Is Ultrawide Right for You?


What Makes Ultrawide Different?

The big difference between ultrawide and “normal” monitors is aspect ratio. Traditional monitors typically operate on 16:9 aspect ratios, while ultrawide screens are stretched horizontally to 21:9. That typically means ultrawide displays use a native resolution of 2560×1080 (2k) or 3440×1440 (1440p), depending on their screen size.

This image makes the difference between 16:9 and 21:9 very clear. 21:9 stretches the panel horizontally several inches, for a wider field-of-view and more screen space.

A bigger resolution means your screen has increased pixel density. For work, that means you can fit more applications on your screen without having to toggle between windows. For play, that means you get a cinematic viewing experience that’s essentially equivalent to a one-person theater.


Who are ultrawide monitors for?

If you’re working from home or looking for an office display, the extra screen real estate of an ultrawide can make you more effective at doing all sorts of tasks.  In fact, one of the most common features for ultrawide displays is screen-splitting, which can help you divide your display into multiple quadrants and run it as though it were multiple screens — only without that ugly bezel dividing up the middle.

Anyone who spends hours each day staring at a display will benefit from that display being easy on the eyes. That’s why it’s important to carefully consider the benefits of ultrawides if you find yourself working with computers for any serious length of time.


For movie-lovers, there’s no comparison to an ultrawide. If you don’t like staring at those black bars at the margins of the movie, you’ll be pleased to know most films are shot in a 2.39 aspect ratio. That’s why ultrawides can display films in ways standard monitors just can’t, and fill up the entire screen.

For gamers, you can’t beat the field of view you get from ultra-wide. There aren’t any bezels in the center of your view like you’d experience with a dual monitor setup. You can also achieve a full field-of-view that isn’t possible on a standard monitor. 

For FPS-fanatics, widescreen can be hit and miss. Some HUD elements like ammo counts have been known to get lost in peripheral vision due to the size of the screen. For a pro gamer spending 8-hours-a-day practicing, a 16:9 monitor might be better for playing some types of competitive games that haven’t yet adapted to the increasing popularity of 21:9.


Having said that, an increasing number of AAA game studios have begun to design specifically for ultra widescreen resolutions. Massive games like League of Legends, World of Warcraft, and the Call of Duty franchise are all already on-board in designing around ultrawide displays.

Finally, it’s important to ask if your GPU can handle running an ultrawide monitor. Having 140% more pixels than 1080p setups, you’ll need an equally large increase in graphics power to display all those pixels. If you don’t have a GPU made in the three generations, you might not have the power necessary to run an ultrawide smoothly.

Curved vs. Flat

Curved vs. flat can be debated all day. There are numerous benefits to curved displays, but most of the difference really comes down to immersion vs. viewing angle. Curved displays provide much more immersion, are easier on the eyes, and by-design offer a less distorted image than large flat panels physically can offer.

But that curved screen also means viewing from awkward angles, like you might while watching a movie with a group of friends, can lead to a significantly worse viewing experience. On the other hand, if you’re mostly watching things by yourself or with one other person, you can’t beat a gorgeous ultrawide for visual fidelity.


Ultrawide Specifications

What’s response time? What’s a good contrast ratio? What does refresh rate do? What kind of numbers matter? If you find yourself lost in the technical jargon of selecting a widescreen, you’ll want to check out this post where we explore all the technical aspects of picking an ultrawide.

The Take-Away Message

In the end, picking an ultrawide vs. a standard monitor is a matter of personal preference. There are numerous viewing benefits to ultrawide, making it the superior choice for most people most of the time. Some people simply can’t fit a three-foot display on their desk. But if image quality and immersion is something that matters to you,  whether it’s in games or movies, then ultrawide is what you want.

Philips 328M6FJMB – Excellence Can Be Expensive

The upcoming Philips 328M6FJMB has the same incredibly boring name of all Philips products. Thankfully, this superwide monitor is far more interesting than the name lets on.

144Hz Ultrawides Increasingly Common

This monitor uses a 144Hz refresh rate, marking an increased number of 144Hz ultrawide monitors entering the marketplace.  The 2560 x 1440 VA panel offers the full color reproduction and viewing angles you’d expect of a beautiful, high-end Philips product. The bottom bezel houses glossy plastic and some LEDs of various colors that adjust to match the content on your screen, which is a nice touch to help those buttons blend in.

