With the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X on the horizon, and the mid-generation refreshes that were the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X behind us, 16:9 4K displays will be the go-to for the foreseeable future. At least, when it comes to TVs. And with next-gen consoles getting a dose of super-fast SSD storage and new games targeting 60fps, you might think that the difference between couch gaming and gaming on a PC is all but a change in scenery. A comfy couch with controller in hand or a sleek gaming chair with palms on keyboard and mouse.
Of course, that’s not the case – the PC is a versatile tool that can be used for any manner of things outside of gaming. But even when talking only about that thing we do there’s one key area where the PC has deviated from the traditional TV. 4K is rare on the account of low response times and refresh rates being key. QHD or 1440p is the norm, and the arrival of the UltraWide has led to impressive immersion thanks to cinematic aspect ratios. Going from 16:9 to 21:9 adds more than you’d think, and the QHD resolution of 3440x1440 offers up a broader support for GPUs to hit the all important 60fps and higher.
In the past we’ve made no secret our love for the UltraWide – the immersion it brings from seeing that much more of the world is undeniable. Until now though the barrier for entry was often the price-point. And it’s this aspect, alongside impressive performance, where the AOC CU34G2X stands out. A sub $1000 AUD UltraWide (you can pick one up for less than $800) that not only hits the preferred 1440p QHD resolution but does so at 144 Hz with FreeSync and HDR.
Truth be told the AOC CU34G2X has a look that is typical of a gaming display, in that you get black, red accents, angles, and a triangular shaped stand. There aren’t any RGB flourishes to be found though, the overall construction is solid, and the tool-free assembly means installation is a breeze. What immediately stands-out though, at least from a look (that also translates to the feel) is the 1500R curved panel. And really, with minimal bezel this is pretty much all-display, all-day. Sitting on a desk the AOC CU34G2X is great to look at.
Until now though the barrier for entry was often the price-point. And it’s this aspect, alongside impressive performance, where the AOC CU34G2X stands out [as a] sub $1000 AUD UltraWide.
Outside of standard inputs the actual operational buttons are fairly small and hard to see/press – making adjustments and calibration somewhat clumsy in that you’re most likely to keep doing that thing where you have to keep going forward and back and around menus just to get to that one setting that might up the brightness or contrast a smidge. Thankfully, the out of the box calibration is damn good – a lot better than we were expecting, hitting the sRGB 119% and DCI-P3 91% ratings as listed with minimal tinkering required. The result, accurate colour with decent contrast to boot.
Maximum Resolution: 3440x1440
Panel Type: VA
Refresh Rate: 144 Hz
Response Time (GTG): 1ms
Contrast Ratio: 3000:1 (Native)
Brightness: 300 nits
Weight: 8.1 kg
Which brings us to the one area that may explain, at least in part, the lower cost of entry for the AOC CU34G2X – the 300nit peak brightness. Now for SDR gaming, that is gaming without HDR, it’s more than enough to offer an immersive experience across a wide range of in-game environments. This cinematic Microsoft Flight Simulator video, captured in UltraWide 21:9, was done so on the AOC CU34G2X. Flying over Scotland at dawn, Thailand on a bright sunny day, or sunset over the Amazon, the colour accuracy and brightness (plus the display’s curve) all worked together in capturing the awe that game inspires.
But topping out at 300nits means that the overall peak-brightness results in a lacklustre HDR experience. Even though this display supports the HDR10 standard it’s probably not worth turning on at all. So much so that after a few tests we didn’t even bother on the account of the SDR performance being markedly better and more immediately natural to the eye.
A View to Remember
Testing across a wide-range of titles, with G-Sync enabled, the 144Hz refresh rate and response times of the AOC CU34G2X led to some smooth gaming – whether it was Flight Sim, DOOM Eternal, or Mafia Definitive Edition. Even some of the noticeable drawbacks from choosing a VA panel over IPS were virtually non-existent here, like ghosting or fuzzy text, and really the only complaint we can level at the AOC CU34G2X on that front is that the colours are a tad washed out compared to some displays we’ve seen. In that the reds and blues could do with a bit more saturation.
An impressive and affordable UltraWide. You not only get the full 3440x1440 WQHD resolution, but excellent out-of-the-box calibration for colour accuracy and immersive gaming thanks to the curve.
In the end this is an impressive and affordable UltraWide. You not only get the full 3440x1440 WQHD resolution, but excellent out-of-the-box calibration for colour accuracy and immersive gaming thanks to the curve. Plus, 144Hz FreeSync that’s also NVIDIA G-Sync compatible with low response times to boot. A definite winner from AOC, an affordable and impressive UltraWide.
What we liked
UltraWide with an impressive curve
Great colour accuracy and out of the box calibration