opens up a new area for us as well, making us think about new tests and measurements to try and give our readers a good idea of the HDR performance and features of any given screen. We have with us today the Dell UP2718Q, part of Dell's UltraSharp Premium range of screens and aimed at professional users and HDR content creators primarily. The UP2718Q is one of the high end HDR capable displays in the market so far and the first in fact to conform to the Ultra HD Premium standards, and be certified by them. We will talk more about these features and specs later on, but the UP2718Q offers a 3840 x 2160 Ultra HD resolution, 384-zone full array local dimming (FALD) backlight, wide colour gamut, 1000 cd/m2 peak brightness, hardware calibration and 10-bit colour support. We will of course perform all our normal tests, along with some new sections focusing in on HDR as best we can.

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Specifications and Features

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

Monitor Specifications

Size

27"WS

Panel Coating

Light AG coating

Aspect Ratio

16:9

Interfaces

1x DisplayPort 1.4, 1x Mini DP 1.4, 2x HDMI 2.0a

Resolution

3840 x 2160

Pixel Pitch

0.1554 mm (163 PPI)

Design colour

Matte black plastic bezel and stand, dark silver base

Response Time

6ms G2G

Ergonomics

Tilt, 145mm height, swivel, rotate

Static Contrast Ratio

1000:1 (typical)
20,000:1 (HDR)

Dynamic Contrast Ratio

n/a

VESA Compatible

Yes 100mm

Brightness

400 cd/m2 (typical)
1000 cd/m2 (HDR)

Accessories

Power cable, DisplayPort > Mini DP cable, USB cable, HDMI cable, factory calibration report

Viewing Angles

178 / 178

Panel Technology

LG.Display IPS

Weight

without stand: 5.98 Kg

Backlight Technology

GB-r-LED

Physical Dimensions

(WxHxD)
626.4 x 502.6 - 547.1 x 200.3 mm

Colour Depth

1.07b (10-bit)

Refresh Rate

60Hz

Special Features

2x upstream USB ports, 4x USB 3.0 downstream ports (2 with fast charging), audio out, uniformity correction, hardware calibration, factory calibration report, PiP/PbP

Colour Gamut

Wide gamut
100% sRGB, 100% Adobe RGB, 100% Rec.709, 97.7% DCI-P3, 76.9% Rec.2020

The UP2718Q offers a decent range of connectivity options with 1x DisplayPort 1.4, 1x Mini DisplayPort 1.4 and 2x HDMI 2.0a connections offered. There is no DisplayPort out connection for daisy-chaining multiple displays on this model, as there is on some other Dell UltraSharp screens. The digital interfaces are HDCP certified for encrypted content and the video cables are provided in the box for DisplayPort to Mini DP and HDMI. This is the first screen we have tested with a DisplayPort 1.4 interface in fact. It is of course still compatible with the wide range of DP 1.2 graphics cards, but the DP 1.4 connection allows for HDR support from modern top-end graphics cards which feature a DP 1.4 output. HDMI 2.0a can also support the bandwidth necessary for HDR content at Ultra HD resolutions, so if you want to connect external Ultra HD Blu-ray players or modern games consoles like the PS4, PS4 Pro or X Box One and play HDR-supported games, you are able to.

The screen has an internal power supply and comes packaged with the kettle-type power cable you need. There are also 4x USB 3.0 ports, 2 located on the back of the screen with the video connections, and 2 on the left hand side. 2 of these ports feature fast charging support. The screen also offers 2x USB upstream connections allowing you to connect to two PC's and use the screen as a KVM switch in quite a neat way. An audio out connection is also provided if you need it.

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 views of the screen and stand. Click for larger versions

The UP2718Q comes in a black and space grey design, with matte plastics used for the bezel, stand and base. It has quite a solid, professional look as opposed to being overly fancy or eye-catching, fitting in with its target market nicely. The bezel measures ~14mm along the sides and top with a small additional 1mm black panel border to give a total 15mm edge. Along the bottom of the screen this is slightly thicker at 17mm bezel + 1mm panel border. There is a shiny silver Dell logo in the middle of the bottom bezel but no other logos or writing on the front of the screen. The OSD and power buttons are tucked underneath the bottom right hand edge of the display and so are out of sight during normal use from a typical viewing position. The base of the stand is finished in a dark space grey plastic and provides a sturdy and strong base for the quite heavy screen. It measures 293 x 200mm.


Above: back view of the screen. Click for larger versions

The back of the screen is encased in a space grey plastic as shown above. The stand attaches easily in to the back of the screen with a quick-release mechanism, and can be removed for VESA 100 mounting options if you want. There is a cable tidy hole in the stand as well.

The screen has a fairly thick profile as you can see from the below images which is a result of the wide gamut GB-r-LED and 384-zone local dimming backlight unit. It isn't overly thick, but certainly more chunky than the wide range of ultra-thin screens you can find in the market today.

 
Above: full tilt range shown. Click for larger versions

There is a decent set of ergonomic adjustments offered from this screen. Tilt is smooth and easy to use and offers a good range of adjustment as you can see from the above pictures.

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

Height adjustment is a little bit stiff but offers smooth movements as well, with a total measured adjustment range of 140mm. At the lowest setting the bottom edge of the screen is ~40mm from the edge of the desk, and at maximum extension is is ~180mm. Side to side swivel is a easy to use and again offers smooth movements and a wide range. The base of the stand stays firmly positioned on the desk as you move the screen side to side. Rotation in to portrait mode is a little bumpy but easy enough to use and might be useful to some users.

A summary of the ergonomic adjustments are shown below:

Function

Range

Smoothness

Ease of Use

Tilt

Yes

Smooth

Easy

Height

140mm

Smooth

A bit stiff

Swivel

Yes

Smooth

Easy

Rotate

Yes

Moderate

A bit stiff

Overall

Good range of adjustments and smooth movements, mostly easy to use. No wobble

The materials were of a good standard and the build quality felt very 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 fairly cool even during prolonged use as well which was pleasing although a bit of heat from the top is common given the bigger backlight unit and higher power consumption.


Above: connection options on the back of the screen. Click for larger version

The back of the screen features the connections. To the left (not pictured here) is the power connection. You only need a normal kettle lead here as the power supply is built in to the screen. There are then 2x HDMI 2.0a, DisplayPort 1.4, Mini DisplayPort 1.4, audio out, 2x USB upstream and 2x USB 3.0 downstream connections. One of these has fast charging support.


Above:  easy access USB ports on left hand side. Click for larger version

There are also 2 additional USB 3.0 ports located on the left hand side of the screen for easy access which was nice to see. One of these has fast charging support.


OSD Menu


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

The OSD menu is controlled through 5 small buttons and a power on/off button located on the bottom underside edge of the screen, in the right hand corner. They are easy to find and use. The power button has a very small white LED when the screen is powered on.

