Almost a year ago, we reviewed the HP Z27x monitor, which was a 27-inch display capable of covering a very wide gamut. It had a reasonable 2560x1440 resolution, which was pretty common for this size of display. But at CES 2015, HP announced the HP Z27q monitor, which takes a step back on gamut and manageability, but takes two steps forward with resolution. The HP Z27q is a '5K’ display, which means it has an impressive 5120x2880 resolution. This easily passes the UHD or '4K' levels which are becoming more popular. The HP Z27q is one of a handful of 5K displays on the market now, and HP came in with a pretty low launch price of $1300. When I say pretty low, it’s of course relative to the other 5K displays in the market, but it undercuts the Dell UP2715K by several hundred dollars, even today.

The Z27q lacks some of the management capabilities of it’s Z27x brethren, but it still packs in some powerful features. This is a full 10-bit panel, so it can display 1.07 billion colors. It features a 14-bit 3D Look-Up Table (LUT), and it has settings for both the standard sRGB color space and the wider AdobeRGB color space. It does drop the wide-gamut of the Z27x, which had support for Rec. 2020 (although it can’t reach the full gamut), and there is no option for DCI either. There is an option for BT.709 though, if you need it.

Due to the high resolution, there is no option for HDMI or DVI input. The only inputs are the two DisplayPort connectors required to drive this monitor. As a refresher, DisplayPort 1.2, which is the current standard, has enough bandwidth to run UHD, or 3840x2160 content at 60Hz. In order to drive 5K, or 5120x2800, which is 14.7 million pixels, two DisplayPort 1.2 outputs are tied together to form a single display. 4K and 5K sound awfully similar, but 5K has 78% more pixels than 4K. It takes a lot of bandwidth to drive this. HP does offer a USB hub built in, and it is USB 3.0. The hub has two USB ports on the back of the display, and another two on the left side.

HP 27-Inch 5K Display
Manufacturer Specifications Model Z27q
Video Inputs 2 x DisplayPort 1.2
Panel Type IPS
Pixel Pitch 0.116 mm
Colors 1.07 billion (10 bit panel)
Gamut sRGB
AdobeRGB
BT.709
Brightness 300 cd/m2
Contrast Ratio 1000:1
Response Time 14ms (on/off)
Viewable Size 27-inch
Resolution 5120x2880@60Hz
Viewing Angle 178°/178°
Backlight LED
Screen Treatment Anti-Glare
Height Adjustable 130 mm
Tilt -5° to +22°
Swivel +- 45°
VESA Wall Mounting Yes
Dimensions w/Stand
at maximum height
63.43 x 21.71 x 54.88 cm
24.97 x 8.55 x 21.61 inches
Weight 7.42 kg
16.36 lb
Additional Features 4 x USB 3.0 output
Accessories 2 x DisplayPort Cables
USB 3.0 Cable
All cables 1.8 m

HP uses a pretty decent on-screen display which can be set to either icons or text. I prefer the text mode, but regardless of how you use it, it offers an easy way to set up the color space, adjust the brightness, and set the individual color channels as needed. Since there are no extra inputs, the menu itself is pretty simple.

Pressing any of the buttons opens up the On-Screen Display, and once opened, the bottom of the OSD shows what each button will do. You can set the device to automatically power off and on at certain times of the day, as well as set the target color range. Brightness is of course one of the quick adjustments. You can also check out the input to ensure that you are running at the correct resolution. There are a lot less options here than some monitors, only because there is really only the one input, where as most lower resolution panels may offer selection of any of the inputs and adjustments for each.

All in all, the OSD design is good enough to get the job done. Once configured, you likely won't be in there much.

Design

The design of the HP Z27q is fairly pedestrian, with the monitor built out of flat black plastic. The HP logo is unobtrusive in the centre, and the on-screen menu options are on the right side. If you were wondering how HP was able to undercut the competition, this is one of the areas where they have saved some money. 

The stand easily blends into the background - it is made out of the same plastic material, but it is a fully featured stand. There is tilt, swivel, and height adjustments available. Cable management is a bit sparse, with just a single rectangular slot at the bottom of the stand to route the cables through. If you use the display at maximum height, all of the cables are going to be exposed here, so some more cable management options would be nice, but in the end it’s functional.

The bottom of the display houses the two DisplayPort inputs, as well as a USB 3.0 input, which then branches off to two USB 3.0 ports on the bottom, and two on the left side.

