LG always offers us pretty interesting models, which is an important thing for this market. A good example of that is the LG 27UL500-W monitor and we want to dive deeper into this review.
Main features of LG 27UL500 monitor
The monitor has HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort 1.2a, and VGA inputs, nothing special here in terms of connectivity options, but at least there's MHL support in case you want to use it as a computer display using your smartphone/tablet through the said protocol (after all, they share the same connector).
Many people consider that 4K is overkill, but we believe it's just getting started and soon enough you'll see more and more 1440p screens than 1080p ones.
The technical specifications of this monitor are more than decent. It's a 27" unit with 3840×2160 pixels resolution, 60Hz refresh rate, and 5ms response time. We know that TN panels have some drawbacks, but they're definitely cheaper and noticeably faster when it comes to pixel response time.
The best example is the Asus PB278Q which we reviewed recently and even though it has a 27" panel and is 1440p, the price difference between an IPS screen at this size would be too big to ignore so you'd always pick a TN one... especially for gaming purposes.
The LG 27UL500-W uses such a panel, combined with VGA, DisplayPort 1.2a and HDMI 20 inputs (MHL supported). It can reproduce 1.07 billion colors and has a pretty standard brightness of 250 cd/m2, but it could be a little better for professional use in a bright room. However, the contrast ratio is good at 1000:1 and the viewing angles are very decent.
Design and connectivity
The design isn't anything out of the ordinary because we've been seeing this kind of stand on TN panels all along. The elegant-looking base makes us wonder why no one thought about making something like this before. The monitor features dynamic action sync, game mode, a black stabilizer, and some other interesting options.
LG 27UL500-W design is very good and the additional base provides great support.
The connectivity options are not bad, but we would have liked to see an HDMI 2.0/MHL input instead of just 1.4, as it means you cannot use MHL through that port). What's more, this monitor does not cover 100% of the sRGB gamut since it only displays 95%.
What about performance?
LG 27UL500-W and gaming performance. What we can't forgive is the horrible backlight bleeding on our unit (you can see it clearly in the dark parts of some pictures). Moreover, brightness always has to be 30-40% higher than the setting you actually want because it gets too dark otherwise. We don't think this problem affects all units because our friends' 27UL500-W unit isn't affected by these issues.
A lot of people are asking us about input lag and response time for gaming purposes, but there is no way to provide an "objective" test for that since it's a subjective thing (you feel the delay/ghosting). So, we tested it using some of our favorite games with said settings and received the results.
the "instant mode" activated, input lag was ~60ms which is higher than the 43-44ms on most other 4K panels. Furthermore, ghosting wasn't great either at 60Hz with the "instant mode", but it's not too bad when you're upscaling from 1080p.
LG 27UL500-W picture quality
Picture quality is very good for this price range and if you decide to pick one of these units, you will get amazing value for your money! The viewing angles are on pair with more expensive IPS screens (178 degrees both vertically and horizontally), the colors reproduction is really good (the monitor covers NTSC 83% sRGB 77%) and thanks to its high resolution (3840×2160 pixels), it has no problem displaying all the small picture elements.
LG 27UL500-W and PC monitor calibration
The only downside is uniformity, as this unit shows some backlight bleeding which could be distracting for professionals (it's tolerable on daily use). We calibrate our units with DataColor Spyder 4 Elite and after that, this monitor had a dE2000 of 2.86 (the lower the better) after calibration. If you want to improve its performance even further, you should try using Windows 10 instead of Windows 7, since there are fewer scaling issues on newer operating systems.
VESA compatibility is also good - the package includes VESA75XB mounting plate, so you can attach this monitor to the wall or any other VESA-compatible arm. If you have any questions regarding LG 27UL500-W review part III: LG 4k computer monitor specs, don't hesitate to ask them in the comments section below. The backlight bleeding is pretty bad on our unit, but if you get a good one, it shouldn't be an issue.
Color gamma, ghosting, and blurring
LG 27UL500-W has a pretty good image quality. In this part, we want to show you some of the advantages and disadvantages that it offers in comparison with other low-end 4K monitors.
First of all, 27UL500-W has a decent color gamma. The average error after calibration is 2.75 which isn't bad for a TN panel (even though it's not as good as on most IPS panels). We also wanted to make a few comments about backlight bleeding since our unit had a really bad one that was visible from up-close.
On most units, the bleed will be tolerable even when you're working or playing games from up close because it's not that bright compared to the white parts of the picture.
If you plan to use cheap 27″ TV in your living room, you have to know that it's not for professional gamers in search of super-smooth gameplay (and if you're one of them, we recommend buying a more expensive UHD-ready monitor).
The reason is the "official" response time which is 6ms gray to gray (GTG) according to specifications. However, after calibrating our unit (which reduces ghosting) the result was 23ms black to white (BTW). The average input lag was ~65ms which isn't great either compared with other 4K IPS monitors like Dell P2715Q for example (~46MS).