As for the design of the monitor, the bezels are slender with a standard two-stage design. The hard plastic layer blends seamlessly with the border of the panel.  It’s somewhat regrettable that a display of this quality uses such standard looking black matte plastic, but then again, Philips seems to never stray from their deeply-professional design aesthetic.

Sharp Monitor Curvature (1800R)

The panel is most likely the work of AU Optronics, but this isn’t certain. The Philips 328M6FJMB uses a sharp 1800R curvature, meaning the intended viewing angle is essentially for one person sitting directly infront of the monitor. Wider 3000R angles that have proliferated the market are by no means bad, but they’re not as good as 1800R for single-person viewing. The long and short of it is, this screen will be closer to your eyes, and you’ll have a more engrossing viewing experience.


FreeSync is included, although many people may feel the fact this display runs up to 144Hz makes FreeSync a little unnecessary. That’s technically not true if the rest of your computer isn’t up to par, FreeSync can help keep your display looking smooth even when you hit a bump in your processing power.

Other Technical Stuff

True 8-bit colors (16.7 million) are supported, as well as 100% NTSC or 120% sRGB color spectrum. This is a fairly extensive gamut of color reproduction even by professional standards.  The 4 ms response time is measured in grey-to-grey, which some people might find encouraging. 3000:1 static contrast ratio, which basically means you’ll get a great viewing experience with deep darks, even when you’re inside a well-lit room.

There’s a low-blue setting that can make the screen easier on your eyes, and it’s actually alarmingly well done. There’s very little visual difference between the low-blue setting toggled on or off, but it’s much easier for your eyes while on.

The stand is completely standard. (That’s a pun?) It includes regular ranges of height/tilt adjustment, as well as VESA mounting holes available on the backside. There’s one VGA port, two DP 1.2 ports, and HDMI 1.4/2.0 ports. The 5-watt speakers are nothing to write home about, but there are also definitely far worse monitor speakers out there as well.

The Takeaway

When this monitor hits the market, it’s going to cost a pretty penny, like most Philips products. But if you’re looking for something that’s truly top-shelf, you’ll have a hard time beating the Philips 328M6FJMB. If you’re looking for the best, whether it’s the best ultrawide monitor in general, or the best gaming ultrawide, you really can’t go wrong. 

Acer RC271U — 2017’s Best Budget Monitor?

With so much attention being driven towards displays aimed at gamers, with fancy refresh rates and other costly features that only interest a niche crowd, it’s easy to forget some people want something more simple. Fancy features are nice, but they’re not as nice when they’re rarely (or never) used, because those features can be expensive. 

So if you’re looking for something “simple”, that’s exactly what you get with the Acer RC271U. This RC1 series includes a more minimalist design than previous iterations, keeping up with the industry drive to modernize the look of monitors, particularly when it comes to the bezel. It features both 2560×1440 resolution and a 27’’ screen size, combined with an IPS-panel.

Technical Discussion

The surface of the screen blends seamlessly into the bezel, for a particularly stylish look when the screen is off.  The on screen display controls are downward-facing analog buttons, on the right hand side of the display. The OSD is extremely standard, and really nothing to write home about.

You’ll also find a standard 60 Hz refresh rate and a slightly above average 350 cd/m2 brightness. Professionals will appreciate the strong color consistency and richness of colors evenly across the screen., A matte screen surface provides an image clear of grain, with true 8-bit color in up to 16.7 million shades. What this means is that you’ll get a visual experience that looks crisp and clear to any standard consumer, but might not be up-to-snuff for media editing professionals.

You can expect standard sRGB coverage and a modest 4ms response time, which are again fairly standard figures. What’s somewhat less standard are the BlueLightShield settings which can help make it easier to spend longer periods of time looking at a screen. 

The stand has a very standard range of tilt, and there are VESA mounting holes in the rear. While there are on-board speakers, they’re only 2 watts, meaning they can only provide basic sound and you shouldn’t expect anything spectacular. For ports, you’re looking at DVI, DisplayPort, HDMI, and audio/headphone jacks. An external power brick is also used, which helps to keep the monitor extremely light and slender.