Pressing any of the OSD buttons pops up the above quick launch menu, which can actually be customised in the main menu if you want access to other options quickly instead of these defaults. Each quick launch item is presented on the screen above where the control buttons are, making it easy to select the required option. By default there is quick launch access to the preset modes, brightness/contrast controls, input selection and then the main menu itself.

The preset mode menu has loads of different options to choose from as shown above. Within the 'color space' menu there are plenty of different options including the Adobe RGB, sRGB and DCI-P3 emulations modes. You can also switch to the hardware calibrated CAL1 and CAL2 modes if you've carried out a hardware calibration of the screen.

The main menu is split in to 9 sections shown down the left hand side, with the options available in each presented on the right.

The 'display' section has a few useful features including the aspect ratio control, response time settings, uniformity correction (within certain preset modes only) and HDR control.

The menu offers a nice wide range of options and is quick and intuitive to use. We found it easy to navigate, and it will also remember which section you were last in which can save some time when playing around with settings.
 


Power Consumption

In terms of power consumption the manufacturer lists typical usage of 90W, maximum of 120W (with USB active too) and <0.5W in standby. 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%)

90.0

66.4

Calibrated (28%)

-

44.3

Maximum Brightness (100%)

120.0

78.2

Minimum Brightness (0%)

-

31.0

Standby

<0.5

0.8

We tested this ourselves and found that out of the box the screen used 66.4W at the default 75% brightness setting. Once calibrated the screen reached 44.3W consumption, and in standby it used only 0.6W. We have plotted these results below compared with other screens we have tested. The calibrated consumption is comparable to the other 27" sized screens with wide gamut GB-r-LED backlights we have tested like the Dell U2713H for example. Larger sized screens with wide gamut LED backlights like the Dell UP3214Q use a little more power, and those with wide gamut CCFL backlights like the NEC PA271W use even more. The power usage of the UP2718Q is higher than the wide range of sRGB 27" screens which use W-LED backlighting, as a GB-r-LED backlight has a higher power consumption.



Panel and Backlighting

Panel Manufacturer

LG.Display

Colour Palette

1.07 billion

Panel Technology

IPS

Colour Depth

10-bit

Panel Module

LM270WR6-SPA1

Colour space

Wide gamut

Backlighting Type

GB-r-LED

Colour space coverage (%)

100% sRGB, 100% Adobe RGB, 100% Rec.709, 97.7% DCI-P3, 76.9% Rec.2020

Panel Part and Colour Depth

The Dell UP2718Q features an LG.Display LM270WR6-SPA1 IPS technology panel which is capable of producing 1.07 billion colours. This is achieved through a 10-bit colour depth. Keep in mind whether this 10-bit support is practically useable and whether you're ever going to truly use that colour depth. You need to have a full 10-bit end to end workflow to take advantage of it which is still quite expensive to achieve and rare in the market, certainly for your average user. This includes relevant applications and graphics cards as well, so to some people this 10-bit support might be irrelevant. Given this is a high end, professional-grade screen the 10-bit support is useful and may well be required for some users. It also allows the screen to meet the strict Ultra HD Premium standards for HDR which we will talk about more later.

The panel part is confirmed when dismantling the screen as shown below:

Screen Coating

The screen coating is a light anti-glare (AG). Thankfully it isn't a heavily grainy coating like some old IPS-type panels and is also lighter than TN Film technology coatings. 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. There are no visible cross-hatching patterns evident.


Backlight Type and Colour Gamut

The screen uses a GB-r-LED backlight unit which offers a wide colour gamut, beyond the common sRGB gamut models in the market. This backlight allows the screen to cover much wider colour gamuts and the spec confirms that it will offer 100% sRGB coverage (and well beyond), 100% Adobe RGB, 100% Rec.709, 97.7% DCI-P3 and 76.9% Rec.2020. It is the DCI-P3 colour space which is becoming most commonly talked about when it comes to HDR displays, as the Ultra HD Premium spec dictates that a HDR display should support this colour space properly. Given the screen is Ultra HD Premium certified, they must consider 97.7% to be close enough. The wide range of supported colour spaces, including emulation options for Adobe RGB, DCI-P3 and sRGB account for various user scenarios and content requirements. 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 previously very 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

The backlight control on this screen is a little unusual. There is no typical PWM pattern on this screen as you dim the backlight, so it is certainly not being rapidly switched off and on, and so there should be no visible flicker. As you can see however there is a very low amplitude oscillation present at all settings, even 100% brightness. This operates at a high 4000 Hz frequency, and is very low amplitude (i.e. very little difference in luminance between the upper and lower range) and so it is extremely unlikely to result in any flicker or eye-related problems.

Pulse Width Modulation Used

No
(but low amplitude oscillation)

Cycling Frequency

n/a (4000Hz low amplitude oscillation)

Possible Flicker at

 

100% Brightness

Very unlikely

50% Brightness

Very unlikely

0% Brightness

Very unlikely

 


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

349.26

0.34

1027

90

321.64

0.31

1038

80

293.98

0.28

1050

70

252.35

0.24

1051

60

224.60

0.21

1070

50

196.77

0.19

1036

40

154.77

0.15

1032

30

126.98

0.12

1058

20

99.30

0.09

1103

10

57.89

0.06

965

0

31.43

0.03

1048

 

Total Luminance Adjustment Range (cd/m2)

317.83

Brightness OSD setting controls backlight?

Total Black Point Adjustment Range (cd/m2)

0.31

Average Static Contrast Ratio

1043:1

PWM Free? 

Recommended OSD setting for 120 cd/m2

28 - 29

The brightness control gave us a good range of adjustment. At the top end the maximum luminance reached 349 cd/m2 which was a bit lower than the specified maximum typical brightness of 400 cd/m2 from the manufacturer. Remember that the 1000 cd/m2 peak brightness figure in the spec is relevant when using the HDR feature which we will look at later on. With HDR mode turned off, you are operating within the brightness range shown above.

There was a very good 318 cd/m2 adjustment range in total, and so at the minimum setting you could reach down to a low luminance of 31 cd/m2. This should be adequate for those wanting to work in darkened room conditions with low ambient light. A setting of 28 - 29 in the OSD menu should return you a luminance of around 120 cd/m2 at default settings. This was a little fiddly as there seemed to be a bit of a jump in luminance from 28 (113 cd/m2) to 29 (127 cd/m2).

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%. There is a very low amplitude and high frequency oscillation at all brightness settings but the screen can still be classified as 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 mostly a linear relationship as you can see although there seemed to be some slight steps at certain points.

The average contrast ratio of the screen was good for an IPS panel at 1043:1. This was stable across the brightness adjustment range on the most part, although there did seem to be a bit of variation for the very low end of the brightness adjustment range. Remember, the 20,000:1 contrast ratio figure in the spec relates to the HDR operation of the screen which we will talk about more later on.



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

Each UP2718Q monitor is factory calibrated in the Adobe RGB and sRGB preset modes. This is designed to deliver a Delta E < 2, an accurate gamma curve, specific grey-scale tracking (colour temp) and brightness uniformity. You can access the two factory calibrated modes by switching to the Adobe RGB or sRGB 'color space' modes. If you want the uniformity calibration as well, you will need to additionally turn on 'uniformity compensation' from within the OSD menu.

