FreeSync Ultrawide Monitors

AMD is always slow to update their official FreeSync monitor list. That’s why we’ve put together this list of all the FreeSync ultrawide monitors  and FreeSync ultrawide gaming monitors on the market currently. If you’re a gamer looking for an ultrawide but don’t want to pay out a premium for G-Sync, FreeSync is the next best thing.

One of the best aspects of FreeSync is because it doesn’t use a proprietary-system like G-Sync, the FreeSync feature adds nearly no cost to a display. Like the name suggests, it’s pretty much free. If you’re going to pick up a display, regardless of your budget or even your computer setup, you’ll want to seriously consider grabbing FreeSync.

 

FreeSync Ultrawide Displays

 
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The Benefits of Curved Ultrawide: Facts and Research

Anytime you’re viewing a flat monitor head-on, the center of the screen will be closer to you than the edges of that screen. That can lead to a distorted image, and reduced color quality. Engineers have solved this problem by adding curvature to displays because it helps to prevent that distortion by ensuring the viewer is equally close to every part of the display. However, as curved displays have become increasingly popular, researchers have found there are actually several benefits to viewing curved monitors. 

What The Studies Show

Curved monitors are amazingly good at providing a comfortable viewing experience and alleviating eye strain. One Harvard study found curved monitors were less likely to produce tired eyes, eye-strain, blurred vision, and difficulty focusing, compared to flat screens. The study was pretty straightforward — participants used a flat or curved display for an extended period of time and then were asked to rate their discomfort. Curved panels were triumphant in every category.

Researchers found people who use flat panels have slower saccade peak speed, meaning viewing the screen causes their eyes to become physically exhausted. Researchers have also found that people are able to finish route-tracing tasks and target-search tasks faster when using curved displays. This may be related to the fact that curvature preferences are strongest during gaming activities.

What’s the Optimal Curvature? 

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This NEC panel uses a 3000R curvature, indicating for this curvature to form a full circle, it would have a radius of three meters. This is generally appropriate for viewing approximately 2-feet from the monitor. 

Many manufacturers appear to select their curvature out of a hat. That’s why it’s a good idea to carefully consider reviews before purchasing. Reliable brands like Samsung have done research to figure out the perfect viewing distance, and came up with this calculation to find the best view:ljeOqGG.png

 

So how much curvature is the right amount? For a screen that’s around 29-32 inches, 3000R is a perfect fit. That number indicates the display has a curvature of 3 meters. Selecting the right curvature can be critical because it determines the optimal viewing distance from your screen, and presumably as well as how effective your display will be at delivering the benefits of curvature. For most curved displays, this distance will be approximately in the area 18”-28” inches from the panel, a comfortable viewing distance for a monitor.

Adding Immersion to a Panel

Given the same viewing distance from a monitor, and the same curvature of the screen, then your viewing angel will become larger as your display becomes larger. That’s why bigger panels create more immersion, and why curved monitors have more immersion than flat monitors of the same size. 

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Speculative Advantages

Apart from the proven advantages of ultrawide displays, there are a number of speculative advantages. Many game developers (including most infamously Jeff Kaplan) have described ultrawide as an unfair advantage because it allows you to see a larger portion of the battlefield in many games compared to people using 16:9. As for if Kaplan is correct, or the extent to which he is correct, that’s unclear. But what is clear is that industry professionals seem to feel, at times, 21:9 is advantageous to competitive play.

What You Should Remember

Curved is better in many respects. Curved displays are easier to look at for all periods of time, they provide a more immersive viewing experience, and they’re generally more effective. Most people will also concede the aesthetic of a curved display is equally remarkable. And since ultrawide monitors are (almost) the only curved displays that are manufactured, that means ultrawide panels are usually the best choice, both for enjoying multimedia and for getting things done.

What is Monitor Response Time?

TLDR: The response time of a display measures how quickly a pixel can change from one color to another. Standard figures are in the neighborhood for 4ms for IPS panels, and 1ms for TN panels. Faster response times are more desirable, but this is mostly a gamer-feature to improve the image fidelity. Most casual users probably won’t see feel a difference.

Response time is related to, but separate from, input lag.  Anytime you hit your mouse button, there’s a delay between how long it takes that click to make it to your screen. In other words, your hardware sends a signal to your computer, and your computer sends a signal to your screen, but how fast that signal gets received and displayed is another thing entirely.

Ultrawide Monitor Response Time

Response times are measured in miliseconds. If you’re using a 60hz monitor, that means your screen is refreshing 60 times per second, so response times need to be small and precise. Longer response times lead  to what people call ghosting, which is the appearance of trails from a moving object because the pixels behind aren’t fast enough at refreshing.

