Monitor with best HDR support

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      After about 4 years with my current dual 1080i 24″/19″ display setup, with workstation primary use being CG content (3D modeling, texturing work) and game development (Unreal Engine) as well as casual gaming play, I hoped it might be a good time for a display update. My objectives were a bit vague: 27-32″, UHD, but one thing I knew I wanted to explore was HDR support. My space is somewhat limited, so displays larger than 32″ would not work well for me as I still plan to add probably the 19″ as a second display (very useful in a development context). I tentatively set a max cost to $1,000 for the display and figured surely something good would fit in my budget. I should also mention I require nVidia due to Cuda requirements for some rendering tasks, so just installed an MSI Geforce RTX 2070 8G in, which naturally complicates things to some extent vis a vis 144Hz and HDR…

      Once I discovered the new VESA DisplayHDR site mostly focused on which of those displays within my 27-32″ form factor requirement looked promising. Boy does it get complicated :/

      This site and the your YouTube videos have been very useful in my research. The PC Monitors video reviews that I’ve watched which were the most interesting to me considering the above were:

      AOC AG273QCX (DisplayHDR 400)
      Philips 328P6VUBREB (DisplayHDR 600)
      Samsung C27HG70 (DisplayHDR 600)

      These definitely helped with my understanding of the choices and trade-offs. The biggest single concern I have with what I’ve seen so far regarding HDR is the poor contrast performance especially for dark areas, i.e. the washed out look of darker areas of the image (the “black crush” problem — what HDR ought to be able to help alleviate, and where the extra “bandwidth” of HDR should shine!?). Your “Tomb Raider” discussion in the Philips review here ( not only shows a good example of my usage as a “casual gamer” but of the aspect of what I’ve seen of HDR in the under-$1,000 range so far that is most disappointing. My current understanding is that this is not just a VA problem, but would affect IPS as well).

      However, this and the AOC video I think also caused me to conclude that VA displays needed to be in consideration while at first I had guessed that I would only be seeking IPS solutions. My primary concern with VA is it’s suitability for my texturing and image process work in terms of color fidelity.

      The AOC AG273QCX review has convinced me that DisplayHDR 400 is not what brought me to this “quest”, although the insight you provided regarding “Backlight with effective local dimming support” was a great one. That seems to be the lacking ingredient in most attempts at HDR support so far, at least in the gaming space. Maybe even that AOC might look pretty darned good in terms of perceived contrast if it had that? I should also repeat your warning though from the videos, that what we see by the time you have captured the display via video camera, passed through a codec to get it onto YouTube, and then what we see on our own displays, may not be very close to the actual viewing experience. But I think it at least characterizes it. The “washout” in the high contrast scenes like from caves in “Tomb Raider” was discouraging to see even accepting the “lost in translation” factor…

      I’ve also learned that higher refresh rates in the 120Hz to 144Hz really are desirable, and not just for hard core gaming.

      I agree with you that for 32″, UHD seems like a natural fit, while for 27″ QHD is fine, especially if other benefits kick in like high refresh rate and/or stronger HDR performance.

      I will certainly use your links for purchasing when I can finally make a choice, but I don’t feel close at the moment. As another poster in another thread said, if AOC were to simply come out with a higher end version of what they did for the AG273QCX, including DisplayHDR 600 and good local dimming, maybe I could get off the fence…


        Hi hdrquest and welcome,

        I very much agree with your thoughts and findings. HDR is a bit of a minefield to be honest and there is no monitor out there that offers a perfect implementation. As noted in the AG273QCX review, I feel that the implementation there is very good as far as VESA DisplayHDR 400 level displays go. So there’s a good amount of enjoyment to be had from HDR. But a true HDR performance really needs to deliver more than that, with spectacular contrast that includes good bright elements as well as strong deep and dark elements. The VESA DisplayHDR 600 level displays you mention certainly offer some impressive “pop” to the brighter shades (especially the Philips), but the dark scene performance is still lacking under HDR. And that’s a shame. You can counteract this somewhat by avoiding viewing in dim lighting, but even then you’ll come across some scenes that will just make you want to disable the technology.

