Review unit on loan from Samsung Singapore
The Samsung Viewfinity S9 is a 27-inch 5K display released in mid 2023 targeted at visual content creators. The price is USD 1,599, and here in Singapore it's SGD 2,288 and comes with 3 years warranty. Model number is LS27C900PAEXXS.
Unfortunately as I'm writing this, the pre-order promotional period from 14 to 27 August 2023 has already ended. The pre-order goodie was a free Samsung T7 Shield SSD 4TB worth SGD 488. Hopefully Samsung can run that promotion again sometime in the future because it's a really good promotion. External storage devices, especially large ones, are always useful.
By the way, my review is from the perspective of a visual content creator, someone who's into digital art, graphic design, edits photos and videos.
This monitor is the competitor to the Apple Studio Display (USD 1,599 / SGD 2,320), BenQ SW272U (USD 1,599 / SGD 2299), Dell U2723QE (USD 779, SGD 1079), and some of the ASUS ProArt displays. Obviously, they are not exactly comparable because the specs and features differ slightly, e.g. glossy vs matte display, whether there is Thunderbolt 4, resolution, support for shading hood, etc. And that's the good thing: consumers have many options to choose from. Unfortunately in recent years, many of these so called professional monitors for visual content creators have seen a huge price hike even though 4K has entered mainstream years ago.
The Samsung Viewfinity S9 is a big beautiful display that is sharp, bright and colour accurate. The pricing seems quite competitive to other displays for visual content creators even if it's on the high side.
There is Thunderbolt 4 USB-C with 90W charging, a miniDisplay port and three downstream USB 3.0 (320MB/s) type-C ports.
There are some downsides though. For the price point, I was expecting the build quality to be better but it's just good enough. The main downside is the ports face back and not down and are between the display and the stand. It is difficult to attach cables unless the cable has an L-shape connector. The other downside is the speakers are back-facing and that affects audio quality.
Due to the downsides, you'll probably want to get a separate dock that supports Thunderbolt 4 or USB 4, and a standalone speaker with better audio quality.
If you're someone who's just concerned with colour accuracy, you will be very satisfied with what you see.
- Display size: 27-inch
- Panel type: IPS LCD
- Aspect ratio: 16:9
- Resolution: 5120 x 2880
- Max brightness: 600 nits
- HDR compatibility: HDR10
- Contrast ratio: 1000:1
- Response time: 5ms (GtG)
- Refresh rate: 60Hz
- Bit depth: 10-bit (1.07 billion colours)
- Colour gamut: 99% DCI-P3, Pantone validated
- Factory calibrated: Yes
- Screen area: 23.494 x 13.215" / 596.736 x 335.664 mm
- Pixels per inch: 218 PPI
- Finish: Matte anti-glare
- Touchscreen: No
- Ports: 1x USB-C Thunderbolt 4 with 90W PD, 3x USB-C 3.0 with 4.5W PD, 1x mini-DisplayPort v2.2
- HDCP support: Yes
- Smart TV OS: Tizen
- Wifi: Yes
- Speaker: 2x 5W
- Webcam: 4K, Detachable
- Mics: Yes
- KVM: No
- VESA mount: 10 x 10cm
- Adjustment: Height, tilt, pivot
- Power adapter: 220W
- Weight: 7.4kg with stand, 4.7kg without stand
- Base of stand
- 220W power adapter and cable
- 4K webcam with detachable magnetic USB-C attachment and a magnetic privacy cover
- USB-C to USB-C Thunderbolt 4 cable
- mini-DisplayPort to full-size DisplayPort cable
- Smart TV remote
- User manual
Assembling the display is straightforward.
The base will attach to the stand with a single cross-type screw. The monitor will mount onto the hooks of the stand and click to lock.
The VESA mount is 10 x 10cm for those who want to mount this on the wall or an arm (that supports at least 5kg weight).
That's how big the power adapter is compared to an 11-inch tablet and a folded Samsung Z Fold5.
That's the monitor remote which is used for the SmartTV features. There are shortcuts to internet, Disney, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. You can actually access all these services from your computer as well. The main difference between the TV apps vs accessing from the computer is some video streaming companies limit 4K or HDR to TV apps.
The strange thing about this remote is to adjust volume, you have to push the button up and down instead of pressing like you do with most remotes.
Oh, this display has Wifi and hence can be used with Apple AirPlay.
