My expectations for the Samsung S27B971D were high after seeing their demo at CES and how they calibrate displays. They increased when I opened the box and saw the calibration report with some pretty incredible numbers on it. While the initial out-of-box numbers didn’t really impress me, the post-calibration numbers made me sit up and take notice. They are the kind of numbers we hope to see in a display but so rarely do.

What I’ve been trying to figure out is where the Samsung S27B971D sits in the display hierarchy. It is a very interesting mix of features and performance that sits a bit on its own. From the post-calibration and uniformity data I’d tend to compare it to the NEC display, like the PA271W: very uniform, very accurate. But the NEC model offers the AdobeRGB gamut, much more refined on-screen controls, and a far more flexible stand; it isn’t nearly as attractive as the Samsung, but it has even better performance. Of course the Samsung also sells for $1,000 compared to the PA271W at $1,240, but Samsung lacks NEC’s initial accuracy.

Compared to a cheaper display like the Dell U2713HM, the Samsung can be more accurate but isn’t as flexible with placement and sells for over $400 more. It has a gamut that is no larger, and out of the box performance that isn’t any better. Input lag is roughly the same for gaming and the gamut is a bit worse. Unfortunately the Dell didn’t go through our updated CalMAN testing suite so we can’t compare uniformity data to see how it does. Even if the Dell is only average for uniformity, that’s a large difference in the two display prices.

What it really comes down to is if the Samsung was as accurate out of the box as it is after calibration, it would have a good target audience. People that want a highly accurate, high performance display but don’t need the AdobeRGB gamut. It would slot in just below the NEC displays that are out there. The person that this becomes ideal for is one that wants a very accurate, very uniform display and has their own calibration gear. Then you can coax this fantastic performance out of the Samsung S27B971D display and be competitive with a higher-end display. You won’t have the larger gamut, but you might not need it depending on your work.

How many people fit that narrow group? I really don’t know. I think the Samsung is an excellent performer post-calibration. It’s one of the best I’ve seen. I just think that with the pre-calibration numbers only being so-so it’s hard to recommend to either professionals, who can get the NEC, or to users without calibration gear, that can do just as well with the Dell. It feels strange to not recommend it just on the bench tests alone, but outside of a vacuum the performance doesn’t really matter if it doesn’t have a good target audience.

If you fit that small segment that would do well with the Samsung S27B971D it is a great display. I’m just not sure if that audience is very large for it the way the display ships right now. If the out-of-box calibration numbers from our testing could match Samsung's calibration report, it would be a bit easier to recommend, but if you're willing to spend $400 more than something like the Dell in order to get an accurate display, adding in another $200 to get an NEC and a wider gamut seems the way to go.

Input Lag, Color Gamut, and Energy Use
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  • hbsource - Thursday, October 31, 2013 - link

    As someone once said, 'There's no such thing as a bad product, just bad pricing.' That seems to be the case here.
  • Da W - Thursday, October 31, 2013 - link

    For that price i got 3 ASUS PA248Q monitors, which are pretty good.
  • hero1 - Thursday, October 31, 2013 - link

    Tell me about it. That is way more than the Dell U2713HM that I have. Samsung screwed up here.
  • Silma - Saturday, November 2, 2013 - link

    Very happy with the Dell U2713HM, far less expensive and superior in almost all ways to the Samsung.
  • Gothmoth - Saturday, November 2, 2013 - link

    the dell 2713HM is complete crap fro real work.
    it´s a gaming monitor but no match for people who need a good colormanaged monitor.

    no sane person intersted in accuracy would use the dell over a eizo or nec.
    the samsung is better then the dell but no match to eizo or nec monitors aroun 1000 euro.
  • wavetrex - Sunday, November 3, 2013 - link

    Who said every monitor must be for GRAPHICS work ?
    I can work my programming just fine on the 2713HM and do everything else on the computer without noticing any real "color" problems. Excellent monitor for the price !
    This Samsung however breaks the bank. 27" WQHD really need to come down in price, not up...
  • cheinonen - Friday, November 1, 2013 - link

    The PA248Q is only 1920x1200 so Apples to Oranges, but yes the price is wrong. If the measured performance had matched the data sheet, it would have worked at $1,000 for a certain audience. That after a WQHD display with really accurate color and uniformity but that doesn't need a color gamut beyond sRGB. As the post-calibration numbers show, it is capable of very high performance.

    Unfortunately it didn't meet that. I don't know if mine was a bad sample or if they measure a different way, but it didn't hit the level of performance the price point would require. It's a nice display, I've been using it post-calibration and it's really great, but most people lack $1,000+ in calibration gear to bring out that performance. Hopefully Samsung can get it right in the next generation, because it has a lot of potential.
  • deeps6x - Friday, November 1, 2013 - link

    "The PA248Q is only 1920x1200.."

    Quite frankly I'd rather have the extra 120 pixels in screen height than the higher resolution.

    2560 x 1600 monitors please.
  • Bakes - Friday, November 1, 2013 - link

    I have to agree with you. I think 16:10 just seems more usable. I don't mind that movies are letterboxed.
  • Death666Angel - Friday, November 1, 2013 - link

    Have you used a 27" 1440p monitor? Sure, 1600p is great, but they usually cost twice as much and there is much less competition. I came from a 24" 1920x1200 monitor to a Samsung S27A850D (luckily without the complaints many people had with it, lots of backlight bleed and other stuff), and the narrower picture doesn't really bother me, the higher resolution in all axes is much more important for me. And since Win7 with the easy side-by-side view of applications, productivity is even higher.

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