Purchasing an HDR Monitor: What to Look For

Purchasing an HDR Monitor What to Look For
Purchasing an HDR Monitor What to Look For
Written by G H

If you are an avid PC gamer, having the right HDR monitor will improve your immersion into the game by offering richer colors and more distinct depth. While HDR televisions have been around for many years, HDR monitors have only been on the market for a few. With this helpful guide, you will know why you should consider purchasing an HDR monitor and what to look for. 

What Is an HDR Monitor?

HDR stands for high dynamic range, not to be confused with HD. For many, HDR is a somewhat confusing subject. In its most basic design, HDR is meant to increase the richness and color depth of images. While 4K televisions and monitors have been stealing attention over the last couple of years, HDR monitors have the power to dramatically improve the graphic’s resolution of movies, TV shows, and games above what 4K monitors can offer. 

Until a couple of years ago, there was no set standard for HDR monitors. In 2017, VESA unveiled its DisplayHDR standards with three certification levels. You can read about those here. 

  • DisplayHDR 400
  • DisplayHDR 600
  • DisplayHDR 1000

The numbers you see above stand for the brightness level, measured in nits. Manufacturers must meet these, along with bit depth, black levels, and gamut standards and minimums. These are strict standards that have been put in place by VESA. They are so strict, only around nine HDR monitors meet the standards as of now. 

What Should You Look for in an HDR Monitor
What Should You Look for in an HDR Monitor

What Should You Look for in an HDR Monitor?

Purchasing a monitor can be a bit confusing, and throwing HDR in the mix makes things even more puzzling for many people. While we cannot offer an exhaustive review of all the monitors on the market, we are here to give you a strong foundation of information to be used in making a purchase. The following offers some insight that should help you better understand what to look for. 

Color Gamut – This is one of the first considerations when choosing an HDR monitor. As we mentioned above, HDR has the capability to offer much richer color schemes and it can do that because it shows more colors than an SDR monitor. 

When you are looking at the specs for an HDR monitor, you will likely see a percentage of the color gamut. The closer the monitor is to 100%, the better the color range which will offer more detail and brilliance to the images being displayed. It is important you at least purchase a P3 standard color gamut monitor or you will find the images displayed are lacking in color vibrancy. 

Bit Depth – Another thing you will want to consider is bit depth. Bit depth is the number of bits of information that will be used by the monitor to display images. When shopping for an HDR monitor, it is important to choose one that is at least 10-bit. If you can find a 12-bit, this will be even better, but there are few on the market at this time. 

Backlighting – HDR will never look as amazing as its potential without the right lighting source to offer plenty of brightness. Many monitors today use edge lighting which includes LED lights running down both sides of the monitor. It is these lights that illuminate the pixels on the monitor to be able to show the full gamut of colors. Television manufacturers have recently begun doing away with edge lighting and are focusing on creating televisions with backlit zones that are often referred to as full-array local dimming. This type of backlighting helps to lower darker areas on the screen and make the colors that are at the forefront come to life and seem to “pop” more. 

While there are few monitors that offer this backlighting scheme, more manufacturers are stepping up to the plate. When choosing a multiple-zone backlit monitor, it is important to choose one that offers as many backlit zones as possible. With more zones in place, the monitor will be able to display images and offer dynamic range and contrast more accurately. 

Brightness – While backlighting is important, it is nothing if the monitor cannot go bright enough. While some televisions and monitors can go as high as 1000 nits, the average low-end monitor is not going to be any brighter than 200-300 nits. 

It can be a bit confusing when you are looking at PC monitor specs. Some monitor manufacturers are touting they are HDR without being able to reach the high level of brightness that is needed for ultra-color definition. 

As we mentioned above, VESA’s standards for HDR monitors will likely become the standard for all PC monitors in the future. Already, we are beginning to see manufacturers comply with VESA’s standards, including Phillips and AOC. 

If you truly want the HDR experience to be fully maximized, you need to choose a monitor that offers around 1000 nits. If the brightness is too low, you really are not going to be able to experience pure HDR in all its glory. 

Recap – 

Just to recap the information above, consider the following when purchasing an HDR monitor.

  • Try to choose a monitor with 1000 nit brightness. Do not accept any monitor below 600 nits.
  • Choose a 10-bit panel for the best results. You can also choose an 8-bit plus 2-bit.
  • Pick a monitor with at least 90% coverage of the P3 color gamut.

Look out for imposters. What we mean by this, is manufacturers are stating they are HDR when they are only boasting of an increased color gamut over SDR monitors. While color is important, if you truly want to be able to tell you have an HDR monitor, then it is all about the brightness level. 

