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In two weeks from now, the new Borderlands game is being released. I’ve taken that opportunity to try and create a new gaming setup for myself. Every single piece of gear was still open for debate; however, one thing was for sure: the monitor is the most important part. While any setup won’t work without the right gear, the display is the one thing that you’ll always look at. I wanted nothing less than an amazing 120Hz, or more, ultrawide gaming experience for my favorite shooter series.
Right now, there’s no shortage of amazing gaming monitors, ranging from 24-inches to 65-inches. In my opinion however, the sweet spot for offline first person gaming is at 1440p 21:9. With the current generation of higher end graphic cards, it’s realistic to achieve a constant 120 if not even 144 frames per second in that resolution, even for most newer games.
While 120Hz ultrawide gaming became more popular in the past few years, the list of available monitors still isn’t that extensive. There were only three monitors that stood out for me. Those were the Predator X35, the Asus PG35VQ and the LG 34GK950G. All three boasted impressive features, that haven’t been matched by any competitor so far. The X35 and PG35 even maxed out at 200Hz instead of the LG’s 120Hz. At that moment, I wasn’t able to justify spending 2500$ on a gaming monitor though. The LG 34GK950G was still pretty impressive on paper and at the same time cheaper than most competitors products, such as Asus’s PG349Q.
Why did the 34GK950G stand out to me?
The first thing was, that it’s being manufactured by LG. I’ve actually owned both their 34UC98-W and their 38UC99-W ultrawide monitors and absolutely loved them. I thought that, as long as they managed to fix the few smaller issues those displays had, there’s no way I could go wrong with their lineup.
The gaming display is actually really similar to their productivity monitors when it comes to it’s design. But more on that later.
There were a few features, or rather claims by LG, that made me curious about the device, the first one being LG’s nanocell technology. According to LG the display is able to cover a far wider range of colors thanks to its implementation. Nano IPS is the answer to Samsung’s Quantum Dot technology. Both of them often lead to over saturated colors, which might not necessarily be color accurate, does look great ingame though.
The other feature is the 120Hz overclock. The display is able to maintain 100Hz natively and should be able to overclock to 120Hz. Depending on the unit you get, the feature might actually lead to some issues. So in the end, it’s a gamble whether the display is actually able to hit the frame rate without having any issues.
Besides that, it was quite surprising to me, that a 34-inch monitor with this set of features goes for 950$ as some of the competitors products cost upwards to 1200$. There are many more features integrated into the monitor; however, I was not interested at them at the time of looking for a monitor. More on those later.
120Hz ultrawide gaming meets elegance…
Upon unpacking the monitor I was immediately stricken by the monitor’s elegance. On the product pictures it often looked cheap, a little bit too gamery and it’s stand looked terrible, especially in comparison to the 38UC99-W’s.
The monitor doesn’t look or feel cheap in the slightest. The sphere lightning, if turned off, isn’t visible while using the display anyway.
One thing that stands out though, is the incredibly clean front view you have on the panel. The bezels are equally small on each side, even the bottom one. Usually manufacturers put their logo on there, just as LG did with their previous models. In this case however, there’s no logo to be found. It’s elegance is only hindered by the stand.
While it doesn’t look as bad as I expected, I’d much rather use an external monitor arm. And honestly, after spending 950$ on a monitor, I don’t really mind spending the little extra for the additional desk space, better ergonomics and of course the better aesthetics. Once it’s on a monitor arm though, it’s the best looking panel that I’ve ever seen. It makes working on it a seamless experience.
Did the performance live up to my hype?
The short answer to that is yes. Don’t stop reading however, since there are some other things that are important to know about. First of all, the overclock functionality worked flawlessly on my model. The monitor was constantly on 120FPS and it didn’t have any issues maintaining that. Right out of the box, the colors looked fantastic as well. I personally preferred the profile that it was set to in the beginning (Gamer 1), so I didn’t change that after trying the others out for a short while. I set the brightness to 70% which should be about 280 nits.
Once I started playing some games, I was surprised by the picture quality. There was no noticable motion blur, screen tearing, stuttering or input-lag whatsoever. Everything was extremely responsive and fluid. The colors were vibrant and even the contrast seemed all right – even though it can’t be compared to a VA panel.
LG’s monitor is not without flaws…
One issue that I experienced however, was IPS glow. In extremely dark areas in game it was somewhat noticable, while being extremely obvious in loading screens that had a black background.
Being a potential issue with all IPS monitors, it didn’t come as a big surprise to me. Having spent that much money on a monitor though, I didn’t want to accept that being the case. While it’s not noticeable at all during daytime, it becomes apparent at night with the lights turned off.
After using the display for a while, I also noticed an unresponsive pixel on the upper right corner of the screen. So while the screen itself is absolutely fantastic, you should be wary when getting your own. I would advise to be extra careful to check for any issues shortly upon buying the monitor.
Nonetheless the 120Hz ultrawide gaming experience was absolute bliss.
LG is trying to optimize for the ideal 120Hz ultrawide gaming experience…
As usual, LG packed a whole bunch of extra feature into their monitor. It’s been the same with the productivity lineup that I’ve previously owned. This time however, the features are purely gaming oriented. I’ve gone through all of them and tested whether they made an impact on my general gaming experience.
The sphere lighting comes from the back of the monitor. It can be set to several different color profiles from red, green, cyan, magenta, white daylight, white natural, ‘peaceful’, which is a profile that slowly changes between the other colors, to dynamic (rainbow).
