The Finest HDR Screens for 2020

HDR displays (High Dynamic Range) create deeper contrasts by reproducing a higher dynamic range of luminosity. An HDR monitor can make highlights appear brighter and provide stronger shadows. Upgrading your PC with an HDR monitor is worthwhile if you play video games with high quality graphics or watch videos in HD resolution.

We compared different HDR monitors to choose the best ones with different sizes, resolutions, and features. Our current top pick is BenQ's EX3501Rand offers something for everyone at a great price.

The following list is a good place to start if you're not sure which HDR display is right for you.

The best HDR monitors at a glance:

The best HDR monitor: BenQ EX3501R

Why should you buy this: BenQ's HDR monitor has something for everyone, including Ultra HD and a refresh rate of 100 Hz.

Who is it for: Almost everyone, although gamers may want something a little more tailored to their needs.

Why we chose this BenQ EX3501R:

It's rare to find a monitor that ticks all the boxes for almost every user, let alone one that does and is affordable. We may have found such a unicorn in the BenQ EX3501R. With 35 inches of beautifully curved VA cladding and an extremely wide resolution of 3,440 x 1,440, it is simply stunning. It's fast and responsive, and supports a refresh rate of 100 Hz and a response time of 4 milliseconds.

Like other top entries on this list, the EX3501R is great for editing photos, watching movies, and playing games thanks to its collection of high-end features. The combination of an excellent contrast ratio of 2,500: 1, brightness of 300 nits, support for 100% of the sRGB color gamut and HDR makes it look fantastic no matter what you do. FreeSync support even prevents the screen from tearing without sacrificing performance.

Finally, thanks to a USB-C connection for power and data transfer, which you will surely want due to its superior speed, this monitor ensures that your desk remains tidy. You can get all of this for one great price, which puts some of the other entries on this list to shame.

If the extra screen real estate you get from an ultrawide monitor seduces you, our best ultrawide monitor roundup has some additional options.

The best 32-inch HDR monitor: BenQ EW3270U

BenQ EW3270U

Why should you buy this: With 4K resolution, four adjustable HDR levels and FreeSync support for games, it's an amazing 32-inch HDR monitor.

Who is it for: Those who want a standard widescreen display but don't want to pay an insane price.

Why we chose this BenQ EW3270U:

If you don't want an expensive widescreen display, BenQ's EW3270U, ​​a 31.5-inch panel with a narrower aspect ratio of 16: 9, is the next best choice.

The interesting thing about this panel is that it has a dedicated physical button on the front for manually adjusting the HDR levels. It is based on a Brightness Intelligence Plus sensor (B.I. +), which detects the ambient lighting along with the screen content in order to adjust the color temperature, brightness and dynamic contrast. You can manually switch between four HDR levels using the dedicated button.

The HDR display from BenQ is based on a VA panel and has a resolution of 3840 x 2160 at 60 Hz, a native contrast ratio of 3,000: 1, a maximum brightness of 300 nit and a response time of 4 ms. If you're a gamer, it supports AMD's FreeSync technology, which helps prevent screen cracking and stuttering when using an AMD GPU in your PC, Xbox One, or PlayStation 4.

For connectivity, the BenQ EW3270U includes a DisplayPort 1.4 connector, an HDMI 2.0 connector and a USB-C connector. A pair of built-in two-watt speakers round out a great HDR display package.

The best 4K HDR monitor: Acer ET322QK

Acer ET322QK

Why should you buy this: The Acer ET322QK is a cheaper option for those looking to save money.

Who is it for: Savvy buyers looking for HDR on a budget – and those who need a good FreeSync monitor.

Why we chose the Acer ET322QK::

Most of the large monitors on this list are expensive, which can be a problem: many people can't spend as much on a monitor as they can on a TV. Fortunately, the new Acer ET322QK offers an affordable choice. At an amazingly low price at most retailers, you can expect compromises on size and pixel count, but not with this monitor.

The ET322QK is a 32-inch 4K display with AMD FreeSync support for gamers, although the panel is updated at the usual 60 Hz. The HDR features cannot be used with FreeSync and are not the full HDR features that some displays offer today. However, they are still a great enhancement to your viewing experience, allowing you to choose between fidelity and performance when needed.

The Acer panel has a maximum brightness of 300 nits, which is lower than some but is on par with our top entry. Even so, it's hard to ignore the features of this monitor and its bargain price. This could be the compromise that budget-conscious buyers are looking for.

The best HDR monitor for gaming: Acer Predator X27

Acer Predator X27

Why should you buy this: This is a great solution for GeForce PC gamers looking for 4K HDR graphics and G-Sync support.

Who is it for: PC gamers with Nvidia GeForce graphics who want the ultimate experience.

Why we chose this Acer Predator X27::

We originally listed Acer's Predator XB3 as the best HDR panel for gaming. However, due to the lack of availability, a similar display takes its place: the Predator X27. This display incorporates the same shielding to block out ambient light, but you will only find one particular configuration compared to the five Acer lists for the XB3.

