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Philips 27B1U7903 review: A 27in 4K mini-LED marvel

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £2199
(inc. VAT)

With superb HDR performance and Thunderbolt 4 connectivity, this is a great professional work monitor


  • Great HDR performance
  • Bright, sharp 4K IPS display
  • Built-in Thunderbolt 4 hub


  • Frustrating OSD navigation
  • All ports rear-mounted
  • Quite pricey

The 27B1U7903 is the latest addition to Philips’ rather impressive Brilliance 7000 series and represents a determined effort to squeeze everything a high-end, professional-level, non-gamer user could realistically want in a compact monitor. To that end, you get a 4K IPS display, support for the top-of-the-line DisplayHDR 1400 playback and Thunderbolt 4 connectivity. Of course, all that tech comes at a price and in this case, the price is £2,199, which is a fair packet for a 27in monitor. 

There’s nothing physically remarkable about the 7903: at 9.4kg it’s an average weight for a 27in monitor, and considering the size and weight it’s very easy to adjust the height (you have 130mm to play with) with just one hand. With 45 degrees of swivel, 20 degrees of tilt and 90 degrees of pivot in both directions, setting the 7903 up in an ideal position isn’t much of a challenge. With just 8mm of bezel on show at the top and sides and 10mm at the bottom, the viewing experience is close enough to edgeless.

The stand is the same design as that used with Philip’s massive 48.8in, curved 32:9 498P9Z monitor and does a good job of providing maximum stability despite a pretty small footprint (19cm deep and 26cm wide at the front, tapering to 30cm at the back) and low weight (2.2kg).

Philips 27B1U7903 review: What do you get for the money?

The basic specification is what you would expect for a pro monitor costing a couple of “bags of sand” and then some. You’re getting a 3,840 x 2,160 163 DPI IPS Quantum Dot panel that supports 1.07 billion colours with a brace of built-in 3W loudspeakers. With no claims to gaming chops, the 7902 makes do with a basic 60Hz refresh rate and 4ms grey-to-grey response time, but you do at least get support for adaptive frame synchronisation. The big story with the 7903 is the mini-LED backlight, which features 2,304 individually controllable dimming zones that help earn it a VESA DisplayHDR 1400 certification.

Like all professional displays, the 7903 comes preloaded with a wide selection of colour profiles, including NTSC, sRGB, AdobeRGB, DCI-P3, Rec.2020, Rec.709 and DICOM, as well as more colour temperature settings than you’ll probably ever need (5000, 6500, 7500, 8200, 9300 and 11500K, plus a Native setting). On top of that, there are no fewer than eight image settings lurking in a SmartImage menu (nine if you include Off). These range from Photo, Movie and Game to Low Blue Light, EasyRead, Economy, Office and SmartUniformity.

If you regularly want to look at two outputs on your display then Philips has you covered with its MultiView PBP (Picture-by-Picture) facility, which lets you devote each half of your screen to a separate input source.

Connectivity is a big part of Philip’s pitch for the 7903, describing it as “one of the world’s first Thunderbolt 4 monitors with USB4 compliance”. There’s certainly no arguing with the range of connectors, with two HDMI 2.0 and one DisplayPort 1.4 video inputs (all DHCP 2.2/1.4 compatible), four USB Type-A 3.2 Gen 1 ports (one of which supports BC 1.2 1.5A fast charging) and two Thunderbolt 4 / USB-C 4 ports – one supporting upstream data and video and PD 90W charging, the other downstream data and video and 15W charging.

The cherry on the cake is the gigabit RJ45 LAN port, a genuinely useful feature in this era of laptops shorn of all but the most essential connectivity.

Naturally, there’s a 3.5mm audio jack and a proper master power switch next to the power socket so you can turn it fully off without having to unplug anything. The power supply is built in so there’s no unsightly brick to worry about. There’s also a light sensor that did a good job adjusting the screen brightness to match the ambient light in my office.

This new Philips monitor also features something called PowerSensor. This uses a flip-down infrared sensor at the bottom of the display to detect whether someone is in front of the screen and, if not, automatically reduces the brightness. I’m told this reduces power consumption by up to 80% and increases the display’s lifespan. Sitting as I do at an L-shaped desk, I found this a useful feature, the screen dimming when I moved away to work on the other leg and lessening distraction in the process.

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Philips 27B1U7903 review: What does it do well?

At the risk of stating the obvious, HDR playback. To begin with, monitors carrying the Vesa DisplayHDR 1400 certification are few and far between. In fact, VESA only lists 7 basic models, including this new Philips 7903. With 2,403 individual lighting zones – for reference, most mini-LED displays which include around 576 or 1,152 lighting zones – the 7903 takes FALD (Full Area Local Dimming) to levels seldom seen on monitors and moves things about as far as they can go when it comes to IPS rather than OLED panels. The results are spectacular, with hugely impressive levels of contrast and no visible haloing.

