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Last Update: Apr 23, 2019

Top 5 Ultra Wide Gaming Monitors

Published 13:28 PM
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4K and 8K monitors may be the reigning champions when it comes to packing as many pixels as possible into a screen, but there’s just something about a 120-degree field of view that makes ultrawide displays special. For one thing, if you work and game on the same computer, there’s simply no substitute for being able to comfortably replicate two full-sized screens on a single monitor.

Seeing more of your surroundings is also a nice advantage in first-person shooters. 🖥️ 🔫

2019 is a fantastic time to buy an ultrawide monitor. With expensive, ultra-high-resolution displays dominating hardware sales, excellent 21:9 screens have become significantly more affordable than they were even a year or two ago. True ultrawide (3440 x 1440) may not look as crisp as 4K, but it is significantly prettier than standard HD, and we think the loss of a few pixels is a perfectly acceptable tradeoff in exchange for 1.5x to 2x more usable screen space.


Top 5 Ultrawide Gaming Monitors

Your side quest, should you choose to accept it, is to join us on a magical journey to discover five of the best 21:9 ultrawide gaming monitors currently on the market.

To make sure we’ve accounted for a wide range of budgets and preferences, we’ve selected two budget-friendly monitors, two that strike a balance between cost and features, and one ultra-premium model. Any of them would be solid choices, but as you’ll see, we think there’s a clear winner.

1

Best Choice: Samsung CF791

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The Samsung CF791 is a few years old now, but that just means it’s had time to prove itself. If you’re down to pay medium-tier prices for a high-end ultrawide monitor, this is the one for you.

Key Features

  • Crisp image quality
  • Rich, accurate colors
  • No motion blur

Samsung CF791 Monitor Review

Full disclosure: I own this monitor and I’m staring at it right now as I write this. I didn’t personally select this monitor to the “best overall” winner for this article, but I couldn’t agree more with the decision. I bought it primarily with gaming in mind; work-related utility was a secondary (but still super-important) consideration.

I don’t own one of the best AMD GPUs for gaming, but I have tested this monitor with one, and the built-in FreeSync technology is wonderful for eliminating screen tearing without the lag and input delay that can sometimes accompany traditional V-Sync settings.

Even if you’re an NVIDIA fanboy like me and can’t make use of this particular feature, the CF791’s built-in Game Mode is still excellent for minimizing latency and making colors really pop in your games. Game Mode significantly increases brightness and saturation; I think it makes games look amazing in most cases—especially in outdoor areas—but your mileage may vary.

At least on Amazon, this monitor’s price jumps around a lot. Right now it’s sitting at $728, but it’s been as low as $698 and as high as $790 in the last month or so. Even at that higher price point, it’s still a good buy. In at least some other cases, you’ll pay considerably more to get 100Hz/4ms on a 34-inch screen.

The monitor has a nice range of adjustment options. It raises, lowers, and tilts (from -14° to +34°) to accommodate a wide variety of seat heights, desk heights, and viewing angles. It doesn’t rotate vertically though—sorry, you portrait-mode multi-monitor party animals.

There’s really only one negative thing to say about the CF791: it’s prone to stuck pixels. I had to send mine in for repair twice before I finally got it back with zero stuck pixels, and there are a handful of Amazon reviews that mention similar frustrations.

It’s not quite fair to call it an epidemic problem, but it’s certainly more common than it should be. Still, Samsung’s warranty is solid and customer service is reasonably helpful, so at worst, you might be without a monitor for a week or two.

+Pros
  • Includes AMD FreeSync and a useful Game Mode
  • Excellent ratio of cost to overall quality
  • Superb dual-purpose work/gaming monitor
-Cons
  • Prone to stuck pixels
2

Premium Pick: LG 34WK95U-W

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4K ultrawide isn’t a thing, but 5K ultrawide apparently is (the term “ultrawide” gets fuzzier as time goes on—just know that this monitor, while certainly wide, isn’t quite 21:9). LG’s 34WK95U-W 5K ultrawide display is the size of a small boat and costs almost as much, but it’s so, so pretty.

