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LG 34UC98 34-inch Curved FreeSync Monitor Review

Today we're checking out LG's latest curved gaming monitor: the 34UC98. It's an IPS screen with 3440x1440 pixels, FreeSync, a 75Hz max refresh rate and MaxxAudio-tuned speakers.

Brightness And Contrast

To read about our monitor tests in-depth, please check out Display Testing Explained: How We Test Monitors and TVs. Brightness and Contrast testing is covered on page two.

Uncalibrated – Maximum Backlight Level

Our group today is all curved screens from Acer, BenQ and Dell. The U3415W is the only monitor not specifically aimed at gamers but it is super-accurate. We also have the recently reviewed Predator Z35 and X34 displays as well as the XR341CK. The XR3501 doesn't have adaptive-refresh but is one of the best-looking AMVA panels we've seen to date.

Every product here meets or exceeds its manufacturer's claimed brightness level. While 300cd/m2 is more than most users need indoors, the extra punch helps when your room has sunny windows. The 34UC98 would need more output if it had a blur-reduction feature but it doesn't.

Black levels are a little high in our opinion. While no IPS panel will run with VA in this test, the 34UC98 lags behind the other screens even though it doesn't have the brightest backlight.

We're a bit disappointed in the contrast ratio measurement of 846.6:1. While the monitor looks OK showing real-world content, it doesn't have quite the image depth of its competitors. Bright scenes look fine and are indistinguishable from the others but dark content isn't quite as rich and looks a bit gray.

Uncalibrated – Minimum Backlight Level

Turning down the backlight to zero results in a perfectly-usable 69.0031cd/m2. While we look for 50cd/m2 as a benchmark, the difference here is small. This is a great way to game or watch movies in a dark room. You'll be able to enjoy hours of fun without eyestrain.

Black levels aren't any better at the backlight's bottom setting. We don't believe this is a limitation of the panel part LG is using, but rather an engineering choice. A higher black level is a great way to ensure good screen uniformity and as you'll see later, that has been achieved.

The contrast rises just a bit at the 34UC98's lowest output levels but it's still within the realm of consistency.

After Calibration To 200cd/m2

The only thing we did before running this test was adjust the brightness slider to 200cd/m2 and up the MagentaHue slider to 53. No changes were made to the RGB sliders or the Contrast control. That means black levels are no better or worse than before.

Contrast remains at about the same point as before, which is entirely expected. Image quality doesn't change anywhere in the backlight's range, which is good. We just wish black levels were a little lower. The upside is there is no light bleed, which we sometimes see in monitors with really good blacks. And as you'll see later in our uniformity test, that design choice pays off.

ANSI Contrast Ratio

We're happy to see an ANSI number that exceeds the other contrast values. Between that fact and the 34UC98's almost perfect gamma, image depth is pretty good overall. The only real flaw are those black levels. We're not talking night and day here, but the other monitors are just a bit better in that regard.

Christian Eberle
Christian Eberle is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He's a veteran reviewer of A/V equipment, specializing in monitors.