Are you fed up with running out of space on your screen while you work? Want your video games to feel bigger and more immersive? You need an ultra-wide monitor then!
As the name suggests, ultra-wide monitors are significantly wider than standard widescreen monitors - normal widescreen monitors have an aspect ratio of 16:9, while ultra-wides have an aspect of 21:9. If you want to understand more about aspect ratio, see our Kagoo Explains article on Aspect Ratios, however the important takeaway is that they have approximately ¼ more space on the horizontal than standard monitors.
While the extra space is useful for work or digital design, video games are where the ultra-wide monitors really come into their own. Not all games support ultra-wide resolutions, but when they do the effects are transformative! The games become far more immersive, with the larger screen curving around your field of vision, making you feel like you’re in the game! It’s pretty damn cool.
As you would expect, such high-end monitors come at a premium, and ultra-wides are significantly more expensive than a standard monitor, but the benefits really are impressive. So let’s take a look at the best ultra-wide monitors on the market.
Let’s start with Samsung’s 34-inch gaming monitor - an expensive but very well designed ultra-wide display. For starters it looks rather stylish - unlike the fairly plain black/grey look of the other monitors in this article, the clean aluminium look brings to mind Apple’s design work at it’s best, and looks stunning on a desk.
The curved display also helps the immersion factor, allowing the screen to take up more of your peripheral vision, meaning you don’t need to turn your head as much to view it all. However the curve - and the large integrated stand - do mean that the CJ791 does take up more room than most monitors. This thing is going to be cramped on a tiny IKEA desk! There are also some speakers built into the monitor, but they are small and unimpressive - headphones or external speakers will be a much better idea.
When you actually come to turn the monitor on, the CJ791 provides an excellent picture with a fast refresh rate and beautiful colour depth. The screen is fantastic at displaying bright colours with a real pop, and the sheer size of the monitor means that colourful games will be a real treat for the eyes!
The monitor also had fantastic contrast, meaning it provides deep dark blacks that look exceptional on such a large imposing screen. This due to Samsung’s ‘Quantum Dot’ backlight technology - which allows for OLED-like colours and contrast without the hefty price.
Not that this monitor is in any way cheap - it is one of the most expensive reviewed here today. However it is also quite an old monitor: it was originally released in 2017, so I would expect the price to become cheaper and cheaper - which would make this ultra-wide monitor an absolute win!
Alienware are a gaming peripherals company that specialise in high-end expensive gear with a sci-fi aesthetic. The AW3418DW is their attempt at an ultra-wide monitor, and as you’d expect it’s a top-notch product with hefty price tag to match!
The 34 inch screen has a curve similar to the Samsung CJ791 - though it doesn’t have a Quantum Dot display, it still has fantastic colour depth and great contrast. As you’d expect of a gaming display, it has a low response time of 4ms and a refresh rate of 120Hz, making it excellent for fast-paced games - as long as you have a graphics card that can keep up, the action will remain smooth and crisp. There is also the option to overclock the monitor to further reduce the response time - this degrades the visual quality, but makes the monitor react noticeably smoother and quicker!
Alienware’s design tends to split opinion - many gamers like the sleek sci-fi look, while others find their obsession with colours lights and alien heads a bit immature. For an Alienware product, this is surprisingly restrained - there is a minimum of glowing LEDs, and the dark-grey design is understated while still being cool. The stand is also not as imposing as the Samsung CJ791, meaning you will free up a bit more space on your desk - though it’s still a monster of a display. However, unlike Samsung’s monitor, the AW3418DW can be separated from the stand and mounted on a wall - potentially saving a lot of desk space in the process.
However, this all comes at a premium - Alienware’s gear never comes cheap. The AW3418DW is the most expensive ultra-wide monitor in our lists, though it definitely provides a lot of bang for your buck. Though if you’re buying such a big luxury item as an ultra-wide monitor, you may be tempted to just throw all in for the best!
4.5 / 5
Low response time
Stylish sci-fi design
Can be wall mounted to save space
Need a powerful graphics card to make the best of it
‘Affordable ultra-wide’ might seem like an oxymoron at this point, but not all of these monitors have to break the bank. LG’s 29 inch ultra-wide monitor is smaller than the Samsung or Alienware models, but it’s a fraction of the cost - the 29WK500 currently costs 1/3 of the 34 inch displays.
This means it’s a good entry point if you want an ultra-wide monitor, but don’t have the loose change floating around to justify a hefty expense like the AW3418DW. And honestly, 29 inches is still super-large - it will still look enormous on your desk, mean you can have multiple windows open at once, and make minesweeper look amazing.
As you would from a smaller more affordable monitor, the 29WK500 can’t quite stand up to the competition - the response time isn’t quite as high as gamers would like, though the colour gamut is surprisingly good compared to the Samsung or Alienware monitors. The contrast ratio doesn’t quite match the Alienware AW3418DW, but comes very close!
It also isn’t much to look at - the rather boring exterior pales compared to the AW3418DW or CJ791. However despite all these negatives, what you lose in the top-tier features you gain in cheapness. This monitor punches far above its weight given the price point - it manages 75% of the larger ultra-wides for only 1/3 of the cost. That definitely makes it an excellent choice!
Finally, let’s take a look at another large ultra-wide monitor - the BenQ EX3501R is a 35 inch gaming monitor similar to the other 35 inch ultra-wide monitors we’ve reviewed, but at a somewhat more manageable price. It’s currently £100 cheaper than the Samsung or Alienware displays, and contains many of the same features seen in these models - a response time of 4ms, extremely good colour accuracy and a very high resolution for pin-sharp images.
However the contrast isn’t as good as the other 35 inch models, and users online have reported that it needs some setup and configuration work before it will look the best - whereas the other 3 monitors we’ve reviewed will work fine straight out of the box. Also, it appears that the stand, while sturdily built, can’t tilt - it has a set angle, so you may run into problems depending on your desk setup.
That said, there is a lot to like about this monitor. It provides an excellent all-around specs, and it has a very nice design as well. It is understated and elegant - nothing flashy like the Alienware display, but the tiny bezels on the sides of the monitor make the display seem even larger. It’s a competent and powerful monitor that will serve you well, though may be suited more to watching films and doing work than competitive gaming.