We have provided a copy of the calibration report for our unit which comes in the box with the screen, for those interested:

By default the screen is actually set in the 'standard' preset mode which does not carry any specific factory calibration. We will test that out-of-the-box setup first of all here.

Default settings of the screen were as follows:

Monitor OSD Option

Default Settings

Preset mode

Standard

Brightness

75

Contrast

75

Uniformity Compensation

Off

RGB

n/a


Dell UP2718Q - Default Settings (not factory calibrated)

   



 

Default Settings
Standard mode

luminance (cd/m2)

273

Black Point (cd/m2)

0.27

Contrast Ratio

1019:1

Initially out of the box the screen was set with a high 75% brightness and so was overly bright and uncomfortable to use, so you will definitely need to turn that down. You could tell the screen was using a wide gamut backlight as colours looked more vivid and saturated than common sRGB-only screens. This standard preset mode uses the full native gamut of the backlight without any restrictions.

We went ahead and measured the default state with the i1 Pro 2. The CIE diagram on the left of the image confirms that the monitors colour gamut (black triangle) extends far beyond the typical sRGB space. There is much wider coverage in green shades most notably, leading to more saturated and somewhat neon looking green shades in practice. Default gamma was recorded at 2.1 average, leaving it with a minor 5% deviance from the target which was pretty good. There are no gamma modes available in the OSD menu, so this will be difficult to correct without a calibration device. Given this is a very expensive high end, professional grade screens, we expect you will almost certainly have a calibration device anyway, and probably want to take advantage of the hardware calibration function offered on this model as well. White point was measured at a very accurate 6534k in the default preset, leaving only a very minor 1% deviance.

Luminance was recorded at a very bright 273 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 0.27 cd/m2 at this default brightness setting, giving us a good static contrast ratio for an IPS-type panel of 1019:1. Colour accuracy was hard to measure in this default mode because of the wide gamut backlight, and the fact that colours are being compared against an sRGB reference. So they are "inaccurate" if compared with sRGB colours, with a dE of 5.0 average, but that is to be expected when a wide gamut colour space is being output. Testing the sRGB emulation preset mode in a moment will hopefully give us a better view. Testing the screen with colour gradients showed smooth gradients with only very minor gradation evident in darker tones. There was no sign of any colour banding which was good news.



We went ahead and measured the Adobe RGB factory calibrated mode as well:

Monitor OSD Option

Default Settings

Preset mode

Color Space > Adobe RGB

Brightness

75

Contrast

75

Uniformity Compensation

Off

RGB

n/a


Dell UP2718Q - Default Settings (Adobe RGB factory calibrated mode)


 

Default Settings
Adobe RGB mode

luminance (cd/m2)

267

Black Point (cd/m2)

0.27

Contrast Ratio

996:1

We changed to the Adobe RGB 'color space' preset mode which carries the factory calibration. The gamma was slightly more accurate now at 2.2 average, with only a 2% deviance. White point remained consistent at 6561k (1% deviance). Brightness was still too high, but contrast ratio remained decent enough for an IPS panel at 996:1. Of interest is if we compare the colour gamut in this mode:


Adobe RGB gamut coverage in Standard preset mode (left) vs Adobe RGB preset mode (right)

You can see above a comparison of the monitors gamut (represented by the black triangle) against the Adobe RGB reference space (red triangle). These measurements were taken in the default 'standard' preset mode, and then the specific Adobe RGB colour space mode. You will see that the specific Adobe RGB mode emulates the colour space slightly more closely, cutting down a little in some of the over-coverage in green shades. It's not a massive amount, since the native gamut of the backlight is already very close to the Adobe RGB space, but a little bit of emulation is going on here still.

Again, it's hard to comment on the dE figures in this mode, since they are comparing colours produced against an sRGB reference, but the rest of the factory setup seemed reliable.

 


We went ahead and measured the sRGB factory calibrated mode as well:

Monitor OSD Option

Default Settings

Preset mode

Color space > sRGB

Brightness

75

Contrast

75

Uniformity Compensation

Off

RGB

n/a


Dell UP2718Q - Default Settings (sRGB factory calibrated mode)


 

Default Settings
sRGB mode

luminance (cd/m2)

268

Black Point (cd/m2)

0.27

Contrast Ratio

999:1

You can see here that the colour space now very closely matches the sRGB reference, and it is emulated nicely. An additional measurement with ChromaPure 3 measured a 100.7% sRGB coverage in this emulation node. Note that this specific sRGB coverage corresponds to 74.2% of the DCI-P3 colour space and 53.2% of the very large Rec.2020 space.

Gamma and white point remain very close to their targets with only a small 2% deviance on each. We can get a much better view of dE accuracy here now that we are comparing an sRGB colour output with an sRGB reference. It was measured at an excellent 1.1 dE average and this gave us a very good factory calibration in this colour space. It's very useful to have an sRGB mode for those who want to work with sRGB content more closely, and don't want the wide gamut colour space of the backlight for some uses. That will avoid any complications with colour management if you want to work with or view the wide range of sRGB-based content out there.

 


Calibration (Software Profiling)

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 mode

Custom Color

Brightness

28

Contrast

75

Uniformity Compensation

Off

RGB

98, 90, 99


Dell UP2718Q - Calibrated Settings (Software Profiling)

  
 

 

Calibrated Settings

luminance (cd/m2)

113

Black Point (cd/m2)

0.115

Contrast Ratio

980:1

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 as part of the guided calibration process. These OSD changes allowed us to obtain an optimal 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.

In this 'custom color' mode, you are left with the native (full) gamut of the backlight, but we know that there is already a very accurate sRGB emulation mode and factory calibrated state if you want to work with the smaller sRGB gamut anyway.

Average gamma was now corrected to 2.2 average a 0% deviance, correcting the 5% deviance we'd seen out of the box in the 'standard' preset mode. The white point had now been corrected to 6470k, which corrected the very minor 1% deviance we'd seen out of the box. Luminance had been improved thanks to the adjustment to the brightness control and was now being measured at 113 cd/m2. The next 1% up in the brightness control bumped us up to 127 cd/m2 so we stuck with a setting of 28% which was a little low. This left us a black depth of 0.115 cd/m2 and maintained a strong IPS static contrast ratio of 980:1. Colour accuracy of the resulting profile was excellent, with dE average of 0.3 and maximum of 1.1. LaCie would consider colour fidelity to be very good. Testing the screen with various colour gradients showed very smooth transitions with no banding evident at all. 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.

 


Hardware Calibration

The UP2718Q is part of Dell's UltraSharp Premium range of screens and features hardware calibration support. You are able to calibrate the screen at the monitor LUT (Look Up Table) level, to store calibrated settings in the screen itself. This provides users with a more advanced and better level of control over the settings of the screen, and means you don't have to rely on graphics card level profiles. Particularly useful to avoid any complications with colour managed workflows and to maintain settings in all applications, where perhaps ICC profile support might sometimes be difficult or absent.

