Dell S2721QS Monitor Review

Tested using Methodology v1.1
Reviewed Nov 23, 2020 at 10:25 am
Dell S2721QS Picture
8.1
Mixed Usage
8.4
Office
7.9
Gaming
8.1
Multimedia
8.4
Media Creation
7.0
HDR Gaming
Size 27"
Resolution 3840x2160
Max Refresh Rate
60 Hz
Pixel Type
IPS
Variable Refresh Rate
FreeSync

The Dell S2721QS is a great budget 4k monitor that's suitable for a wide range of uses. It has a large screen with plenty of space for multitasking, and its high pixel density results in sharp images and text. The stand allows for a good amount of ergonomic adjustments, and its IPS panel has wide viewing angles, so you can easily share your screen with colleagues. It has a fast response time, low input lag, and supports variable refresh rate (VRR) technology to reduce screen tearing when gaming. The refresh rate is limited to 60hz, but it shouldn't be an issue for most people as gaming in 4k is still quite demanding. Like most IPS panel monitors, the contrast ratio is mediocre, which results in blacks looking grayish in the dark. Additionally, while it gets bright enough to fight glare, it isn't enough to deliver a satisfying HDR experience.

Our Verdict

8.1 Mixed Usage

The Dell S2721QS is a great monitor overall. It has a large screen with a 4k resolution, good ergonomics, and wide viewing angles, making it a great choice for nearly any office environment. It has low input lag, a fast response time, and VRR support to provide a good gaming experience. It has full coverage of the sRGB color space, but its color accuracy is just okay out-of-the-box. The contrast ratio is low and there's some backlight bleed, so it isn't ideal for dark rooms.

Pros
  • Wide viewing angles.
  • Good ergonomics.
  • Large screen and high resolution.
Cons
  • Mediocre contrast ratio.
8.4 Office

The Dell S2721QS is great for office use. Its good ergonomics allow you to adjust the screen to your optimal viewing position, and you can easily share your work with colleagues thanks to its wide viewing angles. It handles reflections well and gets bright enough to overcome glare. It has a large screen that provides enough space to have multiple windows opened side-by-side, and a high resolution that results in exceptional text clarity. The contrast ratio is mediocre and there's some backlight bleed, so it isn't the best option if you work in a dark room.

Pros
  • Wide viewing angles.
  • Good ergonomics.
  • Large screen and high resolution.
  • Exceptional text clarity.
Cons
  • Mediocre contrast ratio.
7.9 Gaming

The Dell S2721QS is good for gaming. It has a large screen with a 4k resolution, making it a great choice for playing atmospheric games like RPGs. In addition to its low input lag and fast response time, it has FreeSync support and G-SYNC compatibility to reduce screen tearing. The refresh rate is limited to 60Hz, but it should be okay for most casual gamers. It isn't the best option for gaming in the dark, though, as it has a low contrast ratio that makes blacks look gray.

Pros
  • Good ergonomics.
  • Good response time.
  • VRR support.
  • Large screen and high resolution.
Cons
  • Mediocre contrast ratio.
  • No Black Frame Insertion.
8.1 Multimedia

The Dell S2721QS is great for media consumption. It has a 4k resolution and a large screen to provide an immersive viewing experience. It has wide viewing angles and good ergonomics, making it easier to share content on your screen with others. Unfortunately, it isn't ideal for dark rooms, as its mediocre contrast ratio makes blacks look gray.

Pros
  • Wide viewing angles.
  • Good ergonomics.
  • Large screen and high resolution.
Cons
  • Mediocre contrast ratio.
8.4 Media Creation

The Dell S2721QS is great for content creation. It has a large screen and high resolution, allowing you to see fine details clearly. It has full sRGB coverage and good coverage of the Adobe RGB color space. It has a low contrast ratio that makes blacks look grayish, and there's some backlight bleed, although uniformity can vary between units. It has good ergonomics and wide viewing angles, great for sharing your work with clients and coworkers.

