"The S2721SQ from Dell is a simple, no-frills 4K monitor with excellent build quality and an excellent warranty."
3 year advance guarantee
Clear 4K picture
Not a lot of bandwidth for photo editors
Dell's 27-inch USB-C monitor is a good buy at around $ 400 – but what if you don't care about USB-C and want a sharper image? For this audience, Dell created the S2721QS, which offers a 4K IPS panel and simple connectivity for practically the same price. In fact, it's currently reduced to just $ 340, making it one of the more budget-friendly 4K monitors out there. But is it good enough to make our list of best monitors?
The Dell S2721SQ comes in a large, slim white box. As you unpack, you will be greeted as usual with one of Dell's excellent stands. This has a slightly different design than the P- and U-Series monitors, with the back of the foot rounded and the sides angled inward. It is also lighter in color and the neck has a more slender profile than before.
The height, tilt, and rotation settings in portrait mode are valued by home office users because they enable healthy posture
You lose the swivel function on the stand, but that's not a huge loss at the price, and you keep the great height adjustment, tilt and rotation to portrait orientation – the most important options. As the monitor is designed for use in the (home) office, these adjustments will be particularly valued as they will help you maintain a healthy posture.
The rest of the display is inconspicuous. Boring, but not bad. The back of the monitor is made of durable white plastic, which makes the monitor look like a giant piece of chiclet chewing gum. It looks professional, has slim bezels on the top and sides of the display, and fits in most homes and offices.
However, if you're looking for something a bit more stylish, then you must check out Dell's ultra-thin S2719DC instead.
Connections and controls
At that price, of course, concessions have to be made, and those are additional features. The Dell S2721SQ is a monitor and little more. It has two HDMI inputs and a DisplayPort connection. You won't find any USB-C connectivity here, nor a built-in USB hub or any other luxury. The only extra is the inclusion of built-in speakers. They're nondescript and sound thin, but they make a sound loud enough to be heard. So this is a win.
The OSD in the Dell S2721SQ offers a fair number of options for a monitor of this type, but some are missing. The OSD is unusually pixelated for a 4K monitor. It has brightness and contrast controls, PiP settings (picture-in-picture), RGB color adjustments, sharpness, response time settings and much more. What is missing? We found that there is no way to adjust the white point temperature, which by default deviates a little towards the cold side. This adjustment is common even with monitors at this price.
With the buttons below, the OSD is always within reach, although in practice you rarely, if ever, have to get involved.
Since the Dell S2721SQ doesn't score high on features, you can see how the image quality affects it.
With a 4K IPS panel (3840 x 2160 pixels), it offers an incredibly sharp picture, especially when you consider that it gives you that resolution at a diagonal size of only 27 inches. You'll have to rely heavily on Windows screen scaling, which doesn't work too well, but that's not the monitor's fault (macOS image scaling works better). 4K video, pictures, and general usage look extremely sharp, but older programs may look small or blurry. Even so, you'll only find a sharper image on Apple's 27-inch iMac 5K or a 24-inch 4K monitor.
Dell's numbers indicate a brightness of 350 nits and a static contrast ratio of 1300: 1. Our tests showed that the monitor is capable of exceeding these brightness levels and hitting almost 400 nits, in contrast, at 790: 1, it's a bit disappointing. After calibration, it improved to 940: 1.
Since the S2721SQ from Dell offers 4K resolution on a 27-inch panel, the image is extremely sharp
Dell claims 99% coverage of sRGB storage space, which is what you should expect from most midrange monitors. Our tests confirmed this number, and we also measured 76% AdobeRGB coverage and 82% of DCI-P3 storage space. If you only use this monitor for internet browsing and basic office tasks, it will work just fine.
You need to look for a full color gamut monitor like the Acer ConceptD CM2 if you need anything for color grading in photography and video editing, or you risk cropping – a phenomenon where colors may appear correct to you when you are at the end of your monitor's gamut, but look more intense on someone else's display or in print.
Why is there a segment here for gaming performance? This is not sold as a gaming monitor. However, Dell has equipped the S2721SQ with Adaptive Sync technology, which is based on AMD's Freesync, and in our tests we also confirmed G-Sync support for Nvidia cards.
The 60Hz refresh rate won't make you the most competitive player on the online battlefields, but adaptive sync will take care of the tearing and some stuttering. Of course, the 4K resolution means you'll need a ton of GPU grunt to get anywhere near the 60Hz refresh rate. Due to the adaptive synchronization, frame rates between 30 and 60 frames per second should still appear fluid thanks to uniform image stimulation. In other words, you'll have a clearer and more consistent experience than without FreeSync or G-Sync support.
Of course, for a more playful monitor, check out 144Hz displays like the Razer Raptor 27. Note, however, that you will likely have to sacrifice resolution to get a higher refresh rate, as most monitors offer 1440p or 1080p resolution at around 60Hz. This Dell can be useful for gamers who prefer extreme image quality over high frame rates, as it delivers a razor-sharp and attractive image.
If you're looking for a solid 4K monitor at an affordable price, the Dell S2721SQ is likely to be the one for you. Apart from the sharpness, it is not outstanding in any area, but more than sufficient for everyday use. It delivers a clean, crisp image with no major imperfections to distract you.
This monitor also has great build quality with a solid range of ergonomic options. Think of this as Dell's entry-level option for a 4K monitor while maintaining great materials quality and warranty and you are on the right track.
Are there alternatives?
Absolutely. If you're not interested in the elaborate stand or material quality, LG offers a 27-inch 4K IPS monitor with similar specs for significantly less. LG also has the 27BL85U, which comes similarly outfitted with an equally impressive stand for roughly the same price, and this one includes USB-C. If you're looking for something in this format and resolution, but with a wider color gamut for photo work, the Dell U2720Q may be better for you, albeit at a higher price.
How long it will take?
The Dell S2721SQ should last at least five years, of which Dell covers three years with an advance exchange warranty. This means that in the event of a disaster, the company will send you a new (refurbished) monitor first and then let you return the old one after you are set up.
Should I buy it?
Yes. If you want a simple, no-frills 4K display, you can't go wrong with the Dell S2721SQ.