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Gigabyte G34WQC Review – IGN

4K gaming monitors are just starting to find their footing in the PC gaming space, and still require some pretty insane graphics horsepower to run at decent framerates. That’s why many gamers – including myself – find 1440p at 144Hz to be the “sweet spot” of monitor specs right now. Gigabyte, a relative newcomer to the display space, has hit this sweet spot beautifully, offering a high-refresh 34″ ultrawide curved gaming monitor at a rather affordable price. But does it stand up to scrutiny? I tested one to find out.

Gigabyte G34WQC Review

Design and Features

When it comes to basic specs, the G34WQC checks the right boxes right off the bat: a sizeable 34-inch screen size, 3440×1440 ultrawide resolution, and smooth FreeSync-capable 144Hz refresh rate (with HDR400 as a mediocre but still-welcome cherry on top). That’s a pretty impressive spec sheet, but it becomes a lot more wow-worthy when you see the $449 price tag. That’s similar to other affordable competitors like the Acer Nitro XV340CK, and a lot less than higher-end 1440p ultrawides like the LG 34GN850-B. It does come with some sacrifices, but depending on your usage, you may find them worth the savings.For example, Gigabyte’s design is basic but attractive, with no RGB lighting or flashy accents – just a mostly frameless bezel atop a flat, two-legged stand that keeps wobble to a minimum. And while that stand offers all-important height and tilt adjustments, you don’t have the ability to swivel or pivot the display. This won’t be a problem for most people looking at the monitor straight on, but it may not work for less conventional setups (not that you’d probably want to use it in less conventional setups anyway, given its slight 1500R curve.) The display is VESA-compatible, so you could use it with a third-party arm if you wanted, but that cuts into the cost savings you’re getting from this monitor.In addition, the IO is limited to two DisplayPort 1.4 and two HDMI 2.0 jacks – no USB pass-through at all. It does have some weak speakers and a headphone jack, if that’s your thing, but again – it should serve most users well enough. The power supply is built-in, so you don’t have any power bricks cluttering up your workspace, and the on-screen settings are navigable with a joystick button on the rear of the monitor. I’d go so far as to call this a masterclass in effective cost-cutting, hitting the important parts while skipping the less-used bells and whistles – at least, in terms of design and build.

Testing

That brings us to the panel itself – the most important component of a gaming monitor, where cost cutting is less than ideal. And while Gigabyte has gone with a VA panel instead of a better-performing (and more expensive) IPS model, it actually performed quite well in our testing. As with all monitors I review, I evaluated the G34WQC’s capabilities using an X-Rite i1Display Pro in conjunction with a copy of CalMAN Ultimate, as well as some by-eye tests using test patterns from Lagom and Blur Busters.

Brightness was decent on the G34WQC, hitting a maximum of 338 nits in SDR. It also covered 100% of the sRGB color space and 87.3% of the DCI-P3 color space, which is solid for a monitor at this price – though color accuracy was less exciting. When measuring color accuracy, a deltaE value describes how closely a color matches the target a monitor is trying to display, with a deltaE value of 3 being good, and under 1 being considered indistinguishable to the human eye.

Out of the box, the G34WQC had an average deltaE of 3.73 with a maximum of 8.37 – that’s not ideal, and there’s a noticeable blue tint to the color temperature overall. Note also that as a wide gamut monitor, typical sRGB content will show colors in a slightly boosted, more saturated manner, though this is common with all wide gamut monitors (and due more to Windows’ color handling than flaws in the monitors themselves). There is an sRGB mode, but it was even worse in my tests, so it’s not really worth using.

Color accuracy isn’t crucial unless you’re doing content creation, and kicking the blue down a few notches in the OSD produced what I’d call “good enough” color to most gamers who don’t have a colorimeter to perform a full calibration. The deeper contrast ratio provided by the VA panel is worth that tradeoff, measuring at 3252:1 in my tests – much better for gaming in a dark room than more washed-out IPS panels. Black and white levels looked good, and gamma was okay – it kept an average of 2.2, but dark shades were a bit over-brightened and light shades were a bit too dark.

Response time is the other weakness of VA panels, which are slower than their TN and IPS competitors. Lagom’s response time test uses an animated GIF to flip between two shades rapidly – if you see flickering in the transitions, that indicates a slow response time which will manifest as ghosting or smearing during motion in games. The G34WQC did show flickering in the three darkest transitions, as well as some noticeable ghosting in Blur Busters’ UFO test, even with Overdrive at its highest setting. That said, it’s far from the worst ghosting I’ve seen on a VA panel like this. Just note that the ideal Overdrive setting may depend on the framerate of the game you’re playing – Speed mode provides the best performance at 144Hz, for example, but at 60Hz produces more noticeable overshoot artifacts, so you may want to back down to Balanced during slower-paced games. Try both to see which you prefer.

Finally, the FreeSync Premium implementation worked as advertised in my tests, and while the display isn’t officially G-Sync certified, G-Sync worked just fine with my NVIDIA card in NVIDIA’s G-Sync Pendulum Demo.

Gaming

If you’re coming from a 24″ or 27″ monitor with a typical 16:9 aspect ratio, gaming in ultrawide will blow you away. I find it especially jaw-dropping in cinematic games like Shadow of the Tomb Raider, where the expansive views can really stretch their legs across your field of vision. That said, larger 16:9 monitors can do this as well, perhaps even a bit better. But a 34″ ultrawide offers most of the gaming benefits of a 32″ monitor while also being much better for desktop work with multiple windows. In other words, I’d call 32″ monitors ideal for pure gaming, but ultrawide monitors are perfect for pulling double-duty as gaming and productivity displays.

The 1440p resolution and 144Hz refresh rate hit that perfect sweet spot too, with the higher pixel density creating beautifully sharp images with smooth motion. FreeSync, as always, is a crucial ingredient to this: running games like Shadow of the Tomb Raider at high refresh rates is a lot harder than other titles, so FreeSync allows you to play slower-paced games with high details and fast-paced games like Overwatch at 144 frames per second, without having to manually change the refresh rate or deal with screen tearing.

You may, however, have to change the Overdrive setting between these two types of gaming, as I mentioned above. That’s a small price to pay for a monitor this affordable, though. And with Overdrive set properly, motion is pretty good for a VA panel – not as good as the Samsung Odyssey G7, which also uses a VA panel – but again, I’d easily call it “good enough.” There is some minor smearing in dark scenes, but most gamers probably won’t notice – if you’re the kind of person who would, you probably know who you are. (For what it’s worth, I consider myself pickier than most gamers when it comes to motion, and I didn’t find the G34WQC’s motion performance distracting in actual games).

HDR performance is, as you’d expect, mediocre at best, with enough downsides that it’s really only a minor improvement. While it does allow for a bit more “pop” to highlights, especially in games like Doom Eternal that allow fine-tuned HDR configuration, it’s low brightness and lack of local dimming means it’s nowhere near what a high-end HDR1000 monitor (or even a midrange TV) could display. HDR also allows for more accurate colors in supported games (since wide gamut monitors oversaturate SDR content), but I found I needed to change bit depth to 10-bit in the NVIDIA Control Panel to avoid banding in HDR mode. Most annoyingly, the monitor seems to go back to the “Standard” color setting every time it switches out of HDR mode, rather than the custom setting I dialed in. As such, it’s not a huge draw of the display, but if you want it, it’s there.

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Purchasing Guide

The Gigabyte G34WQC retails for $449 at Amazon and Newegg.

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