LG 27GL850 Assessment: Quick IPS for Gaming

The LG 27GL850 is currently one of the most popular and sought-after gaming monitors on the market. But what makes it so special? It is the first IPS monitor that claims to achieve response times at the TN level. With a response time of 1 ms, this display should theoretically offer all the speed advantages of a TN panel, but without the disadvantages such as poor color performance, low contrast ratios and poor viewing angles. If you combine this with a 27-inch panel size, a resolution of 2560 x 1440 and a refresh rate of 144 Hz with adaptive synchronization, it is the perfect monitor for games.

Pricing is also good for what it offers. You can currently find it on Amazon for $ 490, which roughly corresponds to the brand of other 1440p-144 Hz IPS monitors. That's $ 150 to $ 200 more than VA offerings, but this is a premium monitor with high-end hardware, while these VA models are more for money options.

In terms of design, the 27GL850 is very similar to LG's most recent offerings, such as the 32GK650F, which were high on our test earlier this year. Everything in their UltraGear line for gamers will look about the same. You get a flat V-stand with red reflections and a simple plastic construction. Appropriate bezels, matte black finish on both sides – fortunately no shiny areas – and easy access to the ports on the back. It's a simple, attractive design with no outrageous elements or senseless RGB lighting. We like it.

Interestingly, you can see an Nvidia G-Sync sticker on the front. This is not a complete G-Sync monitor with the hardware module, but a standard G-Sync compatible display. This means that it complies with the VESA Adaptive Sync standard a.k.a. FreeSync supports, so it works with both Nvidia and AMD GPUs for variable updating. We suspect that G-Sync branding is for marketing purposes only.

The stand is very adjustable and offers a good selection of height, tilt, pan and pan movements so you can use it in portrait mode if you want. Two HDMI and one DisplayPort offer good connectivity. There is also an audio output and a USB 3.0 hub with two ports.

The screen display is controlled by a direction switch and offers a good function. I'm glad that LG simplified the Adaptive Sync menu into a single toggle option. There are also a few basic game controls like crosshairs and a black stabilizer, though no backlight is blinking.


Let's start the performance tests with a look at the response times. Obviously, this is the most important point for a monitor with a nominal response of 1 ms. At the moment, however, the monitor works without overdrive. We wouldn't normally stop mentioning much here, but achieving a gray to gray average of 5.88 ms without any overdrive is definitely impressive and a good start for an IPS panel. Usually this number is at least twice as high for an IPS monitor.

Response times / overdrive modes

Switching to normal is a small upgrade. We are now in a time under 5 ms, which is close to most other IPS gaming monitors. So let's take a look at the standard mode "Fast".

It gets really exciting here. A gray to gray average of 4.08 ms with very well managed overshoot is extremely impressive from an IPS monitor. Not quite 1 ms yet, but the fastest transition is in the 2 ms range and we get 100% of the transitions that fall within the refresh rate window. An average error of only 2.5% and no noticeable inverse ghosting is fantastic for this level of performance.

LG was a little … optimistic with claims of 1 ms response time. In the fastest overdrive mode, we recorded an average of 1.72 ms at 144 Hz, and yes, some transitions were as fast as 0.3 ms, which put him in the ballpark of the best TN panels. The overshoot in this setting is just insane. An average error of 72% is the highest we recorded. 69% of the transitions showed strong inverse ghosting. To be honest, the monitor cannot be used in this mode under any circumstances. The trailing looks horrible and will affect your gaming experience in an unacceptable way.

The only reason why LG would include such a mode is that a response time of 1 ms between gray and gray can be announced. We don't tend to believe the response times reported by manufacturers – even TN panels aren't really 1 ms most of the time – but this is a particularly bad example of the fact that it's not a 1 ms monitor, but a technical matter. You simply won't use 1 ms mode or get 1 ms performance.

Still, we won't take away what is otherwise a fantastic IPS panel from the point of view of response time. While we haven't included many gaming IPS panels in our new test suite, it's the fastest of the ones we've tested. It's also faster than anything we've tested with the old benchmark suite. The next fastest IPS monitor, the LG 34GK950F, is more than 1 ms slower and has a higher error rate. You can see here that the 27GL850 is at the top in terms of error performance, which we like to see when combined with a fast response time.

