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How to Choose a Curved vs. Flat Monitor and Which One’s Best for You

BenQ
2022/05/03
cuved vs flat monitor

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Usually you will ask about, what ’s the difference between curved and flat monitor? Why make curved monitors to begin with?

We’ll try to answer these questions as best we can.

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Contents

Shared Foundations of Curved and Flat Monitors

First off, other than the curvature, most of the basics are exactly the same. Panel types such as VA and IPS cut across flat and curved displays. Refresh rates, response times, bit color depth, AMD FreeSync and NVIDIA G-Sync, and overall technological underpinnings are all essentially identical. It’s not like flat monitors or curved monitors have an edge in refresh rate, response, color, HDR, or anything like that. Even resolutions are generally the same, though curved monitors tend to have ultrawide screen ratios with resolutions like 3440 x 1440, as we’ll see in a bit. But if you’re concerned that by choosing flat or curved you’re missing out on something fundamental, don’t worry about that.

Rating Curved Monitor Curvature

When considering curved vs. flat monitors, you’ll see numbers like 1000R, 1800R or 1900R only for curved models. The R means radius, while the number is millimeters. So, a 1000R monitor forms a portion of a 1000mm radius, determining its curvature. 

Curves and Viewing Distance

For viewing distance, there’s no difference when comparing curved and flat monitors. The main point of curved monitors is to better accommodate the natural depth that human eyesight has. Flat displays don’t provide that depth, but curved monitors feel more natural once you get used to them. They’ve become so popular because they deliver a sensation of depth that’s both mild enough to be enjoyed and not as jarringly unnatural as wearing 3D glasses (remember the 3D craze of 2009-2014?). Basically, a good middle ground that better conforms with the cone of vision humans have. The most important monitor factor that relates to viewing distance is simply screen size. 

On Ratios and Why They Matter

Another thing to keep in mind discussing curved vs. flat monitors is that most curved monitors arrive in a 21:9 screen ratio, meaning they’re 2.3 times wider than they’re high. That’s a considerable departure from standard 16:9 flat displays, where width is just 1.8 times greater than height. That translates into a significantly wider field of view, an excellent feature for gamers. That’s because you get more of the image on the screen, while with 16:9 some of it gets cropped by default. However, it is true 16:9 is by far the dominant screen ratio and thus not all games support 21:9. Plus, both Xbox and PlayStation consoles don’t offer ultrawide support as of yet.

 

Really radical curved displays ship with a 32:9 screen ratio. They’re typically 49” behemoths that require a desk the size of an aircraft carrier, but if you can spare the room, the experience is something to be admired.

A New Curve for Gaming and Much More

In addition to offering a better fit for natural human eyesight, curved monitors also maintain the same distance from your eyes to any point on the screen. A big 43” flat monitor requires moving your head to view details on its edges, which may cause fatigue over time. Also, unless the monitor is very premium, uneven distance from eyes to screen usually causes slightly lower image quality due to different viewing angles and distances. Colors may seem faded, the screen could appear too bright or too dark, and so forth. In the battle of curved vs. flat monitors, that’s a disadvantage that curved monitors address. You get the same viewing distance to every part of the screen.

 

The wraparound effect of curved monitors is what makes them so popular among gamers, who are likely the main target audience for “immersive experiences”, as they’re so frequently referred to. Gamers also depend on detail visibility, so an equidistant design that avoids many of the pitfalls associated with viewing angles is great for gamers. In certain gaming genres, curved monitors have become almost the standard.

 

However, not just gaming fans benefit from curved monitors.

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Desktop Real Estate Enhanced

If you’re a big multitasker deciding between curved and flat monitors, the good news is curved displays work in your favor. That’s why they’re very popular among programmers and coders, stock market pros, and content creators. Check with most full time YouTubers and you’ll see they overwhelmingly prefer curved displays. Even better, most set up a two or three monitor array to truly surround themselves with display real estate.

 

Since curved monitors usually have ultrawide screen ratios, they offer lots of width and thus can accommodate many open apps/windows at the same time. If that’s a priority for you and you want to boost your productivity when working on your PC, then you should consider a curved display.

 

If you’re a photographer or designer, then you can make your own mind whether a curved display will help you out. Sure, the curve may cause apparent distortions, so perhaps a flat ultrawide might be better for you. But the more accurate viewing distance may compensate for that.

The Curved Bottom Line

Frankly, in the curved vs. flat monitor discussion, the main reason to get a curved display is because they’re so fun and different from the usual flat monitors we’re used to. And we have nothing against flat monitors, that is totally something that’s up to your personal preferences and needs. We do think trying new things is good, though. Also, if you’re keen on gaming (especially simulation racing, flying, and apparently boating) then a curved monitor will offer a fresh outlook on your experiences. And for multitasking productivity, curved monitors have their own unique advantages with regards to viewing distance and natural comfort, plus the added workspace. There’s a lot to consider here, and we hope you’ll let us know what you think in the usual social media spaces!

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