HP Z27x Dreamcolor Professional Display Review

HP's new Z27x DreamColor supports all the important color gamuts and carries some distinctly unique features. This screen simply blows us away.

Early Verdict

At this price point, there is no other monitor that is as accurate or capable as the HP Z27x. We expect to see it populating film editing bays everywhere since nothing else even comes close for less than five figures.


  • +

    Internal calibration engine, super-accurate, support for DCI and Rec.2020 (partial) gamuts, solid build quality, terrific value


  • -

    Would be even better as a 32-inch screen, no OSD calibration options

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HP Z27x DreamColor Professional Display Review

When you go sit down to watch a Hollywood blockbuster like Transformers: Age of Extinction or Edge of Tomorrow, most of what you see on the screen originated on a computer. CGI effects have come a long way in the past few years thanks to ever-faster computing platforms and improvements in display technology.

To properly master today’s digital films, artists need a color-accurate monitor that can easily switch between the major color, grayscale, and gamma standards currently in use. That means support not only for sRGB and Adobe RGB, but DCI (Digital Cinema Initiative) and Rec.2020 as well.

We’ve reviewed many screens that cover Adobe RGB. But only one other, NEC’s PA272W, can do DCI. Today, we’re checking out HP’s entry into the professional monitor market: its Z27x. This display not only covers the aforementioned three gamuts, it also supports a subset of Rec.2020, the new proposed standard for Ultra HD.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Panel Type & BacklightAH-IPSGB-r-LED, edge array
Screen Size & Aspect Ratio27-inch / 16:9
Max Resolution & Refresh Rate2560x1440 @ 60 Hz
Native Color Depth & Gamut10-bit / Adobe RGB+
Response Time (GTG)7 ms
Brightness250 cd/m2
Video Inputs2 x DisplayPort, 1 x HDMI
Audio3.5 mm, Coax digital
USBv3.0: 1 x up, 4 x downv2.0: 2 x down
Panel DimensionsW x H x D w/base25.5 x 16.6-21 x 9.5 in648 x 443-536 x 241 mm
Panel Thickness2.6 in / 65 mm
Bezel Width.8 in / 21 mm
Weight19.4 lbs / 8.8 kg
WarrantyThree years

The technology in HP's Z27x is fairly unique among computer monitors. Its core panel is made by LG, like so many others. But this is not an off-the-shelf part. Modifications are made to the grid polarizer and backlight to improve upon both color accuracy and off-axis viewing quality.

As with other wide-gamut displays, the backlight is GB-r-LED. Green and blue LEDs shine through a red phosphor coating, allowing for a larger color gamut and greater accuracy from primary colors that have consistent spectral peaks. One drawback is that it’s difficult to achieve a perfect blue primary. Other GB-r-LED monitors we’ve measured do show either under- or over-saturation there. HP modifies the Z27x’s backlight with a custom blue LED to correct the issue. To help combat fatigue when artists have to pull an all-nighter editing images of Optimus Prime, constant-current (rather than pulse-width modulation) is used to control panel intensity. Add this display to the list of flicker-free products.

The other major change is in the grid polarizer. Every LCD panel, TN or IPS, focuses the light emitted by each pixel through a polarizing layer. Without it, you’d see a blurry image due to light spread, similar to how printing on certain types of paper can de-focus the picture coming from an inkjet printer. The dots enlarge and reduce clarity.

The grid polarizer is why LCD’s image quality degrades when viewed off-center. IPS is superior in this regard because its polarizer is much thinner than the one used in TN-based panels. HP tweaks its implementation further to improve off-axis quality in the vertical plane. Most displays we’ve photographed look fine from 45 degrees to the side, but not as good when viewed from 45 degrees above. The Z27x retains more detail and light output from that angle than other IPS panels.

There are many more features we’ll talk about as you read on. The Z27x is a direct result of feedback gained from artists at some of the top visual effects houses, and HP literally engineered the Z27x to meet their specific requests. Our own hands-on experience tells us this is a unique product with few, if any, equals, especially at its price point. Let’s take a look.

