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Should I Enable HDR on My Monitor?

As an owner of a monitor, I was frustrated by the lack of clarity around enabling HDR on my monitor. After doing some research and testing, I’m here to share my experience and the solutions I discovered to the question of whether or not I should enable HDR on my monitor. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned tech enthusiast, this blog post will provide you with all the information you need to make an informed decision.

It’s not recommended to enable HDR on a PC monitor, as it’s highly probable your experience won’t be smooth. Generally, HDR on PCs is a mess and results in countless display bugs.

That’s because most monitors still lack the minimum HDR requirements. However, a few exceptions, like Sony INZONE M9 or Alienware 34 QD-OLED, might break this rule.

In this post, we’ll walk you through when and when not to enable HDR.

What Do You Need to Enable HDR on Your Monitor?

There are a few PC requirements you need to have to be able to enable HDR. Here they are:

  • A monitor with HDR support
  • HDR-supporting GPU 
  • An HDMI 2.0a or DisplayPort 1.4 connection 
  • HEVC extensions from Microsoft 
  • Content: a game or media that supports HDR

The good part of the story is that most PCs today meet these requirements, which means you can enable high dynamic range on them.

Nevertheless, the bad part of the story is that having these requirements and enabling the feature doesn’t mean you can have a seamless experience!

To have a good HDR experience, your monitor must include these specifications:

  • Dynamic metadata support
  • High contrast: a ratio of at least 10,000:1
  • Wide color range: over 100% sRGB
  • Local dimming support

Why Shouldn’t You Enable HDR on Your Monitor?

Although there are a plethora of HDR monitors on the market today, most provide below-average, if not awful, performance. Here are the four main reasons: 

  1. Most Monitors Are VESA DisplayHDR 400

VESA, Video Electronics Standards Association, classifies HDR devices into eight tiers according to their display performance.

The problem is that the vast majority of monitors available right now lie in the lowest tier: HDR 400. This includes a lot of high-end ones.

Monitors at this low level have multiple HDR display issues. One main problem is that they lack the required contrast ratio and color range to support an HDR picture. 

Given that, it’s recommended to have a VESA DisplayHDR 1000 monitor or above to run high dynamic range smoothly.

  1. They Use Global Dimming

To get a clear idea about global dimming, let’s first look at its opposite: local dimming

Local dimming technology means that each small screen zone can independently adjust its contrast and colors according to what’s displayed. 

This happens without having to adjust the whole screen display. Thus, it gives more accurate colors and contrast that boosts HDR.

Unfortunately, most monitors don’t work with local dimming. Instead, they come with global dimming. 

Global dimming means that any contrast adjustment to match the displayed content affects the whole screen.

As you may expect, this isn’t the best option to get a good HDR performance. 

  1. They Have Incompatible Panel Technology

Another reason that results in the bad performance of a monitor is the panel technology used in it.

PC monitors typically come with one of three panels: IPS, TN, or VA. All three provide neither enough brightness nor contrast to run HDR smoothly.

  1. They Come with Static HDR Standard

There are three HDR standards out there: Dolby Vision, HDR10+, and HDR10. The first two standards support dynamic metadata. 

This means they can dynamically adjust the picture to match the required color and contrast at each scene or frame.

On the other hand, HDR10 only supports static metadata. In other words, it displays the picture in a predefined brightness and lighting manner and doesn’t adjust according to each frame. Thus, there is a high probability of display issues.

Most PC monitors today come with HDR10, which only supports static metadata.

Should I Enable HDR on My Monitor for Gaming?

If you read game reviews, you’ll find a lot of debate around picture quality when enabling HDR.

Many PC gamers report plentiful display problems when they use HDR. For example, games like Elden Ring and Destiny 2 encounter many picture issues.

Moreover, due to the lack of a high dynamic range on most PC monitors today, game developers pay more attention to the game versions of consoles than PCs.

This is because most monitors use the standard: HDR10. As we mentioned above, this standard works with static metadata. 

Given that, it’s hard to design games that fit that type of standard well. So, there is no way to tell whether a particular game will work well while turning on HDR except by testing it

Pros

  • Most PCs meet the necessary hardware requirements
  • VESA DisplayHDR 1000 monitors provide good performance
  • Dynamic metadata support for improved HDR performance
  • High contrast and wide color range for better pictures
  • Local dimming support for better brightness and contrast
  • Sony INZONE M9 and Alienware 34 QD-OLED offer excellent HDR experience

Cons

  • Most monitors are VESA DisplayHDR 400
  • Global dimming instead of local dimming
  • Incompatible panel technology
  • Static HDR standard
  • Many display issues when gaming with HDR enabled

Wrap Up

Should I enable HDR on my monitor? You should enable it if your monitor meets all the following criteria: 

It’s VESA DisplayHDR-1000-certified or above, has local dimming, and works with HDR10+ or Dolby Vision standard. 

Otherwise, you shouldn’t enable this feature, as you’ll encounter many display issues. 

There are a few exceptions to the previous rule: Sony INZONE M9 or Alienware 34 QD-OLED. Both can give you an excellent HDR experience!