What Affects Color Accuracy on Your Gaming Monitor?
If you’re looking to buy a monitor, you’ve surely been checking out the specs of the models you’ve considered, and while many are quite clear, it can be hard to understand how certain specs will affect your use experience. One area where this issue often comes up is in color accuracy, where you might see different percentages advertised for color spaces like sRGB and DCI-P3.
While the effect these specs have on the user experience may not be very clear on paper, you’ll absolutely be able to notice when a monitor offers good color accuracy, which can be crucial for professional applications, and will make entertainment more enjoyable. We’ve put together this guide to help you understand these specs and assist you in finding the best monitor.
Before getting into the different color spaces offered by consumer monitors and displays, we must understand how the coverage is measured. Most mainstream color spaces are defined within the CIE 1931 Chromaticity Diagram, which represents all the colors perceived by the average person.
Since no modern devices can capture and reproduce the whole visible color space, smaller spaces have been defined within this diagram and are used for modern media formats, allowing the coverage of the most important range of colors. The most common ones, which we will explain in this article, are sRGB and DCI-P3.
The sRGB standard was established by the IEC in 1999 and is still the most popular color profile for consumer devices, used for Windows applications, web browsers, and games. All monitor manufacturers will represent their product’s accuracy in this color space as a percentage, with 100% being perfect coverage of the space, and anything lower or higher means the product will under or oversaturate the colors.
Because of sRGB’s extensive use, you'll likely be using it the most, so it is essential to find a monitor that represents it accurately to ensure you get an image that is as close to the source as possible. With that said, since sRGB is limited to 8-bit color, some media formats have started implementing other color spaces that offer 10-bit color, with the most common one being DCI-P3.
For applications that require a larger color space, like modern video games and movies, you’ve likely seen the option to use HDR, which applies the DCI-P3 color space. It was created by Digital Cinema Initiatives as a standard for the colors used in the film industry and allows displays to reproduce the content as intended by its creators.
Just as with sRGB, all monitor manufacturers will represent their product’s accuracy in this color space as a percentage, with 100% being perfect coverage of the space. Anything lower or higher means the product will under or oversaturate the colors.
Delta E (or ΔE) measures how much each individual color displayed by a monitor will differ from the source image. You ideally want this measurement to be as close to 0 as possible, but any measurement below 1.0 will not be perceptible by the human eye. A professional calibration report, like the one provided with each Dough Spectrum unit, will show the deviation for each color, but on a product spec page, you can find the average Delta E, which will show the deviation average for all colors measured.
Why Are These Specs Important?
As mentioned earlier, anything you view on a display has been created according to these color standards, whether it’s a movie, a YouTube video, an online store, or a modern game. The developers, designers and cinematographers behind this content use specially calibrated tools that allow them to produce a final product which will look its best on any display that supports the color space, but when display manufacturers do not implement the color spaces accurately, aiming for 100% coverage of these popular standards, your content will not reproduce the source as intended, leading to a washed-out or excessively saturated image.
To ensure the best performance in these areas, with an accurate reproduction of the content you consume, you could calibrate your monitor with a professional calibration tool. These tools unfortunately aren’t very cheap, so at Dough, thanks to our community feedback, we calibrate each unit individually at the factory, ensuring the best possible color reproduction. This allows the Spectrum 4K@144Hz monitor to boast a 100% sRGB and 98% DCI-P3 coverage, along with an impressive 0.65 ΔE.