        For image processing I do agree that VA models are not ideal due to the colour consistency issues. But some users still find them workable for such uses. The IPS options within your budget and with strong HDR characteristics in mind are really very limited. If you consider more expensive models, which may of course not be practical/possible, then that introduces something quite interesting in the form of the Acer XB273K. A model we’re currently reviewing. It offers basic local dimming and I don’t want to spoil the upcoming review, but with that it does offer something of an enchanced VESA DisplayHDR 400 capability. Still, the local dimming capability is basic and the panel type doesn’t have the native contrast of the AOC to start with. I wouldn’t consider the dark performance great :). The only model that has really impressed me so far for its dark scene HDR performance, when set up correctly, is the Philips 436M6VBPAB. I’m not suggesting you consider that model, though, as it isn’t at all what you were looking for in other respects.

        Having a high refresh rate can certainly be nice on the desktop, I agree. It helps with anything moving – including scrolling through text, moving the mouse around. It gives a more fluid look and feel which is certainly nice and difficult to leave behind once you’re used to it. But the main advantages really do come when gaming or manipulating high frame rate 3D content. So it isn’t an easy choice, overall. I don’t really think there’s anything on the market that would tick all of your boxes and it will be a compromise one way or the other. I guess that’s an unhelpful and somewhat depressing note to end on, but it’s just how things are. 🙁


          You mentioned that there’s nothing on the market that satisfies all my new-found targets, but except price, I had the thought last night that, well, the Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ and Acer Predator X27 certainly do 🙂 I’m seeing them as something like early prototypes almost, just glimpses into where we might be heading but eventually at price points more serious users will consider. And, if I were to give up on 144Hz for this purchase, there are more choices in the “pro” category that do better than DisplayHDR 400, albeit @ 60Hz usually… But now I’m intrigued with the so-called “gaming” displays, and hope a good mixed usage choice emerges.

          I will be curious to learn if/when you see in the relative-near future a panel or display which holds the promise of really making a significant stride forward for a better HDR experience in the 27-32″ form factors. Especially if offering 144Hz as well. If I were to learn that something like that is likely to land in the next 2-3 quarters, I might bide my time, but with any horizon farther out than that, I think I’m going to make the best of what’s out there now, and try not to spend so much that I’ll be regretting it only a year from now.

          I looked at some articles discussing what is coming in 2019. Samsung in particular looked like it had some promising sounding things scheduled for the first half of the year in my area of focus, AUO making improvements on the local dimming front e.g. with the not-yet-available ASUS ProArt PA32UCX. My understanding is that the Acer Predator XB273K is an AUO IPS. Kind of expensive for a DisplayHDR 400 display, but maybe it will be the display to show us whether even DisplayHDR 400, if properly handled, can make a real difference. I’m really looking forward to your review of that one. LG/Nano with some interesting things in the Q1-Q3 pipe as well.


            I didn’t even mention those models due to pricing. And the HDR experience on them is certainly very nice, but there’s still room for improvement and the dark scene performance isn’t as impressive as on the Philips I mentioned (caveats as per review).

            The XB273K is expensive due to the combination of refresh rate and resolution, primarily. It’s the cheapest display on the market that offers that combination and is priced accordingly. The HDR performance… Well… I wouldn’t really buy it for that alone, although it is certainly useable there. Users need to think of how important HDR is to them and whether it’s worth the significant premium upgrading to the PG27UQ or X27 for that reason. And as will be covered in the review, there are some slight differences elsewhere on this model as well.


              Yeah, I’m not going to buy either of those (PG27UQ or X27) due to their price points, but I did find going through their reviews worthwhile. If I were going to buy one, it would probably be the Acer due to comments in one review about its better color calibration and uniformity across the screen. I walked out of that research with these thoughts:

              Given the current state of the hardware and limited choices within my parameters, I’m going to de-emphasize HDR for this purchase. I still want a display which supports it to *some* degree as an enhancement to the gaming experience, but other factors for me are more important in trying to pick this mixed use display.

