Best Ultrawide Monitor: Reviewed
The best ultrawide monitor, however, will fully take advantage of our entire field of view. Traditional 4:3 or even 16:9 monitors are not designed with the human eye in mind; they make no use of peripheral vision, a part of vision that occurs outside the very center of gaze, depriving us of more effective motion perception.
Driven by the strong demand from gamers, manufacturers have been focusing their efforts on releasing new, better ultrawide monitors to cater to this growing market. But the benefits of ultrawide monitors extend far beyond gaming, as you'll find out in this article.
Best Ultrawide Monitor: Buying Guide
Ultrawide Monitors vs Multiple Monitors
Generally speaking, an ultrawide monitor has a 21:9 aspect ratio and either 2560x1080 or 3440x1080 resolution. Their sizes vary from “not-so-big” to “are-you-kidding-me?!” In other words, the ultrawide experience is a lot like two standard 1080p monitors placed side-by-side, which is already a popular practice among power users and professionals alike. The best ultrawide monitor may even provide more viewing real estate than two standard monitors given the sizes of some of the monitors being released today.
Given how affordable 1080p monitors have become over the years, one can’t help but wonder which setup is better: two or three 1080p monitors or a single ultrawide screen. The most obvious advantage of having a single ultrawide monitor is the seamless experience it creates by eliminating bezels. This is especially noticeable when coming from a dual-monitor setup, in which a large bezel usually sits right in the center of your vision, making you constantly shift your eyes and head from left to right and back again.
On the other hand, the lack of bezels removes the ability to swiftly snap application windows to interior bezels, quickly organizing your workplace just the way you like it. You also can’t have a game playing in full-screen mode on one monitor and a web browser or a chat window on the secondary screen.
So, how do you decide which configuration is right for you? Try to think about what kind of computer user you are. If you are a gamer or someone who spends a lot of time in a single program with multiple toolbars, such as a video or photo editor, 3D modeling software, or CAD software, the wide open space will likely make your life easier. The only thing to keep in mind is that most ultrawide monitors are curved, which leads to distortion of what would otherwise be perfectly straight lines. Luckily, straight ultrawide monitors exist as well.
Ultrawide monitors are also superior to a dual- or triple-monitor setup, as far cable management and connectivity are concerned. With an ultrawide display, there’s only one data and one power cable to worry about, making it much easier to avoid a tangled mess of cables under your desk.
In terms of productivity and performance, the best ultrawide monitors will be just as effective as a dual monitor setup. Looking at the AOC Q2963PQ, little has changed in the way of productivity. The 29-inch monitor is perfectly capable of multitasking with two full size web pages fitting onto the monitor. Video content is perfectly watchable on one half of the screen, and the 21:9 aspect ratio is well suited for music production and editing software.
Although dual monitors may be preferable in some cases, ultrawide monitors provide an adequate alternative, and if you are looking for a cleaner, single monitor setup for productivity purposes, an ultrawide monitor such as the AOC Q2963PM is a great choice.
Gaming on an ultrawide monitor is oh so glorious. The 21:9 aspect ratio provides you with a far greater field of view, improving your peripheral vision. Battlefield 4 maps feel even more expansive than usual with the extra screen space developing the cinematic feel that so many games strive towards.
If you are thinking of going down the ultrawide monitor route for gaming, take into the account the extra graphical power that will be required to run the monitor. If you don't have a powerful enough graphics card, you will start dropping frames and your gaming experience won't be anywhere near as smooth. To give you an idea, below is a list of frame rates when running games at 1920x1080, and running them at 2560x1080. These games were tested on an i5 3570K@4.2Ghz, 16GB of Ram, GTX 970.
Battlefield 4- Ultra Settings
1920x1080: Min- 70fps, Max- 127fps, Average- 100fps
2560x1080: Min- 53fps, Max- 97fps, Average- 67fps
Grand Theft Auto V Ultra
1920x1080: Min- 61fps, Max- 112fps, Average- 82fps
2560x1080: Min- 58fps, Max- 99fps, Average- 73fps
Another thing to take into account is whether or not you will be streaming or bench marking your PC whilst playing games. Having a dual monitor setup is invaluable in these situations as the extra monitor gives you space for checking temperatures, viewer count and other important information. If you are looking to stream lots, an ultra wide monitor may not be the best choice for you.
Movies are an absolute joy to watch on an ultrawide monitor. You know those black bars that appear when you watch a film on your TV or your standard monitor? They’re gone with a 21:9 monitor! That’s the case for Blu-Ray films atleast (streaming films is slightly difficult with a 21:9 monitor).
Netflix typically shows films with a black border around the content, however with a Chrome extension called Ultrawide Display Aspect Ratio for Netflix you can watch Netflix films in full 21:9. Most TV is filmed in the standard TV aspect ratio of 16:9, so in this case the 21:9 monitor will display black bars on both sides of the screen, and this is also true for most YouTube content. Hopefully in the future we will see more 21:9 television and YouTube content.
Even if you've found the best ultrawide monitor based on your preferences, you still have to ensure that you own a compatible graphics card. For basic office and general use tasks, any graphics card will do, as long as it has an HDMI 2.0 or higher port. HDMI 2.0 was released in 2013, and introduced several major improvements over the first generation. The maximum total transition-minimized differential signaling (TMDS) throughput, a technology for transmitting high-speed serial data, increased from 10.2Gbit/s to 18 Gbit/s, enabling HDMI 2.0 to carry 4K resolution at 60 frames per second and, most importantly, adding support for the 21:9 aspect ratio. HDMI 2.0 will eventually be succeeded by HDMI 2.1, but its release date is currently unknown.