Normal Response Times

Typical values you’ll see on monitors range from 5-12ms. Anything around 5ms is somewhat standard for 2017. Faster response times are available mostly in gaming- ultrawide monitors, because response times are a feature mostly gamers are interested in. For gamers, 1ms response time is the golden standard. It helps ensure that even when you’ve got the speed of a high refresh rate and FPS, your screen remains crystal clear and blur-free. 

Should you break your bank going after a better extra response time? The answer is generally no. It’s an excellent feature to have, but apart from some competitive gamers who want perfect image fidelity, most people won’t need a top-shelf response time. For those who do have the extra cash to access a top-shelf feature like 1ms response time, you can hardly do better than a well-rounded gaming ultrawide like the Asus ROG PG348Q, which has a 100Hz refresh rate and G-Sync.

The Long and Short of It

Response time can have a significant visual impact when it comes to fast-action. That means if you’re playing competitive FTS games, this is something that should concern you. If you’re all-about the immersion, which is one of the benefits of an ultrawide, 1ms ultrawide monitors will help keep your screen crystal clear no matter how fast things keep going. But if you’re browsing Facebook, watching movies, working, and playing casual or slow-paced games, it’s not something you have to think about.

Matte vs. Glossy: Do You Want Anti-Glare Protection?

TLDR: Anti-glare screens don’t reflect light as well as glossy screens. Anti-glare screens are comfortably visible even with indirect sunlight hitting the screen. Glossy screens are so adept at reflecting light, even minor amounts of sunlight can produce irritating amounts of glare, but have richer colors in exchange.

Matte vs. Glossy

Glare makes it more difficult to see what’s on the screen. Anti-Glare screen coatings are sometimes used to reduce the amount of glare, but at a cost. A glossy display has a better visual acuity because the glossy screen is better at reflecting light.  A glossy display has more contrast, color, and deeper blacks.

But the moment a beam of sunlight hits the display, you’ll see a reflection that’s impossible to ignore. While sunlight is the worst case scenario, sometimes even house lights can trigger this effect in an undesirable way. Anyone who has been on the receiving end of this can tell you just how frustrating it can be to no longer be able to see your screen.

Matte vs. Glossy Ultrawide Monitor

 

Similarities With Glossy And Matte Displays

Both types of display use the same LCD technology. The only difference is what type of coating is applied to the finished screen. In perfectly controlled circumstances, glossy and matte are actually very similar. This similarity is part of what makes it so hard to choose.

In general, in a controlled environment where you don’t have to worry about the sun bearing down on your monitor, a glossy screen is what you want. If you’ve got your monitor next to a window with direct sunlight pouring in several hours a day, or you’re in a very well-lit area, you’ll want to stick with an anti-glare screen instead.

Which Should You Buy?

If you have a room that isn’t extremely bright, and at the whims of the sun half of the day, then there’s no question — you want a glossy screen. If you’re looking for deep, rich colors, you’ll get the best possible visual display with a glossy screen. But frankly, many people don’t have the controlled environment necessary to make a glossy screen a sensible choice. Many people have fallen victim to seeing the gorgeous glossy display in an electronics store, only to take it home and discover it’s totally unmanageable. If your computer resides anywhere near a window, you’ll want to guess and second-guess whether or not you can comfortably use a glossy display. 

Resources for Ultrawide Gaming

Ultrawide monitor support can be spotty. Although ultrawide adoption is drastically increasing, some games and software don’t offer native-ultrawide support, meaning you’ll end up with letter-boxing on the right and left sides of your display. Although much of this can usually be done away with through the help of modded support like Flawless Widescreen, a free app that can help extend widescreen support to new and popular titles.

More importantly, just because a game will load an ultrawide resolution and fill up the entire screen doesn’t mean it has proper 21:9 support. Without extending the field of view, you’re not getting a complete ultrawide experience, which is the case with some games that support ultrawide. Most infamously perhaps, is Overwatch.

field of view ultrawide gaming

Of course, many competitive game developers have to make the decision of whether or not they’re willing to permit field-of-view enhancements, which may give disproportionate advantage to players who have them in some types of competitive games. Where true ultrawide support is available, a field-of-view enhancement basically means you get to see more of the battlefield, which translates very quickly into a huge advantage. 

Netflix Ultrawide Support

This Ultrawide Netflix plugin for Chrome can help you take 16:9 Netflix encoding and switch ot ti 21:9, all with the aid of helpful keybvoard shortcuts.

Do Your Favorite Games Support Ultrawide?

Does your favorite game have support for ultrawide? This ultrawide game list is essentially the ESRB for ultrawide support. It’s a near-complete list of all PC games, and a rating for their support for ultrawide and 4k. You can also find out whether support is native and how the widescreen behaves in general. For Steam-oriented gamers, take a look at this curated list hundreds of Steam titles with native support for ultrawide.

