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Best Ultrawide Monitors for Gaming and Productivity in 2020

Are you looking for expert advice on buying Best Ultrawide Monitors for Gaming and Productivity in 2020? Below are some of the reviews of experts on top rated ultrawide monitors. Often considered the ultimate gaming monitor upgrade, we’ve reviewed five of the latest 34in ultrawide gaming screens to the test.

Outside of the few monstrous 49in super wide monitors and TV-sized console gaming monitors available, 34in, ultrawide gaming monitors are the top option for most buyers. They’re a great compromise between sheer screen size, resolution and game compatibility.

What’s more, the latest models are cheaper and more capable than ever, with the cheapest model on test coming in at under $400. All five of the displays we’re testing also have a maximum refresh rate of 144Hz or higher, which is a marked upgrade on the 100-120Hz of most previous top-spec ultrawide screens.

Most also sport a claimed 1ms response time, although you’ll seldom see this figure in real-world use. Nonetheless, the average response time of these latest panels is a step up from older models. All of them also support both FreeSync and G-Sync (sometimes in an unofficial capacity, but we’ve tested each one and they all work), so you can eliminate tearing and stuttering in your games, whether you have an AMD or Nvidia GPU.

To test the screens, we first assess their design and build quality and tot up any extra physical features, such as extra video connections, a USB hub, headphone holder and RGB lighting. We also check the versatility of the stand: whether it offers height, rotation, pivot and tilt adjustment.

Next up we test image quality with an X-Rite i1 Display Pro colorimeter and DisplayCal software, gauging aspects such as the colour balance and gamma, all with the brightness of the display set to a standard 150nits (generally around 25/100 on a display’s brightness scale). We also check the maximum brightness of the display.

For displays with an extended colour gamut, as used for HDR, we then check to see if there’s a way to reduce this gamut down to normal sRGB levels – most displays have a dedicated sRGB mode – and assess its image quality.

We also check the uniformity, to see if the whole panel produces consistent image quality across its full area. In addition, we check for backlight bleed, viewing angles, excessive IPS glow and any image quality factors that can’t be assessed by a colorimeter.

Finally, we turn to gaming. Here, we mainly concentrate on FPS games, where fast response times, high refresh rates and adaptive sync features are most crucial. We test subjectively and then also use Blur Buster’s excellent ghosting UFO test to check the sharpness of the display in high-speed motion.

“A higher color space percentage is better in HDR, but as close to 100 per cent as possible is better for sRGB mode”

List of Best Ultrawide Monitors

Below are the best ultrawide monitors for productivity, and ultrawide monitors for gaming in 2020.

  1. Acer Nitro XV340CK 3440 x 1440 Gaming Monitor (Best Ultrawide Monitors For Gaming)
  2. AOC CU34G2X 34″ Curved Gaming UltraWide Monitor (Best Widescreen Monitors)
  3. iiyama G-Master GB3461WQSU (Best Ultrawide Monitors For Productivity)
  4. iiyama G-Master GB3466WQSU (Best 4K Ultrawide Monitor)
  5. LG 34GN850-B 34 Inch 144Hz Gaming Monitor (Best 1440p Ultrawide Monitor)

Best Widescreen Monitors

1. Acer Nitro XV340CK 3440 x 1440 Gaming Monitor

The Nitro XV340CKP doesn’t sport Acer’s top-of-the-line Predator gaming branding, but it’s still a very capable gaming display, as you’d hope given its relatively premium price. While most of the screens on test cost for under $500, the Acer costs well over $600.

The price is matched with a premium design, with the Nitro sporting a very elegant, narrow, cylindrical stand with a matching circular base. Combined with an all-black color scheme, it’s a clear cut above all the other displays on test for sheer desk appeal. You don’t get any fancy extras such as RGB lighting or a headphone stand though.

You do get a largely typical selection of connections, with two DisplayPort 1.2 inputs, two HDM11.4 ports, a 4-port USB 3 hub, a headphone jack and an internal power supply, so there’s no power brick. All the connections are on the underside of the bump in the back of the display, so there are no USB ports on the edges, for instance.

