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Samsung C49HG90 49-in Ultrawide FreeSync 2 Monitor Review: How Wide is too Wide?

Author:
Subject: Displays
Manufacturer: Samsung

Super Ultrawide

Ultrawide monitors have become an enormous trend in PC gaming over the last 3-4 years. In late 2014 when LG launched the first PC monitors with a 21:9 aspect ratio, I indeed was a skeptic. To me, it seemed like such a radical new aspect ratio would be wrought with game incompatibility, and wouldn't offer much of an advantage over two monitor setups for productivity.

And in the beginning, this was mostly the case. In 2014, games didn't even enable the option for 21:9 aspect ratio resolutions, and those that did, generally resulted in distorted image and FOV settings.

However, gamers wanted these ultrawide aspect ratio displays, and the game support soon followed. Now, ultrawide monitors are a staple of every monitor manufacturer's product lineup.

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What we are looking at today though, is the most intense of all of the ultrawide monitors, the 49" Samsung CHG90. And it just so happens to be one of the first AMD FreeSync 2 displays.

Specifications

Still in the ultrawide category, the CHG90 moves away from the more traditional 21:9 ultrawide aspect ratio to a wider and squatter 32:9. This aspect ratio allows Samsung to maximize the width of the CHG90 while keeping the display short enough not to engulf your entire wall.

Essentially, you can look at this display as two 27" monitors sitting side-by-side, without the pesky bezel in the middle. Similarly, the resolution of the CHG90 matches the effective resolution of two 1080p monitors sitting next to each other, with a total resolution of 3840x1080.

To achieve such a big display size in a still relatively usable form factor, the CHG90 display features a 1800R curvature. This figure refers to the measurement of the resulting radius that the display would make if it continued to make a full circle. For example, a 3000R display would have less of a curve than a 1800R display.

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The curve on the CHG90 isn't quite like any other display we've seen, however. Due to the immense size of the display, the entire panel isn't curved. The curve stops about 6 inches from the edge of either side of the screen.

Continue reading our review of the Samsung C49HG90 Ultrawide FreeSync 2 monitor!

When staring at the display head-on, as you would for the majority of the time you're using your PC this is very difficult to notice, but if you are looking at it from the side, there's a strange parallax effect that can take some adjusting.

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In order to support the massively wide display, the CHG90's stand requires a very large footprint. This means you have to have a deep desk to support using this panel, while still having room for a keyboard and mouse in front of it.

This display is one of AMD's early FreeSync 2 options, including variable refresh rate support through the DisplayPort and HDMI connections, both with enough range to implement LFC (low frame rate compensation). More on that below.

In addition to being a massive 49-in and sporting a 32:9 aspect ratio, the CHG90 also features support for HDR and is certified for the VESA DisplayHDR 600 standard. Samsung can achieve the higher color gamut levels required for this certification through the use of a Quantum Dot metal layer in the backlight, borrowed from their QLED technology for TVs. As a result, Samsung quotes the CHG90 all the way up to "Typical 92%, Minimum 88%" AdobeRGB coverage.

As we've seen with several of the earlier Ultrawide displays, the CHG90 offers a split-screen functionality to allow you to use multiple inputs at the same time.

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Any two of the display inputs can be assigned to either split the screen in half (emulating two 16:9 monitors) or in a third configuration where you have a 21:9 "main" input, while a second input fills the rest of the space.

For someone who is often switching between PCs, I found the side-by-side 16:9 mode to be quite useful for display information from two different machines at the same time with a clean, bezel-less look.

Gaming Experience

As I alluded to earlier, support for ultrawide monitors in games has come along way in the past few years. Luckily for Samsung, implementing 21:9 support has meant that games are more adaptable to different aspect ratios, instead of being designed solely around a traditional 16x9 or 16x10 display.

This means, that even though the CHG90 sports a new 32:9 aspect ratio, a lot of the previous legwork in games and game engines means proper support for gamers on this display.

The first game I tried out on the 49" CHG90 display was a natural fit, Dirt Rally. Racing games have traditionally been very adaptable to different aspect ratios, and generally, support multi-monitor setups as well as ultrawide monitors.

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The experience with Dirt Rally was great, allowing for me to see more of the track through my periphery out of the side windows of the car as compared to a 16:9 display.

Keep in mind though, while you are gaining the advantage of no bezels, you have less Field of View with an ultrawide monitor, even a 32:9 display, than a more "traditional" 3 display setup for serious racing simulation setups.

