I recently purchased three of these monitors for my triple screen set up after thoroughly researching them. I also finally had a chance to see one operate in person at the Best Buy store here in town. Here are my thoughts. In summary, this is an excellent gaming monitor that will serve you well, particularly if you get it on sale at $400-$550.
I will say out of the box that I am a Dell guy when it comes to monitors. To date, the best monitor I have ever owned when you take into account quality, longevity, etc. is the legendary Dell 24 Inch WFP 2408 monitor. I bought one in 2008 and used it, along with two others I later purchased, until early 2016!!! I finally decided it was time for an upgrade but I was limited on funds and so I got three of the moderatly priced but nonetheless excellent Dell 27 Inch S2715h IPS monitors. They have have served me well, in fact I am typing this review on one of them right now. But it wasn't long before I became aware of Dell's first gaming monitor, the S2716DG.
After reading about this monitor extensively, including feedback from many iRacers, I finally pulled the plug on purchasing three of these from Best Buy when they went on sale for $499 each. The purchase was well worth it.
This monitor has all of the right specifications for sim racing and PC gaming generally. Here are the specs that mattered most to me:
27 Inch Size
QHD - 2560 X 1440 Resolution
144 hz Refresh Rate
1 ms Response Time
DisplayPort and HDMI Connectors
Matte Coated Screen
VESA 100 x 100 Mount
HDMI and DisplayPort Cables Included
3 Year Warranty with Advanced Exchange from Dell
Now some of you might be concerned already - a TN panel? Yep, that is exactly what I thought, but to be fair, this is no ordinary TN panel. Yes, IPS panels do have better colors out of the box but Dell has done something very special here - they have managed to give us the benefit of IPS like colors but in a TN panel.
OUT OF BOX IMAGE QUALITY
As to image quality, the out of the box default calibration is not good. The image looks washed out. However, I was able to quickly rectify that by changing the following settings. First, in the monitor controls, I reduced the Brightness to 26% (I now have it at 30%) and I adjusted R to 97, G to 99 and B to 96. Second, I made the following adjustments to desktop color settings in the Nvidia driver: Gamma .60 and Digital Vibrance 80% (I now have it at 75%).
These settings have made all of the difference but I will tell you that picture appearance on a monitor is very subjective and so your mileage can and likely will vary based on what you like. I personally prefer darker, more striking colors, with less brightness. That being said, most folks will likely find the default settings to be unsatisfactory because of the brightness and so even if you just reduce that, you probably will see great improvement.
I came from glossy monitors and there is no question that matte is the way to go. That probably explains why most monitors are matte, not glossy.
Dell monitors have always enjoyed great build quality in the ten years plus I have been buying them and this monitor is no exception. The stand is very solid and clamps nice and tight to the monitor. The monitor has an understated appearance to it, with no fancy gamer marketing logos, etc. like you see with the competing Asus ROG and Acer Predator line of PC gaming products.
I know my picture doesn't show build quality very well, but you can see that the monitors have very thin bezels and an understated appearance. I personally don't mind the fancy ROG and Predator stuff, but some may prefer the much plainer Dell approach.
The screens have a nice anti-glare coating. My only slight complaint is the piano black finish on the back, which shows dust and fingerprints quite well.
To get the best performance out of the monitor, YOU HAVE TO USE THE DISPLAYPORT connection, otherwise no Nvidia GSYNC. Also, the monitor may not give you the 144 hz refresh rate over the HDMI connection.
Once I got the settings right, I was amazed at the beauty of the picture. In iRacing, for example, the colors at the tracks I tested including Silverstone and Auto Club just pop. No pictures can do them justice. The reds at Silverstone and blues at Auto Club are so vibrant.