At first I thought that it was simply a small RGB effect similar to the one of my mouse or my pc and I wouldn’t ever be able to see it anyway. The effect is strong enough to illuminate a fairly large portion of the wall the monitor is sitting in front of. While obviously not having a direct impact on gaming performance, it did lighten the mood when playing some non competitive games. The colors, when being reflected on the wall, are not aggressive but rather soothing to some degree.
Whether you use this feature or not it completely up to preference. I wouldn’t necessarily pay extra to have it, am glad it’s integrated anyway though.
This is one of the features that seemed the most prominent to me. According to NVIDIA, G-Sync synchronizes the refresh rates of the monitor to the output of the GPU, eliminating screen tearing and minimizing stutter and input lag. Since my computer is powered by an NVIDIA graphics card, it only seemed logical to buy a monitor with the technology enabled.
To test whether it actually made a direct impact on my gaming experience, I toggled G-Sync off in the NVIDIA control panel and played some rounds of Killing Floor 2. After that I played the same map with it being toggled on.
I immediately realized some smaller tearing when playing without it. The motion wasn’t as fluid as I was used to. Once enabled again, the gameplay felt much more responsive and overall refined. I did at the time cap the monitor at 60Hz though, which is why the impact was so immense. Once changing to the glorious 120Hz ultrawide gaming again, the difference between G-Sync enabled or disabled wasn’t as big anymore; however, still notable, especially for bigger frame rate drops from 120 into the 90 region.
G-Sync is only useful if you have an NVIDIA graphics card however. For all those rocking an AMD card, there’s also a freesync version of this display available. I personally wouldn’t want to give up on that feature, especially on a monitor, which resolution can lead to somewhat slower framerates depending on how optimized the game is.
The lower the framerate, the more noticeable G-Sync becomes.
There are four different game modes, that essentially change the monitors color profile and settings slightly. LG added two profiles labeled Gamer 1 and Gamer 2, one called FPS and one called RTS. The first two profiles can actually be tweaked to your liking, while the latter two are fixed.
Each mode has it’s own color profile and settings. For FPS and RTS, the Gamma, Color Temp and R/G/B settings, as well as the response time and the black stabilizer can’t be altered. For FPS, the black stabilizer is on high (off, low, middle, high) while the response time is set to faster (off, normal, fast, faster). The RTS mode has set the black stabilizer to middle and the response time to faster.
Visually I found the original Gamer 1 and 2 modes to be the most pleasing. When setting the black stabilizer to high, the blacks are extremely washed out and just seem off. So if wanted to be used, I would just change profiles when not playing.
While I am sure that the changes can have an impact depending on the game, I decided to never use any of them. Since I mostly play non competitive games, I find the visuals to be much more important than a small performance improvement ingame.
Now this one is rather tricky. All the feature does is putting a crosshair in the exact center of your screen. There are four different options you can select, a normal + in green and red, or a dot, also available in green and red.
Depending on the game your playing this can have an immense advantage. In Killing Floor 2 for example, when not aiming, the bullets would first go in the exact center of the screen. That way it’s extremely easy to achieve headshots with it enabled.
To be perfectly honest though, I don’t like this feature at all. To me it just kind of feels like cheating. I’d much rather play the game it’s intended to be played.
Power LED toggle
This one might be an obvious one for most, but it’s possible to toggle the power LED on the bottom of the screen off entirely. Not being able to do that was the biggest issue I had with LG’s ultrawide productivity lineup. Whenever I forgot to turn the monitor off manually, the LED started blinking, until the display turned off by itself after an hour or so. Since I am sleeping in the same room I am gaming in, that happened almost every single night. That was insanely bothersome to me. Luckily, LG learned from past mistakes and implemented that change.
While the monitor is optimized for gaming, it ditches productivity settings…
The productivity lineup of LG’s ultrawide monitors was packed with features such as picture in picture, screen split, USB Type-C and quick charge. For some reason LG ditches all of these, even though the main specifications of the 34GK950G would allow it to be perfect combination between productivity and 120Hz ultrawide gaming. I would’ve loved to be able to use it both with my Macbook and my desktop at the same time. It just feels like a missed opportunity, though it will probably not bother anybody who buys this monitor purely for gaming purposes.
They also got rid of the speakers…
The speakers in the 38UC99-W were by far the most impressive monitor speakers that I’ve ever heard. When unpacking the gaming monitor, I just expected the speakers to be comparable. I was deeply disappointed to find out, that none were integrated. Me not knowing that beforehand is obviously not the monitors fault; however, this once again feels like a missed opportunity. It would have been great if there were some integrated, as I don’t intend to put any external speakers on my desk. The way it is, I’ll just have to make do with headphones.
The slim display comes with a huge powerbrick…
Another thing that has to be mentioned, though it’s the case for most LG monitors, is the huge power brick. That allows the display itself to be extremely thin. As long as you have some kind of cable tray underneath your desk that’s not an issue at all. If the brick had to be in sight though, that would be a massive downside.
There are still some issues with quality control when it comes to the LG 34GK950G. If you are able to get a model without any dead pixels and with minimal to no IPS glow though, then this allows for the ultimate 120Hz ultrawide gaming experience. That is if you actually have a computer strong enough to drive all of the pixels.
I will have to return my model because of the stuck pixel. Before buying the monitor again, I will try out a few competitor’s ultrawides and try to find out which is the absolute best option. Nevertheless, if you are willing to take the risk that you might have to return the device, then I can fully recommend this monitor. It does not only have an amazing gaming performance and some nice additional features, but also the cleanest look out of all the options. At under 1000$, I think it’s worth it.
To view the monitor on Amazon, simply click here*.