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Lifewire / Bill Loguidice
Display pivots to portrait mode
IPS panel with 4K resolution, HDR color
AMD Radeon FreeSync support
60Hz maximum refresh rate
The LG 27UK850-W is a professional monitor with AMD Radeon FreeSync support. It boasts an IPS panel, HDR color, and a screen that can pivot to portrait mode, making it incredibly versatile.
Anyone shopping for a monitor has probably come across a few different options from LG. The brand provides a range of excellent monitors for every type of budget, and even for its higher price point, the 27-inch LG 27UK850-W offers a surprising amount of features.
With 4K resolution, HDR color, professional color calibration options, extreme viewing angles, AMD FreeSync support, and a rotatable display, this monitor meets the needs of all kinds of users whether you’re working with photos, documents, games, or just about anything else.
We tested the LG 27UK850-W monitor to see how versatile it really is, and what concessions, if any, have been made.
The LG 27UK850-W has a black front with a white rear, a design decision that gives it a unique, elegant look, quite unlike anything else. The included cast aluminum U-Line stand has a similarly elegant, all silver appearance and allows for a forward or backward tilt between -5 and 20 degrees. It can also be raised and lowered up to 4.7 inches.
The U-Line stand also pivots 90 degrees, so you can turn the landscape display to portrait. In our testing, rotating to portrait mode and back felt smooth. This monitor and stand would fit right in at even the slickest design studio.
At 27 inches, the monitor doesn’t take up much desk space. The U-Line stand has a maximum width of about 16 inches, while the monitor itself is just a hair over 24 inches across. The combination of the monitor, stand, and cable holder has a depth of about 15 inches.
Even for its higher price point, the 27UK850-W offers a surprising amount of features.
VESA mounting is an option with a wall mount that supports 100 x 100 (A x B) and four standard M4 x L10 screws, either with or without a wall mount plate. Of course, since the monitor supports rotation so well, you’ll also want to get a wall mount that rotates.
The monitor’s bezel is extremely thin, but the actual display area is surrounded by an approximately 0.25-inch black border on the top and sides of the screen. The border on the bottom is barely noticeable and is about 0.1 inches thick. Nevertheless, as modern monitor technology goes, the 27UK850-W is nearly borderless.
On the back of the monitor are two HDMI ports, one DisplayPort, one USB-C port, and a pair of USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports that work as a USB hub when the USB-C is connected.
The USB-C upstream connection works with the DisplayPort protocol and can also provide power to, but not from, a compatible device. This means it can actually charge up something like a MacBook Pro when connected over a single USB-C connection. There’s also a DC-in for the power cord and a headphone jack for headphones or external speakers should you play audio through one of the video inputs.
There is a single Joystick Button in the center of the monitor underneath the LG logo that controls the monitor’s built-in functions—it operates as the power button and also controls the volume. Once the monitor is on, a single press of the button displays the on-screen menu.
Inside the box, you’ll find a Display Quality Assurance Report, a white AC adapter, a bag with CD-ROM, manual, and other paperwork, as well as a cable holder and various cables (DisplayPort, USB, HDMI, and AC cables). You’ll also find the U-Line stand in two parts and the monitor itself.
Assembly was fast and relatively easy. We put together the two pieces of the U-Line stand and snapped it into the slots on the back of the monitor, then plugged in the AC adapter into the back of the monitor and AC cable. Then we connected the video cable, which in this case was the DisplayPort.
The included CD-ROM contains active links to the owner’s manual, software guide, monitor driver install file, and the software installer for the OnScreen Control Software. However, all of these files and more are available to download from the LG website.
The U-Line stand also pivots 90 degrees, so you can turn the landscape display to portrait.
Although most computer setups will simply plug-and-play when connected to the 27UK850-W, it’s important to take the time to install the latest driver software (at minimum) if you want the best performance. It’s also a good idea to install the OnScreen Control software, which can provide direct access to many of the monitor’s features.
There are two additional, optional software items available to install for Windows or Mac owners: Dual Controller and True Color Pro. Dual Controller lets users control multiple Windows and Mac computers using the shared keyboard and mouse attached to one computer. True Color Pro ensures high color reproduction accuracy when paired with one of the following calibrators: LG Calibrator (ACB8300), ColorMunki Photo, ColorMunki Design, Spyder 3, Spyder 4, Spyder 5, i1DisplayPro, or i1Pro2.
With an In-Plane Switching (IPS) panel, the 27UK850-W provides excellent color reproduction and generous viewing angles. Even without HDR color support active, the standard sRGB color gamut is rated at 99%, and it shows, with excellent color reproduction right out of the box. Similarly, when viewed from the side at even impractical extremes, the display remained clear and bright.
In terms of glare, there was nothing to note on the display itself from either the sun or indoor lights. The glossy bottom portion of the bezel did pick up a bit of glare as well as some fingerprints when adjusting the monitor, however.
