Recommended HDR monitors for photography

HDR offers vastly improved image quality through brighter displays with massively expanded dynamic range. To use it, you’ll need to use an HDR-compatible monitor and I’ve created this page to help answer a lot of questions about which options to consider. We’ll look at general considerations and then options for three possible scenarios choosing a monitor: Apple laptop, Windows laptop, and external monitors (for Apple or Windows).

I personally use a 32″ Pro Display XDR (1600 nits mini-LED), M2 MacBook Pro with 14″ Retina XDR (1600 nits mini-LED), iPhone 14 Pro (1600 nits OLED), Pixel 7 Pro (1000 nits OLED), and Sony A80CJ (OLED with 600-750 nits peak for 2-10% of the display area using “brightness preferred”). All of these offer excellent HDR experiences (though the TV only does at night or on very cloudy days with low ambient light). I’ve used these with a wide variety of content in a wide variety of lighting scenarios. I also owned a ASUS Strix SCAR 16 (1100 nits) for a couple weeks, and have tested a very wide range of other hardware briefly in person.

Also, HDMI cables can be a bit of a hassle (lacking HDR support in long lengths, stiff and hard to store, or heavy). I love the FIBBR 25 foot HDMI cable (note that as a fiber-optic cable, you need to plug the end marked as #1 into the computer and #2 to the TV)

[Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. I rarely endorse other products and only do when I think you would thoroughly enjoy them. By purchasing through my on this post, you are helping to support the creation of my tutorials at no cost to you.]

Important HDR considerations

There are several considerations for an HDR monitor:

