LG 27GN950 review: The perfect 4K gaming monitor, almost


If you’re one of those lucky few who’s managed to get your hands on one of the latest graphics cards, you’ll also need a killer 4K gaming monitor to match it.

But even the best monitors have a hard time offering both good image quality and A high refresh rate. LG’s new 4K gaming monitor, the 27GN950, claims to do just that. Using nano-IPS screen technology, this can be as close as you’ll get to perfection without jumping to an OLED TV.

design

Being a 27-inch monitor, the first thing to note about the 27GN950 is that it isn’t huge. Between a massive ultrawide monitor and a 32-inch 4K behemoth, this 27-inch panel is a breath of fresh air as its focus is purely on a crisp image.

The bezels around the panel are hair-thin, with the bottom one being slightly thicker than the rest. There’s no LG logo to be found on the front of the panel, and without the curve, it looks surprisingly elegant – if you omit the somewhat garish stand.

Around the rear of the monitor, you’ll notice that the display’s enclosure isn’t made of luxurious material. It’s just cheap, scratchy plastic. Luckily, it’s at the back, so you won’t be bothered by it very often.

There’s a large RGB ring around the mount and the input/output island, which lights up with the monitor and can adjust its colors on the display – it’s a neat party trick to increase immersion despite the modest panel size.

Then there’s the display stand, which I’m not a fan of. The adjustment mechanism has all the height, tilt and rocker adjustments you need. But with a panel that looks as elegant as this, I think the stand itself is a bit aggressively styled. It’s like a return to an earlier generation of gaming gear, but it’s not something I’m nostalgic for.

The front legs connect to the main pillar in an awkward fashion, and I wish LG had kept their logo off for a clean aesthetic. If you’re a minimalist like me, though, I’d skip the stand and use the monitor arm. There are VESA 100 mounting holes to assist with this.

port and control

If you’re a pure PC gamer, the 27GN950’s rear input/output panel will serve you well. It also comes with a DisplayPort 1.4a port that supports DSC (Display Stream Compression) to deliver full 4K, 160Hz, 4:4:4 RGB support when using an RTX 20-series GPU or newer.

If you’re someone who also has a console next to your PC to gain access to Sony’s exclusives, you may feel a little disappointed for one simple reason: the absence of HDMI 2.1. In fact, with the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X promising 120Hz 4K gameplay over HDMI 2.1, it seems a bit odd that LG has decided to install only an HDMI 2.0 controller, despite most of the latest TVs supporting HDMI 2.1. Chosen. This means that the maximum refresh rate supported by the 27GN950 is only 60Hz over the HDMI port. There are at least two HDMI ports here, so you can plug in two consoles if you’re okay with compromising the refresh rate.

Beyond that, there’s a two-port USB hub and a headphone jack, and the monitor is powered by a 110-watt external power brick that’s slim and easy to hide under your desk.

Immediate access to brightness control is extremely valuable.

LG’s on-screen display (OSD) control panel is in a league of its own. The interface is controlled via a single directional toggle at the bottom of the display, and it’s extremely crisp, responsive, and easy to navigate. To control the brightness of the display, you simply push the toggle forward or backward to jump directly to the brightness controls. To control the volume for the headphones, simply toggle left or right to increase or decrease the volume.

The OSD is also easy to navigate. It has five main submenus that include Game Mode with some presets and Game Adjust with advanced options like Adaptive-Sync, a black stabilizer to boost dark-level detail, and a cheating crosshair. The picture adjustment menu provides options for adjusting brightness, contrast, sharpness, and color settings. Finally, there is an input submenu and one is called the general system.

The only complaint I have about the OSD is that it doesn’t seem to be in high resolution. The 4K panel is capable of displaying extremely sharp and crisp images, so it’s a bit odd that the OSD is rendered a bit fuzzy, though it’s not like you’ll spend a ton of time here anyway, and it’s still the best .

image quality

LG’s Nano IPS-based gaming monitors stand out with the image quality they provide, and the 27GN950 is no exception. The company promises that the 27GN950 covers 98% of the DCI-P3 space, and while our unit didn’t quite impress that figure, it didn’t get too far with a test value of 96%. Our sample covered 100% of the sRGB space and 88% of AdobeRGB.

