Are curved monitors better than their flat screen counterparts for gaming? As a veteran gamer myself, I felt compelled to research and settle this topic once and for all.
Do I Need Curved Monitors?
I have been playing video games for over 30 years, and have played almost everything from the Commodore 64, Pong on the Atari, Counter-Strike on PC to Rainbow Six: Siege on PlayStation, PUBG, and Call of Duty on XBOX Series X.
I have played these titles on different TVs, CRTs, LCDs, curved monitors, and even projectors.
When you look at the various first-person shooter and other competitive games such as Overwatch, Apex Legends, Fortnite, League of Legends, Counter-Strike, Halo, Rocket League, and more, these games are optimized at a 16:9 aspect ratio.
So curved monitor gaming with a widescreen ratio of 21:9 or 32:9 would definitely put you at a slight disadvantage.
When Did the First Curved Monitor Got Introduced?
Curved screens were first released in July 2013 at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas when both manufacturer’s Samsung and LG released their OLED curved screen versions. In September later that year, Sony released their own LED curved screen.
Since then, there have been many different showcases and price adjustments. Today, there are a lot many curved screens and gamer-oriented curved monitors in the market.
Are Curved Monitors Better For Gaming
The greatest feature of the curved display was the sense of immersion. It is curved to match the shape of your eyes so that it fills your vision perfectly.
This sense of immersion made movies, virtual reality, video editing, and even web browsing feel more exciting and easier on the eyes. According to Dr. Kim Sung-joon from Seoul National University Hospital’s ophthalmology department, curved monitors can help improve your eye health.
Immersion was just the beginning, as the ultra-widescreen provided much more viewing area to enjoy and easily see much more than you ever could before.
Below is a single-player in-game example of how an ultra-widescreen could benefit you during gameplay. As you can see, the image of a 48:9 ratio Triplewide / Super-Super Ultrawide screen compared to the standard 16:9 widescreen, provides an exceptional amount of extra in-game terrain not previously seen.
Current Technologies & Jargons
Screen Panel Technology
Curved or Flat, screen panel technologies are the same for both types of monitors. Here is a small table covering these tech jargons just so you know which panel variant offers what features along with their compromises.
Looking at this table, you can probably tell yourself,
- If you play fast paced online competitive games, you will probably need SPEED & so a TN panel might be best for you.
- If you play singleplayer RPG games, or content heavy games, that are immersive, you will be good with either VA or IPS panel.
- If you play dark themed, cinematic games, a VA panel would be quite well
Curved Screen Resolutions
Table: Screen Type – Ratio – Resolution Table
As you can see in the table above, a UW-QHD has about 238% more pixels than an FHD 1080p screen. This translates to a greater graphics processing power requirement than before using an ultra-wide resolution.
If your overall system already struggles in WQHD gaming, going above Ultra Wide QHD will definitely require a significant GPU upgrade at the minimum if not more.
Moreover, if you play competitive online games, you should probably check if the game allows custom / widescreen resolutions.
Some developers regard a non-standard resolution as a hack or unfair advantage and can disallow you to use the native resolution of your new curved widescreen gaming monitor. So, proper software & platform support for your super ultra-widescreen monitor is quite important.
Although the new monitor you bought is tested to perform at their respective resolutions and refresh rates, it is important to consider the bandwidth limitations.
- HDMI 2.0 only supports a max bandwidth of 18Gbps. HDMI 2.0 is capable of displaying 4K @ 60Hz or 1080p @ 240Hz.
- DisplayPort 1.4 has a max bandwidth of 32.4Gbps, which is significantly greater and capable of 4K @ 120Hz without any compression.
- HDMI 2.1 supports up to 48Gbps and supports 4K @ 144Hz again without any compression.
So, it’s recommended to always make sure your GPU or Graphics adapter port has sufficient bandwidth for your monitor’s peak rated output.
Otherwise, you will either be downgraded to the Refresh rates and resolution your GPU port supports, and you will miss out on the peak performance of your display screen that you paid so dearly for.
The main distinction between a flat and a curved monitor is the curvature of the latter. And between curved monitors themselves, some are less aggressively curved while others are more aggressive.
A higher radius of a monitor means its curvature is less aggressive. A monitor that has a 1000R radius means its center is 1000mm away from the screen.
A 1800R monitor will have less pronounced curvature, meaning the gains & losses of the curvature is less than a 1000R monitor. It all boils down to how comfortable you are with the effects of a curved display. So, I recommend you physically test the monitor and your peripheral vision with it before purchase if possible.