Dell provide their own 'UltraSharp Calibration' software package, powered by X-rite. It is compatible with X-rites i1 Display Pro colorimeter, and i1 Pro / i1 Pro 2 spectrophotometers which can be purchased separately. We looked at Dell's calibration software back in October 2014 when we reviewed the UP3214Q display, but have provided some updated screenshots and notes below while we test the latest version (v1.6.1) on the UP2718Q display.

Loading up the software you are presented with the above home screen. Once a valid device is plugged in, it is verified on the right with the green ticks. You can move from the basic mode (top image) to the advanced mode (bottom image) if you want more options and settings to change.

We followed through the 'display profiling' process to calibrate the screen. You are first of all asked to select your desired colour space and luminance target. It's possible to calibrate to loads of different defined colour spaces including Adobe RGB, sRGB, DCI-P3, etc and there is a lot of flexibility to choose your own target range if you need to.

You are then asked to select which hardware calibration mode you are going to be configuring. There are two options on the UP2718Q that you can hardware calibrate, modes CAL1 and CAL2. If you want to, you can also turn on uniformity correction here which will add an additional stage to the process, allowing you to set up uniformity correction at the same time as the calibration.

From there, you start the measurement and calibration process. It is entirely automated so you don't have to do anything, but it takes a very long time to complete. With our i1 Pro 2 spectrophotometer, and even with the smallest (and therefore quickest) sample set of 118 in the settings for the software, the calibration process took about 45 minutes. Once set up though and saved to the monitor LUT, you can easily switch away from the CAL mode to one of the other presets, knowing that you can easily switch back to your calibrated state when you need. With two CAL modes available you can set up to a couple of different colour spaces or different targets if you want (e.g. DCI-P3 and sRGB).

At the end you can go back to the home screen and if you enter the 'advanced' mode, you can run a few quality checking options.

These are fairly basic quality checks, giving you some results like those shown above.

We also used our i1 Pro 2 spectrophotometer to validate the results using the familiar LaCie Blue Eye Pro software:


Dell UP2718Q - Hardware Calibration
Adobe RGB Colour Space Target


  
 

 

Hardware Calibrated Settings, Adobe RGB

luminance (cd/m2)

128

Black Point (cd/m2)

0.11

Contrast Ratio

1171:1

The above validation step confirms some very good results from the hardware calibration process. Keep in mind there is likely to be some slight variance in the two software packages. Nevertheless it confirms a solid result from the hardware calibration with only minor deviance in gamma and white point. Luminance was a little too high but we had achieved now a stronger static contrast ratio of 1171:1 which was pleasing.



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 good even in the standard preset which did not carry a factory calibration. Gamma was a little out (5% deviance) but white point was close to the target. We will ignore the default dE figure here since the standard mode operates with the full native gamut of the backlight and dE is being compared against a smaller sRGB colour space in the validation test. You can achieve nice reliable out of the box setup in the Adobe RGB and sRGB modes as well which carry the factory calibration. Of course being a professional grade screen you are almost certainly going to want to calibrate the screen, preferably at the monitor hardware LUT level, which gives you a huge amount of control and high levels of accuracy.

The display was good when it came to static contrast ratio for an IPS panel at 980:1. Anything around 1000:1 is decent for this panel technology and it was on par with some other IPS screens shown here. Some modern IPS panels can reach up closer to 1200:1, and VA panels (not shown here) can of course reach higher up to over 3000:1. We will test HDR later on which will deliver different contrast ratios.



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 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. A pink colour tint was also introduced from wider angles. Contrast shifts and the pink colour tone were slightly more noticeable in the vertical field but overall they were still good. 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. IPS is the preferred technology for colour critical work and professional applications, so it was pleasing to see that panel technology utilised on this display.


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 IPS panels we've seen 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.



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.

The UP2718Q features a uniformity correction feature which is sometimes available on professional grade screens. On this model it is available within the 'display' section of the menu and has options for 'off' and 'calibrated'. It is only possible to turn this feature on in certain preset modes as well - standard, custom color, color temp. You cannot use it in ComfortView, Movie, Game or any of the color space modes unfortunately. If you hardware calibrate the screen there is an option to include uniformity correction calibration during that process.


Uniformity of Luminance - Correction OFF

First of all we tested the screen with uniformity correction turned OFF, in the 'custom color' preset mode (after calibration) with a centrally calibrated luminance of 120 cd/m2. The screen showed some drop off in luminance around the edges, where it went down as low as 100 cd/m2 in the most extreme cases (top left corner). Overall around 70% of the screen was within a 10% deviance from the centrally calibrated point which was pretty good.


Uniformity of Luminance - Correction ON

We then tested the screen again with uniformity correction turned on. We had to increase the brightness control in the OSD up to 42% to achieve a centrally calibrated luminance of around 120 cd/m2 since the uniformity correction feature is making digital white level corrections, and so has an impact on the luminance output of the panel. Thankfully you are able to change the brightness control up and down to suit when the uniformity correction feature is turned on. Sometimes settings like that can be locked with these kind of features, but it's nice to see some flexibility available here. With it turned on, the panel uniformity was improved very nicely and was excellent. There was a maximum difference between any two points on the screen of only 5.79% which was great. The correction worked very well indeed. It should be noted that with this feature turned on you do lose some contrast, and we measured a static contrast ratio now of 657:1, compared with the calibrated 980:1 with it turned off. Some screens will drop contrast even further, so this wasn't too bad to be honest.


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 slight clouding evident in the right hand corners, but it was not very noticeable. If you are in a very dark room working with dark content you may notice this a little, although in day to day use you would be hard pressed to see any issue.

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 UP2718Q feature a 3840 x 2160 Ultra HD resolution, all packed in to a 27" sized screen. The higher resolution is not about providing more screen real-estate here and we need to move away from thinking about LCD resolution in that manner. In fact it is arguable that the wide range of 2560 x 1440 resolution panels in the 27" sector are about as high a resolution as you want to go, without making fonts and icons too small natively. That provides a pretty comfortable option to work with day to day.

Here, with the resolution being so much higher it is about providing a sharper and crisper image, while still operating with a similar desktop area and similar font size to the 1440p models. It is providing a higher pixel density (Pixels Per Inch, PPI) to improve the degree of definition to the image. You need to us operating system scaling to handle this properly. If you try and run the screen without any scaling at 3840 x 2160 the 0.156mm pixel pitch makes everything far too small and tiny. In our view you need a screen of about 39 - 40" in size (like the Philips BDM4065UC for example) to use an Ultra HD or 4K resolution effectively without OS scaling. On this 27" model, if you increase the scaling to 150%, you actually end up with the same workspace area as 2560 x 1440, but at a much higher PPI pixel density - and therefore a sharper image. Have a read of Eizo's very useful article for some more information on the whole matter. For those wanting a high pixel density for CAD, design, photo work etc, this is a really good option. The image was very sharp and crisp and text was very clear. It is a little debatable whether you will gain much benefit from the higher PPI on a screen this size compared with a 2560 x 1440 standard model, but some may notice picture quality and sharpness improvements.