Here's the display connected to my M1 Macbook Air (2020) which has a display that looks dim (measured 281 nits) when compared to the Samsung Viewfinity S9. If your laptop display is not bright enough, you will see a huge difference in quality.
The Samsung display look stunning. Design of the Samsung Viewfinity S9 display is clean, simple and minimalist. The light silver colour looks classy compared to the very common black plastic. The design aesthetics matches silver-coloured laptops, e.g. Macbooks, Huawei MateBooks, etc.
Resolution is 5120 x 2880 so the aspect ratio is 16:9. Pixel density is 218 PPI with no noticeable pixelation from one arm's length away.
This is a 10-bit IPS LCD that supports 1.07 billion colours. The display is factory calibrated and supports 99% DCI-P3 with Delta E (ΔE) < 2. Refresh rate is just 60Hz. Maximum brightness is 600 nits with support for HDR10.
With a Spyder5Pro, I measured colour support for 100% sRGB, 97% DCI-P3 and 89% AdobeRGB.
It is possible to colour calibrate the display with a phone app called SmartThings. This is a pretty good feature because you won't have to spend additional money to buy a colour calibrator. This works great if the Samsung display is your only display. Since I use multiple displays, I will still calibrate with the Spyder5Pro.
Below are screenshots from the app provided by Sidney, a reader:
Here's how the stand looks from the front. The base is metal but the internal is probably metal but the exterior is plastic.
The build quality is typical of displays that use plastic for construction. The build quality is alright and certainly will not match the Apple Studio Display's all-metal design. There is adjustment for height, tilt and rotate but Apple charges an extra USD 400 (SGD 600) for a more adjustable stand.
The back of the stand has a hole for cable management. The exterior actually looks like metal, e.g. aluminium, but it's not.
The back has two back-facing 5W speakers that sound loud but slightly hollow like someone's talking to you but not looking at you.
And here's the front. The little black part at the bottom is the receiver for the remote control. For some reason, there's no power button on the display so you'll have to use the remote to power the display off, or just let the display turn off automatically when it detects no video signal.
There's an electric connector at the top middle section for the detachable 4K webcam with a detachable magnetic privacy cover.
VESA mount dimensions are 10 x 10cm.
There's a switch at the bottom to mute the mic. The switch should be made bigger though because it's difficult to find grip on the switch. The other black thing is just black plastic extrusion.
This display has one Thunderbolt 4 type-C with 90W power delivery for charging laptops, three USB 3.0 type-C ports downstream with 320MB/s transfer speed, one miniDisplayPort v2.2 and the port for power. Unfortunately, there is no HDMI port. HDMI 2.1 can definitely support 5K 60Hz so the missing HDMI port here is a downside.
You can access the display settings using the directional toggle button behind. This will let you adjust settings such as brightness, contrast, sharpness, colour temperature, etc. You can switch between different Picture Modes: Entertain, Graphic, Eco, sRGB, BT 709, DCI-P3.
It is possible to adjust display settings with the remote too, but the options are limited.
The ports face backwards and there's the stand behind, so the space for connecting cables is tight. Cables that work best are those with L-shape connectors so that the cable can go down. For the miniDisplayPort cable, you'll probably need to get a L-shape adapter which is not included in the box.
Also when plugging in the cables, you can feel the ports move away from the plastic exterior.
Using a USB flashdrive is not possible due to where the ports are, between the back and the stand.
Design of the back looks good. I just wish the ports face down and the speakers face the side or even down towards the table.
The display can be rotated 90 degrees for portrait mode. The 16:9 aspect ratio makes this look really tall.
This is the lowest height. The gap between the bottom of the display to the table is slightly smaller than the width of most phones.
This display has amazing viewing angles. There is minimal to no colour shift and no drop in brightness. The anti-glare matte surface does an incredible job diffusing reflections, and the brightness of the display means colours can still go through the diffused reflections. Note the reflection (solid white patches) on my glossy phone screen for comparison.
There's a 4K webcam at the top with adjustable tilt. Webcam quality is acceptable though you may have to tilt both the camera and display to point the camera properly.
For visual content work
The work I do involves creating digital art, graphic design, creating traditional art and scanning them, editing photos for reviews and editing Youtube videos.
It's a wonderful and immensely satisfying experience of working on such a big, beautiful, bright and colour accurate screen.
