However, the truly new thing of this monitor and this generation of gaming-monitors manufactured by the Korean brand is the three letter magic abbreviation HDR. With High Dynamic Range support – as far as we can tell based on the HDR10-standard – you can, with a suited graphics card, the correct version of Windows 10 and a game which is programmed to work with the bigger dynamic range, have an image in front of you that has been promised to us for years, but is only made a reality now.
Game engines and 3D apis contain all sorts of tricks to emphasize the difference between the lightest light and darkest dark, but nothing comes close to true 10-bits view of a large colour space with a really bright panel, with a display standard that makes sure that, even in blinding images of reflections in car paint or the sun on the water, you can still see the details of textures instead of a simple white area, and see those same details in darker shadows.
Of course we tried this, but it was not exactly a simple task. Since a few patches ago, Windows 10 supports HDR but if you active HDR-mode the desktop looks like it has been covered by a never-before washed white cloth. Still, you have to turn this mode on because otherwise not every game and application will turn on the HDR-possibilities of the monitor. It is a laborious happening which we will soon discuss in more detail in a separate article, because it was also an educational experience that we of course would like to share. Anyway – when everything eventually works, it is fantastic. With MPC-BE the HDR-demos look exactly the way they should, with detailed lights and shadows. And the few games that support HDR that we tried – Mass Effect Andromeda, Forza 7, Battlefield 1 In The Name Of The Tsar, Hitman – all gain an extra dimension, just to throw in a cliché. The effect differs per game, and in every game you will have to figure out the best settings for a good effect. If you do not do this, you will only see gray, unsaturated colours or an extremely overdone image. Once it is correctly set up, the effect varies from ‘yes, this definitely looks better’ to complete silence, because it looks absolutely stunning. Mass Effect and Battlefield 1 are more in the second category, with Forza and Hitman we had to search for a bit to find the extra realism – but if we dialed back, the standard mode looked bland.
In short, HDR for PC is here, and it works – although it is far from user friendly and is still very new with the game studios. This will presumably change quickly, and if you are purchasing a gaming monitor right now, you should probably consider whether or not you want to wait for a model with HDR-support. Samsung also offers them in a more modest size than this C49HG90, in the HG70-series at 27 and 32 inch for example. LG, AOC, ASUS, ACER and Philips will also release HDR models. The coming year will still be very interesting if you are looking for the perfect monitor.