There’s nothing worse than being close to victory in a first-person shooter game when the monitor flickers out. Or playing an otherworldly RPG and being fully aware that you’re not really in that other world. That’s why you need an ultrawide monitor that delivers on both responsiveness as well as color and contrast.
What to Look for in an Ultrawide Monitor for Gaming
What defines an “ultrawide monitor”? These displays have a 21:9 aspect ratio, as opposed to the 16:9 of traditional monitors. That gives you a ton of horizontal space, immersing you completely in the landscape of your game.
Immersion is the key word there. In addition to size, the best monitors for gaming have excellent color quality and sufficient brightness to bring your gaming landscape to life. Beyond that, they also need to be responsive enough to guarantee a smooth gaming experience without any ill-timed lags or cutting out.
We’ll get into the essentials of what makes a good ultrawide gaming monitor below, but as you consider your options, keep the following questions in mind:
- What kind of games do you play? First-person shooters and esports require responsive monitors above all else. You’ll need high refresh rates and low response times to stay competitive. Immersive role-playing games and hobbyists will likely prefer monitors that focus on color technologies like HDR. These bring out the rich color and contrasts in the environment, but it’s usually at the cost of refresh rate and response times.
- Where do you play? It’s easy to get caught up in the thrill of an ultrawide, and then realize you have nowhere to put it. Ranging from 34 inches to as big as 49 inches, ultra-wides need ultra space. While we love the massive size of the Samsung CHG90, you may need to sit a bit further back to enjoy it. The viewing angle of a monitor describes where you need to sit in front of it in order to clearly see the image on the display and play competitively. Higher viewing angles, up to 180, provide better viewing experiences for a wide range of positions—above and below the monitor as well as to either side.
Best Ultrawide Gaming Monitors: Our Top 5 Picks
Most gaming monitors have an aspect ratio of 21:9. Samsung did one better, by pioneering a 32:9 aspect ratio on 49 inches of glorious screen with a 3840x1080p resolution. This alone is enough to drool over, but the Samsung CHG90 has even more to offer gaming enthusiasts, including HDR technology, two HDMI ports, and a fast 144hz refresh rate. If needed, you can toggle to 60Hz or 120HZ. Samsung even found a way to create a 1ms response time on a VA panel, giving you all the color richness without motion blur.
Speaking of color, their QLED display provides brighter, lifelike colors. First-person shooters will love the 20-step Black Equalizer, which allows you to brighten up even the darkest corners where enemies hide. The massive screen size is a must-have for players who want to see absolutely everything on their screen, or play in multiple game modes. It was developed in tandem with winners of the LOL World Championship in 2016.
Price: $1,090.00 on Amazon. Save now with these Samsung promo codes.
How We Chose the Best Ultrawide Monitors for Gaming
Wondering how we selected the Samsung CHG90 as our favorite ultrawide monitor for gaming? Here’s the criteria we used.
Many players prefer curved ultrawide monitors because they offer the same size, while allowing you to get closer to the action. You won’t have to move your head from side to side as much, since these screens allow your eyeballs and peripheral vision to kick in. They can also be easier to place in your home. Because curvature is so essential to the gaming experience, all of the monitors we reviewed are curved.
Screen Size and Resolution:
Resolution describes the number of pixels on the display, and is a proxy for the picture sharpness and image quality. 1080p and 1440p monitors can support games with higher frame rates, but they won’t deliver the same picture quality as a 4K. Depending on the type of game you play, smoothness or picture quality can be more important, and you’ll need to choose your resolution accordingly.
The Samsung only offers 1080p vertically, but its HDR technology and a 3,000:1 contrast ratio still make for a sharp quality image. The AOC Agon, our pick for best resolution, provides a slightly better image, it’s only noticeable to the most discerning of gamers.
At 49 inches, the Samsung CHG90 is the biggest and best on our list, putting the wide in ultra-wide. Our runner-up, the LG38UC99, is 38 inches. The other two monitors are standard ultrawides, at 34 to 35 inches.
Refresh rate refers to how many frames per second (fps) a monitor can display, and it’s particularly important for shooters and esports.
Refresh rate is measured in hertz. With lower refresh rates, quicker-moving images on the screen may appear blurry, or display an artifact of the previous image (this is known as “screen tearing”). Traditional LCD monitors have 60 HZ refresh rates, but gamers need monitors with at least 75 Hz, and higher if you can get it.
Samsung wins here as well, with a 144Hz rate. That’s significantly faster than the others on our list, at 120Hz, 100Hz, and 75Hz, respectively.
Response time describes how quickly the monitor can redraw the entire screen each second. It’s typically measured in milliseconds and specified in “gray-to-gray,” which refers to how long it takes a pixel to go from one shade of gray to the next. Along with refresh rate, these two specs determine how “smooth” your gaming experience will feel.
