Artist Review: Dell UP2718Q 4K HDR Monitor

Dell has kindly sent me yet another monitor to review. This time it's the UP2718Q 4K HDR monitor.

Note that my review will be from the perspective of a content creator, someone who uses the monitor for graphic design, video and photo editing.

Specifications

Let's get the specifications out of the way quickly.

  • Viewable size: 27 inches
  • Panel: IPS
  • Resolution: 3840 x 2160 at 60Hz
  • PPI: 163
  • Contrast: 1000:1 (typical), 20,000:1 (HDR)
  • Backlight: LED
  • Response time: 6ms (gray to gray)
  • Screen coating: Anti-glare
  • Viewing angle: 178 degrees
  • Aspect ratio: 16:9
  • Brightness: 400 cd/m² (typical), 1,000 cd/m² (peak)
  • USB3.0 ports: 6x (2 upstream, 4 downstream)
  • Graphic cable ports: 1x DP (ver 1.4), 1x mDP, 2x HDMI (ver 2.0a)
  • Color gamut: 100% Adobe RGB, 100% sRGB, 100% REC 709, 97.7% DCI-P3, 76.9%
  • REC2020
  • Color depth: 1.07 billion colours
  • Power consumption: 90W typical

The selling point of this monitor is the HDR10 standard that it supports. And in order to meet the HDR10 standards, this monitor has much higher brightness compared to other monitors. It is capable of reaching a brightness of 1,000 cd/m² in HDR mode. However, the typical mode is really 400 cd/m², which is actually already higher compared to typical IPS screens (e.g. Dell UP2716D has 300 cd/m² brightness).

The other thing to note is the typical power consumption is 90W, which is higher than the Dell UP2716D's 45W. So the monitor actually runs slightly warmer, but definitely still much cooler compared to those 1st generation 24-27-inch monitors.


These are the ports available. From left to right: 2x HDMI, full-size DisplayPort, miniDisplayPort, two upstream USB3.0 and two downstream USB3.0. There are two additional USB3.0 ports on the left side of the monitor that are capable of fast charging.


Beneath the monitor are buttons for the on screen display settings.


The monitor menu system is easy to navigate.

Build quality and design

The design of UP2718Q is very similar to other Ultrasharp series of monitors from Dell. It's a clean and functional design.


Bezels are not too thick, but not as thin as Dell's other Infinity Edge monitor.

Build quality is solid. It looks like one that will last for years. I've used many Dell monitors over the years and their build quality has always be more than satisfactory.

HDR10 standard

HDR is High Dynamic Range. HDR is what allows you to see details in bright and dark areas. It works like your eyes. Even on a sunny day, your eyes will still be able to see a lot of details in dark shadow areas. When you compare it to a photo taken by a camera on a bright sunny day, brightly lit areas will have plenty of details but in shadow areas, they can be close to just black and it's difficult to make out the detail.

To be able enjoy HDR content, you need two things. First, a monitor that's capable of playing back HDR content. The Dell UP2718Q fits the bill. Second, HDR content, such as videos.

HDR content is typically delivered via specific apps, HDR-capable TVs and hardware players. For example, HDR videos from Netflix are not able to be streamed through the web browsers at the time of this review. So if the UP2718Q is connected to your computer, you won't be able to watch Netflix's HDR content through the web browser. Movies from iTunes desktop app is in the same situation. Apple is slowly releasing HDR content through iTunes but from what I can see, it looks like the HDR content is for their Apple TV 4K. I could see some movies labeled as HDR on iTunes desktop app, but when I downloaded and watched the movie, I really can't see how different it is compared to non-HDR content. Perhaps I had downloaded non-HDR content instead.

Currently, the availability of HDR content on computer systems is just not as good compared to TV systems yet. Some smart TVs are HDR capable and can stream HDR content from Netflix directly, and you can also get real HDR content from the Apple TV 4K.

So if you intend to buy this monitor to watch HDR content, research on where you are going to get your content from first.

