21:9 Monitors Guide, August 2019

Considering a 21:9 monitor?

With many models, panel types, and refresh rates available now – it can be a bit daunting trying to narrow down which would be best for you.

In this guide, I will briefly explain some of the pros and cons of the various 21:9 monitors out there.

One thing to note is that 21:9 is a marketing term – in reality, there is no such thing as a “21:9” monitor, and the various “21:9” resolutions have slightly different aspect ratios which are actually closer to 24:10!

  • 2560 x 1080 & 5120 x 2160 have a 2.37:1 aspect ratio
  • 3440×1440 has a 2.39:1 aspect ratio
  • and 3840×1600 has a 2.4:1 (24:10) aspect ratio

2560×1080 (2.37:1) Ultrawide Monitors

2560 x 1080 is the smallest resolution available for ultrawide monitors. These are generally not recommended for productivity purposes, either because of their small sizes (25 & 29” models) or due to their lower PPI (34″ models).

However, these make great gaming monitors – and because of their “low” resolution, you don’t have to break the bank for a GPU to power it – even an RX 570 is capable of powering games with higher graphics settings enabled.

25”, 29” & 30” Monitors

25” Ultrawide monitors have very high PPI (Pixels per inch) due to their smaller size, despite their “low” resolution of 2560 x 1080 – just over 111 PPI for one of these models. This is slightly denser than you would find on a 34” 3440 x 1440 monitor. One should keep in mind, however, that these units are very vertically short – equivalent to a 20” 16:9 monitor.

There is currently only one manufacturer of 25” Ultrawide Monitors – LG. Their latest model is the 25UM58-P, which uses an IPS screen which provides for rich colors and good response times. The stands that come with these units are basic and only allow for tilting.

Related YouTube Reviews:

29” Ultrawide monitors

They are considered the “sweet spot” for 2560 x 1080, with 95.8 pixels per inch for 29” models, and 92.6 PPI for 30” units.

These are taller, approximately matching 24” 16:9 monitors in height. Like 25” ultrawide monitors, the demand is limited – which results in a low variety of units to choose from.

There used to be a variety of manufacturers to choose from, but currently, only Viotek, Asus, Acer, and LG produce monitors in this category.

We recommend LG’s latest model – the 29WK600 – because it incorporates a 75hz IPS screen with 99% sRGB coverage that has both basic HDR10 support & FreeSync.

Its native FreeSync range is somewhat lacking – only 40-75hz – but most units can have the minimum FreeSync range lowered to 35hz using Custom Resolution Utility, which will allow for use of LFC (Low Framerate Compensation).

This translates into vibrant colors and a tear-free experience while gaming. It can usually be found for around $249 USD.

If you’re on a budget, LG’s 29WK500 offers nearly all of the features of the 600 model – but lacks HDR support and DisplayPort connections (necessary for Adaptive Sync if using an Nvidia GPU). It can be found for $200 USD.

YouTube Reviews:

Honorable mentions:

Viotek’s GN30CB offers a slightly taller screen – 30” vs 29” – that also has a 75hz panel.

The primary difference – outside of HDR support – between these two models is the panel type.

LG’s uses an IPS panel, whereas the Viotek monitor uses a VA panel. This results in deeper blacks on the Viotek model, but at the cost of occasional motion blur during certain color transitions.

Dishonorable mention:

Asus also produces a 29” model with FreeSync support, however, we cannot recommend it vs LG’s model because it has fewer features (No HDR) whilst carrying a price tag nearly twice as expensive at $350 USD.

High Refresh Rate 30” G-Sync – Acer Predator Z1

There is a single high refresh rate 30” model: Acer’s Z301c – the z1 is a 144hz G-Sync monitor, which can be overclocked up to 200hz, with built-in Tobi Eye-tracking.

It has a very little motion blur despite using a VA Panel. However, with their high price tag of $899, it’s hard to recommend this unit when you can get a high refresh rate 34” 3440×1440 monitor for a similar (or cheaper!) price – unless you absolutely need a G-Sync monitor in this panel size.