Pros
  • Wide viewing angles.
  • Good ergonomics.
  • Large screen and high resolution.
  • Exceptional text clarity.
Cons
  • Mediocre contrast ratio.
7.0 HDR Gaming

The Dell S2721QS is decent for gaming in HDR. It has low input lag, fast response time, and VRR support to minimize screen tearing. However, it has a low contrast ratio that makes blacks look grayish, lacks local dimming, and doesn't get bright enough in HDR to make highlights pop.

Pros
  • Good ergonomics.
  • Good response time.
  • VRR support.
  • Large screen and high resolution.
Cons
  • Mediocre contrast ratio.
  • Doesn't get bright enough in HDR.
  • No local dimming.
  • 8.1 Mixed Usage
  • 8.4 Office
  • 7.9 Gaming
  • 8.1 Multimedia
  • 8.4 Media Creation
  • 7.0 HDR Gaming
  1. Updated Dec 08, 2020: We've retested the horizontal viewing angle.
  2. Updated Nov 23, 2020: Review published.
  3. Updated Nov 18, 2020: Early access published.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style
Curved No
Curve Radius Not Curved
Weight (without stand)
10.6 lbs (4.8 kg)
Weight (with stand)
13.9 lbs (6.3 kg)

The Dell S2721QS has a simple design and looks almost identical to its bigger sibling, the Dell S3221QS, but with a flat, non-curved screen. It has thin borders that aren't distracting, making it a good option for multi-monitor setups. It doesn't stand out in any way and should fit easily into most settings.

Design
Stand
Width
10.2" (25.9 cm)
Depth
5.9" (15.0 cm)

The stand is a mix of metal and plastic. It doesn't take up too much space, and the flat base lets you put things on it. It feels stable and doesn't wobble much.

7.8
Design
Ergonomics
Height Adjustment
4.3" (11.0 cm)
Switch Portrait/Landscape Yes, Both Ways
Swivel Range -30° to 30°
Tilt Range -20° to 2.5°

Good ergonomics. It allows for all manner of adjustments so that you can place the screen at your ideal viewing position.

Design
Back
Wall Mount VESA 100x100

The back is plain and made of textured plastic. There's a cutout on the stand for cable management and a quick-release feature to remove the stand if you want to VESA-mount it.

Design
Borders
Borders
0.3" (0.7 cm)

The borders are thin on three sides and aren't distracting, making it a good option for multi-monitor setups.

Design
Thickness
Thickness (with stand)
5.1" (13.0 cm)
Thickness (without stand)
2.0" (5.2 cm)

Both the screen and the stand are relatively thin and don't take up much space.

7.5
Design
Build Quality

The Dell S2721QS' build quality is good, very similar to the Dell S3221QS. The display is made entirely of good quality plastic. There are no loose parts, and the back doesn't flex much. The stand is a mix of metal and plastic, and it supports the monitor well. The quick-release feature works well and doesn't feel cheap.

Picture Quality
6.3
Picture Quality
Contrast
Native Contrast
1,221 : 1
Contrast With Local Dimming
N/A

The Dell S2721QS has a mediocre contrast ratio; however, it's better than most IPS panels and close to the advertised 1300:1 contrast. That said, blacks still look gray in the dark, and contrast can vary between individual units.

0
Picture Quality
Local Dimming
Local Dimming
No
Backlight
Edge

The Dell S2721QS doesn't have a local dimming feature. The video above is provided for reference only.

8.0
Picture Quality
SDR Peak Brightness
SDR Real Scene
362 cd/m²
SDR Peak 2% Window
369 cd/m²
SDR Peak 10% Window
370 cd/m²
SDR Peak 25% Window
371 cd/m²
SDR Peak 50% Window
373 cd/m²
SDR Peak 100% Window
374 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 2% Window
368 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 10% Window
369 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 25% Window
371 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 50% Window
372 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 100% Window
373 cd/m²
SDR ABL
0.001

The Dell S2721QS' SDR peak brightness is great. It's consistent across different content and bright enough to overcome intense glare, so you shouldn't have any visibility issues in well-lit rooms.

We measured the SDR peak brightness after calibration in the 'Custom Color' Picture Mode with Brightness set to max.