Although the Z27q is just a plain black monitor, the design is very functional, with plenty of adjustments available to suit pretty much any workspace. If the stand is not of your liking, you can of course mount it using a standard VESA mount as well.

Contrast, Brightness and Gamut
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  • TomWomack - Sunday, December 27, 2015 - link

    If you want lots of pixels, get a 40" 4K monitor from Phillips (at least, until they start making 50" 5K monitors); same size pixels as on a 20" 1080p, but half a wall of them. Does require a bit of thought about how to lay out your office. Reply
  • DIYEyal - Friday, January 01, 2016 - link

    I like having everything tiny. I get more screen real estate and I have a good eyesight. I'm using a pair of 23.8" 4K dell monitors. Reply
  • akdj - Tuesday, January 05, 2016 - link

    Kinda Samus, with a caveat. With the higher resolution you've the option to use all the real estate you want --> up to & including native rez (on a 27" display, I'm with you - it's not wasted nor necessary to scale at native ...nor, as mentioned earlier even possible with today's GPU horsepower in the typical or even 'ultra' computer builders without dropping a lot of cash and using SLI or Crossfire to game, which is about 98% of the 'ultra' builders I'm talking about are interested in.

    That said, I've owned the rMBP since its 2012 (15") inception. It's the best computer I've ever owned and I started at 12 w/a IIe some 32 years ago. I just bought the mid '15 Haswell/AMD update over Christmas at Best Buy, the CTO build w/2.8GHz/16/1TB (15" again) because it was $400 off! My 2012 uses more traditional SSD technology than this new machine with its PCIe SSD and speeds of four or five times a quick as my 2012. Which is still running like the day I bought her (2.7/16/768 CTO) and literally changed the way I think/thought about lap vs. desktop computing
    Maybe it's my aging 45 year old eyes and the 'retina' HiDPI Renaissance I'm enjoying as it matures as quickly as my near field vision deteriorates ;)

    Samus is correct. Its all about the sharpness. We've long since blown through seeing individual pixels ...even @ 1080p on 27" displays for most and from their sitting/viewing position. However as much as I thought HiDPI was more a pipe dream a ½ decade ago, especially in mobile, I'm very happy to have it eliminate the buzz of 3D and accelerate the resolution increase for displays.

    Windows 10's done a lot to improve the UI and scaling with X86 software, new and heritage BUT that's exactly where Apple and OS X crushed it. Their transition first with 3.5" to 4" Retina display iPhones followed by the 'new' iPad 3 then quickly released iPad 4 with the GPU power to drive it on the SoC showed just how important - critical actually, the optimization of software (scaling), OS and it's UI as well as the hardware to power it is paramount and something, as an owner of the original 15" rMBP ...I can honestly say Apple knocked it out of the park v 1.0. And only bettered the design and other important components that make the 'system' like the speeds of the internal storage. Updated Thunderbolt and finally a killer compute card that works a treat with FCP X ...and not too shabby with the Adobe creative suite. I don't "game" per se, but enjoy the new wave of mobile gaming as well as occasional classics. AAA Titles are just fine on my kids' Xbox or PSwhichever @ $350, and last me four or five years ;)
    Sharpness is even noticeable on smaller displays when you exponentially add to its density. I'm sure there's a point of PPI measurements and human acuity that intersect ...where more doesn't equate to an optically sharper display but as a long time, ambidextrous user of Android (S6 for business) and iPhone 6s+ ...the sharpness of the larger display iPhone in comparison to my son's iPhone 6 is apparent and my S6 --- and Note 4 before it, certainly impresses me when it comes to sharpness.

