Watching HDR movies on a PC

Viewing 5 posts - 1 through 5 (of 5 total)

Buying a monitor? Please refer to this post before purchasing.
New user? Register here.

  • Author
  • #53556

      My question is, if you were to get a hypothetical actual movie playing on your PC, barring all the DRM drudgery, how exactly do you set the HDR up correctly? I assume you have to flick the “Play HDR games and apps” switch in the Windows settings? The one that makes everything look all washed out and fugly? The only content I’ve seen that actually felt proper HDR were games that didn’t require that Windows software setting enabled so it worries me to turn it on for movies. The SDR Content Balance setting doesn’t seem to make much of a difference to me, I just have it maxed out to try to offset some of the dullness when the HDR is on.

      For 4K films that advertise HDR, does the HDR only really work through a traditional player and TV setup or would it still be an improvement on the CHG70 (I understand its a bit sub-par to actual TV HDR) when enabled? And if not, does watching a 4K UHD HDR movie in SDR mode make it look “worse” regardless because its designed for HDR? Like trying to watch a 3D movie or VR without glasses


        Hi again phobiabear,

        Technical queries are technically against the forum rules, so I don’t want this to set a precedent for other users who will start taking liberties with really tedious technical queries. 🙂 But I think this is an important topic to cover and I know other users wonder about how HDR movie content is handled on a PC.

        You would indeed need to have an HDR capable monitor such as your Samsung C27HG70 and have a system which supports HDR – with the HDR switch in Windows set correctly. For reference, pulled from a recent review of an HDR model (AOC AG273QCX).

        “As of the latest Windows 10 update, relevant HDR settings in Windows are found in ‘Windows HD Color settings’ which can be accessed via ‘Display settings’ (right click the desktop). Most game titles will activate HDR correctly when the appropriate in-game setting is selected. A minority of game titles that support HDR will only run in HDR if the setting is active in Windows as well. Specifically, the toggle which says ‘Play HDR games and apps’. If you want to view HDR movies on a compatible web browser, for example, you’d also need to activate the ‘Stream HDR Video’ setting. These settings are shown below. Also note that there’s a slider that allows you to adjust the overall balance of SDR content if HDR is active in Windows.”

        Windows HD color settings Windows 10

        Windows 11 HDR settings (different layout and wording)

        Despite the seemingly contradictory description in Windows 10, the SDR content appearance slider is only for SDR content and doesn’t affect HDR content. It’s basically a digital brightness slider as we describe in our reviews of HDR-capable screens. If you’re seeing it clearly affect your supposed HDR content and it looks “washed out” or generally lifeless no matter what you do, it’s almost certainly not running in proper HDR. I don’t recall this slider affecting Tomb Raider running HDR, for example.

        To display HDR video content you need to be using a web browser or software that’s specifically HDR compatible. You can see some examples of HDR content looking as it should on YouTube. You just need to use an HDR capable browser such as a recent version of Google Chrome. You will see the resolution listed as an HDR resolution in the settings (cog icon) on the video if it’s working correctly. The only other HDR movie or video content I’ve observed myself is using the Windows 10 Netflix app. I’m not sure if you can run Netflix HDR through a compatible browser now. I don’t have an HDR subscription for Netflix any more so I can’t test that out (edit: I do now, but it seems the app works more reliably for HDR content so I’d recommend using this).

        You’d need to do a wider search on the internet for which other software solutions allow viewing of HDR movie content, but you can certainly do this on the PC if everything is set up correctly both on the hardware and software level. I welcome any findings if you’ve worked out how to get your content working properly in HDR. Because it very much sounds as if you’re just viewing it as SDR content currently.


          A few important additions to this thread, as this has caught some users out:

          1) The monitor will need to support (at least) HDCP 2.2, but this has become as good as standard on recent HDR-capable monitor via DP 1.4, HDMI. 2.0 and later revisions. It’s commonly included on so-called ‘DP 1.2a+’ ports, too, which means it’s DisplayPort 1.2 + Adaptive-Sync + HDR featureset.

          2) In addition to the hardware side of things such as an HDR-capable monitor and system, you’ll also need to make sure you intall the HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding) pack from Microsoft via the Windows App store. I’m very surprised this isn’t bundled with Windows 10/11 or doesn’t come standard with an update. And that they’re charging a small fee for it.

          3) The software will need to support HDR. Some examples of where HDR content can be enjoyed would be YouTube on Google Chrome, Netflix via the Windows app (or via a compatible browser, but the app usually works best) or Amazon Prime Video using a Firestick. Unfortunately Amazon Prime Video doesn’t currently support HDR directly via a web browser.


            It is I, phobiabear. My old account has gone the way of the dodo but I’m here to follow up on my experience with HDR.