Christian Eberle
Contributing Editor

Christian Eberle is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He's a veteran reviewer of A/V equipment, specializing in monitors. Christian began his obsession with tech when he built his first PC in 1991, a 286 running DOS 3.0 at a blazing 12MHz. In 2006, he undertook training from the Imaging Science Foundation in video calibration and testing and thus started a passion for precise imaging that persists to this day. He is also a professional musician with a degree from the New England Conservatory as a classical bassoonist which he used to good effect as a performer with the West Point Army Band from 1987 to 2013. He enjoys watching movies and listening to high-end audio in his custom-built home theater and can be seen riding trails near his home on a race-ready ICE VTX recumbent trike. Christian enjoys the endless summer in Florida where he lives with his wife and Chihuahua and plays with orchestras around the state.

  • DoDidDont
    I have 3x Z24x, very impressed with them so far for compositing and 3d work. Would have gone with 3x Z27x but simply don’t have the desk space or room for a bigger desk. My only worry is if they have the same problem as the older ZR24w’s they replaced, in that the whites go yellowish and make greys have a tint of brown after only one or two years of use. Always had a dark grey desktop, and in 3ds max everything is set to Dark GUI, and always been careful not to leave monitors on for long periods with the same image so no idea why the older ZR24w’s go yellowish after a while. Hopefully this problem has been fixed in the new line-up. But at the Mo, highly recommend these monitors, amazing quality for the price if you are into DCC.
  • laststop311
    .29 is not a good black level really. Hopefully oleds will displace the need for these monitors soon, only a matter of time
  • somebodyspecial
    hopefully 1600p will displace 1440p soon ;) I'm tired of scrolling up/down so much on web pages. Gaming doesn't get any better wide either, and if I want that I'll use more than one monitor to get the best of both worlds (taller for the web, and wider for games if desired).
  • laststop311
    14215918 said:
    hopefully 1600p will displace 1440p soon ;) I'm tired of scrolling up/down so much on web pages. Gaming doesn't get any better wide either, and if I want that I'll use more than one monitor to get the best of both worlds (taller for the web, and wider for games if desired).

    Agree 100% I had a 24" 1920x1080 Cheapo TN monitor and then I found a Dell u3014 on craigslist and jewed the guy down to 575 for it. The bezel was a little scuffed up but the screen was flawless was a hell of a deal and man once you are used to 16:10 you cant go back to 16:9 it feels claustrophobic.

    I am not a graphics professional though. But I fear since 16:10 is more a professional monitor we will never see a gaming monitor with 120hz and g sync in 16:10. I just can't bring myself to downgrade to a 27" asus rog swift even tho i really could use the gaming features. I'm probably just going to hold onto this dell until 120hz 3840x2160 rog swift type monitor is released at 30-34 inches. I don't think there is much hope in 16:10 4k monitors, never seen one yet 3840 x 2400 i believe.
  • Draven35
    When I was at HP in Fort Collins for the new Z Workstation launch, I had an opportunity (several opportunities, really) to chat with Greg Staten, the HP DreamColor Solution Architect. He's really enthusiastic about his work and was really excited that this review was coming!
  • rajubaju
    Complaints about lack of CMS in OSD... I couldn't agree with them more. Totally unacceptable... Especially when you know; z24x provides that possibility (like every other, wide gamut, monitor on the market; nec pa272w, dell u2713h, asus pa279q, vp2772, lg 27ea83-D etc.) In the z24x manual, we can read: "the User (User Preset) adjustable color settings for customers who do not have calibration equipment". What is the difference? with z27x - price i guess - you pay more, you get less! ;) I understand that now, when I buy z27x, I must buy a colorimeter (HP ofc)... even if I do not need ideal color accuracy... and i only want adjust monitor (RGB primaries) for my preferences. Not a chance! I hope that Greg Staten read this and add User preset, like in z24x, to Z27x... About saturation, 6 color adjustment, etc. I don't even dream; It would be a miracle! ;)