              So in some ways I’m going into reset and open up my filtering to include more otherwise very good displays in the 27-32 (may open that up to 34″), UHD only for 32″, UHD or QHD for 27″, which opens up the field of choices much more widely. Some of the “pro art” displays are actually HDR 1000! Their main downside is of course that they are mostly (all?) 60Hz. I’m also convinced now that I will exclude VA displays and strictly focus on IPS. If I were building an entertainment rig, it would be the inverse I think.

              144Hz is kind of a wildcard: I’d love to have it, but as we’ve discussed, trying to combine that in a spec with HDR support, IPS, an nVidia GPU, and UHD — even just QHD — is tough. For users with NV GPUs, things get further complicated with considerations of G-Sync, FreeSync, G-Sync compatibility for a few FreeSync2 displays, etc.

              The one tech issue in my configuration that I’m still a little nervous about is around G-Sync/FreeSync2/G-Sync compatibility. I assume the “sync” aspect of that becomes mute if I choose a 60Hz display, but I’m nervous about HDR support. Some of the displays I’ll be looking at will not support these at all, and then there are some nice FreeSync2 displays. I don’t want to accidentally choose a display where HDR just won’t work in my configuration. This topic may already be covered in your articles/reviews, so I’ll poke around.

              My thread topic is probably heading in the direction of that long “Quest for high refresh rate IPS or VA perfection” thread, which I’m going to scan through again. But maybe it will save another person with similar objectives from having to repeat all of the same investigation from scratch.


                Both of those models are very well calibrated, generally. You’ll find examples of each that are slightly better or worse calibrated than others, but there’s no convincing evidence the Acer is generally stronger than the ASUS in that respect. Same goes for uniformity, it’s the luck of the draw. You’d have to separate them out based on aesthetics and price, primarily, because Nvidia is so heavily involved with the ‘tweaking’ of both models and their featureset that they’re very similar in many ways.


                  In my quest, I decided again to only concentrate on 27″ and 32″, with QHD/1440p only really considered for 27″. I concentrated on deciding whether I could find a good mixed use solution which also supports higher refresh rates (120+Hz) that otherwise met my other criteria, and then also separately looking at non-gaming-oriented UHD displays, leaning toward 32″, which are basically 60Hz.

                  As before, I am still trying to squeeze in a bit of HDR joy, but recognizing the only real joy there currently is with the DHDR 1000 models with the 384 zone backlight dimming. That means the ASUS PG27UQ or or Acer Predator X27 currently, or on the professional side, models like the ASUS PA32AC-K or Dell UP2718Q (both north of $1,600 — the ASUS more because it comes with a calibrator device).

                  The long, winding path on the high frame rate path basically brought me down to the Acer Nitro XV-273K and XB-273K, which you are currently working up a review on. I can’t wait to see your conclusions on that one. Still in my shortlist, but was also alarmed to see the awful reviews of the XV-273K on Amazon indicating yet more quality control issues for Acer and their gaming displays. Not exactly confidence-building…

                  Looking at the 60Hz options, focusing there on 32″ UHD, I found the LG 32UD99 looks really good on paper, at a reasonable price point, as a strong UHD content creator solution. It also stuck out for me in that it also appears to have better than average HDR potential in the context of a display without a local dimming solution (but I haven’t seen a good review of it like your video reviews).


                    Just remember that the XV and XB variants use different panel variants and have different housing. So just because one may be prone to significant backlight bleed, doesn’t mean the other is.


                      Adam, I did not know the XV and XB are based on different panels! Hence looking forward to your review, which I’m hoping will be the full video treatment. The tough thing about getting down to criteria like HDR, frame rates, etc. is that the pros and cons are so subjective. One cannot simply read spec sheets or even necessarily written reviews and get some sense of those kinds of things. I do have a few actual questions as I’m very close to pulling the trigger.

                      – Do you have a sense of when you will have the main part of the Acer XB273 review ready? I’d love to be able to ponder that before making my final decision.

