"The Dell S2418H is one of the best monitors in its class."
Solid display quality
Robust sound quality
The 1080p resolution may look out of date
The physical buttons were misaligned
Finding the right monitor requires patience. With other products such as laptops, smartphones, keyboards and mice, it is easy to narrow the field to product shots with just a few looks. It is a little more difficult for monitors.
Monitors in the same category typically share design elements, specifications, and even model numbers. Too often we go with size and resolution to limit our options. For this reason, the Dell S2418H is easy to miss. It's nothing special on paper, just another 24-inch 1080p desktop monitor. But hiding behind the numbers is something special.
It is important to note that the Dell S2418H is a budget monitor. It costs around $ 240, but you can probably buy it for less by shopping. Monitors in this price range tend to prioritize savings and reliability over design and aesthetics, which is a shame considering the task of a monitor.
Fortunately, Dell didn't do that with the S2418H.
The Dell S2418H is one of the most attractive monitors in its class. With wafer-thin bezels, a solid aluminum stand and a glossy surface, the design of the monitor shames the closest competitors. The S2418H surpasses even more expensive monitors like the LG Ultrafine 5K, a monitor for $ 1,300, which is characterized by massive, one-sided bezels. At closer competitors, the S2418H has a slimmer frame than the Samsung CF591 and CFG70 and a more visually interesting stand than the Dell S2417DG.
By opting for a solid metal stand instead of the typical thick plastic stand, Dell increased the use a little and made a potentially unforgettable monitor a very elegant addition to any desk.
However, there is one aspect that is somewhat cumbersome. The S2418H comes with an external speaker that fits perfectly into a small bracket in the base. Without a speaker, the monitor has a certain minimalist charm. If you place the speaker in the base, the effect will be affected. The narrow bezel profile of the Dell InfinityEdge display is not affected, but it looks a little out of place, like a bumper sticker on a luxury car.
Unfortunately, the Dell S2418H suffers from the understated equality that pervades the desktop monitor market. The Dell S2418H is located directly on the back of the monitor, which means that it has a standard arrangement of connections.
It has a VGA connection and two HDMI connections, one for each variant – HDMI 1.4 and 2.0 are shown here. It also has two audio connectors and a connector for the included external speaker.
Bill Roberson / Digital Trends
Bill Roberson / Digital Trends
The S2418H has approximately the same number of connections as the Samsung CF591 and an additional HDMI connection. It is therefore not unusual for monitors in this price range to be stingy with connections.
It's a little disappointing that there isn't at least one USB Type A or USB Type C port, but it's a minor problem. A DisplayPort would also have been desirable, but otherwise the usual suspects are here and they do their job admirably.
Another small problem dampened our praise – the physical buttons on the bottom of the display were only slightly misaligned. For example, when the on-screen menu is displayed, there are small menu buttons at the bottom of the display.
The aluminum stand and the wafer-thin bezels make this monitor an elegant addition to any desk.
The on-screen buttons were only slightly to the left of the actual physical buttons to which they corresponded. It wasn't a big problem, just a bit irritating when trying to adjust settings and accidentally close the menu instead of increasing the brightness. Otherwise, they responded and did the job.
The menus themselves are clean and easy to navigate. Adjusting brightness, contrast, and aspect ratio is quick and painless – you don't have to rummage through a labyrinth of nested menus to get to a setting. Even digging into color profiles is refreshingly easy. All presets are displayed in a menu without excessive scrolling. It's a simple, straightforward user interface that gets out of the way and presents options clearly and precisely.
Almost a cut above it
The Dell S2418H was ready to use for such an inexpensive monitor, although it had some disadvantages.
The 1080p IPS display provided true-to-life colors without calibration and has a standard refresh rate of 60 Hz. It also includes AMD's FreeSync, a welcome addition to games.
In terms of overall quality, the Dell S2418H was able to keep up with and even outperform the next competition in some key metrics, but not in some others.
Based on the contrast, the S2418H fell behind the two Samsung displays, both of which had impressive contrast ratios just below and just over 1000: 1. With a contrast ratio of 760: 1, the S2418H outperformed its more expensive cousin Dell S2417DG with a score of only 500: 1.