In general, First Person Shooter titles have had some of the worst support for non-traditional aspect ratios, be it from multi-monitor setups or ultrawide displays. However, modern titles like Far Cry 5 have been built from the ground up with the ultrawide experience in mind.

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Far Cry 5 takes full advantage of this extra space, with an expanded Field of View which comes in handy when driving or piloting vehicles in particular.

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Civilization VI is an interesting example of a title that supports ultrawide monitors but has its disadvantages. While the game itself looks great in a wide aspect ratio, crucial UI elements and buttons remain at the edges of the display, meaning you'll have to crane your neck around the screen to play the game. I found that personally, this made the game almost unplayable for me for large stretches of time, which is a disappointment for a Civilization game.

Another infamous example of poor ultrawide support is Blizzard's Overwatch. While it technically supports 21:9 resolutions, the resulting image is cropped and distorted. This is a conscious effort on the part of Blizzard to prevent a competitive advantage from a wider aspect ratio.

One significant benefit for gamers with the CHG90 is support for AMD FreeSync 2 technology. With a variable refresh range support between 48-144Hz via DisplayPort, and 48-100Hz via HDMI. 

This sizeable variable refresh range also means that the CHG90 supports AMD's Low Framerate Compensation technology to provide a smoothe experience even once you drop below the 48Hz bottom floor.

Testing with an RX Vega 56 GPU, we found no apparent issues with the implementation of FreeSync with this display. Gamers with AMD GPUs can expect a tear-free, fluid gameplay experience.

HDR Support

The CHG90 features DisplayHDR 600 certification. This certification covers many different facets of the display as a whole including color reproduction and response time, but for right now we are going to focus on backlight brightness.

Proper HDR support is achieved through the combination of higher color gamut and the ability for the backlight to shine several times brighter than a traditional display. For LCDs, this is generally accomplished through the use of a Full Array Local Dimming backlight array.

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DisplayHDR 600 certification requires a display to be able to sustain a 10% patch in the center of the screen at a brightness of 600 nits, as well as be able to flash the entire display at the same 600 nits brightness. However, normal full-screen long duration backlight brightness only needs to be able to hit 350nits, which is just a bit above the typical 300 nits of a traditional, "SDR" display.

Personally, I have found the HDR capabilities of the CHG90 to be underwhelming. As someone who consumes HDR content on a fairly regular basis via an HDR-enabled TV, the CHG90's image quality is "flat", closer to an SDR display than a true HDR experience.

Both in gaming and movie playback, the CHG90 seemingly can't get bright enough to create enough contrast between light and dark items in a scene.

This isn't a unique problem to the CHG90 however. Reviews of the current crop of "HDR" PC displays have generally been less than stellar. Fitting a fully dimming backlight array with hundreds of zones into a display that can still comfortably fit on a desk seems to be an extreme challenge at the moment for panel manufacturers.

We've seen the promise of small, desktop-sized displays capable of hitting 1000 nits in G-SYNC form from ASUS and Acer, but the numerous product launch delays and lack of news further point to how difficult it is to integrate high-end HDR technologies into sub 40-in class displays at the moment.

I'm confident in the next year or so that PC displays will get to a similar level of HDR competency as TVs, however at the moment, if HDR is one of the more prominent selling points attracting you to the CHG90, I would wait to see how the market shakes out.

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The Samsung C49HG90 display is one of the most unique PC displays I've had the opportunity to look at over the years. In the time it's spent on my desk, I've had numerous questions from people in the office wondering about it, and expressing interest in this super ultrawide display.

However, I don't think the CHG90 is for me. Personally, I would much rather have two higher resolution 2560x1440 27" displays next to each other, and deal with the bezel in the middle. Unless you are buying this display mainly for gaming, I think that this is a better option.

However, for gamers, it's difficult to beat the immersive experience provided by sitting close to such a wide monitor. While I do think the CHG90 lacks the necessary pixel count for productivity, this becomes an advantage for gaming, meaning that even moderately powerful graphics cards can adequately feed this display.

At just under $1000 on Amazon right now, the C49HG90 is a tough sell. With the lackluster HDR performance, it comes down to the unique aspect ratio of this display as the main standout feature. Still, combined with FreeSync 2 compatibility, the uniqueness of this display could be the perfect thing for a gamer looking to enter the Ultrawide market.

