The defining feature of HP’s $ 449 27f 27-Inch 4K Display is its 4K (aka UHD, or ultra-high-definition) panel, whose resolution you’ll see in relatively few monitors not geared toward elite gamers or serious content creators. With more than 8 million pixels on its 27-inch screen, the 27f 4K renders a sharp image and vividly displays both movies and photos. HP touts it as a home entertainment monitor, and indeed, its color coverage and accuracy suit it for that, as well as for processing images for upload to the web. You pay a premium for this Best Buy-exclusive model versus a QHD-resolution (2,560-by-1,440-pixel) panel, and the port selection is a bit limited. But if 4K is your desire, it’s appealing for video watchers and content creators alike.
Packing in Those Pixels
The 27f 4K has a 27-inch screen (measured diagonally), with a native resolution of 3,840 by 2,160 pixels, at a 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio. Its pixel density calculates to 163 pixels per inch (ppi), which matches that of other 27-inch 4K monitors such as the ViewSonic VP2785-4K. It’s more than enough to ensure image sharpness at typical viewing distances.
For context, take the pixel density of a 27-inch QHD (2,560-by-1,440-pixel) monitor such as the HP Pavilion 27 Quantum Dot. It’s only 108ppi, which is fine for general-purpose use, but, all else being equal, is not quite as sharp as 4K. The 27f 4K’s in-plane-switching (IPS) technology has a reputation for color accuracy and good off-angle viewability, both of which were borne out in our testing. This makes it a good choice not only for movie watching, but for photo and video editing, too.
Most of the 4K monitors we have looked at have been professional models like the above-mentioned ViewSonic VP2785-4K, geared to photographers, video editors, and graphic designers. We’ve also reviewed 4K gaming monitors such as the Acer Predator XB3 (XB273K), which require powerful graphics processors to produce competitive frame rates at 4K resolution. (See our article on the best graphics cards for 4K gaming.) General-purpose widescreen monitors for home or business tend to top out at QHD resolution. This panel’s 4K resolution, coupled with its coverage of essentially the full sRGB spectrum, makes it a good choice not only for viewing video and photos, but for processing photos for the web, where sRGB is the standard color space.
A Razor-Thin Panel With Video-Friendly Ports
The 27f 4K is matte black (except for a silver bottom bezel), with a simple, handsome design. The panel sits in a dark cabinet supported by a stand with a rectangular base. The whole works weighs 7.7 pounds, and with the stand extended to its full height, it measures 19.7 by 24.2 by 7.6 inches (HWD). Mind you, most of that depth is from the stand extending in front of and behind the monitor—the screen and its housing are barely a quarter of an inch thick over most of their surface area.
The bottom bezel is nearly an inch high, while the top and sides are essentially bezel-less, maximizing the screen area and making this a good choice for a multidisplay setup with two or three monitors wedged side by side. The 27f 4K supports tilt adjustment, from 5 degrees forward to 16 degrees back, and the height adjusts by just over 5 inches, as well.
The 27f 4K has a basic port selection: one DisplayPort connector, and two HDMI ports. They’re suitable for viewing content or streaming video from a computer or other source, such as a game console. This monitor lacks USB ports—either as a display input, or in the form of downstream ports for charging devices and connecting to peripherals.
Conveniently, all the ports face outward on the back panel, so you merely need to turn the monitor around to plug in a cable. I’ve seen the same port positioning in several other HP monitors I’ve recently tested. It’s a marked improvement from the downward-facing rear ports that are all too common on today’s displays. In those cases, trying to connect a cable is an ordeal, frequently involving turning the monitor upside down.
Navigation is by means of buttons on the bottom edge of the 27f 4K’s panel. The right-most button turns the monitor on and off, while the four other buttons are for navigating through the panel’s onscreen display (OSD), and serve as up and down arrows, enter, and backspace.
For a button-based system, the menu isn’t too hard to navigate, though it’s not as easy as the four-way mini-joystick control found in the HP Pavilion 27 Quantum Dot. The menu items are typical of general-purpose monitors. The main-menu items include choices for Brightness, Contrast, Color Control, Input Control, and Image Control.
In addition to color settings (among them Warm, Neutral, Cool, and Custom sRGB), the panel offers a host of viewing modes. These include Low Blue Light (to ease eyestrain), Night, Reading, Gaming, Movie, Photo, Custom, and HP Enhance+. The last is a noise-reduction feature.
Bright, Bold Colors
I did our color, brightness, and black-level testing for the 27f 4K using a Klein K10-A colorimeter, a Murideo Six-G signal generator, and SpectraCal CalMAN 5 software. HP rates the monitor’s luminance (that is, its brightness per unit area) at 300 candelas per meter squared (nits). It did somewhat better (335 nits) in my testing. I calculated the contrast ratio at 1,081:1, slightly better than its 1,000:1 rating.
According to HP, the 27f 4K covers more than 99 percent of the sRGB color space, and indeed, it covered 99.6 percent in my testing. This makes it a good choice for use in preparing photos to post online, as sRGB is the standard color space—the range of colors that can be displayed—for nearly all web browsers. Below is a color fidelity or chromaticity chart for the 27f 4K. The area within the triangle represents the sRGB color space, and my data points (the circles) are fairly evenly placed near the edge of the triangle.
In my less-formal testing, I viewed a host of test video clips with the 27f 4K. I also used it to view and edit photos. Video looked good, with bright, vivid colors, and pin-sharp detail and dynamic range. Photos also looked true to the source and vivid.
Like many monitors, including the Dell S2719DC, the 27f 4K lacks speakers. Unlike the Dell, it doesn’t even have an audio-out jack for headphones or powered external speakers. To give your video sound, you’ll have to play audio through your input source’s speakers, an attached sound system, or headphones, which works with computers but not necessarily other devices.
The main gaming-friendly feature you’ll find in the 27f 4K is support for AMD’s FreeSync adaptive-sync technology. When coupled with a computer with a supported AMD Radeon graphics card, FreeSync can reduce image tearing by adjusting the panel refresh rate to keep it matched to the frame-rate output of the card. The 27f 4K’s refresh rate is 60Hz, which is wholly typical for mainstream and professional displays but a bit pedestrian for demanding, cutting-edge gamers or competitive esports hounds. This monitor is perfectly okay for casual gaming, but serious gamers will want to get a panel designed with gaming as more than an afterthought.
HP provides a mere one-year warranty for the 27f 4K. Most monitor manufacturers—for instance, Dell with its S2719DC—back their products with at least three-year warranties. Best Buy offers extended protection plans on monitors through its Geek Squad service, but the price and details have yet to be announced.
4K or Not 4K?
Seeking a modestly priced 4K monitor with good sharpness and accurate color for video watching or processing photos? The HP 27f 27-Inch 4K Display is a worthy choice, though its port selection is rather sparse. For a considerably higher price, the ViewSonic VP2785-4K is a magnificent 4K professional monitor (and a PCMag Editors’ Choice) with an expanded color gamut and a wider range of ports than the 27f 4K.
If that’s overkill and you can do without 4K resolution, the HP Pavilion 27 Quantum Dot 27-Inch Display I tested just before this panel is a stepped-down, but still-high-res, alternative. It delivers vibrant, accurate colors and high brightness in both standard and HDR modes, plus a mix of USB Type-A and Type-C ports.