What Is HDR For Monitors And Is It Worth It? (Simple Answer). What is hdr monitor

HDR can be displayed via HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort 1.3. If your GPU has one of these ports, it should be able to display HDR content. As a rule, all Nvidia 9xx series GPUs and newer have an HDMI 2.0 port, as do all AMD cards from 2016 .

What Is HDR For Monitors And Is It Worth It? (Simple Answer)

What is HDR for monitors and is it worth it?

Are you wondering whether to enter the trend of HDR monitors or are you afraid that this is just a fad? The problem with this noise is that you may be persuaded to invest your money in these new items when they are not actually giving you any benefit. Some of the explanations are also too technical for the common man to understand, which can lead to the buyer’s remorse.

While having hardware with better specs and newer technology is better most of the time, the question you have to ask yourself is “Will I take advantage of this update?” After all, buying a new monitor will cost you money, and you might as well make it worthwhile. To answer this question, you need to understand what HDR is, especially when it comes to monitors.

What Is HDR?

The term HDR, short for High Dynamic Range, is anything but new. Most likely you already have this technology in your home as HDTVs support HDR. While you experienced a better visual experience with HDR, it took more time to get used to computers and games.

HDR has one goal: to make the image look more realistic. It does this by improving the contrast between dark and light and keeping a wide range of colors. You, the end user, will be able to see more vivid colors and the image itself will look more realistic.

what is HDR

HDR in particular improves the picture quality as follows.

1. Luminance and Chrominance

These two factors really set “true HDR” apart from the others. Luminance refers to the intensity of light emitted from a surface, measured per unit. Brightness plays a huge role in color accuracy, so better luminance means a better picture.

On the other hand, chroma is the difference between the color you see on the screen and the same color based on luminance. When you have higher chroma, it means the monitor is displaying colors more accurately. HDR has a higher luminance and chrominance, especially compared to SDR (Standard Dynamic Range) displays, which ensures excellent video quality.

2. Colour Space and Color Gamut

Color gaps are used by displays to map the colors to the screen, measured in bits. Better color spacing leads to more defined colors. If the millions of bits of color on your monitor are of better quality, you can expect excellent image quality. HDR not only improves on this, but has a new name that describes the quality, Color Gamut. This means that HDR monitors cover the entire range (color spectrum.

3. Shadows and Black Levels

Black levels are the most popular feature of HDR screens, especially since this was a particular problem with SDR displays. Instead of a bluish tinge, HDR offers striking levels of blacks and shadows that will enhance the overall picture quality.

4. Nits, Brightness, and Stops

Rivets refer to the brightness levels of a monitor, and the more rivets it has, the brighter it can be. In addition, with higher brightness, colors and shades can be displayed more accurately. However, when it comes to monitors, they don’t always provide the same level of brightness as an HDTV, as you’ll be sitting much closer to the screen.

Consequently, monitors use a process called Freezes to catch or stop brightness from going all over the screen. The HDR monitor therefore has both a high Nit value and several stops (at least 1000 nits and 7 stops when it comes to HDR10 displays).

Read on to learn more about HDR (and get a handy checklist to change). If you want to see our range of monitors specially designed for accurate color reproduction, click here.

What is HDR and why do I want it?

To ensure its magic, HDR combines several elements. First, it benefits from an extended brightness range well in excess of the 256 levels displayed on a typical monitor, and in the best cases exceeds the actual 1024 levels of a great monitor. It also includes more colors than the lowest common denominator sRGB gamut, profiles necessary to optimally reproduce the color range and brightness of the content on the display capabilities, a set-top box in the monitor that understands mapping and all related technologies all together – not the least important is the operating system.

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In many games, HDR doesn’t matter because they don’t have many high-brightness areas or deep shadows, or they don’t make any significant use of a greater tonal range. But for games that support it, you’ll likely get better graphics in AAA games, more horror minions, fewer shadow ambushes in FPS games, and so on.

The real question is not whether you want this. The question is how much are you willing to pay for it – not just for a display with the “HDR10” specification, but for a monitor that will provide HDR picture quality.

Will an HDR gaming monitor work with the Xbox Series X/S and PS5?

Yes! There is even a publicly available set of HDR game development and monitor design best practices developed by Sony, Microsoft and many other suitable companies under the umbrella of the HDR Gaming Interest Group, for their consoles and Windows. But HGIG is not a standardization body or certifies products, so you still need to pay close attention to specifications. And it gets even more confusing

Unfortunately, the HDMI specification has gotten into such a mess that you can’t make assumptions based on the version number. Not only will every HDMI 2.0 connection henceforth be labeled 2.1a (with the same HDMI 2.0 feature set), but the specification no longer requires any of the important new features; in other words, all the amazing capabilities that made HDMI 2.1 desirable, especially as a choice for consoles, are now optional.

