Is Ultrawide Right for You?

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What Makes Ultrawide Different?

The big difference between ultrawide and “normal” monitors is aspect ratio. Traditional monitors typically operate on 16:9 aspect ratios, while ultrawide screens are stretched horizontally to 21:9. That typically means ultrawide displays use a native resolution of 2560×1080 (2k) or 3440×1440 (1440p), depending on their screen size.

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This image makes the difference between 16:9 and 21:9 very clear. 21:9 stretches the panel horizontally several inches, for a wider field-of-view and more screen space.

A bigger resolution means your screen has increased pixel density. For work, that means you can fit more applications on your screen without having to toggle between windows. For play, that means you get a cinematic viewing experience that’s essentially equivalent to a one-person theater.

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Who are ultrawide monitors for?

If you’re working from home or looking for an office display, the extra screen real estate of an ultrawide can make you more effective at doing all sorts of tasks.  In fact, one of the most common features for ultrawide displays is screen-splitting, which can help you divide your display into multiple quadrants and run it as though it were multiple screens — only without that ugly bezel dividing up the middle.

Anyone who spends hours each day staring at a display will benefit from that display being easy on the eyes. That’s why it’s important to carefully consider the benefits of ultrawides if you find yourself working with computers for any serious length of time.

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For movie-lovers, there’s no comparison to an ultrawide. If you don’t like staring at those black bars at the margins of the movie, you’ll be pleased to know most films are shot in a 2.39 aspect ratio. That’s why ultrawides can display films in ways standard monitors just can’t, and fill up the entire screen.

For gamers, you can’t beat the field of view you get from ultra-wide. There aren’t any bezels in the center of your view like you’d experience with a dual monitor setup. You can also achieve a full field-of-view that isn’t possible on a standard monitor. 

For FPS-fanatics, widescreen can be hit and miss. Some HUD elements like ammo counts have been known to get lost in peripheral vision due to the size of the screen. For a pro gamer spending 8-hours-a-day practicing, a 16:9 monitor might be better for playing some types of competitive games that haven’t yet adapted to the increasing popularity of 21:9.

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Having said that, an increasing number of AAA game studios have begun to design specifically for ultra widescreen resolutions. Massive games like League of Legends, World of Warcraft, and the Call of Duty franchise are all already on-board in designing around ultrawide displays.

Finally, it’s important to ask if your GPU can handle running an ultrawide monitor. Having 140% more pixels than 1080p setups, you’ll need an equally large increase in graphics power to display all those pixels. If you don’t have a GPU made in the three generations, you might not have the power necessary to run an ultrawide smoothly.

Curved vs. Flat

Curved vs. flat can be debated all day. There are numerous benefits to curved displays, but most of the difference really comes down to immersion vs. viewing angle. Curved displays provide much more immersion, are easier on the eyes, and by-design offer a less distorted image than large flat panels physically can offer.

But that curved screen also means viewing from awkward angles, like you might while watching a movie with a group of friends, can lead to a significantly worse viewing experience. On the other hand, if you’re mostly watching things by yourself or with one other person, you can’t beat a gorgeous ultrawide for visual fidelity.

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Ultrawide Specifications

What’s response time? What’s a good contrast ratio? What does refresh rate do? What kind of numbers matter? If you find yourself lost in the technical jargon of selecting a widescreen, you’ll want to check out this post where we explore all the technical aspects of picking an ultrawide.

The Take-Away Message

In the end, picking an ultrawide vs. a standard monitor is a matter of personal preference. There are numerous viewing benefits to ultrawide, making it the superior choice for most people most of the time. Some people simply can’t fit a three-foot display on their desk. But if image quality and immersion is something that matters to you,  whether it’s in games or movies, then ultrawide is what you want.