- Review Date: 11/14/2012
- Bottom line: The Dell UltraSharp U2713HM is a 27-inch IPS monitor that's packed with features.
- Pros: Outstanding color quality. Very good light grayscale performance. Features galore.
- Cons: So-so dark grayscale performance. No auto-rotate feature.
Dell's UltraSharp series of monitors have snagged quite a few Editors' Choice awards over the years, and with good reason; models such as the Dell UltraSharp 2408WFP, Dell UltraSharp U2711, and Dell UltraSharp U3011 have all earned high marks for their solid performance and superb features. The Dell UltraSharp U2713HM ($799 direct) is the latest addition to the UltraSharp line, and like its predecessors, it rocks.
As with the Dell U2711, the U2713HM uses a 27-inch IPS panel, only this time it's an AH-IPS (Advanced High Performance) panel rather than a P-IPS (Professional) panel, and it uses LED backlighting instead of CCFL backlighting. AH-IPS is a fairly recent (2011) panel technology that boasts superb color accuracy and wide viewing angles and is meant to be more energy efficient than previous IPS technologies. Indeed, the U2713HM delivers excellent color fidelity which remains true when viewed from an extreme angle, and while not exactly a power miser, it uses less power than several recently reviewed IPS displays. The 2,560-by-1,440 display comes pre-calibrated at the factory and is equipped with virtually every input port you'll need, and it comes with a built-in USB 3.0 hub. Its dark grayscale performance could be better though, and you have to manually change the screen orientation when pivoting the display.
Design and Features
Like the Dell U2412M, the U2713HM sports an attractive matte black and silver brushed aluminum finish with moderately thin (0.7 inch) bezels. The 12.4-pound cabinet is 2.6 inches thick and is slightly curved at the rear. The stand matches the panel's black and silver color scheme and provides a variety of ergonomic adjustments including 4.5 inches of height adjustability as well tilt and swivel.
You can also rotate the panel 90 degrees for portrait mode viewing but the panel does not automatically change orientation like it does on the NEC MultiSync PA301W. Image orientation can be changed via the graphics control panel, or you can use the Dell Display Manager utility (included), which has an image rotation control as well as an Auto Mode, which lets you assign picture presets to specific applications. The utility also features Easy Arrange, which lets you arrange a window tiling pattern for when multiple applications are open at the same time, and PowerNap, which will dim the screen or put it to sleep when no activity is detected.
There's no shortage of I/O ports on this monitor. At the rear of the cabinet are VGA, DVI, DisplayPort, and HDMI inputs as well one upstream USB port and two downstream USB 3.0 ports. There's an audio output that you can use to pipe sound from the HDMI or DisplayPort signal to an external speaker setup, and there's a power jack for use with an optional Dell SoundBar attachment ($34.99 direct). Two additional USB 3.0 ports are conveniently positioned on the left side of the cabinet.
There are four buttons and a power switch on the right hand bezel. None of the buttons are labeled but that's not a problem; pressing any button launches an on-screen labeling system that tells you what each button does. Once you enter a menu item the screen shows which buttons to use for scrolling through the menu, selecting an item, or exiting the menu. This takes all of the guesswork out of navigating the OSD and is ideal for working in a dimly lit environment. Two of the buttons can be programmed to launch frequently used menu items.
Picture settings are plentiful. There are eight picture presets to choose from that are optimized for specific applications. In addition to Standard, Multimedia, Movie, Game, Text, and sRGB modes there's a Color Temp. mode with six temperature settings ranging from 5000K to 10000K, and a Custom mode where you set your own red, green, and blue values. There's the usual brightness, contrast, and input select controls as well as RGB and YPbPr (analog component) color formats and gamma settings for Mac and PC formats.
The U2713HM ships with a dual link DVI cable (for 2,560-by-1,400 resolution), a VGA cable, and an upstream (PC) USB cable. A CD containing drivers, the Display Manager software, and a user guide is also included in the box. Dell covers this monitor with a three year parts, labor, and backlight warranty. You can extend the warranty to four years for an extra $50 while $70 gets you a five year plan. Accidental damage coverage is also available at the time of purchase.
As with previous UltraSharp monitors the U2713HM is a solid performer. It delivers the deep, rich colors that IPS panels are famous for, and it offers outstanding image detail in both 1,920-b-1,080 and 2,560-by-1,440 resolution modes. The matte screen coating does a great job of keeping glare and reflection at bay without dulling down color reproduction, and it doesn't impede the panel's wide viewing angles.
The U2713HM was able to display all segments of light gray on the DisplayMate 64-Step Grayscale test but had trouble at the dark end of the scale where the two darkest shades of gray were displayed as black. There was only a slight loss of shadow detail in my test photos, however, and highlight details were excellent.
Small text appeared crisp and well defined, and fast motion video and gaming was clean and smooth. There was no noticeable blur or lag while playing Far Cry 2 in 1,920-by-1,080 mode.
IPS panels can't match TN panels when it comes to energy efficiency, and this holds true for the U2713HM. That said, it required less power during testing (32-watts in standard mode) than several smaller (23-inch) IPS monitors I've reviewed, including the LG IPS235V and the NEC Multisync EA232WMi, both of which used 34 watts.
The Dell UltraSharp U2713HM has a lot going for it. For around $800 you get a massive 27-inch display that delivers rich IPS color, wide viewing angles, and great highlight detail. With four video inputs and four USB 3.0 ports you'll have no trouble connecting to PCs, gaming consoles, optical drives, and lots of other peripherals, and the ergonomic stand lets you maneuver the panel for optimal viewing and portrait mode viewing. Although its dark grayscale performance could be better, the U2713HM's overall performance and robust features make it a shoo-in as our latest Editors' Choice for big-screen monitors.
This review is in partnership with PCMag.com.