Bottom line: If you want a monitor for your console that supports 4K @ 120Hz, supports variable refresh rate and auto low-latency mode, you’ll need to verify each one separately. The same is true for an HDMI connected PC monitor, which supports source-based tone mapping (discussed below) and combinations of high definition, fast refresh rate, and high color depth / HDR.

Monitor manufacturers should clearly list the features they support; if they don’t, either skip the monitor or dig deeper. If you want gory detail, TFT Central does a great job of clearing up the issues.

After all, it cannot be denied that HDR is not going to go away. It’s definitely not the trick of stereoscopic 3D, and it’s absolutely essential to bring the graphics in the game closer to reality – a goal that the industry has been trying hard to achieve for, well, over a decade or so.

HDR Hardware and Software Requirements

is hdr games worth it

HDR doesn’t require a strong GPU, contrary to what you might think. Nvidia GPUs from GTX 950 and newer support HDR, as do AMD GPUs from R9 380 and newer.

More importantly, be aware of the ports as the earliest versions of HDMI and DisplayPort to support HDR were HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort 1.4. Besides, the monitors must have an IPS or VA panel as TN panels do not support HDR.

In addition, on the software front, Windows 10, PlayStation 4 (Regular, Slim, and Pro), and Xbox One (Regular, S, and X) all support HDR.

hdr monitors

On Windows, HDR is simply enabled in the Display Settings menu, which you can go to by right-clicking on the desktop and selecting it from the drop-down menu. The HDR option will only appear if a display that actually supports HDR is connected. As for consoles, it’s pretty much the same – just go to your console’s display settings and enable HDR.

However, keep in mind that not all games support HDR. On Windows, those that do will show the option to enable HDR when you turn it on in Windows, while console games will show it if the console detects an HDR display. Of course, the game you play or the content you watch must support HDR if you want to reap the benefits of this technology.

Is HDR Better Than QHD or UHD Resolutions?

is it worth the hdr monitor

Now, a question that some will inevitably ask: Should we choose HDR over a higher resolution?

It’s a bit hard to answer that. They both contribute to the quality of the images, but they do so in their own unrelated way. Higher resolutions increase sharpness, reduce aliasing and give an image a sense of depth, while HDR gives contrast and lighting an unprecedented shade of realism.

However, considering that many high-end and even mid-range monitors support HDR today, it’s unlikely you’ll have to choose between the two. Just remember that running games at higher resolutions will require more GPU power, while HDR won’t impact performance in the slightest.

So, the question you should ask yourself when buying an HDR-capable monitor is which panels do HDR-capable?

In addition, on the software front, Windows 10, PlayStation 4 (Regular, Slim, and Pro), and Xbox One (Regular, S, and X) all support HDR.

HDR Gaming

high dynamic range games

Both console and PC games offer many HDR compatible titles.

However, when it comes to playing HDR on PC, there are still a lot of difficulties as most software isn’t quite HDR ready.

For example, Windows 10 forces HDR on everything when it’s on, which makes non-HDR content nasty to say the least. Therefore, you have to manually toggle HDR on and off each time, depending on what you’re watching.

FreeSync Premium Pro & G-SYNC Ultimate

When buying a new gaming monitor, most people will choose a display with variable refresh rate (VRR) technology, AMD labeled “FreeSync” and “FreeSync Premium” or “G-SYNC-compatible” and “G-SYNC”. ‘by NVIDIA.

However, not all FreeSync / G-SYNC monitors with HDR can support both VRR and HDR simultaneously.

For the best HDR gaming experience, look for gaming monitors with AMD FreeSync Premium Pro or NVIDIA G-SYNC Ultimate technology that allow HDR and VRR to run simultaneously without any noticeable input lag.

However, there are exceptions such as the Aorus AD27QD and Philips 436M6VBPAB which have the usual 1st generation FreeSync technology but can support VRR and HDR at the same time.

However, FreeSync Premium Pro also allows you to enjoy compatible games, ensuring the optimal color gamut and tone mapping between the display and the game.


As you can see, there are many things that go into whether an HDR monitor is worth it.

There are a handful of HDR monitors that offer terrible HDR picture quality, but are worth the price nonetheless as they offer good other specs.