Key Features

  • Unique 5120 x 2160 resolution
  • Thunderbolt 3, HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort 1.4, and USB-C inputs
  • IPS panel for wide viewing angles

LG 34WK95U-W Monitor Review

LG is one of the first to offer 5K resolution and a 21:9-ish aspect ratio in the same monitor; it’s been an ambitious and largely successful endeavor.

A frugal PC builder could put together three complete gaming rigs for what this monitor costs, but if you’ve got an eye for luxury, it’d be a superb choice. The gigantic 34” screen displays crystal-clear images and rich colors, provided you’ve got one of the best graphics cards for gaming that can keep up.

This monitor’s 5ms response time earns a solid A- for gaming, although the 60Hz refresh rate imposes a framerate limitation that some gamers may not want to settle for. It makes up for that with some excellent productivity features, like the ability to watch a full-size 16:9 4K video and work in a spacious 5:9 area, all on the same screen.

The 34WK95U-W goes for $1,499, but a solid one-year warranty softens the blow somewhat. At this price point, you definitely may want to consider shelling out another $79 for an extra three years of guaranteed service life.

It seems to be a well-engineered, reliable display; user reports of defects or malfunctions are few and far between, but the added cost of an extended warranty is a small price to pay to protect such a large investment.

One last thing to keep in mind: actually getting 14,745,600 pixels on your 5K monitor requires some serious horsepower. LG recommends the latest-and-greatest 2080-series NVIDIA cards (or something equivalent) to ensure you’ll be able to maintain 60 frames at such a high resolution.

+Pros
  • Enormous screen looks stunning
  • Unique multitasking features
  • Solid warranty
-Cons
  • Refresh rate tops out at 60Hz
  • Bonkers expensive
  • Requires a ludicrously expensive GPU to take full advantage of 5K
3

Best Value: LG 25UM58-P

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Who says an ultrawide monitor has to have an ultrawide price tag? You can pick up the surprisingly decent LG 25UM58-P 25” monitor for less than half of an average car payment.

Key Features

  • IPS panel for comfortable viewing from almost any angle
  • Built-in split screen and PIP modes
  • 99% sRGB color accuracy

LG 25UM58-P Monitor Review

A 25” 21:9 monitor for $160 has to be a piece of junk, right? Your suspicion is understandable. It’s true that the LG 25UM58-P is pretty bare-bones in terms of features, but it’s got the essentials nailed down surprisingly well.

Its 75Hz refresh rate and 5ms response time are perfectly respectable for a gaming monitor, but LG’s unwillingness to disclose some of the monitor’s exact specifications is mildly concerning (its contrast ratio is described only as “mega,” which is almost absurdly vague).

At just north of 10 pounds, the 25UM58-P is significantly more portable than many of its 21:9 competitors, some of which can weigh more than twice as much. Depending on your perspective, the small screen could be a plus or a minus; this might actually be the smallest ultrawide monitor currently out there.

The 25UM58-P has 2x HDMI 2.0 hookups, but no DisplayPort or DVI inputs. It also doesn’t have any built-in speakers. Both things are understandable in light of its killer price, which, again, is the main reason to consider it over most of the competition. All in all, it’d be a solid choice to pair with a budget gaming rig.

If you’re in the market for an affordable display, but the 25UM58-P doesn’t quite do it for you, check out our roundup of the best budget gaming monitors.

+Pros
  • It’s cheap. Almost suspiciously cheap.
  • Respectable refresh rate and response time
  • Lightweight and space-efficient
-Cons
  • On the small side for a QHD/ultrawide monitor
  • LImited inputs
  • No speakers
4

Best Midrange: Acer Predator X34P

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The Acer Predator X34P ultrawide monitor is a solid middle-tier display for a fair price—just hope you never have to call Acer’s support department.

