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VESA DisplayHDR Certification


HDR Monitors

The VESA DisplayHDR certification program is a list of requirements developed by a group of display and computer companies to categorize HDR performance on monitors, tablets, and laptop screens, but not TVs. To receive certification, a monitor has to support HDR10 and meet certain testing criteria regarding picture quality, like having a minimum brightness and contrast ratio, amongst other factors. There are different certification tiers, and while the monitors in the basic tier have limited HDR picture quality, you at least know you're getting better performance with the higher-end tiers.

Test results

What Is VESA DisplayHDR Certification?

Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) is an organization that sets industry standards for computer displays. It includes multiple companies, such as Apple, Microsoft, AMD, NVIDIA, and Lenovo. One of the standards they've developed is DisplayHDR, a certification that categorizes a monitor's HDR performance based on factors like brightness and contrast.

HDR, or High Dynamic Range, is a video format that requires a higher contrast, brightness, and more range of colors compared to SDR content (see SDR vs HDR), and most sources support HDR, like PCs, gaming consoles, and Blu-rays. There are a few formats in which HDR content is available, like HDR10, HDR10+, and Dolby Vision, although most monitors are limited to the basic HDR10 format. That said, having HDR support doesn't guarantee good performance, as most monitors at least support HDR but have very limited picture quality.

The DisplayHDR certification gives you an idea of which monitors are at least decent enough in HDR, but even at that, monitors with the entry-level certification tier have limited performance anyway. You have to get a monitor with one of the higher-end tiers to get at least good enough HDR performance.

CTS 1.2

VESA updated their Compliance Test Specifications (CTS) in May 2024 to version 1.2, which requires stricter requirements to receive certification compared to previous CTS versions. This update includes a minimum requirement for contrast and color gamut coverage, and the monitor must be able to accept 10-bit signals. They also started testing for black crush and color accuracy at various luminance levels, which they didn't in previous versions. You can read more about their testing requirements here.

Although the entry-level DisplayHDR 400 tier still doesn't need to have local dimming to receive certification, it's at least an upgrade from the past where almost any monitor that can get brighter than 400 cd/m² received certification. As contrast is now considered, monitors with a low contrast won't receive this certification. That said, monitors can still receive certification under the old 1.1 requirements through May 2025, and laptops through May 2026, so not all new products will be tested with CTS 1.2.

DisplayHDR Tiers

The DisplayHDR certification program is split into five classic tiers for LED-backlit LCD monitors and three True Black tiers for OLEDs. For a monitor to receive certification for a certain tier, it must pass all requirements for that tier, some of which you can see below. You can also see their full list of requirements with CTS 1.2 here. Unless specified below, the measurements listed are a minimum requirement.

  400 500 600 1000 1400 True Black 400 True Black 500 True Black 600
8% Peak Brightness 400 cd/m² 500 cd/m² 600 cd/m² 1,000 cd/m² 1,400 cd/m² 400 cd/m² 500 cd/m² 600 cd/m²
100% Peak Brightness 400 cd/m² 500 cd/m² 600 cd/m² 1,000 cd/m² 1,400 cd/m² 250 cd/m² 300 cd/m² 350 cd/m²
100% Sustained Brightness 320 cd/m² 320 cd/m² 350 cd/m² 600 cd/m² 900 cd/m² 250 cd/m² 300 cd/m² 350 cd/m²
Max Black Level Luminance 0.4 cd/m² 0.1 cd/m² 0.1 cd/m² 0.05 cd/m² 0.02 cd/m² 0.0005 cd/m² 0.0005 cd/m² 0.0005 cd/m²
White Level Luminance 300 cd/m² 375 cd/m² 450 cd/m² 750 cd/m² 1,050 cd/m² 300 cd/m² 375 cd/m² 450 cd/m²
Static Contrast Ratio 1,300:1 7,000:1 8,000:1 30,000:1 50,000:1 Inf:1 Inf:1 Inf:1
Local Dimming Type None Edge-lit Edge-lit Full-array Full-array N/A N/A N/A
Color Depth Signal 10-bit 10-bit 10-bit 10-bit 10-bit 10-bit 10-bit 10-bit
BT.709/sRGB Color Gamut 99% 99% 99% 99% 99% 99% 99% 99%
DCI-P3 Color Gamut 90% 95% 95% 95% 95% 95% 95% 95%

What Do These Requirements Mean?

Knowing that a monitor meets these minimum requirements doesn't help much if you don't understand each factor's impact on HDR performance. Here's a summary of how they each affect the viewing experience:

  • Brightness: High peak brightness is important for HDR, as it makes highlights pop and images look vivid. Although anything above 400 cd/m² is bright enough for watching content in bright rooms, it's important for small highlights to get brighter than the rest of the image, which the DisplayHDR requirement doesn't take into consideration. Having good EOTF tracking also means that the monitor displays content at the correct brightness, but this isn't something that the certification program considers either. You can learn more about HDR brightness here.
  • Static Contrast Ratio: The contrast ratio is one of the most important factors for a satisfying HDR experience. A monitor with a high contrast ratio can display deep blacks next to bright highlights, which is great for watching content in dark rooms. On the other hand, a monitor with a low contrast ratio makes blacks look gray, and the image is washed out compared to a display with higher contrast. This test is mainly for LCD monitors as OLEDs have a near-infinite contrast, so they display perfect blacks next to bright highlights. Learn more about contrast ratio here.
    • White and Black Level Luminance: The luminance of the white and black levels is related to the contrast ratio, as it's a measurement of the white and black in the same image. VESA uses a black image with two white squares in the corners, but you can also use a checkerboard contrast pattern, which you can see below. Having a low black level and a high white level means the monitor has a high contrast ratio, but blacks look gray if the black level is too high.
  • Local Dimming: This is a feature many LED-backlit monitors have to control the backlight zones with the goal of improving the contrast ratio. This is especially important for HDR content that features dark scenes and bright highlights, as a proper local dimming feature can effectively make those highlights pop while keeping the rest of the image dark. There are different types of local dimming features, with edge-lit being a requirement for DisplayHDR 500 and DisplayHDR 600 and full-array for the higher-end tiers. Having local dimming doesn't guarantee good performance, and in fact, edge-lit local dimming features are usually pretty bad. As OLEDs don't have a backlight, they don't have local dimming, and this isn't a requirement for the True Black tiers. Learn more about local dimming here.
  • Color Gamut: The color gamut defines the range of colors a monitor displays, and the DisplayHDR test measures the gamut of two common color spaces: BT.709, which is similar to sRGB and used in SDR content, and DCI-P3 that's used in most HDR content. Having a monitor that can display a wide range of colors makes content look life-like. However, having a wide color gamut doesn't guarantee good image quality either, as it needs to display those colors accurately, which VESA also considers during testing. Learn more about the HDR color gamut here.
  • Color Depth: A signal's color bit depth represents the amount of colors it can produce. For example, an 8-bit signal can display 16.7 million signals, while a 10-bit signal can display 1.07 billion colors. Obviously, this means that the higher color depth is better for HDR, and VESA requires that all monitors support at least 10-bit signals. However, this doesn't mean the monitor needs to be 10-bit; just that it accepts the signal and can display it. This distinction is important because many monitors use 8-bit + FRC (dithering) to display a 10-bit signal, and they aren't true 10-bit, but the difference is hard to tell visually anyway. This means any 8-bit + FRC monitor can receive certification, but 8-bit monitors aren't eligible. Learn more about 8-bit + FRC vs 10-bit here.
Dell AW3225QF contrast ratio
Example of perfect contrast (Dell Alienware AW3225QF)
Acer Nitro XV275K P3 color gamut
Wide color gamut (Acer Nitro XV275K P3biipruzx)

Which DisplayHDR Tier Is Right For You?

Realistically, if you want the best HDR experience, you'd either have to go for an OLED (preferably QD-OLED) or get an LED-backlit LCD monitor with DisplayHDR 1000 or 1400 certification. That said, those models are harder to come by and can be expensive, so they aren't the best choice for everyone. You may have to settle for the DisplayHDR 500 and 600 tiers if you're on a limited budget, but getting a monitor with DisplayHDR 400 certification doesn't mean much, as it can still have limited picture quality. Here's a quick rundown of what uses each of the tiers is good for, and you can also see a list of all their certified products here.

  • DisplayHDR 400: For use in bright rooms.
  • DisplayHDR 500 & DisplayHDR 600: Gaming, bright room viewing.
  • DisplayHDR 1000 & DisplayHDR 1400: Gaming, content in any environment, media creation.
  • True Black 400, True Black 500, True Black 600: Gaming, watching content in dark rooms, media creation.

See our recommendations for the best 4k HDR monitors and the best HDR gaming monitors.


Test Limitations

Although the test methodology improved with CTS 1.2, including setting a minimum contrast ratio, it still doesn't test everything you need to know for HDR performance. For example, monitors in the Display 500 and 600 tiers must have edge-lit local dimming. However, 1.2 doesn't test their performance, as edge-lit local dimming is usually pretty limited and causes blooming around bright objects. The DisplayHDR certification is a good baseline for understanding how the monitor performs against the rest of the market. Still, it doesn't tell you exactly how well it performs in HDR.

Another thing to note is that their test methodology is different from that of other reviewers, including ours, so some reviewers may not be able to replicate the same results. This isn't the end of the world, as what's important is that VESA is testing the monitors using the same standards, but you shouldn't compare our testing results to their requirements.

In addition, since manufacturers have to submit prerelease products to VESA for certification, they can cherry-pick the sample unit that gets tested. These samples could perform better than the final retail units, so you may not get the same brightness or contrast on the unit you buy.

Fake HDR Ratings

Unfortunately, there have been a few reports of some manufacturers using misleading advertising to make it seem like their products have received certification, including up to DisplayHDR 2000, a tier that doesn't exist. VESA is aware of these fake claims and warns against them on their website. It's important to remember that it's easy for companies to advertise that a monitor has the specifications for a certain DisplayHDR tier, including promoting it as HDR 400 (instead of DisplayHDR 400). The best way to know if a monitor has certification is by looking at the DisplayHDR website's list of certified products.


Although it isn't perfect, VESA's DisplayHDR certification program gives you a good idea of what to expect regarding HDR when buying a monitor. They perform various tests, including measuring the color gamut, contrast, and brightness, and certify a monitor if it's met all the requirements. They have five different certification tiers for LED monitors and three for OLEDs, and the higher-end tiers provide the best performance. There are some drawbacks, though, as the certification doesn't tell you exactly how the monitor performs in HDR; also, monitors with entry-level DisplayHDR certification usually have limited HDR performance. That said, knowing if the monitor has certification is at least a good place to start when shopping for a new display.