Keep in mind that not all Operating Systems and applications handle scaling the same. More recent versions of Windows (8.1 and 10) tend to handle it all better, and recent versions of Mac OS are pretty solid as well. Some applications and games don't handle scaling correctly and so you can end up with some things with very minute text and fonts and some things which don't scale completely in every place. Keep this in mind if you're selecting any super high resolution display as it could be an important factor. You need to ensure you have the necessary operating system and applications to handle scaling effectively for your needs.

You do need to keep in mind the need for a compatible graphics card with a suitable output which can handle this resolution, and at 60Hz refresh rate. DisplayPort and HDMI 2.0 are the only options to run the screen at its native 3840 x 2160 res at 60Hz, both of which are supported here. When running at native resolution this model is recognised as a single display which makes life easier than some of the early MultiStream (MST) models. It's also good to see support for 60Hz refresh rate as some 4k models only offer 30Hz support which is very limiting, even in day to day uses (certainly for gaming!)

The light AG coating of the panel is welcome, and much better than the 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. The default setup of the screen was decent as well, offering an accurate gamma curve, accurate white point and decent contrast ratio for an IPS panel. There are two factory calibrated modes as well which are well configured, including options for emulating various colour spaces if you don't want to work with wide gamut. The sRGB mode is particularly useful given the widespread use of that colour space, and the sRGB preset comes with a very good factory calibration. Obviously the wide gamut support gives you the flexibility to work with wide gamut content where necessary, and the 10-bit colour depth support is also there if you have a 10-bit graphics card and workflow. The screen also supports hardware calibration for high levels of control and accuracy, and the uniformity correction function works very well if you need to ensure ultra-reliable luminance uniformity for any colour critical work.

The brightness range of the screen was also very good, with the ability to offer a luminance between 349 and 31 cd/m2. This should mean the screen is perfectly useable in a wide variety of ambient light conditions, including darkened rooms. A setting of 28 - 29 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 was no audible noise or buzzing from the screen, even when specifically looking for it using test images with a large amount of text at once. The screen also remains fairly cool even during prolonged use.

The screen offers 4x USB 3.0 ports (2 with charging capabilities also) which is very handy. 2 are on the left hand edge of the screen for easy access. There aren't any other extras like card readers or ambient light sensors offered though which can be useful in office environments. The stand offers a wide range of adjustments which is great news, allowing you to obtain comfortable viewing positions easily.

 

 
Responsiveness and Gaming

Quoted G2G Response Time

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

Quoted ISO Response Time

n/a

Panel Manufacturer and Technology

LG.Display IPS

Panel Part

LM270WR6-SPA1

Overdrive Used

Yes

Overdrive Control Available to User

Response Time

Overdrive Settings

Normal, Fast

The UP2718Q is rated by Dell as having a 6ms G2G response time. The screen uses overdrive / response time compensation (RTC) technology to boost pixel transitions across grey to grey changes with a setting available to the user in the menu to switch between 'normal' and 'fast' modes. The part being used is the LG.Display LM270WR6-SPA1 IPS technology 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 Time' setting is available via the 'Display' section of the OSD menu as shown above. We will test the two available modes to see which is optimal. Keep in mind that this screen is not really aimed at gamers, as it is more of a professional range screen. It has a 60Hz maximum refresh rate as well.


In the 'normal' mode the average response time was measured at 13ms G2G. Some transitions were particularly slow, especially those changing from the darkest shades to light shades (e.g. 0 > 150 or 0 > 255). There was no overshoot in this mode at all, but response times were fairly slow. They'd be fine for general day to day use of course, but gamers will see some fairly noticeable blurring to moving images in this mode.

Switching up to the 'fast' mode brought about some small positive changes. The average response time had improved to 9.9ms G2G but it was still relatively slow for an IPS-type panel at 60Hz. The better 60Hz IPS models out there can reach down to around 8.5ms G2G without any overshoot, so the UP2718Q fell behind a little. It wasn't terrible or anything, but it certainly can't keep up with modern high-refresh rate IPS panels. They offer faster response times (in the region of 5ms G2G) along with significantly increased refresh rates (e.g. 144Hz) and much better motion clarity as a result. Additional technologies like FreeSync, G-sync and various motion blur reducing backlights will add an additional positive experience to gaming as well from other gamer-orientated options.

The above images give you an indication of the blurring and overshoot levels in each of the Response Time overdrive modes, using the PixPerAn test tool. Responsiveness improves a little as you change from normal > fast mode with a little less blurring and a sharper, clearer moving image.

HDR Gaming

This is not a gamers screen of course but it's one of the first to market with true, well-implemented HDR support. It has the necessary high end spec for HDR along with a great local dimming implementation that we will talk about more later on in the review. HDR gaming from a PC is still in its very early stages and achieving HDR effectively from a PC is actually still very difficult. We won't go in to the details as we will move too far away from talking about the monitor, but there are operating system, graphics card and software considerations all to account for - not to mention the very limited support for HDR in PC games themselves right now. This screen is equipped nicely to support HDR gaming in the future, with all the necessary specs and features to offer a great experience. It is likely though that you would want to limit any gaming to slower paced games, not fast FPS or fast racing games as the UP2718Q is not really equipped to handle those as well. Response times are a little slow, and you are limited to a 60Hz refresh rate.

There are some 27" gamer-orientated displays coming later in 2017 with similar high-end HDR support as well, so if HDR gaming from a PC is what you're interested in you may be better waiting for one of those. Options like the Acer Predator X27 and Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ for instance will offer similar specs and local dimming implementation, but will also offer a high refresh rate of 144Hz, NVIDIA G-sync support, faster response times (in all likelihood, certainly when using higher refresh rates), lower input lag (since G-sync screens are invariably next to no lag), and even ULMB (Ultra Low Motion Blur) for blur reducing benefits. Those screens have been delayed until early Q4 now it seems, and so perhaps Asus and Acer are optimising the HDR behaviour or ironing out any complications with achieving a 4K res and higher refresh rate, with the latest DP 1.4 connectivity to account for as well.

The other area to consider here is console HDR gaming. Thankfully that part of the gaming market is a bit more mature, and it's far simpler to achieve HDR thanks to the enclosed nature of the system - no software, graphics card or OS limitations to worry about here. If you have a console which can output HDR for gaming such as the PS4, PS4 Pro or X Box One S then the Dell UP2718Q will support those over the HDMI 2.0a connection. The screen conforms to true HDR specs as we've already mentioned (and will discuss more later), and will support 3840 x 2160 Ultra HD resolution and offer a wide colour gamut for boosted colours as well. Given the consoles are limited to 60Hz refresh rate, and you cannot use features like FreeSync/G-sync or ULMB with them there is less of a gap between the UP2718Q performance and the likely performance of the gaming HDR displays we mentioned before. Yes, those will probably have faster response times, a better controlled overdrive impulse, and probably a lower lag but the performance of the UP2718Q is still likely to be close behind at this 60Hz console gaming limit. It is also likely to be on par or better than many LCD TV's out there in this regard. It will of course be a much smaller screen size than a HDR TV is likely to be, but the point here is that it can probably handle some console HDR gaming pretty effectively if you want to. It's not the intended market for this screen, but it's still a good possibility.



