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Thread: Ultrawide (and possibly curved) screens - are they worth it?

  1. #1
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland

    Ultrawide (and possibly curved) screens - are they worth it?

    Any TTLGers that have an ultrawide screen, possibly a curved one? In general, do you consider them worth it for gaming? How broadly are 21:9 aspect ratios supported by games from the last half-dozen years, and how easy is it either to tweak unsupported games or to display at 16:9 in the centre of the display?

  2. #2
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: Qantas
    Yes! There is another thread about this topic that SubJeff started last year. In the context of that thread, I went out and got an LG 38UC99-W. He got a Samsung C34F791.

    I love my 38" LG for productivity. It has more total screen real estate than a dual 1920x1200 monitor setup and with no break in the middle you can really use all of it for a single application when you need to. I find it very handy when working with large spreadsheets. It also has a picture by picture mode, where I can display my home computer's desktop at 1920x1600 on one half of the screen and my work computer's desktop at 1920x1600 on the other half of the screen. I use that a lot when working from home.

    It's also great for gaming, but with two caveats. First, a minor one; the radius of curvature could be a little smaller for more of a wrap-around effect. My LG has a 2.3m radius, which means it's on the flatter end of curved monitors. That's good for productivity work, but for gaming I think a tighter radius would allow me to use a wider FOV setting without it looking distorted. That's just a minor complaint though. The bigger caveat is that you will need an expensive card to run modern games at native resolution. The 34" screens are 3440x1440, and a GTX 1080 (if you can find one) or an RTX 2070 should handle anything current. The 38" screens are 3840x1600, and you may need an RTX 2080 or Radeon VII depending on how smooth a frame rate you want. If you plan on running at lower resolution, you might want to check out how each monitor renders some of the common resolutions. My LG uses a combination of scaling and letterboxing depending on input resolution, and some resolutions are letterboxed only, which means you have a lot of dead screen area.

  3. #3
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    Thanks, those are useful pointers. I dimly remember SubJeff's thread a while ago, but only now that you've mentioned it.

    I've just upgraded to a new PC and think that the resolution issue shouldn't be much of a problem, doubly so if I were to go for a G-Sync or Freesync monitor (I hear that Nvidia cards have started being able to support the latter). The scaling/letterboxing issue is definitely one I should look out for, though.

    I won't be buying a screen right now, but I think I'll keep an eye open for special offers around here, especially towards the end of the year.

  4. #4
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: Qantas
    I guess I never answered your first question. In my experience so far, 21:9 resolutions are well supported out of the box in modern games, and in older games that have been fan patched. I think you'll find very few games that require you to use 16:9.

  5. #5
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2004
    What's the best practice for placing UI elements in an ultrawide? Is it still okay to stick stuff in a corner?

  6. #6
    LittleFlower
    Registered: Jul 2001
    Location: Netherlands
    Quote Originally Posted by Thirith View Post
    Any TTLGers that have an ultrawide screen, possibly a curved one?
    Yes. I bought an Acer Z35 in January 2016.
    It is a 35", 2560x1080, VA-panel monitor. It has G-sync and ULMB. It is curved.
    https://www.tomshardware.com/reviews...itor,4473.html
    I like it.

    In general, do you consider them worth it for gaming?
    I like it.
    I don't know if it's worth it. It was expensive (over a 1000 euros). The price has dropped since (it is 750 euros now). A new model (3440x1440) has been released over a year ago. That one is now 850 euros. At the time I had a new job, I hadn't bought anything expensive for myself in years. So I bought the Z35, and a GTX1080. Since then I have hardly played games (relative to the years before). More than half my gaming time has gone into the Dark Souls games.

