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The best ultra-wide monitors let you take in all the action, and can give you a new perspective on your favorite films, TV shows, and games. These wider aspect ratios have been growing massively in popularity in the last few years, and manufacturers have been eager to jump on the trend, meaning there's more diversity than ever before, as well as a broadly rising level of quality.
So how do you pick the best ultra-wide monitor for your own setup? Your first choice will likely be between a curved or flat panel display—curved options are best for immersing yourself completely in an entertainment experience, whereas flat panels are better for viewing in groups. Beyond that, shopping for an ultra-wide is similar to shopping for a standard monitor. Resolution is key, of course, and you'll also want to consider features like FreeSync or G-Sync if you're going to primarily be using your monitor for gaming.
Courtesy of Amazon
Awesome 32:9 aspect ratio
Super fast 144Hz refresh rate
Can run pretty hot
If you don’t mind spending some extra cash and would like a giant screen to adorn your desk, the Samsung CHG90 is the best option on the market.
The monitor measures 49 inches and has a downright massive 32:9 aspect ratio — one of the largest on the market. It uses QLED technology, which matches Samsung’s high-end televisions, and features high dynamic range to create bright and good-looking visuals. And if you want to play games with the device, you’ll be happy to hear that the monitor comes with a 144Hz refresh rate, so fast-moving action won't get distorted. Multiple game modes are available in the monitor, as well.
The monitor itself has ultra-thin bezels around the screen and has a small stand that’s designed to limit the amount of space it takes up on your desk. It’s also worth noting that this is a curved display, so although it’s wide and big, it’ll make for a more immersive experience that won’t take up too much room. One other touch from Samsung: The monitor has Arena Lighting on the back that adjusts brightness based on audio in games. So, if there are important scenes and the audio is getting louder, the lights will go up with it.
The CHG90 might seem big, but it’s the equivalent of having two 16:9 monitors next to each other. And you can even split the screen, to create two virtual monitors in one.
Multiple game modes
Not the crispest display quality
LG’s 25UM58-P might not come with the best-looking picture quality or have the finest design, but it’s able to combine a solid display and nice look and feel into a package that won’t break the bank. And that’s important.
The monitor is 25 inches and has a 21:9 aspect ratio. It also comes with a split screen feature, so you can create a dual-monitor experience on the single screen. On the color side, you’ll find a monitor that can produce up to 99 percent of all visible colors. And since it comes with a full-HD, 1080p resolution, you should be able to enjoy all kinds of content in high resolution.
If you’re a gamer, the LG 25UM58-P is designed for you. It has three game modes, including two first-person-shooter modes and one real-time strategy modes. Based on what you’re playing, you can choose the mode and the monitor will automatically adjust its settings to optimize your gameplay. If you’re a more advanced gamer, you can also make optimization tweaks to everything from black colors and screen synchronization.
Great curved design
FreeSync support built in
FreeSync not optimized for Nvidia GPUs
The folks over at Viotek make an outstanding curved monitor in the form of the GN34C.
The monitor measures 34 inches and comes with a 21:9 aspect ratio. Its contrast ratio is an impressive 20 million to 1, which means you should be able to enjoy deep blacks and bright colors without losing much visual fidelity. The monitor, which comes with a resolution of 3,440 x 1,440 pixels, has a split screen feature, so you can have two virtual monitors running at the same time. Best of all, it’s a curved monitor, which adds to the cinematic feel.
Viotek’s display works with DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort, and if you’re a gamer, you can use AMD FreeSync to ensure fast-moving content looks good all the way through. Viotek recommends you run AMD video cards with its screen if you’re hoping to get the best gaming experience.
Excellent refresh rate
G-Sync built in
Acer’s Predator Z35 monitor comes with a great design and even better-sounding speakers.
The Predator Z35’s screen measures 35 inches diagonally and has a 2,560 x 1,080-pixel resolution. The curved display has a 144Hz refresh rate to handle fast action and comes with Nvidia G-Sync Display technology to ensure all of your games look good.