  • Peak brightness (in nits, aka cd/m^2).
    • This is the single most important criteria for HDR display. If the monitor doesn’t get bright enough, it will offer at best a mediocre HDR experience in anything other than a dark room.
    • The absolute minimum for HDR support is 400 nits. A monitor at this level will offer about 1 stop of HDR when viewed at half brightness. That can offer a good experience when viewed in a dim room, but you wouldn’t get much benefit if the screen is near a window or outdoors. Generally speaking, I wouldn’t get very excited about any 400 nits monitor, and many of these monitors still fail to offer a true HDR experience.
    • 600 nits is a noticeable step up over 400, but still just a decent HDR experience. I wouldn’t buy a new monitor just to get 600 nits. It’s just a nice bonus if you have it (and you’ll need to limit your brightness to about 50% of maximum to see real HDR benefit).
    • 1000+ nits is where HDR gets truly exciting. Anything in this range will look excellent for HDR in a range of viewing conditions.
  • Deep blacks
    • HDR quality is ultimately about achieving a greater dynamic range, and having a washed out black (not truly black) reduces dynamic range. How much you benefit from deeper blacks depends on your ambient environment. A bright room (or one with bright lights) will reflect light on the screen and may significantly reduce the apparent value of deep blacks.
    • Most monitors use a backlight to illuminate multiple pixels This is known as a “transmissive” display because the light is transmitted through the pixels (rather than emitted from each pixel individually). The LCD restricts the light to create pixels, but it cannot block 100% of the light, so black pixels are not  truly black.
      • This also may show “blooming” where black pixels near bright pixels show as grey because those pixels share the same backlight.
      • The best transmissive displays use “full array local dimming” (FALD). These use more than one backlight so that dark areas in the image may use a darker backlight or perhaps turn it off entirely. This allows for much darker blacks as it reduced bleed through, and often allows for true black in pixels which are not near bright pixels.
      • There are many variations of this approach and those with <100 zones don’t offer a lot of benefit. Look for ideally 500+ local zones.
    • Some monitors (such OLED or future “micro” LED displays) are “emissive” displays which emit light directly from the pixel. These monitors offer true black and significantly improve dynamic range (particularly when viewing in environments without bright ambient light).
      • You may see such monitors marketed as having “infinite” contrast (since you’re dividing the brightness white pixel by a black pixel that is considered to be 0 nits).
    • The difference with black levels will be very obvious when viewing FALD vs OLED in a dark room with content such as a star field (stars in the black night sky). These small bright areas will force a lot of backlight to affect the blacks in the FALD, while the OLED will retain deep blacks. So content which mixes small bright areas near deep shadows will suffer on FALD when viewed in a room dark enough to discriminate between true black and the monitor’s minimum black.
  • How does the monitor look with a reference image?
    • There are so many considerations that there is no substitute for seeing the monitor yourself.
    • If you are comparing monitors in a store, use Google Chrome to view my tests and example HDR images. Be especially sure to use test #8 to check the HDR headroom. This shows the real HDR benefit at the current monitor brightness (and SDR content brightness for Windows).
    • Check system settings to ensure HDR is enabled in Windows or the display settings for an HDMI monitor on MacOS.
    • Check that the SDR content brightness is 0-50 (if this slider is set too high on a 400 nits monitor, you won’t have any HDR headroom at all).
    • Check that the monitor settings (brightness, etc) are reasonable.
  • Non-HDR considerations:
    • Look for a monitor which covers most or all of either the P3 or Adobe RGB gamut. Most HDR images will still look with a limited sRGB gamut, but don’t limit yourself to colors from the ’90s.
    • You can experience HDR at any resolution and 4k resolution isn’t very important for photography with even 32″ monitors. Unless you’re editing 4k video, this is a place to consider saving some money.
    • If you are going to evaluate images for print with your HDR monitor, all the standard considerations apply in terms of even illumination, etc. That said, I’ve made a lot of large prints using a budget monitor with proper calibration and profiling. Learn more about considerations for printing with HDR workflows here.
    • High refresh rates are helpful for gaming, but not important for photography – and you may need use less than the maximum refresh rate in some setups to use HDR.
  • Price
    • HDR monitors are definitely a bit of an investment. Costs should start to come down as volumes increase in the coming years. The general range in late 2022 is about $500 – $3000 for most consumer options (but you can find $300 options and spend $35k on an HDR reference monitor).
    • If you’re on a tight budget, you might wait a while or purchase a 400-600 nits monitor if you will be able to use it at half brightness.
    • If you have a larger budget, get a 1000+ nits monitor for an outstanding display. The benefits of HDR increase substantially with these brighter monitors.
  • GPU / video card / codec
    • Microsoft customer support indicated that there is no specific GPU or video card requirement to enable HDR in Windows 10 or 11 so long as you have an HDR monitor.
    • I’m not 100% confident that there aren’t exceptions to that, but I am not aware of any at this time.
    • Apple explicitly lists their compatible HDR hardware here.

Apple HDR laptop

If you use Apple computers, their laptops make it very easy (and cost effective) to get into HDR. They’ve been shipping with HDR monitors back to 2018 (see the support list). So nearly any new or used laptop should support HDR, but you should check the list.

More significantly, any of their displays branded as “XDR” (such as the M1 MacBook Pro, recent iPads, etc) is outstanding. These displays offer peak brightness of 1600 nits or more. And they are very cost effective relative to other options. An entry level MacBook Pro costs the same as the typical external 1000+ nits screen. Of course the external screen is larger, but you’re getting an incredible HDR screen with these devices. This is an ideal way to get into HDR.

The MacBook Air offers 400-500 nits, which is great if you own one or need a laptop for other reasons, but I wouldn’t upgrade a laptop solely for the screen if it doesn’t offer at least 600-1000 nits.

Windows HDR laptop

The Windows laptop ecosystem is much more mixed/limited than what you’ll see at an Apple store today, so you’ll need to do more homework to find a suitable display. An external HDR monitor is probably the best option for most PC users at this time.

