How to Enable HDR Mode on Your HDR Compatible Monitor under Windows OS?

Presenter: Chris Bai (BenQ)
Duration: 7 min
Slides: download

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Hi everyone!

I'm Chris Bai from BenQ Corporation.

Today, I would like to share the topic of how to enable HDR Mode on your HDR monitor under Windows 10.

This workshop is built around HDR and Wide Color Gamut.

And I believe it is important to go back to the basics and understand how to actually enable HDR mode on your monitor in a desktop environment.

First of all, I would like to introduce myself.

I'm a color scientist and I work for BenQ who designs and manufactures all kinds of computer monitors including HDR and Wide Color Gamut Displays.

I'm the Senior Color Expert and the founder of Color Technology Lab at BenQ.

I'm also the Vice Chair of Display Working Group in ICC.

It's an honor and pleasure to speak with you in this short video.

Before the talk begins, I would like to mention that there is a PowerPoint accompanied with this video.

Please also download it, as some supplementary information is supplied in the PowerPoint.

So, let us get started.

As you may know, there are two categories of HDR monitors we are talking here.

One category is known as the HDR Reference Monitor or HDR Mastering Monitor.

These are monitors can truly display 4,000 nits and true black at the same time.

An example of this type of display, it's the Sony Trimaster BVM-HX310, which is showing in the PowerPoint on page three.

Another category is the HDR Capable Display such as monitors can display luminance in the range of 300 nits to a 600 nits.

We will discuss both categories in this talk.

If you're using the HDR Reference Monitor or HDR Mastering Monitor, basically you don't need to worry about any setup in windows 10.

The monitor itself will process that signal and activate the HDR curve internally if the HDR curve is selected.

This is very handy, but it comes with the big price difference you paid upfront.

If you're using an HDR Capable Display under normal circumstances, the HDR mode is disabled on the monitor.

The HDR mode on the OSD is greyed out.

If you would like to enable the HDR mode, then you will need to prepare the following items.

First, Windows 10 with builds after 1803.

Second, independent graphics card supports PlayReady hardware digital rights management and required codecs installed for 10 bit video decoding, including HEVC, AV1, and VP9.

Third, the HDR Capable Display supports HDR10 and DisplayPort 1.4 or HDMI 2.0 or higher.

Without meeting these requirements, you will find out the “Use HDR” option is not shown under HD Color in Windows 10.

It is illustrated in the PowerPoint on page five.

How to get there?

It is under settings, system and display.

If the above requirements are met, then the use HDR option will appear and will be enabled under windows HD color.

By turning on “Use HDR” option, the HDR capable display will automatically switch to the HDR mode and enable HDR functionality.

Depending on your monitor, here I use our SW271C as an example, this monitor allows you to select between HDR10 curve and the HLG curve.

Now, let's a take a closer look at your settings in Windows.

If you select Windows HD Color settings, you will see several more options here as shown on page six.

First of all, it's the “Use HDR” option and followed by the “Streaming HDR Video” option.

By default, these two options are turned on once “Use HDR” option is activated in the previous page.

Next, if you scroll down the page, you will see H“HDR/SDR brightness balance”.

This is an important option as this will affect the brightness of your monitor.

The default settings is set at 40, but if you would like to get the optimal experience for your HDR Capable Display, it is recommended to set it to 100.

We have made some measurements under different brightness settings.

For HDR Reference Monitor, there is almost no difference between 8-bit and 10-bit measurements.

The measurement data is presented on page eight.

But for HDR Capable Display, you can see

the luminance and the gamma curve change quite dramatically under different settings

in the PowerPoint on page 10 and 11.

Please note that under HDR brightness 100, the gamma curves measured by 8-bit and 10-bit precision are different, so, we need to pay attention to the precision.

After we set the HDR brightness to 100, now, let us take a look at the HDR video.

Here, we have two identical HDR Capable Displays.

Our SW271C.

Both monitors will be playing the same HDR video at 350 nits.

But, on the right-hand side, the HDR mode will be activated, which HDR 10 curve and the HDR brightness will be set to 100.

On the left-hand side, the monitor will be set to ordinary gamma 2.2.

So, it is essentially playing HDR content on SDR display without tone mapping.

The color may not seem right from the video due to the capture, but you can see the highlight and the shadow details on the right-hand sideed monitor are more clearly visible than on the left-hand sided monitor.

The sparkling effect on the right-hand sided monitor is also more pronounced.

This is what we're looking for in an HDR Capable Display.

So, now we know that we have successfully enabled the HDR mode.

Of course, you can try with different HDR/SDR brightness balance settings, but you will find out the brightness under HDR mode becomes less, which will reduce the sparkling effect.

However, if you follow through the steps here and are unable to turn on the use HDR option, there is a troubleshooting guide provided by Microsoft.

The link is provided in the PowerPoint on page 12.


This wraps up my talk.

I hope this short video provide enough information for you to enable your HDR mode on your HDR monitor.

If you have any further question, please feel free to raise it in their interactive Q&A session or you can shoot me an email at

Thank you very much for watching this video.

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