    I wanted a G-sync monitor. Possibly with G-sync. I bought an Acer IPS 27" 2560x1440 monitor. But it had terrible yellow glow when playing dark games in the dark. Which I do a lot. So I sent the IPS monitor back. My next experiment was the Z35. The VA-screen is much nicer when playing dark games. The resolution is a bit low. But it's acceptable. The DPI is almost the same as a regular 27" 1920x1080 monitor (which I had before). I didn't mind not having a higher resolution screen because: 1) you can enable more eyecandy and have the same fps, and 2) higher resolution screens mess up your regular desktop. (I didn't want to jump through lots of hoops to fix that). When playing Dark Souls games, which all run at 60 fps without any hiccups, I use ULMB. For other games I use G-Sync.

    My next monitor will definitely be a G-Sync monitor again. Maybe with ULMB. I hope there will be IPS screen with better blacks. I will probably buy a 3440x1440 resolution now (not that I regret buying my current monitor). Later this year, Acer and Asus will release new 35" VA monitors, 3440x1440 with G-Sync, 144-200 Hz, HDR, local-dimming, 10bits color, etc. Not sure I'll buy one, but they look interesting.

    I never wanted a curved monitor. But I must say, I got used to it very quickly. I think curved is necessary for ultra-wide screen, because the angles at the edges of the screen start to stray away from 90 degrees.

    Something I didn't expect is that I also love this screen for non-gaming. So much real estate is nice. I've worked as a progammer during the last few years, working mostly from home. Having a huge screen is very useful. (I also have my old 27", 90 degrees tilted, next to my Z35. When programming I use the vertical screen for my editor window (emacs)). If I ever need another screen for work, I'll buy a (cheap) 40" 4k monitor. The ultra-wide itself doesn't help, but the size is really convenient. A 35" ultra-wide is the next best thing after a 40" monitor, I think.

    How broadly are 21:9 aspect ratios supported by games from the last half-dozen years, and how easy is it either to tweak unsupported games or to display at 16:9 in the centre of the display?
    It's depressing. I can't remember all the games I tried, or played (briefly). But too many do not support 21:9. Maybe only two third run smooth out of the box. The Dark Souls games do not support 21:9. I was able to tweak DS1 and DS3 to do ultra-wide. But I was not successful running DS2 ultra-wide. When games support 21:9, it's really nice. Imagine driving in a car in GTAV, with an ultra-wide screen. Very nice. But e.g. Skyrim doesn't support it. Original Pathologic and the recent beta didn't support it. And so on. If you really wanna know, I can test all the games I still have installed, and count them.

    In some games that support ultra-wide screen, the perspective (view angle) is really weird. Some games look good by themselves. Some games need tweaking. Some games are impossible to fix. It's weird. I had expected that in 2016 all developers would support ultra-wide screens. Especially when they use an engine they bought. Unfortunately that was not true.


    Reading back my post, I don't know if is helpful to you.
    All I can say is: I like it. My next monitor might be another curved ultra-wide. One thing I know for sure is: I will never buy a monitor under 35" again.

  7. #7
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2004
    Unity doesn't list 21:9 in their standard aspect ratios. You can set it to that...

  8. #8
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    Gryzemuis: Thanks, your reply was definitely helpful, not least since you talked about the things that don't work all that well but how it's still worth it for you. From what I've read so far, it seems there's a tradeoff, but it's good to know what I'd be trading against what if I were to get an ultrawide screen sooner or later.

  9. #9
    LittleFlower
    Registered: Jul 2001
    Location: Netherlands
    I think the most important thing to realize is: no matter how much money you are willing to spend, there is no perfect monitor. That's a bit sad. That means you will always have to make trade-offs.