The big selling point with this version is the brightness. It offers a typical brightness of 600 nits, but reaches peak values ​​at 1,000 nits. It also falls under Nvidia's G-Sync Ultimate umbrella, which means it's one of the best G-Sync displays to help you avoid screen cracking and stuttering while gaming with Nvidia GeForce GPUs.

However, Acer's display is based on a 27-inch IPS panel with a resolution of 3840 x 2160 @ 120 Hz.However, you can overclock it to 144 Hz so screen tearing is not a problem if you support high enough frame rates can no matter what GPU you have. It also has a DisplayPort port, an HDMI port, a USB-B port that plugs into your PC, and four USB-A ports for adding peripherals, flash drives, and more.

The 4ms response time isn't great, but it should be enough for the average gamer.

The best HDR monitor for Mac: Pro Display XDR

Apple Pro Display XDR

Why should you buy this: This is the ultimate visual experience for any macOS device.

Who is it for: Mac owners who want the best of the best at all costs.

Why we chose this Per display XDR:

When you want the best Apple-designed HDR display for your Mac, you get a premium experience at a premium price. In 2019, Apple introduced the Pro Display XDR, a 32-inch display with a resolution of 6,016 x 3,384 (max. 60 Hz) and a sustained brightness of 1,000 nits. If that's not bright enough, it peaks at a crazy 1,600 nits, making it the brightest desktop monitor we've seen yet.

XDR stands for Extreme Dynamic Range and should go beyond the HDR standard. The extreme brightness of the display is part of that XDR effort, along with support for 1.07 billion colors and a contrast ratio of 1,000,000: 1. It also includes a custom controller for properly processing all 20.4 million pixels and the 576 LEDs filling the backlight for the ultimate XDR visual experience.

Apple's XDR panel features True Tone technology, which uses two ambient light sensors to adjust colors for the best viewing experience in any setting. For connectivity, it includes a Thunderbolt 3 port (via USB-C) and three standard USB-C ports.

Unfortunately, if you want the best of the best for your Mac, this display starts at $ 4,999. This price excludes the $ 999 Pro Stand or the $ 199 VESA adapter. While this is expensive, it is still far cheaper than many other professionally-oriented displays.

Research and Tips

How do I know if my monitor supports HDR?

The manufacturer will tell you because HDR is an important feature. If it's featured, it'll show up on the box, in the specification list, and possibly even with a sticker somewhere on the monitor itself.

One factor to look out for with HDR displays is that they usually offer higher peak brightness than standard monitors, which are usually between 250 and 350 nits. However, not all HDRs are created equal, as some displays support HDR far better than others.

Does HDR improve non-HDR content?

A monitor that supports HDR will not provide the enhanced colors and contrast of HDR content when displaying standard SDR (Dynamic Range) content. However, HDR monitors tend to have higher brightness than non-HDR displays. Hence, it is possible that the overall improved quality of the technology inside the screen could provide a better picture outside of HDR support. However, this is not guaranteed.

HDR support for Windows 10 has been poor in the past, but its approach has gotten better lately, with more control options and better image enhancement. That said, it's always smart to experiment with disabling and enabling HDR features for your favorite activities so you can tell the difference firsthand and make your decision.

Do you need HDR?

Whether you need HDR depends on what you intend to do with your monitor. To work, manage spreadsheets, write emails, or take conference calls, it's probably not worth upgrading. After all, paying more for an invisible difference in quality isn't ideal. However, if you want to see lots of movies and TVs on your display, HRD might be a worthwhile investment. And if you are a gamer, the technology is more promising.

There are other features worth considering like higher resolutions and high refresh rates. When playing games that support HDR or accessing HDR movies by Streaming services With UHD HDR Blu-ray Discs, HDR is arguably one of the most important factors in any new screen upgrade.

What is the best brightness for HDR?

Brightness levels and HDR work hand in hand for the best image results. This means that more brightness is better – although it can add to the cost of your monitor as well. At the bottom end, at least 300 nits are recommended for proper HDR performance (which Windows 10 currently recommends for the base specs as well).

However, it is likely that you will get better results with monitors that offer a brightness of 600 nits or more. At these levels the HDR really has room to glow and becomes much more noticeable.

Is HDR good for gaming?

Yes. In addition to high refresh rates, HDR can have the biggest impact on your gaming graphics. On the other hand, not all games support it, which makes this a hit-or-miss solution. Make sure the games you plan to play support HDR. Common (and more recent) examples are Nobody's heaven, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Days gone, Mortal Kombat 11, Red Dead Redemption 2, and DMC5. However, this is not an exhaustive list. With these games (and others), you'll see an impressively dramatic advantage in visual quality with HDR enabled.

While HDR monitors are the latest and greatest in technology right now, it can be difficult to narrow down what features you want. Depending on your needs – and whether you're gaming, watching videos, or both – one of our top picks might be the perfect solution.

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