I have purchased the ASUS Strix SCAR 16 (which I returned for reasons covered below) and done a fair bit of reviewing details of available HDR options. I try to maintain neutrality on various tools and focus on teaching the art of photography and I fully respect many people love and prefer PCs. However, after extensive experience with a range of HDR computers over the past year, I believe Apple offers an objectively better laptop for HDR photography. Unless you run other gaming or productivity software which will not run on MacOS, I would recommend the M1 or M2 MBP zero hesitation. These are outstanding computers sold at very competitive prices for what they offer.

The fundamental issue I see is that Apple Silicon’s efficiency offers a level of performance to battery weight / size which HDR PC laptops are going to struggle to match for a very long time. There’s a bit of a chicken and egg problem too as both PC ARM hardware and Windows ARM need investment, but neither investment pays off until the other is ready. My emphasis here is on the laptop options, a PC desktop can offer a great HDR experience (since weight and power draw aren’t a concern there),

Here are some Windows laptops offering high levels of HDR display:

  •  Lenovo 16″ Slim Pro 9i Multi-Touch Notebook (~$1800, see latest price at B&H)
    • Features a 1200 nits mini-LED
    • Also includes 2.6 GHz Intel Core i9 (13th Gen), 32GB RAM, 1TB SSD
  • ASUS Strix SCAR 16 (see latest price at Amazon or B&H)
    • Features a 1100 nits display (self reports as 1261 in Windows). It has less than half as many local dimming zones as the MacBook Pro (1024 vs 2500) and you can see blooming rather obviously during the boot sequence (which shows bright red and white content).
    • Performance at default settings is modest (takes 80% longer to complete G-Bench than the M2 MAX MacBook Pro). When plugged in and settings are switched to optimize for performance over battery life, it runs about 30% slower than the M2 and the fans are quite audible – and you’ll only achieve its highest level of performance when plugged into the wall.
    • This is a hefty machine both physically and in weight. The power block is also massive and it draws too much power to use a USB-C power supply. I would not travel with this machine.
    • This computer currently costs $2900 (I was able to buy an open box / new one for $2400 at a local store). For the exact same price, you can get an M2 MBP with16″ display, 32GB RAM and 1TB SSD to for comparable specs, but you’ll have a better HDR display, much simpler HDR setup/interface, faster performance, lighter weight, and better quality. You can get one of the Apple devices down below $2000 new with lesser specs (all of which offer the same great HDR display) or even less with sales or used devices.
    • I found the screen frequently would show a pink color shift until I went to System / Display. Ultimately, I resolved this by removing ASUS software which came with the laptop. Watchout for extra software on Windows computers, as it may cause conflicts.
    • I bought this for Windows validation testing of my software. My hope was to get faster performance than the virtual machine I’ve run on an old Intel Mac and gain HDR on Windows. But the performance is only marginally better and given the bulk of this device, I have returned it.
  • ASUS ROG Flow X16 GV601RW, (see latest price at Amazon)**
    • DisplayHDR 1000 certified
  • ASUS ROG Zephyrus Duo 16 GX650RW (see latest price at Amazon or B&H)**
    • DisplayHDR 1000 certified
  • ASUS ProArt StudioBook 16 OLED Laptop H7600ZM-DB76 (see latest price at Amazon or B&H)**
    • DisplayHDR 600 True Black Certified. If you work in a dark environment, this should offer a great HDR experience given the deep blacks and lack of blooming with OLED. But HDR benefits will likely be limited in bright environments.

** I have not personally tested these devices.

There are a handful of options at lower HDR specifications, but as with the MacBook Air, I wouldn’t go out of my way for anything less than 1000 nits.

External HDR monitor

External monitors are of course required for desktop computers or for seeing images on a large screen when working with a laptop. Unfortunately, price points for the best HDR monitors remain quite high, but there are already several great options. I’ll offer some specific options to consider below, but first let’s take a look at the most important considerations.

