Dell U2713HM Color Quality

When testing the Dell U2713HM my standard way, using a 2010 Macbook Air, my initial performance numbers were not very good at all. Some investigation found that on the MacBook Air when using DisplayPort sends YCbCr color information instead of RGB color information, and so I was getting worse results. Using a StarTech MiniDP to DVI adapter let me drive the Dell at full resolution but in the RGB colorspace. This issue didn’t happen with an ATI or NVIDIA card, so I have to think it was something specific to the MacBook. When using this display, make sure to check the video signal format, as it handles RGB much better.

Dell includes a report for how the monitor should perform, and unlike other vendors that promise a certain dE, Dell shows what they tested and what the results are. These only apply to the included sRGB mode in the display, so you should make sure to use that, and reset your video card LUT, to achieve these results.

Our targets for calibration are D65 for the white point, 200 nits of light output, a gamma of 2.2, and a minimum black level. Once set up correctly, using the included profile and sRGB mode, the Dell provides the best out-of-box performance that I’ve measured so far. The average dE is only 3.15 and the maximum value is only 5.75, which is lower than the average of most displays. Dell includes a calibration report in the box and in this case it really seems to have paid off. For most people, this will likely be good enough performance as it is quite accurate and the errors should be mostly invisible to the naked eye.

Color Tracking -  XR Pro, Xrite i1D2 and XR i1DPro

With such stellar out-of-the-box numbers I had really high hopes for how the Dell would perform after a calibration. For reference, in YCbCr mode I only managed to calibrate to a dE of around 3, which is far worse than the 1.62 from RGB mode. This outperforms almost all of the 27” displays seen to this point, and those that do out-perform it cost significantly more. There are no issues with the grayscale or anything else after calibration, and you wind up with a very nice, accurate image. It is significantly better than the pre-calibration one, but many users will be fine without the extra step.

Color Tracking -  XR Pro, Xrite i1D2 and XR i1DPro

When targeting 100 nits of light output for print work, we see a dE of 1.85, which is good but not as excellent as the 200 nits numbers are. On this test the best monitors manage to do much better with those tricky shades of blue than the Dell does, but this doesn’t really worry me that much. Blue is the color we are least sensitive to, so errors in blue are more acceptable than errors in greens or reds. The Dell produces very accurate shades of green and well-rendered skin tones, making it a good choice for more color sensitive work. It isn’t as excellent as the NEC is, but it is around half the price.

Color Tracking -  XR Pro, Xrite i1D2 and XR i1DPro

Overall the Dell has very good results on the calibrated results, and the best results that I have seen by far on the pre-calibration numbers. If you want accurate color but don’t own equipment to do the calibration yourself, Dell provides results better than anything else I have seen and the included calibration report and testing hopefully means this isn’t just a random sample that happens to be excellent.

As with all the LED backlit 27” IPS displays, we see the sRGB gamut being covered but not AdobeRGB gamut coverage. The Dell manages to cover over 79% of the AdobeRGB gamut, which is pretty good for a panel without special backlighting, so for normal sRGB work it should do a very good job.

LCD Color Quality

Dell U2713HM Brightness and Contrast Dell U2713HM Display Uniformity
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  • cheinonen - Thursday, October 4, 2012 - link

    The results are almost always the last 12 displays tested, as older ones rotate out of the spreadsheet and newer models rotate in. I'll try to grab the U2711 numbers for some of those, but the lag testing has totally changed since that was done, so the numbers might not be as accurate as they are now.
  • JNo - Thursday, October 4, 2012 - link

    I agree with EnzoFX. Because this is Dell who update their monitor lines every couple of years, a comparison with their previous models is important to see what improvements they've been able to make (if any) and also to see if it's worth aiming for the previous model if its still 'good enough' but cheaper.

    Comparison with the U2711 is also interesting because uses CCFL (usually wider gamut) as opposed to WLED and will continue to be sold alongside the U2713HM.

    We compare the iphone 5 with the 4S and the galaxy S3 with the S2 and the 7970 with the 6970 so why not the same with the monitor lines?
  • ChuckDriver - Thursday, October 4, 2012 - link

    While it's nice to see Dell dropping the price below the $1,000 mark, I lost interest in this article when I saw that the price was still over twice that of a Korean 27" IPS LCD monitor off of eBay. It is true that you are rolling the dice when you purchase one, are getting fewer features, and poorly translated documentation but at that large of a difference, I'll go for it. I've also heard that MicroCenter is offering these Korean 27" IPS monitors in their stores, with the return policy that you'd expect from a local store, so I may stop inside the next time I'm near one of their stores and pick one up.
  • mevans336 - Thursday, October 4, 2012 - link

    Dell currently has this one sale for $559 USD.
  • Despoiler - Thursday, October 4, 2012 - link

    Ahh yah in Australia.
  • peterfares - Thursday, October 4, 2012 - link

    Dell Monitors in Australia are super cheap. I don't expect this monitor to drop much below $700 in the United States from the Dell website. You can get a Korean Catleap or Yamakasi for $290 shipped using fedex express 2 day from Korea. Or if you go to Microcenter they have the $400 models with extra ports and a scalar for $400 + tax.
  • 10101010 - Thursday, October 4, 2012 - link

    It'd be quite useful if there was a standardized test for optical distortion. The last Dell U2711 I tried had really bad distortion from the anti-glare coating. I ended up going with the Apple 27" display even though it is something of a pain to use with Windows 7. It is amazing to see the quality of ClearType without the distortion of today's low quality anti-glare coatings. I'd have to think there would be some tests that could be developed to test optical distortion that would give readers an objective measure of the quality of the anti-glare coatings in common use today.

    I've read that there are some Korean companies offering 27" displays that have no front glass and no AG coatings. That might be ideal for optical quality, but cleaning the screen would be perilous.

    It'd be great if Dell, HP, or another company would offer a quality 27" display without an anti-glare coating. Anyone know of a non-Apple 27" 2560x1440 display that has a glass panel but no anti-glare coating and has a no bad pixel warranty?
  • ComputerGuy2006 - Thursday, October 4, 2012 - link

    yeah I use the u2711, the antiglare coating is ridiculous. To this day I still see the 'sandy' look, its easily visible and obvious from the white textbox im typing this message from.

    Who knows what dell was thinking. Id prefer 0 anti glare over this any day of the week.
  • piroroadkill - Thursday, October 4, 2012 - link

    It's actually on the LG panels, it's not Dell that applies it.
    Honestly, I think it's absolutely fine, and I prefer it to glossy by far.
  • Old_Fogie_Late_Bloomer - Thursday, October 4, 2012 - link

    I've been keeping an eye on 27" monitors for a while. I want a wide-gamut one, but for a long time all the complaining about the anti-glare coating held me back from making a purchase because otherwise the U2711 was the obvious best choice for me.

    Then one day I had a flash and did a search on the U2410, which I've been using for years, and found that the same complaint was being leveled against it too. I was basically like, "WHAT!? THIS is what you people have been b------- about!?"

    I mean, don't get me wrong, the coating is a little aggressive. Do I mind how it looks? Heck no. Have I started watching LogicBuy for U2711 sales? Yup, I sure have.

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