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Published Apr. 5, 2022

If you want to completely lose yourself in a video game, an ultrawide gaming monitor is one of the best ways to expand your PC gaming setup. Standard widescreen is great, but ultrawide displays eliminate the need for a secondary display with a giant screen that stretches all the way across your field of vision. Just as with any other category of monitors, though, there are tons of options to choose from, and not all of them will get you what you need. We’ll walk you through the detailed decisions that go into picking the best ultrawide gaming monitor, then highlight some of the best options available in the space.

How we picked the best ultrawide gaming monitors

For a long time, the biggest change in PC monitors was the shift from old CRT screens to flat panel displays. In the last five or 10 years, though, they’ve begun to evolve at a breakneck pace. There are more options than ever now. I’ve been covering both display and GPU technology for the last five years, in addition to building my own PCs and paying attention to new developments in graphics technology as a personal hobby.

To make our selections, we drew upon our monitor testing program, sourced opinions from critics at multiple publications and user impressions from across the internet, and leveraged our general knowledge of display technology. We looked for interesting monitors to fit a few different categories. There’s no price limit on our picks, so these displays can range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand.

Things to consider before buying an ultrawide gaming monitor

There are a few things to keep in mind as you pick out an ultrawide gaming monitor. Ultrawide displays, by definition, come in different aspect ratios than your average 16:9 widescreen monitor. Movies will feature black bars on the sides. Many apps, including games, will too if they don’t specifically support your screen size. Even when using apps that should work, ultrawide monitors require a bit more tinkering than your average display. If the benefits still appeal, these are some things you should think about as you compare ultrawides.

Aspect ratio

Until the last couple of years, it was just a given that you’d want a standard widescreen display with a 16:9 aspect ratio. But now there are more options. In addition to 16:9, you’ll see lots of 21:9 (ultrawide) and a few 32:9 displays (super ultrawide) displays. Super ultrawide displays tend to be more expensive than ultrawide displays and there are no cheap options: The prices start at $800 and go up rapidly from there. What you go with here comes down primarily to personal preference and budget. If you plan to game on this monitor, chances are that if your game supports 21:9, it will support 32:9 as well. 

With that said, many apps and services do not support ultrawide displays. There are a lot of advantages to ultrawide, but that 33% increase in screen space also means that 33% of your screen will be black bars when watching Netflix fullscreen. Most games support 21:9 and 32:9, but it isn’t universal. They’ll still look fine, you’ll just see those black bars again.

Do you want a curved display?

Many people go for an ultrawide monitor, rather than two screens that you can position independently, because they specifically want a curved monitor. A curved display can enhance the immersion of your games, making it feel like the game world is surrounding you. Our faces, it turns out, aren’t flat and neither are our eyes. According to monitor manufacturer ViewSonic, curved monitors can actually reduce distortion by making the entire display the same distance from our eyes, and this is especially the case with ultrawide screens, which put the edges of the screen even further from our faces. The curve also makes these screens more comfortable for our eyes, ViewSonic said. In reducing distortion, they also reduce the amount of time spent dealing with distortion and with moving our heads and eyes to the corners of the screen. 

With that said, curved screens are a bit of an acquired taste. They require a bit more work to set up and optimize for individual games and software. They may also be more susceptible to glare that flat panels are not. The impact of both the upsides and the downsides comes down to personal taste. If you can, we recommend popping into your local electronics retailer and checking out a couple of curved monitors for yourself before making a decision.

Finding the right curve

If you decide to go with a curved display, you’ll need to think about how deep a curve you actually want. Some curved monitors bend lightly, giving you only the slightest sense that the screen forms around you. Others have a deep curve that makes you feel like you’re sitting in a cockpit. A monitor’s curve is measured by the radius of the monitor (R). 

It may be counterintuitive for those of us who’ve forgotten high school geometry, but a lower radius indicates a more pronounced curve. The Samsung Odyssey Neo G9, for example, sports a 1000R curve, making it one of the most deeply curved screens. Most ultrawide monitors sport a curvature of 1500-1800R, but very lightly curved displays reach as high as 3000R.

The radius of the monitor also indicates the recommended viewing distance, or how far away you should sit from it for the ideal viewing experience. Viewing position is especially important for curved displays, as sitting at the right distance, in front of the center of the display, guarantees that you see the full effect of the curve.

