Is an HDR Monitor Worth ItAre you in the market for a new monitor?

The chances are that you have heard the hype about HDR screens, and how they provide the best resolution for gaming.

Before you jump on the HDR hype train and invest your money in an expensive monitor, let’s see whether an HDR monitor is worth it.

HDR Explained

HDR TVs are already available, with thousands of customers snapping up the technology on its release.

So, what makes HDR so impressive?

HDR is an acronym for high dynamic range. HDR allows the monitor to display a full spectrum of colors and contrasts, giving the image more depth and tone, providing a realistic viewing experience.

As a result, the image on an HDR monitor is far more refined, showing more detail in the light and dark parts of the picture.

If you’ve ever watched a horror movie and found yourself struggling to make out what’s happening in the scene because it’s so dark – HDR can eliminate this issue and resolve the color and contrast issues with the image or video.

HDR is so realistic that the resolution in nature documentaries makes you feel like you’re standing on the plains of the savannah watching the animals in real life.

HDR brings your Blu-ray movies to life, providing a crystal-clear image with an uncanny resolution.

Some people complain that HDR appears too real, and they feel that it takes away from the mystique and Hollywood production of their favorite shows and movies.

It’s important to note that, if you want to utilize HDR, both the monitor and the content medium need to support the HDR format.

If you try and watch an HDR movie on a standard screen, it won’t have HDR resolution, and you won’t get the full HDR experience out of the content.

One of the major stumbling blocks with ordering yourself a new HDR monitor is a fact that many games do not currently support an HDR format.

Therefore, it’s not ideal when you consider the expense of the upgrade, versus the functionality of the equipment.

We think that buying an HDR monitor is okay if you want to future proof yourself against new advancements in gaming technology.

However, as we already know, tech advances at breakneck speed and the chances are that there will be new releases that offer improvements in HDR performance.

Furthermore, the price is likely to drop with time and you could save money by waiting.

HDR Monitor

Gaming with HDR

So, what about gaming with HDR. While we already know that most games don’t support this format, there are a few that currently offer HDR integration, and more games are coming out every month that support HDR.

Some games like the Rise of the Tomb Raider and Battlefield one feature HDR compatibility, allowing you to see greater detail in the dark areas of the game.

The graphics get an additional boost from the enhanced color spectrum, making the gameplay more photo-realistic. The graphics are crisp and clean, with no jaggies or stalling.

Photo-realism is a rising trend in the gaming industry, and we are noticing more releases featuring this tech.

We expect that HDR will become the benchmark for gaming in the coming years, but we don’t know if it’s currently at the tipping point where it’s worth investing into an HDR monitor just yet.

HDR Software and Hardware Requirements

When it comes down to powering HDR tech, you may be surprised to learn that it doesn’t require much extra GPU power.

Considering the upgrade on the graphics and gameplay on offer, we expected an HDR monitor to place an extraordinary demand on the graphics card.

However, our usage ticked up a fraction, but nothing like we expected to see.

Most AMD and Nvidia GPUs will support HDR, but make sure you have the right spec for your GPU, or you won’t be able to run the monitor.

Early versions of DisplayPort 1.4 and HDMI 2.0 are the minimum requirements to support HDR.

Older generation monitors also require a VA or IPS panel, since the TN panels do not support the HDR format.

When it comes to assessing software packages capable of handling HDR, we find that Windows 10, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4, all support HDR.

Windows users need to enable the HDR setting in the display settings menu, and the option only appears if your screen is compatible with the HDR format.

Console users also need to enable HDR functionality through their systems settings.

Is HDR Better Than UHD or QHD?

When it comes to selecting resolution over HDR, you have to look at the power requirements to notice the difference.

HDR already increases your resolution and image clarity, but increasing the resolution of your monitor also helps to improve gameplay.

High-resolution monitors chew up plenty of system power, but they enhance sharpness, eliminate aliasing while providing the video or image with additional depth.

HDR enhances lighting and contrast, making the image appear more life-like.

Which Panels Support HDR? – VA vs. TN vs. IPS

Most modern monitors utilize either VA (vertical alignment), TN (twisted nematic), or IPS (in-plane switching).

All three options have their unique characteristics, but only VA and IPS support HDR, leaving TN out in the cold.

Other significant differences between the two panels include;

  • TN supports pixel response times as low as 1-ms, whereas IPS only goes down to 4-ms.
  • TN panels support refresh rates of up to 240-Hz, while IPS solely manages 144-Hz.
  • IPS features better color reproduction and wider viewing angles than VA panels.
  • VA is cheaper to purchase than IPS panels.
  • VA offers enhanced contrast, but color accuracy is not as good as IPS.

Therefore, we can conclude that IPS suits gamers that value visuals more than performance.

TN is for aggressive players that want the best, and VA is an excellent in-between panel that has the best of both worlds.

However, after reviewing all of the stats, we can say that going for an HDR setup might not be the best idea.

At present, no monitor includes HDR with 1-ms response time and a 240-Hz refresh rate.

Only TN panels support this type of high-performance and, and HDR is not compatible with this panel.

This conundrum presents a catch-22 situation, and it may put many gamers off of buying an HDR monitor.

Wrapping Up – Is it Worth Buying an HDR Monitor?

Our final wrap up of this review provides conflicting opinions.

Buying an HDR monitor depends on what you want out of your gameplay.

It’s quite reasonable to say that HDR is not going anywhere, and we can expect to see the technology advance in the coming years.

However, while game developers are slow to adopt HDR, we feel that it’s the way that the industry is turning.

So, would we buy an HDR monitor?

Probably not, we would like to see more offerings from the game developers before we invest our money into a new screen.

However, if you are a gamer that’s passionate about tech, and you can afford the price of the monitor, then why not?

We’re sure that there will be plenty of games coming soon, and buying an HDR screen will future-proof you against any changes.