Samsung Odyssey G9 review: the most immersive monitor you can buy


I’ve been a know-how cheapskate most of my life. I’ve not often purchased a monitor brand-new; I’m happy to say I pieced collectively my current three-screen articulating swing-arm setup primarily from Craigslist and hand-me-downs. However this fall, I had a possibility to briefly exchange my three getting older shows with probably the most ridiculous, most superior gaming monitor ever made: the super-ultrawide, super-curved, ultra-high decision 49-inch Samsung Odyssey G9.

The Samsung Odyssey G9 is a monitor so huge, so broad, so curved, it could fill a midsized desk and wrap round your total discipline of view. It’s additionally merely an exceptional display: speedy (240Hz, 1ms, G-Sync, and FreeSync 2), excessive decision (5120 x 1440-pixel), and bursting with good shade due to a QLED panel that tops out at an eye-searing 1,000 nits of brightness. I’m not kidding once I say I’ve to avert my eyes once I launch Future 2 in HDR, and I may swear I felt the flames the primary few occasions my Star Wars: Squadrons’ TIE Bomber blasted an X-Wing into oblivion.

As they are saying on Reddit, I’ve ascended — and the previous few weeks have been a gaming and productiveness expertise like few I’ve had earlier than.

However progressively, I’ve been coming again all the way down to Earth.

Good Stuff

  • The most immersive monitor you can buy
  • Top-tier features including searingly bright HDR
  • Excellent display quality

Bad Stuff

  • 3D games can look warped at 32:9
  • You can buy an OLED TV for the price
  • No HDMI 2.1

Design

The Odyssey G9 is a showstopper, and I don’t just mean that figuratively: last January, attendees of the world’s biggest technology show were dazzled by its unprecedented curvature and sci-fi inspired frame.

When I put that same monitor on my humble IKEA sit-stand desk, the effect is otherworldly. Compared to my old hodgepodge of screens and rat’s nest of cabling, this G9 looks like a terminal aboard a Star Trek spaceship… even if my physical keyboard and its long braided cable ruin the illusion a bit.

The sheer size of the Odyssey G9 and its broad-shouldered stand do limit your options. I’m lucky that my small-form-factor Ncase M1 can fit behind the screen, and there’s just enough clearance (a little over six inches) for my Audioengine A2+ speakers to fit underneath the monitor at the stand’s highest position. But if I had a bigger PC or bigger speakers, I might have also needed a bigger desk — or else had to use the included 100mm x 100mm VESA adapter to mount the nearly four-feet wide, one-foot deep, 31-pound screen to the wall. My current monitor arms can’t carry nearly that much weight, though you can buy some TV arms that do.

As it is, I’m a fan of the way this monitor brings my whole desk together. Two DisplayPorts and an HDMI 2.0 port let me switch between three video sources easily, including a side-by-side mode which lets me display two at once, effectively giving my PC and game console (or a second computer) each their own 27-inch, 2560 x 1440 displays.

There’s also a two-port USB-A 3.0 hub and a 3.5mm audio output, which worked perfectly with my keyboard’s USB and 3.5mm audio passthrough. As you can see from my photos, I can do a lot with only a single visible cable thanks to those ports. And while the narrow V-shaped stand might seem a little minimal for a monitor this hefty, it takes a decent shove to get it to tip forward even at its highest position.

Underneath the rear cover, cable management at work.

The five-way nub.

Cable management and OSD options.

You can adjust the monitor’s settings using a tiny five-way control nub underneath the power LED, and it’s remarkable how much you can tweak — including the ability to crop the entire panel to 4:3, 16:9, or 21:9 aspect ratios instead of stretching out the image. You can effectively have a 27-inch HDR panel for your game console or TV whenever you need. It’s just a shame that the monitor’s biggest benefits don’t necessarily translate to its side-by-side mode, where your 240Hz HDR screen generally becomes a pair of 60Hz SDR ones.

Productivity

My first big test for Samsung’s Odyssey G9 wasn’t a console or even PC gaming — last month, I co-hosted The Verge’s industry-famous Apple event live blog, capturing every screenshot you saw. I normally run three monitors because I switch tasks like mad, and if there’s a better multitasking test than an Apple event, I haven’t met it yet.

Lots of room for productivity.

At first, I wasn’t sure this epic screen would work. Most apps and websites aren’t designed to display across the vast expanse of a single 32:9 monitor, so you have to live in windows. I couldn’t simply toss one or two apps onto each monitor like I usually do. But while Samsung doesn’t ship the G9 with any good windowing software and Windows 10’s default Snap is woefully insufficient, Microsoft’s free downloadable FancyZones windowing manager worked wonders.

l built my own set of dedicated snappable spots for the Apple live stream; The Verge’s live-blogging tool; Slack; a browser window to keep track of any Apple press releases that might pop during the show; and even a narrow strip of Windows Explorer so I could see which images I’d already captured and weed them out as necessary. The only other wrinkle was the additional Chrome extension I had to download to ensure YouTube could launch “full screen” in a browser window, instead of taking over my entire ultrawide monitor.