Brightness, color depth, and HDR

Beyond curve-related consideration, there’s a whole range of specs to consider when picking any gaming monitor. Picking among ultrawide gaming monitors limits your options for many of these display considerations, making them a secondary concern. That said, it never hurts to check and compare.

Gaming monitors are made with three different types of display panels–Vertical Alignment (VA), In-Plane Switching (IPS), and Twisted Nematic (TN). When shopping for ultrawide displays, you’ll typically find IPS or VA panels. IPS panels offer brighter, more vibrant colors, while VA panels typically have better contrast. Both panel types have great refresh rates. If there are any TN panels on Ultrawide screens, we didn’t find them during our research. Those panels have the fastest refresh rates, but have poor viewing angles and color reproduction, making them ill-suited to this particular task.

Brightness is also a major concern, look for something at least 300 nits(cd/m2) for peak brightness. Any lower and you may struggle in particularly dark scenes of games. High-Dynamic Range, or HDR, isn’t widely implemented on ultrawide gaming monitors. Fewer than one-third of the ultrawide monitors on Newegg feature HDR support. On top of that, HDR isn’t always implemented as well as it is in TVs. Regardless of screen size, Windows isn’t as good at knowing when to switch between HDR and SDR. As a result, HDR is a nice luxury, but shouldn’t make or break your monitor selection.

For more in-depth explanations of monitor specs, including brightness, HDR, panel type, and more, check out our rundown of the best cheap gaming monitors.

Use case

Even when buying “gaming” gear, not many people use our PCs just for one thing. Are you going to use this computer for gaming primarily or will you also be using it for work? If your monitor will just serve up games and the web, you can purely focus on refresh rate and gaming-focused features. If you’re creating content or using it for office work, you should also consider technical elements, such as color accuracy or blue light reduction. In general, it pays to take a holistic approach to picking out gear, rather than focusing on one specific use, even if that use is more fun.

Best ultrawide gaming monitors: Reviews & Recommendations

Flat or curved, big or small, it’s time to figure out the best ultrawide gaming monitor for your PC gaming station. After doing our homework, we think these are the options you can get right now, from the best overall to the very best that money can buy, as well as an option that was announced earlier this year, which we’re really looking forward to taking for a spin.

Best overall: BenQ Mobiuz EX3415R

Why it made the cut: The BenQ Mobiuz EX3415R has all the big bells and whistles we look for, without the heavy price tag.

Specs

  • Panel type: IPS
  • Native resolution (Aspect Ratio): 2560×1440 (21:9)
  • Panel style: Curved (1900R)
  • Color depth: 10-bit
  • Refresh rate: 144 Hz
  • Response time: 1ms
  • Max brightness: 200 nits (typical) / 400 nits (max)
  • Ports: 1 x DisplayPort 1.4; 1 x HDMI 2.0; 2 x USB 3.0 Type-A
  • Ergonomics: Tilt, Height, VESA 100mm mountable
  • Variable refresh rate: Nvidia G-Sync Compatible/FreeSync
  • HDR: HDR10, VESA HDR 400

Pros

  • Loud built-in soundbar
  • Robust feature set
  • Lots of color options
  • Great value

Cons

  • Low brightness

The BenQ EX3415R has it all. This IPS panel offers a 144 Hz refresh rate for fast response in games, 10-bit color to display images accurately, and a gentle 1900R curvature for easy viewing. Add a good set of ports and both G-Sync and FreeSync compatibility, and you have a more or less complete package.

It was hard to pick between the EX3415R and the Alienware AW3420DW—another excellent curved ultrawide display—but the BenQ panel wins out thanks to a higher refresh rate and higher peak brightness. Both models offer great performance and incredible value, though: To get bigger or sharper, you’ll have to spend a lot more money.

Best super ultrawide: Samsung Odyssey Neo G9

Samsung

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Why it made the cut: The Samsung Odyssey Neo G9 outshines every other ultrawide with its giant, rich display … and its sky-high price tag.