                      – There will of course be some “next generation” iteration on the high end HDR gaming displays. Do you have any sense at all on when that might be coming and what it might look like? It turns out I am actually including the Acer X27 and ASUS PGUQ in my “finalists” list. If that were coming a few months down the road, I’d want to consider that. If longer term it doesn’t matter: I wouldn’t wait.


                        The XB273K review should be published towards the end of next week. It will indeed have a full video review to go with it. The next ‘big step’ in HDR will likely come from displays with Mini LED backlight arrays, with 1000+ dimming zones. I wouldn’t expect to see anything gamer-oriented for a reasonable price with such a technology until 2020-21, however. And then there will be some progression onto an even greater number of dimming zones (Micro LED) and hopefully OLED/QLED backlightless technologies. But this can all be very tricky to predict. All I’m certain of is that there will be nothing comparably priced to the XB273K that’s “just around the corner” yet with the sort of fancy backlighting solution needed for a ‘true’ HDR exprience.


                          I’m also very interested in seeing your XB273K review. I absolutely love your site and youtube channel, and I’ve been trying to preach your gospel all over at sites focused on PC monitors. Your reviews are excellent.

                          I’m looking for a “good” HDR experience for use on PC and console (PS4 Pro). I previously owned the 27UK650 for a time, and the HDR support was inferior to the calibrated sRGB imagine with my i1 display pro colorimeter. I tried a 27UL650 after that, and while it was slightly improved I felt the same. I’ve been on the hunt for a good HDR monitor since. I currently am still using my Acer XB271HU, 1440p 144hz gsync, which I love. The XB273K seems like the next natural successor to that monitor.

                          I’m really interested in the variable backlight feature of the XB273k. Its been mentioned in a review by Tom’s Hardware, but unfortunately they did not elaborate much on it other than saying it improves contrast performance. I’m curious how that would work in practice if its global dimming. I would think it might enhance successive contrast measurements (a black screen, then a white screen), but ansi contrast I would think wouldn’t improve at all.

                          I’ve considered biting the bullet and getting an X27 for “real” HDR, but the XB273K is more affordable and within my current budget, so if the HDR performance is “decent” it would be great. Definitely waiting for your review! Is the HDR400 at least a good improvement on the HDR400 of the 27UL650?

                          Thanks for all the work you do!!


                            Thanks for the kind words, I’m glad you’re enjoying the content. I don’t want to spoil the upcoming review, but I would certainly say the HDR implementation is far superior to LG’s on the 27″ ‘4K’ range. You are right to be sceptical of the local dimming, though. Testing it with a black then white screenfill is flawed. Even a dynamic contrast mode with global dimming (single unit) would perform well there.


                              @ hdrquest

                              I was exactly like you and i chose Samsung 27chg70. I can recommend it. Decent gaming monitor with above average hdr performance. It’s really good monitor as long as you don’t enable freesync. Freesync just messes up overdrive. I choose chg70 because it has one of the best image quality on the market. High contrast due to va panel. Nice color gamut, low input lag, fast pixels (as long as you don’t enable freesync), low price. It has flaws like every other monitor but features and price nobrainer to me. It was the only choice for acceptable hdr.

                              I’m looking forward for miniLED 32 inch 4k 144hz gsync hdr auo panels. Reasonably priced miniLED gsync hdr will take couple years i guess. Well we don’t really have 4k 144hz gpus right now anyway.


                                I’m really liking the xb273k. The HDR specifically has surprised me. Previously I had an LG 27uk650, and the hdr400 level support on that monitor was pretty bad. The xb273k on the other hand looks great in HDR supported games.

                                I think a lot of it has to do with the proper tone mapping. The blacks will never be very dark in HDR due to lack of local dimming, but the wide color gamut and effective tone mapping definitely improve games with good HDR support.

                                I used the display HDR app in Windows 10 to take some measurements using my i1 display colorimeter in HDR. I measured a peak luminance of 475 nits, and depending on the test pattern anywhere from 2000:1 to 4000:1 contrast ratio. On some patterns the zone dimming seems more effective than others.

