So you’re looking to buy a new monitor or TV but all the new specifications and features are confusing you. It’s normal to feel a little overwhelmed by all of these new features, even tech-enthusiasts can’t keep up with all of them.
When it comes to buying a new display, one of the main features you’ll come across is one called HDR (High Dynamic Range). The problem is there many different types of HDR, such as HDR 10, HDR 600, HDR 1000, and even others. Today, most 4K TVs advertise a wide range of HDR capabilities.
If you’re trying to figure out which type of HDR is better, continue reading this article.
What is HDR (High Dynamic Range)?
In simple terms, HDR displays improve the vibrance of colours in media by dynamically improving contrast and brightness levels.
You can think of HDR as a set of instructions (also called metadata) encoded onto media for your display. If your display supports HDR, it can read that metadata and activate the visual enhancements.
However, If you run HDR media on a non-HDR display, it won’t be able to read the data, and the visuals won’t change. Most older displays use SDR (Standard Dynamic Range) which
Most Blu-rays and other 4K media have some version of HDR by default, but it depends. Likewise, some games will allow you to choose the type of HDR you want, depending on what your display is compatible with.
As you might have guessed, there are many different types of HDR. I’ll get into the types of HDR in a moment.
HDR 10 vs HDR 600 VS HDR 1000:
You might have seen these three HDR specifications on different TVs or monitors, and you’re wondering which one is better. Most 4K displays, both monitors and TVs, will advertise some type of HDR. Comparing the types of HDR can be a little tricky because there’s one standard, with multiple sub-standards, and each display manufacturer has its own version.
In most cases, the number after HDR represents the display’s maximum brightness, measured in nits. For instance, HDR 400 means the display supports HDR 10 and the maximum brightness of the display is 400 nits. Read more about how HDR 10 compares to HDR 400 here.
There are other standards too, such as HDR 10+, DolbyVision, and others. Every display manufacturer has its own version of HDR.
HDR 10 is the standard for HDR content. It’s a media profile that was launched back in 2015 and it’s found in 99% of all HDR displays (TVs, monitors, phones, etc). It’s a specific media profile that adds metadata that can provide a whole set of visual enhancements. HDR 10 has a bit depth of 10-bits and colour primaries of Rec.2020.
HDR 10 is the standard for HDR. The other types of HDR, such as HDR 600 or HDR 1000, fall under HDR10 and are used to describe specific specifications of the HDR 10 standard. These specifications are often used for marketing purposes.
HDR-600 is a specific type of HDR which usually means the display is HDR compatible with a peak brightness of 600 nits. However, technically, it’s an undefined specification because there are no tests done to verify the accuracy.
HDR-1000 (HDR 10+):
HDR-1000 is the same as HDR-600, except it claims to have a peak brightness of 1000 nits. If you need a bright screen, you should consider an HDR-1000 display. These are the most expensive but artists and other creative professionals benefit more from them. It’s also called HDR 10+.
Here’s a list of other HDR types:
- 1000 (also called HDR 10+)
- 400 True Black
- 500 True Black
Here’s the thing:
Focusing on one of these sub-standards is counterproductive. As long as the display is HDR-compatible, it should be good enough. I would focus more on other display features, such as resolution, colour depth, brightness, and other features you need.
Is HDR 10 Bit Colour?
Most HDR-compatible displays also support higher colour depth, usually 10-12bits, instead of the standard 8 – 10 bits. The improved colour depth adds a broader range of colours. However, the colour depth depends on the display’s hardware, and 10-bit displays are not always HDR compatible. On the other hand, 8 bit or lower displays cannot be HDR because HDR requires at least a 10-bit display.
What’s the Best HDR?
HDR is a feature that is heavily marketed, but it’s not the most important feature of a display. You need to consider the reason you’re buying a new display. Do you use it mostly for watching movies? Playing video games? Professional work? Is it a monitor or a TV? What platform do you use?
The best HDR for you is one that offers the best visual improvement for your preferred activity. I would choose a display that supports the standard HDR (HDR 10) and not worry about the other types of HDR. You also need to consider that you can customize the HDR settings on most monitors. Instead, focus on other display features, such as resolution, refresh rate, size, colour coverage, and others.
The Bottom Line:
For gamers, remember that you’ll need to activate HDR in the game’s graphics settings, and it will take a toll on the frame rate. Likewise, when it comes to watching movies, you need to make sure the movie is HDR compatible. You also need to manually enable HDR on Windows 10, it supports HDR 10.
To summarize, as long as the display supports the standard HDR, it should be good enough. I wouldn’t bother worrying about Dolby Vision, it’s a type of HDR that supports 4,000 nits at 12-bit colour depth. It’s mostly used for professional media, such as cinema movies, and whatnot.