Dell UltraSharp U2713HM review: The best overall monitor

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The Good The Dell UltraSharp U2713HM delivers excellent performance across the board, includes a huge array of customization options, and has great ergonomic support. USB 3.0 is a nice bonus.

The Bad There's a slight green tint problem when watching movies, and $800 is a lot to pay for a monitor, no matter what's included.

The Bottom Line The Dell UltraSharp U2713HM is an excellent monitor that will satisfy both the performance snob and the features diva alike.

8.5 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 9
  • Performance 9
  • Support 8

The Dell UltraSharp U2713HM isn't the absolute best monitor performer. And at $799, it's not the cheapest monitor, either. Yet thanks to its price-to-price and features-to-performance ratio, it's the best overall monitor currently available.

It achieves this by offering a beautiful extreme definition screen resolution of 2,560x1,440 pixels, deep ergonomic support, useful screen options, and an impressive array of connections.

If you can spare $800, it's the monitor to get.

Editors' note: The U2713HM is essentially a larger version of the U2412, with a few changes here and there. You may get a sense of deja vu if you've read both reviews.

Design and features
"Thin and light" aren't usually descriptors assigned to 27-inch in-plane switching (IPS) monitors, but in the curious case of the Dell UltraSharp U2713HM, that's as apt a description of its physical attributes as I could think of.

Unlike the U2711 from 2010, the U2713HM houses an LED backlight and uses an AH-IPS panel as opposed to the H-IPS panel the U2711 utilized. AH-IPS panels are a fairly new panel standard that purportedly provides high color accuracy while delivering lower power consumption. Check out the performance section to see how true that is in this case.

The U2713UM's LED backlight affords it a much thinner design than previous entries in the series. Initially, the panel measures 0.9 inch thick. It then tapers back toward the rear where another 1.2 inches house the connection options and ventilation system. This brings its collective depth to 2.1 inches; that's 1.3 inches thinner than the U2711. At 13 pounds, again, we're seeing something uncharacteristic: a light 27-inch IPS monitor. Unexpected, since they can easily top 20 pounds.

The U2713HM is a lot thinner than Dell's previous 27-inch monitor, the U2711; however, the U2713HM is not a replacement for that line. Josh Miller/CNET

The left and right side bezels measure 0.8 inch each, and the full panel width is 25.2 inches. The foot stand sits 12.2 inches wide and 7.9 inches deep; however, knocking the panel from the sides yields ample wobbling on a flat surface. Not a necessarily earth-shattering discovery, given its light weight.

The U2713HM sports a complete collection of ergonomic options, including a 90-degree pivot, 45-degree left and right swivel, and 20-degree back tilt. Also, there's 4.5 inches of screen height adjustment, with panel-to-desktop space measuring 1.7 inches at the bottom and 6.2 inches at the top.

Video connections options consist of DisplayPort, DVI, HDMI, and VGA; unfortunately they face downward, not out. Connections on monitors should face out, not down, as it simply makes connecting and disconnecting cables a lot easier. Many smaller monitors achieve this, as do pretty much all TVs. It's time we started seeing them on performance monitors. That said, the pivot feature makes slightly less blood drip from my nose when connecting the monitor.

From top: Two USB download, a single USB upload, a headphone jack, HDMI, DVI, VGA, and DisplayPort. Josh Miller/CNET

The onscreen display (OSD) array is aligned vertically along the lower-right bezel and consists of four small but well-spaced buttons. Navigating the OSD is simple and clean. Dell still makes the best-designed OSDs in the industry with a contextual navigation system that never lets you forget the function each button has at any given time.

Customizations are robust and vast, providing access to brightness, contrast, and sharpness. Its seven different presets consist of Standard, Multimedia, Movie, Game, Text, Color Temperature, and RGB (sRBG). The color temperature preset allows for altering temperature values from 5,000 Kelvin up to 10,000K. The RGB preset allows you to access red, green, and blue values individually. One minor disappointment, however, is that you can't alter color temperature or RGB values when in a different preset. You can augment both hue and saturation, though.

For the energy conscious among you (all both of you), in the top-right corner of the OSD sits an energy-use meter that gauges how much power the monitor is using. Also, there's an Energy Smart mode that lowers the brightness based on the amount of ambient light in the room.

The U2713HM's OSD options are many. Josh Miller/CNET

Perhaps as a byproduct of being unaccustomed to such light IPS displays, it was difficult to get used to something (a well-performing IPS monitor) that felt so light and airy. In my mind, IPS monitors should be these weighty behemoths; experiencing the opposite was a bit off-putting. Admittedly, this is a crazy personal thing and doesn't really affect the monitor's quality.

Design and feature highlights
Connectivity DVI, DisplayPort, VGA, HDMI
Ergonomic options 20-degree back tilt, 45-degree left and right swivel, 90-degree pivot, 4.5-inch height adjustment
Resolution 2,560x1,440 pixels
Aspect ratio 16:9
Audio Headphone jack
VESA wall mount support Yes
Included video cables DVI, VGA
Backlight LED
Panel type AH-IPS
Screen film Matte
Number of presets 7
Overdrive No
Picture options Brightness, Contrast, Sharpness
Color controls RGB and six color-temperature options
Gamma control Yes
Additional features USB downstream x4, USB upstream x1

I tested the Dell UltraSharp U2713m through its DVI input, connected to a Windows 7 PC, using the included DVI cable. The display posted a composite score of 98 on CNET Labs' DisplayMate-based performance tests.

DisplayMate: The U2713HM displayed light gray up to level 253; 255 is considered white and every level in-between it, and 1 is a variation of gray, so 253 is nearly as high as you can get. The U2713HM's performance here indicates that the display would retain its contrast ratio and likely not be prone to washing out light colors. As for dark gray, the U2713HM just barely displayed down to level 2 while still maintaining a deep black, pointing to the display being capable of retaining dark detail during dark scenes in movies.

The U2713HM excelled in all of our color tests, showing a propensity for displaying color accurately and smoothly with no unexpected jumps in color scale progression.

In our Dark Screen test, I stare at a screen devoid of color in an attempt to identify spots where light from the backlight seeps through (known as "clouding"). While there was some obvious clouding along the left edge of the screen, it was thankfully confined there and didn't show up anywhere else.

Text: Black text on white looked clear, without any obvious color tint problems. Also, fonts were clearly visible down to a 6.8-point size.

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