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If you’ve got a TV with high dynamic range (HDR), you’ll know that HDR content offered by the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube, etc. can look incredible. The display technology, which offers a wider range of vibrant colors, higher contrast, brighter whites, and blacker blacks is making its way to the PC with displays like Acer’s Predator X27 – but are these monitors as good as companies claim?
Back at CES in January, Nvidia showed off a side-by-side comparison of two monitors; one with HDR and one without the tech. The HDR display looked much better, thanks to its sharper, more vibrant colors. Yesterday, YouTube channel HardwareCanucks repeated the test and came to the same conclusions: the HDR image looked vastly superior.
However, HardwareCanucks was granted access to the same monitor settings Nvidia used, and it turns out these had a lot to do with the SDR display's inferior image. Nvidia had turned down the brightness, contrast, and even altered the gamma on the standard panel to make it look much worse, thereby ensuring the HDR monitor had the best picture.
The YouTubers proceeded to do a factory reset on the non-HDR display and run the comparison again. This time, the results were far from clear-cut. Using Mass Effect: Andromeda, which has a native HDR profile, there are still some areas that look better using high dynamic range – such as the color definition in the sky. However, in many cases, the SDR panel arguably offers the superior image, with the HDR panel often looking muted or overexposed.
While it’s worth remembering some games with native HDR profiles could bring more of an obvious improvement over SDR than Adromeda, the fact Nvidia felt the need to rig the demo shows other display technologies, like higher resolutions and faster refresh rates, could be the better options for gamers right now.