Review Terms and Disclosure
All Information as of the Date of Publication
How product was obtained: The product is on loan from AMD for the purpose of this review.
What happens to the product after review: The product remains the property of AMD and will be returned after the review is published.
Company involvement: AMD and Samsung had no control over the content of the review and was not consulted prior to publication.
PC Perspective Compensation: Neither PC Perspective nor any of its staff were paid or compensated in any way by AMD or Samsung for this review.
Advertising Disclosure: AMD and Samsung have purchased advertising at PC Perspective during the past twelve months.
Affiliate links: This article contains affiliate links to online retailers. PC Perspective may receive compensation for purchases through those links.
Consulting Disclosure: AMD and Samsung are not current clients of Shrout Research for products or services related to this review. 

May 17, 2018 | 12:17 PM - Posted by foxx (not verified)

I would rather 3 x32 inch[16/9] monitors then any of these new widescreen monitors.
Simply put there is no height to these widescreen monitors.a 34 inch sounds impressive till you realize it only has the height of a 24 inch 16/9 or a 17 inch 4/3.
I am not only after the widescreen but height as well and non of these new 21/9 monitors fit the bill.

May 17, 2018 | 12:26 PM - Posted by Anonymouse (not verified)

$1000 is a ridiculous price for this; you can get a large 3840x2160 display for less. Why would anyone pay more for a wide display than they would for a wide AND tall display? Ultrawides need to be cheaper than 4k to be relevant

May 17, 2018 | 01:56 PM - Posted by Tiazmat (not verified)

I concur with the other commentors; ultrawide is an interesting gimick and certainly has its niche-cases where it shines, but doesn't seem to be cost-effective. 40 inch 4k televisions of similar quality can be had for several times less (I got a Samsung MU6290 on closeout for $179).

The low PPI of a display of this size also severely hurts it. Sub 100 PPI is bad enough, but sub 90 is a slap in the face for an almost 4-figure price tag. I'll stick with my 27" 5k that I got for half this price, thank you very much.

It's a shame how far behind HDR is for monitors than TV's. While FALD is the optimal solution for LCD's in the long-run, with low zone-count implementations it's hardly worth including. I believe manufactures should take note from the Sony X930e and Samsung Q7FN at how effective a GOOD edge-lit solution can be. It's simply a fact that very good edge-based local diming is able to hit far higher brightness levels than all but the best current FALD implementations.

May 17, 2018 | 08:17 PM - Posted by PixyMisa

I would love a 7680x2160 version of this for work, though.

May 18, 2018 | 12:26 PM - Posted by Tiazmat (not verified)

When I did briefly own a 34UM95, my conclusion was the same: if it had a vertical resolution of at least 2160, it would be really great, but something like 3 years later and we still don't have an ultrawide with a vertical resolution of at least 2160.

May 18, 2018 | 05:18 AM - Posted by RamGuy (not verified)

I wouldn't say that the Samsung MU6290 is really all that comparable. It has much slower response times (black-to-black and grey-to-grey) and it also has higher input-lag and it doesn't offer 120Hz+ input and doesn't have any adaptive vsync like Free Sync og G-Sync.

But I do agree. I feel like the situation with monitors and TV's is somewhat awkward. Monitors just doesn't follow the same trend surrounding better colour outputs, higher colour gamuts, HDR etc.. And TV's does not follow the trend with monitors having very good response times, very low input lag and have all started to pretty much offer 100Hz+ inputs as a standard on most new monitors and everyone has started to adopt adaptive vsync like Free Sync or G-Sync.

This forces us to either choose;

TV - Better colour output, wider colour gamut, working HDR and large display surface with 4K/UHD resolution.

Monitor - Better response times, lower input-lag, adaptive vsync and 100Hz+ inputs.

I for one find even the more expensive monitors to just look washed out and dull in comparison to FLAD LCD's and especially OLED's. If I go for IPS I get somewhat decent colours, but horrible black levels, if I go for VA you get better blacks resulting in higher contrast but worse colours and some seriously bad black-to-black response times. If you go for TN you get some amazing response times but horrible viewing angles and very limited colour output and horrible black levels...

And when looking at 27-inch+ sizes the prices skyrockets and everything seems to just stop at 32-inch unless you go for something awkward like this ultra-ultrawide.

I just want something around 35-40-inches, 3:2 or 16:10 (I can live with 16:9..) with 120Hz+ input, adaptive vsync and with actually working HDR and good contrast ratio and black levels without giving me bad response times and high input-lag.

The closets thing seems to be LG's next generation of OLED TV's with 120Hz input, great colours, great HDR, great black levels and great response times and decent input-lag. But no adaptive vsync and they START at 55-inches... That's just too big.

