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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  • 10101010 - Thursday, October 4, 2012 - link

    It may be that there is lack of uniformity in the application of the anti-glare coating so one monitor of the same brand/model may be a lot worse than one from a different batch, or perhaps just the next one on the assembly line.

    I have some older Samsung PVA monitors with anti-glare coatings that don't have the problems I've seen on newer monitors. It isn't just Dell with the overly sandy/grainy/sparkly anti-glare coatings. Not too long ago I ordered two HP monitors that had the same problem, so I sent them back. Even in the reviews of NEC's expensive professional monitors, the optical distortion from the anti-glare coatings has been noted by the reviewers.

    At the end of the day, it seems no one except for Apple has the strength of will to make a monitor without an anti-glare coating. It is not surprising that Apple is doing well and virtually every other computer company is flailing. Revenue growth is correlated with innovation growth. And the inability to innovate even in small details shows how moribund and obsolete traditional PC hardware companies are becoming.
  • peterfares - Thursday, October 4, 2012 - link

    No anti-glare coating is innovation now? No. The anti-glare coating was added because using monitors without it in professional settings (which have lots of fluorescent lights) is unbearable.

    I have a U3011 at home and the only place I can put my desk is right next to a window. The anti-glare coating is a lifesaver. I'd go insane if it was glossy are reflected everything from outside.
  • Impulses - Thursday, October 4, 2012 - link

    While that may be true of a lot of things... Glossy screens are the devil in many professional and indoor overhead-lit environments; even amongst MBP users a lot of people end opting for or wishing for anti glare displays... It's more of a personal choice than anything. I

    can't stand glossy displays on my desk but it's possible I've never adjusted the room lighting enough to really be able to adjust to a glassy display. I'm definitely hoping for a matte one my next laptop, although I don't use it much at home (still bothers me elsewhere).
  • iSayuSay - Thursday, October 4, 2012 - link

    Thunderbolt!! It's 2012 and I'm done with Apple BS with their $1000 display solution? Why Dell did not going all out and kill Apple Thunderbolt Display? It has USB 3.0 and a few PC mainboards also popping out with TB port. So it's a good time to show Apple is not the only one!
  • peterfares - Thursday, October 4, 2012 - link

    This has DisplayPort which is the video tech used in thunderbolt. USB 3.0 would be useless for this monitor other than being used for the USB hub (which it is)
  • Gothmoth - Thursday, October 4, 2012 - link

    i looked at amazon here and the u2711 cost 20 euro LESS then the 2713HM.

    so what to buy if they both cost nearly the same?
  • NeBlackCat - Thursday, October 4, 2012 - link

    1) Whether the Displayport interface carries sound to the monitor, when connected to a Dell laptop. My U3011 doesnt (though HDMI does). Well known problem.

    2) Do (or can) the USB ports remain powered/active when the panel is off? This has bugged me forever on other Dell monitors which don't allow this - makes them next to useless if you like to turn your monitor (but not laptop) off to save energy sometimes.

    3) Long shot, but is CEC supported on DP/HDMI, or is there any other way to turn the monitor on/off, switch inputs, etc, automatically or remotely, and is there an auto-power off timer function? Some folks have their big monitors do double duty as HTPC screens, for which this is useful.

    Note to Dell: since I imagine the answer to the above is 'no', please consider making it 'yes' on a future revision! :)
  • cheinonen - Thursday, October 4, 2012 - link

    1 - I didn't try the audio out, so I don't know, but I can try to check and see
    2 - I didn't turn the panel off, since the power draw in energy saving mode is less than a watt
    3 - This I'm almost certain won't work. There isn't auto-detection for a signal on inputs coming from a PC, so I'm assuming there is no CEC support if it doesn't even have that signal detection.
  • peterfares - Thursday, October 4, 2012 - link

    My U3011 carries sound over DisplayPort. I've only tested it with an HP 2740p tablet though. I have never tried any Dell laptops. My old Studio XPS 1340 has DisplayPort but I gave that to my father and my newer Latitude XT3 only has a DisplayPort on the docking station which I do not own.
  • layte - Thursday, October 4, 2012 - link

    I'd never buy a Dell display ever again. I bought a 3008wfp back in 2008 and it recently failed due to poor component choice by Dell in putting together the PSU (a particular diode fails ). It seems to be a very common problem, with numerous people having the exact same symptoms.

    Dell basically told me to bin it and buy a new one as they don't offer a repair service.

    Yea, thanks for that. Way to keep customers who buy your expensive high end stuff sweet. I'll take a punt on one of those Korean Ebay specials, at least you know they wont care.

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