PC HDR Monitor Guide

HDR stands for High Dynamic Range, and when you see it taped to a gaming monitor, TV, or game, it means they support a wider and deeper range of colors and contrast than SDR or Standard Dynamic Range. While support for PC is slowly rising, HDR is gradually becoming quite common in PC gaming, and you can now enjoy a plethora of games with HDR enabled.

However, there is some bad news. HDR is not a one-size-fits-all standard. In fact, there are many levels of HDR, and how good it looks depends on the capabilities of your monitor or TV. The HDR confusion has eased somewhat with the introduction of VESA’s DisplayHDR standard, which attempts to provide customers with an easily recognizable rating scale, though there’s a lot more work going on behind the scenes than these specifications reveal.

Hardware HDR goes way beyond analog HDR in older games like Half-Life 2.

What is HDR?

HDR, or high dynamic range, is an umbrella term for a family of standards designed to extend the range of color and contrast of video displays far beyond what current hardware can produce. Despite what you may have heard during the 4K push, resolution isn’t the most important thing when it comes to image quality alone.

Contrast, brightness and vibrant colors all become more important to image quality once resolution requirements are met, and improving these is what HDR is all about. This is not an incremental upgrade either. The aggressive requirements of HDR mean that almost everyone needs new hardware, and you don’t need benchmarks or a trained eye to perceive the difference.