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LG 38UC99 38-inch Curved Ultra-Wide FreeSync Monitor Review

LG redefines the “ultra” in ultra-wide with its 38" 38UC99. It’s a curved IPS panel with 3840x1600 pixels, FreeSync, and 75Hz operation. We’re checking out this sleek white behemoth today.

Conclusion

Curved ultra-wide monitors are still a premium purchase, and you’ll likely spend at least $1000 to acquire one. A couple of models have crept below that point, most notably AOC’s C3583FQ. But if you want all the features and high resolution, a four-figure price-tag is difficult to avoid. Then again, you’ll never regret buying the best, and if $1500 is doable, it’s hard to imagine a better display than the 38UC99.

We were initially concerned about its 52Hz lower FreeSync limit. But that proved to be a non-issue. Even when framerates drop below 52 FPS, there aren’t significant issues to report. Our gaming system isn’t quite up to task of extracting the 38UC99’s maximum potential, but we still had a blast playing on it. With a more capable graphics board, something more on the level of our G-Sync system’s GTX Titan X, there’s little doubt that we’d be playing a ton of games and taking a lot longer to complete our monitor reviews!

$1500 is a lot of money to spend on any monitor, but this one can truly do it all. When the games are put away in favor of actual work, it delivers superb color, grayscale, and gamma performance. Even without calibration, we can’t imagine any buyer not being impressed with its bright image and natural, accurate hues. The only thing we wish for is a little more contrast. Perhaps we’ve been spoiled by the smattering of VA screens coming through our labs. There’s a killer display still to be built that includes all the performance of the 38UC99 with a VA panel. Adding 2000:1 contrast to a monitor this good would be worth almost any amount of money — or we think so, at least.

We can’t wrap this up without a final note about audio quality. Most monitors’ built-in speakers are an afterthought at best. But LG has clearly made a superior effort. With 10W op-amps and larger physical size, they deliver rich sound at fairly high volumes with no audible distortion. And bass is superior to just about anything else we’ve heard. Our gaming experience was enhanced by them, and that’s saying a lot.

As much as we laud it for gaming prowess, the 38UC99 proves itself to be a great display for any task. It’ll take up a large amount of desk space for sure, but if you have the room, there’s a serious amount of screen real estate to be had here. Size-wise it’s about 1.5" taller than a 27" QHD panel and nearly a foot wider. For those accustomed to multi-monitor desktops, it represents a compelling alternative. How great would it be to have that spacious view without an annoying black line down the middle?

No display is perfect, but this one only misses that adjective by a hair. With a little more contrast and a wider FreeSync range, it would be hard to fault in any way. The LG 38UC99 is at the pinnacle of the curved ultra-wide category and easily earns our Tom’s Hardware Editor Recommended Award.


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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.
  • Warsaw
    Just have to sell my kidney now to get one....
    Reply
  • Geekwad
    Looks like a great professional monitor, but not gaming (though I'm really happy to see the FreeSync adder anyway). If the range was ~35hz to 75hz, it'd be very different.

    Still, this looks to be a really great product for content creators.
    Reply
  • falchard
    For the price you can get 3 of LGs top range 27" 4k ips monitors which would probably be more effective. Still it's a nice halo product for selling panels.
    Reply
  • ap3x
    it runs at 75hz by the way and it supports freesync. I have the 34UM95 which was the first model they release and it is fantastic for productivity and great for strategy games but not as much for FPS's. This monitor would be great all around and much better than having 3 separate monitors at 4k since that would basically difficult to run at any resolution that would take advantage of 4k x3. The immersion would also not be much better in that configuration because you already have to move your head to look at things with an ulrawide. 4k peripheral monitors is a waste anyway even if you could run it.
    Reply
  • Kowmander
    The price of my Seiki 40" 4k makes me happier than the extra features I'm missing. But I do see the value of a curved screen at that width + desktop viewing distance.
    Reply
  • ubercake
    23Hz range for freesync?

    Just plopping "freesync" in there for the sake of being able to say "freesync" is weak.

    That said, I think LG IPS panels are the best.
    Reply
  • falchard
    I am more surprised at manufacturers refusing to add freesync verse those that tack it on. A monitor with displayPort and neither gsync or freesync is baffling
    Reply
  • Niva
    This is one amazing monitor. For the first time I'm seeing something which makes me consider my 30" Dell long in the tooth.
    Reply
  • falchard
    You could also wait just a little more. LG tvs are starting to get cheaper Oled and HDR. We could see these coming to monitors in the next 2 years.
    Reply
  • zon
    I would like to see this monitor go up against an Samsung CF791 when it gets released.
    Still don't get why TV's are HDR and not PC monitors yet. OLED is understand able with the issue with the blue sub pixel and the burn-in. But heard they fixed the blue sub pixel to an extent.
    Reply