With the rising adoption of ultrawide monitors, we’ll no doubt see more and more games develop native support for ultrawide gaming monitors. Although there’s no guarantee your favorite game will let you take advantage of the field-of-view enhancements of an ultrawide monitor, the games where you can take advantage of it won’t just be more immersive, they’ll give you a distinct visual advantage over 16:9 aspect ratio. 

FreeSync – Should You Care?

TLDR: Unlike the hefty price tag that usually accompanies G-sync monitors, FreeSync is becoming a standard feature for a number of major brands like BenQ and LG. You’ll need an AMD card (R7 260 and above) to access FreeSync, but if you have an AMD GPU already, it’s worth taking advantage of it. If you’re running a Nvidia GPU instead, you should consider G-Sync instead.

If you’re a gamer, you’ve probably heard of Vsync. Basically, Vsync is a way for you to get rid of screen tearing in exchange for a small amount of input lag. Some people find the lag acceptable, others find it intolerable. Vsync works by limiting the frame rate to the refresh rate of your monitor, so if extra frames are rendered, they won’t be displayed and screen tearing will be reduced. FreeSync solves this problem as well as handling input lag associated with Vsync!

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The way it works is simple. Normal monitors have a static refresh rate, typically in a range between 60 and 144hz. FreeSync is an adaptive sync technology, meaning it works with a dynamic refresh rate.  By synchronizing the refresh rate of the display to the output of the GPU, stuttering and screen tearing can be eliminated entirely. Even if your FPS starts to chug, you’ll get a fluid gaming experience on your screen!

Conclusion

FreeSync doesn’t have a big price tag attached to it, so if you have an AMD card and you’re in the market for a monitor, it’s worth keeping your eyes out for it. Some people will find it critical, others won’t.

4k vs. Ultrawide

Short Answer 

4K isn’t all that different from 8K. Both are very difficult to run from a hardware perspective, and both have relatively little content designed specifically for those formats. 4K-displays that don’t cost thousands are going to have dismal specifications in almost every category besides resolution. It can also be difficult to cleanly utilize the screen real estate of a 4K display because of the ratio of resolution to display size.

Resolution Difference

Ultrawide resolutions are 2560×1080 or 3440×1440, which gives you lots of extra space to work in. 4k (“ultra HD”) resolution is 3840×2160. While that higher resolution gives you more space, unless you’re getting a 32-inch monster of a 4k monitor, you’ll have to scale the interface of your programs to display them properly. You’ll also have to be sitting at a very precise distance from your monitor in order to be able to appreciate a difference between 4k quality and something lower like 1080p.

A 4k resolution is equivalent to FOUR 1080p displays on one screen. Even as the cost of 4k monitors starts to come down, you’ll be sure to need one or two top-shelf graphics cards and a modern CPU to be able to just scarcely handle 4k. Ultrawide monitors tend to be about 40% more resource intensive than standard monitors, but unlike 4k, you probably won’t have to undergo major upgrades just to plug in an ultrawide.

Aspect Ratio Difference — 21:9 vs. 16:9 (4k)

21:9 aspect ratio is hit-and-miss for gaming. It’s being adopted more and more often by developers, but there are still plenty of games without support. That means sometimes you’ll end up with black letter-boxing on the side of your display to make things look correct. There’s a dedicated modding community to help improve this support. Some games will look great right out of the box, others might need slight fiddling to perfectly fill the screen. (Be sure to check if your favorite games support 21:9!) You’ll never run into a problem with a 16:9 aspect ratio, though you may run into issues finding 4K content to fill that space with.

Ultrawide Monitor vs. TV

There’s a world of difference in terms of input response lag when comparing monitors and televisions. Even so-called gaming televisions have considerable input lag, and usually unimpressive refresh rates. The few televisions that advertise themselves as having 120 Hz refresh rates are often unable to deliver on those figures, because a television needs a DisplayPort or HDMI 2.0 to deliver that kind of bandwidth, meaning your connection may be converted into a 60 Hz signal.

Even when you put aside the 22 ms of input lag that’s standard for most TVs, which is twice as slow as most gaming monitors, getting a TV means you’re going to end up with inferior image quality. Ghosting, blurring, screen tearing — these can all be eliminated with modern monitors. Televisions can, at best, put a band-aid on these types of issues. 

So What Should I Get?

If you’re not concerned with image quality, refresh rates, and input lag, then by all means buy a large 4k television. But if you’re serious about image fidelity, especially when it pertains to gaming, then there’s no replacement for an ultrawide monitor.