                                I also measured 93% dci-p3 coverage which is great. I feel like they could have tried to push for hdr600. A few more dimming zones and bumping the peak white a bit would have passed it.

                                In SDR, I measured a contrast ratio of 1150:1 with SDR variable backlight enabled (drops to 1065:1 without). Default color accuracy had a deltaE average of 1.3, with a Max of 2.3. Very good.

                                However I’ve had a few issues. My first unit has backlight bleed near the top left. Definitely blb and not glow, I think the bezel was attached to tightly in one spot. Got an exchange from Amazon US, and unfortunately this one has two dead pixels. I’m debating whether to return for that…. The pixels are so tiny they aren’t noticeable during normal use, but now that I know they are there I can’t ignore them. For a $1200 USD monitor it’s not ideal.


                                  I’m glad you’re enjoying the XB273K overall, Lockjaw, and I appreciate you sharing your thoughts.

                                  It’s unfortunate that you’ve had a few niggling issues (backlight bleed on the first unit, dead pixels on this). These issues can arise even on monitors that are more expensive than this. There are nearly 8.3 million pixels on a 3840 x 2160 model like this and pixel defects on one or more of these is unfortunately not uncommon. Hopefully you are able to overlook the issue, but if not you could try for another replacement. It would be entering into a lottery, though, and you could well end up with a unit that has more obvious pixel defects or disagreeable levels of backlight bleed.


                                    I am leaning towards living with it, as the pixels are so small on a 27″ 4k panel that it’s basically unnoticeable outside of searching for it on a dead pixel test screen (i.e. full screen color). I’m also not sure if 1 of the 2 dead pixels is actually an artifact in the anti glare coating as it seems to disappear at an angle. The other pixel remains black. I’m currently running a dead pixel test video with rapid rgb changes to try to “wake up” the pixel.

                                    And you are right, this second unit has much better black uniformity and zero blb. It also is more color accurate, as the first unit had a few colors with Delta e over 3.0. Its a great panel other than the dead pixel (s).

                                    Thanks for your amazing reviews, helped me decide on this unit 🙂


                                      I ended up purchasing the XB273K from Amazon (3rd party seller handled by Amazon) and it arrived last Thursday. All set up now, paired with one of my old 1080p displays, Windows 10 set to 150% scaling factor. So far so good. Adam, I used the link on the review page to access Amazon – let me know if that worked.

                                      To summarize what I was shooting for, I wanted a 32″ mixed 3D/game dev content creation+casual gaming display, UHD but maybe QHD, and with some “decent” level of HDR support. I spent the better part of 2 weeks researching all of the possibilities. I was interested in higher than 60Hz refresh rates, and became progressively more interested in that aspect as research progressed. I’m not sure “color critical” is quite on the mark, but still I had to limit my focus to IPS displays.

                                      The choices at the time of this writing, when you add together 27-32″ + UHD + some level of HDR support + higher refresh rates + G-Sync (I’m locked to nVidia for several reasons) is unfortunately extremely limited, HDR support currently being in a somewhat primitive state of development compared to where I think it will be in a year or two. To really get the current “state of the art” of HDR support + high refresh rates, the Acer X27 and ASUS PG27UQ are the only choices, and sadly they came in a 27″ form factor rather than 32″. If you are willing to part with the high refresh rate objective, there are MANY good 32″ IPS displays to choose from which offer some level of Display HDR support. The biggest problem with HDR support today is that they mostly don’t have a backlighting solution which delivers the kind of highly local dimming we’re all waiting for. I think we’ll start to see much better, perhaps even truly per-pixel lighting solutions, within the next year or two. It remains to be seen whether those will be at price points most people can consider, or whether they will at least initially support higher refresh rates. So, one can wait for the Holy Grail to arrive or just go ahead and purchase a display :/

                                      I spent a day or two researching 32″ 60Hz refresh rate displays, some with Display HDR 600 or 1000, but ultimately got hooked on the unique combination of UHD+high refresh rate+G-Sync+some HDR support offered by the XB273K, and at a price point I could live with.

