On paper the new Dell S2722DGM looks like pretty much the perfect affordable gaming monitor. It's fast, cheap, has plenty of pixels, decent panel spec, and mostly doesn't bother with frills and features that add little but cost to the gaming experience.
It's all built around a 1440p 27-inch VA panel with good overall specifications. VA tech tends to be cheaper than IPS and with that come certain pros and cons. As the S2722DGM’s spec sheet demonstrates, the most obvious advantage is static contrast. Dell rates this monitor at 3,000:1, which is getting on for three times better than any IPS monitor.
Of course, the solution to an IPS panel's mediocre contrast is local dimming. But that's very expensive and creates various knock-on issues involving the algorithms that control the dimming. In many ways, far better to just have superior inherent panel contrast.
On a related note, the Dell S2722DGM is a straight-up SDR display with no HDR support at all. We’re fine with that, given most so-called HDR PC monitors are actually nothing of the sort. And HDR on PC is still pretty damned shoddy.
For the record, brightness is pegged at 350nits, which is dandy for an SDR display. As for the other major differentiator when it comes to VA as opposed to IPS, well, it comes down to speed. VA tends to be a tiny bit slower. The S2722DGM' pixel response is rated at 2ms GtG and 1ms MPRT, which is just a hair behind the 1ms and 0.5ms ratings of the best IPS panels. Usefully, Dell provides figures for how response performance relates to the user-configurable overdrive settings in the S2722DGM’s OSD menu, more on which in a moment.
The other major metric when it comes to speed is of course refresh. The S2722DGM is good for 165Hz, which we reckon is plenty given this monitor is pitched at the more affordable end of the spectrum. Chasing even higher refresh rates implies a significant investment securing a GPU capable of keeping up and pretty quickly the whole thing spirals out of control, cost-wise.
Panel size: 27-inch
Panel technology: VA
Native resolution: 2,560 x 1,440
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Refresh rate: 165Hz
Response time: 1ms MPRT, 2ms GtG
Color: 99 percent sRGB
Brightness: 350 cd/m2
Video Inputs: DisplayPort 1.2 x1, HDMI 2.0 x2
Other: AMD FreeSync Premium
Price: $270 | £260
OK, you arguably don't need a terribly quick GPU to achieve hundreds of FPS in some older titles. But beyond 165Hz, the returns are relatively minimal unless you're a really serious, or borderline professional online gamer.
Speaking of speed and frame rates, the S2722DGM's 1440p native resolution of course equates to 2560 by 1440 pixels. On a 27-inch screen that makes for reasonable pixel density without generating the debilitating GPU load that comes with 4K. Affordable PC components are all about striking the right balances and compromises. 1440p and 27 inches is just that. The right compromise between performance and detail for gaming.
As for the Dell S2722DGM's broader feature set, at this price you can't expect too many extras. USB Type-C connectivity, for instance, doesn't feature. But the dual HDMI and a single DisplayPort connections are just fine, even if the HDMI ports top out at 144Hz rather than 165Hz.
The chassis and stand, meanwhile, are all plastic but perfectly robust. Tilt and height adjustment is included, which is all you actually need. Swivel and rotate into portrait simply aren't necessary for this type of monitor. In fact, arguably the only irrelevance is the panel's 1500R curvature. While we wouldn't argue it necessarily detracts from the gaming experience, on a modest 27-inch screen it doesn't add much, either.
Anyway, if that doesn't qualify as a major caveat, there's little else to report that does when it comes to image quality. The Dell S2722DGM is a reasonably punchy and vibrant monitor considering it's a pure SDR panel. The strong inherent contrast certainly helps with that, ensuring you don't feel short changed running games like Cyberpunk 2077, which support HDR, in SDR mode.
So, the Dell S2722DGM will do eye candy just fine. It's also quick enough to deliver where speed matters most. Like we said, several overdrive settings are available in the OSD. We'd steer clear of MPRT mode, which hammers the panel's brightness and vibrancy. 'Extreme' mode, which is rated at 2ms, does suffer from a whiff of overshoot, but that's only just visible in-game, while 'Super fast' resolves the overshoot but allows just a little smearing of darker tones.
Meanwhile, the 165Hz refresh ensures lag is a non-issue and adaptive sync is catered for via AMD FreeSync Premium certification. Owners of Nvidia GPUs will need to run in basic G-Sync compatibility mode, which in practice is just fine.
All told, the Dell S2722DGM is not as quick as the very best IPS monitors—or indeed Samsung's latest and greatest VA panels. But neither is it a slouch. Again, it depends on the balance you want to strike. For similar money you could go with a fastest 1080p IPS panel. But we'd lean towards giving up a tiny bit of speed for the added pixels and visual detail of this Dell.
That's especially true if you factor general computing into the equation. 1440p on a 27-inch panel makes for adequate pixel density for more mundane issues like font rendering and desktop space. 1080p is rather low rent in that regard.
All of which makes the Dell S2722DGM a solid overall choice. It won't pop your eyes out on stalks, but it gets the important stuff—the core image quality, the speed and the features—right. Buying from a big brand like Dell also provides confidence in terms of long term support. So while this isn't the cheapest high-refresh 27-inch 1440p monitor on the market, the overall proposition is still very appealing.