How CNET Reviews Monitors – CNET

Monitor testing and evaluation consists of formal and subjective quality tests and hands-on examination of display design and features — connection selection and location, menus and options and general behavior. As part of the process we use the monitor for tasks specific to its mission, such as daily productivity, video streaming, image and video editing or different types of games (such as FPS or RPG). Note that we only report a fraction of our results, usually what is needed to adequately convey the monitor’s strengths and weaknesses for particular uses.

The process starts with unboxing and setup; it is connected to ours Windows-based desktop testbed (or relatively high-end Mac in cases that require it) equipped with a current generation Intel Core i9 and high-end Nvidia GeForce graphics card. The computer and monitor are plugged directly into a wall outlet to avoid any electrical issues that may affect performance.

We generally prefer to use our cables over those supplied by the manufacturer because they are known in quantity and of higher quality; if we encounter any issues, we double check with the manufacturer’s cables. DisplayPort is our primary connection for testing. If the monitor specifies any console-specific capabilities, we connect it to the relevant console(s), Xbox Series X and/or PS5 via HDMI.

The location and accessibility of connections is a big design concern for some people.

Lori Grunin/CNET

Before starting any test, we take a picture of the default settings and all menu options for reference and to determine the complete set of tests we need to run on that particular monitor given its specific capabilities. ; how much we test depends on the monitor’s capabilities, the screen and backlight technology used, and the reviewer’s judgment. We disable power saving measures where relevant, which affect brightness and related measures (the option is mandatory by California law). We used a subset of these tests to evaluate the laptop’s performance and ran them both plugged into a wall outlet and on battery using the default profile but with screen timeouts disabled. .

We also recorded any relevant information about the panel — manufacturer’s specs for resolution, color gamut and profiles, refresh rate and more — that might affect our evaluation against the manufacturer’s claims. While we’re reviewing a display with the company’s publicly stated target market in mind, we’re also considering the monitor’s suitability for other uses that may be used. Where possible, we download drivers and monitor-specific color profiles.

What we measure

All measurements were made using the latest version of Portrait Display’s Calman Ultimate software using the X-Rite i1Display Pro Plus (rebranded as Calibrite ColorChecker Display Plus) and various included patch sets, with additional that HDR testing using the Murideo Six-G pattern generator and or the Client3 HDR patterns within Calman. From time to time we see the accuracy of the colorimeter against the Konica Minolta CS-2000 spectroradiometer used for our TV test.

The back of the HP Omen M27u on a red background

Stand design and features and cable management are important for viewing monitors.

Lori Grunin/CNET

Our test lab is equipped with blackout curtains to completely block out ambient light, although complete darkness is not essential since the colorimeter sits directly on the screen and is not affected by poor lighting. The room has natural light and a variety of artificial sources for normal use evaluation.

Color accuracy results are reported in units of Delta E 2000. We performed most tests (where we know results will vary) at both 100% and default hardware brightness levels.

The core tests — those we run on every display, regardless of intent or price — include:

  • White point, brightness (peak and minimum), contrast and gamma for sRGB and the native color space measured in 21 gray patches (0-100%), reported rounded to the nearest 50K provided no major changes. A variation of plus or minus 200K around the target color temperature is considered acceptable for all but the most color critical displays.
  • The gamut color range and accuracy for sRGB and the native color space using Calman’s standard Pantone patch set and grayscale and skin tone patches.
  • We’ve added motion tests to Blur Busters for gaming monitors to rule out motion artifacts (such as ghosting) or refresh rate-related problems.

If a monitor has menu options beyond the basics, we run the same basic tests for the following settings when applicable:

  • All color presets
  • All game presets (like FPS). We also tested the brightness for pixel overdrive and motion-blur reduction modes (which usually lower the brightness).
  • Gamma of at least 1.8, 2.2 and 2.6
  • Color temperatures of at least 5000K, 6300K, 6500K and 9300K

For HDR, we added testing for HDR-specific presets (such as Game HDR or Cinema HDR) and brightness for window sizes of 1%, 5%, 10% and 100% of the screen.

Finally, there are tests that we perform only when necessary to understand the measurements we obtain or to confirm that the artifacts we see – especially the inconsistencies – are not imaginary.

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