If you’re interested in it, check out an in-depth review from Tom’s Hardware.

34”/35” 2560×1080

With 34”/35” 2560×1080 monitors, there is a lot more competition. While these make great gaming monitors, we would recommend against picking one of these up for productivity due to their lower PPI – which is similar to a 27” 16:9 1080p monitor.

Best budget ultrawide monitor: LG’s 34WK650

This unit is literally just a bigger version of the 29WK600 which we mentioned earlier – bringing a 75hz IPS screen with 99% sRGB coverage that has HDR10 support & FreeSync.

It has an MSRP of $360, but can be found for less if you watch for sales.

Best High Refresh Rate Ultrawide: LG’s 34UC79-G

This model comes with an IPS Screen, an LFC – Low Framerate Compensation – compatible FreeSync range, and a 1ms blur reduction mode. It has good response times and input lag, making it the perfect ultrawide for competitive gaming.

However, we do not recommend using it’s blur reduction mode – as it can cause flickering, which is quite the eyesore! This model is currently available on Amazon for $499 USD – only $100 more than the WK600.

TechSource review:

For an in-depth review of this monitor, we invite you to read TFT Central’s review of this unit.

Honorable Mention:

LG also produces a G-Sync version of the model above, the 34UC89-G. This unit forgoes the (mostly useless) blur reduction feature but allows for overclocking it’s panel up to 166hz.

It’s a bit pricier, with an MSRP of $799 – but it is frequently sold for less. As of the writing of this article, it is available on Amazon for $664.

Dishonorable Mentions:

There are also many 35” high refresh rate 2560×1080 monitors available in 144-200hz panels, such as Acer’s Predator Z35 (G-Sync, 200hz) or AOC’s Agon AG352QCX (FreeSync, 200hz).

All of these units use the same panel, but we cannot recommend any of these because they have horrible motion blur which is so bad that PCgamesn titled their review of AOC’s model “the 200hz refresh can’t hide this VA panel’s hazy motion”.

3440×1440 (2.39:1)

34” 3440×1440 monitors offer both good screen size and great PPI – which mean they’re great for productivity. For gaming, we recommend having at least a GTX 1070, Vega 56, or better – especially for high refresh rates. There are many models to choose from, with a variety of refresh rates.

For productivity

Dell’s U3419W is our most recommended productivity monitor at this point. It comes with 2x HDMI ports, a DisplayPort connection, 4x USB 3.0 connection, and USB-C – which can provide up to 90w of power for charging devices.

It also has with KVM support – meaning you can use a single keyboard and mouse to control two separate computers, each of which will share one half of it’s a gorgeous 10-bit color screen which comes with 99% sRGB coverage.

Dell includes an impressive 3-year warranty, meaning that you don’t have to worry about replacing it if a defect occurs after a year or two of ownership. It’s the only downside is that it has a curved screen, which may not be optimal for certain workloads.

This monitor is currently available for $799 directly from Dell, or via NewEgg.

LG’s 34UM88 comes with a vibrant IPS panel with 99% sRGB coverage, 2x Thunderbolt ports, USB 3.0 Quick Charging support, and unlike many other 3440 monitors – it is flat, not curved! It has an MSRP of $799 – but it is almost always available for much less. As of this writing, it is available for $525 on Amazon.

This monitor also has basic FreeSync support with a 40-60hz, but between the limited range and the 60hz maximum refresh rate, we really wouldn’t recommend this model for gaming.

Reviews:

Hipster Pixel – Is it a revolution?

And;

The Best 3440×1440 Gaming monitor

In our opinion – LG’s 34GK950F is the best overall 3440×1440 gaming monitor – it packs a 144hz refresh rate, 10-bit color, HDR 400 support, blur reduction features, and a Nano-IPS Display with 98% DCI-P3 coverage.