The curvature brings about a lot of issues on its own, however. Any reflections will be amplified the nearer the reflection is to the center of the curved screen.
Lines on a flat surface will look distorted on a 1000R significantly more, which is an issue for content creators and precision graphics designers.
For gamers though, the verdict seems to be biased, since some FPS games will look much more amplified in terms of the Field of View, hence a reduction in FOV is required. Other games like racing and simulation feel much more natural and immersive as a whole.
It all boils down to how the graphics of a game correlates to the gamer, and is, therefore, tricky to answer objectively.
Since curved monitors are still not as tested and popular as flat-screen, the effects and objective perceptions of these monitors are not enough to draw a solid conclusion.
As they grow more and more popular and mainstream, the prices will come down gradually as dictated by the demand and we might then have a better picture, pun intended.
As you can see on this recent Woflgang video benchmark, comparing normal and ultrawide 1440p resolutions with an RTX 3060Ti, there is quite a difference in the average FPS, suggesting the need for a capable GPU than was previously required.
An RTX 3060Ti seems to be holding its own however and is a testament to its performance to price ratio, at MSRP of course.
Another example on this old Gamersnexus benchmark on the Acer Predator 34” Ultrawide Curved panel performed very well with a GTX 980 Ti playing GTA V at the Ultra Wide Resolution of 1440p.
With less powerful graphics cards such as the EVGA 960 not even reaching 30 FPS and proving that you will have to spend a bit more on your rig and monitor to take advantage.
Since this very much means that the average gamer worldwide might require to at least upgrade to a recent mid-tier GPU in the range of an RTX 3060Ti, it is now very much viable.
But speaking of GPUs, that my friends is another can of worms regarding availability, supply chain, and logistics for the time being. Let’s just say that if your GPU is above a 1070 or 980Ti, you won’t have a lot of issues, performance-wise, for the current generation of games.
Gaming Monitor Requirements
Pros of a Curved Monitor
There are many benefits to using a curved monitor. You can go to almost any website that sells a curved monitor and read about several factors that stand out about them. Most of these include:
The main advantage I have found is the increased peripheral vision due to the angle of the entire screen itself. The curvature presents you with a sense of true unparalleled immersion of a 3D screen which, in turn, gives a sensation that you are actually in the game.
The amount of real estate you have at your disposal will work wonders for games that focus on exploration, detail, and immersion.
Cons of Curved Monitors
The main flaw you experience with curved monitors and gaming is the inconvenience of sitting in the center of your screen to have optimum viewing. Curved monitors cater to the experience of a single viewer.
The curved screen is not suited for more than one player or viewer on a single screen. This is something to consider if you like to game on the same screen with friends by your side.
On the contrary, you will always feel like you’re at the steering wheel of a PC made just for you. Something about that reminds me of the design philosophy of the McLaren F1 designer; Gordon Murray.
Before I headed out to purchase an ultra-wide curved screen, I had to consider the following:
Both the curved screen and the flat screen offer great features that gamers and casual PC users can enjoy. If you want to game at a professional level and enjoy ultra-high resolution while doing so, we suggest a gaming flat-screen.
If you prefer an immersive, eye comforting, casual gaming experience for yourself, then choose an ultra-wide curved screen.
Do Professional Gamers Use Curved Monitors?
When it comes to professional gaming, flat-screen is the only way to go. When deciding on a gaming monitor your most important benefactor is the frames-per-second. The standard 16:9 aspect ratio is the standard on flat-screen monitors and game developers.
GPUs and games are programmed to provide the very best experience at this ratio. At gaming competitions, hardware is typically already set up by the gaming venue. You never see a curved monitor at a gaming competition.
Is a Curved Monitor Good for Your Eyes?
If you were to sit at the exact center viewing angle, the curved monitors provide less distortion and wider field-of-view curvature so that the eyes remain comfortable. The design was created to be the shape of your eye and provide you more viewing areas without moving your eyes.
Once you get used to the curvature, it begins to feel more natural. However, with curved monitors, you will need to sit in a central position without little movement to benefit from these eye-saving features. I don’t know about you, but I can’t sit still that long.
Do Curved Monitors Come in 144 Hz?
Curved monitors feature some excellent HD resolutions pushing 165 Hz refresh rates and 1ms response time with the DisplayPort input. If you are using HDMI, you can still get 144 Hz refresh rates at 1920×1080.
Is a 27” Curved Monitor Good for Gaming?
It is recommended that you purchase at least 32” to get the full benefit of the curve. The curved screen offers more color consistency and viewing angles and provides a superior view over flat screens when choosing ultra-wide curves.