Although HDR has been available on most major TVs going on three years now, it’s only recently that it’s finally started popping up on computer monitors. This is likely because until May of 2018, Windows didn’t even support HDR display technology. Now, however, users are able to take advantage of all the bonuses that HDR has to offer and can see the massive improvement in color depth and accuracy for themselves.
Make Sure You Can Support HDR First
As I found out while gathering screenshots and materials for this very article, it turns out Windows is pretty selective about the devices it will allow you to display HDR content on. Despite the fact that I have my computer hooked up to an HDR-ready Samsung QF7 television, I was using a 20ft HDMI 1.4 cable to reach the display, meaning that HDR options won’t appear for me since HDR only works via DisplayPort 1.4 or HDMI 2.0a cables.
Here’s the full list of requirements an external display needs to meet in order to display HDR content via Windows 10:
- The HDR display or TV must support HDR10 and DisplayPort 1.4 or HDMI 2.0 or higher. We recommend displays that are DisplayHDR certified.
- The Windows 10 PC needs to have a graphics card that supports PlayReady 3.0 hardware digital rights management (for protected HDR content). This could be any of the following graphics cards: NVIDIA GeForce 1000 series or higher, AMD Radeon RX 400 series or higher, or Intel UHD Graphics 600 series or higher. We recommend a graphics card that supports hardware-accelerated 10-bit video decoding for HDR video codecs.
- The Windows 10 PC must have the required codecs installed for 10-bit video decoding (for example, HEVC or VP9 codecs).
- We recommend that you have the latest WDDM 2.4 drivers installed on your Windows 10 PC. To get the latest drivers, go to Windows Update in Settings, or check your PC manufacturer’s website.
Turn on HDR in Windows 10
If your PC, display, and display cable meet all the requirements and you’ve updated to the most recent Fall Creator’s Update released in late 2017, you should be ready to go. To enable HDR in Windows 10, and start by opening up your Start menu and going to the Settings app:
From here click on “Display,” and you should see a toggle below the Night Light option that reads “HDR and WCG:”
Turn this on to enable HDR on your display, but be aware that all non-HDR-ready content will appear much more washed out on the color spectrum as a result. This is because Windows automatically adjusts the entire color profile of your system to account for HDR content, meaning that anything else (email, web browsing, etc.) not configured for HDR will appear grayish and much darker than usual.
To change this you can click the link for “HDR and WCG settings” underneath the toggle we mentioned above.
From here you can use the “SDR Content” slider to adjust the brightness and color palette for any non-HDR images or video. And while this is an improvement, overall it’s difficult to get the same non-HDR colors to display perfectly while you have HDR enabled.
To avoid this problem altogether we recommend that you only turn the HDR toggle on when you know you’re about to watch HDR content or play a game that natively supports the HDR color gamut, and switch it off once you’re back to regular browsing.