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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.

Conclusion

You'll recall that in our recent review of the ViewSonic XG2700-4K, we found a monitor that performed equally well as a gaming or a professional display. That panel includes a factory-certified calibration and blew away its competition in all tests of color accuracy. The LG34UC98 is another such product.

Gaming enthusiasts place motion processing and refresh rates above color accuracy and that is logical. No matter how good a monitor's color looks; frame tears, motion blur and poor input lag will quickly spoil the experience. The advent of adaptive refresh in the form of Nvidia's G-Sync and AMD's FreeSync has gone a long way towards addressing those concerns. But there's no reason we can't expect accurate color and good contrast, especially at the premium price level this monitor occupies.

The benchmark tests show the 34UC98 to have accurate and precise color, grayscale and gamma. Our sample matched its calibration data sheet perfectly and we would not hesitate to recommend this panel for professional use as long as sRGB is the desired color gamut. It's also one of only a handful of displays we've tested that doesn't require any adjustment other than the users' preferred brightness level. In the default Custom picture mode it measured so well there was no need for us to even attempt a calibration.

Even though curved screens have been available for two years now, their prices have stayed high. It's tough to swallow a $1000 monitor purchase when one can build a decent gaming rig for that amount. But a monitor should be considered more as a long-term investment. Display technology doesn't move as rapidly as other categories and the odds are that your monitor purchase won't become obsolete too quickly.

In the curved monitor segment it seems rather than letting prices fall, manufacturers have simply made their products better. There are now enough of them that we can choose how much curvature we want, the level of color accuracy we need, and which gaming features make the most sense for a particular application and user.

It's still a premium category to be sure but you are unlikely to wind up with a curved monitor you're unhappy with. We were initially concerned about the 34UC98's small FreeSync range but it turned out to be a minor issue. All one needs to do is turn down the detail level or pair it with a faster video card than our Radeon R9-285. Opting for the former did not diminish our playing experience one bit. Honestly, in games like Crysis 3 and Tomb Raider, the difference between High and Ultimate detail is so small that it escaped our notice. With a smooth tear-free framerate of 60-75fps coupled with one of the best overdrive implementations in the business, we loved playing games on it.

We'd like to see the FreeSync range expanded in both directions and perhaps a little better contrast, but other than that, we have no complaints. For its superb out-of-box accuracy and superior motion processing we're giving the LG 34UC98 our Tom's Editor Approved Award.

MORE: Best Computer MonitorsMORE: Display Calibration 101

MORE: The Science Behind Tuning Your Monitor
MORE: All Monitor Content

Christian Eberle is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware, covering Monitors.

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  • 3ogdy
    Nice article! There is a big problem though. LG is usually and unfortunately selling FALSE and FAKE advertising. They put unrealistic pictures of their products on the Internet, on the product's web page and even on the product's box itself. I see that, despite reviewing this screen you haven't provided a single picture of this product taken in real life (unlike those LG promotes the product with...cough, fooling its customers into believing the image goes from edge to edge only for them to find out there are thick black edges all around the screen, cough) - with the screen turned on.
    Given how the screen looks like, I'm sure they keep promoting this "borderless" bullshit. Next time you review LG monitors, PLEASE take pictures of the screen turned on.

    They literally mentioned their bezels were 1.2mm thick. Guess what, they are actually...wait for it... about 950% bigger - 11mm wide in reality.

    Have a look for yourself at the results
    Reply
  • darth_adversor
    Price tag seems excessive for such a small FreeSync range.

    What happens if you exceed 75 fps (i.e. you have a high-end video card, or you're playing a graphically less demanding game)? Can't screen tearing also occur when your fps exceed the monitor's refresh rate?

    I've had my gaming PC hooked up to an HDTV for the past several years, considering going back to an actual monitor.

    Currently, I use a program called DXtory to limit my fps to 60, I've found that to be superior to v-sync, AMD's FRTC, and/or just letting the framerate run wild. I wonder if that would also work with a FreeSync monitor.

    Anyway, great review!
    Reply
  • Larry Litmanen
    I have a Dell U3415W, also 1440P, also has speakers and also Widescreen in 34 inches, rated by Toms as one of the best monitors for 2015..................Costs $650 or so.
    Reply
  • 3ogdy
    18044039 said:
    I have a Dell U3415W, also 1440P, also has speakers and also Widescreen in 34 inches, rated by Toms as one of the best monitors for 2015..................Costs $650 or so.

