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Where’s the HDR Monitors Already?

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Posted July 28, 2016 by Josh Jackson in News

I’ve been across a lot of forums and comment sections that talk about 4K being the future, followed by 8K after that when it comes to monitor technology. However, if you do the math for what pixels the human eye can actually see, 1440p is all anyone should ever need. Why is 4K so much better then? The answer lies in what colors the pixels can actually reproduce. Because of this, more pixels end up looking better color wise once they’re grouped up, even though the human eye can’t discern the individual pixels at a normal viewing distance. The patches of color start showing more variance at higher resolutions, tricking us into thinking it’s the higher resolution itself that’s better.

AMD stated at CES, earlier this year, that we need better pixels. While the human eye may not work well compared to the magnifying focus of an eagle eye, what it can see as far as the range of colors is concerned is pretty amazing. If pixels aren’t reproducing colors to the extent that the human eye can see them, shades blur together making images look flat, rather than vibrant and varied. This is where High Dynamic Range (HDR) comes into play. HDR can almost reproduce all the colors the human eye can see on an individual pixel basis. This means that a 1080p monitor can actually look better than a 4K that isn’t using HDR. Some of you may be reading this and thinking that it sounds good on paper, but that doesn’t mean it will actually translate to a great viewing experience. Here’s where we get to the reason I’m harping on this subject.HDR

The new GPUs are HDR ready. That brings us one step closer to this visual experience I’ve been trying to describe. The other steps involve games supporting the feature (which sounds like an easy step, plus many engines already do), and monitors being available. I still can’t seem to find monitors that support this yet and it’s driving me nuts! The reason I’m so excited about this is during my trip to CES, I actually got to see this in person. What I saw visually blew me away! I would trade 4K in any day for HDR at 1080p. Shoot! Even VR didn’t feel quite as good as an HDR monitor. The other issue is that while HDR will probably be somewhat expensive at first, I have no doubt that it won’t be long before HDR displays at lower resolutions will be far more affordable than 4K ones. Add adaptive sync to these displays and you have a gaming experience that is visually on high-end levels, while remaining affordable for a large market of users.

Marketing tends to lean towards the “bigger is always better” trend. I feel like resolutions are hitting that point that we simply need “better is better.” It would be one thing if this was mere hype, but after my experience using an HDR setup with Star Wars: Battlefront, I keep waiting for some HDR screens to hit the market. Right now, I hope the industry works towards HDR first, before continuing the push towards breaking higher resolution standards.


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