    That said, I think the 401 vs the 5xx of my two phones is now indistinguishable at this point. But my brothers and I bought my folks a 5K iMac for Christmas this past month and I'm quite honestly floored at its scaling abilities in UI with ElCap's updates and third parties incredibly quick reaction and implementation of HiDPI assets in their software. Owning the 2012 from the beginning I remember how quickly software was updated ...whether it was a browser or Adobe, Apple's stock apps (obviously) as well as independent devs with the Xcode updates and simplification for devs to update their assets or add HiDPI or resolution independent vector sharp displays.
    Unfortunately, heritage software on Windows and with displays like this HP reviewed aren't as well behaved. I also use both Windows and OS X and have forever. And the horsepower to drive the displays or bandwidth to deliver content right now are a bit in the slow lane catching up
    We're shooting quadruple the resolution on our phones as we're watching on our 75" LED TVs in motion --- and that's usually about where it ends with content ...right now. Hopefully with gigabit catching fire with independent ISPs (I'm in Alaska, I've got gigabit consumer internet service, consistent and reliable and not Google fiber;)) and faster LTE. Higher data limits and more reliable cellular services are constantly improving and dropping in price --- perhaps 4K media will be the first distributed without a physical medium? Or will it be high density optical, SD?
    I'm so jealous of my kids and the future we're looking forward to with display technology ...coupled with the phenomenal sound codecs, ala Dolby Atmos and "height and depth" speakers along with The Voice of God high center channel -- we can't be far off from a holographic projection system mounted in the ceiling - it's screen or 'display' is our actual surroundings or "dark room".
    Pretty awesome stuff but it's tough to justify these 5K displays when you can spend a couple hundred more than this one or less than the Dell and enjoy the display with a built in 'computer' ;)

    That 5K iMac is phenomenal. I thought the size would be intimidating but it's not. It's impressive technology especially with the solid state storage options and their u management. Discrete when needed or the iGPU when not --- and an iGPU that easily and fluently runs the UI at a consistent 60fps.

    Good stuff. And they've now 8K 'for sale' for the McClaren drivers!
    Same crappy deal. No content. Oh well, with everyone shooting 4K on their phones it seems camera companies aren't far behind with the extreme drop in price and computing power with software to manipulate and transcode the footage with low storage prices to 'scratch', there's never been a more enjoyable time in computing. And not because of the 80s, 90s and 00's speed or core counts on CPU /GPUs, but the more important features like speed of storage and display resolution. Differences immediately noticeable

    J
    Reply
  • Samus - Thursday, December 24, 2015 - link

    "If you aren't using it at close to 1:1 scaling then that means the extra resolution is wasted on your eyes."

    Go look at a 4K display with 200% scaling and try saying that again...

    The resolution "real estate" is wasted, but the PPI is not. All high res displays use scaling, especially Retina Mac displays. The resolution is still 5K, scaled or not. Everything is just going to look helluva lot sharper.
    Reply
  • xenol - Tuesday, December 22, 2015 - link

    Of course not, but the point is that at typical monitor viewing distances, 27" 4K is pretty much "Retina" quality. Going any further is kind of pointless, as I was trying to point out in my 1080p vs. 1440p smartphone example.

    It might be great for someone who does 4K video so they don't have to zoom in, and that's assuming the app is even usable at 1:1 scaling.
    Reply
  • PixyMisa - Tuesday, December 22, 2015 - link

    4K is close to "retina", but not quite. I have a 4K 28" monitor side-by-side with a 5K iMac, and there is a visible difference in some cases - text at certain sizes and weights is rendered more accurately at 5K.

    But it's not a huge difference, and if you're not overly fussed about typography and don't need the exact 200% scaling, 4K is already very nice.
    Reply
  • Deelron - Tuesday, December 22, 2015 - link

    Also if you're editing 4K video you can fit in on the screen at a 1:1 ratio and still have some room for tools on a 5k, which can be handy. Reply
  • hMunster - Wednesday, December 23, 2015 - link

    You can't say "a resolution is retina" without specifying the size of the display. 4K is normal on 40", and retina on 20". 4K on 28" is some awkward in between where you need something like 150% scaling, rather than Apple's retina/HiDPI 200%. Reply
  • PixyMisa - Wednesday, December 23, 2015 - link

    You also need to specify the distance - and the retina. And the type of detail being discussed, since there's an order of magnitude of difference between our visual acuity for colour in moving images and alignment of lines in a black and white image. Reply
  • bhtooefr - Saturday, December 26, 2015 - link

    Technically, Apple's definition of "retina display" is 20/20 vision, unable to distinguish pixels, at typical viewing distance. (IIRC, they use 12" for the iPhone, 18" for the iPad, and probably 20" for the Macs.) That's 60 pixels per degree, or (as high as) 30 cycles per degree. But, you do need distance and pixels per inch to determine cycles per degree.

    OSHA preferred viewing distance to a computer monitor is 20-40". A 28" 4k monitor reaches Apple's retina standard at 43.7" away or further - outside of the allowable range.
    Reply

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