An external display, or monitor, can cram loads of content into a single screen. An ultrawide monitor turns a desktop or laptop computer into a multitasking monster.
But desktop users still require an external monitor. Even many laptop users may benefit from the use of a monitor. Want to maximize your viewing space? Check out the best ultrawide monitors for all budgets in 2017!
Why Buy an Ultrawide Display?
As many users migrate away from desktops, you might question the use of a monitor. If you’re a desktop user, it’s pretty clear: you need one. Unless you’re running a server headless, the average desktop form factor requires a monitor. But for laptop users, a monitor is still an excellent investment. Although I’ve got an HP Omen laptop for on-the-go work, when I’m at home I prefer using a monitor.
Although I’ve got an HP Omen laptop for on-the-go work, when I’m at home I prefer using a monitor. Usually, I extend my desktop for a dual-screen setup. However, even running your laptop into a monitor usually means you benefit from a larger screen than your native laptop screen. The only exception might be the Acer Predator 21 X, which costs more than some cars. Ultrawide monitors swap the standard 16:9 aspect ratio for 21:9.
As Lifehacker explains, there’s a common myth that the number of monitors is directly proportional to productivity. Rather, it’s monitor real estate. Thus, one ultrawide monitor can replace multiple monitors. You can even use your monitor for console gaming and save both space and money.
Here are some simple rules for buying an ultrawide:
- Around 29 inches or larger offer a great midground between gaming and productivity.
- Generally, lower-priced monitors are better suited to productivity whereas high-end monitors are game-centric. Of course, there are plenty of exceptions for ultrawide gaming monitors on a budget.
- Ask yourself if you want to play games in 4K.
The Best Ultrawide Monitors for All Budgets in 2017
1. LG 29UM68-P
The LG 29UM68-P may not provide the best specs. It’s hampered by a 60 to 75 Hz refresh rate and a 2560 x 1080 resolution. What really sets the LG 29UM68-P apart is the price. For under $400, it’s easily the most affordable 29-inch ultrawide monitor available.
Don’t expect a top-of-the-line monitor. Similarly, video quality will appear decent though phenomenal. The LG 29UM68-P is an awesome alternative, though this jumps to $400. However, for the price of a mid-range standard monitor, you snag a good all-around ultrawide. As an alternative, the Samsung CF391 is a fantastic curved 32-inch FHD model. Unfortunately, the CF391 opts for a 1080p resolution which is painful to glance at on a screen this size up close. As such, the LG 29UM68-P makes a few minor compromises, but it’s the best budget ultrawide monitor available.
- Under $300
- 2560 x 1080 resolution
- 29 inches
- Under 30 inches
- Not 4K
- Some images appear stretched
- Low refresh rate compared to higher end models
2. BenQ XR3501
Slipping in at a sweet mid-range pricing, the BenQ XR3501 is an awesome ultrawide monitor. Linus over at Linus Sebastian of Linus Tech Tips praised the XR3501 for its true gaming optimization. It’s a bit lower in resolution. But its fast refresh rate, curvature, and panel more easily compensate. Dual HDMI points and DisplayPort make for excellent connectivity. Still, there’s no VGA or DVI.
For under $700, you get a 35-inch panel with a 2560×1080 resolution and 4ms response times. Moreover, BenQ includes FreeSync which makes this the best pick for AMD gamers. Linus explains that pixel response time is average, but color calibration is fantastic. The main drawback: its resolution. The size and resolution mean it’s much better for gaming than general use.
- 2560 x 1080
- 4ms response time
- FreeSync for AMD gaming
- 35 inches
- Lower resolution isn’t fantastic for non-gaming applications
Dude, you’re getting a Dell Ultrawide! Dell’s 34-inch curved ultrawide monitor is a mid-range monitor at $760. You’ll get tons of screen space with its 34-inch display. The WQHD monitor is an IPS panel.
PC Mag awarded the UltraSharp U3415W a 4.5 out of 5 in its review. Among its top features, the UltraSharp U3415W accurately produces colors and dominates with its awesome gray-scale. Though the display is phenomenal, PC Mag appreciated its booming audio as well. But like you’ll see with many ultrawide monitors, the price is pretty hefty at $725. Oddly, especially at this price range, there are no side-mounted USB ports. How expensive can those be to include? Nevertheless, the Dell UltraSharp U3415W is a great performer which delivers a rich color palette and tons of screen real estate.
- Rich color reproduction
- IPS panel
- 34 inches
- 3440 x 1440 resolution
- Pair of 9-watt speakers
- No side-mounted USB ports
If you’re looking for a solid ultrawide monitor for a range of applications, the Samsung CF791 is your best option. At $800, it’s not the cheapest model. Nevertheless, this 34-inch curved ultrawide model sports a 100Hz refresh rate and 4ms response time. Its 3440 x 1440 WQHD resolution is almost three times the pixel density of a full HD 1080p panel. You’ll also find quantum dot technology for as high as 125 percent RGB color space. The end result delivers more colors than a traditional model for crisp, lifelike color reproduction.
CNET praised the CF791 for its large size and 100 Hz refresh rate. Reportedly, this complements AMD Radeon cards well. Additionally, its colors are vivid. But CNET disliked the lack of USB ports. You’ll only find two. Further, the integrated stand makes VESA mounts a challenge. Still, it’s large and features superb colors. With its FreeSync capabilities, it’s a decent multi-purpose display and notably the best bet for Radeon gamers.
- FreeSync support
- Great for Radeon gamers
- 100 Hz refresh rate
- Accurate color reproduction
- 34 inches
- Bright image
- Only two USB ports
- Stand isn’t ideal for VESA mounting
5. Acer Z35
While it’s not quite the Acer Predator 21 X, the Acer Z35 ultrawide is tough to recommend. It’s definitely the best ultrawide monitor available. Furthermore, the Acer Z35 is the fastest ultrawide monitor with a blistering 200 Hz refresh rate. Digital Trends enjoyed its high contrast ratio, a bevy of gaming-centric elements, and its bright display. Picking the right monitor for gaming can be tricky, but this is easily a gaming panel.
However, the Z35 comes with a low pixel density. It’s also quite expensive. At $800, the CF791 is a pricey though high-performing monitor. The Acer Z35 clocks in at $900. Of course, when you hit the $800, what’s another $100 for the Z35? Sure, it’s fast and caters to gamers. But the price makes the Acer Z35 hard to justify. It’s undoubtedly the best ultrawide monitor available. However, unless you’re a gamer, this is complete overkill.
- 200 Hz refresh rate
- Lots of gaming features
- Premium looks and build quality
Final Thoughts on Ultrawide Monitors
Which ultrawide monitor you select depends on your needs. Often you’ll find lower-priced monitors cater to office work and all-purpose needs. Whereas high-end monitors target the gamers. However, certain mid-range monitors like the BenQ XR3501 are superb for gaming. Think of ultrawide monitors as two monitors in one. After all, most do offer the screen real estate of multiple display panels conveniently wrapped into one form factor. This is awesome for saving space.
It’s tough to beat the LG 29UM68-P which hits such a low price point. If you want to go all out, snag the Acer Z35. For a decent middle-of-the-road ultrawide with delightful gaming optimization, check out the BenQ XR3501. After you’ve selected your monitor, learn how to properly calibrate it for better-looking images.