Image quality and performance

This is a 4K screen running on a 27-inch monitor. The high resolution makes everything looks really sharp because of the dense pixel concentration. Almost everything appears sharper on the UP2718Q compared to my BenQ SW2700PT which has a resolution of 2560 x 1440. The 4K on a 27 inch monitor has 2.25 times more resolution compared to a 1440P screen.

Colour accuracy is fantastic. I measures 98% AdobeRGB, 100% sRGB and 94% NTSC. On paper, it's also supposed to support 100% REC 709, 97.7% DCI-P3, 76.9% .

The monitor is colour calibrated from the factory. You can also make other colour adjustments onto the internal Look-Up Table using Dell UltraSharp Calibration software with an optional colorimeter. This is a true 10-bit monitor that can display up to 1.07 billion colours. However, for a true 10-bit workflow, you need hardware capable to support as well.

Typical brightness is 400 nits. For my own purposes, I always use the monitor at 200-250 nits. Any higher and it's too bright for my eyes.

About that 4K resolution

To take advantage of 4K resolution and the sharpness it can produce, you need to use apps that have been updated to take advantage of such high resolution.


In the photo above, I'm using Adobe Illustrator CS5, which is an old app that has not be updated to run optimally on such high resolution screen. On Mac OS, the user interface is scaled up in such a way that everything appears pixelated.


Here's a close up of some text from an EPS file from Adobe Illustrator. I used a macro lens to zoom in so that you can see the details.


This is the same file opened with Affinity Designer, an app that can take advantage of such high resolution screen. The text is sharp compared to the pixelated version from Adobe Illustrator CS5.


In this example, I opened the same photo using Affinity Photo (left) and Adobe Photoshop CS5 (right). The pixelation is quite obvious. This pixelation makes it impossible for you to tell if the photo is actually sharp.


That's Photoshop CS5's New File dialogue box. It's pixelated as well.

On Windows OS, the user interface, such as menus and buttons, will be too small to even see comfortably. At least on the Mac, the user interface is scaled up, but you get pixelation in return.

I've tried Adobe Lightroom 5.7 and I'm glad to say that it runs on 4K resolution nicely. Photos are sharp.

I use Final Cut Pro X to edit videos and it's a pleasure to see the 4K videos that I've film being played at native resolution. Final Cut Pro X is also updated to run nicely on 4K screens.

Other features

The monitor can work as a KVM switch. Meaning you connect two computer systems to the monitor and control them using just one set of keyboard and mouse. There's also Picture-in-Picture and Picture-by-Picture support too. These two features can be good for multi-tasking.

This monitor is supposed to have exceptional contrast. There's also this 384 local dimming zones in addition to the LED backlight. In theory, it's supposed to be able to reproduce extreme bright and dark side by side without the glow of the bright. I wasn't really able to see this in actual though because I have no way of testing it.

As for the backlighting, for my particular unit, there's some backlight bleed at the bottom right. Other than that, the backlight is pretty even. And since I never work in a room that's in total darkness, I am not affected by the uneven backlight that I'm seeing from the bottom right. Even when I watch movies in total darkness, I'm not really paying attention to the backlight.

Conclusion

The selling point of this monitor is the HDR10 standard that it supports. If you plan to consume a lot of HDR content from your computer, note that HDR content distribution on computer systems is not as matured as TV systems yet. If you have hardware to stream HDR content to your monitor, then you can certainly consider this monitor.

For content creators, while the colour accuracy is fantastic, there are other more affordable Dell monitors that also have excellent colour reproduction as well, such as the Dell UP2716D which I have featured before.

The Dell UP2718Q is set to sell at around USD $1,500 so it's a really pricey monitor. If you plan on consuming lots of HDR content, maybe getting a HDR-capable TV may be a wiser option because you'll have a wider choice of HDR content through TV.

This is a very niche product for a very specific group of users. If you do find the need to have one, go ahead and get it. It's a solid performer.

Availability

Check out more reviews for the Dell UP2718Q on Amazon. Direct links below.

Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.de | Amazon.fr | Amazon.it | Amazon.es

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