A lot of people have tried multiple monitor setups, but a lot less have tried a UltraWide monitor, which rivals setups with two or three monitors side-by-side. The UltraWide monitors are gaining more and more popularity and they are looking better and getting craftier with great specs too. Having more than one monitor will almost always make you more productive. In this article, we will dig deeper in UltraWide monitors and how they differ from a dual-monitor setup, and when you might consider one over the other.
What is an UltraWide monitor?
To know what a UltraWide monitor is, you have to know about aspect ratio first, which is essentially the ratio between the width and height of the monitor in terms of pixels. For example, 16:9 means that for every 16 pixels in width, you will have 9 pixels in height. This aspect ratio is also the most common one and is called the “Widescreen” aspect ratio, which you might have heard of and are familiar with already. With that said, a UltraWide monitor is any display with an aspect ratio of 21:9, which is similar to the aspect ratio you will see in traditional movie theaters. The most common UltraWide resolutions are 2560×1080 and 3440×1440, and as you can see, they add a lot of horizontal screen estate than if you had a Widescreen monitor. The monitors vary in size, but they are typically 29-inches to 34-inches.
A UltraWide monitor has the advantage over dual-monitor setups that they do not have two bezels that interrupt the flow, and they will give you a seamless working experience and gaming experience. They also do not require you to put different connectors to different displays and your graphics card, as you can just plug one in (typically DisplayPort) and you are good to go. You will not need to invest in two to three cards to get the necessary input options and power, but a single can do in most cases unless you play AAA games at ultra high graphics settings.
UltraWide monitors allow you to run your native resolution with your graphics card unless it is very old. You can also run your games with a UltraWide monitor, giving you a wider field-of-view, which enhances your overall gaming experience. Almost any game supports 21:9 aspect ratio, so you won’t have to worry about that either, and if it should happen that a game you want to play doesn’t support it, you can always run it at 16:9 aspect ratio and play it like you would on a Widescreen monitor.
Where can I get an UltraWide monitor?
If you are looking for a UltraWide monitor, then we suggest you head over to our Gaming Monitor Buyer’s Guide, which we update every month to reflect the latest monitors that have been added to the market and other monitors that we have just discovered.
With that said, there are different manufacturers who make UltraWide monitors, and each of them may have different models. Among these manufacturers, you will find Acer, Dell, LG, ASUS, AOC, Samsung and even more are joining the club. With all the different options for a gaming monitor, a work monitor or just an everyday use monitor, it can be hard for the average consumer to grasp all the different specifications and options that are available. This is the reason why we have created our buying guide that will aid you in choosing just the right monitor for you.
Alternatively, you can go to various electronics retailers and browse their collection of UltraWide monitors.
How can UltraWide monitors make me more productive?
So now the real question comes and you have to decide whether you should get a UltraWide monitor or a dual-monitor or even a triple-monitor setup so that you can increase your productivity or gameplay.
Okay, so let’s dig into gaming first. If your graphics card is strong enough to pull 2560×1080 at 144Hz, then you should definitely get a 144Hz UltraWide monitor, such as the BenQ XR3501 or the upcoming Acer Z35, which both feature a VA panel. If you have a graphics card or even two in SLI that are capable of rendering 3440×1440 at around 75Hz, then you should get the Acer XR341CK (FreeSync) or the Acer XR341CKA (G-SYNC), depending which graphics card manufacturer you have. UltraWide is much better than regular Widescreen for gaming, so try to get one if you have the opportunity or at least try one first at your local hardware store. Also try to get one that is curved, as it will enhance the gaming experience by making it more immersive and closer to you. If you do not like UltraWide for some reason, then you should get a Widescreen 144Hz and you are good to go. The 144Hz refresh rate is beneficial outside games too and will make everything smoother and more fluid. You can also have multiple Widescreen monitors and combine them so they function like one, and this is where the bezel can be really distracting. Also, not all games support Widescreen resolutions like this (when combining multiple monitors), but you can head over to the Widescreen Gaming Forum, where you can find a database of games that support these wide resolutions.
Now let us dig into other PC usages, like for example work. One thing to remember is that the actual number of monitors do not matter when it comes to productivity. What matters is the screen real estate and how you are utilizing them. If you have three small displays, the number one thing that will have an impact on you is the bezel. If they are thin, then it is not too big of an issue, but even some monitors who are advertised as having a “thin bezel”, actually have a huge bezel compared to what other high-quality displays have.
Some people actually like the bezels because they can help you organize your stuff by having multiple “docks” that you can attach your windows to. For instance, one monitor can have an Excel spreadsheet open, another one has Google Chrome open and the last one has Skype open. They are all on full-screen and you can easily grasp what is happening on each monitor. When having a UltraWide monitor, there is only one long horizontal screen and no “breaks” or “pauses”. You have to manage the screen real estate by yourself and you can’t just drag a window to a section and press on the “maximize” button to have it fit the screen for you.
One other thing to consider is vertical real estate. A Widescreen and UltraWide monitor both have the same amount of vertical real estate, but if you have a dual-, triple- or quad-monitor setup, and if at least one of them can be pivoted to a vertical position, then you have lots of added vertical real estate and horizontal real estate. This setup is particularly useful in triple- or quad-monitor setups where the two monitors on the sides are rotated vertically and the one or two in front of you are in their Widescreen position. Some people like this, some don’t, so you have to consider what works best for you. Great and large monitors do not have to cost a lot of money. You can spend the same amount of money and even less in many cases and still get more real estate than if you had bought a single UltraWide monitor. A lot of UltraWide monitors also lack features such as a stand that allows for tilt and swivel and VESA mount options in order to bring the costs down.
Now that we have discussed the benefits and pitfalls of both UltraWide and Widescreen monitors, let’s wrap things up:
- Gaming: If you have a powerful enough GPU, then go 21:9. If not, stay with 16:9 for a while. The 21:9 aspect ratio will give you a better overview as you will gain a wider field of view and thereby giving you a more immersive and better gaming experience
- Watching movies: Most movies do not support 21:9 aspect ratio, so you will get a letterbox, which is essentially just black bars to each side and you will have to watch in 16:9 for best results.
- Work: If you like vertical real estate on your screen, then get a multiple monitor setup with three or four displays, with the ones at the sides pivoted vertically. If you don’t get like bezels in general, then get a UltraWide monitor obviously and if you like to organize windows easily, then get a dual-, triple- or quad-monitor setup. If you like to keep multiple windows up side-by-side without anything in the way, then get a UltraWide monitor also. If you are getting a UltraWide monitor, try to get one over 30-inches in order to get the most vertical real estate possible.
UltraWide monitors are relatively new, so they are still pricey. We still think it was worth it and we are excited about the new 34-inch UltraWide Curved 1440p 75Hz G-SYNC/FreeSync monitors from Acer, which are right around the corner. If you are on a budget though, you should probably not invest in a UltraWide monitor unless you find a very good deal somewhere. So in the end, there is no real winner in the UltraWide vs dual monitors battle.