Review: Dell U2718Q 27-Inch 4K Monitor

Review: Dell U2718Q 27-Inch 4K Monitor

When getting into the 4K game, even Dell has enough options to be rather confusing to the average buyer. But there’s a reason the U2718Q 27-inch UHD monitor made my list. It hit in all the right spots.

Dell is a top name in the monitor business, but much more so on the consumer end and less as much in the high-end photography space. But that has also changed in the last several years as Dell, similarly to LG, has released a lineup of factory-calibrated, wide-gamut, color-precise monitors. For Dell, that’s the PremierColor line of monitors that features full sRGB and Adobe RGB (and 97.7 percent P3) coverage.

[This article has been updated with an added note at the end.]

Nearly three times the price of the standard, non-wide gamut versions, these are a tough sell for anyone that doesn’t really need it. So to see if it’s worth it, I took a look at the lower-end version that covers only 75 percent of the Adobe RGB color space and 99.9 percent sRGB.

Design

The U2718Q is a 27-inch 4K monitor that, above all else, looks fantastic. Admittedly, that is something I wanted out of a monitor, as it was going to be in the living room. Bringing an ultra-thin, nearly bezel-less display into our living space certainly helped sell it to the girlfriend. But I’ll admit part of me just wanted that for a clean setup, too. And it really does look better than any other (non-Apple) monitor I've had.

This monitor has plenty of I/O ports as well in terms of serving as a USB dock, but I think most professionals will prefer having access through whatever hubs they most likely already use that are easier access, as I’ve only ever used monitor ports for permanently attached devices (i.e. calibration light sensors, Wacom tablets, and printers). All of these are for devices with low requirements, so I just don’t put as much weight on this as others might anyway. For me, all the data goes through a separate Thunderbolt dock, and the monitor goes into that.

Performance

The U2718Q has a mix of reviews. Some love it without question and think it’s the best thing in the world. Others complain about the greens. And sure enough, when I first took it out the box and connected it, I was rather appalled by the lime green. Until I calibrated it, nearly every green on the entire screen was somewhere between positively key lime and highlighter green.

Thankfully, calibration helped, but even that needed fine-tuning. I still pulled the greens back. Calibration always wants to dim the monitors past my taste. And while that may be slightly more accurate, I usually push it back up a bit. This monitor took a little more turning up, though — likely because the software was just: “Less of that. Oh my God.”

Now, hopefully that hasn’t completely turned you off of this monitor because, honestly, it’s been pretty spectacular ever since. For anyone not doing a lot of printing, the 99.9 percent sRGB coverage is plenty. And the screen is sharp. There’s also extremely good uniformity and no visible backlight bleed — this is built well. But to be fair, that’s about where it ends. And if you really do color-critical work, you may want to consider something with more coverage. Adobe RGB coverage is nowhere near where it should be for the discerning pro. And the greens, although acceptable, are still far from workable for color-critical work.

What I Liked

  • Looks incredible
  • Great resolution
  • Works/connects reliably again and again without issue
  • Good menu system with nice, discrete buttons
  • Superb for non-color-critical or non-print work
  • Price is pretty good

What I Didn’t Like

  • Color (or lack thereof) is the biggest issue, here. 75 percent Adobe RGB just isn’t enough. And those greens…
  • Even with the lacking color coverage, the greens should not be so vibrant
  • It does take just a couple more seconds to load the computer's image when connected (but that's more the computer processing the change onto a 4K monitor)

Conclusion

Although I actually haven’t had actual issues since the calibration when it comes to printing, the U2718Q is certainly lacking when it comes to color. If I had to do it again, I would have gotten the BenQ SW2700PT I also recently reviewed because color still matters to me a little more than I planned (but then no one plans for greens to be that bright, either). The BenQ does not have the 4K resolution or the ultra-slim profile (though it’s not bad), but it does have superb out-of-the-box color that hardly shifted after a calibration. It also covers all your color spaces adequately enough for any professional printing setup. And the QHD resolution is actually plenty (I discuss why I actually would not go for 4K for photography work in that review as well). For me, 4K actually produces elements that are still a bit too small when considering the distance I'm sitting away from the monitor. And getting a 30-inch or larger monitor is seriously just too much to look at (you're literally turning your head just to see from one side to the other).

The best part about the BenQ is its price. It’s only $150 more than the U2718Q and provides so much more for the working photographer. That said, for video work that is only ever consumed on a screen, this Dell makes more than enough sense. Of course, the other option is upgrading to Dell’s UP2718Q (note the “P”). But that PremierColor version costs a staggering $1,342 compared to the $449 of its cheaper counterpart and doesn’t look nearly as sexy (obviously, the price is the concerning part). And that’s why I think the SW2700PT hits that sweet spot well. You’ll be hard-pressed to find another monitor that covers all of those bases at its $599 price.

