Wacom’s Cintiq Pro 27 might be expensive, but it is one of the most immersive, accurate, and stable display tablets ever.
Despite a hefty $3,499 price — which does not include the $470 Adjustable Stand — this new display tablet is amazing.
I have to admit, when this device was first delivered to my door, I was almost in shock at just how big the entire unit was. The 27-inch Wacom Cintiq Pro (along with its stand) is one of the largest drawing tablets on the market and is definitely the heaviest that I’ve ever worked with even though it is still smaller than the Cintiq Pro 24 due to the slimmer bezels. But thanks to its large size, the Cintiq Pro 27 offers an immense active drawing area for you to take full advantage of, with pretty much everything you need to get started included in the box — sans the computer you’ll need to connect to it.
In case you missed PetaPixel’s original coverage of the Cintiq Pro 27,
this display tablet offers users a 120Hz 4K touchscreen that uses a true 10-bit panel offering what Wacom claims as able to cover 99% of Adobe RGB and 98% of DCI-P3 HDR. It can also can be calibrated (Wacom actually recommends this) for maximum color accuracy. In addition, the system is Pantone SkinTone validated and boasts a maximum brightness of 400 nits which is just enough to technically deliver HDR content, though we argue that at least 600 nits is required to actually notice the benefits of HDR.
Effectively, these improvements to the Cintiq make it more than just a tablet, but an actual reference monitor too, giving users the functionality of what has typically required two separate devices in one.
If you get one of these, just be prepared for the space this thing takes up. During my actual testing, it’s safe to say I had very limited space and it wasn’t the most ergonomic of environments.
Despite my less-than-ideal testing workspace, once I got the Cintiq connected and working properly, it quickly became my favorite tablet (display or otherwise) I’ve ever had the pleasure of using.
Wacom Cintiq Pro 27: Design and Build Quality
The Cintiq Pro 27 is a beast of a peripheral that weighs in at about 36 pounds when you include the official adjustable stand (the Cintiq itself can optionally be mounted onto a VESA-style arm). So while it is technically smaller than the Cintiq Pro 24, it still feels bigger.
The screen itself is massive and provides you with a ton of space to work with right down to the very outer edges. On both sides of the device, you will find “grips” with a series of four buttons for quick commands that can be re-programmed based on the app being used or for general use such as accessing the various menus and settings of the Cintiq itself. Regardless of left or right-handed use, the grips feel quite similar to that of a standard camera body making it easy to feel “at home” for photographers — this includes a “grippy” rubber coating over the express key grips.
Along the top right (rear) corner of the Cintiq, you’ll find a series of buttons for powering the device on and off, toggling the touch features, and activating the Cintiq System Menu which can be further navigated by using the “grip” buttons on either side of the device.
The back of the device is where users will also find all of the available ports and the included cable management system. On the left and right-hand sides of the device’s back panel, you’ll find a mini DisplayPort connection, HDMI, USB-A, and two USB-C ports.
The Cintiq ships with a USB-C to USB-C, USB-C to USB-A, HDMI, and a mini DisplayPort to DisplayPort cable, effectively giving you with everything you need to get up and running without needing to take a trip to the local Best Buy. Once you have connected the cables you need for whatever setup you have running, you can install some plastic covers that help organize what would otherwise be a mess. I say that kind of loosely as it’s basically just a small cover/shield to keep the cables from twisting or applying pressure on the ports. Either way, while minimally functional, they are still quite welcome.
The Cintiq Pro doesn’t have a built-in kickstand, so you’ll either have to lay it flat on your desks, mount it to a VESA monitor arm, or use the custom ($500) stand from Wacom.
While the stand is an absolute beast and weighs more than the Cintiq itself, you won’t need any additional tools, grips, cables, or stabilizers to get it installed and start using it. Simply slide the Cintiq into the mount and you’re ready to roll. It has a bit of an odd shape (think a camera lens diagram with the lens hood as the arms on the base) and is nearly two-feet wide at the longest part. It is super versatile though, and allows you to position the Cintiq in a nearly 90-degree vertical position (much like a standard monitor) all the way to laying flat on the table like an actual drawing pad.
Additionally, you can pivot the screen about 20 degrees for an angled working position if desired. The positions can be quickly adjusted and then use the sliding “lock” on the back of the stand to literally lock it into place to ensure the screen doesn’t move once you get working.
Keen eyes will also notice a series of vents along the top of the device (and along the bottom of the back panel) for cooling and airflow as previous generations of the Cintiqs have faced some criticism for how hot and loud the fan system got when they had been running for a few hours.
