HP 27f 4K monitor test: razor-sharp images without the subtleties
"The HP 27f 4K offers decent image quality, but it lacks some key features to keep it from being sized."
Good picture quality
Crisp 4K resolution
Thin and light design
A lot of adjustability
Limited port selection
Not exactly enough for content creation
Lack of HDR support
Sure, 4K monitors can be cheaper these days. The problem? The differences between a $ 300 4K monitor and a $ 1,000 4K monitor are not subtle.
One is for the person who wants to have the best pixel-per-dollar value they can get. The average person easily falls into this category. The other is for content creators who need both pixels and precise color accuracy, hopefully in a package that fits the MacBook Pro.
The new HP 27f 4K display for $ 450 tries both, but it turns out to be a difficult balancing act.
Light, thin, simple
You cannot expect much from your monitor. Most are big screens and not much else.
But lately, manufacturers have been increasing beauty standards. The Dell 2719DC is the best overall monitor you can buy, partly because of its good looks. From the side, his profile is sheer. From the rear, the silver aluminum finish is as high-quality as an XPS 13.
The new HP 27f tries to assert itself, but is inadequate in many ways. The floor protrudes ugly and the black plastic cabinet doesn't do him a favor. The bumpy texture feels cheap and there's no getting around it.
However, not everything is bad. The measures HP has taken to modernize the HP 27f help. The square base and black stand fit the back of the case better than previous models. But now the silver lining on the front feels out of place.
The best aspect is the size of the monitor. There is a tiny edge along the sides, which creates a fairly smooth profile from the side. It's not quite as thin as the Dell 2719DC, but it's close.
Since the display weighs just over 10 pounds, you can easily switch from one side of your desk to the other. The stand offers reasonable adjustability, including tilt, height, and swivel, although the rotation is missing for vertical mode. Without the VESA mount, the monitor cannot be hung on the wall.
USB-C is a blatant omission
Another problem is port selection. In contrast to some competitors such as the LG 27Uk850-W or the Dell S2719DC, the HP 27f does not have a USB-C port. Monitors with USB-C can output power and video using a single cable. If your office is something like mine, you can take my laptop to meetings several times a day. It is a great advantage if everything is docked via a cable.
It has two HDMI ports, a DisplayPort and nothing else.
While HDMI is still included in some laptops, USB-C is being used more and more, and this will continue to increase in the future. This is a bad sign of the long-term future security of this monitor. Those who offer both HDMI and USB-C provide the dongle-free life that we all want.
Beyond USB-C, the 27f doesn't have USB ports at all. It has two HDMI ports, a DisplayPort and nothing else. HP has even left out the headphone jack and external speakers.
Like the design, the buttons and menu system are as simple as possible. There are four buttons at the bottom right of the monitor that allow you to quickly access brightness, color modes, input switching and the main menu.
You won't find much interest beyond these controls if you dive into the menu. For most people, that's a good thing. The alternative display modes are also nothing special, although you may want to use night mode from time to time.
Accurate colors as long as you calibrate them
A 27-inch 4K monitor will be of immediate interest to photographers and video editors. However, if your livelihood depends on the trustworthiness of your creative tools, you know that high pixel count is only the first step.
You need to be able to trust the colors of your display to make precise changes. This means that a panel displays almost 100% of the Adobe and sRGB color scales and has a very low average color error rate.
The HP 27f 4K is ready to use when it comes to color accuracy. The colors aren't anything that stops you from watching movies or enjoying web content, but for high-precision work, it's not snuff. Monitors like the BenQ PD3220U or the LG 34WK95U-W offer this coverage, although they are much more expensive.
That is, unless you have access to a calibration tool. With the Spyder5 Elite, I was able to reduce the color accuracy to just 0.95, which is impressively low. That doesn't mean that I can recommend the HP 27f creative professionals. You shouldn't have to calibrate your monitor to fix the panel, and I wish HP had set it better at the factory. However, when you're ready to break out your colorimeter, it's nice to know that it's at least possible to correct the 27f where it needs to be.
There is another target group for which the HP 27f was not developed: players.
Another missing feature is HDR support. It is used more and more often in monitors, even with options similar to the LG 27Uk850-W. HDR10 certification is a blessing to both games and movies, making the colors more vivid. As more and more videos are rendered in HDR, this is also an important consideration for content creators.
There is another audience for whom the HP 27f was not designed. Player. I didn't expect it. Playing in 4K is still a fantasy for most systems, and only a few monitors offer higher refresh rates at this resolution. It's quite a system to transfer over 60 frames per second in modern games in 4K.
However, the HP 27f offers FreeSync. If you're an AMD player, FreeSync can smooth the tearing of the screen for a better gaming experience, and there's little reason not to include it for potential AMD players. However, gaming shouldn't be the main reason why you buy this monitor. You are better off buying a cheaper monitor with a higher refresh rate that is designed for gaming.
The HP 27f is not the most beautiful monitor I have ever seen, nor does it have the ready-to-use color accuracy required for creative professionals. The image quality is not bad, but lack of courtesies such as USB-C and HDR keep the competition going.
Are there alternatives?
Dell's UltraSharp U2718Q is $ 100 more expensive, as is the BenQ PD2700U. The Dell S2719DC USB-C is a better overall monitor, although it's not 4K.
The best alternative is the LG 27Uk850-W. It's not quite as slim as the HP 27f, but it offers better port selection and supports HDR10. The newer version, the LG 27UD88-W, is also available at a similar price.
There are even options like the Samsung 28 ″ UE590, which offers 4K resolution for just $ 370 (and has a USB-C port).
How long it will take?
The HP 27f 4K feels sturdy enough, although the lack of USB-C means it's not as future-proof as I would like it to be.
Should you buy it
Some important functions that the competition offers are missing. Unless you can find it for sale, better 4K monitors are available.