The current trend in computing is two-fold: Content resolution is becoming richer and more vivid with every passing year, paving the way for 4K displays. Meanwhile, many display manufacturers are simply opting for wider format ratios to help better showcase the amount of content vying for our retinas.
And there are a lot of compelling reasons to opt for these epic, open-faced displays over the aforementioned UHD monitors. Movies are more compelling, video games are significantly more immersive, and you can stack two or three windows side by side without scrunching things up too badly. While they used to cost at least a grand, prices are dropping just as quickly as your jaw will be when you set your sights on one of these hefty displays.
Samsung S34E790C ($699)
Sitting pretty at the top of our list, Samsung’s 34-inch curved Ultrawide is a yacht of a display. There’s little room to complain though, given the 3,440 x 1,440-pixel resolution, perfect sRGB gamut, and deep, luscious blacks. Best of all, in practice, the screen is a joy to use. Video games immediately become more immersive and expansive, windows can stack three wide without scrunching up too much, and movies in 21:9 are spectacular thanks in large part to the 60Hz refresh rate and 4ms response time. A light curve is just the cherry on top of this already impressive monitor.
Dell Ultrasharp U3415W ($730+)
No monitor is perfect, but Dell’s Ultrasharp U3415W comes pretty close. The “U” stands for UltraSharp, which is appropriate considering the ultra-wide monitor holds itself to higher standards than most others. The build quality is robust, relying on an ergonomic VESA stand that allows the monitor to tilt and swivel with ease, while the thin bezels add to its sense of sleekness. The 730:1 contrast ratio and color gamut are superb, too, helping the monitor achieve outstanding image quality when fed high-resolution content — even if it does showcase modest color accuracy and suffer from some backlight bleed along the corners.
LG 34UC97 ($941)
LG was a pioneer of the 21:9 aspect ratio, and as such it knows how to produce a worthwhile ultra-wide. The company’s 34UC97 may lack some of the ergonomic functionality we come to expect from a monitor — for instance, tilt is the only adjustment supported — but it excels with a wide selection of ports and an attractive design that makes use of an elegant metal backing and chrome trim. Picture quality is tremendous when dealing with the appropriate content as well, capitalizing on the monitor’s high contrast ratio and wide color gamut for optimal effect. Sadly, as with the Dell, backlight bleed is an issue for this LG. If you’re a gamer with an AMD card, it’s also worth noting a functionally similar display, the LG 34UC98, also packs in FreeSync.
Acer Predator X34/XR341CK ($883+)
Acer’s ultrawide offering includes G-Sync, a welcome addition that gamers will appreciate. Nvidia’s adaptive refresh technology works with a compatible GeForce card to ensure smooth gameplay, eliminate tearing, and hopefully make the best use of the 75Hz refresh rate. With 3,440 x 1,440-pixel resolution, a good graphics card is needed for a solid gaming experience anyway, and the Acer delivers on the full experience with a 4ms response time and a slight curve that’s excellent for gaming. In fact, Acer says this offering is the first curved G-Sync monitor, though there is a FreeSync model without the Predator branding for the same price if you’re on the red team.
AOC U3477PQU ($560+)
AOC’s 34-inch ultrawide may be the least expensive of the bunch, but that doesn’t mean it skimps on features. The Taiwanese company’s U3477PQU is one of the best ultra-wide monitors currently in existence, showcasing a minimal bezel and a set of easily-accessible controls that are overshadowed only by the display’s stupendous color reproduction. The backside of the panel houses a slew of standard inputs and outputs (DisplayPort, HDMI, VGA, etc.), and unlike most 29:1 monitors, the integrated swivel stand allows you to place the U3477PQU in portrait mode if you have the necessary space and a desire for a kink in your neck.
HP Envy 34C ($740+)
The curvature on the aforementioned S29E790C may be slight, but the HP Envy takes it to the next level. It’s the company’s first monitor to include a 21:9 aspect ratio and 3,440 x 1,440-pixel WQHD resolution, and the SVA panel allows for consistent color accuracy and a high contrast ratio for deep blacks, brighter whites, and a warmer color palette. The monitor’s contemporary design is attractive and modern, lined with an anti-glare screen that quickly tilts and swivels with the touch of your hand, while a line of standard input and output ports on the backside provide connectivity with most common devices. It even comes bundled with a wireless remote, so you can sit back and still take in all 34-inches of real estate.