However, we would not say that the 27GL850 is the best TN. The Gigabyte KD25F, one of the latest 24-inch TN monitors with 1080p and 240 Hz, is 1 ms faster than the LG and has better error performance. So there is another advantage to using high-end TN. However, if you look at other TNs like the 27-inch version 1440p 144Hz in the Viotek GFT27DB, which is one of the best TNs on the market, the LG 27GL850 offers almost identical performance, but in an IPS package, let's say the 27GL850 generally has a "TN-like" performance.

It is also important to look at the dark level. Here IPS and TN monitors have a big advantage over their VA brothers. The LG 27GL850 lies here with an average of 4.27 ms, which is very similar to its overall average. Meanwhile, for example, the MSI MPG341CQR, whose average response time was only half a millisecond slower than that of the LG, is much slower with dark transitions with an average of 9.70 ms. For this reason, IPS monitors are preferred over VA for the best response time, even if their overall averages appear similar.

Maintaining a 100% response time shows that this is a real 144 Hz monitor, and we believe there is scope to bring this type of technology much higher in terms of refresh rate. Depending on other factors, the response times for 200 Hz and more are sufficient.

The LG 27GL850 also performs well at 60 Hz. Fast overdrive mode is still the best here, and we get a similar average response time of 4.49 ms. This brings us well into the TN monitor realm and although the overshoot here is a little worse than at 144 Hz, it's not a big deal.

The LG 27GL850 is the second fastest monitor we've tested. You will notice that here we are using a new version of our input delay diagram, which includes the three main components of latency: the processing time of the monitor, the average delay introduced by the interval of the refresh rate, and the average response time of the panel. With a total delay of less than 10 ms in the chain, the 27GL850 is an elite in its latency, and this is thanks to a processing delay of less than 1 ms. The Aorus KD25F only beats it slightly, which is significantly supported by its refresh rate of 240 Hz.

The power consumption is slightly higher than other 27-inch monitors that we have tested, but overall quite decent. Certainly, power will not be an issue for most people.

Standard color performance

Now we come to the color performance. One of the main reasons to get an IPS panel via TN or VA are the best colors in its class. This applies not only to the general color accuracy, but also to areas such as viewing angle and uniformity, which are generally excellent with IPS monitors and contribute to a breathtaking experience. In addition, the 27GL850 is a nano IPS monitor with 98% DCI-P3 coverage that is perfect for content with a wide color gamut. We start here with a look at sRGB and then discuss how it does with P3.

The 27GL850 is immediately ready for use and in its standard configuration with its grayscale performance is rather inconspicuous. LG failed to determine the CCT average or gamma curve with our test device, which resulted in a DeltaE average of 3.17. A white dot of 6956K indicates that the monitor is tinted slightly blue, which you can also see in the central graphic.

And as expected, this monitor is also delivered with an unclamped color scale as standard, which leads to poor accuracy of our saturation and ColorChecker tests when measuring against sRGB. Nothing is particularly distorted here, but you will be over-saturated immediately. A DeltaE average of 3.77 in ColorChecker is pretty typical for a monitor that comes with an unclamped gamut, although the grayscale inaccuracies also do their bit here. Nevertheless, most gaming monitors are immediately between a DeltaE average of 3.0 and 4.0. So this is not unusual.

The 27GL850 also comes with an sRGB mode, but that's not much better than standard mode in terms of grayscale. However, this mode limits the gamut, so we make improvements in our saturation runs, which have now dropped to a DeltaE average of 2.15, and ColorChecker, which is now at a 2.1 DeltaE average. This is pretty accurate and is similar to LG's calibration report targeting a DeltaE below 5.0, a very loose target, but still a target.

Color performance in sRGB mode

Perhaps the biggest disappointment in sRGB mode is the lack of color temperature controls. This function is grayed out. This is fine if the monitor comes with an exact white point. Ideally, you can still adjust the white point in sRGB mode to tidy things up if the factory calibration isn't perfect. Unfortunately, this is not available, so we have a choice of using sRGB mode with a clamped gamut or returning to standard mode and using the controls on the screen to correct the white point.