    *) LCD monitors will always be a bit blurry when there is movement on the screen. Even with 1ms response-times. Even with 200Hz refresh-rate. Even with ULMB. I don't think any LCD monitor can beat old CRTs when it comes to blurriness.
    *) ULMB makes it a bit better. But when you use ULMB, you can't use g-sync/free-sync/VRR.
    *) VA-panels have nice black colors. But the response-time for grey colors is bad. (At least in my monitor). In The Witness when there are black dots in the mazes, and I moved the camera, it became very noticable. The black dots would "ghost". I haven't noticed any other ghosting on my monitor. But those little black/grey dots on white background really jumped out.
    *) IPS-panels have the best viewing angles. VA-panels follow shortly. TN-panels are the worst. I don't move my head a lot when playing games, so I don't care much for viewing angles.
    *) IPS panels have lovely colors. But the dark/black colors do lack a bit. And the current generation of g-sync/free-synce/VRR IPS-panels (from AUO) have this nasty yellow glow when you play dark games. Very noticable when you play at night in a room that is not heavily lit. And unfortunately I play mostly dark games. (Thief, Dark Souls, sneaking in dungeons in Skyrim, in The Ashen, in WoW, The Old City: Leviathan, Dishonored, The Witcher, etc). If it wasn't for this, my first choice would have been an IPS-monitor.
    *) High resolution is nicer. No doubt. But it'll mean you get lower fps. Which might mean you'll have to turn off some eyecandy. Or a lot of eyecandy. Maybe it would be ideal to have a very high resolution, but play games at half the native resolution. Like having a 4K monitor, but play heavy games in 1080p. Using any resolution in-between will cause the resulting image to be extra blurry. (I tried playing The Witcher at 1920x1080 on a 2560x1440 monitor. It didn't look pretty imho).
    *) OLED monitors seem to be a long way off.
    *) The better monitors can be pretty expensive.

    So I think no matter what you buy, no matter how much research you do: after you bought one you will probably often wonder: "wouldn't that other monitor have been a better choice" ?
    Last edited by Gryzemuis; 4th Apr 2019 at 06:38.

  10. #10
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: Qantas
    Quote Originally Posted by Gryzemuis View Post
    It's depressing. I can't remember all the games I tried, or played (briefly). But too many do not support 21:9. Maybe only two third run smooth out of the box. The Dark Souls games do not support 21:9. I was able to tweak DS1 and DS3 to do ultra-wide. But I was not successful running DS2 ultra-wide. When games support 21:9, it's really nice. Imagine driving in a car in GTAV, with an ultra-wide screen. Very nice. But e.g. Skyrim doesn't support it. Original Pathologic and the recent beta didn't support it. And so on. If you really wanna know, I can test all the games I still have installed, and count them.
    DS2 supports 21:9 with Flawless Widescreen.
    Skyrim supports 21:9 with a mod.

    The widescreen gaming forum (http://www.wsgf.org/) maintains a database of (mostly) older games with the state of widescreen and ultra-wide support. That's the first place I check. If a game is not listed there, then a Google search answers the question.

  11. #11
    LittleFlower
    Registered: Jul 2001
    Location: Netherlands
    Did you try DS2 ? I couldn't get it to work.

    Every time a game is patched, there is a risk the ultra-wide mods break. Documentation what the mods do exactly is also mostly non-existent. Does it patch the binary ? Does it patch running memory ? Is it only in the config files ? Do you need to make the config files read-only ? (e.g. that's needed to make DS1 and DS3 work for me). How is the FOV affected ? How is the HUD affected ? (Sometimes weird stuff happens to the HUD, making it not worth the trouble for me to play in wide-screen). Sometimes you need to install a dgxi.dll or xinput.dll. And that conflicts with ReShade or x360ce. Do you need to run the game in windowed-mode ? I don't like that (ULMB is not supported in windowed mode, I think. And it messes with the colors/gamma/contrast. Not sure if it still does that).

    I could understand that the original Skyrim didn't support 21:9. But when they released the "Special Edition" I thought the least they could do was support 21:9. And frame-rates higher than 60. But no. We didn't get even that. I didn't buy the Special Edition.

    Sekiro doesn't support 21:9. When you configure 1920x1080, the screen is stretched. All pixels are used, but the picture is bogus (stretched). In the configuration there is an option for 2560x1080. When you select that, the picture is not stretched anymore. But you get 2 black bars left and right. What is this ? 2008 ? If they can't be arsed making something as simple as ultra-wide screen work, then I can't be arsed to buy and play the game.