            HDR must be the most infuriating technology ever created, surpassing the now humble printer. Truly, absolutely wild how deeply the experience varies based on a game to game basis, and achieving proper media playback is no small feat either. First, lets address the hardware being used. I have a CHG70 which I think has a rating of HDR600, and something like 8 local dimming zones? Not great, but as you mentioned back when you did your review for this screen it does provide a noticeable benefit…when it works.

            Let us take the holy grail of software, DOOM ETERNAL, as our foremost example. This game does not require you to enable HDR in Windows before launching. When HDR is on in game it looks absolutely fantastic, even on my low yield dimming zone display. The low number of dimming zones is definitely noticeable but generally only on pitch black screens when a UI element pops in the corner or you move your mouse around. It somehow is quite well hidden while you’re actually playing. Bright things are suitably shiny and blinding, darkness is satisfyingly deep, and I didn’t even have to spend a single second with calibrations. It looks like SDR, but better! Working as intended, then.

            Then we hop on over to Destiny 2, which also can turn HDR on and off in-game and without altering Windows settings. Except this time HDR being on means the game becomes set upon by a layer of ever-present fog, colors and lights become dulled, and the entire scene (sans the menus, for some reason) looks far less defined and drained of life than when in SDR mode. I know the color gamut of this model can be a bit exaggerated when in SDR but this does not appear as just a dip in saturation. What makes this particular case strange is once upon a time it actually used to work just like DOOM ETERNAL, and provided a nice enhancement to the lighting in every scene while retaining black clarity, and did not overlay everything with an omnipresent haze.

            Other games lack the option for HDR at all until you turn it on in Windows first, and those games usually follow the above “washed out” aesthetic. There are a few other games which have successful HDR experiences but it seems a somewhat rare success. I am unsure how much of this can be attributed to the specific software in question and what is a result of the rather amateur-level HDR implementation on this screen, but having seen how well it can perform in certain programs definitely provides pause to the latter explanation.

            Moving now into movie playback. This seems to always require the HDR on switch to be flipped in Windows settings first, as you had mentioned, regardless of whether it is a local file in VLC or a streaming service like Netflix. When HDR is turned on in Windows and you re-open your (Microsoft Edge) browser you can see it is detected because all Netflix content with HDR now shows the relevant icon when you click details, and if you open VLC with an HDR movie file you can wiggle your mouse around to see your whopping 8 dimming zones in action which confirms it is active. Unfortunately every movie or show I have tested has resulted in pretty sub-par results that would lead one to just disabling the HDR altogether. With it enabled some scenes do look kind of nice, with perhaps a bit more accurate depth to them, but sadly you will also never see a scene take place in daylight again. It could still seemingly hit a reasonably high brightness; in one shot the lights on a pier during the night have a nice healthy glow to them, but then the shots overlooking the desert mid-day or the one with heavy sun beams shining through trees in the woods is noticeably muted and far too dull. Perhaps it’s simply too much to ask from the CHG70 and its pumping all the nits its got.

            Anyways the SDR quality of this monitor is still really good and HDR is a pain and probably needs proper OLED and higher peak brightness to get more consistent results, but I don’t think we’ve quite reached that stage of (reasonably priced) monitor evolution just yet


              Hi papyrcat (phobiabear),

              Thanks for sharing your thoughts on HDR now you’ve had a lot of experience with it. I absolutely agree that it’s annoyingly hit and miss. Some titles (be it movies or game titles) clearly just have lazy HDR implementations which make very poor use of the HDR10 pipeline and monitors with any semblance of HDR capability. In other cases it’s clear the developers have made a real effort to showcase the game at its best under HDR. This applies even if viewing said content on a very capable OLED or Mini LED screen where the hardware isn’t as limited as on for example the CHG70.

              On the movie side, specifically, I agree there is some content that seems to make good use of HDR in some scenes, but elsewhere things can be less impressive. I see ‘missed opportunities’, so to speak, with some scenes that just don’t seem to make use of the available HDR hardware as well as others. The experience would certainly still be enhanced by a more capable HDR screen in those cases, though. I’ve certainly come across a fair amount of content on Netflix which makes good use of HDR on highly capable monitors like the AW3423DW (my current ‘daily driver’) and Mini LED LCDs. They’re much better able to handle mixtures of shade depth in a way that edge-lit HDR solutions simply can’t. For most movie content on such screens, even the less impressive content (or less impressive scenes in content) tends to at least leverage some advantage from HDR. The superior tone mapping and luminance precision plus more appropriate use of the wide gamut usually lifts even weak scenes above their SDR representation, even if they don’t make full use of the brightness capability of the screen. So you’re left with some scenes where the advantages are more nuanced, but other times where there are definite ‘wow’ moments under HDR.

            Viewing 5 posts - 1 through 5 (of 5 total)
            • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.