A stylish 27in monitor with all the trimmings – including 4K and FreeSync support – for a competitive RRP
- Stylish, adjustable design
- Good value for money
- HDR and FreeSync support
- OSD is confusing at first
- No speakers
The Philips 279C9 manages to stand out in an incredibly crowded market. It faces stiff competition from the likes of BenQ’s excellent EW2780U and Dell’s UltraSharp U2720Q, both of which offer a similar premise on paper: a 27in 4K panel of a solid quality backed by strong connectivity options, a good feature set for office bods and – crucially – a reasonable price tag.
Of the three monitors I’ve just listed, the Dell perhaps ticks more of those crucial boxes, but it does so at a higher RRP. This is where the Philips 279C9 swoops in, a well-priced, well-specced monitor for anyone who works and unwinds at their desk.
Philips 279C9 review: What you need to know
The Philips immediately offers advantages over the BenQ, and not just the fact it’s normally £20 cheaper. It has VESA DisplayHDR 400 certification, while the BenQ offered an emulated HDR mode; it includes AMD’s FreeSync technology for the promise of tear-free gaming; and while the BenQ had a basic stand, the Philips 279C9 can swivel 350°, tilt through 25°, pivot 90° and offers 130mm of height adjustment.
What’s more, you can make a strong argument that the Philips is a more attractive display: the slim bezels give it a sense of style missing from the BenQ EW2780U.
On paper, this Philips monitor actually beats the Dell too, as this lacks HDR certification and adaptive sync technologies. As ever, though, there’s more to a buying decision than tickboxes and certificates.
Philips 279C9 review: Performance
Let’s tackle HDR certification first. DisplayHDR 400 is good, but its flickering candle looks dim compared to DisplayHDR 1000-certified screens (the numbers roughly equate to peak brightness). Plus, I couldn’t persuade Windows 10 to enable HDR playback on the Philips on either of my two test laptops, despite installing the official Philips driver.
HDR only kicked into action when I connected an Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K into one of the HDMI ports. In the 279C9’s defence, there’s a notable difference in impact once you start playing HDR content, and watching films on this display is a pleasure even without it. Just note the lack of speakers.
My caveat for gamers is obvious: while the 279C9 does support 75Hz refresh rates at lower resolutions, if you want 4K then you’re limited to 60Hz. I still think AMD FreeSync certification is worth having, but any true gamer should buy a true gaming screen.
With those caveats in place, I have good news for anyone who simply wants a high-quality 27in 4K display for less than £450: the 279C9 sailed through our technical tests. In its sRGB preset, where it locked to a bright 312cd/m², the Philips covered 96.2% of the sRGB colour gamut out of a 97% volume, and with an average Delta E of 0.3, you can be certain of the colours you see onscreen.
You can squeeze a wider palette of colours out of the panel by switching to the default mode and tweaking the red, green and blue channels, but unlike the Dell there’s no option to simply switch to a DCI-P3 preset. If you have a colorimeter to hand, though, you should be able to match our increase in DCI-P3 coverage from 69% to 81%.
Alternatively, use one of Philips’ SmartImage presets: the Movie mode pushed the DCI-P3 coverage to just under 80%, and in this mode, it also hit 382cd/m2 peak brightness. It’s still no match for the DCI-P3 mode of the Dell, but it’s a decent substitute.
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Philips 279C9 review: Features
I wasn’t an immediate fan of the onscreen display (OSD), which follows the fashion of positioning a mini joystick under the bottom bezel. Once I’d adjusted to the logic of Philips’ control system, though, I found myself whizzing through the settings with only occasional missteps. It’s no match for the super-responsive OSD of Eizo screens, but at this price, you can’t complain.
It might seem petty to complain about the lack of a USB-B connection as well, but without it, you lose one big benefit of the four-port USB hub: being able to use any connected peripherals even if you’re not on the USB-C connection. Also note that while a 65W power supply over USB-C is enough to happily charge most laptops, the 90W supplied by Dell offers more possibilities – even if it simply means that laptops charge more quickly.
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Philips 279C9 review: Verdict
This is why the Dell keeps its place as the king of 27in 4K monitors, but if your budget doesn’t stretch to that screen’s £500-plus price then the Philips 279C9 is an excellent alternative.
With a fantastic 4K panel, a stylish and ergonomically friendly design, FreeSync support and a USB-C port (among others), this monitor is ideally suited to remote workers, office workers, casual film-watchers and lunch-break gamers alike.
Editor’s note: At the time of writing, the Philips 279C9 retailed at £445 including VAT. The price has since been subjected to significant inflation as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic (and subsequent move to remote working), and as such, some of the claims in this review may appear untrue. We apologise for the inconvenience.