We’re used to Acer providing excellent menu systems with its displays, but the first clear misstep of this monitor is its OSD controls. Rather than a mini joystick, you get four buttons on the back of the display, and while they’re easy to locate, they correspond clearly with the options shown on screen, and the menus themselves follow a logical navigation pattern, the actual buttons are too stiff so they regularly don’t register presses, making navigating the OSD a slow, button-bashing affair.

Meanwhile, the LCD panel has the same 3,440 x 1,440 resolution and 34in diagonal as all the other displays on test. However, while some panels on test are curved or based on VA-type LCD tech, the Acer has a flat IPS-type LCD panel. This is our preferred panel type (of these two) for gaming and desktop duties, thanks to its excellent viewing angles, color accuracy and faster response time – benefits that are all clear to see in this excellent display.

Out of the box, color balance is fairly good (6,775K) and contrast (859:1) is okay for an IPS-type panel. However, colors look a little washed out, which is down to the gamma level of 2.06 being a little lower than the ideal of 2.2. Switch the display to its 2.4 gamma option, though, and the gamma hits 2.25, so we ran the display in this mode.

What you don’t get here, though, is a truly wide color gamut, as we’ve tended to see with recent displays. It hits Just 113 per cent of the sRGB colour space, compared to the 140 per cent that proper HDR standards require. That’s still more than enough for normal use, but this monitor’s HDR pretensions are completely unfounded.

When it comes to gaming, this screen puts in a solid performance. The 1ms response time claim of its IPS panel is as far-fetched as ever, but it’s still noticeably quicker than previous generation ~4ms panels, and the 144Hz refresh rate further pushes its gaming advantage over previous 120Hz screens.

Specifications

  • Screen size: 34in
  • Resolution: 3,440 x 1,440
  • Panel technology: IPS
  • Maximum refresh rate: 144Hz
  • Response time: 1ms
  • Contrast: 1,000:1
  • Adaptive sync: FreeSync,unofficial G-Sync support
  • Display inputs: 2 x DisplayPort 1.2,2 x HDM11.4
  • Audio: 2 x 3 W speakers, line in, headphone out
  • Stand adjustment: Height, rotation, tilt
  • Extras: 100 x 100mm VESA mount,four-port USB 3 hub

Summary: The Acer Nitro XV340CKP is a good monitor that delivers on much of what you’d hope for from its spec sheet. It also easily has the most attractive design of all the display’s on test. 

However, it lacks a few features here and there, and isn’t without issues, so doesn’t do enough to justify its relatively high price. A very good ultrawide display but one that feels a bit pricey right now.


2. AOC CU34G2X 34″ Curved Gaming UltraWide Monitor

If the Acer Nitro XV340CKP typifies one type of ultrawide gaming monitor configuration, the AOC CU34G2X represents the main other type of ultrawide gaming monitor you can buy at the moment. Instead of a flat IPS-type LCD panel, it sports a curved VA-type LCD panel.

It’s an interesting divide that’s common throughout different sizes of monitor, and it’s one that primarily seems to come from the need to address one of the downsides of VA-type panels. While they have much better viewing angles than TN-type LCD panels, they’re not as good as IPS. As such, on flat screens, you can notice the slight shift in color that happens from the changing angle of view from the center to the edge of the screen. By curving the display, this effect is minimized.

Conversely, the big advantage of VA panels is their high contrast. Thanks to being much better than other LCD types at blocking the light from their backlights, they can produce much deeper black levels. This is why they tend to be used for TVs, and they’re ideal for watching movies or playing dark, atmospheric games.

At least that’s the theory, but while the AOC CU34G2X’s measured contrast level of 2,220:1 comfortably doubles that of any of the IPS displays on test, it’s actually on the low side for a VA panel. The iiyama G-Master GB3466WQSU’s measured contrast ratio is over 60 per cent higher.

Nonetheless, right out of the box, the AOC’s image quality is great, with decent color balance (6,961K), near-perfect gamma (2.19) and, yes, a contrast level that’s noticeably high. Fire up the new The Batman trailer and it really pops in a way that IPS (and TN) panels just can’t rival.

