Computer monitors are starting to support high dynamic range (HDR), which means they can handle more detail in the brightest and darkest parts of an image, along with a wide color gamut. HDR has proven a revolution among HDTVs, and every high-end television now supports it.
Our selection of the best HDR monitors is still a bit slim as of now, but there are a few available. Here’s the best HDR monitors you can buy.
If you’re worried the 34-inch Samsung CF791 is too small (hah!), we have good news. Samsung also makes a 49-inch ultrawide, the CHG90. Yes, you read that correctly. It’s 49 inches wide diagonally, with a 32:9 aspect ratio and 3,840 x 1,080 resolution. It’s akin to placing two 27-inch, 1080p monitors side-by-side, but without the bezel.
The technology inside the CHG90 is much like the CF791, using thequantum dots to deliver great contrast, a wide color gamut, and solid color accuracy. Its image quality isn’t as sharp as others, which is the CHG90’s main weakness. However, its quoted brightness is higher than the CF791, at 350cd/m2. VESA recently certified it as the first DisplayHDR 600 monitor. The panel even has FreeSync support, and refreshes at 144Hz, so its good for fast-paced games.
Though it MSRPs at $1,500, recently sales have dropped the CHG90 to $1,000. That’s a lot of money, but given its incredible size, it seems reasonably priced. If you want a huge, HDR-compatible screen, this is the one to buy. If your budget doesn’t quite stretch that far but you still want the Samsung quality for your HDR display, there’s also the equally great CHG70 that’s worth considering.
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The top monitor we recommended is anultrawide great for gaming and movies, but not everyone’s first choice. If you want a more traditional, 16:9 screen, the LG 32UD99-W is a good pick. It offers a 31.5-inch, 4K panel, along with HDR10 support and a wide color gamut.
Our testing found the offered decent contrast, a large color gamut, and good color accuracy straight out of the box. Yet the LG 32UD99-W seems best for people who don’t mind getting their hands dirty with technical details. It offers a wide range of settings, and its color accuracy went from good to outstanding after calibration.
LG also promises a maximum luminance of 550 nits. In our testing, we saw up to 360 nits. That’s quite better than average, and it means the LG can handle detail in HDR content better than the Samsung CF791, which isn’t as bright. It’s a 4K screen, too, so you can view 4K HDR films just as you would on a television.
The downside is the price. You’ll have to pay at least $900, and most retailers sell the LG 32UD99-W for closer to its $1,000 MSRP. We’d rather buy one of the Samsungs, but if you want a more traditional monitor, the LG 32UD99-W is one of the best.
Read our full LG 32UD99-W review here.
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Most of the great monitors on this list are expensive. Most people can’t justify spending as much on a monitor as they might on a television. Luckily, the new Acer ET322QK offers an affordable choice.
With an MSRP of $500 and a real-world price of $450 at many retailers, you might expect compromise on size and pixel count. Nope. This Acer is a 32-inch, 4K monitor. It even offers AMD FreeSync support for gamers, though the panel refreshes at the usual 60Hz.
So, what’s the catch? We haven’t tested the ET322QK in our office, so we can’t say whether its color accuracy or gamut match LG’s 32UD99-W. What we can say, though, is that Acer only quotes a brightness of 300 nits. That’s on par with the Samsung CF791, but lower than the LG, so images won’t appear as bright and HDR content won’t squeeze in as much detail.
Still, it’s hard to ignore this monitor’s feature set and bargain price. This might be the compromise budget-minded buyers are looking for.
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Asus is typically known for its gaming monitors and that doesn’t change with the PG27UQ, where it brings together all of the top display features to create a high-end gaming monitor that will be the envy of everyone at LAN parties. Combining 4K resolution, with a 144Hz refresh rate, and quantum-dot technology on an IPS panel with full HDR support, and G-Sync to back it all up — you can’t ask for much more.
Admittedly this display is a little smaller than the others on this list at just 27-inches, but PC gamers rarely go much larger so the sizing is quite deliberate. If you’re looking for an HDR monitor to make your games look prettier and don’t want to sacrifice anything to get that feature, there’s nothing on this list quite like the PG27UQ.
Unfortunately, it’s impossible to recommend like the others, because it’s not quite available yet. It’s expected to debut in the U.S. in the very near future though, so keep your eyes peeled on your favorite retailer.
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If you’re looking for an HDR monitor aimed at professionals, one of the best options out there is the BenQ SW320. Combining a 4K resolution panel with fantastic color accuracy and support for HDR technology, it’s one of the best looking monitors on this list. At 31.5-inches diagonally it offers plenty of screen real estate for working on and makes sure that you can truly appreciate the clarity and richness of color that this IPS monitor puts out.
For those looking to get the most out of their new display, this BenQ monitor also has built in hardware-calibration, which lets you customize the color palette to your tastes. There’s also a black and white mode to let you preview your images in the monochrome format before making any alterations to them in editing software.
With a refresh rate of 60Hz and no frame-syncing support, it’s not the best display out there for gamers and with a price tag of $1,500, it’s far from the cheapest display on this list. If color accuracy is what’s most important though, you can’t really go wrong with the SW320.
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Wait! Before you buy!
All the monitors above are good picks, but don’t expect them to match today’s HDR-compatible HDTVs. PC displays aren’t bright enough to make the most of HDR. You’ll see more detail than you would in a non-HDR monitor, but extremely bright scenes will still look washed out, and colors won’t pop as they do on a quality television. We’ve mused more on the subject already,but in the end, we suggest you pick the monitor that’s best for you overall, and treat HDR as a nice but unnecessary bonus for now, at least.