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Dell UltraSharp U2713HM review: The best overall monitor

The Dell UltraSharp U2713HM satisfies with high marks in performance, features, and design, if you're willing to spend more than a few bucks.

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Eric Franklin
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Eric Franklin

Senior Managing Editor / Mobile

Eric Franklin leads the CNET Reviews editors in San Francisco as managing editor. A 20-year industry veteran, Eric began his tech journey testing computers in the CNET Labs. When not at work he can usually be found at the gym, at the movies, or at the edge of his couch with a game controller in his hands.

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9 min read

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.

Dell U2713HM
8.5

Dell UltraSharp U2713HM

The Good

The <b>Dell UltraSharp U2713HM</b> 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.

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.

The Dell UltraSharp U2713HM and lime green walls (pictures)

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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

Performance
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

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)

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.

Dell U2713HM
8.5

Dell UltraSharp U2713HM

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 9Performance 9Support 8
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