The complete guide to HDR: how to enable, how to set up, how to watch HDR movies and YouTube, troubleshooting HDR problems in Windows

Table of contents

1. What is HDR for?

2. How to enable HDR on Windows. What is needed for HDR

3. Step by step guide to enable HDR in Windows

4. Why does everything look gray and dark when HDR is on?

5. How to check if HDR is being used

6. How to enable HDR on YouTube and Netflix

7. Why Google Chrome web browser turned gray after enabling HDR and how to fix it

8. Why is the option “Use HDR” disabled or missing

9. Where to get HDR content

10. How to play HDR on Windows

11. HDR content without an HDR TV

What is HDR for?

HDR creates a much more realistic experience, allowing bright objects, such as lights and glare bouncing off shiny objects, to be rendered much brighter than other objects in the scene. HDR also allows for more detail in dark scenes.

In practice, HDR brings with it a wider range of colors. The combination of a wider range of brightness and colors creates a much brighter vivid experience.

To experience HDR, you need HDR content, an HDR-capable source device, and an HDR monitor or TV.

How to enable HDR on Windows. What is needed for HDR

HDR technology allows HDR-enabled TVs and monitors to display HDR content with more hues and higher peak brightness, as well as more contrast between the brightest and darkest areas of the frame.

To enable HDR, your TV (or monitor) must support this technology.

See also: What you need to pay attention to when buying a TV (monitor) for HDR

Also, HDR must be supported at the OS level, for example, Linux does not support HDR (although it does support 10-bit color depth). Windows 11 has native HDR support. Windows 10 Fall Creators Update (RS3 and later) also received native HDR support.

The operating system must have the HEVC codec because most HDR content is HEVC video.

There are also minimum requirements for computer hardware. HDR requires a GeForce 1000 series graphics card (i.e. NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050). Some sources claim that the GeForce 900 series (starting from the GeForce GTX 960) is also capable of HDR.

Integrated Intel CPU graphics support HDR since the seventh generation of processors.

You also need one of the following ports (both on the signal source, that is, a computer, and on the receiver, that is, a TV or monitor):

  • HDMI 2.0a port or newer
  • DisplayPort 1.4 or newer. Some sources claim that DP1.3 is sufficient.
  • USB Type-C port (supports Thunderbolt 3 or DP Alt mode)
  • miniDP. This is Mini DisplayPort, they are placed on laptops, they are subject to the same requirements as for DisplayPort

See also: Is HDMI or DisplayPort better for the ultimate picture, sound, HDR, FreeSync, G-Sync and more

Step by step guide to enable HDR in Windows

Open the “Settings” application, this can be done by pressing the key combination Win+i.

Go to System → Display.

If you have multiple displays, select the one you want to enable HDR for.

See also: How to connect a TV to a computer in Windows 11

Find “Use HDR” and move the slider to enable this option.

That's all! Your monitor is now using HDR.

Why does everything look gray and dark when HDR is on?

If everything worked, then you should be wondering why everything turned gray after enabling HDR. (If something did not work out, then below there is a section with popular problems and ways to solve them).

As soon as you activate the “Use HDR” switch, everything on the screen can immediately become darker and, compared to HDR turned off, desaturated or faded. This is because most apps and content are SDR while your system is currently in HDR mode. In order for SDR and HDR content to be displayed at the same time, SDR content must be displayed darker than HDR.

You'll also find that if the display's color gamut is wider than sRGB, switching to HDR mode will make the desktop look washed out compared to SDR mode, where sRGB colors looked oversaturated due to color mapping (stretching sRGB to fit the screen's gamut width).

This approach allows HDR content to be viewed correctly, with brighter highlights than SDR content and more detail in darker scenes.

To adjust the relative brightness of SDR and HDR content, go to the HDR settings by clicking “Use HDR”.

Locate the “SDR content brightness” slider.

Move this window to the display you want to adjust, and then drag the slider until you reach the brightness of the SDR content you want.

How to check if HDR is being used

If, after activating the “Use HDR” option, the screen is faded and gray, this means that both the operating system and the TV (monitor) have switched to HDR mode.

