We have long held fast to the industry-accepted principles of image fidelity: contrast, color accuracy and resolution, in that order. But monitor buyers tend to shop resolution first, then panel technology. And gamers, with good reason, always seek the highest possible refresh rate their budget will allow.
There are many displays that offer all these things in a 21:9 ultra-wide aspect ratio, at sizes ranging from 34 inches to as much as 49 inches. But so many of those products command premium prices. The best screens will lift around $1,000 from your wallet. Even a decent 16:9 monitor with IPS technology will set you back $500. But the LG 34WK650 is a true price breakthrough in the ultra-wide gaming category. For less than $400, it provides ample size, decent contrast, accurate color, 75Hz, FreeSync and HDR.
By now, some will have dismissed its 2,560x1,080 resolution. We enjoy a high pixel count when gaming as much as anyone, but when looking for a budget-deal, few will consider a $1,000 high performance monitor. The 34WK650 is for those people. It provides a superb gaming experience when paired with a modest video board. We had no trouble playing near this monitor's maximum framerate while enjoying tear-free motion, accurate color and solid contrast. Would a curve be nice? Of course. Would we appreciate more pixels? Sure, right after we order a new Radeon RX Vega 64 to drive those extra pixels. With our mid-grade FreeSync system though, greater resolution would simply upset the balance.
Our gripes here are minor and center around HDR. While capable of good contrast and color saturation, we wish there were adjustments available to fix grayscale tracking. The reference-level accuracy delivered to SDR material wasn't possible with HDR. Primary colors looked rich and saturated, but neutral tones were noticeably cool. In fairness, we have yet to see an HDR monitor hit all the marks. The technology is improving steadily but isn’t at full potential. And even though we’re happy to see 24p support for Ultra HD movies, there is no vertical stretch mode to eliminate the black bars.
If you’ve wished for an affordable ultra-wide monitor, the 34WK650 is pretty much in a class by itself at this writing. For $400, we know of nothing better--or even close. Color accuracy is top-notch, contrast is decent; all it really gives up is resolution. We don’t see that as a negative given our experience.
And when it came to gaming, this monitor truly shined with 75Hz and FreeSync, making the experience nearly as good as many far-pricier displays. For that reason, this LG comes highly recommended.
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