Philips claims that the 7903 can hit a maximum brightness of 1,000cd/m² SDR and 1,400cd/m² HDR. My own test results in SDR weren’t too far off, with 803cd/m² measured in DCI-P3 with SmartImage off and 997cd/m² in Adobe RGB with SmartImage set to Photo. The maximum HDR brightness measured at 1,802cd/m², well over the manufacturer’s claim and the level needed to get that HDR1400 certificate. The brightness levels were uniform, too, with only the upper and lower left corners showing any real deviation in brightness, around 5% less than the centre.

Those 2,403 lighting zones pay dividends even with running in SDR mode thanks to the option to enable local dimming all the time. With local dimming switched off the contrast ratio was a run-of-the-mill 1,071:1, but with it engaged that number jumped to 18,957:1 thanks to a black luminance of just 0.038 cd/m². To the naked eye that may just as well be an OLED-level ∞:1. Gamma was perfect at 2.2.

My subjective HDR testing involves a few hours of Halo Infinite and watching Blade Runner 2049, and both looked absolutely superb on the new Philips.

For this sort of money, you should expect a comprehensive colour palette, and that’s exactly what you get. According to my i1Display Studio colourimeter, the display covered 99.9% of the sRGB gamut, 95.9% of AdobeRGB and 97.5% of DCI-P3, with volumes of 163.3%, 112.5%, and 115.7% respectively. With AdobeRGB coverage above 95%, even professional colour graders should feel right at home in front of the 7903.

I’ve no gripes with colour accuracy even if I didn’t manage to record a figure of less than 1 as per the makers’ claims. Delta-E scores of 1.2 vs DCI-P3 and 1.6 vs AdobeRGB are not too shabby: any Delta-E under 2 is considered good enough for professional work, and to detect variances below 1 you need eyesight better than any human.

The stereo speakers won’t be winning awards for sound quality, but with a maximum volume of 75.5dB(A) from a pink noise source measured at 1m they’re reasonably loud and there are even noticeable traces of bass and treble, though the overall soundscape is just a little confined and muddy. They’re certainly better than the loudspeakers on your average laptop, which at the end of the day is perhaps all they need to be.

Philips 27B1U7903 review: What could be better?

I’m not the greatest fan of the Philips system of navigation through the OSD, or onscreen display. The menu layout itself is not the issue but rather the use of five rather small buttons to navigate through them rather than a small joystick of some description. With all five buttons at the rear of the panel and the standby button next to the menu select/OK button. By the end of my time with the 7903 I had lost count of the number of times I had put the thing into standby rather than pressing “OK” to select a setting.

If the standby button was set further apart or the space between all the buttons and the onscreen icons representing them was greater (there is plenty of room to do this) then hitting the wrong button would happen far less often. The basic joystick and button system on the much cheaper BenQ I reviewed recently is a far superior answer to what is essentially the same question. Even the button action felt more positive on the BenQ. For the money, Philips could – and should – have done better.

The controls don’t have much going on in terms of user adaptability, either, with only one button open to modification and then the only options are adjusting the volume or brightness, swapping the colour space or engaging MultiView.

My last niggles are to do with connectivity. Granted, there’s a lot of it, but it’s all tucked away around the back and facing downwards. I think Philips really missed a trick by not locating one or two of the USB ports on the edge where they would be more easily accessible. The 7903 is also missing a KVM switch, which somewhat limits your options when managing two PCs from one keyboard and mouse combo.

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Philips 27B1U7903 review: Should you buy it?

If you don’t want to use it for serious gaming and have £2,200 lying around, then yes, you should. The HDR performance is superb, the best this side of a high-quality OLED TV and well ahead of any other monitor I’ve come across. The Thunderbolt 4 connectivity really makes for an easy life, while the basic quality of the 4K screen holds obvious appeal not just to creatives but to anyone who spends time working on things as diverse as CAD projects or big spreadsheets. Stick one of these things on your desk and you won’t be thinking about replacing or upgrading your monitor for a very long time.

Philips 27B1U7903 – key specifications
Panel size27in
Panel resolution3,840 x 2,160
Panel refresh rate60Hz
Panel response time4ms (G2G)
Panel typeIPS
Adaptive Sync SupportYes
HDR SupportHDR10, DisplayHDR 1400
PortsThunderbolt 4 x 2, USB Type-A 3.2 Gen 1 x 4, HDMI 2.0 x 2, DisplayPort 1.4 x 1, 3.5mm audio x 1, RJ45 LAN
Other featuresGigabit Ethernet, 2304 local dimming zones
Stand ergonomics45° swivel, 90° pivot, 20° tilt, 130mm height adjustment
Dimensions (with stand)613 (max) x 515 x 204mm
Weight (with stand)9.4kg

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