The Best HDR Computer Monitors
The Best HDR Computer Monitors

The Best HDR Computer Monitors

As with any gaming gear purchase, it is crucial you carefully research the options that are available. There are now more HDR monitors available than ever before, and we would like to provide you with a rundown on some of the top choices. Before you even start the process of purchasing an HDR monitor, make sure you have a graphics card that supports HDR. The following are some of the best monitors on the market.

Samsung 32-Inch CHG70

This monitor is one of the very best on the market at present. This 32-inch curved monitor brings the screen a few inches closer to you than other models, putting you right in the midst of the action. Samsung is using the same CHG70 monitor they use in their 4K televisions. 


  • DisplayHDR 600
  • 10-bit color
  • Supports AMD Radeon FreeSync 2
  • 3,000:1 color ratio
  • 144Hz refresh rate

Price: $650

HP Pavilion Gaming 32 HDR

This is one of the best bargains available in HDR displays right now. This 2,560 x 1,440 monitor has a decent refresh rate and can offer some of the benefits of a higher-end monitor without the price. This monitor does not use IPS technology, so it is able to meet the DisplayHDR 600 standard. 


  • DisplayHDR 600
  • 3,000:1 contrast ratio
  • 95 percent DCI-P3 gamut
  • 75Hz refresh rate

Price: $449

AOC 32-Inch AGON AG322QC4

The AGON AG322QC4 is one of the few monitors that comply with the VESA DisplayHDR 400 standard. Like the HP Pavilion Gaming 32 HDR, this monitor uses VA instead of IPS technology. While it is not one of the best HDR monitors, it is certainly worth the lower price, if you are on a budget. 


  • DisplayHDR 400
  • 8-bit color
  • 144Hz refresh rate
  • AMD’s FreeSync 2 support

If you are focused on high color demands, this monitor may disappoint, but it is aimed towards gaming performance and that is what most gamers focus on when choosing a monitor. 

Price: $499

Samsung 49-Inch Ultrawide CHG90 QLED Monitor

When we first saw this monitor, we named it the beast. It is quite funny to look at because it is so incredibly wide. We are talking about the fusion of two 1080p monitors. This monitor is fast and offers a beautiful and realistic color scheme. The specs will most likely surprise you. 


  • DisplayHDR 600
  • 144Hz refresh rate
  • 3,000:1 contrast ratio
  • 3,840 x 1,080 resolution
  • 32:9 aspect ratio

Price: $1000

Best HDR Monitors for Multi Forms of Entertainment

If you have cut the cable ties and are a Netflix or Hulu watcher, you may use your PC monitor for multiple forms of entertainment. If you are one who uses your monitor for more than gaming and computing, you will need a bigger monitor. Thankfully, there is a monitor that is ideal for multi types of entertainment.

Philips Momentum 43-Inch 4K HDR Monitor

Let us introduce the first DisplayHDR 1000 monitor on the market. This monitor is massive, so it is perfect for those who game, watch movies and use their monitor for all types of entertainment. This monitor even has MultiView technology which means you can watch television on one part of the screen while you play a game or work on your computer on the other. (We really like this feature!)


  • DisplayHDR 1000
  • 10-bit processing
  • 97.6 percent DCI-P3
  • 80Hz refresh rate

Price: $1000

HDR Device Support

Before you go out and spend your hard-earned money on a new HDR monitor, it is wise to check and make sure your devices support HDR. The good news is that most devices are now introducing HDR support. The following are known devices that support this technology, though this list is sure to grow longer in a short amount of time. 

  • Windows 10
  • Android
  • iOS
  • Certain Roku models
  • Apple TV
  • Certain FireTV models

If you like watching movies and television in HDR, you will find subscription services like Netflix and Hulu already have quite a lot of HDR titles to choose from. You can also sporadically find videos on YouTube and other streaming sites that have some HDR options. 

Right now, you will not find a lot of titles or options available, but this is sure to only be a temporary problem since HDR is expanding in scope and will soon be plentiful. Even the gaming world is getting on board and the many titles that are on the horizon should excite every PC gamer.

HDR Game Support

While it is easier to find HDR supported games on consoles, there is a growing list of game titles that support HDR. This list is increasing each month, as HDR is growing in popularity in the gaming community. Right now, the list includes some of the following titles. 

  • Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII
  • Destiny 2
  • Devil May Cry 5
  • Far Cry 5
  • Halo Wars 2
  • Madden NFL 19
  • Resident Evil 2
  • The Elder Scrolls Online
  • Assassin’s Creed Origins
  • Resident Evil 7:
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