In contrast, other HDR monitors may offer excellent HDR picture quality, but have other panel-related drawbacks.

Therefore, always check the monitor reviews of the displays you are interested in to get the information you need.

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Rob is a software engineer with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Denver. He currently works full time managing DisplayNinja while coding his own projects.

Display Ninja is operated by a reader. By purchasing through links on our site, we can earn a small commission.

The good news is we’re finally starting to see computer monitors do this as well. Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ and Acer Predator X27 have 384 backlight zones to their credit, and the ridiculously wide Samsung CHG90 also has them – although exactly how much is known now only by Samsung engineers.

HDR vs. SDR Compared

SDR or Standard Dynamic Range is the current standard for video and cinema displays. Unfortunately, it’s limited by its ability to represent only a fraction of the dynamic range that HDR is capable of. HDR therefore preserves details in scenes where the monitor’s contrast ratio could be a hindrance. On the other hand, SDR does not have this ability.


Put simply, comparing HDR with SDR, HDR allows you to see more details and colors in high dynamic range scenes. Another difference between them is their inner measure.

For those familiar with photography, the dynamic range can be measured in steps, as can the aperture of a camera. This reflects the adjustments made to the gamma and bit depth used in the image and will vary depending on whether HDR or SDR is on.

For example, on a typical SDR display, the images will have a dynamic range of approximately 6 degrees. Conversely, HDR content is able to almost triple this dynamic range, with an average approximate total of 17.6 degrees. For this reason, in a dark scene, shades of gray may be cut to black, while in a bright scene, some colors and details in that part of the scene may be cut to white.

HDR vs SDR: Trimming

Which Factors Affect HDR?

When it comes to HDR, there are currently two main standards in use, Dolby Vision and HDR10. We will discuss the differences between each of them below.

Dolby Vision

Dolby Vision is an HDR standard that requires monitors to be specially designed with the Dolby Vision hardware chip, for which Dolby receives license fees. Dolby Vision uses 12-bit color and a brightness limit of 10,000 nits. It’s worth noting that the color gamut and brightness level of Dolby Vision exceed the limits of what can be achieved with currently produced displays. Moreover, the entry barrier for display manufacturers to incorporate Dolby Vision is still high due to the specific hardware support requirements.


HDR10 is a more acceptable standard and is used by manufacturers as a way to avoid having to comply with Dolby standards and fees. For example, HDR10 uses 10-bit color and is capable of mastering content at 1000 nits brightness.

HDR10 has established itself as the default standard for 4K UHD Blu-ray discs and has also been used by Sony and Microsoft on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One S. As for computer screens, some ViewSonic VP Professional Monitor series come with HDR10 support.

HDR Content

it’s easy to make a mistake, especially if you own an HDR TV, that all your content is HDR content. Well, it isn’t; not all content is created equally!

To give a suitable example, if you own a 4K TV, you won’t be able to enjoy 4K detail unless the content you are watching is also in 4K. The same goes for HDR, as to enjoy it you need to make sure your viewing material supports this experience.

For those familiar with photography, the dynamic range can be measured in steps, as can the aperture of a camera. This reflects the adjustments made to the gamma and bit depth used in the image and will vary depending on whether HDR or SDR is on.

What is HDR?

Forget 4K. For my money, HDR is the most exciting thing in the display world since we stopped twirling tiny screws around the ends of our monitor cables to keep them in place. As mentioned above, HDR is all about creating a more natural, realistic image by using brighter white, darker black, and loading more colors in between than what we are currently used to in an SDR (or standard dynamic range) display.

The most important thing about HDR is increased brightness. Without it, you lose the sense of contrast or “dynamic range” that is so vital to the way our eyes generally perceive the world around us. If you’ve ever taken a picture on a cloudy day and the sky is completely white, even though you can clearly see several different shades of gray for yourself, it’s because the camera lens cannot interpret as much light data in the same way your knobs do ocular.

The same thing happens on SDR TVs and monitors. HDR is intended to fix this by showing images on the screen that are as close as possible to what you can see them in real life. This means better skies and horizons that are full of vivid and vivid color details instead of huge stripes of white, as well as more accurate transitions from dark to light as you step into dark patches of shadow.

You’ll find out below how HDR actually achieves all of these, but if you want to jump straight to the good stuff about HDR compatible graphics cards and PC gaming, click this lovely link here: What kind of graphics card do I need to support HDR and what PC games do they support it?

How does HDR affect brightness?