6.6
Picture Quality
HDR Peak Brightness
HDR Real Scene
370 cd/m²
HDR Peak 2% Window
387 cd/m²
HDR Peak 10% Window
386 cd/m²
HDR Peak 25% Window
386 cd/m²
HDR Peak 50% Window
385 cd/m²
HDR Peak 100% Window
385 cd/m²
HDR Sustained 2% Window
386 cd/m²
HDR Sustained 10% Window
386 cd/m²
HDR Sustained 25% Window
385 cd/m²
HDR Sustained 50% Window
385 cd/m²
HDR Sustained 100% Window
384 cd/m²
HDR ABL
0.000

The HDR peak brightness is okay. It's again very consistent when displaying different scenes, but it isn't bright enough to deliver a good HDR experience.

We measured the HDR peak brightness using the 'Desktop' Picture Mode in the Smart HDR settings menu.

8.1
Picture Quality
Horizontal Viewing Angle
Color Washout From Left
40°
Color Washout From Right
44°
Color Shift From Left
58°
Color Shift From Right
62°
Brightness Loss From Left
44°
Brightness Loss From Right
48°
Black Level Raise From Left
70°
Black Level Raise From Right
70°
Gamma Shift From Left
42°
Gamma Shift From Right
44°

Update 12/08/2020: We've retested the horizontal viewing angle, as some users have reported that the edge of the screen seems blurrier than the rest when viewed at an angle. This is normal for most monitors since that area is behind the border, but it's a bit more noticeable on this monitor. The score hasn't changed.

The Dell S2721QS has great horizontal viewing angles. Images remain accurate when viewed from the side, good for sharing content on your screen with coworkers and clients.

8.3
Picture Quality
Vertical Viewing Angle
Color Washout From Below
35°
Color Washout From Above
37°
Color Shift From Below
61°
Color Shift From Above
62°
Brightness Loss From Below
38°
Brightness Loss From Above
38°
Black Level Raise From Below
70°
Black Level Raise From Above
70°
Gamma Shift From Below
60°
Gamma Shift From Above
67°

Great vertical viewing angles. You shouldn't lose any image accuracy unless you mount the monitor far above eye level.

8.4
Picture Quality
Gray Uniformity
50% Std. Dev.
4.172%
50% DSE
0.110%
5% Std. Dev.
0.455%
5% DSE
0.034%

Gray uniformity on our Dell S2721QS is great; however, this can vary between units. The edges are visibly darker, but dirty screen effect is minimal. Uniformity is much better in dark scenes.

7.1
Picture Quality
Black Uniformity
Native Std. Dev.
1.208%
Std. Dev. w/ L.D.
N/A

Black uniformity is decent, but this can vary between units. The whole screen looks gray/blue, and there's slight backlight bleed along the top and bottom edges. The sides also appear darker than the rest of the screen.

6.9
Picture Quality
Pre Calibration
Picture Mode
Custom Color
Luminance
330 cd/m²
Luminance Settings
75
Contrast Setting
75
RGB Controls
100-100-100
Gamma Setting
No Gamma Setting
Color Temperature
6,670 K
White Balance dE
3.55
Color dE
3.47
Gamma
2.42

Out of the box, the Dell S2721QS has okay accuracy. There are visible inaccuracies with most colors and shades of gray. The color temperature is on the cooler side, resulting in a slight blueish tint. Gamma doesn't follow the sRGB curve at all, causing most scenes to appear darker than they should. Note that color accuracy can vary between units.

9.6
Picture Quality
Post Calibration
Picture Mode
Custom Color
Luminance
99 cd/m²
Luminance Settings
19
Contrast Setting
72
RGB Controls
100-98-100
Gamma Setting
No Gamma Setting
Color Temperature
6,505 K
White Balance dE
0.51
Color dE
0.52
Gamma
2.18

After calibration, accuracy is exceptional. The remaining color inaccuracies shouldn't be visible to the naked eye. The color temperature is almost right on our 6500K target, and white balance is nearly perfect. Gamma is significantly improved, but very dark and very bright scenes are slightly over-brightened.

