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A regular consumer's review of Dell S2721DGFA

There are many display reviews from a professional point of view, but in my opinion they rarely focus on what I actually notice and appreciate in my electronics. So there we go, a “consumer-grade” review of my new display: Dell S2721DGFA.

The noob

First of all, I’m far from being a display connoisseur. In fact I believe this is my first informed purchase in this market segment. My last few displays were all second-hand (my friends were transitioning to more fancy ones) and the last brand new one I’ve had was bought by my father over a decade ago with very little input from myself.

The need

Recently I’ve been migrating most of my activities from my 6yo laptop (Dell Latitude E7450) to my desktop PC (which used to be gaming-only) and as a result I’ve went down from a laptop display + one external one to just a single external display.

The search

I was looking for a decent new display for both work and gaming to make my setup whole again. My requirements were:

  • 26" would be a sweet spot for the display size. Not an ultrawide, that’s not my cup of tea.
  • Resolution must be at least 1440p but 4K is probably an overkill at this size.
  • An easy to use input switching UI.
  • A VESA mount for a possible expansion in the future.
  • A general “good performance” in terms of gaming. I’m not a pro, so I’m just going to trust the reviews here.
  • Nice to have: a high frequency refresh rate, 120 Hz or more.
  • Nice to have: a variable refresh rate (VRR) aka adaptive sync (in a form of AMD FreeSync or Nvidia G-Sync)

The compromise

Sadly a 1440p 26" display doesn’t seem to be a thing, so I’ve settled for a 27". As long as the stand isn’t too large, I should be able to push it further back on my desk and it’d be fine.

The trinity

So far so good. I’ve narrowed it down to 3 displays:

All three seem to use roughly the same display panel and this is roughly the point the other reviews end. This is also where my review truly starts.

The fallen

I was very quick to remove Aorus from my list. I pretty much hated its design, but the true dealbreaker was a bulky stand, so I would not be able to push it further back, like I mentioned above I wanted.

The review

It’s down to LG vs Dell so I’m going to focus on why I’m glad I’ve chosen Dell.

The ports

All the ports are facing downwards. It’s more compact and feels less prone to damage than the LG design due to the cables bending the ports. Not a huge thing but I appreciate it. What is huge: 2 easily accessible USB ports and a 3.5mm audio jack in the bottom left corner. There are 2 more USB ports and a second jack right beside all the other ports (HDMI, DP) but they are for more permanent devices. I appreciate having a few easily accessible ports for pendrives etc. I see nothing similar in the LG.

All the USB ports are USB-A 3.0, there is no USB-C.

The stand

The included stand feels much more sturdy than the LG ones. It can swivel, tilt, pivot and move up/down. As far as I know, the LG one cannot swivel. The Dell stand base is also mostly flat and not V-shaped, I prefer it this way.

The stand contains a cable management hole big enough for all my cables.

The input

The OSD is one of the best I’ve seen so far. There are 4 buttons and a small joystick on the back of the display on the right edge. The menu is easy to navigate but what I find groundbreaking is how it’s possible to remap the 3 buttons (the 4th one is “cancel”) to basically any menu item. Not only a few select ones, not only the top level menu items. I’m not sure if they can be bound to truly each and every menu item but every important one so far. The “Input Source” menu? Easy. A specific input from this menu mapped to each button? Totally possible. I ended up binding a button to “Input Source -> Auto” which switches to the next turned on input. The display actually does it on its own when I disable the current input, which is great: the other input is always a xrandr --off away.

According to the Internet forums, the input switching on LG is very hard to access with no auto-switching either, so Dell wins big time here.

The power button is placed separately, on the bottom of the bottom edge, and its LED can be turned off. It’s very easy to find by touch.

The screen

Lots of reviews complained about the blacks being relatively bad and colors being significantly off without calibration.

This is actually what prompted me to write this review: as a regular consumer I find the blacks on this Dell the best I’ve had on any of my displays so far. The colors are also totally fine apart from the reds being a little too vivid. I don’t do any color-sensitive work and I can totally believe a professional designer would consider it a dealbreaker, but for me the colors being off are more or less imperceptible.

I’ve also learned that the dreaded “IPS glow” is what I call “yep, that’s a screen”.

The refresh rate (165 Hz!) is really impressive. I have no trouble returning to playing games in 60 FPS when my GPU cannot take it further but when I can play at 165 FPS, it’s really noticeable. The adaptive sync isn’t something I actively see, but it’s nice to know I shouldn’t see any screen tearing.

The design

The subtle blue bias lighting (yay, I’ve learned a new word!) isn’t too jarring and can be turned off if needed. I like how the design stays mostly business-like with only a few “gaming” touches. If not for the non-rectangular stand base and the blue lighting, I see no obvious differences from my older non-gaming Dell display.

The end

I consider Dell S2721DGFA an excellent purchase both for work and for play. It’s a very high quality display with lots of easy to use well thought out design elements typical to Dell. All the alleged flaws I’ve read about are non-issues for a layman and if one is coming from a “regular office display” are still upgrades.