There’s good news to share in the HDR section because at long last there are a number of solid HDR monitor options to recommend. These will come at a premium — if you want proper, true HDR performance you’ll need to be willing to part with at least $800 — but at the same time, real HDR monitors have never been more affordable, so we can finally recommend jumping in to this ecosystem.
At the moment there are three good options: the Alienware AW3423DW, the LG C2 OLED in a 42-inch size, and the Samsung Odyssey Neo G7. If we had to pick one as the best, we’re torn between the Alienware or the LG C2 both of which are OLED displays. The Samsung Odyssey Neo G7 with its 1,196-zone VA LCD panel would comfortably place in 3rd, the motion clarity isn’t as good, the HDR experience is good but not as good as the OLEDs, and while brightness is better, it’s let down by Samsung’s weaker color accuracy, bad viewing angles and less solid HDR optimization. However it’s also the most affordable of the three at $800 which is a very reasonable price.
The reason to keep the Neo G7 recommendation is that it’s the most standard, desktop friendly monitor. If you don’t want the enormity of the LG C2 or the ultrawide nature of the AW3423DW, then the Neo G7 is a great choice, provided you can tolerate the 1000R curvature. It has the best text clarity and is perhaps the most suited to more normal desktop use. And while it may not be as good as the OLEDs in some areas, it still offers solid performance in many areas for an LCD.
The 42-inch LG C2 is large and a totally different format to the 34-inch ultrawide AW3423DW, if there’s any hesitation around ultrawides or large displays, the choice one way or another is pretty obvious. 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 greater overall screen area.
Here are the separating factors: the AW3423DW is a higher refresh rate 175Hz display that’s better suited to 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 at times can actually get brighter while obviously maintaining similar black levels. It has good factory calibration, great HDR accuracy and decent stand ergonomics.
The LG C2 is in the lead with its feature set, it’s a full blown TV with smart features and a much wider range of calibration options, including support for Dolby Vision, which the AW3423DW doesn’t support. It’s larger, has a better display coating, better subpixel layout, and has better console compatibility thanks to HDMI 2.1 support. It’s also a lower processing latency display, and LG supports their products very well through software updates, unlike the Alienware which doesn’t even have user upgradeable firmware.
When choosing either 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 image quality they provide for gamers today is outstanding. Also important to note, there is a new variant of the AW3423DW called the AW3423DWF which is 165Hz and omits the G-Sync module, for a $200 saving. We expect this to perform similarly to the model we tested, so it should be considered.