The overall brightness of the display largely depends on the complexity of its backlight. On an LCD, a backlight is a piece of monitor that illuminates the pixels in front of it to show color and is usually made up of LEDs, which is why you often see televisions referred to as LCD LED TVs. Most monitors these days are “edge lit” by a backlight that runs across both sides of the display.

However, the best televisions have largely abandoned the edge illumination method in favor of many small grid-like illumination zones. TV makers often refer to this as “full local dimming” as it allows the TV to respond more accurately to what is on screen, lowering the brightness in darker parts of the picture so that the brighter ones really come to the fore, such as streetlights and stars in the night sky . The more backlight zones a display has, the more accurately it can represent what is happening on the screen, while retaining the all-important sense of contrast and dynamic range.

The good news is we’re finally starting to see computer monitors do this as well. Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ and Acer Predator X27 have 384 backlight zones to their credit, and the ridiculously wide Samsung CHG90 also has them – although exactly how much is known now only by Samsung engineers.

This picture is not

This image doesn’t do the X27 (right) justice compared to watching it live, but the difference in how night scenes are handled compared to the regular SDR monitor (left) is still pretty clear.

Having multiple backlight zones is good and good, but the key thing you need to watch out for is how bright they can actually glow. Again, taking televisions as a starting point, the best (and currently identified with the Ultra HD Premium logo) can hit a massive 1,000 cd / m2 (or nits as some say). Meanwhile, your average SDR TV probably has a peak brightness somewhere in the range of 400-500 cd / m2. Meanwhile, SDR monitors usually do not exceed 200-300 cd / m2.

What is HDR10 and Dolby Vision?

Another of the most popular HDR standards you’ll see on TVs and displays is HDR 10. It has been adopted by almost every HDR TV available today (as well as the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X), and it’s the default for Ultra HD Blu-ray too – useful if you want to make sure your TV can make the most of the Blu-ray Ultra HD collection you are creating.

In terms of display, HDR10 includes support for 10-bit color, Rec. Support for 2020 color gamut and brightness up to 10,000 cd / m2. Again, the HDR10 can handle all of these things, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the display can actually do them all in practice.

Example: Dolby Vision. It supports 12-bit color (which does not exist yet), as well as a maximum brightness of 10,000 cd / m2 and support for the Rec.2020 color gamut. As I said before, I’m sure there will come a time when these standards will start to significantly change what you see on your televisions, but now you get almost the same offer anyway.

The key thing to note as well is that the most important difference between HDR10 and DolbyVision (and now HDR10 + which is an upgraded version of HDR10) has to do with how they handle HDR metadata – as the movies and their Blu players say. -ray to televisions to interpret their signals. This can be useful if you buy an HDR10 monitor, for example, with the intention of connecting it to an HDR10 compatible Blu-ray player, but aside from that, those other standards can be largely ignored in the TV buying world.

It looks like the VESA DisplayHDR standards will become the basis for PC HDR at the moment, and the Nvidia G-Sync HDR and AMD FreeSync 2 HDR standards are operating at the other end of the scale in the same way as their regular G-Technologies Sync and FreeSync yes.

While full local dimming is not required on paper to get a “true” HDR image (as per UHD Alliance and VESA), it’s crucial that HDR image quality really stands out.

HDR & G-Sync

Among all the other positives that come with HDR compatible monitors, Nvidia announced last year that it is launching the G-sync HDR program, which promises ultra-high G-sync refresh rates up to 240Hz and a brightness level of 1000 nits. What does all of this mean for your overall gaming experience?

Put simply, if you have an Nvidia G-sync product, you can now enable HDR while offering the smoothest, tear-free and immersive gameplay Nvidia has to offer!

Is HDR worth the investment?

One thing worth mentioning before we give out our final thoughts is that if you’re wondering whether to go HDR or not, remember that any HDR vs SDR comparison you see is strictly a simulation of what they might look like differences. The only way to really discover the benefits of HDR is to physically inspect the monitor at your local retailer. That being said, the only question that needs to be answered is whether HDR is considered worth the investment, especially for SDR monitors that most of us will be used to today.

Well, my thoughts are initially failing, and it’s mostly due to a lack of content at the moment, especially in the gaming world. The price difference between HDR / SDR is also pretty big, and for me, I wouldn’t want to spread much more for a monitor that can only be fully optimized in a few different settings. It’s worth noting, however, that manufacturers and designers are always trying to make games and entertainment more realistic, meaning you’ll end up in a position where you’ll need to upgrade to keep up with the rising demand for HDR.

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