LG 34UC98-W: a belated review

I've bought a set of new displays, the LG about 8 months ago, and a Asus MG279Q some time later to replace my Dell U2414H and P2414H combo. First I bought a 29" ultrawide (LG 29UM67-P), but then I got an offer and I exchanged it for the then-brand new 34UC98-W. Needless to say I jumped at the occasion head-first. I've posted a short review on /r/ultrawidemasterrace back then, here is a more fleshed-out version of it.

First, you might want to familiarize yourself with the display:
NameLG 34UC98-W
PanelIPS (99%sRGB, 8bit+A-FRC, 5ms)
CalibrationFactory calibrated (ish)
Resolution3440x1440, 60Hz nominal, 75Hz with FreeSync
Curvature1900R curve
InterfacesDP, 2* mini thunderbolt, 2* hdmi inputs (no DP out!)
USBUSB 3.0 hub with 1.5A "quickcharge" port and a standard one
Gaming featuresFreesync (55-75Hz officially, ~38-75 with CRU)
Extra featuresPIP, PBP, etc
MountingVESA100 compatible
Speakersbuilt-in 2*7W speakers (never tried them)
Size829,9 x 172,9 x 468,9 mm
Weight11kg pack, display without stand below 10kg

Official glamour-render

Why 21:9?
I had two options open to me after taking into account the limited supplies of the best local stores: go with a Phillips BDM4065UC00 (40", basically a 40" 4K TV without a tuner, but with VA panel) or go with a 21:9 offering. At first, I went with the 29" LG, because I tought the 4K would be just physically too big, I've had bad experiences with VA panels, and because the side displays (2*P2414H) were of an other pixel pitch. I did not go with a smaller 4K because the pixel density is just too much for me, and there is no reliable way to scale all apps in Windows.

34" and the changes it brought
The 34" was a much bigger step, and not without its hurdles. I ended up replacing my P2414H side display connected to the same PC with the Asus MG279Q, because Windows has some issues if you don't use displays of the same vertical resolution. I tried flipping them into vertical mode, only to discover that my trusty old 290X does not support mixed-mode eyefinity.

There was another problem with the combo of 290X + 34", which has a resolution of 3440x1440 compared to my previous bog-standard 1920x1080: while the 290X was perfectly adequate for 1080p gaming, I had to concede that it was simply not enough for 1440p 21:9. I waited for the next reveal of AMD, but that was of a card that has roughly between the 290 and the 290X in terms of power. I played around with the thought of purchasing a Fury X or a Nano, but those have issues as well: first, I run an extremely quiet system (modded GPU cooling, passive PSU, etc), and they cannot be modded. Furthermore, there were just too many coil whine reports of these cards. I saw no other alternative, even if that meant I lost the FreeSync capability. It would be really great if nvidia would finally support the DP-standard, but they are more interested in trying everything to make it harder for gamers to switch between AMD and nvidia.

Compared to the 29"
The first impression was just how much bigger the 34" curved monster was compared to the previous contenders. While the 29" ultrawide was just a few inches wider compared to the previous 24", the 34" is just massive. IT shares some of the problems I had with the 29": it has even worse FreeSync range, hidden bezel instead of a thin one, and no DP daisy chain, although the latter can be explained by the fact that next to the 1440p 75Hz signal, there won't be enough bandwidth left to drive any other screen.

The official bullshot showing nigh-nonexistent bezels is that, and nothing more. The actual bezels are about the same thickness in all sides. Here is a quick shot of the actual size of the bezels:

It also corrects some of the shortcomings of the 29": the menu nipple is countersunk, so it won't get damaged if the display hits the ground, it offers a much better, more stylish look and it has VESA100 compatibility instead of the 75mm version of the 29". I had real problems trying to fit in a DP cable next to the "universal" VESA100/75 base my display arm has.

34" from someone other than Acer
This LG was actually the first 34" ultrawide 1440p FreeSync curved display that was globally available from a manufacturer other than Acer, and as far as I know, it still is. They certainly are the only ones available locally, others are missing one or more of these features.

Color accuracy
I have bought an older Spyder4Elite for home usage, so without further ado, here is the gamut curve of the display, thanks to DisplayCAL:

The coverage according to the Spider4Elite is 97.2% sRGB (105.4% volume) and 72.1% Adobe RGB, which is good enough for most usages. As seen in the graph, only some magenta and heavy blues fall slightly outside the coverage. All-in-all, I'm satisfied with the colors.

A stand too far
As I use a display arm (Ergotron LX), I did not even fully unpack the stand. This display is right at the edge of what it can lift, but it works. What I can tell is that the stand has very basic movement support, it looks gorgeous with the brushed aluminium finish matching the thin bezel around the display itself. At this size and aspect ratio, not having 90° support is quite acceptable.

8 months of usage
In one sentence, it's great. I have practically gained another 24" display, without any bezels in the middle. The pixel pitch is just small enough for me, the colors are good, the curve helps. The extra screen space is extremely helpful during work, although you do have to have a powerful graphics card to play most new games with high settings.

I did have some initial problems due to a non-1.2 display cable, so a word of warning: try the bundled cable first. While my older cable was OK for 1440p75Hz signal, the display would only show a black screen with FreeSync enabled. I since had gotten hold of a 5m DP 1.2 cable that works, but they are few and far between, and some stores simply state there are no cables working in existence longer than 2 meters.

Specific issues of the 34"
For and AMD user, perhaps the biggest issue is the extremely shallow freesync range: 55-75Hz is simply not enough for most gaming needs, especially with the current AMD cards. While this can be partially alleviated with the use of CRU (I could set my ranges to 38-40Hz), it is far from perfect, and very dependant on the luck of the draw.

The second issue I had was a hardware design issue that casued me to break the USB3.0 HUB input with the display arm. There is a reason Dell points all of their in/outputs down, and take a hit in thickness rather than the solution LG used: first, they are much less prone to damage, second, if you use the VESA mounting, they aren't in the way. Thankfully the USB input was slightly higher than the DP port, so at least only the upstream of the USB hub is dead now.

The final issue I had was with the last few lines of pixels next to the vertical ends of the display: I experienced the same problem with the Dell U2414H, but to a lesser extend. The problem is that these few lines of pixels display a very slight gradual darkening if not viewed from a perfectly 90° angle. I'm sure that the curve actually helps to alleviate this issue, as does sitting further back from the screen, and depending on the picture displayed, you might not even see it, but on a white background, it is apparent after a few minutes of work.

Frankly, except the whole FreeSync issue, I'm incredibly impressed with the display. It's great for movies, games, and everything in-between. It did cost an incredible amount of money though, (more than three Dell U2414H put together) so it better be impressive. If you have the money to spend, this is a great display to have.

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