With its white LED backlight the Samsung S27B971D is only capable of the sRGB gamut and nothing larger. So for all of this testing I used CalMAN 5.1.2 with an i1Pro spectrometer and a C6 colorimeter that is profiled off the i1Pro. Our targets are 200 cd/m^2 of light output, a gamma of 2.2, and the sRGB color gamut. The pre-calibration measurements are done using the sRGB mode as I can adjust the brightness to 200 cd/m^2 and it is more accurate than the Standard, High Brightness, or Cinema modes.

 

Pre-Calibration

Post-Calibration,
200 cd/m^2
Post-Calibration,
80 cd/m^2
White Level (cd/m^2) 199.19 198.86 80.07
Black Level (cd/m^2) 0.4146 0.4266 0.1761
Contrast Ratio 480:1 466:1 455:1
Gamma (Average) 2.2195 2.1989 2.4188
Color Temperature 6257K 6533K 6460K
Grayscale dE2000 3.2326 0.4453 0.491
Color Checker dE2000 1.8896 0.6109 0.4321
Saturations dE2000 1.8564 0.4521 0.3985

From the report that comes with the S27B971D in box I expected better results. Out of the box, the grayscale has a definite lack of blue, and the error levels are much higher than you want. The gamma is more of an S-curve than a slope, and the contrast ratio is only 480:1. Color accuracy is good but cyan shades are particularly bad compared to others. Skin tones are very nice and we usually notice those errors first.

Give the Samsung a calibration with CalMAN and now you have a monitor. The only negative is the contrast ratio of 466:1 as the black level has risen from when the backlight is set to maximum. This is very strange behavior, but it is what I measured and I double-checked the data. Look beyond that and you see perfect numbers. Every single dE2000 value is below 2.0 so you won’t see a flaw in the display. Images look incredibly accurate and the accurate gamma helps make the contrast look reasonable.

Going to our other target, 80 cd/m^2 of light output with the sRGB gamma curve, and the behavior is the same. The S27B971D has an okay contrast ratio and is amazing everywhere else. Our maximum dE2000 values are even lower with some of the bars being practically invisible. Post-calibration the Samsung S27B971D produces amazing results that are as good as any display I’ve seen. The contrast isn’t fantastic but you can use the preset Cinema mode if you are going to watch a movie or play a game where contrast is perhaps more important.

Brightness and Contrast Uniformity Data
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  • QuantumPion - Thursday, October 31, 2013 - link

    Get the same panel offbrand (QNIX/X-STAR) for only ~$300-$350ish off ebay. Win. Reply
  • cheinonen - Thursday, October 31, 2013 - link

    The panel is only one piece of the system. You can have a great panel and a really bad display result. See the reviews of the LG 29EA93 versions and how much difference you can get using the same panel. Reply
  • QuantumPion - Thursday, October 31, 2013 - link

    The reviews of the QNIX and X-STAR rate it as being pretty much identical in quality (including out of the box color accuracy) as the name-brands. The only downside is the cheapo stand and casing. Reply
  • glenster - Thursday, October 31, 2013 - link

    Samsung should put out one like the Qnix QX2710. Reply
  • aliasfox - Thursday, October 31, 2013 - link

    It's almost in the same position as Apple's (aging) Thunderbolt dispay. They're both 2560 x 1440 27" displays that sell for $1k, they both have nice looking industrial designs, and have image quality that's good, but no longer great.

    If I were considering either one, I'd jump the marginal $250 and grab the NEC, or save $300 and grab one of the other ones.
    Reply
  • MykeM - Friday, November 1, 2013 - link

    You can pick Apple's TB Display for $800 at Apple online store. It's refurbished but comes with the same 1 year warranty. Reply
  • NCM - Tuesday, November 5, 2013 - link

    Regarding Apple's Thunderbolt display, at least for the same $1K price Mac users get another benefit: the built-in T'bolt hub that gives USB, and FW ports, plus ethernet and a power supply for laptop charging. Together these would cost at least another $300, effectively reducing the Apple monitor's price. For those who can benefit from this docking capability (not everyone, obviously) that makes the T'bolt monitor very decent value. Reply
  • xKeGSx - Thursday, October 31, 2013 - link

    What about the LG 27EA83-D? I own one. Got it from Microcenter for $649 when it was released and newegg just had it on sale for $550. 27" IPS panel, 2560x1440, 99% Adobe RGB, works great for games that I've tried, and is stunning after calibration. It does come precalibrated with results but those are never true. All the reviews I've read have raved about it and I've been waiting for Anandtech or tftcentral to confirm my bias. Please give this monitor a review! Thanks. Reply
  • Panzerknacker - Thursday, October 31, 2013 - link

    I just would never buy a Samsung, especially not a expensive one like this. My experience with their products is usually a short lived one, because they tend to break pretty early. Reply
  • Nfarce - Thursday, October 31, 2013 - link

    Well I've bought 3 HDTVs, 4 PC monitors, 3 SSDs, and 2 mobile phones all made by Samsung and none have given me any problems. You are just unlucky. Look at the reviews of any of the products I mention above on sites like Amazon or NewEgg and see how many people complain about failure. Reply

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