Specs

  • Panel type: VA
  • Native resolution (aspect ratio): 5120 x 1440 (32:9)
  • Panel style: Curved (1000R)
  • Refresh rate: 240Hz
  • Response time: 1 ms
  • Max brightness: 420 nits (Typical) / 2000 nits (Max)
  • Ports: 1 x DisplayPort 1.4; 2 x HDMI 2.1; 2 x USB 3.0 Type-A; Earphone Jack; Audio line-out
  • Ergonomics: Height, Swivel, Tilt,, VESA 100mm mountable
  • Variable refresh rate: Nvidia G-Sync Compatible/AMD FreeSync
  • HDR: HDR10+

Pros

  • Massive screen
  • Top-tier gaming features
  • HDMI 2.1

Cons

  • Super expensive

If you can afford the $2,500 price tag, the Samsung Odyssey Neo G9 is as good as it gets when it comes to ultrawide displays. The 49-inch, 32:9 screen is quite literally the same space as two screens pushed together, and the 1000R curve allows the display to surround you with bright, vibrant colors whenever you boot up a game. The G9 has tons of ports, including two HDMI 2.1 ports—the only screen on this list that offers them (so you’ll want to pick up the best ultra-high-speed HDMI cables). You could put this screen in almost any category on this list and have it make sense. It’s just that good. You just have to come up with the money to bring it home.

Best for consoles: MSI Optix MPG 341CQR

Why it made the cut: The MSI Optix MPG 341CQR is the only ultrawide gaming monitor with console-minded features.

Specs

  • Panel type: VA
  • Native resolution (aspect ratio): 3440 x 1440 (32:9)
  • Panel style: Flat
  • Color depth: 10-bit
  • Refresh rate: 144 Hz
  • Response time: 1 ms
  • Max brightness: 400 nits
  • Ports: 1 x DisplayPort 1.4; 2 x HDMI 2.1; 3 x USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-A; Earphone Jack
  • Ergonomics: Height, Swivel, Tilt, VESA 100mm mountable
  • Variable refresh rate: Nvidia G-Sync Compatible/AMD FreeSync
  • HDR: VESA HDR 400

Pros

  • Console optimization
  • Robust features
  • Good price

Cons

  • Consoles don’t support ultrawide aspect ratios directly

I’ll be blunt: We do not recommend pairing a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X with an ultrawide gaming monitor. Neither the PS5 nor the Xbox Series X support 21:9 or 32:9 displays. While these new consoles are capable of a greater range of resolutions—the Xbox Series X can do 1080p, 1440p, and 4K output, while the PlayStation 5 can do 1080p and 4K—none of them explicitly support ultrawide resolutions, unlike PC. So no matter which display you pick, plugging in a console means you’ll have to contend with black bars. 

That said, we do have an option if you feel compelled. MSI claims that the Optix MPG 341CQR is optimized specifically for PS5. According to the company, it will accept a 4K signal and downsample it to 1440p, rather than upscaling a 1080p signal. This display also supports 120Hz gameplay at 1080p over HDMI—a nice feature for the small, but growing number of console games that support it. 

Beyond its PS5 compatibility, the Optix MPG 341CQR is a generally solid display. It offers good color depth, a high refresh rate, lots of USB ports, and a VA panel for good contrast in both well- and dimly-lit rooms.

Ultrawide screens are generally not a good fit with game consoles. If you need to play a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series console into a display, though, this one is your best bet.

Best OLED: Alienware 34 QD-OLED AW3423DW

Alienware

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Why it made the cut: Alienware made the first QD-OLED gaming monitor, and they put it on a 21:9 display.

Specs

  • Panel type: Quantum Dot OLED
  • Native resolution (aspect ratio): 3440 x 1440 (21:9)
  • Panel style: Curved (1800R)
  • Refresh rate: 175Hz over DisplayPort, 100Hz over HDMI 2.0
  • Response time: 0.1 ms
  • Max brightness: 250 nits (typical) / 1000 nits (max)
  • Ports: 1 x DisplayPort 1.4; 2 x HDMI 2.0; 4 x USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A; Earphone Jack; Audio line-out
  • Ergonomics: Height, Swivel, Tilt, Slant, VESA 100mm mountable
  • Variable refresh rate: Nvidia G-Sync Ultimate
  • HDR: VESA DisplayHDR True Black 400

Pros

  • OLED display
  • Great HDR support
  • Lots of ports

Cons

  • Burn-in might be a concern
  • Not out yet!