You can download our ICC profile calibration here. This is provided for reference only and shouldn't be used, as the calibration values vary per individual unit due to manufacturing tolerances, even for the same model.

9.0
Picture Quality
SDR Color Gamut
sRGB xy
100.0%
Adobe RGB xy
79.7%
sRGB Picture Mode
Custom Color
Adobe RGB Picture Mode
Custom Color

The Dell S2721QS has an outstanding SDR color gamut. It has full coverage of the sRGB color space used in most content and very good coverage of the Adobe RGB color space used mostly for photo editing.

9.2
Picture Quality
SDR Color Volume
sRGB In ICtCp
97.9%
Adobe RGB In ICtCp
85.1%
sRGB Picture Mode
Custom Color
Adobe RGB Picture Mode
Custom Color

Outstanding SDR color volume. It has difficulty displaying dark colors due to its low contrast ratio.

7.1
Picture Quality
HDR Color Gamut
Wide Color Gamut
Yes
DCI P3 xy
81.4%
Rec. 2020 xy
61.1%
DCI P3 Picture Mode
Desktop
Rec. 2020 Picture Mode
Desktop

Decent HDR color gamut. It has great coverage of the DCI P3 color space used in most HDR content, but its coverage of the wider Rec. 2020 is mediocre.

Our measurement of the DCI P3 coverage is likely lower than other reviewers, which is due to the way we measure it. We measure DCI P3 by sending a Rec. 2020 signal, but unlike most reviewers, we limit the colors to the P3 primaries. This results in a lower but arguably more accurate measurement.

6.5
Picture Quality
HDR Color Volume
DCI-P3 In ICtCp
75.5%
Rec. 2020 In ICtCp
54.7%
DCI P3 Picture Mode
Desktop
Rec. 2020 Picture Mode
Desktop

The HDR color volume is just okay. It struggles with dark, saturated colors due to its low contrast ratio, and it also has trouble with bright blues, although that's typical for LCDs.

9.9
Picture Quality
Image Retention
IR After 0 Min Recovery
0.00%
IR After 2 Min Recovery
0.09%
IR After 4 Min Recovery
0.00%
IR After 6 Min Recovery
0.00%
IR After 8 Min Recovery
0.00%
IR After 10 Min Recovery
0.00%

There's a tiny amount of image retention after exposing a high-contrast image for ten minutes; however, it dissipates quickly. Note that image retention can vary between individual units.

9.8
Picture Quality
Gradient
Color Depth
10 Bit

The Dell S2721QS has superb gradient handling. You shouldn't see any banding in most content.

10
Picture Quality
Color Bleed
Pixel Row Error
0.000%
Pixel Column Error
0.002%

There are no signs of color bleed on this monitor.

7.8
Picture Quality
Reflections
Screen Finish
Matte
Total Reflections
4.5%
Indirect Reflections
2.5%
Calculated Direct Reflections
2.0%

Good reflection handling. It has a matte anti-reflective coating that reduces the intensity of reflected lights. Combined with the screen's great peak brightness, you shouldn't have any visibility issues in well-lit environments.

9.5
Picture Quality
Text Clarity
Sub-Pixel Layout
RGB

The Dell S2721QS has exceptional text clarity due to its high pixel density. Windows ClearType makes the letters look bolder (top photo), but it might not be necessary.

Motion
7.8
Motion
Response Time @ Max Refresh Rate
Best Overdrive Setting
Normal
Rise / Fall Time
8.5 ms
Total Response Time
14.8 ms
Overshoot Error
0.0%
Dark Rise / Fall Time
8.9 ms
Dark Total Response Time
14.3 ms
Dark Overshoot Error
0.0%

Overdrive Setting Response Time Chart Response Time Tables Motion Blur Photo
Normal Chart Table Photo
Fast Chart Table Photo
Extreme Chart Table Photo

The Dell S2721QS has good response time at its max refresh rate, resulting in only a short blur trail behind fast-moving objects. We recommend using the 'Normal' overdrive setting, as it provides the best performance with no overshoot at all.