The curved monitor has thin bezels around its screen and a simple stand that won’t take up too much room on your desk. Perhaps most importantly, it features dual 9w speakers that should deliver impressive sound, regardless of whether you’re watching a movie or playing a video game. And just in case you’re worried about eye strain, the monitor has EyeProtect features that will reduce flicker and blue-light exposure.
Great brightness optimizations
Some backlight bleed
Another curved monitor, BenQ’s EX3501R is big and comes with a variety of features that gamers are going to love.
The monitor measures 35 inches and has a resolution of 3,440 x 1,440 pixels. It comes with high dynamic range to deliver vibrant colors and has a single USB-C cable that allows you to do everything from transfer files to display content. The monitor’s design allows for easy height and tilt adjustments and a feature called Brightness Intelligence Plus Technology means the screen will optimize viewing quality on the fly.
For gamers, the BenQ monitor has an AMD Free Sync feature to reduce choppy gameplay.
Massive 37.5 inches
If you don’t mind a big display that will take up some room on your desktop, the Acer XR382CQK is worth considering.
Acer’s display measures a whopping 37.5 inches and features a quad-HD resolution of 3,840 x 1,600 pixels. Add that to support for High Dynamic Range and 100 percent color reproduction and it’s clear that Acer doubled down on picture quality with its high-end monitor.
Aside from that, you’ll find AMD FreeSync technology for smooth gaming visuals and a variety of ports, including DisplayPort, HDMI and USB Type-C. The built-in EyeProtect feature means the screen won’t flicker or use blue light to strain your eyes.
Large with a thin bezel
Attached joystick controls
While pricey, the ASUS ROG Swift ultra-wide monitor will look downright gorgeous on your desk. The screen, which measures 34 inches, comes with a thin bezel all around. Its base is simple with three legs that keep it propped up. On the rear, you’ll find a unique design that deserves to be showcased to anyone who comes to your house.
The display has an impressive 3,440 x 1,440-pixel resolution and a 21:9 aspect ratio. It works with G-Sync technology to keep games running smoothly and has a 100Hz refresh rate. An Asus Eye Care feature will reduce blue light and eliminate flickering, and an attached joystick will make controlling the monitor much easier.
ASUS’ ROG Swift has a curve, but it’s slight, which might appeal to those who don’t want such a bendy monitor.
The Samsung CHG90 is the best monitor being sold at the moment, delivering amazing visuals supported by a robust feature set, all in a sleek, stylish package. If you want to save some cash, however, LG’s 25UM58-P is an attractive alternative that doesn't sacrifice much in terms of quality or features to achieve its lower price point.
Don Reisinger is a tech writer with more than 12 years' experience and an expert in consumer and gaming technology. His work has appeared in Fortune, PCMag, CNET, and The New York Times, and other major publications.
Resolution - Ultra-wide gaming monitors are primarily available with two native resolutions: 3,440 x1,440 and 2,560 x 1,080. That means you get to see more of a game world when you’re playing, but it takes power to push those extra pixels. If your GPU isn’t capable of handling 3,440 x 1,400, you’ll end up having to turn down graphics options in your games, deal with poor frame rates, or both.
FreeSync vs. G-Sync - These are similar but competing technologies that can help smooth out screen tearing when you’re playing video games. The problem is that FreeSync and G-Sync only work when paired with a compatible video card. If you have an Nvidia video card, get an ultra-wide monitor with G-Sync. If you have an AMD video card, get an ultra-wide with FreeSync.
Curved screens - To get the most out of a curved screen, you need to have a pretty big monitor. That means ultra-wide monitors, which trend more toward the larger end of the spectrum, work well with curved screens. For the most immersive experience outside of virtual reality, place two or more curved ultra-wide monitors next to each other. Just make sure your computer can handle it.
For our ultrawide monitor tests, we'll be looking at the specifications listed by the manufacturer and determining how those hold up under real-world circumstances. We'll be paying particular attention to color accuracy, response times, and refresh rates. We'll also be testing monitors under a variety of different scenarios to determine if they're more suiting to gaming, multitasking, or potentially creative applications.