Organic light-emitting diode display technology—OLED, for short—is arguably the king of the gaming television space right now, monitor manufacturers have been slow to bring the panels to the world of PCs. (For an in-depth explainer on why check out our list of the best OLED TVs.) In fact, Alienware just launched the first QD-OLED gaming monitor, the AW3423DW, giving PC gamers the chance to experience the heightened fidelity OLED displays can provide.

With an OLED display, you get perfect contrast thanks to the fact that every pixel is individually-self lit, instead of being backlit or edgelit like traditional LED screens. That means pure blacks and vibrant colors, as well as super-fast response time. The Alienware AW3423DW, seems to have all of its specs locked down, ensuring a gaming monitor worthy of the “first OLED” mantle.

While OLED screens are bright and beautiful, there are reasons for PC players to be skeptical. OLED TVs have historically been deeply susceptible to “burn-in,” a visual distortion where pixels become stuck displaying a certain shape after displaying it too long. Since many elements of a PC desktop are static on Windows 11 and macOS, there’s good reason to question whether OLED monitors would have a shorter lifespan than conventional monitors. 

With Alienware launching an OLED screen, though, it seems like burn-in isn’t the worry it once was. One YouTuber attempted to burn an image into the new Nintendo Switch OLED’s screen, but only created faint ghosting after 3,600 hours of showing the exact same image. In other words, if you use a screensaver or let your display go to sleep, you’re almost certainly fine.

Best budget: Gigabyte M34WQ

GIGABYTE

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Why it made the cut: You won’t find a good ultrawide display cheaper than the Gigabyte M34WQ.

Specs

  • Panel type: IPS
  • Native resolution (aspect ratio): 3440 x 1440 (21:9)
  • Panel style: Flat
  • Color depth: 8-bit
  • Refresh rate: 144Hz
  • Response time: 1 ms
  • Max brightness: 400 nits
  • Ports: 1 x DisplayPort 1.4; 2 x HDMI 2.0; 2x USB 3.0; 1 x USB Type-C
  • Ergonomics: Height, Swivel, Tilt,, VESA 100mm mountable
  • Variable refresh rate: Nvidia G-Sync Compatible/AMD FreeSync
  • HDR: VESA HDR 400

Pros

  • Killer price
  • USB Type-C port
  • A bright IPS display

Cons

  • 8-bit color depth
  • Skip the HDR

The Gigabyte M34WQ is the definition of a budget pick: It delivers strong features for just $500 but comes with some technical compromises. The M34WQ offers a solid set of gamer-focused features like a 144Hz refresh rate and compatibility with both G-Sync and FreeSync. 

The cost of that low price is color depth. Most displays on this list feature 10-bit color, which translates to over 1 billion colors. This is an 8-bit display with just 16.7 million. It’ll still look good, but you’re more likely to see color banding in some images. And don’t bother turning on the HDR. All that said, curved ultrawide gaming monitors don’t come cheap. You will be hard-pressed to find a better option at this price.

FAQs

Q: Are ultrawide monitors good for gaming?

Ultrawide monitors can be great for gaming, especially curved displays. A curved display will fill your field of vision more completely and, in theory, requires less head movement to view completely.

Q: Do 4K ultrawide monitors exist?

Not really. The term 4K refers to a specific resolution, 3840×2160, which you can only create with 16:9 displays. Thus, 4K and Ultrawide are two separate categories of display that can’t really meet. There are a few 2160p Ultra widescreen displays, but they have a wider resolution of 5120, so they don’t count as 4K. That said, you could display a 4K image on that screen without distortion.

Q: Is a 34-inch ultrawide monitor big enough

?

Definitely. Most displays on this list measure 34 inches, and the only one bigger is classified as a Super Ultrawide. If you’re buying an ultrawide monitor, chances are it’ll be 34 inches.

Final thoughts on the best ultrawide gaming monitors

If you have the cash, an ultrawide gaming monitor can be a great way to expand your desktop without using two displays. The options run the gamut from affordable daily drivers to premium monsters. The Samsung Odyssey Neo G9 and Alienware QD-OLED stand out as especially appealing options if you’re looking to spend whatever it takes. For everyone else, our top and budget picks give you most of the same benefits, albeit with less impressive color space. Any of these options should make most any gamer a happy camper.

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