You can go either way. We will quickly show you what can be achieved by correcting the white point, ie with a grayscale delta below 2.0 with similar supersaturation problems. To get the best performance from this monitor you need to do a full calibration. We did this and received sub-1.0 DeltaE averages and correct saturation across the board. You can do this with either standard or sRGB mode, depending on whether you want hardware or software sRGB gamut clamping.

In terms of P3 color space performance, standard grayscale performance when targeting the D65-P3 color space is similar to what we normally do for desktop use. The saturation performance is better, but not perfect. A DeltaE average of 2.54 is good, but could be better. ColorChecker, with a DeltaE average of 2.50, is similar and there are a few loose colors here.

Calibrated color performance

If we adjust the white point in the controls on the screen, decent D65-P3 performance is left. DeltaE is below 2.0 across the board, even in the intensive ColorChecker test, with only the full red chromacy point getting a bit out of hand. This is a strong result without calibration, although of course you can get DeltaEs below 1.0 with a full calibration, as we showed in the sRGB test.

For the entire DCI-P3 coverage, I measured 95%, which is only slightly below the 98% claimed by LG, but far behind the brand of other IPS panels with a large color gamut. Some others from LG's own Nano IPS series, such as the 34GK950F, are also at the top here.

The maximum brightness of this monitor is in the middle range. We recorded around 350 nits, which is exactly what LG thinks is achievable. However, the contrast ratio is weak, after calibration we were at 760: 1, which is TN territory. We suspect that when we said earlier that this monitor delivers TN-like performance, we weren't just referring to response times because the contrast ratio is pretty bad too. A normal IPS monitor should be 1000: 1, but there is no doubt that the 27GL850 has poorer black levels.

And it's not that calibration affects performance. We saw a negligible drop in contrast before and after calibration. This ultra-fast IPS panel just doesn't meet the standard of other IPS panels when it comes to the contrast ratio that LG needs to improve. Fortunately, the viewing angles are excellent and far better than with a typical TN panel, so this is still a valid compromise.

The uniformity of the panel is average. The central zone is pretty even, but that falls off along the edges. Not quite as good as some of the best IPS monitors we've tested, but similar to many VA panels. A small amount of IPS light was also visible in our device, but this had no effect on the experience and was quite difficult to notice. It was certainly not a bad IPS glow as you heard it.

LG advertises this monitor as HDR10 capable, but don't make a mistake, this is not an HDR capable display. Not even HDR400 garbage certification has been obtained, and this is because both brightness and contrast are nowhere near the standard required for HDR400 or even HDR in general.

How good is it really?

Overall, we think the LG 27GL850 is one of the best gaming monitors on the market. Make no mistake, it's not a 1 ms display, but with an average response time of around 4 ms, with minimal overshoot, no smearing of the dark level, and ultra-fast input delay, this is one of the fastest monitors on the market. It's not quite at the level of the best TN displays, but it improves the game for IPS and fits some very decent TN monitors we've tested.

We're big fans of 1440p at 144 Hz for gaming. Add adaptive sync support, and the LG 27GL850 is, in our opinion, the first choice for gamers. Yes, the contrast ratio is bad, but it's no worse than a typical TN panel, and you won't get the other problems that TN brings with it, like terrible viewing angles and limited options for a wide range of colors.

In terms of pricing, it's cheaper than the previous high-end option in the Asus PG279Q. At less than $ 500, the bank will not break in the light of the performance achieved. We would also conveniently buy this from the Gigabyte Aorus AD27QD, another popular IPS monitor in this class, often available at or over $ 500. If you want to spend less, there are more budget-conscious monitors that can be fully serviced without ultimate performance in this $ 300- $ 400 bracket that we recommended LG 32GK650F, AOC CQ27G1, and Pixio PX329.

The bottom line is that the LG 27GL850 comes very close to combining the best functions of TN and IPS monitors in one package. This is enough to offer a balanced and high quality gaming experience.

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