We also tested the monitor’s color accuracy, which resulted in an average delta-e value (difference from actual) of just 0.69. Consider that anything below a delta-E of 2 is generally accepted as good enough for professional work, and you’ll probably agree that the 27GN950 is very well suited for creative graphic work. Which is not something we often see on gaming monitors. .

However, where the display falters is in the contrast performance. The fast Nano IPS panel is great for quick responses, high refresh rates, wide color gamut, and accurate colors, but one of the IPS’s weaknesses is weak contrast performance. Our sample achieved a figure of 980:1 at full brightness, which is pretty much the same 1000:1 ratio as promised on the spec sheet. If you’re someone who likes to play games at night and doesn’t need wide gamut and color accuracy, you may prefer to opt for a cheaper VA panel.

The 27GN950 is very well suited for graphic work – which isn’t something we often see on gaming monitors.

The peak brightness we achieved on the 27GN950 was 462 nits, which is plenty for most use cases, including brightly lit rooms, and more than promised on the spec sheet. Gamma performance was also decent out of the box, and the 6900K white point is pretty close to the 6500K target, though this can be easily corrected with OSD settings or calibration.

After calibrating the monitor, I was able to pull 1% more DCI-P3 coverage out of it, correct white point, and increase color accuracy from 0.69 to just 0.63. While these are improvements, it’s safe to say that there is little benefit from calibrating the 27GN950 and most users needn’t bother.

gaming performance

When it comes to gaming on the LG 27GN950, there’s one thing you should be aware of before taking the plunge: This display requires a serious amount of GPU horsepower if you want to run modern titles at full 4K resolution. and Use a higher refresh rate.

For older games, this won’t be as much of an issue, but today’s AAA titles, especially those with ray tracing, will be heavy to push. You’ll need at least a GeForce RTX 3070 or Radeon RX 6800 XT if you want smooth performance, and even with those cards, you’ll be able to keep up with the panel’s 144Hz refresh rate when running games at maximum settings. Will not be near the top end.

But it is not the fault of the monitor itself. When it comes to panel performance, the 27GN950 delivers an impressive display. The Nano IPS panel is extremely responsive, and can be easily overclocked to 160Hz with just the press of a button, once the display’s firmware is updated. Stutter and lamination are handled by FreeSync Premium Pro and G-Sync compatibility, and the display has low frame rate compensation for the inevitable dips with modern titles.

Unlike the VA panel, here the Nano IPS panel does not blur.

The small 27-inch form factor also lends itself well to competitive gameplay as it allows you to watch the entire game. It’s also a great monitor for those who like to get up close during intense gameplay thanks to sharp images.

Unlike the VA panel, the Nano IPS panel here also doesn’t fade. Budget high-refresh rate monitors often come with VA panels, and although they offer better contrast ratios, they can produce noticeable color blur, especially in dark scenes. The 27GN950 does not suffer from any such drawback.

However, what really makes the 27GN950 special is the combination of this stellar gaming performance with 4K sharpness, and Extremely wide color palette offered by 96% DCI-P3 coverage.

I played a fair amount Horizon Zero Dawn on this panel, and the game makes excellent use of its wide gamut. The way it portrays the sharp image of the colors of the sun, the intense red sunset, the bright green for the foliage, and the deep blue for the water… it was worth a look.

The trade-off is that it’s not as immersive with similar nano-IPS technology as the LG 34GN850 Curved Ultrawide, but not everyone wants a huge, ultrawide monitor on their desk.

What to expect from the HDR600

The 27GN950 also comes with HDR600 support, which means it can produce 600 nits of peak brightness when using only one HDR zone. It comes with 16 edge-lit dimming zones, which is fine but not great. This is definitely no OLED panel, and VA panels do a better job at producing deeper black levels.

Of course, if you want a true HDR experience on a gaming monitor, you need to find one with FALD (Full Array Local Dimming) lighting, but this array of LEDs on the back of the panel instead of edge lighting costs a lot of money. . Think two grand lots of money.

Personally, I enjoy playing with HDR off the most. It’s good to play with what the 27GN950 can offer, but the cleanest images are produced with it. Also, Windows looks very flushed out with HDR, and you have to turn it on in Windows to be able to enable it in your game settings.

our take

If you’re in the market for a 4K monitor for both gaming and creative work, the LG 27GN950 is your only option at the moment. if…

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