7.8
Motion
Response Time @ 60Hz
Best Overdrive Setting
Normal
Rise / Fall Time
8.5 ms
Total Response Time
14.8 ms
Overshoot Error
0%
Dark Rise / Fall Time
8.9 ms
Dark Total Response Time
14.3 ms
Dark Overshoot Error
0.0%

Overdrive Setting Response Time Chart Response Time Tables Motion Blur Photo
Normal Chart Table Photo
Fast Chart Table Photo
Extreme Chart Table Photo

Since the Dell S2721QS' maximum refresh rate is 60Hz, the results are the same as the response time at max refresh rate.

10
Motion
Image Flicker
Flicker-Free Yes
PWM Dimming Frequency
0 Hz

The backlight is flicker-free, which helps minimize motion duplication and reduce eye strain.

0
Motion
Black Frame Insertion (BFI)
Black Frame Insertion (BFI)
No BFI
BFI Maximum Frequency
N/A
BFI Minimum Frequency
N/A

This monitor doesn't have a Black Frame Insertion feature.

7.4
Motion
Refresh Rate
Native
60 Hz
Max Refresh Rate
60 Hz
Variable Refresh Rate
Yes
FreeSync
Yes
G-SYNC
Compatible (Tested)
VRR Maximum
60 Hz
VRR Minimum
40 Hz
VRR Supported Connectors DisplayPort

The Dell S2721QS supports FreeSync natively to reduce screen tearing when gaming, and it works with G-SYNC as well even though it isn't officially certified by NVIDIA. However, both FreeSync and G-SYNC only work over a DisplayPort connection, not HDMI.

Inputs
8.9
Inputs
Input Lag
Native Resolution
8.7 ms
Native Resolution @ 60Hz
8.7 ms
Variable Refresh Rate
9.9 ms
Variable Refresh Rate @ 60Hz
9.9 ms
10 Bit HDR
8.8 ms
Black Frame Insertion (BFI)
N/A

The Dell S2721QS has excellent low input lag, providing a responsive desktop and gaming experience. It remains low with 10-bit HDR or VRR enabled.

9.2
Inputs
Resolution And Size
Native Resolution 3840 x 2160
Aspect Ratio 16:9
Megapixels 8.3 MP
Pixel Density
164 PPI
Screen Diagonal 27.0"
Screen Area 310 in²

The Dell S2721QS's resolution and screen size are outstanding for work, media consumption, and gaming. There's plenty of screen real estate to have multiple windows opened side-by-side, and the high pixel density makes images and text look incredibly sharp.

Inputs
Inputs
Inputs
Total Inputs
DisplayPort 1 (DP 1.2)
Mini DisplayPort No
HDMI 2 (HDMI 2.0)
DVI No
VGA No
DisplayPort Out No
USB No
USB C No
Analog Audio Out 3.5mm 1
Microphone In 3.5mm No
Digital Optical Audio Out No
Analog Audio Out RCA No
Power Supply Internal
Features
Features
Additional Features
RGB Illumination
No
Speakers
Yes
HDR10 Yes
Multiple Input Display
PIP + PBP

There aren't many additional features on this monitor, only a Picture-in-Picture and Picture-by-Picture mode, allowing you to display images from two input sources simultaneously.

Features
On-Screen Display (OSD)
Features
Controls

You can find the controls on the right underside of the screen. There are five buttons, and they allow you to power the monitor On/Off and navigate the on-screen menu.

Features
In The Box

  • User guide
  • Power cord
  • HDMI cable

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

We tested the 27 inch Dell S2721QS. We have also tested its bigger sibling, the Dell S3221QS; however, it has a curved VA panel and different performance. There are many monitors in Dell's S Series lineup with various configurations, some of which you can see in the table below.

Model Size Panel Type Resolution Refresh Rate
S2721QS 27" IPS 3840 x 2160 60Hz
S3221QS 32" VA 3840 x 2160 60Hz
S2721D 27" IPS 2560 x 1440 75Hz
S2721H 27" IPS 1920 x 1080 75Hz

If someone comes across a different type of panel or if their Dell S2721QS doesn't correspond to our review, let us know, and we'll update the review. Note that some tests, such as gray uniformity, may vary between individual units.