Wacom Cintiq Pro 27: The Display/Tablet
The 4K display of the Cintiq Pro 27 is wildly impressive even though it felt to me a bit dim, which resulted in the colors feeling a little bit muted when compared to other native 4K displays.
Still, images are practically razor sharp at each resolution option available and motion both on screen and with the pen reactiveness are very smooth thanks to the 120Hz refresh rate and resolution of 5,080 lines per inch. Out of the box the colors are good, but after calibrating it, I was able to get the 99% of Adobe RGB and 98% of DCI-P3 HDR that was promised on the box.
The company says the screen features no parallax or latency and in my testing, I can pretty much confirm this to be accurate. The feeling of the pen-to-screen was incredibly smooth and natural and after a week of long days of testing, there were barely even any fingerprint smudges on the screen, which tells me it combats the side effects of daily use very well.
Wacom Cintiq Pro 27: The Pen
The new battery-free Pro Pen 3 is a welcome change from the traditional tablet pens I’ve been using for the last 10 years or so. The internal weights can be shifted to be front or back based on your individual preferences, and the grips can be changed as well to be the straight flat style or a flanged style that widens at the end (like most of the traditional pens from Wacom). The level of personalization that Wacom provides to get a pen that feels perfect for you is really appreciated.
The pen holder (cradle) can sit on your desk, or be screwed into one of four positions along the outer edge of the Cintiq — either the left or right grips or along the top right or left of the display itself. Each position you place it comes with its own pros and cons. Placing it along the grips means you lose easy access to the buttons behind it, and placing it along the top blocks (slightly) the airflow to cool the device while in use.
Arguably placing it along the side of your dominant hand shouldn’t be an issue as you won’t be using that hand to access the buttons behind the grip anyway since it will be occupied holding the pen, but since I was planning on messing with positions a lot while using the device, I opted to leave the mount on the top left side of the screen.
Inside the cradle hides the selection of optional and extra components for the pen. These include five normal replacement nibs, five felt-style nibs, and three replacement snap-on button plates (giving users the option to select from no buttons, a thick three-button plate, and the default thin three-button plate). Additionally, you’ll find replacement silicon pen grips and the nib removal/installation tool.
Despite all of the well-designed compartments for the spare parts and positioning of the cradle, compared to the pen, it feels somewhat cheap. Especially when you factor in the cost of everything with the quality build of nearly every other single feature, the cradle could use some extra love, even if it works just fine as is. It just feels like an afterthought.
Wacom Cintiq Pro 27: Pen Pressure and In-Use
The Wacom Cintiq Pro 27 is probably the most accurate and responsive tablet I’ve tested in the last few years. The system has a whole set of customization tools available to adjust the pen sensitivity, angle, tilt, and more through the Wacom Center app that even allows you to draw on a “blank surface” while testing out all of the various settings.
Like most other modern tablets, the Cintiq Pro 27 Pro Pen 3 can recognize the degree of tilt and pressure up to 8,192 levels using Wacom’s Electro-Magnetic Resonance technology. Messing with it by drawing (poorly as you’ll see below) some lines and shapes and testing pressure levels, speed and angles, the pen was perfectly responsive and accurate.
The experience is the best I’ve tested to date. While retouching photos, it was super easy to get even single-pixel accuracy when zoomed in which is wildly impressive considering how shakey and inaccurate my coffee-fueled body tends to be.
Below are some captures of the pen (and my horrible handwriting) in action at various settings.
Usability and Performance
Setting the Cintiq Pro 27 up is pretty straightforward and follows the same pattern as any previous tablet you may have encountered. Connect the required cables and then download the latest drivers from the Wacom website and follow the prompts. On Apple computers that have been updated to the newest OS, there may be some hiccups regarding the new security settings and system/security access you will have to enable and, apparently, you’ll need to do this quickly or you may have to uninstall and start over again.
Beyond that possible hangup, the rest of the setup was rather smooth, leaving me just to choose a resolution for the screen. Once you have the drivers installed (and possibly rebooted the computer) all that is left is to start customizing any settings you want through the Wacom Center app.
The Cintiq Pro 27 is a luxury item. There are multiple tools that allow you to, generally, achieve the same tasks. To be honest, I have no need of the Cintiq Pro 27 for what I do, but after using it for this review, it is literally all I want to retouch my images with moving forward. Moving back to my normal “small” pen tablet feels like stepping back a decade or more in terms of technology and performance.
But even with my absolute love of the device, the experience isn’t without a few speedbumps.