Each unit is calibrated prior to shipping – meaning you don’t have to take the time to adjust it’s settings, just turn it on and go! It is available for $1,199.

LG also has a G-Sync certified version of this model (34GK950G), which has slightly better response times – but only has 8-bit color, lacks HDR, and has slightly lower brightness & contrast, as well as a lower refresh rate (120hz).

For an in-depth review, check out:

TFTCentral

Tom’s Hardware

If we had a fatter wallet, we might consider ASUS ROG Swift PG35VQ‘s instead because with a 200hz refresh rate, true HDR with 1000 nits of brightness and a 512-zone backlight and G-Sync Ultimate support is fairly impressive. It’s specs have a price tag to match.

Reviews:

Techspot – “The best monitor we’ve ever reviewed”PC Perspective – “This new ASUS ROG G-Sync Display will Swift-ly deplete your wallet”



Honorable Mentions:

Dell’s Alienware AW341DW is a 120hz G-Sync monitor with nearly perfect response times. It uses an IPS Panel which covers 99% sRGB and features 4x 3.0 USB ports (1 with quick charging support). It also comes with AlienFX lighting. It is currently available from Dell at $979, or at NewEgg for $889. Acer’s Predator x34 offers the same features as the AW341DW, with the exception of AlienFX lighting.

TFT Central Review here.

Dishonorable mentions:

All 35” VA monitors with refresh rates higher than 100hz, such as AOC’s Agon AG352QCX. The reason being is that they have extremely bad motion blur, to the point that Pcgamesn titled their review “the 200hz refresh can’t hide this VA panel’s hazy motion”. Source here.

Best budget 3440×1440 gaming monitors

MassDrop’s VAST is our reccomendation for gamers on a budget. At 35”, it is slightly bigger than most other 3440×1440 monitors. It features a VA panel with 100% sRGB coverage, 3H Anti-Glare treatment, FreeSync, and a 100hz refresh rate.

It has a very high-quality stand which supports adjustments of any type – even vertical rotation! It has an advertised 2ms response time – but in reality, it occasionally has very minor motion blur while gaming. It has a very affordable price of $549, however, MassDrop frequently offers sales of $50 off on this unit.

Reviews:

Unbottlenecked (Yeah, I reviewed this monitor)

Tom’s Hardware

Linus;

Acer’s CZ340CK is a FreeSync monitor which only comes with a 75hz refresh rate, but it has a much lower price to match – it’s currently available for between $550-$600 on various online retailers.

It has an IPS panel – and is one of the few monitors available which comes with 100% sRGB coverage & 10-bit color. It has connections for DisplayPort, Mini DisplayPort, HDMI, and MHL. It also includes a DisplayPort-out port for daisy chaining multiple monitors. Some users on Reddit have also reported having been able to overclock these monitors up to 100hz.

38” 3840×1600 Ultrawides (2.4:1)

These monitors are the largest currently available ultra wide monitors – they are absolutely enormous. There are few models to choose from, as LG produces all of the IPS panels used for these monitors.

A 38” ultrawide is absolutely perfect for productivity work. We generally don’t recommend these for competitive gaming because they only support up to 75hz refresh rates, have moderately high input lag, and generally have very narrow FreeSync ranges.

All of these models cover 99% sRGB coverage. LG’s most recent model, the 38WK95C, comes with HDR10, Bluetooth Audio, and a 52-75hz Adaptive Sync range.

Acer’s XR382CQK has a slightly larger window, supporting 48-75hz, but lacks HDR support. HP & Dell also offer 3840×1600 models – but they both lack HDR, and only support a 60hz refresh rate.

For gaming, we would recommend waiting for LG’s upcoming 38LG950G. It will come with a 144hz native refresh rate, overclockable up to 175hz, Sphere Lighting 2.0, and is G-Sync Compatible (meaning its Adaptive Sync support will work with both AMD Radeon & Nvidia GPUs).