I do not own the following monitors nor been able to evaluate them for an extended period of time, but believe they are well worth considering based on their specifications and/or my experience with them in stores. I’m including my rationale as to why I feel they are interesting, so that you may help determine if any of these are ideal for your needs:

  • Best in class: Apple Pro Display XDR ($5-6,000; see latest price on Amazon or B&H)
    • This is the monitor I personally use. See my review of the Pro Display XDR.
    • 1600 nits makes this an ideal option for HDR.
    • Additionally it offers 32″ size, wide color gamut (99% P3), 6k resolution, 1600nits, great accuracy (ΔE < 1), .
    • This monitor integrates extremely well with Macs and I’ve great feedback from a friend who uses it extensively for HDR. One particularly nice Mac feature is the ability to set specific SDR and HDR brightness values (the M1 / M2 MacBook Pro’s internal XDR display offers this as well). You get what you pay for, this is a truly excellent monitor.
    • This monitor will work when connected to Windows, but only in a very limited way (no HDR, no brightness controls, etc). I would not buy this display for use with a PC. If you are aware of any ways to get full PC compatibility, please comment below.
  • Excellent: ASUS ProArt Display PA32UCG (~$3,500; see latest price on Amazon or B&H) **
    • 1600 nits makes this an ideal option for HDR.
    • Additionally it offers 32″, wide color gamut (98% P3), 4k resolution, 120Hz refresh rate, Dolby Vision, great accuracy (ΔE < 1), ProArt Hardware Calibration
    • While I have not seen this model yet, I have seen its sibling which is optimized for gaming and already would consider that an excellent option (whereas this model is optimized for photography).
    • This appears to be a great option to consider for anyone with a high budget. That said, reviews on its 27″ sibling aren’t good and I would want to make sure I bought with an option to return to make evaluate it before before committing.
    • CAUTION for MacOS: Please see the comments section at the bottom of the page. There may be some driver limitations when using this or similar ASUS monitors with MacOS at this time. Please be sure to test or buy in a way you can easily return if you are using an Apple computer, or contact ASUS support for more information to confirm before you commit to this product.
  • Very good: Dell UP3221Q (see latest price on Amazon or B&H) **
    • 1000 nits
    • Also offers 32″, wide color gamut (99.8% P3), 4k resolution, built-in colorimeter, Thunderbolt 3 (in addition to DisplayPort / HDMI), good accuracy (ΔE < 2)
    • Note: buyer reviews on Amazon mention concerns with display uniformity (though other comments on B&H don’t suggest issues), so be sure to buy with an option to return if you are not satisfied.
  • Good: Apple Studio display (~$1500-2300, see latest price on Amazon or B&H)
    • 600 nits
    • Also offers 27″ size, 5k resolution, wide gamut (98% P3). There are various options for stand and a nano-texture option to reduce glare from bright ambient lights.
    • I am not aware of a way to use this as an HDR monitor under Windows. Windows seems not to recognize it as an HDR monitor and there is no HDMI port. It lacks software/physical controls to adjust brightness and such when connected to a PC. So you might use it secondarily with a PC, but I would not purchase it specifically for use with a PC at this time.
  • Good: BenQ EX2710U (~$900, see latest price on Amazon or B&H) **
    • 600 nits
    • Also offers 27″ size, wide gamut (95% P3), 144Hz refresh rate
  • Good: LG 27GP950-B (~$800, see latest price on Amazon or B&H) **
    • DisplayHDR 600 certified
    • Also offers 27″ size, wide gamut (98% P3), 144Hz refresh rate
  • Good ASUS ProArt PA328CGV (~$700, see latest price on Amazon or B&H) **
    • 600 nits
    • Also offers 32″ size, 165Hz refresh rate, good gamut (95% P3)
  • Limited / budget-friendly: LG 27UP850-W (~$500, see latest price on Amazon or B&H) **
    • 400 nits
    • Also offers 27″ size, good gamut (95% P3)

In general, anything with a 1400 or 1000 nits DisplayHDR certification list will likely offer impressive HDR. Anything certified at lower brightness levels may be a good option for use in darker or controlled environments.

