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Are Ultrawide Monitors Really Better for Gaming?


We compare curved ultrawide gaming monitors with standard 16:9 aspect ratio displays and talk about the advantages of ultrawide in gaming, multitasking, and entertainment

What are the advantages of ultrawide curved monitors? We take a close look at gaming and more

Well, that’s a bit of a subjective topic right there. After all, what’s “better”? Monitors in themselves won’t make games better, and since the underlying, core technology of ultrawide and standard ratio monitors is the same (refresh rates, resolutions, HDR, color depth, etc.), the ultrawide factor in itself won’t boost performance. It will, however, quite meaningfully change the way you literally see your gaming.

Within the context of PC gaming, almost all ultrawide gaming monitors these days are curved. However, you may still find the occasional ultrawide, non-curved, non-gaming focused monitor that may prove surprisingly very good for gaming in solid 60Hz. In general, if you want ultrawide improvements to your games, we’d recommend going with a curved model. The main reason to go with an ultrawide gaming monitor is to increase your field of view and famous “immersion factor”. A curved panel contributes more to that than a simple and flat ultrawide design.

But what’s an ultrawide gaming monitor anyway? Again, this is all relative. Over the last 15 years monitors have largely standardized (just as did TVs) along the 16:9 ratio, giving rise to resolutions like 1920 x 1080, 2560 x 1440, and 3840 x 2160. Compared to 16:9, ratios such as 21:9 and 32:9 are ultrawide. You see, the height of the screen remains the same, it’s the width that gets stretched. So 2560 x 1440 becomes 3440 x 1440, our beloved 3840 x 2160 4K turns into 5120 x 2160 and so forth. What are the benefits of this, you ask? 

Field of View

The most basic and obvious. Unbeknownst to you (probably), your 16:9 monitor or TV actually crop every frame and leave the edges outside. If you want to see those “edges”, you need to pan the camera, i.e. look around. With an ultrawide gaming monitor, your field of view (FOV) is bigger, and you get more with each frame. Less camera movement needed, which is a good thing on many levels. Broadly speaking, a wider FOV gives you an advantage in competitive gaming like multiplayer online shooters because you see more of the arena at any given time than gamers on 16:9 monitors, and it’s not even considered cheating! 

More Natural Viewing, Especially on Curved

Ultrawide gaming monitors in general give your eyes a surface to look at that’s more in line with the natural way humans see the world. Curved monitors take this and run with it, because they have a sort of depth to them that conforms nicely to the three dimensional, depth-based way our eyes work. Curved monitors simply offer a more, here we go again, immersive gaming experience than flat screens could ever hope to deliver. Not only that, they’re less likely to cause eye fatigue because our eyes don’t need to focus on an artificially flat screen, something they were generally not designed to do.

If we say ultrawide and curved monitors are a more natural way to look at a PC screen you may think we’re being funny, but we’re serious. If you don’t believe us, try it for yourself. 

More Desktop Space for Multitasking and Prettier Games for the Same Performance Load

Because ultrawide gaming monitors take established, popular resolutions and stretch them horizontally, they immediately create extra space on your desktop. If you’re a multitasker that has lots of apps open at the same time, or if you simply love having hundreds of icons adorning your desktop, with ultrawides you can have even more.

And the best part of this is that ultrawide resolutions give you more pixels than their 16:9 counterparts, but not enough to overburden graphics cards. If you have a QHD (2560 x 1440) GPU, it won’t have any problem running games in 3440 x 1440, but the image quality will be noticeably sharper. The same with 4K, where 5120 x 2160 isn’t enough of a boost to stifle a GPU, but it’s enough extra pixels to make a neat difference. 

Great for Movie Buffs

Also most likely unbeknownst to you, most movies are made in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. We won’t get into what that means here, but suffice it to say in PC monitor terms that’s 21:9! Whether streaming or watching the Blu-ray, those movies will have black top and bottom bars on a 16:9 display, unless you select zoom, which will detract from image quality. An ultrawide monitor will present them in their native ratio, with no black bars, as the movie will fill the entire screen. 

Some Cons

Minor con might be the slight price premium over 16:9 monitors, but these days the gap is narrowing quickly. A more pressing concern is compatibility of game titles with ultrawide resolutions. As of this writing in mid-2021, a surprising number of major releases still don’t offer ultrawide resolution support. And then you get titles that support ultrawide in-game, but not in cutscene cinematics. This creates all sorts of strange occurrences, but compatibility is improving as ultrawide and curved monitors become more popular. If you choose an ultrawide gaming monitor, be ready to check each game for compatibility before buying.


What to Look for in an Ultrawide

Beyond the obviously ultrawide screen (sorry, couldn’t help it), just look at the BenQ EX3415R. Not to brag, but that one’s pretty much perfect. It has a 144Hz IPS panel with amazing colors, 1ms response, a nice 1900R curvature, FreeSync, and powerful treVolo sound. If you’re going with an ultrawide gaming monitor, we’d really suggest not settling for 60Hz, which shouldn’t be a problem because nearly all curved displays are faster than that now.

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