While not strictly advertised as a gaming-centric monitor (it doesn’t even mention it on the box), the 27UK850-W natively supports adaptive sync via AMD FreeSync. Adaptive sync matches the refresh rate of the monitor with the frames being produced by the graphics card, resulting in smoother gameplay and eliminating some of the guesswork over what performance tweaks to implement on a per-game basis.
Even without HDR, the regular SDR contrast and color range on this monitor is still excellent.
Although there’s no official support for G-Sync, the other adaptive sync standard from NVIDIA’s line of graphics cards, it also works with this monitor. While not every feature from the more expensive and demanding G-Sync standard is supported, we were still able to get excellent performance from our NVIDIA-based test PC after enabling FreeSync in the monitor’s settings.
For those who can’t support or simply don’t want to use one of the two adaptive sync standards, LG offers its own selection of optimized and customized gaming settings. For instance, there are two First Person Shooter (FPS) modes, as well as RTS Game, which minimizes input lag for Real-Time Strategy titles. Between FreeSync, G-Sync, and other modes like Photo, HDR Effect (for simulating HDR color contrast on non-HDR content), and Cinema, there should be settings to accommodate just about any need.
The 27UK850-W sports a native 4K UHD resolution of 3840 x 2160 with a refresh rate of 60Hz. While this does not match the higher refresh rates of 120Hz/144Hz of more specialized monitors, its maximum refresh rate is still in line with what you would expect from a good 4K display.
For systems that support it, there’s also HDR10 color available. This high-dynamic-range video option features bright whites, deep blacks, and precise 10-bit color depth.
HDR10 is the most widely supported of the high-dynamic-range video options and is not only available on modern computers but also various consoles and set-top boxes. This means, for example, that your Microsoft Xbox One X or Apple TV 4K will also look their best on this monitor. Of course, even without HDR, the regular SDR contrast and color range on this monitor is still excellent.
As with any monitor, sound from the built-in speakers is not the best — in testing, we found the audio presence to be a bit flat and lacking in bass. Because of the size of the monitor, there’s also minimal stereo separation between the left and right speakers. As a result, dedicated gamers or home theater enthusiasts will want to explore any of a number of quality external speakers or headsets to get the best experience.
By default, LG enables a feature called MaxxAudio from Waves. When this sound enhancement technology is on, you can manipulate various bass, treble, dialog, and 3D sound settings.
Unfortunately, as when testing other LG monitors with this feature, we found that having MaxxAudio off produced better sound. We found that with MaxxAudio set to off, the monitor audio set to 100%, and Windows 10 sound at 30%, the audio was loud and clean. With Windows 10 sound set to 100% in that same scenario, there was definitely some distortion from the built-in speakers, although to be fair, that’s not a normal use case.
As mentioned earlier, while the OnScreen Control software is optional, it’s worth installing for Windows and Mac users. As a complement to the monitor’s built-in menu options, the OnScreen Control software provides a menu of Screen Split, Monitor Settings, My Application Preset, and Game mode settings to manipulate.
For Screen Split, you have a choice between 2-Screen Split, 3-Screen Split, 4-Screen Split, 6-Screen Split, and 8-Screen Split. Several of these options go beyond what the native operating system easily supports or is otherwise unavailable without installing additional software.
There is also a Picture-in-Picture (PIP) option, but we were unable to make that work during our testing.
Inside the monitor settings, you can adjust picture mode, brightness, contrast, and display orientation, the latter of which is the quickest way to use the monitor in portrait mode. If you connect to the monitor via USB, you can also update its software.
“My Application Preset” lets you select picture modes on a per-application basis. For instance, you can automatically set the monitor to HDR Effect mode every time Windows Media Player runs. The one downside to enabling this feature is that when a custom mode starts after a particular application runs, the whole screen changes to that mode.
For Game Mode settings, you can adjust response time, turn FreeSync on and off, and set black stabilizer levels.
Retailing for $649.99 (but often selling for about $100 less, even on the manufacturer’s site), the LG 27UK850-W is relatively expensive—but you do get what you pay for. With its generous feature-set, stellar good looks, both physically and from its display, and professional calibration options, this monitor can meet a lot of needs.
Dell Professional 27-inch Monitor: Although the Dell monitor is less than $300 and also offers a pivoting screen, it’s no match for the LG 27UK850-W in looks, resolution, color, or performance.
AOC U3277PWQU 32-inch 4K UHD Monitor: The AOC offers a larger display and similar features for about $360, but lacks the LG 27UK850-W’s higher quality IPS panel, HDR compatibility, and Freesync support.
LG 34UM69G-B 34-inch 21:9 UltraWide IPS Monitor: The LG 34UM69G-B offers a larger, higher-speed IPS panel than the LG 27UK850-W for less than $320, but has a much lower resolution and no ability to pivot.
The LG 27UK850-W is a virtuoso monitor that meets the needs of the many.
As a standard, high-resolution monitor, the 27UK850-W delivers a crisp, colorful picture. Its native Freesync support (and unofficial support for G-Sync) makes it a great gaming monitor, and its HDR10 support and professional color calibration options make it appealing for home theater enthusiasts or Photoshop pros.