The Domination of 21:9 UltraWide Monitors
Moving over to the UltraWide side of the monitor market, I think the 21:9 aspect ratio is a winner - and the improvements in the refresh rate and the additions of G-Sync and FreeSync on UltraWide is what sets it above normal 16:9 displays. Starting in late 2014 and into early 2015, LG had its 34UC97, with its 34-inch curved IPS panel boasting a 21:9 aspect ratio and resolution 3440x1440. Only held back by its 60Hz refresh rate and lack of variable refresh rate technology, it was an amazing display. A tour de force of 21:9 goodness, that was absolutely perfect for productivity and light gaming.
Everything changed when AMD's FreeSync technology reached the UltraWide scene on the 34UM67, but its 34-inch panel was only capable of 2560x1080 - a far cry from the heights of 3440x1440 on the previous 34UC97 release. Even the title of my review on the LG 34UM67 said "a preview of things to come" because while FreeSync on an UltraWide was good, it wasn't great because of the limited 2560x1080 resolution. FreeSync on a 34-inch UltraWide at 3440x1440 would've been huge at the time. But, it was still great to see FreeSync on an UltraWide display, but then everything changed, again.
Not long after LG released its 34UM67, the company released its 34UC87C model, with some slight changes from its 34UC97 in late 2014. Where the 34UC97 featured Intel's Thunderbolt connectivity, it did not have a height-adjustable stand. This is where the LG 34UC87C came in, as it provided a great height-adjustable stand but dropped its Thunderbolt connectivity. It still featured the same 34-inch curved IPS panel with the same 3440x1440 resolution and 60Hz refresh rate, though. Still, no G-Sync or FreeSync... yet.
LG dominated the UltraWide scene throughout 2015 - but it wasn't doing so well in the QHD or 4K monitor markets, in my opinion. The QHD gaming monitor market was and still is dominated by ASUS and Acer. The 4K market is quite spread out with no clear 'winners' yet. LG came to excel in the TV market with its OLED sets, where we fell in love with the 65-inch curved 4K-capable OLED TV that LG sent us earlier this year, too.
21:9 UltraWide Gaming Monitors Arrive
Then, Acer dropped one of its best monitors ever - the XR341CK. Acer's XR341CK was a 34-inch Curved UltraWide display with a 34-inch IPS panel with its 3440x1440, which was a good start - then my eyes opened wider when I heard about the addition of FreeSync. Now we're talking, I thought - but then, the refresh rate can be pumped up to 75Hz! 75Hz versus 60Hz is a great jump, especially for the feel of 'smoothness' on your desktop, and more importantly, gaming. We loved the monitor, but its dominance didn't last long.
Acer went all-in with UltraWide gaming monitors by releasing the Predator X34. Acer's new Predator X34 was everything that the XR341CK was, except it offered NVIDIA's G-Sync technology and a much higher refresh rate. Where the FreeSync-based model drove up to 75Hz, the new G-Sync-powered Predator X34 took things to an entirely new level: 100Hz. Yep, 100Hz at 3440x1440 is freakin' incredible - I'm typing in front of it right now, as it is my daily driver. It's my dream screen until 34-inch Curved UltraWide monitors start hitting 120Hz and 144Hz next year at 3440x1440 - next year is going to kick so much ass.
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