LG 34UC97 34-Inch Ultra-Wide Curved Monitor Review

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LG 34UC97, Undeniably Cool, Good Performance

We’ve reviewed several luxury business-class, as well as five ultra-wide monitors to date, and LG’s 34UC97 is a leader in both categories. It took us a couple of examples to really understand the practical uses of a 21:9 screen. But now we have no trouble seeing the appeal of well-built high-res monitors for users wanting to sport a little style and interest on their desktops.

For a monitor to truly belong in a luxury category, it needs to satisfy a few requirements. Number one is an IPS or PLS panel. While most of the TN-based gaming monitors we’ve worked with acquit themselves well in almost every performance metric, viewing angles are one place where IPS holds a significant advantage. Using TN means setting the screen height and angle in a small sweet spot to ensure maximum color saturation and image quality.

LG is obviously the main proponent of ultra-wide display tech. Though still a niche market, it’s selling enough monitors to justify the development of new models. When we looked at the 34UM95, we thought there wasn’t much that could be done to improve it besides lowering the price. A curved screen certainly didn’t occur to us as a viable feature-add.

On paper, you might wonder about the value of a curved screen. Looking at photos of the 34UC97 really doesn't do it justice. In the flesh, the monitor is quite striking and the curve enhances the use of a large desktop. On top of that, its build quality and styling scream high-end. There is no doubt in our minds it’ll be a conversation piece wherever it’s installed.

Performance-wise, it’s not as accurate as the top pro screens. But it comes pretty close. LG includes an individual calibration data sheet with each sample, and our test results only missed LG’s by a little. If you want to simply unpack it and set it up, it looks pretty good with no adjustment. And contrast performance exceeds its predecessor, the 34UM95, by a noticeable amount.

Of course, calibration delivers a level of accuracy that most professionals would accept, so long as the Adobe RGB gamut is not required. We even measured an sRGB volume of over 100 percent, which is pretty rare. Photographers would have a blast using the 34UC97 in Photoshop thanks to that ultra-wide desktop. There’s plenty of room for images and toolbars alike.

Obviously we’re impressed with this monitor. Its uniqueness is almost enough to recommend on its own, but it performs well too. Because there is truly nothing else like it and it delivers on accuracy, build quality and styling, we’re giving the 34UC97 our Tom’s Hardware Approved award.

Christian Eberle
Contributing Editor

Christian Eberle is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He's a veteran reviewer of A/V equipment, specializing in monitors. Christian began his obsession with tech when he built his first PC in 1991, a 286 running DOS 3.0 at a blazing 12MHz. In 2006, he undertook training from the Imaging Science Foundation in video calibration and testing and thus started a passion for precise imaging that persists to this day. He is also a professional musician with a degree from the New England Conservatory as a classical bassoonist which he used to good effect as a performer with the West Point Army Band from 1987 to 2013. He enjoys watching movies and listening to high-end audio in his custom-built home theater and can be seen riding trails near his home on a race-ready ICE VTX recumbent trike. Christian enjoys the endless summer in Florida where he lives with his wife and Chihuahua and plays with orchestras around the state.

  • Grognak
    I sure wish I could afford a screen like that, or the rig to go with it. Still, it's interesting how 21:9 just feels more natural when human FOV is about 4:3. It makes for great gameplay experiences, especially in first person games.
  • spp85
    Is this a FreeSync display?? Love to see the review here :)
  • loki1944
    Too bad it's not $1300 cool. Even the ROG Swift is cheaper than this.
  • Sanjirox
    Maybe it's 120 degrees per eye in which case 4:3 is a perfect match if you can only use one eye.
  • arossetti
    Waiting to see the new gaming model -u67. I'm sure the price on that one U.S. gonna suck too! But it is like buying two monitors.
  • Merry_Blind
    @Grognak Interesting! I've always wondered what was the actual aspect ratio of our vision. That 4:3 you talk about, is it per eye individually? or the two combined together?
  • Fokissed
    Human FOV, according to wikipedia:
    "The approximate field of view of an individual human eye is 95° away from the nose, 75° downward, 60° toward the nose, and 60° upward."
    "With eyeball rotation of about 90° (head rotation excluded, peripheral vision included), horizontal field of view is as high as 270°."
    This means 155°:135°(31:27, very squarish) for nonmoving eyes, and 270°:135°(2:1) for moving eyes.
  • RedJaron
    I think it's unforgivable that they didn't pack the USB cable. A USB3 A-to-B cable is not something most people have just have sitting on a shelf. You could argue that someone spending $1300 on a monitor has the money to pick one up, but I say for $1300 LG could have included a $5 cable in the box. Just ridiculous.
  • teahsr
    We know this is an expensive piece of equipment, but there isn’t anything else like the 34UC97 out there.

    ^^Except my Dell U3415W that is.....which is awesome..

    Now that 3440x1440 is around and more manufacturers are making this resolution, can we get it included in reviews?
  • moogleslam
    Needs 120Hz+ and G-Sync/FreeSync.