However, with a maximum color gamut of 120 per cent sRGB, it doesn’t achieve the full color range required for proper HDR standards, and its contrast still isn’t really sufficient for the full impact. As such, HDR content seldom looks meaningfully better than SDR, especially as this display’s maximum measured brightness is a modest 244 nits.

Meanwhile, the downside of VA panels is their slow response time. While this screen has a 144Hz refresh rate and rated 1ms response time, it doesn’t feel anywhere near as snappy as the 1ms IPS displays on test. That said, this display copes better than the iiyama G-Master GB3466WQSU, which felt sluggish enough to affect our performance in fast-paced first-person shooters. Like most of the other displays on test, you can also turn on a backlight-strobing blur reduction mode that further improves the response time, although it can’t close the gap on those IPS rivals.

Elsewhere, the CU34G2X’s feature set is in line with most of the other displays on test, although it only has one Display Port input, rather than two, and you don’t get speakers. It also has awkward buttons for navigating its on-screen display menus; however, the menus themselves are sufficiently comprehensive.

Specifications

  • Screen size: 34in
  • Resolution: 3,440 x 1,440
  • Panel technology: VA
  • Maximum refresh rate: 144Hz
  • Response time: 1ms
  • Contrast: 3,000:1
  • Adaptive sync: FreeSync, unofficial G-Sync support
  • Display inputs: 1 x DisplayPort 1.2,2 x HDM1 1.4
  • Audio: Headphone out
  • Stand adjustment: Height, rotation, tilt
  • Extras: 100 x 100mm VESA mount,four-port USB 3 hub

Summary: The AOC CU34G2X is great for people who like to sit back, and enjoy movies and atmospheric, slower-paced games on their PC. It will still do faster-paced gaming, but just not as well as IPS alternatives. The iiyama GB3466WQSU is a little cheaper and has higher contrast, but gaming is better on the AOC. 

If deep blacks and high contrast are your priorities then this is a decent display, but the IPS panels on test are better for fast-paced gaming. The IPS vs VA debate rages on, and theAOC CU34G2X makes a strong argument for the latter, but it can’t compete with more responsive panels in games.


3. iiyama G-Master GB3461WQSU

We’re looking at a couple of brand- new iiyama ultrawide gaming monitors in this test, each of which represents the IPS/VA divide. Given the fairly fundamental differences in such displays, it’s intriguing to see that iiyama has opted for such similar and impenetrable model names for these two displays. While over the page we have the VA-equipped G-Master GB3466WQSU, here we’re looking at the IPS- sporting GB3461WQSU.

This IPS model has a couple of key advantages going for it. The first is that, along with height, rotation and tilt adjustment, the stand includes a pivoting motion. There’s a prominent sticker on the base of the stand telling you not to pivot the display – the display is so wide, it would hit the desk in portrait mode. However, there’s enough movement room to make reaching around the back to plug in cables much easier than with all the other displays on test.

You also get the addition of both picture in-picture and picture-by-picture modes, allowing you to view two video sources at once. It’s a niche, more business-centric, feature but one that most gaming displays omit, so it’s a neat bonus here.

Likewise, the physical design is a little more on the business-focused side than the other displays on test this month. It’s quite a dull, boxy-looking display, with none of the minimalist chic of the Acer, for instance. Still, you get an integrated carry handle, which is useful on a screen this size, and the simple rectangular foot is compact and practical.

Connection options are the same as several other displays on test this month, with two DisplayPort 1.2 inputs and two HDM11.4 ports, but you only get two USB 3 ports. These sit on the underside of the back of the display, along with the headphone socket, internal power supply and surprisingly reasonable-sounding stereo 3W speakers.

Default image quality initially looks very good, with a reasonably balanced-looking colour response, and seemingly decent contrast ratio and gamma level. However, on testing, the default colour balance is actually quite far off ideal, coming in with a warm and yellow hue.

Unfortunately, this can’t quickly be fixed by opting for a different colour mode; instead you’ll have to tweak the RGB balance (we settled on 96 x 96 x 100). With this tweak performed, though, the monitor delivers very good image quality across the board.

