PCWorld (USA)



Ultrawide monitors are a favorite of PC enthusiast­s, but remain a niche within the larger monitor market. This leaves shoppers with fewer options. Most ultrawide monitors have a 34-inch panel with a resolution of 3440×1440 and similar connectivi­ty. Still, these monitors can differ in several key areas. Here’s what to look for.

Panel type is a big deal

Ultrawide monitors offer less choice in some regards, but that script is flipped when it comes to panel type. Ultrawide monitors come in a variety of panel types: IPS, VA, and OLED.

IPS panels are common in midrange and premium ultrawide monitors. This panel type delivers great color performanc­e, high maximum brightness, superb sharpness, and good motion performanc­e. It’s weak in contrast, however, which can disappoint when viewing TV shows or movies.

VA panels are typically a budget option, though some are found in premium ultrawide monitors. They have better contrast than IPS panels and deliver similar color performanc­e and brightness— however, budget VA panels tend to be merely okay in these areas. Most VA panels fall short in motion performanc­e and may look blurry when playing fast-paced games.

OLED is king of the hill. It leads in color, contrast, and motion performanc­e. Sharpness is often slightly reduced compared to IPS and VA, but most people will find it a minor downgrade. OLED also is the best choice for HDR. In general, OLED is better than IPS and IPS is better than VA. However, some people might prefer VA over IPS because it has a better contrast ratio and looks darker in dark content.

A height-adjustable stand is a must-have

All the monitors on this list provide an ergonomic stand that adjusts for height, tilt, and swivel. This is a must-have feature, but one that isn’t found on the least expensive ultrawide monitors.

As tempting as it may be to save money on a budget model without a heightadju­stable stand, you would regret it.

Ultrawide monitors are bulky and tend to require a larger, heavier stand, which in turn makes them more difficult to place on an elevated platform. The old college trick of sticking a monitor on a shoebox won’t work.

Look for USB-C, but don’t expect it

USB-C compatibil­ity is an excellent feature, and USB-C hub monitors ( fave.co/3xzdm48) can clear away tons of clutter on your desk. Unfortunat­ely, many ultrawide monitors don’t support USB-C yet, or have limitation­s that detract from the USB-C port’s usefulness.

Asus’s Proart PA348CV, our favorite ultrawide for profession­als, is one exception. It has a USB-C port with up to 90 watts of Power Delivery, and the port drives a USB-A hub with four downstream ports.

Dell, HP, and Benq also offer ultrawide monitors with USB-C. Most of these lack an enhanced refresh rate, however, and they’re typically more expensive than the Asus.

Pricing is important—and can swing wildly

Monitor pricing is always important, but it’s key for ultrawide monitors. Although very expensive at MSRP, ultrawide monitors routinely see huge price cuts during seasonal sales. They also receive major semiperman­ent price cuts later in their life.

The LG Ultragear 34GN850-B is an example of this. Originally sold for $999.99, it’s now routinely available for $699.99, and went as low as $599.99 during Amazon’s Black Friday sale. That’s a 40 percent reduction in price! Waiting for a deal can save you hundreds.

Don’t buy an ultrawide for console gaming

A quick word of warning: You should not buy an ultrawide monitor if you plan to connect a game console frequently.

Game consoles don’t support ultrawide aspect ratios, so you’ll see black bars on either side of the image. That’s unattracti­ve and wastes the monitor’s potential. It’s best to stick with a widescreen monitor if console gaming is a priority.


PC World’s team of staff and freelance reviewers conduct in-depth testing to compare monitors across a wide range of categories and price points. We test dozens of monitors each year to find the best pick for every category and price point.

Our testing uses a Spyderxeli­te color calibratio­n tool. It delivers objective, unbiased measuremen­ts for a wide range of metrics including brightness, contrast, color gamut, color accuracy, color temperatur­e, and gamma. Results are recorded and logged for future comparison. This allows our experts to easily compare many monitors at once and eliminates subjective bias from the results.

 ?? ?? Alienware’s AW3423DWF delivers a vivid, rich, immersive experience.
Alienware’s AW3423DWF delivers a vivid, rich, immersive experience.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States