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Dell S3221QS Monitor Review

Tested using Methodology v1.1
Reviewed Oct 06, 2020 at 08:35 am
Dell S3221QS Picture
7.6
Mixed Usage
7.5
Office
7.6
Gaming
7.6
Multimedia
7.8
Media Creation
6.9
HDR Gaming
Size 32"
Resolution 3840x2160
Max Refresh Rate
60 Hz
Pixel Type
VA
Variable Refresh Rate
FreeSync

The Dell S3221QS is a good 4k monitor that's well-suited for a wide variety of uses. Its 32 inch curved screen allows you to work comfortably with multiple windows opened side-by-side and delivers an incredibly immersive gaming experience in atmospheric games like RPGs. It has a VA panel that can produce deep blacks, which is great for those who like gaming in the dark. Its response time is decent, input lag is low, and it supports FreeSync to help minimize screen tearing. Unfortunately, there are some downsides, as it has mediocre viewing angles and poor ergonomics. It has HDR support; however, the overall experience is unremarkable due to its low HDR peak brightness.

Our Verdict

7.6 Mixed Usage

The Dell S3221QS is a good monitor for most uses. It has a large screen and high resolution, making it a good choice for work, gaming, or watching videos online. It has low input lag, decent response time, and supports variable refresh rate for a nearly tear-free gaming experience. It performs well in dark rooms and gets bright enough to fight glare in well-lit environments. Unfortunately, it has mediocre viewing angles and limited ergonomic adjustments.

Pros
  • Great contrast ratio.
  • Large screen and 4k resolution.
  • Good reflection handling.
Cons
  • Poor ergonomics.
  • Mediocre viewing angles.
7.5 Office

The Dell S3221QS is a good office monitor. It gets bright enough to overcome glare in most lighting conditions and handles reflections well. Its large screen size lets you open multiple windows side-by-side, and text looks exceptionally sharp thanks to its high pixel density. Sadly, it's difficult to adjust the monitor to your preferred viewing position due to its poor ergonomics. Also, its mediocre viewing angles make it harder to share your work with coworkers.

Pros
  • Large screen and 4k resolution.
  • Good reflection handling.
  • Exceptional text clarity.
Cons
  • Poor ergonomics.
  • Mediocre viewing angles.
7.6 Gaming

The Dell S3221QS is good for gaming. It has low input lag, decent response time, and variable refresh rate support to help reduce screen tearing. It's great for atmospheric games like RPGs, as it has a large screen and high resolution to deliver an incredibly immersive experience. Unfortunately, the refresh rate is limited to 60Hz, and its poor ergonomics make it hard to adjust the screen to your optimal viewing position.

Pros
  • Great contrast ratio.
  • VRR support.
  • Large screen and 4k resolution.
  • Good reflection handling.
Cons
  • Poor ergonomics.
  • Mediocre viewing angles.
7.6 Multimedia

The Dell S3221QS is good for media consumption. It has a large 32 inch screen with a 4k resolution to deliver an immersive viewing experience. It has a high contrast ratio to produce deep blacks, making it a good option for dark rooms. Unfortunately, it has poor ergonomics and mediocre viewing angles, so it isn't ideal for sharing content.

Pros
  • Great contrast ratio.
  • Large screen and 4k resolution.
  • Good reflection handling.
Cons
  • Poor ergonomics.
  • Mediocre viewing angles.
7.8 Media Creation

The Dell S3221QS is good for content creation. Its large screen allows you to work comfortably, and its high resolution lets you see the fine details of your work. It has a high contrast ratio, full sRGB coverage, and decent color accuracy out-of-the-box. It isn't the best option for sharing your work, though, as it has mediocre viewing angles and poor ergonomics.

Pros
  • Great contrast ratio.
  • Large screen and 4k resolution.
  • Good reflection handling.
Cons
  • Poor ergonomics.
  • Mediocre viewing angles.
6.9 HDR Gaming

The Dell S3221QS is okay for gaming in HDR. It has low input lag and decent response time, and it supports FreeSync to help reduce screen tearing. It delivers good picture quality with its high contrast ratio and wide color gamut, but it lacks local dimming and doesn't get bright enough to bring out highlights in HDR content.