The Takeaway 

If you’re looking for a rock-solid 27’’ display without paying for all the bells and whistles, you’ll want to keep your eyes out for the imminent release of the Acer RC271U. This screen doesn’t have 144 Hz refresh rates, incredibly fast 1 ms response time, or billions of colors displayed with perfect accuracy. It’ll still be a few weeks until this display hits the market, but when it does, it will almost certainly be a staple both for Acer and for anyone in the market for a 27” budget gaming monitor. 

What this screen does have is absolutely everything you need in a professional and efficient monitor, with none of the burdensome (and costly) excess.  But if you’re looking for something on the market right now, be sure to check out these, the best Acer monitors currently available.

Philips 349X7FJEW Review – Mid-Range Excellence

The Philips 349X7FJEW is a 34-inch ultrawide monster with an intensely sharp 1800R curve. Compared to the more common 3,000R curve you see on many displays, this screen is clearly intended for a viewership of one, ideally sitting within 18 or 24 inches of the display.  While there’s a lot of “standard” figures about this model, like the brightness and response time of 4 ms, there are several stand-out points. 

One worthy note is the intensely deep dynamic contrast ratio of 50,000,000:1. Another worth note is the 1440p (3440×1440) resolution, which is the sweet-spot for picking ultrawide monitor resolutions currently. 1440p serves as a noticeable bump above 4K without entering into the extreme price increases or the visual diminishing returns of adding more and more pixels. What you end up with is a fully immersive experience ideal for watching films, working, and playing games. You’ll also get FreeSync for smooth playback without motion blue, tearing, stuttering, both in videos and in games. 

The backside neatly houses all the wiring in accessible positions, including DisplayPort 1.2, HDMI 1.4, HDMI 2.0, and USB 3.0.

The ultra-narrow bezel is one step closer to a completely bezel-free display that we’re all waiting for. The design is slick, professional, and stylish. But more importantly, the base is incredibly stable. You can shake your desk, even push against the top of the panel, you’ll find it remains steady and stable. 

The “low blue” mode might seem puzzling at first, but blue light disproportionately tires out the eyes quicker than other colors of the spectrum. That’s why many modern displays, like this one, utilize a low-blue mode for people who have to spend extended hours staring at a display and find their eyes are fatigued for it. 


The on-board speakers are nothing to write-home about, as they’re only 5 watts. That means, like most monitor speakers, they sound similar to a cellphone playing at the bottom of a well. This is mostly forgivable, considering few people really care about on-board speakers. 



  • 34-inch display
  • Color gamut NTSC 99.8%, sRGB 117.3%
  • Effective viewing area 797.22 (H) x 222.72 (V) – at a 1800 R curvature*
  • Pixel Density: 109.68 PPI
  • Response time: 4 ms (gray to gray)
  • Brightness 300  cd/m²
  • Contrast ratio 3,000:1
  • SmartContrast 50,000,000 :1
  • Pixel pitch 0.232 x 0.232 mm
  • Viewing angle 178º (H) / 178º (V)
  • Flicker-free
  • Display colors 16.7 M
  • Scanning Frequency 58 – 148 kHz (H) / 40 – 100 Hz (V)


The base is ergonomically designed to be extremely height-adjustable, which is as feature that’s not common to many ultra wide monitors. While this display touts many “gaming” features like FreeSync, this panel is only above-average for gaming. While standard refresh rate and response time won’t concern anyone besides pro-gamers, it’s worth mentioning that they’re standard for this price range. All-in-all, the Philips 349X7FJEW is a great pick for a general use ultrawide monitor.

FreeSync Ultrawide Monitors

AMD is always slow to update their official FreeSync monitor list. That’s why we’ve put together this list of all the FreeSync ultrawide monitors  and FreeSync ultrawide gaming monitors on the market currently. If you’re a gamer looking for an ultrawide but don’t want to pay out a premium for G-Sync, FreeSync is the next best thing.

One of the best aspects of FreeSync is because it doesn’t use a proprietary-system like G-Sync, the FreeSync feature adds nearly no cost to a display. Like the name suggests, it’s pretty much free. If you’re going to pick up a display, regardless of your budget or even your computer setup, you’ll want to seriously consider grabbing FreeSync.


