Dell UltraSharp U2713HM review: The best overall monitor

Movies: I tested the Dell UltraSharp U2713HMm using the Blu-ray version of "Avatar." The movie preset provided a great movie-watching experience, displaying a high contrast and a vibrant look, with rich colors and appropriately deep blacks. I didn't notice any color over-saturation problems, but there was a slight green tint, seen especially in characters' faces at times.

Colors are accurate and vibrant on the U2713HM. Josh Miller/CNET

Games: When evaluating the look of games on a monitor, the two most important features to consider are vibrancy and color. If the monitor can display games with a bright and vibrant cleanness, this goes a long way toward benefiting its looks. If colors can also pop with fullness and depth, games can usually look great. Streaking is a different concern that honestly isn't very pervasive with most modern monitors, but if you're concerned about it, be sure to check out the last paragraph in this section.

Different still is input lag, which is, put simply, is the time it takes from when you input an action through your keyboard, mouse, or game pad to when you see that action represented onscreen. Every monitor has a degree of input lag, but only a very small percentage of people would even notice it. Given that, it's not something I find valuable enough to test for. PSA, over.

Using the Game preset, Crisis 2 looked excellent on the U2713HM, with a high vibrancy and dramatic color pop, despite the lack of a glossy screen. Unlike in movies, however, color tint problems weren't noticeable here.

Gaming looks gorgeous. Josh Miller/CNET

To test refresh rate, I used DisplayMate's motion graphics tests and stared at a number of colored blocks as they moved around the screen at various speeds. The U2713HM displayed medium-size after-images of the blocks as they shifted across the screen, but I didn't notice this level of ghosting when actually playing games.

Photos: When looking at faces and light-colored hair in the Standard preset, the U2713HM's colors sometimes dipped ever so slightly into a greenish hue, but the bright colors of clothing and environments popped with vibrancy.

Recommended settings: Each preset is tailored quite well for its task. For general use, however, I preferred the Standard preset, adjusting only green to about 83 percent. This gave the monitor great color balance, perfect for general use.

The U2713HM demonstrates its impressive viewing-angle prowess. Josh Miller/CNET

Viewing angle: The optimal viewing angle for a monitor is usually directly in front, about a quarter of the screen's distance down from the top. At this angle, you're viewing colors as the manufacturer intended. Most monitors aren't designed to be viewed at any other angle. Depending on its panel type, picture quality at nonoptimal angles varies. Most monitors use TN panels, which get overly bright or overly dark in parts of the screen when not viewed from optimal angles.

Antiglare (AG) screen coating plays a part as well. Some viewers prefer the coating not be applied at all, while others favor only a limited amount. Still, others are completely indifferent; however, AG coating doesn't adversely affect quality, and its merits, or lack thereof, are strictly a matter of preference.

The U2713HM uses an AH-IPS panel, which provides it a wider-than-TN viewing while also matching other high-end IPS displays.

The best way to save on the amount of power your monitor consumes is to make sure it goes to sleep when it's supposed to. Josh Miller/CNET

The AG coating works fairly well here, keeping out most reflections while retaining a high-contrast, vibrant look; however, on a black screen viewed from an off angle, some blurry impressions of the environment are visible. That's likely not an issue unless you plan to constantly bathe it in natural light.

Power consumption: Armed with an LED backlight, the Dell UltraSharp U2713HM achieved fair power consumption, with a Default/On power draw of 38.4 watts, compared with the Dell UltraSharp U2711's 93.7 watts in the same test.

In our Sleep/Standby test, the U2713HM costs 0.35 watt and the U2711 pulled a higher 1.19 watts. Based on our formula, the U2713HM would incur less than half the cost of the U2711, with a per-year pull of $11.70, compared with the U2711's $28.78 per year.

Versus the U2711
The U2711 has a higher color depth than the U2713HM (8-bit versus 16-bit) with a wider color gamut (102 percent NTSC versus the U2713HM's 72 percent). The U2711 also includes an Adobe RGB calibrated preset, while the U2713HM only goes up to sRGB.

If those numbers mean something to you (for the vast majority of you, they won't), you may want to consider going with the U2711; however, most of you will be more than satisfied with the U2713HM's demonstrably better performance. While the U2711 has more-impressive specs, the U2713HM's images just look better, so unless you have specific needs of the Adobe RGB preset or 10-bit color, the U2713HM is the better buy.

Also, Dell says the U2713HM is not a replacement for the U2711 line and to expect an announcement of the U2711's replacement at some point in the future.

Brightness
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Contrast
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Dell U2713HM
883:1 
Samsung S27A850
811:1 

Performance
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Juice box
Dell U2713HM Average watts per hour
On (default luminance) 38.4
On (max luminance) 45.5
On (min luminance) 17.8
Sleep 0.35
Calibrated (200 cd/m2) 40.5
Annual power consumption cost $11.70
Score Fair

Conclusion
The UltraSharp U2713HM replaces the U2711 as the best overall monitor; however, starting at $740, it may be too expensive for most pockets. If money is a concern, but you still require a great performer, you should make the Asus PA248Q your first choice.

If money is no object, the $2,700 HP Dreamcolor LP2480zx is the best-performing monitor, bar none. Just obviously be prepared for your children to inherit your debt.

The U2713HM is the perfect choice for those looking for a 27-inch extreme definition monitor with great ergonomic support, useful features, and wide range of connections. Also, games and movies look great on it.

It doesn't have all the capabilities of the U2711, but it makes up for it with overall better performance, USB 3.0 inclusion, and more ergonomic options.

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Display Type LED-backlit LCD monitor / TFT active matrix
  • Interface VGA (HD-15)
  • Diagonal Size 27 in
  • Pixel Pitch 0.23 mm
  • Image Contrast Ratio 1000:1
  • Image Aspect Ratio 16:9
About The Author

Eric Franklin is a section editor covering how to and tablets. He's also co-host of CNET's do-it-yourself and how-to show, The Fix and is a 20-year tech industry veteran.