Samsung 49″ CHG90 QLED gaming monitor review: (Almost) never get flanked in PUBG again
- Incredibly immersive, super ultra-wide screen experience
- Does as advertised: great for gaming, offers tactical edge
- Excellent HDR and contrast ratio
Could be better
- Considerable footprint
- Max resolution should be higher for “49
- Bezel could have been slimmer
Samsung's curved 49" CHG90 QLED display is absurdly immersive once you sit down, configure the field of view and watch the blinkers come off.
Samsung is a reliable deliverer of Smart TVs and gaming monitors of ever-increasing size and quality. That said, today they've thrown me a (literal) curved ball – a screen variant that I didn't think I'd need, but can now no longer do without. Say “hello sexy” to the 49" CHG90 QLED Gaming Monitor, a 32:9 “super ultra-wide” behemoth. It has the power to make you multitask more efficiently than Tom Cruise in Minority Report, or score you extra kills in any first-person shooter you care to mention.
This certainly isn't my first rodeo when it comes to ultra-wide monitors. I had my horizons broadened all the way back in 2016 with the LG 25UM58. I'm also not a stranger to the gentle arc of Samsung's bendy screens (in order to test this latest offering, I had to disconnect and lug away Samsung's SE790 Curved WQHD monitor).
That said, the CHG90 is something different altogether. Obviously, the step up from 34 inches to 49 is always going to be appreciated, but it's the considerable increase in aspect ratio which gave this unit its wow-factor. It even managed to captivate the PC gaming illiterates who regularly wander past my desk. They came to remark upon its impressive footprint and viewing angle – they stayed to coo when I actually switched the thing on and the new QLED “Quantum Dot” technology did its thing. If nothing else, this screen starts out as quite the crowd-pleaser.
The CHG90 is a svelte, futuristic-looking monitor that looks like it'd pass as a believable desktop prop in a mid-budget sci-fi TV Series (Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams perhaps). The deep 1800R curve of the unit immediately catches the eye as you approach it, and the charcoal black bezels which frame the screen have been kept to minimal thickness.
As is often the case with most objects of desire, the viewing experience from behind is just as pleasing. The screen easily attaches to a height adjustable stand (HAS) via a circular socket and four screws. Incidentally, this connection point emits a blue ring of light to provide you with some chill mood-lighting (as you're ruthlessly hunting down other humans to kill online). Interestingly, you're given audio-aligned Arena Lighting – in an effort to elevate moments of intensity the light gets brighter as the game’s sound peaks. If it does in fact achieve this, it must be on some subconscious level. I barely noticed the feature.
Wrapping a 49” screen about your melon comes at a real estate cost, however. Dimensionally, you'll need a Mr. Burns-sized desk that is, minimum, 120.29cm (47.36") x 52.55cm (20.69") x 38.15cm (15.02"). The two-pronged feet of the stand poke out and towards your keyboard quite a bit, too. The need to maintain a centre of gravity means the unit doesn't allow for a huge amount of leeway to twist, height adjust or swivel the screen to anything past its default stance (somewhere between 4 and 10 degrees). Also, of note: this unit is wall-mountable, but I don't imagine affixing a half-pipe-looking monitor to a flat surface would look aesthetically pleasing at all.
For those of you upgrading from a multi-monitor setup, I can't stress how much better curved is compared to your DIY siamese twin setup. With 32:9 you're getting the full 2x16:9 monitor experience, just without large black bezels rudely slicing their way through your action. Much like VR gaming, the screens and product photos really don't do the immersion-factor any justice. You need to physically sit in front of the CHG90 to understand how lovely and ensconcing 178 degrees of viewing angle can feel.
Couple that enveloping view with a 1ms response time, HDR, and a 3840 x 1080 resolution at a 144Hz refresh rate, and this unit delivers some incredibly smooth and responsive gaming. When sampling Doom (2016), Bethesda's gore-geous looking blast through hell, mind-blowing detail and motion-blur-less speed was maintained. Plus, the dark areas were darker and bright hellfire areas brighter, thanks to HDR and a very decent 3000:1 contrast ratio.