FreeSync Ultrawide Displays


Philips 40BDM4037U – Ultrawide Features in 16:9

In most respects, the definitive feature of an ultrawide monitor is the 21:9 aspect ratio. That horizontal stretch is what facilitates the benefits of adding a curved screen, as well as gives you the extra immersion that draws people to ultrawide displays. But even though ultrawide panels are being adopted faster than ever before, many software developers are still not prioritizing support for 21:9. That’s where the Philips 40BDM4037U comes in.

4K Without (All) the Price

This 40-inch beast is basically a small television, except it retains many of the advantageous properties of a monitor. It doesn’t have next-level gaming features like G-Sync or a 144 Hz refresh rate, but it does offer a native 3840 x 2160 resolution and 3000R screen curvature on an unparalleled screen size. The 99.98% sRBG color space has become somewhat average for monitors in this price range, but the 83.5% gamut coverage makes this monitor a strong pick for many people doing work in Photoshop.

In some regard, Philips monitors are like Dell monitors in that they aim to please mid-range consumers. Gaming nuts or industry professionals might not be fully satisfied with this display, but an everyday user will love it. That attitude and targeting is continually expressed with the lack of IO buttons on the front of the screen. This is a welcome change for most every-day users, who often find these buttons burdensome, confusing, or even the cause of ire as someone accidentally bumps into them, filling their screen with menus they then ineptly scramble to un-produce.

Unfortunately, you can’t keep all the features of an ultrawide and still retail 16:9 aspect ratio. If you’re watching movies on this, your content will be letter-boxed with black bars at the top and bottom of the screen, just as it probably is on your current display. However, should generally be regarded as a trade-off for the native support that most applications and games have for 16:9. Think “average consumer”, when you’re thinking Philips. If you’re a serious competitive gamer, or if you’re all about watching movies, this probably isn’t the optimal display for you. But if you’re mixing work and play more evenly, it’ll be hard to do better.

Another black mark is the shockingly weak response time for a 4k display. For an amateur, this screen will look gorgeous, but to the trained eye, you’ll find issues with darker shades updating quickly enough. The result is an inky-looking trail in the wake of your view when you pan past dark objects.  You can spot video overshoot and ghosting as well, though this is somewhat expected for a panel with these features in this price range.

A nice change of pace from the standard black matte bezel. Plus all the connections are easily accessible and all stored on the backside.

The Take-Away Point

Since the Philips 40BDM4037U runs a 16:9 aspect ratio, it’s not truly an ultrawide monitor. But with a screen of this size, curvature, and resolution, it’s 75% of the way to being ultrawide by merit. What that means is you’ll enjoy full support from every type of application (since 16:9 is standard,) you’ll get all the productivity benefits of an ultrawide, and you’ll get the eye-care benefits of a curved display. In one word, that makes this monitor versatile. If you want a very large display but you don’t watch TV, this is probably the panel you’re looking for.


40” Display
LED Backlit
3840 x 2160 (4k) native resolution
60 Hz refresh rate
178°/178° viewing angle
10.7 billion display colors
300 cd/m2 brightness
20,000,000:1 contrast ratio
4ms response time
16:9 aspect ratio
3000R curvature radius
VGA, DP, HDMI-MHL 1.4/2.0, USB 3.0
VESA mountable
25.5 lbs

The Benefits of Curved Ultrawide: Facts and Research

Anytime you’re viewing a flat monitor head-on, the center of the screen will be closer to you than the edges of that screen. That can lead to a distorted image, and reduced color quality. Engineers have solved this problem by adding curvature to displays because it helps to prevent that distortion by ensuring the viewer is equally close to every part of the display. However, as curved displays have become increasingly popular, researchers have found there are actually several benefits to viewing curved monitors. 

What The Studies Show

Curved monitors are amazingly good at providing a comfortable viewing experience and alleviating eye strain. One Harvard study found curved monitors were less likely to produce tired eyes, eye-strain, blurred vision, and difficulty focusing, compared to flat screens. The study was pretty straightforward — participants used a flat or curved display for an extended period of time and then were asked to rate their discomfort. Curved panels were triumphant in every category.