In the application Settings → System → Display → “Advanced display” you will see the following characteristics:

  • Color space: High dynamic range (HDR)
  • Bit depth
  • Peak brightness

Additionally, you can make sure that the monitor (TV) is in HDR mode in the TV settings, for example, in the Menu → Support → Information section.

After turning on HDR, you will easily understand that this mode is used when you run HDR content, which will be bright and rich in colors, while SDR content will still be more faded.

How to enable HDR on YouTube and Netflix

Go to Settings app → System → Display → Use HDR.

Make sure that “Play streaming HDR video” is enabled.

Open the YouTube website in a web browser (such as Google Chrome).

Search for the keyword “HDR” to find HDR content.

Start video. When you click on the gear, the line “HDR” should appear in the list of available video resolutions.

Not all YouTube videos are HDR content, so some videos will not have an “HDR” option in the resolution list.

To watch HDR on Netflix, you may need a qualifying premium account subscription.

Netflix supports HDR streaming through both the web browser and the Netflix app.

Why Google Chrome web browser turned gray after enabling HDR and how to fix it

Like all SDR content (including operating system windows), web browsers start looking gray when they don't show HDR. This is very uncomfortable when browsing the web.

To fix this, you can use the “SDR content brightness” setting discussed above. With this setting, you can increase the brightness of the web browser when it does not display HDR.

Another option is to choose a different web browser color profile.

To do this, in Google Chrome in the address bar, enter


Use the search to find the “Force color profile” flag.

Default” color profile means to use the OS color profile. You can choose “scRGB linear (HDR where available)” instead. This option means that the normal RGB profile will be used for all pages, but if HDR is available, it will be used. That is, all websites will look normal, and when watching a video, HDR mode will be automatically available.

Another interesting option is “Display P3 D65”, which allows you to turn off HDR, but still take advantage of 10-bit color.

Why is the option “Use HDR” disabled or missing

First of all, make sure your TV or monitor supports HDR.

If you have multiple monitors, or if you are connecting an external monitor to your laptop, then make sure you select the correct monitor to set up.

On my computer, I encountered a situation that the laptop as a whole supports HDR, but the data transfer rate of the HDMI port was not enough. When connecting a monitor to the DisplayPort port, the option to enable HDR became active.

See also: Is HDMI or DisplayPort better for the ultimate picture, sound, HDR, FreeSync, G-Sync and more

Signs that there is not enough bandwidth on the HDMI port to enable HDR is that there are no options in the settings to select the maximum resolution that the display supports and/or the maximum screen refresh rate that the monitor supports. If you encounter this, then either there is not enough HDMI bandwidth (due to an outdated version), or also the hardware does not meet the minimum HDR requirements.

Where to get HDR content

HDR movies are labeled as HDR10. Usually these are films with UHD resolution (i.e. 2K, 4K, 8K) in Blu-ray or BDRemux format. They use the HEVC video codec.

If you want to see the maximum number of color hues, then select the content “Bit depth: 10 bits”, that is, with a 10-bit color depth.

You can create HDR content yourself! Some high-end phones have a “HDR10+ videos” option in the camera settings. Below is an example screenshot from the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra settings:

But shooting HDR content has its pitfalls. Most mobile phones, even high-end ones, use a sensor that can only handle 8-bit color. Therefore, you can indeed make videos of HDR content, but it may not differ much from ordinary videos shot on your phone.

How to play HDR on Windows

For Windows, the following HDR players are available, any of which can play HDR content at 10-bit color depth:

  1. VLC Media Player
  2. 5KPlayer
  3. CnX Player
  4. PotPlayer
  5. PowerDVD

HDR video streaming from YouTube and Netflix you can play right in your web browser.

HDR content without an HDR TV

My TV (monitor) does not support HDR, should I buy or download HDR movies, will they look better on my monitor?

No! HDR content without HDR-capable hardware will look very dark. Not only will you not get any benefit from HDR, these videos will look a lot worse than if you watch them in SDR.

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