But the real difference here is the Nvidia GSYNC and 144 hz refresh rate. I have a GTX 1080 GPU and a Core i7 6700k CPU and so in iRacing, I am able to average anywhere between 100 and 143 FPS at the triple screen resolution of 7680 X 1440, which means I get incredible visuals, that are running silky smooth. If iRacing were the only game that these monitors worked for, that would be good enough for me, since iRacing is my primary sim and game. The downside here, however, is that to get the most out of these monitors, particularly because three of them run at a resolution that is higher than 4k, you have to have quite a rig or you have to adjust your settings in game downward to get the most out of the high refresh rate.
Of course I did not stop at iRacing. I also tested Project CARS and Assetto Corsa, both of which look and run absolutely amazing with these monitors, even at 7680 X 1440. Raceroom Experience and F1 2016 also look good, but are not quite as pretty and smooth. F1 2016 runs at lower FPS at 7680 X 1440 and so it does not have quite the same smoothness as iRacing, Project CARS and Assetto Corsa.
I also tried Automobilista. The good news is it runs very smoothly, but for whatever reason, the colors are washed out no matter what I tried. I have read that some games, Automobilista apparently one of them, will override the Nvidia desktop color settings.
I also tested many of my other games, including Witcher 3, Deux Ex Mankind Divided, Call of Duty Modern Warfare Remastered, Call of Duty Infinite Warfare, Call of Duty Black Ops III, Far Cry 4, Doom, Sleeping Dogs and Tomb Raider. I found that with each of these games, in order to get the "Ultra" eye candy plus the higher FPS of at least 70+, that I had to switch to one monitor running at 2560 X 1440. That was not a problem for me, as I am not wedded to triple screens for non racing games. Each of these games runs silky smooth, and look amazing. I will say that I prefer 2560 X 1440 with higher FPS on these monitors over 4k on my Samsung 40 inch 4K TV!
I also tested some other games, including Battlefield 1 and GTA V that I prefer on triple screens and they did not disappoint. Very smooth and beautiful.
I cannot comment on the 1 ms response time spec and whether it makes any difference. I have read that it matters most in FPS games and that is why TN panels are preferred by gamers, since only TN panels have the 1 ms response time spec. If that matters to you, there you go.
As I already mentioned, there are some caveats that come with this monitor, which I think also overlap with other gaming monitors that include this cutting edge technology. First, as previously mentioned, the out of the box settings are not good, and Dell's failure to include a Gamma adjustment in the monitor menu is questionable. So, know that if you go with this monitor, chances are that you will need to fuss with the settings on the monitor AND in the Nvidia control panel. Second, as previously mentioned, you need a powerful rig to get the most out of these monitors, particularly if you run the ideal triple screen resolution of 7680 X 1440. That is a lot of pixels, more than 4k. Also, GSYNC does work all the way down to 30 FPS, but in order to get the silky smooth images, you really need to average at least 70-80 FPS, which is not easy. And, these monitors are not cheap. They list for $699, which is more competitive than the comparable Acer and Asus monitors, but my research over the last few months has revealed that the monitors are usually on sale somewhere between $400 and $550.
I also will mention Dell's support. The 3 year warranty is nice but my experience with Dell's support in the past has been mixed. To be fair, it has been at least 5 years since I have contacted Dell support and so their customer service may have improved. I have never had to use Dell's support for the many Dell monitors I have purchased. That says something. That being said, I did have to get support for both Dell computers I bought in the past and it was a hassle.
And finally, I personally do not like to buy a monitor sight unseen. If you can, view these monitors in person at your local Best Buy or whatever local retailers you may have that have an operating display model of this monitor. Ideally, go see the competing Acer and Asus models as well. I was able to see the monitor in action at Best Buy before I took delivery and that helped cement my decision to purchase, but Best Buy has a great return policy and so there is little risk. Online retailers have the PIA RMA process and so I am glad I would have avoided that if I had decided to return these monitors.
So, as you probably can tell if you have read this far, I am very satisfied with my purchases. The Dell 27 Inch S2716DG is a solid gaming monitor that will serve you well. Buy from Best Buy with confidence!