How to ensure your HDR capable PC is operating in HDR mode
Use the following step-by-step guide to help confirm whether your PC is operating in HDR mode:
As a very simple check, by right-mouse clicking on the desktop you can launch the “Display Settings” page. There should be an option called “Play HDR games and apps” this should be set to “on.” You can then go into the sub-menu called “Windows HD Color Settings” if you scroll down to the bottom of the page you can check for a visible difference between the SDR and HDR video images.
As a more detailed, troubleshooting centric method you can follow the following steps:
- Verify whether you have a suitable version of Windows running. For external displays (monitors and TVs), you need version 1803 or later. For a laptop or AIO PC’s integrated panel, you need version 1903 or later. Check your Windows version by typing winver at the Start button or from within a command window. If you have an older version of Windows 10, use the automated update tool to update the OS by typing Check for updates at the Start button or from within a command window, and then follow the update instructions.
- Verify whether you have the latest video drivers from Intel, NVIDIA, or AMD for your GPU.
- Verify whether Windows has HDR mode enabled on the corresponding display. To do this, right-click a blank area of the desktop, and then select Display Settings from the pop-up window. If you have multiple displays connected, select one of the HDR displays, then just below that in the section called Windows HD Color, select the Play HDR games and apps button to enable HDR mode. Check the display’s on-screen menu to verify that HDR mode is enabled. You may need to reset the monitor or reboot the PC after making changes to the display’s on-screen menu.Note: If the Play HDR games and apps button doesn’t exist, either your PC’s GPU doesn’t support HDR, or your PC isn’t recognizing the display as HDR capable. Verify whether you have one of the GPUs listed in the FAQs as HDR ready.
- After you have HDR enabled in the OS, the proof that HDR is working is that the peak white level differs between SDR and HDR applications. There are a variety of easy ways to test this. For example, you can load Paint, Notepad, Word, or any other SDR application with a full white SDR background, and compare this with an HDR app. The easiest HDR app to use is the DisplayHDR Test Tool, available from the Microsoft Store. If you minimize this tool’s window, you can easily compare Notepad’s SDR white versus the DisplayHDR Test Tool’s HDR white. HDR is working if you see a difference.
- If you need to measure the white level difference, you can use a colorimeter or spectroradiometer such as is used for HDR luminance certification For a cheap and easy basic test, however, you can install the Lux app on your smartphone, and then use the app and your phone’s ambient light sensor to measure the SDR white and HDR white luminance levels – it won’t be extremely accurate, but it can at least indicate the relative difference between SDR and HDR.
- An alternative solution to testing HDR is to visit YouTube and search for HDR video content, assuming the author has posted genuine HDR content, that has been correctly uploaded, on an HDR enabled system you will see the “HDR” label in the drop down list of resolutions available, if not, YouTube either doesn’t recognize your system as having HDR, or the content is not available in HDR format. When viewing the content in a browser window, the content’s peak white should be significantly brighter than the browser background’s white (which will be using the SDR white level). Note that for correct tone mapping the Edge Browser is strongly recommended. Below are some great HDR sample content links:
- Agent 327 – Animated Movie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_flWJvIT3Tw
- NASA Thermonuclear Art: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NHykpuFkKQ8
- Forza Game Demo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sR20l1pmdOY
- Collection of HDR Content at the 4K HDR Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCve7_yAZHFNipzeAGBI5t9g
Comparison of YouTube showing when HDR is supported by both hardware and content, or not.