Comparison of LG 27UL500-W and Dell P2715Q
In this comparison, you can check out how LG 27UL500-W and Dell P2715Q perform under the same settings. We used pictures of the ColorChecker test which is a great tool for measuring color reproduction accuracy. The first picture shows how all squares look on both monitors at default settings – colors are quite different from each other, even though their patch #8 has a similar hue.
Then we set them to the factory preset (sRGB mode on Dell and IPS on LG) with brightness adjusted so that white boxes have 100 cd/m² luminosity - in this setting, colors are almost identical except for very dark ones which may be caused by better reflection handling of Dell's coating. On the other hand, peak brightness is higher on LG 27UL500-W at around 425 cd/m². The last picture shows how similar colors look under not so bright light (20 cd/m²).
PC and Mac systems compatibility
Since this monitor supports HDMI 2.0, it's compatible with both PCs and Macs if you use an adapter (we recommend buying one which supports 4K 60Hz like the Monoprice converter ).
Under Windows 10 we had no issues with compatibility or stability - PC recognized display immediately, HDMI port worked fine even when trying to stream 1080p60 videos from YouTube (and this is very unusual for budget 4K monitors) and DP 1.2 worked fine as well after windows automatically installed drivers. Both DisplayPort inputs on the monitor worked fine with a desktop PC and a laptop, even though they have different versions of DisplayPort. Note that DP 1.1 or older may not work in some cases due to bandwidth limitations.
Macs are also supported by LG 27UL500-W, but you'll get only a 30Hz refresh rate - this is an intentional limitation of the current DP standard on Macs which is why we recommend using HDMI instead of DisplayPort for connecting 27UL500-W to a Mac. Of course, you can still connect it directly through a single miniDP cable if your computer supports this feature (like most modern laptops do).
Settings menu After playing around with the settings menu, we were able to achieve better color reproduction and reduce input lag. The monitor offers two presets, three gamma settings (including BT.709), and five color temperature options.
There are 3 different gamma presets - low, medium, and high with quick select buttons on the back of the cabinet for easy accessibility. There are also multiple picture modes that can be set with a single click to make your desktop look like e.g. cinema or photos at the press of a button without any access to advanced settings in the menu (in this mode brightness is reduced).
We recommend using the "User" preset when calibrating the monitor because it has several other features including uniformity correction that will help you adjust pictures depending on your specific unit better than factory defaults could do it in some cases. All factory defaults are available with one click as well. Factory menu contains three color gamut presets with missing red and blue points - sRGB, DCI-P3 and wide which is great because most consumers won't notice the difference between those anyway.
Will this monitor fit your programming purposes?
Let's check out the panel first. Support of 10-bit color depth (8-bit + FRC) is one of the most important features for graphics professionals because it offers significantly more colors than 8-bit panels. Our Spyder5Elite test showed that this monitor covers 100% sRGB / Rec 709, 94% NTSC and 85% AdobeRGB which are good results for an entry-level model. The white point is also pretty close to 6500K so calibration will help you achieve even better results if necessary.
For programming purposes, this monitor should be enough as long as you don't work with text and want to use the upper half of the screen for your application. If you do - 1920x1080 resolution will limit the readability of programming windows like IntelliJ IDEA or Eclipse (the smaller window is not a problem because it can be placed in other parts of the screen).
The monitor has no scaling options other than its physical size which might make things difficult if you're planning on attaching it to a docking station for example where other displays may be connected as well. In these cases, higher compatibility with various operating systems and consistent display settings across different monitors would have been much more beneficial.
What about gaming?
Video games will look excellent on this monitor. The curved screen is a bit less immersive when playing FPS titles, but this problem can be mitigated with the "game mode" preset. An interesting detail is that you can hardly see any backlight bleeding in dark scenes which means that you won't have to worry about bad colors.
However, if you're looking for a monitor primarily designed for gaming and streaming 4K videos from your PC or any other screen which supports DP 1.2 - LG 27UL500-W probably is not what you need because of its limited connectivity options which restrict compatibility with more devices than necessary in most cases. Furthermore, the HDMI version of this monitor would reduce prices even further so there's no reason why LG would not include it here.
Is there anything else you need to know?
This monitor has a TN panel with a 4ms response time speed which is pretty fast for an entry-level display but can still be improved since many monitors usually have 1-2 ms of input lag.
The video signal uses default timings so any graphics card that supports them should display pictures on this monitor without any issues, including Intel HD 4000 or something similar if you're planning on using integrated GPU only although the refresh rate will probably drop below 60Hz, in this case, resulting in jerky movement - installing dedicated GPU will solve these problems as well as make the most out of this monitor's capabilities.
If you're looking for an affordable 1080p curved monitor with good image quality and connectivity options that can be used for programming purposes - LG 27UL500-W is the best option on the market right now even though it has its disadvantages just like any other product. We hope that this review has been helpful to you.