What Does HDR Stand For

 HDR is a term that we always see around when buying TVs, but what do these three letters mean? The concept of HDR baffles some, and they probably own an HDR TV! HDR has an amazing effect on picture quality, allowing you to enjoy your favourite streaming services, making it clear and changing your viewing experience.

Let’s look at what HDR is exactly.

What is HDR?

HDR stands for ‘high dynamic range.’ This term comes from the specifics of photography and is a technique to make a picture’s dynamic range higher, which means the contrast levels between the darkest blacks and the brightest whites.

The higher the dynamic range, the better the photograph will show the different tones you see in reality. HDR for your telly is basically the same idea. When you look at high dynamic range images, you will notice the texture of objects in the image. An expanded range from white to black lets you see more shading in dark and bright areas of the image.

An HDR TV also provides brighter and more realistic ‘specular highlights,’ such as the reflection of the sun from a car’s bumper. HDR content gives these flashes of light a real pop. HDR TVs have vibrant colours, too, as it is paired with another TV technology called WCG, or Wide Colour Technology.

Is HDR Good for Gaming?

HDR quality relies on a display’s peak brightness, especially during gaming. The measure of HDR is done in nits, so you should look for a monitor or television with a maximum peak brightness of 1000 nits or more.

Most gamers relate to the feeling of watching a sunset in the Witcher or Skyrim, which looks beautiful on its own. However, an HDR TV will be brighter, more detailed, and not hidden with lots of glare.

Brightness is not the only advantage of HDR; games benefit from it more than other HDR content, such as movies. Competitive gamers sometimes get advanced HDR to increase the brightness of the games to see their opponents. Vibrant games are now the trend, making HDR displays increasingly popular.

HDR10 format is the one best suited for gaming

HDR10 (more detail about this later) was brought in 2015 by the Consumer Technology Association and is an open standard, making it widely supported. This HDR format is so common in gaming that no company markets the support; it’s implied.

Other HDR formats are not really relevant for PC gaming. Dolby Vision is another format for gaming, which usually supports games released on PC and console. Some laptops are sold with displays that can support Dolby Vision HDR; however, these laptops aren’t the best option for gaming.

Graphic cards such as Intel, AMD, and Nvidia all have HDR built-in, so your graphics card will give you the best display support too. This makes the picture quality clear as day.

However, there are some downfalls too.

HDR support is not constant

Many gamers can agree on the inconsistent implementation of HDR between games. While some games let you turn it on while you’re in-game, others need you to turn it on in Windows’ display settings before playing.

Your HDR displays and monitors will detect the HDR signal and switch to the mode, but some don’t, or they don’t do it properly. In this case, you need to put the HDR on in your Windows settings first. Then, put it on in the game and select the HDR option on your monitor.

Having HDR on disables other settings

Having HDR mode does strange things to your monitor, disabling the brightness customisation. HDR is there to give you a wider range of potential luminance, so putting the monitor’s brightness to its maximum will reduce this range. This is why the option to customise brightness is usually not allowed.

Instead of controlling brightness through the monitor, you can handle it through the game or Windows settings. Windows has Advanced HDR settings, which also have a brightness adjustment setting. HDR games have brightness settings too.

You might also find the colour customisation, gamma, and other settings off.

HDR in Windows and games can be inconsistent, but it works well enough to make a big difference. There is always an influx of HDR games, so you won’t regret gaming in HDR formats.

What is HDR10?

Every HDR TV is compatible with HDR10. This format allows for a maximum brightness of 1000 nits and a colour depth of 10 bits. These numbers might seem odd, but compared to a standard dynamic range (SDR), HDR10 gives you an HDR video that is twice as bright, with a complimenting increase in contrast and a varied colour pallet with one billion shades, compared to the 16 million provided by SDR.

Like all other HDR formats, how well HDR10 looks depends on the quality of the TV you have. When used properly, HDR images will look ten times better with HDR10. While it is better, there is still HDR10+, which makes waves in the display world as it improves on the best qualities of HDR10.

HDR vs. 4K

4K is used to describe screen resolution, which is the number of pixels that can fit on a display. It is sometimes called Ultra HD or UHD. While HDR and 4K are not competing, there are some marked differences.

HDR refers to the colour range and contrast between the darkest and lightest tones in a video or image. It affects the visual quality more than 4K, but 4K has a sharper image. Both measures are common on TVs, giving your display amazing image quality.

TV manufacturers ensure that 4k Ultra HD Blu-Ray to HDR TVs is applied over lower quality TVs such as 720p or 1080p.

Let’s look at these two concepts in detail.

Resolution- 4K is in favour

4K means a distinct screen resolution, while HDR does not deal with resolution. HDR does have competing standards, which establish the lowest 4K resolution, but this term is used to describe any display with better dynamic content than SDR.


  • The standard pixels for 4K TVs is 3840 x 2160.
  • It is 4 times the number of pixels of 1080p.


  • It does not refer to resolution at all, but HDR TVs have 4K.

Contrast and colour shading – HDR is in favour

HDR improves colour dramatically in an HDR TV. 4K does not influence colour and contrast that much other than giving the HDR image more definition. This is why HDR and 4K go together, as they complement essential aspects of TV quality, which are colour and definition.


  • 4K only impacts colour and contrast by giving a sharper definition.


  • Has a greater impact than SDR and 4K. It gives the picture or video smooth colour shading and light, accurate colours, and details.

Compatibility: HDR is better

Having a full 4K HD resolution requires only 4K compatible devices. This includes the source, display, Ultra-HD Blu Rays players, streaming media devices, TVs, and even HDMI cables. HDR only needs end-to-end compatibility. Previously, streaming HDR content was limited compared to 4K, but that’s changing now.


Is HDR different on phones, cameras, and displays?

No. The HDR technology is the same throughout different devices. What you can do with the HDR setting will vary depending on your devices, such as a TV or camera.

Is HDR or HD better?

HD is better than HDR in some respects. This is because HD (high definition) deals with the number of pixels, while HDR deals with the colour of these pixels. Experts say that it is better to have more pixels than have more colourful pixels.

Can I get 4K without HDR?

If you are paying a premium price for your TV, and your display is capable of being 4K without HDR, then this setup without HDR is not worth it. HDR will make a real difference to your 4K display, so it’s worth spending a little extra.

Is HDR high quality?

Yes, it is of higher quality than SDR. HDR is a video signal that improves the overall quality by giving your image bright highlights and a wide range of colours compared to SDR content. The combination of brightness, colour-bit depth, and colour gamut provides an excellent HDR experience.

Why does my HDR display look dull?

You would have to adjust the brightness or gamma. Make sure that you do not have night mode on, which can also cause a washed-out and dimmed look with the lack of colour. Don’t adjust the colour strength.

Photo of author

Matt Tomkin

I am an avid tech lover and the journey started back when LCD TVs and Plasma image burn were all too common. Over the years I have sold technology in retail stores but more recently have been building numerous businesses all based around technology. It's great to be able to test new tech and provide my thoughts on a platform like this.