For those that decide they don’t need the best color around and absolutely want 4K (or if video is your main gig), I can still definitely recommend the U2718Q. At the time of this writing, there’s actually a used one on B&H for $313.95 that I would have jumped on had I seen it. That’s cheap. Otherwise, you can pick it up regularly for $449 with free expedited shipping.

[UPDATE]: It was brought to my attention that there was a firmware update for this model. I had at first wrongly assumed mine would not need it, as I purchased it quite a bit after this update. However, it turns out that my monitor did have the old firmware and was also part of an earlier production run compared to the latest ones. In updating the firmware, I since discovered a separate, unrelated issue and am in the process of getting a replacement with a newer model with updated firmware and a later production date. This article will be updated when I have something to report once I replace the monitor with the new one, but the update is said to fix the terrible green cast issues.

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22 Comments

I’ve got three of the 24 inch version. Love them.

Motti Bembaron's picture

Are these the Dell U2718Q 27" ? How do you find the color accuracy?

I have a 22" Dell that needs to be replaced. The BenQ looked like an amazing deal but this one is even better however, color accuracy is important of course.

I have the Dell U2713HM and it has just around 75% Adobe RGB. I want a monitor with 99% Adobe RGB, however, I wonder if this Dell (U2718Q) is even better. Mind you, having more pixels mean I have to squint more.

Adam Ottke's picture

These don't have the same aRGB coverage (they're around 75%). I would highly recommend going for the BenQ I alluded to in the article or shell out a bit more for a 4K monitor with better color coverage. Again, it's usable. But the color shift is VERY noticeable between my 2015 15" MBP and my Dell U2718Q (and not in a good direction).

Motti Bembaron's picture

Good to know, thank you. I guess I should go for the BenQ. I have had Dell monitors for almost 15 years, time for something different.

Zenza Rino's picture

Lee, what is the specific name of the 24 version?

Bill Peppas's picture

Where are the calibrated and non-calibrated measurements ?

Wes Jones's picture

I have this monitor and I am very happy with it. Luckily I didn't experience any problems with the greens. The only issue I have had is some software doesn't play well with high DPI monitors (Adobe anyone?).

Leandro Ilha's picture

Adam, what calibration device would you recommend to calibrate Dell monitors ? thanks.

Adam Ottke's picture

Honestly, Leandro, a lot of people have their preferences. I think the top two companies I always hear about are Datacolor (Spyder calibration devices) and X-Rite (colormunki). Both seem to be industry-standard with varying levels of professional and pro-sumer features across various product ranges.

Zenza Rino's picture

Looking for an alternative: 4k, similar price point and without green color issue? Rgb %75 percent is ok...

Adam Ottke's picture

LG has the 27UD69P, which is often compared to the Dell and is in the same price range. But I have not tested it.

Zenza Rino's picture

thanks a lot! I'll look for it.

Zenza Rino's picture

Adam, according to this site, 27UD69P is good but not as good as Dell P2715Q in terms of color accuracy. However, according to user reviews RGB of LG is between apparently %81-83 RGB. LG does not have a USB hub nor a good stand (terrible actually). https://thewirecutter.com/reviews/best-4k-monitors/

Adam Ottke's picture

There are definitely differences. But also, this review is not for the P2715Q, which does have slightly better reviews in terms of color. Comparatively, the monitor reviewed in this article is a bit worse in color (as far as reviews go), but has a more modern design with a thinner bezel. But it's still rather different. To me, even that extra bit of aRGB coverage the LG has is probably noticeable compared to the monitor reviewed here. Even so, it's a little light, but might do the trick.

Zenza Rino's picture

I think I am gonna go with LG + VESA stand. Thin bezels + Extra RGB matter. No USB hub though :(

Dell has released a firmware update that corrects "gain on green" issue. Do you upgrade your firmware to fix it and test the color accuracy?

Adam Ottke's picture

!!!! Thank you for the notice! I will do this ASAP (give me a day or two).

Adam Ottke's picture

Interesting. I'm only seeing a firmware update from January, and it looks like it's not Mac-compatible. Do you know much about this? Is there a more recent one I'm not seeing and/or if I find a Windows PC to do the update, will it help?

Yes the firmware was released on Janunary 18 and only validated for windows system. You can try to upgrade it via Parallels Desktop or find a windows system.

Adam Ottke's picture

Thank you. In my research for all of this, I discovered a new USB issue. I since called Dell about a replacement, which they are now sending and which should already have the update installed. I will update this post accordingly once I see how that one works out.

Ok Thank you too. Can't wait to see your new update.