Display Comparisons

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.

As a reminder, these measurements were in the optimal 'fast' Response Time overdrive mode. With an average of 9.9ms G2G it fell a little behind the faster 60Hz IPS models out there (where overshoot is low). Models like the Dell U2415 and ViewSonic VP2768 reach down to 8.6ms for instance, although to be fair the UP2718Q was not exactly miles behind. It was the same as the Dell U2715H for instance which is a well-established all round generalist screen. The high refresh rate IPS models like the Asus ROG Swift PG279Q (5.0ms G2G) and MG279Q (6.5ms G2G) for instance had performed better, and TN Film models like the Asus ROG Swift PG278Q (2.9ms G2G) could of course reach faster speeds and are specifically designed for gaming audiences.



Additional Gaming Features

Aspect Ratio Control - the screen offers 4 options for aspect ratio control, available through the OSD menu in the 'display' section as shown. There are options for wide 16:9, auto resize, 4:3 and 1:1 pixel mapping. This should suit most people's needs, and the auto resize option is handy to maintain the source aspect ratio but scale up as large as possible.

Preset Modes - There is a game preset mode available in the OSD menu as well which might be handy to set up for your particular gaming needs.



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 at 60Hz - should be fine for gamers, even at high levels

  • Class 2) A lag of 16 - 32ms / One to two frames at 60Hz - moderate lag but should be fine for many gamers. Caution advised for serious gaming

  • Class 3) A lag of more than 32ms / more than 2 frames at 60Hz - 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

4.95

Estimated Signal Processing Lag

20.30

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 UP2718Q showed a total lag of 25.25ms. Taking in to account the pixel response time element at 4.95ms, we can estimate a 20.30ms signal processing lag on this screen. It is on par with other wide gamut screens from Dell including the U2413, U2713H and UP3214Q models for instance. This is slightly over 1 frame of lag. It might be a problem for very fast FPS type PC games, but for more casual gaming and other genres it should still be fine. It is likely to be better than many (most?) TV sets as well keep in mind for any console gaming needs you might have.



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.

  • 3840 x 2160 Ultra HD resolution can support full 1080 HD resolution content and Ultra HD content as well.

  • Digital interfaces support HDCP for any encrypted and protected content

  • Good range of connectivity options provided with DisplayPort 1.4, Mini DisplayPort 1.4 and 2x HDMI 2.0a offered.

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

  • Light AG coating 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 ~349 cd/m2 and a decent minimum luminance of 31 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 980:1 after (software profiling) 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 cooler than our calibrated custom mode. May be useful to some though and you can always alter it to your liking.

  • Good enough pixel responsiveness which should still be able to handle fast moving scenes in movies without issue. Stick with the 'fast' response time setting for optimal performance.

  • 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 real 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 there is an audio put connection if you want.

  • Decent range of hardware aspect ratio options with 16:9, auto resize, 4:3 and 1:1 pixel mapping modes available which should be fine for most uses and external device connectivity.

  • Picture in picture (PiP) and Picture By Picture (PbP) are also available if you want.

  • HDR support (discussed in more detail later) for HDR movies and video if you have a suitable input option. The screen offers a true Ultra HD Premium approved HDR spec (meeting HDR10 standards) with a well-implemented local dimming backlight system as well. So it will offer excellent performance on an LCD screen for HDR movies and video, albeit on a much smaller size than modern TV's. That is probably easy enough to achieve with an Ultra HD Blu-ray player although complex right now via a PC and with streaming content from YouTube, Netflix and the likes. See the following HDR section for more info. That's no fault of the display of course, just a reflection of the murky waters of PC HDR content right now, but the UP2718Q will be ready for further HDR video and movies via your PC in the future when that settles and comes with the DP 1.4 and HDMI 2.0a interfaces which are required.
     


HDR

HDR stands for High Dynamic Range and is a technology just starting to make its way in to the desktop monitor market. It's been around in the TV market for a couple of years and is used primarily to provide a better dynamic range and contrast to the image for multimedia, movies and games - that being the difference between light and dark parts of an image. This improvement to the dynamic range is usually paired with other specific features under the banner term of "HDR" including a wider colour gamut for richer, more vivid colours and specs like a 10-bit colour depth support and a high Ultra HD resolution. Overall, an HDR Capable screen is designed to offer a more life-like images, with better contrast ratios between light and dark areas and more vivid, bright colours. You only need to go in to a high street store to observe the difference that HDR makes on TV sets, so we would encourage you to do that if you want to see first hand the improvements it makes to the image quality.

 

When you see the term HDR being used, especially in the monitor market where it is still in its infancy, you need to be aware that specs and performance will vary quite significantly. Our detailed HDR article talks a lot more about the various technologies used, including some standards which have been introduced to try and make HDR a little less of a free-for-all. We will try and provide a brief summary of some of the key HDR considerations and specs here in this review, while also looking at the HDR performance of this screen in more detail.

 

One note before we get started is that the UP2718Q is designed to support the HDR10 content standard, which is one of the two main standards in the industry today. Dolby Vision is the other key alternative and that is not supported on this screen as it does not carry the necessary Dolby Vision chip or certification, but HDR10 has been more widely adopted by the gaming hardware and software studios which has helped establish its position. This includes by Microsoft for the X Box One S and Sony for their PS4 and PS4 Pro consoles. How this content format war settles is likely to take some time, but the HDR10 standard seems to be the most likely to take hold in the monitor market for the time being.

 

Backlight Dimming - A 384-zone Full Array Local Dimming (FALD) backlight

 

 

On LCD displays, the static contrast ratio is still limited by the panel technology being used. So for a TN Film or IPS technology panel you are still limited by a contrast ratio of around 1000 - 1200:1, and on a VA type panel you might reach up to around 3000:1 or so. The quite well established Ultra HD Premium standards in the TV market for HDR dictate that you need a contrast ratio of 20,000:1 to conform to their specs. So how is this achieved from an LCD screen? The answer is local dimming, operating a little bit like Dynamic Contrast Ratios (DCR) of old. Rather than making the whole screen lighter or darker though depending on the displayed content, local dimming attempts to dim only the dark parts of a image, while making the light parts of the screen brighter. The result is a localised dynamic contrast which greatly improves the picture quality and dynamic range.