Key Features

  • NVIDIA G-Sync technology
  • IPS panel for consistent viewing angles
  • Highly adjustable stand

Acer Predator X34P Monitor Review

Some of our other favorite ultrawide monitors on this list are awesome dual-purpose displays, but this one’s a gaming monitor first and foremost. With a nice, silver-tier 4ms response time and an out-of-the-box 100Hz refresh rate that can be increased to 120Hz with some tweaking, the Acer Predator X34P is all about making your games look smooth and pretty.

Presumably, if you’re buying a fancy gaming monitor, you intend to spend a fair amount of time staring at it. Acer’s suite of EyeProtect features includes a blue light filter and a few other minor miracles of science to make extended gaming sessions gentler on your eyeballs.

All in all, the X34P is a nice mid-tier gaming monitor; it’s currently going for $850 on Amazon. It does have a few flaws to keep in mind, though. The stand is on the flimsy side, which might have been a negligible problem if not for the monitor’s hefty weight of almost 22 pounds.

The whole setup bounces and flexes noticeably even while making routine adjustments. If you’re the handy sort, you might want to spend a few hours coming up with a way to reinforce the stand.

Acer’s customer service is almost legendary—but not in a good way. They have one of the worst reputations in the industry when it comes to general product support, wait times, and warranty service.

+Pros
  • Excellent refresh rate and response time
  • Acer EyeProtect features reduce eye strain
  • Nice middle ground between budget and ultra-premium options
-Cons
  • Heavy
  • Flimsy stand
  • Poor customer service
5

Best Curved: Dell U3415W

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If the supremely excellent Samsung CF791 is just a little out of your price range, consider the only slightly less awesome Dell U3415W.

Key Features

  • 60Hz refresh rate/5ms response time
  • Picture-in-Picture and Picture-by-Picture features
  • Energy Star certified for minimal power usage

Dell U3415W Monitor Review

Like the Samsung CF971, the Dell U3415W is designed with multitasking in mind. It’s got good-but-not-excellent refresh rate and response time (60Hz and 5ms, respectively) and surprisingly nice built-in speakers for when your ears get swampy after 8 solid hours of headphone use.

The contrast ratio leaves something to be desired. It’s not terrible, but it earns a barely passing grade at 1000:1, which is often considered minimally acceptable for gaming monitors.

Colors aren’t quite as rich or bright as what our other top four choices can pull off; the U3415W does have an sRGB rating of 99%, but the low contrast ratio acts as something as a bottleneck here. Images certainly don’t look bad on this display by any stretch, they’re just not phenomenal.

To be clear, the main reasons to choose this monitor would be because you want a decent multi-use display and because you want the best value for your money. It beats out the Samsung CF791 with a 3-year (vs. Samsung’s 2-year) warranty and a price tag that’s cheaper by $100, but in every other way, it’s not quite as amazing.

+Pros
  • Comparable to the Samsung CF791, but costs $100 less
  • Above-average built-in speakers
  • Comprehensive 3-year warranty
-Cons
  • So-so 1000:1 contrast ratio
  • Stand is slightly wobbly

Ultrawide Gaming Monitor: Buying Guide

You wouldn’t jump into The Division 2 at world tier 5 with a gear score of 300, so don’t buy an ultrawide gaming monitor unprepared, either.

These generally high-end displays can get expensive fast, and it’s not easy to separate the marketing mumbo-jumbo from the facts. We’ve put together a value-packed buying guide to help you figure out what really matters in a monitor, what kind of matters, and what’s pure nonsense.

Resolution vs. Aspect Ratio

This is probably the biggest source of confusion in the world of gaming monitors. Resolution and aspect ratio are different things, but they do have a somewhat complicated relationship. If you were to buy a 21:9 monitor expecting to get 4K resolution, you’d be disappointed (and you’d be far from the first person to make that mistake).

