- Manufacturer: AOC
- Model: CU34G2X
- Supplied by: AOC
Ultrawide perfection at an ultra affordable price
Having the opportunity to use the CU34G2X over the past month has been an interesting experience to say the least. Being used to the 24” standard monitor that usually sits on my desk, the ultrawide beast that is the CU34G2X has not only changed my general opinion of ultrawide monitors but of my preference in screen size, too.
The CU34G2X sports a whopping 21:9 aspect ratio, that is improved further with a slight (1500R) curve to the screen. The ultrawide ratio of this monitor was a definite adjustment and completely unsupported by my usual console of choice. It did, however, encourage me to use my PC for more than just YouTube and I couldn’t be happier that was the case.
Aided by FreeSync and Xbox play-anywhere I set out to experience Forza Horizon 4 on this back-breaking goliath. The extra screen real-estate encapsulates your peripheral vision. Where I used to see the wall behind my setup was now my wing mirrors with plenty of room for the open road ahead of me. The ultrawide experience trumps regular monitors by a significant amount, especially factoring in the 1ms response rate and the 144Hz refresh rate making it extremely responsive and smooth. Ploughing a Lamborghini Sesto at over 200mph proved no challenge for FreeSync and the CU34G2X.
That is not the end of the ultrawide’s usefulness, though. Although the implementation is not perfect, you can display two separate inputs at once. If you have a desktop and a laptop, the display can be shared between them. Unfortunately, the division of screen is straight down the middle, with no option to assign a full 16:9 to your main device and a slimmer section for your secondary device. This would have been very useful for streamers utilising a second PC to display their chat, for example.
I have tried using both my Xbox and PC on at the same time, but given the resulting 10.5:9 aspect ratio is not supported by the Xbox, you end up with the image compressed, and it’s not really suitable for gaming in this configuration.
Although so far it seems that the CU34G2X just doesn’t like my Xbox, that is not entirely true. The Xbox One X will actually detect the screen as 4K due to its horizontal pixel count and will work with Freesync to allow variable refresh rate settings. The only issue is that the image is then stretched across the display. If you don’t mind a slightly stretched image this would work really well, but if you prefer a more regular aspect ratio simply use the settings built into the CU34G2X to change it back to the standard 16:9 and simulate a 27-inch monitor, it’s really that easy.
Hopefully, with the advent of the next-generation of consoles, support for ultrawide monitors will be possible. For the current-gen consoles, though, the additional outlay for an ultrawide is not really worth it considering the lack of support. If you game on a PC that can reliably pump out pixels to the glorious 3440×1440 display, then it makes a great alternative to bulky multiscreen setups.
The AOC CU34G2X has chosen, in our opinion, the right resolution for this screen. 1440p is the widely accepted butter zone for panels, allowing for crisp visuals along with good frame rates. The 3440×1440 144Hz panel offers frame rates good enough for competitive gaming, whilst still capable of being powered by modest hardware. In the trade-off between frame rates and pixel count, they made the right choice.
The design of the CU34G2X is similar to a few of AOCs other monitors bar its dimensions. This monitor is constructed from matt black plastic with satin red accents on the bottom of the monitor and around the stand. The screen, as with most of AOC’s monitors, has an exceptionally narrow bezel on the sides and top. Along the bottom is a matt black strip with the mentioned satin red accents, emblazoned with the AOC logo, and the button legend on the right-hand side.
On the rear you have all of your ports. There is a decent array of ports on the CU34G2X; two DisplayPort 1.2, two HDMI 2.0 and four USB 3.2 ports (including one upstream port) as well as a 3.5mm headphone output. Unlike the AGON line, the CU34G2X does not have the flashy RGB ring.
The stand is as usual extremely steady and sturdy with full tilt, swivel and rotation, though it’s a tight spin if you for some reason wanted to use this monitor vertically.
The screen itself is a VA panel with a perfect anti-glare layer, giving great viewing angles even with its curve and fairly good colour gamut. Although this monitor is not actually advertised as an HDR panel, it is compatible and can take advantage of the wider colour gamut. The specified peak brightness of 300cd/m2 is a little lower than you would expect from HDR panels, though, with the result that HDR content won’t get that pop and wow factor you get from brighter, locally dimmed displays. In use, it has been bright enough to keep everything easily visible and playable in a dark setting, but if you need to play in a brightly lit room, or are buying this monitor for the HDR implementation, you may be disappointed.
Colour calibration out of the box is excellent. This monitor has been carefully tuned to deliver excellent SDR colour reproduction, apparent by the performance at higher brightness settings. Reds appear bold, without the glaring over-saturation common in many panels. This has had the negative effect that, if anything, the colours can actually appear a touch undersaturated. Whether this is a negative to you depends entirely on personal preference, but don’t expect the over-saturated colours of a Samsung panel here.
Black levels are decent, and thanks to the VA panel, contrast is also very good despite the average maximum brightness. Darker areas of the screen capture great amounts of detail, which is invaluable for games with underground sections, like Metro Exodus.
Viewing angles on ultrawide monitors can often suffer from colour warping when viewed off-centre, but the CU34G2X performs admirably. There’s only a slight shift when moving away from the middle of the screen, but in comparison to other ultrawide panels, AOC has produced a very capable display.
The CU34G2X overall is a wicked piece of kit, its large ultrawide aspect ratio is a dream come true for most PC gamers and its sleek minimal design will allow it to fit into any setup. Minimal input-delay paired with the 144Hz refresh rate makes this a tempting offer for anyone interested in competitive gaming.