In general, while I did occasionally miss my two vertically oriented monitors for scrolling long webpages, Google Docs, and Tweetdeck, I found the G9’s gigantic horizontal expanse of real estate nearly as effective for most tasks. Where I could only squeeze four narrow columns of Tweetdeck onto my old portrait-orientation screens, the G9 would comfortably fit five, plus a 30-tab web browser, a nice vertical strip of Evernote for note-taking, and our Slack newsroom alongside.

The curve is even more noticeable from this angle.

I wouldn’t say it’s better than having three screens for work, but it seems like a sufficient substitute — except maybe that toast notifications now pop up in the corner of my eye where they’re pretty easy to miss. Still, it’s nice not to have to match color, contrast, and brightness across three screens at a time, or adjust how my mouse crosses from one monitor to the next. Having a single, vast, unbroken expanse of real estate that’s always the same distance from my face (as I spin in my chair) is an absolute treat. And while the Odyssey G9’s unprecedented curve does tend to catch ambient light, the matte screen does a great job of diffusing any glare.

The ultrawide aspect ratio didn’t work as well for video as I hoped, though. While you might imagine 32:9 being great for movies, I had a hard time finding anything I could play in ultra high definition that wasn’t 16:9. Most streaming platforms won’t easily let you access their 4K and HDR content on a Windows machine to begin with — YouTube’s the primary exception, though Netflix works if you’ve got a recent Intel processor and use Microsoft Edge or the native app — and you’ll want 4K to take advantage of a screen this high-res and this close to your face. The 4K YouTube videos I played were definitely clearer than 1080p — I could really peep these pixels in Dieter’s iPhone 12 video review. And while standard 16:9, 1080p content does display just fine full-screen with black borders on the sides, it feels like I’m wasting a lot of screen real estate that way. Plus, the blacks are a bit gray, not the deep inky black you’d get from an OLED screen — particularly with HDR on and Samsung’s iffy local dimming enabled.

Gaming

The first thing you should know about gaming on the Odyssey G9 is that you’ll want a serious graphics card to go with it. Technically, 5120 x 1440 resolution isn’t quite as many pixels as a 3840 x 2160 4K UHD screen… but remember we’re also talking about a monitor that goes up to 240Hz. To properly review the Odyssey G9, I borrowed an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 to get enough horsepower, since my GTX 1080 couldn’t even run games like Death Stranding or Destiny 2 at 60fps smoothly at that resolution.

The second thing you should know about gaming on the Odyssey G9 is that it may not be quite as immersive as you’re imagining.

Don’t get me wrong: having an X-Wing cockpit wrapped all around you is an epic experience, and it feels like a true advantage to be able to use my peripheral vision in competitive shooters like PUBG and CS:GO. But it wasn’t long until I noticed something weird going on.

That TIE Interceptor on the left is looking a little flat.

No, the soldier on the left is not normally that short.

Look carefully at these images: notice how the sides are warped? Imperial deck officers and Novigrad Temple Guards aren’t generally this pudgy.

I tried game after game after game on the Odyssey G9, digging into my Steam, Epic, and Uplay libraries and tweaking a variety of settings, and this is simply the reality: every 3D game gets warped when you’re viewing it in a 32:9 aspect ratio, and there’s not much you can do about it. Changing your field of view in a game doesn’t get rid of the effect; it simply changes how much of the game world appears in the center of your screen (where things look normal) and at the edges (where they look stretched and zoomed). I actually pulled out a tape measure and checked: video game content that measures 4.75 inches at the center of the display can get stretched to a full 12 inches at the edges.

Now, this isn’t Samsung’s fault; it’s just the way games are built. Most games have a single virtual camera that exists at a single point in space, and while Nvidia once proposed changing that (see link above), the company’s Simultaneous Multi-Projection doesn’t seem to have made it into any of the games I tested. And in games with pre-rendered cutscenes, like Final Fantasy XV, you’ll be watching them at their original aspect ratio.

But before you write off 32:9 ultrawides right now, there are three things I’d like you to consider:

  • You might get used to it.
  • It’s not that distracting in some games!
  • 2D games aren’t affected at all.

Let me give you some examples.

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds at 32:9.

CS:GO at 32:9.

CS:GO and PUBG are incredibly competitive, nail-biting games where focus is everything, where you always need to have your gun at the ready and be scanning for any sign of movement. I don’t have time to turn my head left and right to appreciate the scenery or think about whether it’s warped. The G9 simply gives me enhanced peripheral vision, and it helps — not hurts — that things which appear in the corner of my eye are zoomed in by default. I got used to treating it as my peripheral vision and nothing else. (The 240Hz also comes in pretty handy in games like CS:GO where you can actually hit that frame rate.)

Genshin Impact cutscenes use the in-game engine and look great at 32:9.

BioShock Infinite at 32:9.

Genshin Impact, Abzû, Rocket League, and BioShock Infinite are games with gorgeous, colorful worlds whose proportions aren’t “normal” to begin with, and I love having them wrapped around me.

XCOM 2’s more cinematic movements look pretty good in 32:9 as well.