It is expected to be released by the end of this year. No price has been given, but given it is a high refresh rate it will likely cost more than $1400.

Reviews:

TFTCentral

Hardware Unboxed;

  • Dell’s U3818DW uses the same panel as the other models, and can be found at similar prices. It may lack the 75hz refresh rate found in the other models, having a standard 60hz refresh – but it has a longer 3 year warranty, which is considerably more important for professional usage.

34” 5K Ultrawide

For this category, there is only a single monitor available as of this writing – LG’s 34WK95U.

It features an IPS panel with a 5120×2160 resolution, which has the highest pixel density of any ultrawide monitor – 163.44 PPI!

It comes with 10-bit color & HDR support, 2x USB Ports, ThunderBolt 3, and a USB Up-Stream port.

It has an MSRP of around $1,499.

Reviews:

Digital Trends;

And; Rtings review

Thank you for reading, hope this guide was helpful.

MassDrop’s VAST (35″ 3440×1440 100hz) – too good to be true?

For this review, I used MassDrop’s VAST for two weeks as a daily driver. It has a MSRP of $549, lower than you would typically find for an ultrawide monitor. The VAST features a 3440×1440 VA Panel and operates at up to 100hz. At 35″, it is slightly larger than other 3440 monitors. It is technically overclockable – but don’t expect more than 110hz due to the limitations of DisplayPort 1.2

MASSDROP VAST 35″


(Image Source: Drop)

The Good

When I first put together MassDrop’s VAST, the first thing that struck out to me… was how nice the stand included in it was! It titled in every direction – including vertical orientation – and provided adequate height adjustment (which, as a tall person, is appreciated – I don’t like looking “down” on monitors). I was very apprehensive about the curve, I have never seen the point in having one – I’ve been using flat 34″ ultrawides for a long time. While the curve was apparent, it wasn’t annoying nor did it impact my actual usage of the monitor.

As someone who has largely used 1080p monitors over the past few years, the PPI (Pixels per inch) increase was breathtaking. After I went back to 1080p, it was a bit jarring at first as I acclimated to the lower resolution again.

The 100hz refresh rate provided by the VAST made for a smooth gaming experience, and it’s VRR range of 40-100hz insures that VRR works regardless of the framerate. However, there were some titles that I couldn’t run at anywhere near that framerate – and so I created a custom 2560×1080 resolution. Surprisingly, despite it being a non-native resolution – it actually looked decent.

The “Meh”

Drop’s marketing claims a 2ms response time for this monitor, but marketing and reality are two different things. That being said, for a VA monitor the VAST’s response times are actually quite good – using it as a daily driver, the response times were acceptable. No transition particularly bugged me, whereas VA monitors I have used in the past I’ve found to be unsuitable for gaming.

The Bad

The color quality of this unit was subpar. At first it merely looked a bit “washed out”, but after playing Mass Effect 3 in a dimly lit scenario – the blacks were so crushed I literally could not see where I was going. After a lot of tinkering and adjustments, I was finally able to get it to acceptable settings – but at the cost of washing out the most bright colors . While in gaming this was mostly fine, one some websites it was not: One forum I visit uses light grey vs white to differentiate between “read” replies and “unread” replies – as a result, I was unable to distinguish between a read and an unread message on that forum while using the VAST.

My biggest complaint? FreeSync flickering. In most games, there were no flickering issues. In some games, like Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, there was occasional flickering – but nothing “gamebreaking”.
In a few titles, however, the flickering was so bad it literally ruined the gameplay experience. This was the case in Mad Max, despite being able to push the full refresh rate of 100 in this title.

Conclusion

You literally cannot beat Drop’s VAST 35″ for the price. Similarly specced monitors cost $900+, sometimes more. Having such a deeply discounted price vs its competition, it’s obviously going to have some compromises.

For those who can’t stand the thought of a 34″ 2560×1080 monitor, but don’t want to pay out nearly $1000 – I absolutely recommend this monitor, just be aware of it’s compromises.