There’s some good news to share in the HDR section, as there are finally some solid HDR monitor options to recommend. These will be expensive – if you want good, true HDR performance you’ll need to be prepared to part with at least $800 – but at the same time true HDR monitors have never been more affordable, so we can finally recommend getting into this ecosystem.
At the moment there are three good options: the Alienware AW3423DW, the LG C2 OLED in a 42-inch format and the Samsung Odyssey Neo G7. If we have to choose one as the best, we’re torn between the Alienware or the LG C2, both OLED screens. The Samsung Odyssey Neo G7 with its 1,196-zone VA LCD panel could comfortably take third place, the motion clarity isn’t as good, the HDR experience is good but not as good as the OLEDs, and while the brightness is better , it’s let down by Samsung’s weaker color accuracy, poor viewing angles and less solid HDR optimization. However, it is also the most affordable of the three at $800, which is a very reasonable price.
The reason for keeping the Neo G7 recommendation is that it’s the most basic, desktop-friendly monitor. If you don’t want the sheer size of the LG C2 or the ultra-wide nature of the AW3423DW then the Neo G7 is a good choice, provided you can tolerate the 1000R curvature. It has the best text clarity and is perhaps best suited for more normal desktop use. And while it may not be as good as the OLEDs in some areas, it still offers solid performance for an LCD in many areas.
The 42-inch LG C2 is large and a completely different size to the 34-inch ultrawide AW3423DW, if there’s any hesitation around ultrawides or large screens the choice is somehow pretty clear. But we think there’s a lot of reason to be on the fence here, after all the C2 is actually a bit wider than the “ultrawide” AW3423DW and gives you a lot more height for a larger overall screen area.
Here are the differentiators: The AW3423DW is a higher refresh rate 175Hz display that is better suited for PC use due to its DisplayPort connector, higher sustained brightness, and better burn-in policy. It has similar HDR performance to the LG C2, and can even brighten at times while maintaining distinctly similar black levels. It has a good factory calibration, great HDR accuracy and decent stand ergonomics.
The LG C2 leads the way with its feature set, it’s a full-fledged TV with smart features and a much wider range of calibration options, including support for Dolby Vision, which the AW3423DW doesn’t. It’s bigger, has a better screen coating, better sub-pixel layout, and better console compatibility thanks to HDMI 2.1 support. It is also a screen with lower processing latency and LG supports their products very well through software updates, unlike the Alienware which does not even have user-upgradable firmware.
When choosing one of these OLEDs it’s hard to make a bad choice, neither are perfect options and there’s plenty of room for improvement, but the picture quality they offer gamers today is excellent. It’s also important to note that there’s a new variant of the AW3423DW called the AW3423DWF, which is 165 Hz and omits the G-Sync module, for a $200 savings. We expect this to perform similarly to the model we tested, so it should be considered.