"The 34UC89G from LG is a beautiful, high-refresh monitor that compromises resolution."
High refresh rate
Adaptive update of G-Sync
Great on-screen menus
Low pixels per inch
High price for 1080p
LG has long produced monitors that are suitable for games without imposing this disgusting style on them. High refresh rates, adaptive update technology and fast response times are not a matter of course on the screens of LG, but rather functions that are reserved for displays in front of which games are played. It's a path that worked well for the brand in the past, but as our LG 34UC89G review shows, taking that final step towards gaming is risky.
This is because the LG 34UC89G extends a resolution of 2,560 x 1,080 to the limit to fit on a 34-inch Ultrawide panel with an aspect ratio of 21: 9. With Nvidia G-Sync it compensates for an adaptive update, a maximum update rate of 144 Hz, up to 166 Hz for overclocking and a response time of just five milliseconds.
The extremely player-oriented model is available for $ 900, a high price for a 1080p screen, even if it comes with modern features.
Black and red and hardcore everywhere
The design of the LG 34UC89G is heavily based on the counterparts at home and in the office, except for a new coat of paint. Where most LG displays reach for a gray-silver color, this screen is equipped with a combination of matt and high-gloss black with a hint of red. This change seems to be about four years too late, since the gaming community is largely tired of the now clichéd red and black color scheme.
The other problem is that this new color palette exposes more plastic than metal, and that includes the stand. Although it does its job well enough, we noticed a large twist in the stand's throat when the monitor was bumped or jostled directly. There won't be a pause, but we find it disappointing to see on a $ 900 monitor.
At least the stand offers ergonomic options. It can be adjusted in height and incline, making it equivalent to other high-end ultrawide monitors. VESA mounting is also supported, so you can replace the stand with another option if necessary.
More ports please
Ultrawide displays have no lack of space for ports, which makes the somewhat limited selection of the LG 34UC89G somewhat disappointing. The inputs only include a DisplayPort, an HDMI input, a 3.5 mm audio output and a USB 3.0 hub with two connections. Most other Ultrawide screen packs with more ports, including the LG competition 3.440 x 1.440 with Type C. Even an increase to four ports on the USB hub would have made the screen more competitive.
Even the menus are red and black
The controls on the screen are managed by a node just below the center of the screen that moves in four directions and snaps in like a button. This is a common control scheme, especially for ultrawide screens. LG's implementation is responsive as touch sensitive buttons with poor response times have become the norm.
The stand can be adjusted in height and inclination, making it comparable to other high-end ultrawide monitors.
In keeping with the game theme, the menus were painted with the well-known red and black gamer brush, with some additional jagged edges and glitch patterns to really bring the point home. The main menu contains a number of large status displays with information on the current input, resolution and update rate at a glance.
As you dive deeper into the menus, you'll find a wider range of options and preset modes for the screen. There are game modes for FPS and RTS titles that affect a variety of options from response time to gamma. The game customization menu has overclocking that can be used to increase the refresh rate from 144 Hz to 166 Hz. There's also an on-screen crosshair feature that lets you cheat in games that don't offer them by default.
Bill Roberson / Digital Trends
Bill Roberson / Digital Trends
For more typical screen options, the image adjustment submenu has sliders for brightness and contrast, gamma and color temperature, but only in relation to "warm" or "cold" and not in relation to Kelvin. There are also individual RGB sliders to fine-tune the color palette. Finally, a general tab shows settings such as language, behavior of the power LED, standby times and quick charge settings.
All in all, the menus are solid for a gaming display. LG offers more options than we're used to, and navigating between them wasn't a chore.
How does it look like?
In addition to our subjective impressions from our time with the screen, we used Datacolors Spyder5Elite to measure the screen's objective properties. This gives us the opportunity to rate the screen at eye level with other screens that are no longer in the office.
The LG 34UC89G achieved some important victories on paper. The contrast ratio of 920: 1 is a strong score for the category and only lags behind the Acer Z35, a screen in a very similar position to the LG. We also measured a maximum brightness of 330 nits, although we generally consider anything over 300 to be enough for a desktop display. The LG achieved a value of 2.3 for gamma, which is only slightly above the ideal value of 2.2, so that images may appear on the dark side immediately.