The takeaway here is to make a quick compatibility check before you spend hundreds of dollars on a new monitor, only to find out that you now need to spend a few hundred more just to get it to work.
25 Inch Ultrawide Monitors:
Best Ultrawide Monitor: Pick #1
One of the best ultrawide monitors is the LG 25UM57, especially if you're on a budget. This is the cheapest way to experience ultrawide and the 25 inch display is ideal for those who want the 21:9 aspect ratio on a smallish monitor. The panel is IPS and therefore has great colour reproduction and the 5ms response time allows it to be used for gaming as well as films and work. For the $180 price tag this is a great monitor.
27 Inch Ultrawide Monitors
Best Ultrawide Monitor: Pick #2
Featuring an 1800R curved screen, the 27 inch Samsung CF591 is the perfect mid range ultrawide monitor, and one of our personal favorites given the eye for quality design and use of quality materials. The screen itself runs right up to the edges of the monitor, further enhancing the curved nature of the monitor. Visuals are saturated and bright, response time is solid - there's not much to dislike about this ultrawide monitor. One thing to consider, however, is the large stand that holds the CF591 in place. While the design of the monitor itself is top notch, the stand leaves something to be desired. Its bulky, and worse, protrudes a significant amount in front of the screen, so you'll need a lot of room for this monitor. That shouldn't completely turn you off though, as this is still one of the best ultrawide curved screens we've reviewed.
29 Inch Ultrawide Monitors
Best Ultrawide Monitor: Pick #3
We’re in the big leagues now. This 29 inch monitor comes in at $360, and features an IPS panel, a USB hub and plenty of options for connecting it to your PC. The 2560x1080 resolution is great for gamers who don’t have a high end PC and still want to game on an ultrawide display. All the screenshots above have been taken on a 29 inch monitor and I feel that this is the best size for users who want a widescreen experience without sacrificing too much desk space.
Best Ultrawide Monitor: Pick #4
Asus' entry into the ultrawide space, the MX299Q 29 inch has some of the best graphics of any ultrawide monitor, but those pretty visuals come at a price - $364.99 on Amazon at the time of writing this. What you get is 2560 x 1080 display resolution, 2.33:1 aspect ratio, and LED light background.
The 29 inch Asus monitor is a great ultrawide monitor, but unfortunately is not curved, which is an important feature some people look for in this space. The second is the steep jump in price between the 27 and 29 inch models. For such a small increase in viewing space, you have to pay close to $100. Whether or not this is something worth paying for will be up to the individual consumer.
34 Inch Ultrawide Monitors
Best Ultrawide Monitor: Pick #5
This is arguably the best ultrawide monitor out right now. Featuring a 1440p curved IPS panel that can be overclocked to 100Hz, this monitor is the ultimate in widescreen displays. The monitor features G-Sync, an Nvidia technology which improves the smoothness of gameplay by synchronising the display’s refresh rate with the framerate output of the GPU. The monitor is $1,200, and you’ll need a seriously beefy GPU to run it at 1440p 100fps. But if you can afford it, it’s a great choice.
Best Ultrawide Monitor: Pick #6
Aimed at gamers, the LG 34UC79G features a native 34” large 144Hz AH-IPS panel with 2560x1080 resolution with 1ms motion blur reduction and AMD FreeSync support for immersive, fast-paced gaming experience. Other potentially useful gaming features include the ability to have the display render a crosshair in the center of the display (wouldn’t it be considered cheating in competitive online games?), and something that LG calls “Black Stabilizer.” With Black Stabilizer on, you should be able to more easily spot an enemy hiding in a dark corner.
Best Ultrawide Monitor: Pick #7
Asus apparently wants to grab their share of the gaming market, giving customers plenty of compelling arguments why they should go with the ASUS ROG SWIFT PG348Q over the competition from Acer. The 34" 1440p IPS panel with NVIDIA G-Sync support has a 100Hz refresh rate, 5-Way OSD joystick, ASUS Eye Care technology, which lowers blue light and eliminates flickering, and a very cool stand with the new ROG Armor Titanium and Plasma Copper color scheme and built-in LED effects.
35 Inch Ultrawide Monitors
Best Ultrawide Monitor: Pick #8
The Acer Predator Z35, with its NVIDIA G-Sync support, could be seen as an alternative to the LG 34UC79G for all members of the team green. It sports a striking, curved black and red design, with aluminum base and aggressive angles. The stand allows for complete ergonomic adjustment of the monitor’s tilt and height, while the 35” screen with 2560x1080 pixels covers the entire sRGB gamut.
38 Inch Ultrawide Monitors
Best Ultrawide Monitor: Pick #9
Engineered with designers, photographers, producers, and other creative professionals in mind, the LG 38UC99 is the world’s first 38” curved IPS monitor. It covers over 99% of the sRGB color space and has a resolution of 3840x1600 pixels. The monitor was first introduced at this year’s IFA in Berlin as LG’s new flagship ultrawide display, so don’t be too surprised when you find out that it costs almost $1,500.
That being said, you are getting a lot of extra goodies for your money: a built-in USB 3.0 hub, a 5ms GtG response time, a peak brightness of 300 nits, two 10W Bluetooth speakers, a support for AMD’s FreeSync technology, and a contrast ratio of 1000:1. If you have the money and want the best curved ultrawide monitor currently available, this is the one to get.
Ultrawide monitors are a great option for users who want an alternative to a dual monitor setup. Although 21:9 monitors are adequate for productivity purposes, they really shine when used for movie watching and gaming. The monitors span many different price points and sizes, making it easy to find one that fits your setup. A dual monitor setup is still king if you are only focused on productivity. Otherwise you should definitely consider investing in an ultrawide monitor.