For page layouts, you can view an A3 canvas at 100% and this can help you check legibility of text at a glance. The display surface area is 596.736 mm (H) x 335.664 mm (V). The app shown above is Indesign and I was able to fit two columns of palettes by the side and still have a huge canvas space left to work with.
This is Adobe Lightroom Classic. You can edit photos with high resolution to check the sharpness.
And there's of course plenty of screen real estate for editing videos. And remember this display supports 99% DCI-P3.
Movie watching experience is very enjoyable, of course.
I wasn't able to get HDR to when streaming from the Apple TV app from my Mac on the Samsung display. Switching over to streaming from Apple TV app from the smart TV OS enabled HDR properly.
Using the MacOS System Preferences, you can choose to enable high dynamic range, but doing so will make the whole screen much dimmer.
I was able to adjust the brightness of the Samsung display with the Mac keyboard for a few days but that shortcut has stopped working.
Do you need 5K
A 27-inch 4K display has pixel density of 163 PPI while 27-inch 5K is 218 PPI.
I personally find 4K resolution on a 27-inch display to be sharp enough. However, this combination of resolution and size does not work well for MacOS. MacOS does not work well with displays having less than 200 PPI. It's the same reason why 1440P on 16-inch displays (183 PPI) do not work well with MacOS. That's because MacOS UI scaling options are limited compared to Windows, and certain scaling options will result in fuzzy image quality.
The reason why Apple has their standalone displays and Macbook displays at the resolution they have is because MacOS only works well with certain resolutions and display size combination to prevent fuzzy visual. Windows users don't have such problems.
4K displays are more common and hence more affordable. Many have pretty good colour accuracy too. As a price conscious consumer, I'm more likely to go with 4K instead of 5K simply because of pricing.
For MacOS users considering 27-inch 4K display, you can get this app BetterDisplay to give you more UI scaling options that can retain the sharpness of high resolution displays.
This is an IPS LCD so there will be the typical backlight glow, even when the display is completely black. I find the backlight uniformity to be quite even. The glow at the corners are due to the camera angle.
At the top left, there's one small area with extra glow. But it's not really noticeable unless you're looking for it it such tests.
Looks alright from this angle.
The backlight bleeding for this review unit seems fine except for that small area on the top left.
Vs Apple Studio Display
The build quality of the Apple Studio Display is definitely more solid due to the all-metal design. The downsides are...
The matte textured surface is a USD 300 (SGD 400) upgrade. The height adjustment stand is a USD 400 (SGD 600) upgrade, and you don't even get rotation so you can't use the display vertically unless you go with the VESA mount.
The Apple display can only be used with one computer using the one Thunderbolt 4 type-C port with 96W charging. The three other ports are downstream USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10 Gb/s or 1.25GB/s) type-C ports.
I personally will not choose the Apple Studio Display due to the glossy surface, lack of height adjustment and lack of other video ports.
Sound quality I heard is better, but you can get better sound with your own speakers.
Image quality should be on par with the Samsung display.
The visual you can get from the Samsung Viewfinity S9 is fantastic, top quality. That is the selling point for visual content creators.
As mention much earlier, I don't like the backward facing ports because it's difficult to connect cables. The speakers are also backward facing so that affects audio quality. The build quality is alright but certainly could be better given the price point.
And talking about the price point, USD 1,599 or SGD 2,288 is quite pricy. Whether it's worth the money of course will come down to how much you value the visual quality and 5K resolution.
If you don't mind a lower resolution display, e.g. 4K or 1440P (gasp!), you can actually save a lot of money. Ultimately, it's good to have more choices so it's a great move for Samsung to release this display.
So is this worth the money? You can decide.
Pros and cons at a glance
+ Beautiful design
+ 5K resolution is so sharp
+ 600 nits brightness with 99% DCI-P3 colour gamut
+ 10-bit IPS panel with 1.07 billion colours
+ Thunderbolt 4 port with 90W power delivery
+ Has adjustments for height, tilt, rotate
+ Matte textured surface has good anti-glare
+ Fantastic viewing angles with minimal colour shift and drop in brightness
+ Smart TV features
+ 4K webcam included, and is detachable
- No HDMI port
- Back facing ports
- Back facing speakers
- Build quality could be better considering the high price
- Huge power adapter
- Mic mute switch is too small
- No power button on the display
- 4K webcam quality is so-so
Where to buy
If you have intention to buy this display, considering using the affiliate links above to support my blog and the work I do here and on my Youtube channel. I earn some commission for each sale, but at no extra cost to you.