==> Be careful with the low end of the market, there’s definitely some junk out there with “HDR” slapped on the box. I recommend going to a store to compare the best and worst HDR monitors. Viewing my HDR tests and images on Google Chrome is a quick way to see for yourself.

Gaming monitors

I would be careful with gaming monitors for photography as they may show color fringing in fine details (such as text), may have curved monitors (which can cause more reflections from ambient light), and generally aren’t designed with photographers needs in mind. However, if you do a lot of gaming and photography is just one consideration for you, a gaming monitor may be a great choice. A few to consider:

  • Very good: 34″ (curved) Dell Alienware  QD-OLED Gaming Monitor AW3423DW (~$1200, see latest price on Amazon) **
    • 1000 nits
    • Also offers large 34″ screen (curved), high refresh rate for gaming (175Hz, but I’m not sure the max allowed when HDR is enabled)
  • Very good: 32″ (curved) Odyssey Neo G7 HDR2000 Curved Gaming Monitor – LS32BG752NNXGO (see latest price on Amazon) **
    • Claimed 2000 nits, but puts it closer to 1000
    • Also offers 32″ screen (curved)
  • Very good: AOC Porsche Design AGON Pro PD32M (~$1800, see latest price on Amazon or B&H) **
    • 1600 nits peak brightness (DisplayHDR 1400 certified)
    • Also offers 32″, 4K, 144 Hz refresh rate
  • Very good: ASUS ROG Swift PG27UQ (~$2,500, see latest price on Amazon) **
    • 1000 nits peak brightness
    • Also offers 27″ size, wide gamut (97% P3, 99% Adobe RGB)
    • Note the ProArt model listed above is more optimized toward photography needs.
  • Good: 27″ Sony INZONE M9 (~$800, see latest price on Amazon) **
    • 600 nits 

** I have not personally tested these devices (or in some cases didn’t take notes and am not sure am erring on the side of caution). I have tested a a good selection of 400-1000 nits displays and believe the above are likely among the most appealing options (this includes many ASUS displays built for gaming, but the ProArt series should be better for photography).


A large number of HDR TVs have been on the market since about 2016. If you’ve bought a big screen TV in the past few years, there’s a good chance you have one. I’ve tested my ~600 nits Sony TV using an HDMI connection from my M2 MacBook Pro and it looks amazing, with 3 stops of HDR headroom. I’ve heard great feedback from video editors and gamers about the 44″ LG C2.

I suspect many people will can get an excellent experience from an HDR TV, but you’ll have to put in a bit more work as there are complications. This is probably an excellent option to test on the TV you already have, as it may be a great way to view images at home.

If you have a TV, you’ll probably need to do a few things to enable proper display over HDMI:

  • You’ll need to connect to an HDMI port support HDMI2.0a or later. Not all TVs have this, but newer ones generally support this on at least one input (the specific port matters as others may use a lesser HDMI spec).
  • You may need to enable settings in the TV menus to use the full / enhanced range of the input. By default, it may not look for an HDR signal.
  • You’ll need HDMI2.0a all the way, so be check that the port on your computer or dongle supports it – and use a high quality cable.
  • You’ll need to enable HDR display for the HDMI monitor in MacOS under System / Display settings.
  • On Windows, avoid screen mirroring. Use an extended display and then turn on HDR for the TV.
  • HDMI is probably your best option. Note that AirPlay 2 does not support HDR (please comment below if you have tried other wireless options like Chromecast)

A TV is not a monitor, so there are some things to keep in mind:

  • A TV is going to be large and you’ll need an appropriate area to set it back.
  • TVs are not meant for viewing at a close distance. The pixel pitch (size) / resolution may mean that text does not look as crisp, though images should be fine.
  • Some monitors may show a color shift at an angle, which means you might see color in the sides/corner which does not match the center of the display if you are too close.
  • It probably won’t power on and off with the computer automatically. There are numerous videos on YouTube showing how to setup settings or install software on your computer to help make this happen, so it is possible in many cases.
  • If you use the display as both a TV and a computer monitor, you will need to think about proper calibration. If you leave on a bunch of automated processing settings, you should not expect to get a stable profile from a calibration device. That’s probably fine for sharing images with friends and family, but just be aware that profiling a monitor assumes it behaves in a stable way.
  • You may need special software like CalMAN for Home to help profile the display if you want to do to try to set stable and optimized settings. Note that CalMan for Home is sold for specific brands and some versions support Windows and some support Android (I don’t believe any support MacOS). Be sure to check the details, including whether your calibration hardware is compatible with this software. This is getting into more advanced territory and you should anticipate it will take time to get up the learning curve. Here’s one tutorial video to give you an idea of what to expect.

HDR phones:

You probably already have an excellent HDR display in your pocket. It is only a matter of time before phones are widely ready as there is already a massive installed base of HDR hardware.

Android 14 is adding HDR support and the beta looks excellent on a Pixel 7 Pro running Chrome Canary. Based on typical cadence, that probably means it’s available to for HDR Android phones in a final release by the end of 2023.

Apple has a great lineup of HDR hardware and you can already fake it by creating a single frame HDR video, but real HDR browsing support requires updates to WebKit. 

The following phones should all look great once we have the software:

  • 2500 nits: Oppo Find X6 Pro
  • 1750 nits: Galaxy S23, Galaxy S22 Plus, Galaxy S22 Ultra
  • 1600 nits HDR (2000 nits outdoors): iPhone 15 / 15 Pro, iPhone 14 Pro
  • 1500 nits: Galaxy S21 Ultra
  • 1300 nits: Galaxy S21, S22
  • 1200 nits: iPhone 11-14, iPhone 11-13 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S20
  • 1000 nits HDR: Pixel 7 Pro
  • 800 nits: Pixel 6 Pro, Asus Zenfone 9

This bright screens means that a very large number of people will be able to view truly gorgeous HDR images. It’s important to note that unlike computer monitors, phones are designed to be used outdoors. So the maximum brightness allowed for SDR content is higher (such as 1000 nits / 2000 nits outdoors max for an iPhone 14 vs 500 nits max SDR for an M1 MacBook Pro). That means that the total HDR headroom won’t be quite as great if the user turns the screen up to full brightness, as they likely will outside. But there will be HDR benefit under most conditions and truly stunning capabilities indoors or in otherwise darker conditions. In general, assume you’re getting an experience close to SDR when outdoors in the middle of the day (you’d probably 3000+ nits to enjoy HDR outdoors on a bright cloudy day or even more in direct sunlight).

HDR tablets:

Bright HDR displays for tablets are lagging, but should grow significantly in the years to come. The following tablets offer excellent HDR:

  • 1600 nits mini-LED: iPad Pro 12.9-inch gen 5 (2021), gen 6 (2022)
  • 930 nits OLED: Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra: this is the 14.6″ model. There is marginal benefit to the extra nits over the 11″ model, so I would get that if you want to save money or want a more compact size/weight.
  • 750 nits OLED: Samsung Galaxy Tab S9: this is the 11″ model. This should compete very well with the iPad in darker environments given true black pixels. (~$800-$920 See latest prices on B&H).
  • 650 nits OLED: Samsung Galaxy Tab S9+: this is the 12.4″ model. (~$1000-$1120, See latest prices on B&H.
  • There are several other tablets which offer 500-800 nits, but the benefit is modest for anything which is not OLED viewed in a dim environment.

What's your experience?

There are far too many displays for me to try much of what’s on the market. Please comment below if you have extensive experience using Photoshop / Adobe Camera RAW with any of the above or other HDR computer monitors. I’d love to hear your impressions.

Greg Benz Photography