Info for the newcomers: the overwhelming majority of modern game titles use what’s known as "Hor+" to scale the default field-of-view (FOV), meaning your vertical FOV remains as is while the horizontal FOV expands according to aspect ratio. Human peripheral vision is used to better establish shape and motion, too, something that helped me spot sneaky PUBG'ers trying to flank in and frying pan my head in. Trust me, folks, the tactical advantages of having 32:9 vision are insane. This is probably why Blizzard has controversially decided to limit FOV to a paltry 103 in Overwatch. Fortunately, this sort of developer-level decision to shaft you out of situational awareness is uncommon.
The CHG90 also functions exceptionally well in some roles it was less designed for. Using your 32:9 to have a super-wide desktop is as seamless as you'd expect. Black bars haunt any Blu-rays and other 16:9 streaming media you try to play, however. There are a number of stretching options easily accessed through the inbuilt OSD, but the results are just a handful of unappealing pixel smears. The unit also lets you feed in two sources and project them side-by-side, without any signal degradation. Being a fan of unorthodox testing procedures, I successfully got this dedicated PC monitor to simultaneously play a PS4 and an Xbox One (audio for each routed through their respective controller-connected headphones). Worked like a dream; felt like PC master race sacrilege.
Samsung 49" QLED Gaming Monitor from Amazon AU
Speaking of hooking up your own personal HAL-9000 (or hideously under-powered video game console,) the CHG90 offers a number of input options. You have the choice of two HDMI ports and two DisplayPorts (one of them being a mini). This is a speaker-less unit, too, so if you're after audio you'll need to make do with the provided 3.5mm headphone jack. You can route a microphone through the monitor to your PC using the two provided mic in/out jacks which is nice and convenient.
Unfortunately, I can't say the same about the two USB ports. Hooking the CHG60 through the provided PC In cable will effectively turn these into fast-charge 3.0 hub. It's a shame then that the ports are placed centrally behind the screen and not on the lower edge. Leaning over the top of the screen, blindly scratching around for a USB port is not ideal. And the curved, awkward nature of this unit makes tipping it forward a poor solution.
In addition to a number of PBP (Picture By Picture) functionalities, you get your standard Samsung 4-way JOG button for controlling a plethora of tweaks in the OSD. Quick flicks let you mess with brightness, contrast. sharpness and headset volume. An inward click spawns an impressively large OSD menu that lets you tamper with picture-by-picture, select sources, game settings, etc. You can also tap a "game mode" button to cycle through three presets made for specific genres. It's simple, elegant stuff, and I was surprised by the depth of options that have been made available to a slider tweaker like myself.
Speaking of options, if you have an AMD Radeon graphics card you'll find a menu selection to enable FreeSync2. In layman's terms, it smoothes out game performance so there's no unsightly screen-tearing when you turn your virtual head in a game. It worked without a hitch with the RX 400 series card that I swapped in to test it with. All in all, a great feature to have – because when your view is this panoramic, a horizontal oddity can be twice as annoying.
As I mentioned before, the CHG90 is one of those see-it-to-believe-it deals. 32:9 is no gimmick. It's absurdly immersive once you sit down with your favourite shooter, configure the FOV and watch the blinkers come off. Once you go curved, you don't go back.
With flat panels, I always felt a sense of image distortion, because, when you think about it, the centre of the screen is closer to you than the edges of the screen. With all that screen real estate lovingly wrapped around you here, you're closer to all parts of the screen at once. That means less eye-strain, greater focus, and – I can confirm this – markedly better kill death ratios.
Though the max resolution could have been higher for a unit of this size, I can find few other reasons to fault the world's first 49”, 32:9 gaming monitor. The only downside is that 21:9 is no longer acceptable to my spoilt eyes, and 16:9 is more or less unthinkable. Please, don't put the blinkers back on me. I've seen too much to go back.