That said, there’s no sign of any significant extended colour gamut for HDR. It stretches to just 112 per cent of the sRGB colour space, which is well short of meaningful HDR colour ranges. The sRGB mode also doesn’t reduce this to 100 percent, but it’s a small enough increase to not be a concern anyway.

As for gaming performance, the GB3461WQSU put in a similar showing to the Acer XV340CKP, with a surprisingly snappy overall response that feels like a noticeable upgrade over older 34in IPS screens. The LG 34G N850 is a little faster, but this is still a very capable gaming screen. The iiyama doesn’t have LG’s official G-Sync support, but it still worked fine with G-Sync in our tests.

Specifications

  • Screen size: 34in
  • Resolution: 3,440 x 1,440
  • Panel technology: VA
  • Maximum refresh rate: 144Hz
  • Response time: 1ms
  • Contrast: 1,000:1
  • Adaptive sync: FreeSync, unofficial G-Sync support
  • Display inputs: 2 x DisplayPort 1.2,2 x HDM1 1.4
  • Audio: 2 x 5W speakers, line in, Headphone out
  • Stand adjustment: Height, rotation, tilt
  • Extras: 100 x100mm VESA mount, two-port USB 3 hub

Summary: The G-Master GB3461WQSU isn’t perfect, with less than ideal colour balance out of the box, and a rather staid frame and stand design. However, it otherwise delivers great image quality and fantastic gaming performance, all for an astonishingly low price.

If you’re short on cash, but want a big gaming monitor upgrade, this is the one to buy. A very low price makes the GB3461WQSUa fantastic-value ultrawide gaming display,despite its few flaws.


4. iiyama G-Master GB3466WQSU

If high contrast is the calling card of VA-type LCD panels, then the iiyama G-Master GB3466WQSU certainly fits the bill. It’s rated to the same 3,000:1 contrast level as the AOC CU34G2X, but while the AOC came up well short of that figure during testing, the GB3466WQSU hits a lofty 3,542:1. That’s more than triple the contrast ratio that any of the IPS displays on the test can deliver.

This high contrast lends itself well to both games and watching video, with the deeper black levels providing a real depth that adds extra atmosphere and makes colors stand out even more. While we’re fans of the generally natural-looking color, high response time and image stability of IPS screens – and their readability for desktop use, precisely because of their lower contrast – they pale in comparison to good VA panels for that visual impact.

It’s a shame, then, that this screen’s gamma setting is a bit low. We tried the standard 2.2 gamma, but measured it at just 1.95 during testing, which results in a noticeably grey, washed-out quality to the whole image. Instead, we tried the 2.6 setting; according to our measurements, this resulted in a reading of 2.32 – much closer to the ideal of 2.2.

What’s more, the default color balance is poor. Out of the box, the GB3466WQSU’s color temperature was 7,278K, which is miles off the ideal of 6,500K, resulting in a noticeably cold, blue tinge to the image. Thankfully, switching to the Warm color preset pulled the temperature closer into line, with a reading of 6,786K.

All that contrast should also lend itself to better HDR reproduction than most displays.However, we weren’t convinced in this case. This display has a slightly extended color gamut (which annoyingly can’t be disabled using the sRGB color mode) of 129 percent of sRGB, but it has no backlight trickery going on, so it can’t really compete with proper HDR displays. It’s certainly not good enough to be a significant selling point.

Elsewhere, the display has a similar curved profile to the AOC panel, and a slightly more fetching design than its IPS cousin, the GB3461WQSU. However, the stand doesn’t offer any rotation, which is a pain when you’re trying to position it in front of you. It offers the same connections and half-decent speakers as its siblings, though, and its menu system is similarly adequate but certainly not a joy to use.

When it comes to gaming, however, the slower response time of VA panels is strongly in evidence here. This was the only panel on test where the screen impacted our ability to hit our shots in first-person shooters. It would be fine for single-player games, but comparatively, it feels a little sluggish in competitive multiplayer games, where split seconds count.