In Destiny 2 and XCOM 2, I found I could forgive the warping because of the enhanced field of view and the ability to easily zoom whenever you want. It’s nice to see more of the battlefield at once in XCOM while planning out how my soldiers will move each turn, and it’s pretty cool to aim down the sights in Destiny without the typical claustrophobia that comes with zooming in, since you’re still able to see what’s going on around you.

Worms W.M.D in 32:9.

Disco Elysium supports 21:9, not 32:9, as you can see here.

2D / 2.5D games like Worms W.M.D and Disco Elysium do look fantastic on the G9 — when you can find ones that actually support an ultrawide screen. That’s not a given: I managed to launch Soldat at 5120 x 1440 resolution, but it didn’t stretch across my monitor. Games with fixed widths like Streets of Rage 4 and Hyper Light Drifter won’t either. Even Disco Elysium only offers 21:9 support, not 32:9, unless you apply a hack.

Borderlands 3 looked pretty good at 32:9 when it wasn’t moving.

And for every one of the 3D games that worked, I also found a Borderlands 3 or The Witness or Goat of Duty or The Witcher 3 where the warped geometry really bugged me, either because I wanted to sit back and look at the beautiful vista or because the edges of my screen were moving faster than the center.

That’s not easy to show you in still images, so here’s a video clip to show you what I mean:

In video games just like the hack-and-slash Mordhau or the road-tripping Last Fantasy XV, the distraction will also be when a chunk of geometry that’s essential to the sport continuously seems incorrect. (Your Mordhau sword or axe usually extends into the warped space of the display; the highway itself in FFXV seems curved as an alternative of flat!)

Frankly, probably the most annoying sport I performed on the Odyssey G9 was determining which video games would work within the first place. Right here, I’ve to shout out Rock Paper Shotgun’s Katharine Citadel, whose brilliant example-filled guide showcases practically three dozen titles that do work, full with GIFs so you may see for your self. However in case you’re prepared to work at it (and perceive the dangers), a group on the Widescreen Gaming Forum (WSGF) and PCGamingWiki may also help you hack and patch many current titles to work at 32:9, too.

Loss of life Stranding tweaked to run at 32:9.

As an illustration, I put in a coach that allow me run Loss of life Stranding at full-resolution 32:9, with an infinitely adjustable discipline of view, as an alternative of the 21:9 that designer Hideo Kojima and firm shipped.

Persona 4 Golden at 32:9. I nonetheless must un-stretch the UI.

Utilizing a common tutorial, I hex-edited my Persona 4 Golden .exe and remarkably wound up taking part in what was initially a 480p PlayStation 2 sport — and later a 720p, 16:9 PlayStation Vita sport — at a wonderful 3840 x 1080 at 32:9. (I do nonetheless want to determine tips on how to un-stretch the UI.) And there’s an outdated, unmaintained program known as Widescreen Fixer that helped me revisit an outdated favourite:

Mirror’s Edge at 32:9.

Extra Mirror’s Edge.

I wouldn’t say the group is powerful sufficient that you would essentially discover a repair for any sport in your library. However the WSGF does now have a Discord you may need to try.

The last word ultrawide, however the most effective monitor?

The Samsung Odyssey G9 prices $1,479.99 — a premium value for a premium monitor like nothing else available on the market. You could find different 49-inch 32:9 panels for much less, however none with this mix of decision, brightness, curvature, and refresh charge. The closest you may come is final 12 months’s $1,200 Samsung CRG9 which maintains the decision and brightness however with half the refresh charge at 120Hz and a notably much less pronounced 1800R curvature — which, I think about, wouldn’t be nearly as good at supplying you with convincing peripheral imaginative and prescient in video games.

In case you’re searching for the final word ultrawide, that is at present it. I’m simply not satisfied that I’m, personally, even when I had that a lot cash earmarked for a brand new display. For $1,500 and the large quantity of house the Odyssey G9 consumes, I may purchase a 48-inch LG OLED TV as an alternative. I’d get a display simply as gigantic for my multitasking, however taller, with 120Hz G-Sync and FreeSync assist, extremely deep blacks, HDMI 2.1 for variable refresh charge for the PS5 and Xbox Sequence X, and no must troubleshoot facet ratios for my movies and video games. Linus Tech Tips has a video that dives deep into the professionals and cons of that LG display, and I got here away pretty satisfied.

It wouldn’t be the identical expertise that the G9 gives, in fact, and I’d remorse it if Nvidia and AMD ever mud off Simultaneous Multi-Projection for actual. The TV may additionally reduce off entry to a big portion of my desk, and I won’t be capable to place my PC and audio system inside simple attain with out blocking a little bit of the display. However I’d have a extra clearly future-proof setup; an equally, if no more beautiful picture; and rather a lot much less ambient annoyance once I need to sport. On the very least, right here’s hoping Samsung provides HDMI 2.1 to this epic monitor subsequent 12 months.

Images and screenshots by Sean Hollister / The Verge

Correction: An earlier model of this evaluation mentioned splitting the display into two 16:9 shows was the equal to 2 24.5-inch screens. It’s extra like two 27-inch screens. We remorse the error.





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