LG 27UK850-W monitor review: Power, peripherals, and price, LG does it again!

LG 27uk850
(Image: © Luke Filipowicz/iMore)

LG has been making great monitors, TVs, phone, and other displays for years now, and since Apple moved over to USB-C ports on all their laptops, LG seems to have been trying to become the lead manufacturer for great monitors that work with Apple's MacBook line.

The LG 27UK850-W is an updated version of LG's 27UD88 from last year and promises to improve on everything we loved from that from the previous model, let's see if it lives up to the hype!

The Good

  • Base is well-designed
  • Super easy setup
  • Plenty of ports
  • Excellent color

The Bad

  • Speakers could be better
  • Annoying control stick

By the numbers

LG 27UK850-W: The important specs

The Edge Arcline base of the LG27UK850.

Coming in with a 27-inch screen size, the LG 27UK850-W features a full 4K display, two HDMI ports, Two USB-A ports, a display port, a headphone jack, and the USB-C port feature data transfer as well as 60W power transfer.

The monitor can be set up with no tools required and features LG "Edge-Arcline" base. Overall, the footprint of the monitor isn't too huge and should fit most spaces — it fit in my tiny apartment desk without too much issue. The screen can also tilt up and down to adjust viewing angle, be moved up and down to adjust height, and can even rotate to portrait orientation all with relative ease.

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Resolution4K 3480 x 2160
DisplayIPS 3-side borderless
Brightness350 nits
Color GamutsRGB 99% (typical)
Thunderbolt 3No
USB-C4K, Audio, data transfer, & 60W charging
AudioBuilt-in 5W 2-channel speaker
Headphone jackYes

Power, peripherals, and price.

LG 27UK850-W: What I like

LG 27UK850 showing Netflix.

It's a spacious display that makes working on my MacBook Air feel like I'm working on a full blown desktop. Yet, the display isn't so huge that it feels out of place or overkill in any way. Plus, it just looks great sitting next to my MacBook Air. The aluminum base, with the thin black bezel display, really makes the LG 27UK850-W look and feel like a display built with the Apple aesthetic in mind.

If you're using any of Apple's newer MacBooks that have abandoned all ports except USB-C, you may have thought that USB-C hubs were your only saving grace, but the LG 27UK850-W has enough ports on it to get you through most situations. With two USB-A ports and two HDMI ports, I never encounter an issue with having to connect something to my MacBook Air. Plus the USB-C port supports 60W power transfer, meaning if you have a MacBook, MacBook Air, or a 13-inch MacBook Pro, the LG 27UK850-W will charge your laptop while you're using it, with no more than the USB-C cable provided in the box.

The color, brightness, and sharpness of the display are absolutely gorgeous right out of the box.

I was super impressed with the color performance of the LG 27UK850-W. While the spec sheet does say that the color gamut is sRGB 99% (typical), those numbers don't really put how great this display is when you first set it up. The color calibration that LG puts into its displays are second to none, and right from the moment I hooked it up to my MacBook Air, I was blown away. The color was spot-on and didn't require additional fine-tuning. It looked the same as the built-in display on my MacBook Air, which once again, made the LG 27UK850-W just feel like a natural extension of my workspace.

Ports on the back of the LG 27UK850

Lastly, I want to give LG props for making this monitor, so dang easy to set up, especially considering who this product is meant for — which is kind of everybody. Setting up the LG 27UK850-W took under 10 minutes, and didn't require any tools whatsoever. It's nice to know that if I ever need to move the monitor, or if I wanted to buy one for a less tech-inclined friend, I would have confidence knowing the experience is going to be manageable.

Sound and controls.

LG 27UK850-W: What I don't like

LG 27UK850 settings menu.

In a day where most people have some sort of external speakers running through their computer setup, is hard to be too mad at LG for including less than stellar speakers in the LG 27UK850-W, but it would have been nice to have speakers that didn't sound so flat and tinny. Obviously, you can't include giant tweeters with large diameters without compromising the design of the monitor, but the 5W speakers just don't sound good for the majority of listening activities, in fact, I turned off the speakers from my LG 27UK850-W and ran all the sound through the speakers on my MacBook Air because they sounded better.

Of course, you can mitigate these issues by plugging in headphones to the included 3.5mm jack, or by setting up speakers with your Mac, but it is disappointing that I can't recommend using the speakers on LG 27UK850-W for any sort of audio at all.

The cheap and flimsy joystick used to access the monitor's settings is just plain awful.

When it comes to adjusting the brightness, volume, powering off or adjusting any other settings on the LG 27UK850-W, you have to use this small, hidden, plastic joystick located underneath the screen, right by the LG logo on the bottom bezel. As elegant and clean as LG made the design of this monitor, this cheap, flimsy control stick seems like something out of a Lovecraftian nightmare.

Last negative to mention, and it may not bother you at all, but the pixel density isn't quite as good as most of Apple's Retina Displays. For example, when LG 27UK850-W has a 163 PPI while my MacBook Air has a PPi of approximately 227. I haven't noticed a big difference in the quality of the screen, the 27UK850-W looks as silky smooth to me as my MacBook Air, but if you're used to displays with higher PPI, or you do a lot of very serious photo-editing, it could be problematic or bothersome to you.

Bottom line

LG 27UK850-W is great value

LG 27UK850-W

LG (Image credit: LG)

As mentioned before, the LG 27UK850-W offers something for everyone, making it a fantastic monitor for most people. It can handle gaming really well, and all its added ports, plus it power-transferring USB-C makes it a super compelling product for most MacBook users. The design and look of the LG 27UK850-W will fit well in almost every workspace, and even though it has a 27-inch screen, the overall package isn't too massive and should easily fit on most desktops.

For the $650 price tag, its obviously not the cheapest 4K monitor out there, but most cheaper displays will lack some of the fantastic compatibility and elegance that the LG 27UK850-W bring to the table. Yes, it can't charge the 15-inch MacBook Pro (but it can charge every other MacBook in Apple's line up), and the PPI is a little low if you plan on doing a lot of intense photo-editing.

At the end of the day, the LG 27UK850-W is a fantastic monitor that you can set up, plug in, and get right to work. It's no hassle experience that truly embodies a lot of Apple's design techniques, and I think if you're in the market for a USB-C monitor for your Mac, the 27UK850-W is the one to get.

While we do love the LG 27UK850-W, it's not the only USB-C monitor out there, and you can always take a look and what we think of some of the competition .

Luke Filipowicz
Staff Writer

Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way. 

Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.