Researchers found people who use flat panels have slower saccade peak speed, meaning viewing the screen causes their eyes to become physically exhausted. Researchers have also found that people are able to finish route-tracing tasks and target-search tasks faster when using curved displays. This may be related to the fact that curvature preferences are strongest during gaming activities.

What’s the Optimal Curvature? 

This NEC panel uses a 3000R curvature, indicating for this curvature to form a full circle, it would have a radius of three meters. This is generally appropriate for viewing approximately 2-feet from the monitor. 

Many manufacturers appear to select their curvature out of a hat. That’s why it’s a good idea to carefully consider reviews before purchasing. Reliable brands like Samsung have done research to figure out the perfect viewing distance, and came up with this calculation to find the best view:ljeOqGG.png


So how much curvature is the right amount? For a screen that’s around 29-32 inches, 3000R is a perfect fit. That number indicates the display has a curvature of 3 meters. Selecting the right curvature can be critical because it determines the optimal viewing distance from your screen, and presumably as well as how effective your display will be at delivering the benefits of curvature. For most curved displays, this distance will be approximately in the area 18”-28” inches from the panel, a comfortable viewing distance for a monitor.

Adding Immersion to a Panel

Given the same viewing distance from a monitor, and the same curvature of the screen, then your viewing angel will become larger as your display becomes larger. That’s why bigger panels create more immersion, and why curved monitors have more immersion than flat monitors of the same size. 


Speculative Advantages

Apart from the proven advantages of ultrawide displays, there are a number of speculative advantages. Many game developers (including most infamously Jeff Kaplan) have described ultrawide as an unfair advantage because it allows you to see a larger portion of the battlefield in many games compared to people using 16:9. As for if Kaplan is correct, or the extent to which he is correct, that’s unclear. But what is clear is that industry professionals seem to feel, at times, 21:9 is advantageous to competitive play.

What You Should Remember

Curved is better in many respects. Curved displays are easier to look at for all periods of time, they provide a more immersive viewing experience, and they’re generally more effective. Most people will also concede the aesthetic of a curved display is equally remarkable. And since ultrawide monitors are (almost) the only curved displays that are manufactured, that means ultrawide panels are usually the best choice, both for enjoying multimedia and for getting things done.

What is Monitor Response Time?

TLDR: The response time of a display measures how quickly a pixel can change from one color to another. Standard figures are in the neighborhood for 4ms for IPS panels, and 1ms for TN panels. Faster response times are more desirable, but this is mostly a gamer-feature to improve the image fidelity. Most casual users probably won’t see feel a difference.

Response time is related to, but separate from, input lag.  Anytime you hit your mouse button, there’s a delay between how long it takes that click to make it to your screen. In other words, your hardware sends a signal to your computer, and your computer sends a signal to your screen, but how fast that signal gets received and displayed is another thing entirely.

Ultrawide Monitor Response Time

Response times are measured in miliseconds. If you’re using a 60hz monitor, that means your screen is refreshing 60 times per second, so response times need to be small and precise. Longer response times lead  to what people call ghosting, which is the appearance of trails from a moving object because the pixels behind aren’t fast enough at refreshing.

Normal Response Times

Typical values you’ll see on monitors range from 5-12ms. Anything around 5ms is somewhat standard for 2017. Faster response times are available mostly in gaming- ultrawide monitors, because response times are a feature mostly gamers are interested in. For gamers, 1ms response time is the golden standard. It helps ensure that even when you’ve got the speed of a high refresh rate and FPS, your screen remains crystal clear and blur-free. 

Should you break your bank going after a better extra response time? The answer is generally no. It’s an excellent feature to have, but apart from some competitive gamers who want perfect image fidelity, most people won’t need a top-shelf response time. For those who do have the extra cash to access a top-shelf feature like 1ms response time, you can hardly do better than a well-rounded gaming ultrawide like the Asus ROG PG348Q, which has a 100Hz refresh rate and G-Sync.

The Long and Short of It

Response time can have a significant visual impact when it comes to fast-action. That means if you’re playing competitive FTS games, this is something that should concern you. If you’re all-about the immersion, which is one of the benefits of an ultrawide, 1ms ultrawide monitors will help keep your screen crystal clear no matter how fast things keep going. But if you’re browsing Facebook, watching movies, working, and playing casual or slow-paced games, it’s not something you have to think about.

