Arrival of the Suuuuuuper Ultrawide
Last week I mentioned putting in an order to upgrade my monitor at last!
Given I’ve only had it up and running for a few short hours now — this is going to be the furthest thing from a review. More a set of first impressions. And those were: “Holy cow that’s a big box!” and, “Oh, at least it isn’t that heavy after all.” Swiftly followed by, “Hmm. I may have underestimated the space this thing will take on my desk.”
Putting it together wasn’t too much of an ordeal, except for the awkwardly placed IO Ports. At least, they were awkwardly placed for my situation — which is a corner desk essentially impossible to move so also no way to get behind it.
The monitor is over a metre wide so again — in the context of being in a corner — it was quite difficult to even rotate it to get behind it. If I was to do this all over again, I would have completely stripped the desk of all contents before starting rather than just clearing the space required to place it. (Pro tip: Also don’t tip it toward you to reach the back. The centre of balance shifts very quickly. ;))
In any case, placement and connections were ultimately done and it looked grand.
… Until I turned it on. Then the real fun and games began.
It booted into 3840×1080 resolution, with a helpful On Screen Display (OSD) pop-up asking me to set the resolution to 5120×1440 for ‘best results’. Problem with this being — Windows was adamant that 3840×1080 was the native resolution of the display and further — was the top resolution of the display. Oh and also just 60hz, too.
After which followed an hour or two of troubleshooting. I had managed to get the resolution set to 5120×1440 briefly at one point after a mains power cycle of the monitor and PC — but shortly thereafter all display from the PC cut out and all reboots afterward were back at 3840×1080@60hz maximum.
I was about ready to call the unit faulty and be done with it when I decided to give one last hail Mary. Replaced the included DisplayPort cable with a known good cable from the monitor it was replacing.
Straight into 5120×1440@120hz, no issues since. Phewph.
The Desktop Experience
I feel like the photo does poor justice to the sheer size of this thing. That keyboard in the foreground? It isn’t a reduced size board — it’s a full size, complete with a full NumPad and set of media controls.
To be honest, I was concerned that it might just be ‘too big’. After placing it on the desk I became confident it was too big. But sitting in front of it? You very quickly forget how big it is. It feels natural to use and the ability to subdivide your window space without anything feeling cramped is simply fantastic.
The start of this very blog post you see on the left there? That’s taking a full 2560×1440 monitor’s worth of space. And frankly I could cut that in half and still feel comfortable. (I often did exactly that when my 1440p was my main monitor.)
But as nice as this all is — let’s be honest. The extra desktop real estate is not why I nor anyone else is likely to pick this particular monitor.
So far I’ve only really tried games that I know support the resolution, so the experience is a really positive one. Without any shadow of a doubt, I am going to run into issues with some games handling the extremely rare 32:9 aspect ratio poorly.
Right now my belief is I can tolerate the black bars where necessary. Whether that will hold up after getting to experience the full super widescreen experience? Well… We’ll see.
Following on from the theme of initial concern over size for the desktop experience — I wondered whether there just might be too much to take in. But I needn’t have worried. Short of full VR, this monitor is about the about the closest you’re going to get to restoring your peripheral vision in a game.
You needn’t ‘focus’ on the edges of the screen — they’re just there. You can spot movement and react just as you would in real life, but your attention remains fixed in the centre. The slight curvature helps with this whole peripheral vision effect too.
Well, the bad news is it’s a notable hit. We’re talking literally 2x pixels per frame. ~7.4 million of the suckers! My system I would consider to be ‘not bad’ but no longer close to top of the line. It has an nVidia GTX 1080ti and an i5-8600K driving it.
With that, I was hitting between 60-75 FPS in Destiny 2. And — now we get to the good news — with the adaptive sync tech in the monitor (it uses FreeSync v2) this still feels silky smooth to play, with no visual tearing, laddering or other odd artifacts on screen.
Warframe did much better being a slightly less demanding game and held to a steady 100 FPS. This could have been higher but I frame locked it to match the 100hz refresh rate I’ve currently got it set to. This monitor can do 120hz out of the box — but this requires a drop down from full 10-bit colour to 8-bit.
I’ll likely play around with these settings over the coming days and weeks. It seems to be commonly held that the difference between 10-bit and 8-bit colour makes exceptionally minimal difference in gaming. It’s of more importance for HDR movie content and the like. (An area I haven’t played around with yet.)
So it might be if I have any number of games capable of running >100 FPS (like Warframe) then the extra 20 FPS headroom might be worth the reduction in colour depth.
Final First Impressions?
Rather positive. But it’s early yet, to be sure.
I’ve hardly begun to dive into the depths of what this thing can — and can’t — do. The games I’ve tried so far, as noted, were hand picked for the knowledge of their supporting widescreen correctly.
Here’s some images of those in the meantime though. ;)
Now, after having followed Jeromai in getting a monstrous monitor this size — I may also have to follow his footsteps in reconsidering the theme at use here. Something to better display the wider format screenshots I’ve more likely to have more of now. :D