Resolution describes the total number of pixels in a given display as a length-width measurement, whereas aspect ratio describes only the length-width ratio without regard to the number of pixels. A display with an aspect ratio of 16:9 is 16 units wide for every 9 units of height (width always comes first with resolution too).

Large Gaming Monitor

If you’re a math nerd, you’ll notice that 1920 x 1080 (the most common modern 16:9 resolution) is nicely divisible by the latter set of numbers (1920 / 16 and 1080 / 9 both equal 120).

Video signals that are not 1920 x 1080 may or may not be capable of being displayed on a 1920 x 1080 monitor. In most cases, it will be automatically stretched or cropped to fit (which will invariably look weird).

The rule of thumb is a simple one: if either the resolution or the aspect ratio match between a monitor and a video signal, you’ll get a usable image—but if only one of those things matches, it’s probably going to look somewhere between a little off and way off.

These days, most games support a wide variety of resolutions and aspect ratios, but the newer/fancier/higher-resolution your monitor is, the fewer games will be designed to take full advantage of it.

When it comes to ultrawide monitors specifically, 21:9 is the only “true” ultrawide aspect ratio and 3440 x 1440/2560 x 1080 are the only “true” ultrawide resolutions (but beware, some manufacturers and retailers use the term incorrectly to describe some products).

three monitors

2560 x 1440 is a common resolution, but it’s not ultrawide (because that’s a 16:9 aspect ratio). The proper names for 2560 x 1440 are QHD (Quad HD) or WQHD (Wide Quad HD). 2560 x 1440 is also sometimes referred to simply as 1440p, but that could also refer to 3440 x 1440. Confused yet?

The moral of the story is, fortunately, much simpler than the story itself: read product descriptions and tech specs very carefully and don’t assume everyone is using these terms precisely.

Refresh Rate

Your monitor’s refresh rate isn’t the same thing as your GPU’s frame rate, but there is a relationship between the two. The refresh rate is the maximum number of times per second that your monitor can display a new image (so, 60 times per second for a 60Hz monitor).

No monitor can show you more frames per second than its refresh rate allows, regardless of what your GPU is capable of. That’s why a 60Hz refresh rate is widely considered to be “just ok” for gaming monitors—60 frames per second looks pretty good, but why stop there, especially if your GPU can do so much more?

Response Time

When you press the “A” or “X” button on your controller to viciously and repeatedly stab a dude’s kidneys in Assassin’s Creed, there’s a (hopefully) unnoticeable delay between your PC hardware interpreting that button press and displaying the results on-screen—that’s response time.

The reason you (again, hopefully) don’t notice any delay is probably because your monitor’s response time is about 5ms or faster. Once response times creep up to about 10ms, most people will start to notice the briefest delay. Anything slower than 10ms will produce noticeable input lag that can start to significantly impact your gameplay.

Ultrawide Curved LED Gaming Monitor

Fortunately, gaming monitors with response times slower than 10 seconds are virtually unheard of, especially in 2019. Slow response times are more common on televisions, some of which have a “game mode” that can be switched on to exchange a little bit of image processing power for noticeably faster response times.

Contrast Ratio, Color Accuracy, & Viewing Angles

There’s a lot to say about gaming monitor technology—far too much to get into here. We’ve covered the most important things with refresh rate, resolution, aspect ratio, and response time, but there are a few more important secondary characteristics to cover.

Contrast ratio is a calculation of how dark the darkest blacks appear on-screen in relation to the brightness of the whitest whites. Higher numbers are better—they indicate, essentially, that more subtle variations of colors can be displayed, resulting in a clearer, more distinct image.

While you’re shopping, look for the static contrast ratio, which will usually be somewhere between 1000:1 and 4000:1. “Dynamic contrast ratio” is basically a fake marketing term that tells you nothing meaningful.

ROG STRIX XG27VQ Ultrawide Gaming Monitor

Color accuracy is most commonly displayed as an “sRGB” value; unlike contrast ratio, which summarizes how distinctly the screen itself can display colors that are similar to one another, color accuracy describes how “correctly” the monitor is capable of receiving video signals from the source material in the first place. 98% or higher is considered great for gaming monitors.

