Curved PC and console gaming monitors with flashy numbers like 1900R and 1800R have become popular, but what should you know before taking the plunge?
Welcome to our brief but insightful guide to curved gaming monitors. While flat screens have been the norm from the decline of CRT displays in the late 1990s, a desire for something different and more “immersive” brought curves back into the equation in the late 2000s. Gradually, curved monitors reclaimed significant market share, by the mid 2010s becoming commercially viable and vastly more affordable.
If you’re planning to purchase a new monitor for your PC and console gaming but feel like something other than the usual flat screen, a curved panel offers an interesting option. Why should you get a curved gaming monitor and what needs to go into considering the purchase? Let’s take a quick look.
And if you need a slightly more detailed comparison between flat and curved monitors, we have you covered.
Clearly curved gaming monitors require more advanced manufacturing than their flat counterparts, as circuit boards, transistors, and LED layers must conform to an angled surface rather than a uniform flat rectangle. This is primarily why curved monitors of any given size and spec still cost a little more than a flat display of the same size and feature set. That’s the first important thing to understand. Other than the curved design, everything else is the same. All the fundamental specs and technologies are identical across curved and flat monitors. The curve doesn’t provide any performance gain, it simply offers a different viewing experience that many people find more pleasing.
One specification that curved monitors have and flat ones do not is a number/letter combo that looks like 1800R, 3000R, 4000R, and so on. This spec represents the curvature of the monitor or the magnitude of bending. The R here stands for radius and is measured in millimeters. The lower the number, the more curved the monitor. For example, 1800R, a very popular curvature, is more curved than 4000R. When we say the radius is measured in millimeters, we mean the distance from one edge of the monitor to the other. So the bigger the number the bigger the monitor and less pronounced the curve.
That’s in general, because it is technically possible to make a 49” 1000R monitor, but that would be an extremely aggressive curve, with the edges nearly touching each other due to the combination of a very wide monitor and very pronounced curve.
Broadly speaking, the sweet spot for curved gaming monitors is 34” and 1900R, considering the typical viewing distance of PC usage. And here we get to the other important basic of curved displays. Measuring viewing distance for them is easy, unlike with flat monitors. If your curved monitor of choice is 1900R, then you should place yourself 1.9 meters in front of it. That’s because curved gaming monitors match human eyesight much better than flat displays, and leave less to guesswork with regards to viewing distance.
Two more features to keep in mind are screen ratio and resolution. Curved monitors are almost always ultrawide 21:9 or 32:9 by now. That’s different from the 16:9 of nearly every flat monitor. So please remember curved monitors use ultrawide native resolutions, like 3440 x 1440 and 3840 x 1600. These are modified QHD and 4K resolutions, and while they look great, not every game supports them, and many desktop apps may not look right. Just remember that when deciding on a curved display.
The value 'R' is used to indicate the curvature radius. A 4,000R monitor would form a circle with a 4,000 mm radius.
People often forget that most movie theater screens have a slight bend to them, and the original ones from the 19th century were even more curved. This is because obviously humans see in “3D”, with depth of perception. Flat monitors can’t really hope to match that, but curved gaming monitors and other curved displays do a much better job of approximating our natural eyesight. They’re also far less prone to color fade and viewing angle issues because with a curved display, every pixel is always the same distance away from your eyes. There’s no part of the screen that closer or farther. This results in an effective “wraparound” feel that leads to the much-celebrated “immersion factor” of curved displays.
And as we all know, immersion rules the day for serious gaming.
Additionally, eye fatigue takes a setback with curved gaming monitors because they match the natural way you see the world so much better. Even issues like glare are far less defiant when using a curved monitor. With a flat screen, to get an impressive and immersive viewing experience you’d need a large monitor, and that would mean worse uniformity than with a curved monitor, plus more eye and head swivel, both of which may lead to fatigue. There’s far less of that with a curved monitor.
Racing and flight sims have created a close bond with curved gaming monitors over the last decade, beginning with hardcore enthusiasts and gradually expanding into the mainstream. With current technology, a curved monitor is the closest to immersive 3D you can get in a racing or flight sim without use of VR hardware, and definitely a more realistic way of viewing things than a flat screen.
Beyond simulators, curved monitors work great with pretty much every genre, except perhaps puzzlers, where an even surface that doesn’t curve lines may prove a little more beneficial.
In sims curved gaming monitors have a definite advantage. For every other genre, it’s really a matter of taste. We don’t feel that a curved surface provides any discernible advantage in first person shooters, for example.
Curved gaming monitors feature on the product lines of every monitor manufacturer now because they offer a popular option. The primary motivation to get one is to try something different and new. Curved monitors are easier on eyes and provide a better, more comfortable viewing experience with certain gaming advantages for those that favor simulation titles. However, in terms of performance and core specs like refresh rate, response time, color depth, and panel technology, they’re the same as flat screens.
If you’ve never tried a curved monitor but are determined to get one, we strongly recommend going for a more moderate curve on a larger display, such as 1800R on a 35” monitor. An extreme, 1000R 25” may be a bit too different from what you’re used to, so better start with what we termed the curved gaming monitor sweet spot. Thanks for reading and let us know what you think on social media.
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