Giant OLED TVs have no place on computer desks, despite what my colleague Sean Hollister thinks. A number of gamers use them as monitors, as they provide near-perfect image quality for a price comparable to high-end gaming monitors. It’s hard to blame them, but they tolerate mediocre standards, TV-focused interfaces, and don’t have a DisplayPort, a staple for high-speed PC gaming. The pros might outweigh those cons for some, but it would be great to get rid of most of those cons. Fortunately, better alternatives now exist – many, in fact.
At CES 2023, numerous companies have announced models that use LG Display’s flat 27- and curved 45-inch OLED panels. They are actually computer monitors, complete with sturdy, height-adjustable stands (with optional wall mounting) and all the ports you need for good PC gaming. They also have a refresh rate of 240 Hz and a response time of 0.03 milliseconds. With this range of panels, LG and Acer each release similar 27- and 45-inch models, while Asus and Corsair riffed on these sizes with slightly more experimental designs.
Samsung also remains in the mix, both as makers of the panels and monitors. While that company’s new QD-OLED technology first arrived in Alienware’s AW3423DW monitor last year, delivering slightly brighter performance than traditional OLED panels, Samsung is launching two curved monitors of its own in 2023. We get a 34-inch Samsung Odyssey G8 OLED along with a wilder 49-inch ultrawide with the unwieldy name, the Odyssey G95SC. (I’m still waiting for that OLED Odyssey Ark, though.)
Even in its infancy, the world of OLED gaming monitors is a playground for companies to enjoy. If your company is not there (Sony), what do you actually do?
It was great because I lost count of all the OLED gaming monitors announced at CES 2023. Each and every one of them promised things that are still hard to find on your average non-OLED monitor. Precise pixel-per-pixel brightness control, unparalleled responsiveness and wide viewing angles are inherent in OLED, and now they’re combined with high-end gaming monitor features.
Unfortunately, they are not accessible in terms of price – at least for a start. The 27-inch models start at around $1,000. That’s the price of LG’s UltraGear OLED, the model that will get to you the fastest if you order one now. If you’re willing to trust a lesser-known company that doesn’t have the best track record of releasing products on time (if at all), Dough claims it will offer a 27-inch model for $649 later this year.
And the prices just go up with the bigger ones. LG’s curved 45-inch UltraGear starts at $1,699. I went hands-on with Corsair’s similarly sized Xeneon Flex, which you can manually bend between flat or curved, and it costs $1,999. Samsung hasn’t shared costs for its large 49-inch Odyssey G95SC, but I expect it to retail for around $3,000 or so.
While none of these are cheap, I don’t think they’re outlandish for what you get either. Gaming (especially on PC) is an expensive hobby, and these monitors fall within the range that pricey non-OLED models have been at for years. The biggest decision gamers are making right now looking for an OLED face is choosing between a slightly larger TV with a slower refresh rate and response time or one of these smaller OLED monitors, made for gaming. For example, you can often find LG’s great 42-inch C2 4K TV for around $1,000, compared to LG’s new similarly priced 27-inch 1440p monitor. There are tradeoffs to be made in both directions.
The good news for gamers is that there are already as many – if not more – companies making OLED monitors than there are in the TV industry today, at least in the US. That gives me hope that prices will eventually come down to a more reasonable price.
Putting price aside – come on, let’s get excited! OLEDs are only made for gaming. The strides made on the TV side of the business have trickled down, and these monitors have specs that directly appeal to gamers, such as DisplayPort, HDMI 2.1 ports, support for USB-C video, and much more.
I’ll be very busy this year reviewing all the OLED monitors that I think matter most, which I didn’t think to say a few months ago. I’m sure some of them will be a better buy than others, and it’s certainly better than just TVs to choose from.