Viewing angle is just what it sounds like: the range of angles from which the monitor can be viewed before the image starts to distort or look different. Sometimes you’ll see one number between 0° and 178°, and sometimes you’ll see two such numbers. In the former case, the horizontal viewing angle is being described; if there’s a second number, that’ll be the vertical viewing angle, which generally only matters for monitors that rotate, tilt, or swivel.

Deciphering the viewing angle is actually super-simple. Divide the number by two—that’s how many degrees you can rotate to either side and still see the screen clearly. 178° is the best you’ll ever see because 180° would mean your eyeballs are inside the monitor. Please don’t do that to yourself.


Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the top five questions people are asking Google about ultrawide gaming monitors, along with our answers to them, so you know what’s the best gaming monitor for you.

What type of monitor is best for gaming?

To a large extent, the type of monitor that is “best” for gaming depends on what sort of gaming you want to do, but there are a few fairly universal guidelines. High refresh rates and low response times are ideal, as are high static contrast ratios—say, 3000:1 or higher. (“Dynamic contrast ratio” is, for all intents and purposes, a meaningless, made-up marketing term that can be measured in almost any way whatever. Pay no heed to it.)

It could be argued that IPS and VA panels are ideal for gaming monitors, but this issue is more sensitive to context and preference. IPS (in-plane switching) panels offer the widest viewing angles of any type by a wide margin. VA (vertical alignment) panels tend to beat IPS panels when it comes to refresh rates and contrast ratios, but can’t be viewed comfortably from quite as many angles.

Is a curved monitor worth it for gaming?

This really does depend entirely on your preferences. A curved monitor only does two things that a flat monitor doesn’t: they appear to be bigger (because of the curvature), and they can make you feel more immersed in a game (because a curved field of view more closely simulates real life). If those perks sound good to you, then go for it. Otherwise, there’s no difference.

Is 144Hz good for gaming?

For sure! 144Hz is a great refresh rate. It equates to a maximum frame rate of 144 frames per second, so if your GPU can actually move that fast, you’ll have a butter-smooth experience.

What size monitor is best for 1440p?

Personally, I’m a fan of 34” curved 1440p monitors, but this too just depends on your preferences. All other things being equal, a larger 1440p screen will look “worse” than a smaller one (because the same number of pixels are being “stretched” over a larger area), but remember that 1440p could mean either 3440 x 1440 or 2560 x 1440. Make sure you’re truly comparing apples to apples.

What is the best ultrawide monitor?

We’re pretty confident in awarding that title to the Samsung CF791, for the reasons we mentioned in our review. New ultrawide monitors are being released all the time, though, and it will always be true that some people have different preferences and priorities than others.


Conclusion

Ultrawide monitors are amazing. We think they’re better than 4K monitors, actually. (Well, some of us think that. The ones who don’t are wrong.) 4K monitors—and now, 5K and 8K monitors—are prettier, yes, but you just can’t beat having a 100° or 120° field of view on a 34” screen, especially since you’re likely to spend just as much money for a 4K display that’s significantly smaller.

If you’re still dead-set on 4K even after all this, hop over to our guide to some of the best 4K gaming monitors.

Thanks for reading, but what are you waiting for? Go forth and join the 21:9 master race!


Sources:

  1. Aspect Ratio, Wikipedia
  2. How to Connect a Monitor to a PC, Dell Support
  3. Gouldian Finch, Monitor Curvature, All the Info You Need About Curved Monitors, ViewSonic, August 16th, 2018
  4. Computer Monitor, Wikipedia
  5. How to Clean the LCD Panel on your Dell Laptop, All-In-One Computer or Monitor, Dell Support
  6. Vangie Beal, What Is a Gaming Monitor, Webopedia
  7. David Nield, Everything You Need to Know About 4K Gaming, Gizmodo, June 14th, 2017
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