Dell's new 120Hz IPS Black monitors could preview gaming panels with better contrast

Dell U2724D and U2724DE
(Image credit: Dell)

As any fule kno, the most conspicuous shortcoming of IPS screen tech is contrast, as in the relative lack of. By comparison, VA panels offer anywhere from twice to four times the contrast of a typical IPS alternative.

At least they did until LG rolled out its IPS Black tech with double the contrast of your typical IPS panel. The only problem is that IPS Black monitors have thus far been limited to 60Hz models aimed at corporate drones. Well, no longer.

Well, not quite. Dell has a pair of new IPS Black monitors that hum along at a more gamery 120Hz. They are still business monitors, not gaming panels. But that 120Hz figure creates the prospect of IPS gaming panels with better contrast, right? Hold that thought.

First, let's cover off the speeds and feeds of these new Dell panels. The Dell U2724D and U2724DE, for it is they, are essentially peas in a pod. They're both 27-inch 1440p panels with that IPS black tech, lifting contrast to 2,000:1 from the 1,000:1 you normally see from IPS panels, albeit some claim 1,300:1.

For the record, VA panel tech goes all the way up to 4,000:1 contrast, with 2,500:1 being achieved by even the worst performing examples.

Brightness for these Dells is pegged at 350 nits and you get 98% coverage of the DCI-P3 color space. Response is a claimed 5ms, indicating that any pixel overdrive implementation is fairly modest and again highlighting that these aren't explicitly gaming-orientated models.

The only real difference then, is that the U2724DE adds Thunderbolt 3 downstream (with DP Alt mode and 15W power delivery) along with 1x RJ45 Ethernet connection and a KVM function into the mix.

Anyway, if these Dells aren't immediately obvious picks for gamers, what about taking those LG-sourced IPS Black panels and turning up the overdrive a bit? Now, you could argue that IPS panel contrast doesn't matter in a world of full-array dimming, a feature offered by many of the best gaming monitors. You fix the problem of light leaking through the IPS panel by turning down the backlight.

But even the best desktop dimming implementations are pretty clunky. And improved inherent contrast is always going to be the best solution, avoiding as it does complicated algorithms and the very low resolution, thus. far, of those full-array backlights.

Screen queens

(Image credit: Future)

Best gaming monitor: Pixel-perfect panels for your PC.
Best high refresh rate monitor: Screaming quick.
Best 4K monitor for gaming: When only high-res will do.
Best 4K TV for gaming: Big-screen 4K gaming.

The problem, unfortunately, is that IPS Black tech as its been seen to date simply isn't very good. I looked at the first IPS Black monitor from Dell last year and came away extremely underwhelmed by subjective improvement in contrast.

Specifically, I said, "running alongside an existing 32-inch 4K IPS monitor with a supposedly now-defunct 1,300:1 panel, this new Dell with its fancy IPS Black technology is subjectively little, if any, better when it comes to the perception of contrast, black levels and vibrancy."

But I haven't seen this new 27-inch version. So I'm hoping it's better somehow. And if it is, that it finds its way in gaming monitors soon.

Whatever, the The Dell U2724D and U2724DE are available to buy from November 9 for $480 and $650 respectively.

Jeremy Laird
Hardware writer

Jeremy has been writing about technology and PCs since the 90nm Netburst era (Google it!) and enjoys nothing more than a serious dissertation on the finer points of monitor input lag and overshoot followed by a forensic examination of advanced lithography. Or maybe he just likes machines that go “ping!” He also has a thing for tennis and cars.