Matte vs. Glossy: Do You Want Anti-Glare Protection?

TLDR: Anti-glare screens don’t reflect light as well as glossy screens. Anti-glare screens are comfortably visible even with indirect sunlight hitting the screen. Glossy screens are so adept at reflecting light, even minor amounts of sunlight can produce irritating amounts of glare, but have richer colors in exchange.

Matte vs. Glossy

Glare makes it more difficult to see what’s on the screen. Anti-Glare screen coatings are sometimes used to reduce the amount of glare, but at a cost. A glossy display has a better visual acuity because the glossy screen is better at reflecting light.  A glossy display has more contrast, color, and deeper blacks.

But the moment a beam of sunlight hits the display, you’ll see a reflection that’s impossible to ignore. While sunlight is the worst case scenario, sometimes even house lights can trigger this effect in an undesirable way. Anyone who has been on the receiving end of this can tell you just how frustrating it can be to no longer be able to see your screen.

Matte vs. Glossy Ultrawide Monitor


Similarities With Glossy And Matte Displays

Both types of display use the same LCD technology. The only difference is what type of coating is applied to the finished screen. In perfectly controlled circumstances, glossy and matte are actually very similar. This similarity is part of what makes it so hard to choose.

In general, in a controlled environment where you don’t have to worry about the sun bearing down on your monitor, a glossy screen is what you want. If you’ve got your monitor next to a window with direct sunlight pouring in several hours a day, or you’re in a very well-lit area, you’ll want to stick with an anti-glare screen instead.

Which Should You Buy?

If you have a room that isn’t extremely bright, and at the whims of the sun half of the day, then there’s no question — you want a glossy screen. If you’re looking for deep, rich colors, you’ll get the best possible visual display with a glossy screen. But frankly, many people don’t have the controlled environment necessary to make a glossy screen a sensible choice. Many people have fallen victim to seeing the gorgeous glossy display in an electronics store, only to take it home and discover it’s totally unmanageable. If your computer resides anywhere near a window, you’ll want to guess and second-guess whether or not you can comfortably use a glossy display. 

Resources for Ultrawide Gaming

Ultrawide monitor support can be spotty. Although ultrawide adoption is drastically increasing, some games and software don’t offer native-ultrawide support, meaning you’ll end up with letter-boxing on the right and left sides of your display. Although much of this can usually be done away with through the help of modded support like Flawless Widescreen, a free app that can help extend widescreen support to new and popular titles.

More importantly, just because a game will load an ultrawide resolution and fill up the entire screen doesn’t mean it has proper 21:9 support. Without extending the field of view, you’re not getting a complete ultrawide experience, which is the case with some games that support ultrawide. Most infamously perhaps, is Overwatch.

field of view ultrawide gaming

Of course, many competitive game developers have to make the decision of whether or not they’re willing to permit field-of-view enhancements, which may give disproportionate advantage to players who have them in some types of competitive games. Where true ultrawide support is available, a field-of-view enhancement basically means you get to see more of the battlefield, which translates very quickly into a huge advantage. 

Netflix Ultrawide Support

This Ultrawide Netflix plugin for Chrome can help you take 16:9 Netflix encoding and switch ot ti 21:9, all with the aid of helpful keybvoard shortcuts.

Do Your Favorite Games Support Ultrawide?

Does your favorite game have support for ultrawide? This ultrawide game list is essentially the ESRB for ultrawide support. It’s a near-complete list of all PC games, and a rating for their support for ultrawide and 4k. You can also find out whether support is native and how the widescreen behaves in general. For Steam-oriented gamers, take a look at this curated list hundreds of Steam titles with native support for ultrawide.

With the rising adoption of ultrawide monitors, we’ll no doubt see more and more games develop native support for ultrawide gaming monitors. Although there’s no guarantee your favorite game will let you take advantage of the field-of-view enhancements of an ultrawide monitor, the games where you can take advantage of it won’t just be more immersive, they’ll give you a distinct visual advantage over 16:9 aspect ratio.