Specifications

  • Screen size: 34in
  • Resolution: 3,440 x 1,440
  • Panel technology: VA
  • Maximum refresh rate: 144Hz
  • Response time: 1ms
  • Contrast: 3,000:1
  • Adaptive sync: FreeSync, unofficial G-Sync support
  • Display inputs: 2 x DisplayPort 1.2,2 x HDM1 1.4
  • Audio: 2 x 3W speakers, line in, Headphone out
  • Stand adjustment: Height, rotation, tilt
  • Extras: 100 x 100mm VESA mount

Summary: With a little setup tweaking, this is a decent display for people who want a big, bold, high- contrast screen for watching movies and playing slightly slower-paced, atmospheric games. 

The price is reasonable too. However, it’s a touch sluggish for faster games, and its lack of a proper sRGB mode isn’t ideal for desktop work either. A decent-value display with plenty of good qualities, but there are caveats to its gaming performance.


5. LG 34GN850-B 34 Inch 144Hz Gaming Monitor

Costing more than double the other displays on test (apart from the Acer), you’d be forgiven for thinking the LG UltraGear 34GN850 can claim some significantly greater performance abilities than the other displays on test. However, while it does have several advantages, they’re subtler than you might expect.

The most obvious win for this monitor is its maximum refresh rate of 160Hz. It’s a small jump over 144Hz, but every little helps for fast-paced competitive gaming, especially if you’re considering upgrading from a 100- 120Hz ultrawide display. However, this is an overclocked figure, so you’ll have to jump into the display’s OSD to stretch its maximum from 144Hz.

Another small advantage here is official G-Sync support. In many instances, official support isn’t necessary, but sometimes there can be some performance issues with displays that don’t have official support, so it’s good to have the guarantee.

The single most important feature for which you’re paying, though, is the response time. While plenty of competitors now claim a 1ms response time, LG has been leading the way for the last couple of years with the real-world response times of its displays. As ever, the 1ms claim is only viable in its ‘fastest’ overdrive setting, which produces terrible image quality, but in the more sensible ‘faster’ overdrive setting, this display still delivers a class-leading response time. 

The end result is noticeably superior gaming performance to even the other IPS displays on test. Whether it’s truly a ‘double- the-money’ improvement is a tougher call, but the LG’s other class-leading features help to make that decision a little easier. For a start, this display arrives with near-perfect image quality straight out of the box – just turn down the brightness and you’re good to go. It also has 140 percent sRGB (98 percent DCI-P3) color space coverage, so it’s the only display on test that can deliver the full range of colors for even the most demanding HDR specs.

Sadly, with a relatively modest contrast ratio of 939:1 and no clever backlighting control, it lacks the contrast to provide a particularly impactful HDR image – you’ll have to double your money again to get true HDR on a display this size. Crucially, though, this display also offers a proper sRGB mode that pulls that color space coverage down to 96 per cent sRGB. Plus, unlike many displays, it allows you to adjust the brightness in this mode too.

So far so impressive, but the UltraGear 34GN850 bizarrely looks among the cheapest and more obviously plasticky of the displays on test. It also uses an external power brick, it has no speakers, its stand can’t rotate or pivot and all its connections jut directly out the back of the display – that’s convenient for plugging and unplugging cables, but it looks a bit messy.

Thankfully, the on-screen display menu system is excellent, with a comprehensive range of options and an easy to use joystick control system, rather than the clunky separate buttons of the other displays.

Specifications

  • Screen size: 34in
  • Resolution: 3,440 x 1,440
  • Panel technology: IPS
  • Maximum refresh rate: 144Hz
  • Response time: 1ms
  • Contrast: 1,000:1
  • Adaptive sync: FreeSync, unofficial G-Sync support
  • Display inputs: 2 x DisplayPort 1.2,2 x HDM1 1.4
  • Audio: 2 x 3W speakers, line in, Headphone out
  • Stand adjustment: Height, rotation, tilt
  • Extras: 100 x 100mm VESA mount

Summary: Just a year ago this display would have been a steal, but now prices for 34in monitors with high refresh rates have plummeted, and demanding over double the price of the likes of the iiyama G-Master GB3461WQSU is a tough ask. 

That said, the superb gaming and color performance comfortably make this display stand out as the best in its class. It’s expensive but worth it if you have the money. A higher refresh rate, faster response time and better default image quality than the competition make the LG a fantastic monitor,although it’s not cheap.


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