After LG released its first HDR monitor last year, the 32UD99, it quickly followed up with three more 27-inch models, and the 27UK850-W (See it on Amazon) I'm looking at here is at the top of the heap. It isn’t specifically a gaming monitor but it does come with some features gamers appreciate, including HDR support, AMD's adaptive sync technology, a low response rate – and the benefits of an IPS panel. Plus it’s 4K resolution too. But even with that resolution, is HDR and a smattering of gaming features enough to justify a price just shy of $700?
Design and Features
The 27UK850-W has a no-frills, sleek look. The stand is a silver half-circle curve and it's very sturdy. The bezels are ultra-thin and with the black border it’s just 7mm from monitor edge to image edge (about 19mm for the bottom bezel). Menu navigation and power toggle are all done with a joystick button under the bottom bezel, so there are no buttons anywhere on the front of the monitor. The only visual marking is the LG badge at the bottom center. The back of the chassis is white (as are all included cable accessories).
The monitor stand extends up 110mm and will tilt forward 5 degrees or back 20 degrees. You can also pivot it 90 degrees into a portrait orientation, but there is no swivel option. The back stand mount is VESA-compliant though, so you can attach a monitor arm and adjust placement to your heart’s content.
All of these inputs are HDCP 2.2-compatible...
Facing out from the back panel are ample connection options. There are two HDMI 2.0 ports, a DisplayPort 1.2 port, and a USB-C port. All of these inputs are HDCP 2.2-compatible so you won’t encounter any 4K handshake problems from your 4k consoles, UHD Blu-ray Player, or streaming devices. DisplayPort over USB-C (DP Alternate Mode) is supported on the USB-C port. There’s a USB hub with two downstream ports, but the power for them is supplied by the USB-C connection. You’ll need to use either a USB-C to USB-C cable or USB-C to USB-A cable, neither of which are included. Next to the HDMI ports are a headphone jack and the power plug, which connects to an external power brick in stylish white.
The LG 27UK850-W uses an IPS panel and comes with all the benefits and shortcomings that entails. Color accuracy is very good, viewing angles are excellent, there’s some IPS glow, and response times are slower than TN but can get down to 5ms with a response time setting adjustment. The native 4K resolution detail is phenomenal and a huge step up from 1440p. I think 27-inches is a great monitor size for enjoying 4K content. You get twice the resolution of a 1080p display and 50% more than a 1440p monitor of the same size. And it’s easy to scale up to 150% to make everything as readable as it is on a 1440p 27-inch screen.
Along with 4K comes HDR (High Dynamic Range) and the ability to accept a HDR10 signal. HDR is automatically turned on when it detects an HDR signal. But at a light output around 350 cd/m2 it can’t properly display HDR (you really want a light output closer to 1,000 cd/m2 or higher). There is also an HDR Effect mode that can be selected for SDR (Standard Dynamic Range) signals that tries to emulate a HDR image. Monitors still can’t match the HDR performance of a television and I really wouldn’t base the purchase of your next monitor on its HDR ability.
I really wouldn’t base the purchase of your next monitor on its HDR ability.
It isn’t marketed as a gaming monitor, but the 27UK850-W does have a few options to keep us happy. For AMD GPU aficionados there is FreeSync with both a Basic and Extended setting for the frequency range. It is supported over both DisplayPort and HDMI, but not USB-C. There is also a Black Stabilizer that will raise the black level to make it easier to see while creeping around in the shadows. Finally there's a response time adjustment to help tame one of the disadvantages of IPS panels.
LG has On-Screen Control software that allows you to change a limited amount of menu options without having to use the joystick button – things like picture mode, contrast, brightness and the gamer settings. It also gives a multitude of screen split and PIP configurations that you can toggle on. Many of these are similar setups you can accomplish easily in Windows 10, but there are a couple extra. Open windows are also snapped into place, so if you try to move an open window it will automatically resize it to the split screen zone. The software is easy enough to navigate and use, but I only would open it up to use the split-screen options. And those were rare occasions as I prefer to have my windows more mobile when I have multiple programs open than locked into a position. I find the Windows 10 split screens to be more intuitive to use. For any other quick adjustment, like brightness, I would use the joystick button.
The monitor has two speakers with MaxxAudio by Waves. I’m certain there are speakers because each time the monitor starts up there is a loud ‘ding’ to make sure I know I just turned the monitor on. Thankfully that can be turned off in the menu. Also thankfully I have desktop speakers because the ones in the monitor are, not surprisingly, pretty terrible.
Not unexpectedly, color accuracy on the 27UK850-W is fantastic. It’s a little heavy on the blues, but I don’t expect you’d notice unless you were comparing it to another perfect monitor. When looking at the Lagom LCD test pages, there is little to no noticeable color shift from normal viewing angles. Contrast is great at its default setting and none of the colors are crushed at the top of the brightness range. I decided to check out the HDR Effect picture mode to see how it would affect the brightness steps. Without an exception every color was crushed so you couldn’t see a difference between 30, 31, and 32. Black level is decent for an IPS display, but isn’t anything to write home about. My sample had some definite IPS bloom along the right side, especially in the top corner.
There are four different response time options and the 5ms time that LG lists is with the Faster setting. There were a couple times that I saw some ghosting anomalies while playing PUBG with the Faster setting. It was fleeting and it isn’t something I’d likely notice or care about if I wasn’t looking for it, but for the most part I played with the Fast setting and never saw it again.
Playing games in 4K is a pretty big leap from 1440p, both in the visible resolution and the load it puts on your GPU. But I decided to dive right in with Final Fantasy XV and see how my GeForce 1070 Ti would hold up. As expected the frame rates were a tad sluggish to what I’d prefer to see. At High graphics settings while just running around the desert it would hang around 30fps and during combat would dip to 24 - 4K monitors like this still require some serious power under the hood.
But what a glorious 24 frames they were. The detail in the scenery, like the desert grass, or in the clothing of Noctis and his companions is stunning. The same can be said for PUBG although with much better framerates – they were pretty consistently in the mid-50s. I wasn’t able to use FreeSync since I run an Nvidia card, but even so screen tearing was minimal. I only noticed it at a couple points in Battlefront II.
To check out how well the 27UK850-W would handle a HDR10 signal, I hooked it up to my LG UP875 4K Blu-ray Player that is compatible with HD10. There are four HDR settings on the monitor when it senses a HDR signal and none of them looked that great. Unfortunately high contrast areas featured blown-out whites, and the bright images had a grainy look to them.
The LG 27UK850-W has a MSRP of $700 and it has been holding to that price pretty steadily, but it recently dropped to $650:
- See the LG 27UK850-W IPS Monitor on Amazon