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
3,194 : 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
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
6,778 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
6,506 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%
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
Native Resolution 3840 x 2160
Aspect Ratio 16:9
Megapixels 8.3 MP
Pixel Density
140 PPI
Screen Diagonal 31.5"
Screen Area 424 in²

The Dell S3221QS's size and resolution are fantastic for both gaming and productivity. There's plenty of screen real estate for multitasking and to deliver an immersive gaming experience, and its high pixel density results in sharp images and text.

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 2 (USB 3.0)
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

The Dell S3221QS has two USB 3.0 ports, one of which supports BC 1.2 fast charging.

Features
Features
Additional Features
RGB Illumination
No
Speakers
Yes
HDR10 Yes
Multiple Input Display
PIP + PBP

The Dell S3221QS has a few additional features, including:

  • Timer: Puts a timer on the screen.
  • OSD Lock: Locks the on-screen menu to prevent accidental presses.
  • Picture-in-Picture and Picture-by-Picture: Lets you display images from two input sources simultaneously.

Features
On-Screen Display (OSD)
Features
Controls

The controls are located on the right underside of the monitor. There's a power button, and four additional buttons to navigate the on-screen menu.

Features
In The Box

  • DisplayPort cable
  • USB-A to USB-B upstream cable
  • Power cord
  • User guide

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

We tested the 32 inch Dell S3221QS. There's a smaller 27 inch variant, the S2721QS; however, it has an IPS panel, and we expect it to have very different performance. There are many monitors in Dell's S Series with various configurations, some of which you can see in the table below.

Model Size Panel Type Resolution Refresh Rate
S3221QS 32" VA 3840 x 2160 60Hz
S2721QS 27" IPS 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 S3221QS 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 S3221QS was manufactured in July 2020; you can see the label here.

Compared To Other Monitors

The Dell S3221QS is a good monitor overall. It's well-suited for a wide variety of uses; however, its poor ergonomics make it less ideal if you often need to share content or work. If you don't mind a lower 1440p resolution, the Dell S3220DGF has significantly better ergonomics and provides a much better gaming experience. For other options, check out our recommendations for the best office monitors, the best 4k monitors, and the best monitors.

Dell S3220DGF

Overall, the Dell S3220DGF is slightly better than the Dell S3221QS. The S3220DGF is better suited for gaming, as it has lower input, faster response time, and a 165Hz refresh rate. It also has much better ergonomics and gets brighter in HDR. On the other hand, the S3221QS has a 4k resolution and wider viewing angles.

BenQ EW3270U

The Dell S3221QS and the BenQ EW3270U are very similar overall. The main differences are that the Dell gets brighter in SDR and HDR, and the BenQ has faster response time. The BenQ has wider viewing angles, but still not as good as most IPS panels.

Dell S2721QS

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.

LG 32UL500-W

The LG 32UL500-W and the Dell S3221QS are very similar as they're both 32 inch VA panel monitors with a 4k resolution and a 60Hz refresh rate. However, the Dell has a 1800R curved screen while the LG is flat. The Dell gets a bit brighter, making it a better choice for bright rooms, and it's a little bit better in terms of ergonomics because it allows for height adjustment. For content creators, the LG has better Adobe RGB and DCI P3 coverage. On the other hand, the Dell has more extra features, including two USB ports and a Picture-in-Picture/Picture-by-Picture mode.

Samsung U32J590/UJ59

The Dell S3221QS is better than the Samsung U32J590/UJ59. The Dell gets significantly brighter, has HDR support, and allows for height adjustment. However, the Samsung has wider viewing angles and faster response time.

Dell UltraSharp U4021QW

The Dell S3221QS and the Dell UltraSharp U4021QW are good monitors overall, but they have a few key differences. The S3221QS is smaller and uses a VA panel, so it has a higher contrast ratio than the U4021WQ. On the other hand, the U4021QW is a larger, ultrawide monitor with an IPS panel, so it has wider viewing angles. It also has a higher 5k resolution for an exceptionally sharp image, but it lacks extra features like VRR support and HDR.

LG 32GN650-B

The Dell S3221QS and the LG 32GN650-B are both good 32 inch monitors, although each is better suited to different uses. As a gaming monitor, the LG has a 165Hz panel, a much faster response time, and a lower input lag. The Dell, on the other hand, is limited to a 60Hz refresh rate. That said, the Dell has a 4k resolution that ensures a crisp image despite the larger size, so it's well-suited to multitasking and anything that requires a lot of screen real estate. The Dell also gets brighter and has better reflection handling, so it's more suited to well-lit rooms.

LG 27UK650-W

The LG 27UK650-W is better than the Dell S3221QS. The 27UK650-W has much better ergonomics, wider viewing angles, and gets a lot brighter. It also has significantly faster response time, making it a better choice for gaming. However, the Dell S3221QS's VA panel is better for dark rooms, and its 32 inch screen provides much more screen real estate for multitasking.

AOC CQ27G2

The Dell S3221QS is better than the AOC CQ27G2 overall; however, they aren't intended for the same use. The Dell is an office monitor with a much bigger screen, a higher resolution, and it gets a lot brighter. The AOC is a gaming monitor with a 144Hz refresh rate, a much faster response time, and lower input lag.

LG 48 C1 OLED

The Dell S3221QS and the LG 48 C1 OLED are different types of 4k displays. The LG is a TV that we tested as a monitor, so it has a ton more features like a built-in OS and processing features. Its OLED panel can turn off individual pixels, resulting in a near-infinite contrast. However, the Dell has an LED panel that gets brighter and doesn't have the risk of permanent burn-in like OLEDs. The LG has more gaming features such as HDMI 2.1 inputs and VRR support, and it has a near-instant response time for smooth motion.

+ Show more

Discussions