 

The effectiveness of this local dimming depends on how the backlight is operated. The most basic HDR capable screens might attempt this local dimming simply through edge-lit dimming where the panel is backlit by LED's along the sides of the screen. While you can do some level of dimming through the adjustment of the edge-lit LED's it gives limited control over the zones on a screen and its very tricky to pick out small areas effectively. A far better approach to achieving accurate and reliable local dimming is to provide a backlight split in to hundreds of small zones, where each zone is lit by a small set of LEDs. The higher the number of zones the better, as it gives more finite control over the image on the screen. Dark areas can be dimmed, while bright areas are accentuated and made brighter. This gives rise to the higher active contrast ratio of 20,000:1 or more in the HDR spec requirements but done in an optimal way.

 

On the Dell UP2718Q the panel is paired with a 384-zone LED backlight which offers a much better control over local dimming zones than an edge-lit option. The above image is taken from the forthcoming Acer Predator X27 display, but that too has a 384-zone FALD backlight unit so gives a good idea of how the panel is lit here on the Dell. Many HDR displays in the market will go for the simpler, and cheaper edge lit dimming where larger areas of the screen must be dimmed at once, and so the fact this model has a FALD backlight is what helps to separate it from the others and provide more optimal HDR experience on an LCD screen. This is why the screen has a thicker profile and ultimately a higher retail price as well.

 

You still need to keep in mind that the screen is not being individually lit at a pixel level, and so there is still some impact in varying the brightness of different zones, even when there are quite a lot of small zones like here on the UP2718Q. Depending on the content shown on the screen, you may seem some "blooming", where the bright areas have a halo or glow around them as zones bleed over in to one another. The smaller the bright point on the screen, the more tricky it is to correctly light it in an HDR environment without this blooming and haloing occurring. We are still trying to define some specific HDR tests as this is still quite a tricky area to measure in our reviews at the moment. For now, we did have a look at Unchartered 4 on the PS4 which is a title that supports HDR. It seems that (oddly) the FALD backlight only operates when the screen it in the 'game' or 'movie' preset modes, which is also mentioned in the user manual. We tried both the 'normal' and 'vivid' settings for HDR in the OSD menu, and once HDR content is detected you get a small HDR logo appearing in the OSD menu in the top right. You also cannot change preset mode or brightness control without first disabling the HDR option itself so you can tell if the screen is operating in HDR mode with the local dimming active quite easily.

 

We found some somewhat mixed results with the HDR option though from the PS4 console. In the 'vivid' HDR mode there was excessive blooming, to the point where it looked really bad. You got massive bright blooms around bright areas, for instance in the loading screen where you have a small spinning coin on a black background, and a small white progress % shown. Those really highlighted the excessive blooming and bright halos. It looks almost like really bad IPS glow or backlight bleed, but it was a result of the local dimming backlight. It was not as obvious in normal gaming where you have far more varied content, but the vivid mode seemed to produce too much of this glow. We did find the 'normal' HDR mode much better though thankfully, and the blooming was only slight on the aforementioned loading screen. Again in actual gaming you couldn't really detect any major problems. This mode did seem to be darker overall though, so perhaps there is some limitation of the peak luminance range going on here. The user manual doesn't mention anything, but there is a marked difference in how bright the bright areas appear between vivid and normal. Although as we said, the vivid mode then results in a massive amount of blooming. We have heard some reports that there is some noticeable lag from the FALD as well, where it seems to take a noticeable amount of time to change a zone on the backlight as content changes. E.g. a bright object moving across a dark background will show a lag to the dimming zones and therefore a bloom trial behind it. We will try to produce some further tests and update this part of the review if we can and provide some further thoughts.

 

You've got to keep in mind that this 384-zone dimming is still better than edge-lit options, and in the absence of any real OLED options in the desktop monitor market it it likely to be as good as we can hope for right now. In actual dynamic content the blooming and lag of the FALD is likely to be far less noticeable, and you can probably enjoy the HDR content as it was intended to be seen. In some circumstances though you may see some issues with the dimming zones which is probably going to be difficult to eliminate unless manufacturers really increase the number of zones a lot further. Maybe the speed of the dimming and changes can be improved, to avoid any lag or bloom trails a bit more, but it's always going to be a challenge because of the way the backlight is structured and dimmed.

 

 

Ultra HD Premium Standard Conformity

 

Ultra HD Premium Spec Guidelines
 

Yes/no
 

Quoted Display Spec
 

At least Ultra HD Resolution 3840 x 2160

 Ultra HD 3840 x 2160

10-bit colour depth processing

10-bit

DCI-P3 colour space coverage

97.7% DCi-P3 quoted

Suitable HDR connectivity

HDMI 2.0a

at least 1000 cd/m2 peak luminance

1000 cd/m2

at least 20,000:1 contrast ratio

20,000:1

 

Backlight dimming system
(not defined in Ultra HD Premium requirements)

384-zone Full Array Local Dimming (FALD)

 

The UP2718Q is the first desktop monitor to carry the Ultra HD Premium certification, conforming to their standards as listed above. It can be considered therefore as a "true HDR" screen. The first obvious spec which the screen conforms to is the 3840 x 2160 Ultra HD resolution requirement. That allows for full native support of Ultra HD content, including from Ultra HD Blu-ray players and modern games consoles. On a screen this size (27") it is a little arguable whether the extra resolution is necessary. Some people may not see much obvious difference in sharpness and image quality compared with a native 1440p screen, especially so if you are viewing the screen from a reasonable distance for movies or games. Nevertheless, it is included here anyway.

 

10-bit colour depth support is provided from the panel, again conforming to the defined spec. From a PC you will need the relevant 10-bit workflow and graphics card to work with 10-bit content, but from other output devices the 10-bit support is there and ready to use - helping with colour range and gradation and supporting the extended colour space.

 

Speaking of colour space, the wide gamut GB-r-LED backlight of the UP2718Q allows for a high 97.7% coverage of the DCI-P3 reference space according to the Dell spec, which is that defined under the Ultra HD Premium standard. We measured independently the gamut coverage using our i1 Pro 2 spectrophotometer and the ChromaPure 3 software. In the standard preset mode with the full backlight native gamut being used, we measured 108.1% DCI-P3 coverage (equating to 146.6% sRGB and 77.5% Rec.2020).  In the specific DCI-P3 preset mode which was designed to restrict the gamut within the DCI-P3 reference more closely, we measured coverage of 94.2% (equating to 127.9% sRGB and 67.6% Rec.2020). Still a very respectable coverage of this reference space, and certainly the wide gamut helps to provide vivid and bright colours in HDR content and multimedia.

 

Connectivity wise the UP2718Q provides two different HDR compatible interface options. DisplayPort 1.4 for very modern and future graphics cards will support HDR from a PC - as long as you line up all the necessary components and software to achieve it. HDMI 2.0a will then also support HDR including from external games consoles and Blu-ray players.