The LG color gamut was similar, covering 100 percent of the sRGB spectrum and 80 percent of the AdobeRGB spectrum. Most high-end panels fall in exactly the same range, especially ultrawide screens, as there are only a limited number of manufacturers who build curved 21: 9 panels – and LG is one of them.
LG's menus offer more options than we're used to, and navigating between them wasn't a chore.
The LG also did well in terms of color accuracy, although it didn't outperform the competition by far. Its value fell to 1.94, while the Acer Z35 and Samsung CF791 were closer to 2.5. A lower score is better for color accuracy, and anything below that is generally considered undetectable by the human eye. This is an honor that only the higher-resolution 34UC98 of the LG in this category can claim.
Subjectively, the deep contrast and sharp color rendition are definitely strong suits for the screen. This means that games and films look full and lifelike.
However, there is a problem. The resolution. With a size of 2,560 x 1,080 to 34 inches, the LG 34UC89G only stuffs 82 pixels into each inch, a good distance behind the 110 PPI that is offered with the 3,440 x 1,440 options of the same size. As with the Acer Z35 – another large-screen, low-resolution display – sharpness can be a problem. Games that are based on many fine elements (such as online role-playing games) can appear defective because the resolution leads to chunky text and interface graphics.
Bill Roberson / Digital Trends
Bill Roberson / Digital Trends
To be fair, the resolution of the LG 34UC89G is provided. This monitor is based on its very high refresh rate. This means that your computer has to output frames quickly – preferably at 144 frames per second – to get the full benefit. Very few PCs can do this with a resolution of 3,440 x 1,440, so 2,560 x 1,080 is a necessary compromise.
But here's the thing. We are not convinced that a high refresh rate is better than a sharp picture. The Samsung CF791 is updated at less impressive 100 Hz, but looks incredible. Ideally we would like to have both the refresh rate and the image quality, but we have to choose the latter. Not everyone will agree, however, and we know that. The LG 34UC89G will look attractive if you prefer the opposite.
The Spyder5Elite not only reads the potential performance of the screen, but can also help to get it in shape. In this case, the calibration could bring the already solid gamma and color accuracy values closer to perfection. Before calibration, gamma reached an ideal value of 2.2 out of 2.3. Color accuracy also dropped from 1.94 to 1.28, which is a significant improvement.
LG covers the 34UC89G for one year with manufacturer defects, a poor offer compared to other high-end screens, of which almost every three years have a guarantee. This continues to be a thorn in LG's side, and we want the company to respond by improving its warranty terms.
LG's ambitious 34UC89G is certainly a step in the right direction for ultrawide monitors. Screens with a high refresh rate are just getting into the aspect ratio, and this first effort by LG shows how much smooth gameplay can make immersion easier. At $ 900, however, it competes with some of the best Ultrawide monitors, including LG's own offerings.
Is there a better alternative?
$ 900 is a lot of money for a monitor, and there are many competing options. The CF791 from Samsung is a solid alternative for $ 50 less with a refresh rate of 100 Hz, a resolution of 3,440 x 1,440 and AMD FreeSync for employees of the Radeon team. It even has quantum dots that allow a wide range of colors.
How long it will take?
We see buying a monitor as an investment, and the right screen can stay with you for years across multiple systems. The LG's refresh rate is high, but in a world with ever higher resolution media, the resolution is low. Other streaming services and games support 1440p and 4K resolution. Spending $ 900 on a monitor with only 1080p is a difficult task in 2017.
Should you buy it
No. While the game-oriented 34UC89G from LG checks many boxes for solid contrast, brightness and color accuracy, the comparatively low resolution of the screen is a real problem. The LG 34UC89G brings 144 Hz and higher refresh rates to the Ultrawide platform and should inspire us, but there are simply too many problems to ignore. The resolution is far too low for size, connectivity and warranty are limited, and at $ 850, the Samsung CF791 offers a much better value.