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Dell S2721QS Review: A simple, elegant 4K monitor

Dell S2721QS

Dell S2721QS

“Dell's S2721QS is a simple, no-frills 4K monitor with great build quality and an excellent warranty.”
  • Excellent build quality
  • 3-year advance exchange warranty
  • Crisp 4K image
  • Accurate colors
  • Unimpressive connectivity
  • Basic feature set
  • No wide gamut for photo editors
MSRP $449.99

Dell’s 27-inch USB-C monitor is a great buy at about $400 — but what if you don’t care for USB-C, and want a sharper image? For that audience, Dell built the S2721QS, which offers a 4K IPS panel and simple connectivity at practically the same price. In fact, it’s currently discounted to just $340, making it among the more budget-friendly 4K monitors on the market. But is it good enough to make it on our best monitors list?

Design

The Dell S2721QS comes in a big, slim white box, and as you unpack it you’re, as usual, greeted with one of Dell’s excellent stands. This one features a slightly different design that the one found on the P- and U-series monitors, with the back of the foot rounded and the sides angled inward. It’s also in a lighter color, and the neck has a slimmer profile than before.

Height, tilt, and rotate to portrait adjustments are appreciated by home office users as they enable healthy postures

You lose out on the swivel feature on the stand, but that’s not a major loss at this price, and you do keep the great height adjustment, tilting, and rotating to portrait – the most important options. As the monitor is aimed at (home) office use, these adjustments are particularly appreciated, as they help you maintain a healthy posture.

The rest of the display’s design is unremarkable. Bland, but not bad. The back of the monitor is made of durable white plastic, which makes the monitor look like a huge piece of chiclet chewing gum. It looks professional, offers slim bezels on the top and sides of the display, and will fit right in most homes and offices.

If it’s something more stylish you’re after, though, you’ll have to look at Dell’s Ultrathin S2719DC instead.

Ports and controls

Of course, at this price point, concessions have to be made, and that’s in extra features. The Dell S2721QS is a monitor, and little more. It has two HDMI inputs and one DisplayPort connector – you won’t find USB-C connectivity here, nor will you find a built-in USB hub or other luxuries. The only extra is the inclusion of built-in speakers. They’re unimpressive and sound tinny, but they produce sound loud enough to be heard, so that’s a win.

The OSD in the Dell S2721QS comes with a respectable number of options for a monitor of this kind, but a few are missing. The OSD is unusually pixelated for a 4K monitor. It comes with brightness and contrast controls, PiP (picture-in-picture) settings, RGB color adjustments, sharpness, response time adjustments, and more. What’s lacking? We found that there was no option to adjust the white point temperature, which errs a little to the cold side by default. That adjustment is common even among monitors at this price point.

With the buttons placed at the bottom, the OSD is always within reach, though in practice you’ll rarely need to venture into it, if ever.

Image Quality

Since Dell’s S2721QS doesn’t score a ton of points in features, lets see how it fares in image quality.

With a 4K (3840 x 2160 pixels) IPS panel, it boasts an incredibly sharp image, especially considering it serves you this resolution at a diagonal size of only 27 inches. You’ll need to heavily lean on Windows display scaling, which doesn’t work all too well, but that isn’t the monitor’s fault (MacOS image scaling does work better). 4K videos, images, and general use looks extremely crisp, but older programs may look small or blurry. Still, you’ll only find a sharper image on Apple’s 27-inch  iMac 5K, or on a 24-inch 4K monitor.

Dell’s figures specify a brightness of 350 nits and a static contrast ratio of 1300:1. Our testing showed the monitor is capable of exceeding these brightness figures, hitting almost 400 nits, but is a bit of a let down in contrast, at 790:1. It did improve to 940:1 after calibration.

Because Dell’s S2721QS offers a 4K resolution on a 27-inch panel, the image is extremely sharp

Dell quotes 99% coverage of the sRGB space, which is what you should expect most midrange monitors to do. Our testing confirmed this number, and we also measured 76% AdobeRGB coverage, and 82% of the DCI-P3 space. If you’re just using this monitor to browse the web and deal with basic office tasks, it’ll work fine.

You’ll have to look for a wide gamut monitor such as the Acer ConceptD CM2 if you need something to handle color grading in photography and video editing, or you’ll risk color clipping — a phenomenon where the colors might appear correct to you when they’re at the end of your monitor’s gamut, but end up looking more intense on someone else’s display, or in print.

Gaming Performance

Why is there a segment here on gaming performance? This isn’t sold as a gaming monitor. However, Dell has equipped the S2721QS with Adaptive-Sync tech based on AMD’s Freesync, and in our testing we also confirmed G-Sync support on Nvidia cards.

With the 60Hz refresh rate, you won’t be among the most competitive gamers in the online battlefields, but adaptive-sync will take care of all the tearing and some of the stuttering. Of course, the 4K resolution will mean you need a serious amount of GPU grunt to get even close to the 60Hz refresh rate, but because of adaptive-sync, framerates between 30 and 60 frames per second should still appear smooth thanks to even frame pacing. In other words, you’ll have a clearer, more consistent experience than you would without FreeSync or G-Sync support.

Of course, for a more gaming-oriented monitor, you should look at 144Hz displays like the Razer Raptor 27. Note, however, that you’ll probably end up sacrificing resolution to hit a higher refresh rate, as most monitors about 60Hz offer 1440p or 1080p resolution. This Dell can make some sense for gamers who prefer extreme image quality over high framerates, as it delivers a crisp and attractive picture.

Our Take

If you’re looking for a solid 4K monitor at a low price, chances are the Dell S2721QS is right up your alley. It’s not outstanding in any area aside from sharpness, but it’s more than adequate for everyday use, providing a clean and crisp image without major flaws that will distract you.

This monitor also has excellent build quality with a solid range of ergonomic options. Think of it as Dell’s entry-level option to a 4K monitor while retaining the excellent materials quality and warranty, and you’re on the right track.

Are there any alternatives?

Absolutely. If you don’t care for the elaborate stand or materials quality, LG has a 27-inch 4K IPS monitor with similar specs for significantly less. LG also has the 27BL85U, which comes similarly specced with an equally impressive stand at roughly the same price, and this one does include USB-C. Alternatively, if you’re looking for something with this format and resolution, but with a wider color gamut for photo work, the Dell U2720Q might be better for you, albeit at a higher price.

How long will it last?

The Dell S2721QS should last at least five years, three years of which Dell will cover with an advance-exchange warranty, meaning that in case of disaster, the company will ship you a new (refurb) monitor first and then let you return the old one after you’re set up.

Should I buy it?

Yes. If you want a simple, no-frills 4K display, you can’t go wrong with the Dell S2721QS.

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