Pros
  • Great contrast ratio.
  • VRR support.
  • Large screen and 4k resolution.
  • Good reflection handling.
Cons
  • Poor ergonomics.
  • Mediocre viewing angles.
  • Doesn't get bright enough for HDR content.
  • No local dimming.
  • 7.6 Mixed Usage
  • 7.5 Office
  • 7.6 Gaming
  • 7.6 Multimedia
  • 7.8 Media Creation
  • 6.9 HDR Gaming

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style
Curved Yes
Curve Radius 1800R
Weight (without stand)
16.8 lbs (7.6 kg)
Weight (with stand)
23.4 lbs (10.6 kg)

The Dell S3221QS has a simple design that fits well in most office settings. It looks almost identical to the Dell S2721D we tested, but with a curved screen. It has thin borders on three sides with a slightly thicker bottom bezel.

Design
Stand
Width
11.8" (30.0 cm)
Depth
8.2" (20.8 cm)

The stand doesn't take up much desk space and supports the monitor well. There's almost no wobble.

3.7
Design
Ergonomics
Height Adjustment
2.8" (7.0 cm)
Switch Portrait/Landscape No
Swivel Range No swivel
Tilt Range -20° to 5°

Unfortunately, this monitor has poor ergonomics. There's no swivel adjustment or rotation to portrait mode. The screen can rotate about 5 degrees in each direction, but it just ends up making the screen look lopsided.

Design
Back
Wall Mount VESA 100x100

The back of the monitor is plain. All the inputs are bottom-facing, and there's a small cutout in the stand for cable management. There are screws behind the quick-release backplate if you want to VESA-mount the monitor.

Design
Borders
Borders
0.3" (0.8 cm)

The borders are thin and aren't distracting, great for multi-monitor setups.

Design
Thickness
Thickness (with stand)
3.8" (9.7 cm)
Thickness (without stand)
2.6" (6.6 cm)

The screen is thick due to its curvature and sticks out when wall-mounted. That said, the stand doesn't take up much space.

7.5
Design
Build Quality

The Dell S3221QS' build quality is good. The stand is very sturdy, as it has a metal frame covered with high-quality plastic and supports the monitor well. The tilting hinge is good too and allows for easy and precise adjustments. The plastic back feels well-made; however, it flexes a bit at the edges and detaches easily from the frame. Also, the borders feel cheap, as it doesn't follow the screen's curvature, creating small gaps in some areas.

Picture Quality
8.0
Picture Quality
Contrast
Native Contrast
3194 : 1
Contrast With Local Dimming
N/A

As expected of most VA panels, the Dell S3221QS has a great contrast ratio, producing deep blacks for a good dark room viewing experience. Note that the contrast ratio can vary between units. The posted result is a pre-calibration measurement and is in line with the advertised 3000:1 contrast ratio. Calibrating the monitor caused a drop in contrast, lowering it to 2395:1.

0
Picture Quality
Local Dimming
Local Dimming
No
Backlight
Edge

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

7.6
Picture Quality
SDR Peak Brightness
SDR Real Scene
304 cd/m²
SDR Peak 2% Window
299 cd/m²
SDR Peak 10% Window
300 cd/m²
SDR Peak 25% Window
300 cd/m²
SDR Peak 50% Window
300 cd/m²
SDR Peak 100% Window
300 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 2% Window
299 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 10% Window
300 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 25% Window
300 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 50% Window
300 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 100% Window
300 cd/m²
SDR ABL
0.000

The Dell S3221QS has good SDR peak brightness. It's very consistent across different content and bright enough to overcome glare in most lighting conditions. However, it can still struggle a bit in very bright settings.

The posted results are the pre-calibration measurements. The calibration caused a significant drop in brightness, lowering the real scene brightness to 213 cd/m². We measured the SDR peak brightness in the 'Custom Color' Picture Mode, with Brightness set to max.