While the team at Wacom has clearly heard the feedback about the heat and fan noise in the Cintiqs and addressed them, it still isn’t a perfect setup. The device is relatively quiet but you will definitely notice the fans once you power up the display (especially if you’re in a quiet room). It is by no means an actual distraction — I didn’t measure the actual decibel level — and if you simply turn on some music, the sound of the fans is quickly drowned out. The screen does get warm after some continued use, but surprisingly, it doesn’t get anywhere near “hot” at all.
As mentioned, the Cintiq does support touch but I could take or leave them. For the most part, I left them. After some initial testing of the touch capabilities, which do work, I never felt there was a scenario where using them instead of the programmable buttons or my nearby keyboard was a better option.
For instance, the touch features are the one time I felt the Cintiq Pro 27 was a bit laggy and unlike using the pen and keyboard, I couldn’t pan and zoom at the same time when using touch controls. So while there is usefulness to the touch features, I think this is an area where Wacom still has some room to improve and could take some notes from the functionality and performance of something like an Apple iPad Pro.
That being said, the Cintiq Pro 27 does include the ability to have on-screen “touch” commands to help speed up the workflow that I actually did find very useful. These ranged from general computer/keyboard quick access, to application-centric “most used” tools. It did take a bit of getting used to in order for me to stop using the long-term-conditioned keyboard shortcuts, so I assume after a learning curve this can be very handy to illustrators and video editors so they can stay in the zone while working. These custom on-screen tools can be adjusted through the Wacom Center app to work in practically any configuration you would need, theoretically meaning after some customization you may never have to use your keyboard and mouse again.
I’ve mentioned a few times how large and imposing this device is, and it does affect where it can be positioned. You’ll want to be sure you have plenty of space for it, especially if you are going to use Wacom’s stand. As it is so large, if your workstation isn’t big enough, you might have trouble accessing the locking mechanism being located at the back of the stand. That means if you’re making frequent changes in your and the position of the screen, you’ll have to awkwardly reach around or reposition the entire device in order to get at it. Remember, this thing weighs 36 pounds.
Design-wise I get it, and with a larger workspace it really isn’t an issue, but if space is limited it is an annoyance.
The Wacom Cintiq Pro 27 is All I Want to Use Now
I’ve been using tablets for over a decade and after getting over the initial learning curve, I can honestly never go back to just “click” based editing. When you have to do custom and detail-oriented work, there really is nothing in the world like using an accurate and responsive pen tablet.
While I don’t absolutely need a display tablet, after using the Cintiq Pro 27, I really don’t enjoy using anything else. It has kind of spoiled me and going back to a normal tablet really does feel like stepping backward.
The Cintiq Pro 27’s screen was a little dimmer than I expected which resulted in colors appearing to be a bit muted, but the display still has incredibly great resolution and color accuracy. The grip and control buttons on the sides are pretty useful — if for nothing else other than repositioning the screen — and the Pro Pen 3, while not the most impressive looking, was incredibly accurate and handled exceptionally well, especially since the nib didn’t have the trademark “wobble” that’s present in nearly every other pen on the market. Finally, the entire surface supports multi-touch, so you can leverage the entire screen as a touchpad for hand gestures for additional workflow enhancements should you desire.
The Cintiq Pro 27 may not be cheap, but it does feel worth the investment. The tablet is durable and sturdy, the screen feels fantastic to work with and is seemingly incredibly scratch and scuff resistant, and while you can use a VESA mount to save some money, realistically it is best to think of this system as a $4,000 investment rather than just $3,500 and bundle the Pro Stand into the purchase.
The system is built like a tank and simply works better, smoother, and more accurately than any display tablet I have tested in the last five years.
Are There Alternatives?
In recent years there have been an impressive number of new competitors in the graphics tablet market, giving a constantly growing list of alternatives for you to choose from.
After the $3,500 Wacom Cintiq Pro 27 and optional $470 adjustable stand, you have some options.
Obviously on the “pro” side of the fence are the other sizes of the Wacom Cintiq Pro (which includes the $1,599 16-inch, the $2,699 24-inch, and the to recently discontinued $3,147 32-inch models) followed by the $899 XP-Pen Artist 24 Pro which is only a 2K display but is also significantly cheaper. If you’re still looking to go cheaper but get a 4K display, the $829 Kamvas Pro 16 (4K) is another potential option.
The latest 12.9-inch iPad Pro is a strong contender for those who want accuracy in their pen work, but the flexibility of being able to edit on the move. And finally, the $2,799 Microsoft Surface Pro is a viable option for users who want a windows based all-in-one experience that is like the iPad.
Should You Buy It?
Yes. While the price may be a bit daunting, if you already need a pen tablet and a reference display, the Wacom Cintiq Pro 27 is a worthwhile investment that perfectly plays double duty.