 

The peak brightness of the display in HDR mode is rated at 1000 cd/m2 which is about 3 times as high as most displays in the market (when comparing their maximum brightness spec). This doesn't mean that the whole screen suddenly operates at 1000 cd/m2 which would be blindingly bright. The UP2718Q has a normal maximum brightness spec of 400 cd/m2, but in HDR it can reach a 'peak brightness' of 1000 cd/m2. This is the brightness achieved where the lighter areas of the screen are increased during HDR content, producing a better active contrast ratio. We are exploring some further HDR test capabilities at the moment so may come back to update this section of the review a little further if we have chance, and still have access to the screen.

 

 

Using HDR
 

 

The HDR feature is accessible via the OSD menu in the 'display' section. By default it is off but there are options for normal and vivid available. According to the user manual the normal mode maps to the DCI-P3 colour space while Vivid maps to Rec.2020, or at least as much of it as the backlight can cover. This is likely to be similar to the DCI-P3 emulation preset vs the normal native gamut 'standard' preset. You seem to need to be in the movie or game preset modes for the local dimming backlight to operate, which begs the question how you are supposedly achieving any HDR benefits in the other modes without the FALD in operation? It seems that there is also a difference between how the local dimming backlight operates in the two HDR settings for vivid and normal, as we talked about a bit earlier. Vivid seems to lead to very high levels of blooming and bleeding from bright areas which in our opinion is unacceptable. It is much better in the normal mode thankfully.

 

We should touch on the complexities of using HDR at this stage though, especially from a PC. It's actually quite complicated to achieve an HDR output at the moment from a PC and something you should be aware of before jumping straight in to a modern HDR screen.

 

You will need to ensure you have a compatible Operating System for a start. The latest Windows 10 versions for instance will support HDR, but if you turn on the HDR option from the OSD menu you will see some odd behaviour. The image looks dull and washed out as a result of the OS forcing HDR on for everything. HDR content should work fine (if you can achieve it - more in a moment!) and provide a lovely experience with the high dynamic range and rich colours as intended. However normal every day use looks wrong with the HDR option turned on. Windows imposes a brightness limit of 100 cd/m2 on the screen so that bright content like a Word Document or Excel file doesn't blind you with the full 1000 cd/m2 capability of the backlight. That has a direct impact on how the eye perceives the colours, reducing how vivid and rich they would normally look. It also attempts to map the common sRGB content to the wider gamut colour space of the screen causing some further issues. Sadly Windows isn't capable of turning HDR on/off when it detects HDR content, so for now it's probably a case of needing to toggle the option in the screen menu when you want to view HDR content. Perhaps as HDR settles a bit more we will have better OS support emerge.

 

That is a little fiddly in itself, but a current OS software limitation. The other complexity of HDR content from a PC is graphics card support. The latest NVIDIA and AMD cards will support HDR output and even offer the appropriate DisplayPort 1.4 (or HDMI) outputs you need. This will require you to purchase a top end graphics card if you want the full HDR experience, and there are some added complexities around streaming video content and protection which you might want to read up on further. There are graphics cards now available to provide that HDR option from a PC, but they are going to be expensive right now.

 

Finally, content support is another complex consideration from a PC. HDR movies and video including those offered by streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime and YouTube currently won't work properly from a PC due to complicated protection issues. They are designed to offer HDR content via their relevant apps direct from an HDR TV where the self-contained nature of the hardware makes this easier. So a lot of the HDR content provided by these streaming services is difficult or impossible to view from a PC at the moment. Plugging in an external Ultra HD Blu-ray player with HDR support is thankfully simpler, and should work nicely from this screen thanks to its true HDR spec. You are removing all the complexities of software and hardware there, as the HDR feature is part of the overall device and solution.

 

PC HDR gaming is a little simpler, if you can find a title which supports HDR properly! There are not many HDR PC games around yet, and even those that support HDR in the console market will not always have a PC HDR equivalent. Obviously more will come in time, but it's a little limited at the time of the UP2718Q launch. We have talked a bit more about the gaming considerations, including the simpler and easier console gaming options in an earlier part of the review if you want to read more.

 

None of this is the fault of the display, and we should make it clear that the UP2718Q is certainly capable in itself of HDR content, and will be HDR-ready for you in the future. You just need to be aware of the difficulties in actually getting HDR working from the PC side of things right now and understand that it might limit your uptake of HDR material as a consumer right now. The TV market is a simpler space for HDR right now, but although HDR is now emerging in the monitor market, the driving PC content side of things still needs time to catch up and settle.

 


Conclusion

In wrapping up this massive review it feels important to remember the target market and uses for this Dell display. It is a high-end screen aimed at colour critical work, professional users and HDR content creators primarily. No doubt it will attract some attention from early adopters keen to venture in to the world of HDR from a desktop monitor for gaming and videos as well, but those are not really the intended application. We will talk about that in a moment. The UP2718Q does offer an excellent option for professional use, with the wide gamut backlight and massive range of presets and colour spaces making it ideal for those wanting to work with varying content. An Ultra HD resolution for super-sharp images, the 10-bit support colour depth and features like hardware calibration and the very good uniformity correction function separate it from general screens. Even if you ignore the HDR support, the UP2718Q is an excellent option following on from other previous UltraSharp Premium screens.

Overall it's a bit mixed when it comes to HDR support although the screen is certainly future-proofed for high end true HDR uses. It's just that we're not convinced the rest of the HDR journey is there yet. This is not through any fault of Dell's or the display, but more to do with how the current PC and monitor HDR market is right now overall. If you are an HDR consumer and have the necessary HDR input sources figured out, then this is one of the few choices around right now. There are some other so-called HDR screens out there now, but most won't meet true HDR10 specs or have the advanced backlight systems that the Dell provides so that helps distinguish this as a high end HDR option. Just don't underestimate the complexities in actually getting HDR to work or finding the content just yet from a PC. The screen will set you up nicely for the future as it becomes more readily available, but don't be fooled in to thinking there's loads of consumption options out there right now. Where HDR is more settled at the moment is with external devices like Ultra HD Blu-ray players and games consoles. They should work well from the UP2718Q thankfully and make use of the true HDR performance offered. If you are a content creator trying to develop HDR content then the UP2718Q is an excellent choice as the true HDR spec and well-implemented local dimming backlight system make working with HDR content very possible.

If you appreciate this 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.
 

Pros

Cons

Massive range of colour spaces and wide gamut support for colour critical and professional uses

Not the fastest pixel response times, some moderate lag and limited to 60Hz so not ideal for fast PC gaming

Hardware calibration and very good uniformity correction function

Achieving HDR from a PC is still very difficult, but no fault of the displays

HDR10 / Ultra HD Premium HDR spec and 384-zone FALD backlight

Hardware calibration is very slow, thankfully you won't have to repeat too regularly


 

TFT Central Awards Explained

We have two award classifications as part of our reviews. There's the top 'Recommended' award, where a monitor is excellent and highly recommended by us. There is also an 'Approved' award for a very good screen which may not be perfect, but is still a very good display. These awards won't be given out every time, but look out for the logo at the bottom of the conclusion. A list of monitors which have won our awards is available here.

 

 

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