6.4
Picture Quality
HDR Peak Brightness
HDR Real Scene
335 cd/m²
HDR Peak 2% Window
372 cd/m²
HDR Peak 10% Window
372 cd/m²
HDR Peak 25% Window
372 cd/m²
HDR Peak 50% Window
373 cd/m²
HDR Peak 100% Window
373 cd/m²
HDR Sustained 2% Window
371 cd/m²
HDR Sustained 10% Window
372 cd/m²
HDR Sustained 25% Window
372 cd/m²
HDR Sustained 50% Window
372 cd/m²
HDR Sustained 100% Window
372 cd/m²
HDR ABL
0.000

Mediocre HDR peak brightness. It's again very consistent, with almost no variation across different content, but it isn't bright enough to deliver a satisfying HDR experience.

We measured the HDR peak brightness in the 'Game HDR' Picture Mode, with Brightness set to max.

6.3
Picture Quality
Horizontal Viewing Angle
Color Washout From Left
43 °
Color Washout From Right
45 °
Color Shift From Left
70 °
Color Shift From Right
70 °
Brightness Loss From Left
36 °
Brightness Loss From Right
34 °
Black Level Raise From Left
17 °
Black Level Raise From Right
20 °
Gamma Shift From Left
9 °
Gamma Shift From Right
12 °

The Dell S3221QS has mediocre horizontal viewing angles, though pretty decent for a VA panel. Gamma shift happens quickly when moving off-center, but colors remain relatively accurate until you reach moderate viewing angles.

5.8
Picture Quality
Vertical Viewing Angle
Color Washout From Below
30 °
Color Washout From Above
31 °
Color Shift From Below
70 °
Color Shift From Above
70 °
Brightness Loss From Below
30 °
Brightness Loss From Above
32 °
Black Level Raise From Below
11 °
Black Level Raise From Above
14 °
Gamma Shift From Below
10 °
Gamma Shift From Above
13 °

The Dell S3221QS has sub-par vertical viewing angles. This makes images look inaccurate if you have the monitor mounted above eye level.

8.5
Picture Quality
Gray Uniformity
50% Std. Dev.
3.070 %
50% DSE
0.117 %
5% Std. Dev.
0.774 %
5% DSE
0.071 %

Our unit of the Dell S3221QS has excellent gray uniformity. The edges are slightly darker, but it shouldn't be noticeable in most content. There's almost no dirty screen effect, and uniformity is better in near-dark scenes. Note that gray uniformity can vary between individual units.

6.4
Picture Quality
Black Uniformity
Native Std. Dev.
1.696 %
Std. Dev. w/ L.D.
N/A

Black uniformity on our unit is mediocre. There's visible backlight bleed along the top and bottom edges, and some clouding throughout the screen. Note that black uniformity can vary between individual units.

7.4
Picture Quality
Pre Calibration
Picture Mode
Color Space (sRGB)
Luminance
213 cd/m²
Luminance Settings
75
Contrast Setting
75
RGB Controls
100-100-100
Gamma Setting
No Gamma Setting
Color Temperature
6778 K
White Balance dE
3.61
Color dE
2.54
Gamma
2.22

Before calibration, the color accuracy is decent. Most color inaccuracies are minor and hard to spot, but white balance is visibly off. The color temperature is a bit cooler than our 6500K target, resulting in a slight blueish tint. Gamma doesn't follow the sRGB curve all that well, making dark scenes too dark and bright scenes too bright. Color accuracy can vary between individual units.

9.6
Picture Quality
Post Calibration
Picture Mode
Custom Color
Luminance
99 cd/m²
Luminance Settings
43
Contrast Setting
64
RGB Controls
90-93-100
Gamma Setting
No Gamma Setting
Color Temperature
6506 K
White Balance dE
0.57
Color dE
0.45
Gamma
2.19

After calibration, the color accuracy is exceptional. The remaining color inaccuracies shouldn't be noticeable without the aid of a colorimeter. White balance is nearly perfect, and the color temperature is much closer to our 6500K target. Gamma is much better, but near-dark scenes and very bright scenes are too bright.

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 even for the same model due to manufacturing tolerances.

9.0
Picture Quality
SDR Color Gamut
sRGB xy
99.7 %
Adobe RGB xy
80.3 %
sRGB Picture Mode
Custom Color
Adobe RGB Picture Mode
Custom Color

The Dell S3221QS has an outstanding SDR color gamut. It has full coverage of the commonly-used sRGB color space, and great coverage of the Adobe RGB color space used mostly for photo editing.

