LG 34UC79G gaming monitor review: A curve ball with value in all the right places
The place LG’s 38UC79G 34inch ultrawide monitor has taken on my desk over the two weeks will be strangely empty when the monitor heads back to LG in the next few days.
Features such as the gentle curve, the inclusion of FreeSync and other bits and bobs that we’ll explore in this review aside, I just love the amount of real-estate this monitor gives me.
If like me you’ve considered ditching your dual monitor set-up for one glorious curved affair you’ll know there is a lot to consider aside from the aesthetics, such as price. While R16 999 isn’t what some would call cheap, this monitor for gamers is the biggest in its price range and the value it offers is great, when you look beyond its flaws.
LG 34UC79G gaming monitor review: Finding direction
Toward the bottom centre of the monitor is the awkward menu navigation system. LG has cast aside multiple buttons in favour of a joystick. A single push opens up the main menu where you can navigate to other options by pushing the stick in one of four directions.
Adjusting something as trivial as brightness takes four clicks before you can start adjusting the slider and switching the monitor off takes a press and a push. The joystick also feels a bit cheap. It wobbles around a lot and makes an awful plastic click when you press it, its just not ideal especially given that this 34inch monitor retails for R16 999.
Looking at the rest of the design this is perhaps our only criticism but it’s a big one especially when you see how well everything else slots together.
There are inputs for two HDMI cables, one DisplayPort, two USB 3.0 ports and audio in and out. What’s really nice about these ports is they’re easy to get to at the back of the panel. Sure, in an office where the monitor isn’t against a wall the exposed ports might look ugly but on my desk at home I never see them and I appreciate that LG has made it easier to plug in cables rather than make the monitor’s rear easier on the eyes.
That’s not to say the monitor is ugly though. The sharply slanted lines of the base stand are minimal but still feel sturdy and while the bezels are a bit bigger than you’ll see in smaller monitors they aren’t so big that they draw your attention away from the display.
I also appreciate that LG has left the focus on the panel and chosen to fit just one LED to the navigation joystick. I wish every manufacturer would learn that when it comes to LED lighting in monitors, less is more.
LG 34UC79G gaming monitor review: About the tech
Now that you know that the monitor will fit in with your desk – visually at least – what about the tech?
Thankfully the monitor’s internals are just as drool worthy as the rest of the display.
The monitor is capable of a 144Hz refresh rate which is glorious especially in a game like DOOM where more frames per second can really make the game look so smooth you’d think you’re watching a close up of a hot knife slicing through butter.
LG’s monitor also boasts FreeSync, AMD’s answer to NVIDIA’s hugely popular Gsync technology. Like GSync, FreeSync seeks to eliminate the bottleneck that can sometimes occur between your display and your GPU which results in image tearing.
The key difference between G sync and FreeSync is how the technology is applied. FreeSync uses existing technology built into the DisplayPort 1.2 standard and while it does require special technology, its used by a number of manufacturers already. G sync on the other hand requires purpose built hardware that can influence the price somewhat.
Now while FreeSync does have some benefits such as a reduction in input lag it has a few oddities. For instance during a run of The Division with the monitor set to 120Hz I noticed a degree of image tearing.
This happens because while FreeSync does solve a lot of the input lag caused by V sync it also allows the GPU to run at a higher frame rate than the monitor is running at which can cause tearing. It’s not as bad as the tearing that still can happen with V sync engaged and honestly unless you’re really looking for it you won’t notice while playing games. I did however find that if you clock the refresh rate down to 60Hz everything is smooth and the monitor performs well.
Of course to fully experience FreeSync you will need to have a GPU that boasts a DisplayPort 1.2 connector.
Natively the LG supports a 21:9 aspect ratio with a 2560 x 1080 resolution. At an arm’s length away everything looks smooth but as you get closer you’ll see pixels, lots of them. That’s because the pixel density isn’t as tight as it is in a smaller monitor. It’s noticeable while browsing the web and while reading text but you’ll be hard pressed to point it out in games.
Speaking of which, gaming is a mixed bag. While games like DOOM and Civilization VI both support the resolution and aspect ratio, games like DOTA don’t, at least not very well given that elements of the UI distort in game. Even older games such as the first Five Nights and Freddy’s don’t support the aspect ratio and neither does Skyrim (the version before the Special Edition was released). If you’re planning on buying one of these monitors it’s worth doing a bit of research to find out if the games you play regularly support this monitor’s resolution and aspect ratio.
LG 34UC79G gaming monitor review: Colouring in
Out of the box the monitor is a bit too sharp and perhaps overly saturated with white.
There is the smallest inkling of back-light bleed when viewing full pages of one solid colour but it never impacted the image of the game I was playing.
I also noticed a distinct blue glow on my Dell monitor on its default settings. Beside it the LG’s colour looks phenomenal and looks neither too warm nor too cool. It looks just right.
If you, like so many other gamers plan to use the monitor for creative programmes don’t expect excellent colour accuracy. This monitor only covers 72% of the NTSC colour gamut which means you won’t get the most accurate colours. With that said I never saw anything out of place in games and they looked phenomenal.
Gimme gimme gimme or give it an ultra wide berth?
This is my favourite 34inch ultra wide monitor for two reasons. The first is that even though it’s ridiculously huge you can exploit all of the features with a GPU that costs around R4 000.
The second reason is that while it is decked out in the red and black regalia of so much gamer gear; it’s understated. What LG has clearly done here is take a hard look at the gamer that will buy this monitor and realised they need features like high refresh rates rather than LEDs. What’s more is that for the size and features you get, R16 999 isn’t a bad price especially when you consider that the 35inch Acer Predator retails for R19 999 and smaller flat panels with the same refresh rate cost slightly less than the LG.
On that basis alone the LG represents incredible value for money.
While the colour gamut is not the best on the market at the moment and the pixel density can put some people off, this is a really nice monitor for gaming. If what you are looking for is a monitor that will make gaming more of a pleasure then this is the monitor for you. Sure R16 999 is not cheap but in this price range you have a choice of between WQHD (2560 x 1440) monitors with similar refresh rates or this curved beauty with a resolution that doesn’t demand much more from your components and looks stunning.
The choice is ultimately yours but having spent time with this monitor I can honestly say that going back to my 24inch flat screen is going to be tough.