Sony Inzone M9 Review: 4K HDR 144Hz 1ms FreeSync IPS Gaming Monitor

The Sony Inzone M9 is 27" 4K 144Hz 1ms IPS gaming monitor with FreeSync, DisplayHDR 600, 96-zone FALD and HDMI 2.1.

Bottom Line

The Sony Inzone M9 offers smooth performance and excellent image quality, but there are better options available in this price range.

Design:
(4.5)
Display:
(4.7)
Performance:
(4.8)
Price/Value:
(2.0)
4.0

The Sony Inzone M9 (full model name: SDM-U27M90) is the first DisplayHDR 600 certified gaming monitor with a full-array local dimming solution, bringing decent HDR image quality below $1,000!

Image Quality

Sony’s Inzone M9 monitor is based on an IPS panel with a ~97% DCI-P3 gamut coverage (higher than the specified 95%) for vibrant and saturated colors.

This is equivalent to around 130% sRGB gamut size, meaning that certain colors will be over-saturated when viewing regular SDR content made with the sRGB color space in mind.

The Inzone M9 doesn’t have an integrated sRGB emulation mode that would clamp that gamut down to ~100% sRGB in order to provide less saturated and more accurate colors. However, there are workarounds to achieve this on PC with AMD or NVIDIA graphics cards.

IPS technology also boasts 178° wide viewing angles, which ensure that the image brightness, colors, contrast and gamma remain accurate and consistent regardless of the angle you’re looking at the screen.

For the most accurate image quality, make sure you change the default picture preset to ‘Standard.’

Moving on, the 4K UHD resolution provides a high pixel density of 163 PPI (pixels per inch) on the 27″ sized screen of the Sony Inzone M9. As a result, you get plenty of screen space as well as sharp details and text.

Just keep in mind that you will need to apply some scaling in order to make small text readable. By doing so, you will get less screen real estate, but details will be even sharper.

1080p monitor vs 4K (Scaling)

The Sony Inzone M9 has a very strong peak brightness of ~450-nits as well as a low minimum brightness of around ~10-nits, making it suitable for both dark and bright rooms. When watching HDR content, the maximum brightness gets a boost to a bit over 800-nits for punchier highlights.

As expected from an IPS display, the static contrast ratio amounts to around 1,000:1, so you won’t get as deep blacks as that of VA panels which usually have a contrast ratio of around 3,000:1, but they suffer from other drawbacks.

Now, the Sony Inzone M9 has a 96-zone full-array local dimming solution that can dim parts of the screen that are supposed to be dark without greatly affecting parts that should remain bright, effectively further increasing the contrast ratio.

Most monitors with DisplayHDR 600 certification have only several dimming zones (usually between 8 and 32) and are edge-lit, which causes the entire zone to light up even when there’s a small bright object on the screen.

Edge lit Dimming vs Full array Dimming

Unless bright and dark objects are really far apart, this type of edge-lit local dimming is often more distracting than useful.

Since the dimming zones on the Sony Inzone M9 are spread across the entire panel, they’re a lot more effective. Alas, there are still only 96 zones.

Even the models with over 1000 zones have some haloing artifacts (caused by the light of a small illuminated object bleeding into the surrounding dimmed zones), so you’re not really getting the true HDR viewing experience with the M9.

Still, it’s a big improvement over no local dimming at all; some scenes will look significantly better, whereas particularly demanding scenes (fireworks, night sky stars, etc.) will be only slightly improved.

The FALD solution also helps minimize IPS glow and backlight bleeding for a more immersive viewing experience, especially in dark rooms. It can be used for both SDR and HDR content.

Performance

The Sony Inzone M9 has three response time overdrive options: Standard, Fast and Faster.

The Faster mode adds too much overshoot, so it should be ignored.

We recommend sticking with the Fast mode as it prevents trailing artifacts behind fast-moving objects without adding any particularly noticeable overshoot.

However, if you’re gaming at a fixed 60Hz refresh rate, dialing it back to ‘Standard’ will result in less inverse ghosting.

Input lag is low at around 4ms of delay, which is imperceptible.