9.3
Picture Quality
SDR Color Volume
sRGB In ICtCp
99.0 %
Adobe RGB In ICtCp
87.6 %
sRGB Picture Mode
Custom Color
Adobe RGB Picture Mode
Custom Color

Exceptional SDR color volume. Even though this monitor has a high contrast ratio, it has a bit of trouble displaying very dark and saturated colors.

7.3
Picture Quality
HDR Color Gamut
Wide Color Gamut
Yes
DCI P3 xy
81.0 %
Rec. 2020 xy
65.0 %
DCI P3 Picture Mode
Game HDR
Rec. 2020 Picture Mode
Game HDR

The Dell S3221QS has a 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 much more limited.

Note:The DCI P3 coverage is lower than the advertised 90%. This is due to the way we measure DCI P3. We measure DCI P3 by sending a Rec. 2020 signal, but unlike most reviewers, we limit the colors to the DCI P3 primaries. This results in a lower, but arguably more accurate measurement.

7.2
Picture Quality
HDR Color Volume
DCI-P3 In ICtCp
81.1 %
Rec. 2020 In ICtCp
63.1 %
DCI P3 Picture Mode
Game HDR
Rec. 2020 Picture Mode
Game HDR

Decent HDR color volume. Like in SDR, it has difficulty displaying dark and saturated colors. It also has trouble with bright blues, though that's typical for LCDs.

10
Picture Quality
Image Retention
IR After 0 Min Recovery
0.00 %
IR After 2 Min Recovery
0.00 %
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 are no signs of image retention on this monitor; however, it can vary between individual units.

9.8
Picture Quality
Gradient
Color Depth
10 Bit

Gradient handling is superb. You shouldn't see any banding in most content.

10
Picture Quality
Color Bleed
Pixel Row Error
0.001 %
Pixel Column Error
0.000 %

There's no color bleed on this monitor.

7.7
Picture Quality
Reflections
Screen Finish
Matte
Total Reflections
5.0 %
Indirect Reflections
3.0 %
Calculated Direct Reflections
2.0 %

The Dell S3221QS has good reflection handling. You shouldn't have any visibility issues in most rooms, but it's best to avoid very bright environments as the screen doesn't get bright enough to overcome intense glare.

9.5
Picture Quality
Text Clarity
Sub-Pixel Layout
RGB

Due to its high pixel density, the Dell S3221QS has exceptional text clarity. Turning on Windows ClearType makes text look bolder (top photo), but you might not need it. The pixels look blurry due to the matte anti-reflective coating.

Motion
7.4
Motion
Response Time @ Max Refresh Rate
Best Overdrive Setting
Normal
Rise / Fall Time
6.2 ms
Total Response Time
17.5 ms
Overshoot Error
6.0 %
Dark Rise / Fall Time
11.4 ms
Dark Total Response Time
19.2 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 S3221QS has decent response time at its maximum refresh rate. It should be good enough for slow-paced games, but there's visible motion smearing behind fast-moving objects. We recommend using the 'Normal' overdrive setting, as it's the option with the least amount of overshoot.

7.4
Motion
Response Time @ 60Hz
Best Overdrive Setting
Normal
Rise / Fall Time
6.2 ms
Total Response Time
17.5 ms
Overshoot Error
6.0 %
Dark Rise / Fall Time
11.4 ms
Dark Total Response Time
19.2 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 S3221's 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 at all brightness levels, great for minimizing motion duplication and reducing 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.

7.5
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
< 20 Hz
VRR Supported Connectors DisplayPort, HDMI

Update 10/23/2020: We incorrectly indicated that it's certified as G-SYNC compatible. It works with G-SYNC, but it isn't officially certified by NVIDIA.

The Dell S3221QS supports FreeSync to reduce screen tearing when gaming and is certified as G-SYNC compatible. G-SYNC only works over DisplayPort.

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

The Dell S3221QS has excellent low input lag. Most people shouldn't feel any delay.

9.2
Inputs
Resolution And Size