Our unit of the Dell S2721QS was manufactured in July 2020; you can see the label here.

Compared To Other Monitors

The Dell S2721QS is a great budget-friendly monitor that's suitable for work, media consumption, and gaming. However, it has a mediocre contrast ratio and doesn't get bright enough for HDR. For more options, check out our recommendations for the best 4k monitors, the best office monitors, and the best budget monitors.

Dell UltraSharp U2720Q

The Dell S2721QS is a bit better than the Dell UltraSharp U2720Q for most uses. The S2721QS has higher peak brightness and better reflection handling, and it supports variable refresh rate technology to reduce screen tearing when gaming. However, the U2720Q has better ergonomics and more connectivity options, including a USB-C port that supports DisplayPort Alt Mode.

Dell S3221QS

Overall, the Dell S2721QS is much better than the Dell S3221QS. Although they look similar, the S2721 has wider viewing angles, significantly better ergonomics, and gets brighter in SDR mode. However, the S3221QS' VA panel has a higher contrast ratio and is better suited for dark rooms, and its larger screen size provides more space for multitasking.

ASUS ProArt Display PA278QV

The ASUS ProArt Display PA278QV and the Dell S2721QS are both great productivity monitors. The main difference is that the ASUS has a 1440p resolution, while the Dell is 4k. The ASUS has USB ports, and its faster 75Hz refresh rate provides a slightly more responsive desktop experience. On the other hand, the Dell has a Picture-in-Picture mode and supports HDR.

Dell S2721DGF

Overall, the Dell S2721QS is marginally better than the Dell S2721DGF; however, they're intended for different uses. The S2721QS is a 4k monitor with a basic 60Hz panel while the S2721DGF is a gaming monitor with a 1440p resolution and a 165Hz refresh rate. The S2721QS delivers sharper text and has better color accuracy out of the box. The S2721DGF has better ergonomics, faster response time, and lower input lag.

Gigabyte M27Q

The Dell S2721QS and the Gigabyte M27Q are very different monitors. The Dell is a 4k productivity monitor with a 60Hz refresh rate, while the Gigabyte is a 1440p gaming monitor with a 170Hz refresh rate. If you only need it for work, the Dell is better because it delivers much sharper text due to its higher pixel density, and also because the Gigabyte has a BGR subpixel layout that may cause blurry text in some applications. However, the Gigabyte feels more responsive, and it offers more features, like a USB-C input.

ASUS ProArt Display PA278CV

The Dell S2721QS and the ASUS ProArt Display are both great 27 inch office monitors. The Dell has a 4k resolution, whereas the ASUS is 1440p; however, the difference might not be very noticeable at typical viewing distances. Feature-wise, the Dell has a Picture-in-Picture mode, but the ASUS has USB ports, including a USB-C that supports DisplayPort Alt Mode and 65W charging.

LG 27UK650-W

Overall, the Dell S2721QS is a bit better than the LG 27UK650-W. The Dell has better ergonomics, wider viewing angles, and better reflection handling. On the other hand, the LG has better out-of-the-box color accuracy and a faster response time.

BenQ EL2870U

The Dell S2721QS is much better than the BenQ EL2870U. The Dell has much better ergonomics, higher peak brightness, and its IPS panel has wider viewing angles. It also has a better contrast ratio and can display a wide color gamut for HDR content. On the flip side, the BenQ has better color accuracy out of the box.

Lenovo ThinkVision M14

The Dell S2721QS and the Lenovo ThinkVision M14 are both office monitors meant for different uses. While the Lenovo is a portable monitor with a 14 inch screen and 1080p resolution, the Dell is a stationary model with a 27 inch, 4k screen. Despite the differences in size and resolution, they have similar pixel density, so text looks sharp on each. The Dell is more versatile because it gets brighter, has better reflection handling, and supports HDR, but the Lenovo is to be used on the go anyways.

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