In practice, this meant that the two Samsung displays CFG70 and CF591 provided brighter colors and deeper shadows than the Dell S2418H. It's not surprising that the CFG70 outshines the S2418H because it has quantum dots – a nano-crystal semiconductor layer that can improve contrast and color fidelity – and cost about $ 100 more.
However, the S2418H outperformed both Samsung displays in terms of color accuracy. The Samsung CFG70 achieved an acceptable color error of 2.71. A perfect score is usually 1.0 or just below, which means that the colors are rendered almost perfectly. The Dell S2418H scored 1.83 points and, despite its budget pedigree, was within striking distance of this perfect result.
Speaking of color: none of these displays has proven itself particularly well in terms of the color range. They all managed to render 100 percent of the sRGB spectrum, which most desktop monitors can do, but they didn't reach that percentage when rendering the delicate AdobeRGB spectrum.
The Samsung CFG70 was the winner here and reached 87 percent of the AdobeRGB spectrum. The CF591 took second place with 80 percent. The Dell S2417DG scored 76 points, and our Dell S2418H again beat its more expensive cousin, reaching 77 percent of the AdobeRGB spectrum.
It's not a good score, but it's average since most budget monitors are able to land between 70 and 80 percent in this metric.
Like tuning an instrument, calibration can sometimes get the best out of a monitor, especially a budget monitor. Finding hidden potential is always a pleasant surprise, and the S2418H is nothing if not filled with pleasant surprises.
There were no significant changes after calibrating the S2418H, but we noticed an increase in color accuracy. The previous average color error of 1.84 has been reduced to almost perfect, but not quite perfect to 1.26. The changes were very small and barely noticeable to the naked eye, but it is a sufficiently large change that potential buyers should consider calibrating the S2418H to improve this accuracy a little.
This is usually the part where we complain about the quality of a monitor's built-in speakers and recommend to potential buyers to invest in decent headphones or external speakers. Not today! Do you remember the goofy looking speaker we mentioned earlier?
His strengths far outweigh his mistakes.
It produced high quality sound and acted as the center channel for S2418H. The music was clear, nuanced, and reasonably rich, while the sound effects of games or films were haunted and clear. Nothing sounded hollow, muddy, or cut off.
While investing in good headphones is never a bad idea, the S2418H has no users running into the store to pick up a pair. The strange center speaker, which rests in the display stand, is more than just a novelty.
The Dell S2418H comes with a one-year standard warranty for manufacturer defects and a year of Dell's Advanced Exchange Service, which allows the replacement of a replacement device the next day if required. This is typical of a budget monitor.
At a higher price, the Dell S2418H may not be worth the effort, but this monitor is a bargain for $ 240. The S2418H offers a stylish, almost frameless viewing experience and surprisingly robust sound quality for less than $ 300. It is a great budget monitor.
Is there a better alternative?
Yes and no. There's always a better alternative if you're ready to spend a little more. The Samsung CFG70, for example, costs about $ 150 more. For that extra money, you get a better contrast ratio, a slightly curved display, a refresh rate of 144 Hz, and a response time of around 1 ms. For serious gamers, the CFG70 is the better buy.
However, if you are just looking for a good all-round budget monitor that does the job and looks good, the Dell S2418H is the better choice.
How long it will take?
That's a tricky question, because the S2418H is a 1080p monitor after all. It already shows its age or more precisely its pixels. They are visible to the naked eye, even if you are sitting at arm's length. Text suffers worse than pictures or videos, where it is more difficult to recognize individual pixels. When a Word document or Excel spreadsheet is open, you may find it difficult to ignore these pixels.
They only become clearer over time, not because the display in front of your eyes deteriorates, but because users are more sensitive to the appearance of pixels due to the spread of displays with higher resolution. However, the monitor itself lasts quite a while as it has a robust build quality and a solid stand.
Should you buy it
Yes. For a home office, office office, or entry-level gaming desktop, this monitor is a fantastic purchase. It offers excellent image quality and attractive design at a reasonable price.