Gamers require faster response rates, 4ms or less. Ultra-competitive gamers will prefer monitors with 1ms or 2ms response times to reduce lag and maintain their advantage.
Both our winner, the Samsung CHG90, and the runner-up, the LG38UC99-W, have the fastest response rates on our list, at 1ms, making them the better choice for FPS and competitive esports players. Their 1ms response rates vastly outperform the 4ms response rates of the Acer and Agon monitors.
G-Sync and FreeSync:
Refresh rate and response time play a big role in the smoothness of the gaming experience, but gamers will want monitors with specific technologies designed to reduce tearing and motion artifacts. That’s where Nvidia G-Sync and AMD FreeSync come in.
These technologies sync your monitor with your graphics card, enabling a smoother game experience. Based on the card’s refresh rate, these technologies adjust your monitor to use a variable refresh rate (VRR) based on what the graphics card is capable of. As a plus, these technologies also support 3D visuals.
All of the monitors on our list use either Nvidia G-Sync or AMD FreeSync.
Gaming monitors have one of three panel types:
- Twisted nematic (TN) panels are more common, and typically more affordable. The color quality is lower with these types of monitors. Specifically, players notice wonky color shifts when viewed at an angle, so they’re less common among curved gaming monitors. However, the refresh rates and response times of TN monitors are superior, closer to the 2ms or 1ms range.
- In-plane switching (IPS) panels, on the flip side, have better colors, better contrast (which jacks up the price), but they have lower response times and are prone to motion artifacts which impact game performance.
- Vertical alignment (VA) panels likewise deliver bright colors and strong contrast ratios, with a particular ability to display blacks, but they can also have fast response rates. They’re designed to deliver the best of both worlds, but their ghosting effects can be a downside for gamers.
Due to their color quality, IPS monitors like the Acer Predator X34 and LG38UC99-W are better for an immersive gaming experience. The Samsung CHG90 and AOC Agon AG352UCG6 are VA monitors. The combination of rich color plus superior responsiveness these monitors provide can support competitive gameplay.
Gamers require their monitors to have plenty of video inputs, allowing you to connect whatever you need. Most game consoles use HDMI, so you’ll need monitors with dual HDMI ports at a minimum. Additional USB ports are a nice to have since you can connect your other gaming accessories or speaker system, often while charging them.
The Samsung CHG90 has two HDMI ports, but the winner here is the LG38UC99-W, as it has both USB-C and USB 3.0 charge ports, and 10-watt Bluetooth speakers to boot.
If the 49 inches of the Samsung are too much, but you want something a bit more than the traditional 34 inches, this LG Curved Gaming Monitor fits the bill. At 38 inches, you get 25% more screen. This curved IPS monitor has a resolution of 3840x1600p, with a 75Hz refresh rate and FreeSync technology, and 1ms motion blur reduction that dramatically reduces ghosting.
It also includes 10 watt Bluetooth speakers with rich bass, and both USB-C and USB 3.0 charge ports. The LG also delivers excellent color quality, over 99% sRGB, but it lost out to the Samsung CHG90 due to its slower refresh rate and smaller screen size.
Price: $994.99 on Amazon. Save now with these LG promo codes.
For immersive, beautiful picture quality, it doesn’t get much better than this AOC gaming monitor. This VA monitor has a 3440x1440 resolution, 120Hz refresh rate, and NVIDIA G-Sync technology. The response rate is 4ms, but its color features can give gamers a competitive advantage. For example, the shadow control tech lightens up super dark areas of the screen so you can spot lurking threats.
This curved 35-inch monitor packs in extra features gamers will appreciate, like a retractable headset holder, and the ability to customize the monitor’s look with colored LEDs (for the showmen out there). You can even activate blue light mode for late-night flicker-free gaming, so you can play for hours without it messing with your sleep. The AOC Agon AG352UCG6 also comes with built-in speakers, two HDMI ports, and two USB charge ports.
Price: $780.00 on Amazon. Save now with these Agon promo codes.
At 1900R, the Acer Predator has a slightly more curved display than the other 1800R monitors on our list. This 34-inch ultrawide monitor has a 3440x1440p resolution, 100Hz refresh rate, (overclocking to 120Hz) and a 4ms response time.
This IPS monitor uses ColorPlus technology and 100% sRGB wide color gamut to provide crystal-clear color from any angle, with Nvidia G-Sync technology to reduce screen tearing. It only has one HDMI port, but four USB 3.0 ports. Like the AOC Agon, this monitor also features customizable LED lights and built-in speakers for exciting gameplay.
Price: $999.99 on Amazon. Save now with these Acer promo codes.