                                      Although disappointed they didn’t build it in a 32″ form factor, 27″ is still a noticeable bump up in size from my 24″, and the display has amazing clarity and a plenty of brightness for my general usage. My PC while not loud is definitely not whisper quiet, and so far I have not been able to hear the fan in the display (in other words, to me it is a non-issue). I have not noticed any problems with the display: it meets my expectations. I have to say I’m not sure I’ve even really experienced the HDR aspect of it yet, and may have to buy another game or two like Battlefield 1 and/or 5, or Shadow of the Tomb Raider to see it. I’ve still got some learning to do re: the Windows 10 HDR setting vs display settings vs nVidia driver settings to get this usage figured out. Of course, I wish the display could have provided higher static contrast, better local dimming, etc., but so far I’m quite pleased with what I got.

                                      Had the Acer X27 been 32″, despite the awfully high price, I would probably have purchased it instead. But the cost differential didn’t seem worth it to me. Of course, without being able to do eyes-on testing, who knows? I’ll be following along on HDR support evolution, and may consider purchase of a more exclusively gaming/entertainment-focused additional display when the tech seems more ready, and will be able to include e.g. VA or OLED displays. Connect that up to a console, maybe… Based on the AO Optronics shorter term roadmap, some better solutions in what was my spec target are not too far down the road, but I decided not to wait. CES 2020 should be interesting!

                                      If offering advice to anyone hoping to get a taste of HDR now but without the requirement for high color uniformity/accuracy I needed, I’d say look at the good VA models that otherwise meet your budget and other spec requirements. These three displays which Adam has reviewed look pretty darned nice to me: AOC AG273QCX, Philips 328P6VUBREB, Samsung C27HG70.

                                      Although it must be a little tedious for you to include the same games and scenes review after review, I want to emphasis how valuable it is to have consistency when trying to compare displays. Even accepting the inherent limitations of the review capture and presentation process, a lot can be deducted from seeing those same scenes side by side. The Shadow of the Tomb Raider “cave” scenes and Battlefield moon-lit night scene (PG27UQ review) are good at showing local dimming (or the lack thereof) and the ability of the display to represent very dark areas, and the Battlefield (5?) scene in the woods in Fall is really good for showing the naturalistic tone mapping wider gamut aimed at extended sRGB/DCI-P3 can offer.


                                        I appreciate your support. A few people ordered the XB273K around that time so I will assume one of those was your order.

                                        And I also appreciate your extensive feedback and the thoughts you’ve shared here. I absolutely agree with the decision you made. Indeed there is no perfect choice and there will always be something “better” further down the line. I also agree that, in this case, a substantial improvement and HDR due to evolving backlight technologies will come in the not too distant future. But that when you combine that with the other features being offered here (‘4K’, 144Hz, G-SYNC) you’re going to be looking at a very expensive product indeed. The XB273K is of course already a fairly expensive product, but there’s a lot of enjoyment to be had from it. And I think that it will provide a very enjoyable experience between now and the time a product with similar features, agreeable price and far superior HDR capabilities comes along.

                                        So I hope your post here will provide good food for thought to users thinking of jumping in and giving the Acer a try. And help them take that final step. I’ve also received some positive comments from a user by email who took the plunge recently – he’s loving the monitor. And he too appreciated the subjective tone of the reviews and the use of specific examples which show off various aspects of the monitor. It is indeed tedious and time-consuming doing this and it’s probably why nobody else can be bothered. But I’m a stickler for detail and my readers and viewers clearly appreciate this sort of detail. So it is certainly worthwhile. 🙂


                                          Just to add that we’ll shortly be reviewing the Philips 326M6VJRMB (even though it isn’t yet widely available). I’m hoping to see some improvement in HDR performance for dark scenes over the 328P6VUBREB, although I’m personally expecting similar performance in that area and that it’s more the aesthetics, FreeSync support and Ambilight that will distinguish these models. Anything else like substantially lower input lag or a better HDR performance would be a welcome bonus, of course.


                                            wow, so PCM2 got the prototype? that’s amazing.

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