May 18, 2018 | 12:24 PM - Posted by Tiazmat (not verified)

You're very right that it isn't really fair to compare an MU6290 to this monitor; my line of thinking was purely based on resolution and size. You're getting twice as many pixels in the MU6290 in a form factor that's, frankly, easier to use. The sad part of this is that for 40" TV's, it doesn't really get much better.

And it's quite funny how two of your points for positives under monitors will be practically ubiquitous on TV's with HDMI 2.1. And even response time and input lag on most TV's is at least comparable to what a monitor can do (but there will always be some monitors that edge them out in input lag).

To return to earlier in this post, my real wish would be higher end 40" TV's. Currently none of them have local dimming or can do HDR any justice at all. 49" is the bare minimum to get a great TV (X900F), but most are locked behind 55", with the higher-end LCD's even being 65"+ only.

May 17, 2018 | 02:24 PM - Posted by Mineisbigger (not verified)

I own this monster. You can find this monitor right now for $820 with free shipping. If you primarily use your pc for gaming there is nothing close to it. Don't knock it until you see it.

May 18, 2018 | 09:00 AM - Posted by Anonymous_cleveland (not verified)

I own this as well. Having been on every monitor bandwagon upon release, except 8k, this thing is amazing and unlike any other for gaming.
It is very very easy to knock this based on spec by just reading.
When you actually use it in practice, its a total different story.
That being said, it does suck for games that do not support ultrawide.

May 17, 2018 | 04:31 PM - Posted by Michael Gary Scott (not verified)

thats what she said.

May 17, 2018 | 05:00 PM - Posted by James

“Similarly, the resolution of the CHG90 matches the effective resolution of two 1080p monitors sitting next to each other, with a total resolution of 3840x1080.”

So it is essentially half of a really big 4K display, which would be 3840x2160. I don’t really like the lack of vertical space; I use a 30” 16:10 display (dell U3011). The main thing I want is higher pixel density for text and good hdr for “not text”. The U3011 is only around 100 dpi. It has really good color accuracy and it looks great for images, but text has to be relatively large for good readability. Higher refresh rates would be great, but I think that is secondary to pixel density and hdr for me.

May 17, 2018 | 08:01 PM - Posted by djotter

So Jim's editorial in March about 3840x1600 monitors may be more your style. Only downside is that they are also hovering around the $1k mark when decent 4k can be found for half that.

May 17, 2018 | 09:30 PM - Posted by Jim Tanous

Indeed. Seeing this on Ken's desk while he was testing it made me irrationally uneasy.

May 17, 2018 | 07:55 PM - Posted by djotter

Tagged with free late 90s boy band.

May 19, 2018 | 03:11 AM - Posted by pdjblum

forget that

May 17, 2018 | 10:36 PM - Posted by Meisterburger (not verified)

I had three Dell U2710's in portrait mode which made up for a massive display. I tried to ignore the bezels for a long time but I was never quite able to look past them. Then I read about the CHG90 and purchased it. I don't regret it. Gaming is so much more immersive. No more bezel problems. I also use this monitor for work. No problem here either. While overall I'm quite happy with this model I wished it had a higher vertical resolution. 1080 doesn't quite cut it. But it's a lot fun playing with it, pun intended.

May 18, 2018 | 02:32 AM - Posted by James

I remember some pick of the week that was some software that allowed a keyboard and mouse to be used across two systems without using a switch. Perhaps just over the network? If I am remembering coreectly, that could be useful for this system where you may have more than one machine connected to the display.

May 18, 2018 | 12:17 PM - Posted by Power (not verified)

"As someone who consumes HDR content on a fairly regular basis via an HDR-enabled TV, the CHG90's image quality is "flat", closer to an SDR display than a true HDR experience."

What TV?

May 21, 2018 | 12:06 PM - Posted by quest4glory

Seems the panel makers are finding a use for excess panels. Just cut a 4K panel horizontally down the middle.

May 21, 2018 | 04:53 PM - Posted by elites2012

not for me!

May 22, 2018 | 11:58 AM - Posted by Anonymous2221 (not verified)

I like wide screens, it's why I Game on a 4k TV. These "ultra wide" are not actually wide as much as they are half height.

Totally lost on me why anyone would buy a half height screen at that price regardless of having free sync.

May 25, 2018 | 12:52 AM - Posted by hanselltc

Reddit on two vertical 1080p monitors stacked. Juicy.

May 27, 2018 | 11:12 PM - Posted by Godrilla

https://www.kitguru.net/peripherals/monitors/matthew-wilson/samsung-prep...

Samsung prepping a 5120x1440p monitor at 120hz.

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