    I'm too old and grumpy to keep messing around trying to fix broken games. I am fine with investing a little time. But if it doesn't work after 20 minutes, and there's hardly documentation, then I can't be arsed. I'll buy something else.
    Last edited by Gryzemuis; 4th Apr 2019 at 13:02.

  12. #12
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: Qantas
    Dark Souls 1 & 2 worked for me. I don't have the third. Reading forums now, it looks like some people needed an extra step to get it to work. Example:
    https://www.reddit.com/r/DarkSouls2/...s_in_219_help/

    I don't have it installed right now, but I could try it again.

    Perhaps I've just been lucky, but every older game I've wanted to revisit since I got the new monitor has worked in 21:9. Usually with a tweak or mod, but some games have surprised me by just working out of the box (e.g. HL2). I even played SS1 at 3840x1600 with the recent source port.

  13. #13
    Still Subjective
    Registered: Dec 1999
    Location: Idiocy will never die
    Quote Originally Posted by Thirith View Post
    Any TTLGers that have an ultrawide screen, possibly a curved one?
    Yes, I...
    Quote Originally Posted by heywood View Post
    Yes! There is another thread about this topic that SubJeff started last year. In the context of that thread, I went out and got an LG 38UC99-W. He got a Samsung C34F791.
    Oh, ha ha, beat me to it.

    In general, do you consider them worth it for gaming? How broadly are 21:9 aspect ratios supported by games from the last half-dozen years, and how easy is it either to tweak unsupported games or to display at 16:9 in the centre of the display?
    I'll be honest, I mostly play Company of Heroes 2 on mine. It's really, really great for that. Older games can be an issue and I've played Super Meat Boy, Bastion, Fez and Electronic Super Joy on it and had to faff about with screen sizes and massive black borders. It seems to be okay though.

    Newer games like The Witness and Dishonoured 2 are fine though.

    For productivity it's great. Much better than my older 2 screen set up. The only issues is screen sharing is odd for the other person if they don't have ultrawidescreen.

    One thing - it did take a while to get used to the curve. Now I really like it but it was a month of feeling weird.

  14. #14
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    It's mostly the curve that I cannot really imagine, but I'm thinking that it's a matter of getting used to it. Weird question, perhaps: how do you handle browsing and other activities that are partly or mostly about reading? I don't imagine reading across an ultrawide screen to be particularly enjoyable, so do you limit your window to half the screen? Can you centre a browser window? Or do many/most websites automatically limit the width of what they show?

  15. #15
    Still Subjective
    Registered: Dec 1999
    Location: Idiocy will never die
    I browse on half the screen. I used to have two monitors so now I just have two windows side by side. You can snap windows with Windows+Cursor so it's really simple (wish my Mac had this).

  16. #16
    Member
    Registered: Jan 2001
    Location: the Sheeple Pen
    I'm hijacking this thread for my own purposes.

    I've been using this 24" BenQ display for nearly ten years now, and while it has served me well, I'd like to buy a bigger (and hopefully better) screen. I found this 32" Samsung screen (Samsung C32JG50) that's on sale right now, but I soon discovered that screens these days are packed with features that I'm not too familiar with.

    Freesync. Apparently that's what I need if I want to be a serious gamer. Well, this Samsung screen does not have Freesync. My computer is relatively new, but built of budget components, so it probably will have trouble running some games on higher resolutions. And from what I've understood, Freesync exists to magically compensate that somehow, so that the framerates and stuff don't drop too much. So the big question is; is that just marketing talk, or is it really something that I should seriously consider? Does it really make a difference? I could get a 27" screen with Freesync for about the same price.

    On the other hand I'm kind of worried that a 32" screen is already too big for me, and I've never used a curved monitor before either, so that'd be another big change. I'm also not even sure whether my AMD Radeon RX570 graphics card supports Freesync or not. I assume that it does!

  17. #17
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    I don't have any experience with Freesync, but as far as I know it's the same general approach as G-Sync, and that made a huge difference for me. If I understand correctly, what these do is allow displays to adapt dynamically to the framerate your PC can produce, rather than being set to a fixed number of Hz.