    I subscribe.
    I happen to be the owner of a Dell UltraSharp U2515H and the image quality is exquisite. It's 1440p too, although only 25". My next monitors will definitely be Dell.
    Reply
  • photonboy
    55Hz to 75Hz Freesync range?

    WTF?

    So you get the smooth game advantage ONLY if your frame rate is between 55FPS and 75FPS.

    That SUCKS.

    It means when you go above or below this value you either have VSYNC ON or VSYNC OFF. So you might get screen tearing every type you drop below 55FPS, but hitting 75FPS might force VSYNC ON so suddenly you have some added lag (a bit more sluggish).

    *Far better to just NOT have the feature likely.

    If they'd done 30Hz to 75Hz Freesync range then the low-end would have at least been fine as you'd be in asynchronous mode any time you are below 75FPS. In fact, you could just set a CAP near 70FPS and stay in asynchronous mode all the time, but nooooo.

    Basically they must have SAVED A BIT OF MONEY by not supporting the ideal 2.5X minimum ratio for asynchronous range (75/30) so they could put the FREESYNC stamp on the monitor.

    GSYNC might be more expensive but NONE of their monitors have this problem at least.
    Reply
  • photonboy
    To Darth_Adversor->
    Setting a cap of 60FPS would mean the GPU outputs a max of 60FPS and that is VSYNC OFF so you will get screen tearing though it may not be obvious for some games (it varies).

    If it is a Freesync monitor and 60FPS is within the asynchronous range then the game should be smooth because the GPU dictates when the monitor updates so you don't get screen tear or added latency.

    If it is a Freesync monitor and the range is less than 2.5X (75/30) you have VSYNC ON or VSYNC OFF (but not Freesync) if you drop below the minimum. If the range was 40Hz to 75Hz then any time you are below 40FPS you might get screen tear (or stutter if VSYNC is forced back ON).

    If it's a normal 60Hz monitor then you simply limit the frame rate to one that matches the monitor. Since VSYNC is OFF you don't get the added latency of buffering to synchronize with the next refresh cycle (every 1/60th second), however you also aren't synchronizing when the frame updates either so you will get screen tearing.
    Reply
  • rockstar_7
    Nice article! There is a big problem though. LG is usually and unfortunately selling FALSE and FAKE advertising. They put unrealistic pictures of their products on the Internet, on the product's web page and even on the product's box itself. I see that, despite reviewing this screen you haven't provided a single picture of this product taken in real life (unlike those LG promotes the product with...cough, fooling its customers into believing the image goes from edge to edge only for them to find out there are thick black edges all around the screen, cough) - with the screen turned on.
    Given how the screen looks like, I'm sure they keep promoting this "borderless" bullshit. Next time you review LG monitors, PLEASE take pictures of the screen turned on.
    Nice article! There is a big problem though. LG is usually and unfortunately selling FALSE and FAKE advertising. They put unrealistic pictures of their products on the Internet, on the product's web page and even on the product's box itself. I see that, despite reviewing this screen you haven't provided a single picture of this product taken in real life (unlike those LG promotes the product with...cough, fooling its customers into believing the image goes from edge to edge only for them to find out there are thick black edges all around the screen, cough) - with the screen turned on.
    Given how the screen looks like, I'm sure they keep promoting this "borderless" bullshit. Next time you review LG monitors, PLEASE take pictures of the screen turned on.

    If you have the latest AMD drivers, just turn the Auto Scaling on.

    This will fix those black bars that you see thanks to your ignorance.
    Reply
  • awez
    Just want to mention that i have the LG 29um67 Ultra wide HD freesync screen and man can i tell you guys it opened a whole new immersive world of gaming for me coming from a 16:9 24" screen. Feels like a cinema experience. Also i found it to be very practical for work.

    I'll never go back to 16:9 aspect ratios :)
    Reply
  • bit_user
    Pfft. Curved monitors are for curved eyeballs. ...oh, wait.
    Reply
  • cknobman
    As usual for LG, overpriced garbage.

    Reply