Further, the monitor supports variable refresh rate via AMD FreeSync Premium and certified NVIDIA G-SYNC Compatible certification with a 48-144Hz dynamic range for tear-free gameplay up to 144FPS.

HDMI 2.1 VRR is also supported for tear-free gameplay on the PS5 and other compatible devices.

Sadly, Motion Blur Reduction (backlight strobing) is not available.

The backlight of the monitor is completely flicker-free. There’s no low-blue light mode, though you can use the ‘Warm’ color temperature preset with a low brightness setting for similar results.

Features

Sony Inzone HUB

At the rear of the monitor, you’ll find a directional joystick for quick and easy navigation through the OSD (On-Screen Display) menu.

Alternatively, you can use Sony’s Inzone Hub desktop application to make all your adjustments via a keyboard and mouse.

Besides the standard image adjustments (brightness, contrast, color temperature, aspect ratio, etc.), the Sony Inzone M9 also offers some advanced settings, such as gamma (from 1.8 to 2.4), sharpness, hue and saturation. Automatic input detection/selection is available as well.

Other noteworthy features include various picture presets, crosshair overlays, on-screen timers, Black Equalizer (improves visibility in dark scenes) and a refresh rate tracker.

Design & Connectivity

Sony Inzone M9 Monitor Design

The stand of the monitor is sturdy and offers height and tilt adjustment, but pivot and swivel are not supported. The screen is also VESA mount compatible via the 100x100mm pattern.

Further, the light matte anti-glare coating prevents reflections without making the image too grainy.

Connectivity options include DisplayPort 1.4 with DSC, two HDMI 2.1 ports with 40 Gbps, one upstream + three downstream USB 3.0 ports, a USB-C port with DP 1.4 Alt Mode (no power delivery), a headphone jack and built-in KVM functionality.

DP 1.4 supports 4K 144Hz 10-bit 4:4:4 (uncompressed color format) via DSC, while HDMI 2.1 is limited to 4K 120Hz 10-bit 4:4:4 on this monitor.

At the rear of the monitor, there is an RGB LED strip with 13 supported colors (it can also be disabled).

Price & Similar Monitors

The Sony Inzone M9 goes for $900, which is quite expensive, considering that you can get the Cooler Master Tempest GP27U with a 576-zone mini LED FALD and wider color gamut for $800.

The Cooler Master Tempest GP27Q model also offers better HDR image quality with a 576-zone mini LED FALD backlight for just $500, though it has a lower 1440p resolution.

Check out our best HDR monitors buyer’s guide for more information and options.

Conclusion

All in all, the Sony Inzone M9 is an excellent gaming monitor. However, while it does offer a big improvement in HDR over edge-lit monitors with fewer dimming zones, you’re still not getting the true HDR viewing experience provided by OLED displays and mini LED monitors with hundreds or thousands of dimming zones.

Specifications

Screen Size27-inch
Resolution3840×2160 (Ultra HD)
Panel TypeIPS
Aspect Ratio16:9 (Widescreen)
Refresh Rate144Hz
Response Time1ms (GtG)
Adaptive-SyncFreeSync (48-144Hz)
G-SYNC Compatible
PortsDisplayPort 1.4, 2x HDMI 2.1 (40 Gbps),
USB-C (DP 1.4 Alt Mode)
Other PortsHeadphone Jack, 3x USB 3.0
Brightness450 cd/m²
Brightness (HDR)800 cd/m²
Contrast Ratio1000:1 (static)
Colors1.07 billion (10-bit)
95% DCI-P3
HDRDisplayHDR 600
Local Dimming96-zone FALD
VESAYes (100x100mm)

The Pros:

  • High pixel density
  • Strong peak brightness, vibrant colors, 96-zone FALD
  • Quick response time, low input lag
  • Plenty of features, including VRR up to 144Hz
  • Ergonomic stand, rich connectivity options, including built-in KVM

The Cons:

  • Design lacks swivel/pivot
  • Only 96 dimming zones (very effective in some scenes, not so much in more demanding scenes)
  • Low native contrast ratio and some IPS glow (greatly reduced by local dimming)
  • Expensive

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Rob Shafer

Rob is a software engineer with a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Denver. He now works full-time managing DisplayNinja while coding his own projects on the side.