    For me, the result of switching to a G-Sync screen was twofold: screen tearing was no longer an issue (there are very few exceptions where games don't play well with G-Sync) and overall frame rates were smoother. On displays without some form of adaptive sync, you either accept screen tearing, because your display refreshes at a different rate than your PC produces new frames, or you lock your frame rate to the screen's refresh rate, which generally means that you end up with a framerate of 30 or 60 (and potentially switching between the two as you're playing).

    From what I can tell, the RX570 should offer Freesync.

  18. #18
    Member
    Registered: Jan 2001
    Location: the Sheeple Pen
    Well, thanks (I guess!) for convincing me not to buy this 32" screen. I think I'll get myself a similar-looking curved 27" monitor that does have Freesync. The extra 3" (compared to my old screen) will be some sort of an improvement, and I suppose that it'll be interesting to try out a curved monitor. Hopefully Freesync will help me keep my games running smoothly too.

  19. #19
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: Qantas
    AMD embraced FreeSync, which became an open standard
    NVidia embraced G-Sync, which is their proprietary implementation
    G-Sync monitors are generally more expensive than FreeSync monitors because they have to pay NVidia's license fee

    Until recently, NVidia cards didn't support frame sync with FreeSync monitors, only G-Sync. But a couple of months ago, NVidia finally released a driver than unlocks FreeSync support. However, it doesn't work with a lot of FreeSync monitors. So if you think you might upgrade to an NVidia card in the future, do your homework and make sure you buy a monitor that is known to work.

    Another thing to check on is the range of refresh rates that your monitor supports. My monitor is nominally 60Hz, but when you enable FreeSync it operates in a range between 52Hz and 75Hz. That's a pretty narrow range. It's almost useless, because the most noticeable frame rate stuttering happens when playing games that average between 30 fps and 60 fps, where you keep alternating between 1/60s refreshes and 1/30s refreshes. I'm not a twitch gamer, so I'd rather just choose a card and settings that keep things chugging smoothly at 60 fps and not bother with trying to get FreeSync to work on my monitor.

  20. #20
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    It's not just the stuttering, though; at least G-Sync also takes care of screen tearing, and that's a benefit that's very much there in the fps range between 50 and 75. Is Freesync different in that respect?

  21. #21
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: Qantas
    I haven't played a game with vertical sync off in over 20 years, so no tearing.

  22. #22
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    Vsync has the problem of only working with set fractions of your overall refresh rate, which means that you might keep jumping between 30fps and 60fps, and that's quite a noticeable jump. That's where the advantage of adaptive sync comes in: you can have clean, tearfree frames whose framerate varies smoothly.

  23. #23
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: Qantas
    I can't stand tearing, so the drops in frame rate are the lesser of the two evils to me.

    I did try using adaptive sync with the new NVidia driver. In older games that don't tax my graphics card, the effect is that I get a steady 75 fps rather than 60 fps, and I don't notice the difference. To benefit from FreeSync in newer games, I've got to dial down the display settings to stay above the 52 Hz minimum vertical refresh rate of my monitor, otherwise I get flickering. Without FreeSync, I usually try to pick settings that stay just above 60 fps most of the time, with occasional frame rate drops in certain scenes. There isn't much difference between 52 fps and 60 fps in terms of smoothness or what quality settings you can use. And due to the limited power of my GTX 1060, there are some games like Mankind Divided where I can't sustain those refresh rates even with low settings, so its better to just target a steady 30 fps on higher quality settings.

    I think I would see much more benefit if my monitor supported a wider range of vertical refresh rates. Some gaming monitors claim 40-144 Hz. But once I saw a 38" ultra-wide screen, I had to have one, even if there are some sacrifices in gaming performance.

  24. #24
    New Member
    Registered: Mar 2019
    I own LG 29" Ultrawide monitor and its totally worth it imo. It is very useful while working but in gaming you'll have to check if that resolution is supported by that game or not

  25. #25
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2004
    Any thoughts on corner-placed UI elements in ultrawide monitors? Still good? Bad because hard to see?

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