Samsung CF791 Ultrawide curved gaming monitor
"The pitch-perfect colors of the Samsung CF791 change the game for ultrawides."
Stellar contrast ratio
Luxuriously large display
Excellent picture quality
Extremely accurate color after calibration
Video content can be difficult to find
The speakers are below average
When you sit in front of a curved Ultrawide monitor, games like Deus Ex: Mankind Divided only control your entire field of vision and take you into another world. It's easy to get lost in the neon-bathing streets of a futuristic city while rain is pouring into thick, heavy sheets.
No wonder these monitors are becoming more and more popular. The Samsung CF791 is one such monitor. It is a 34-inch ultrawide monitor with a curve deep enough to cover your entire field of view. Thanks to Samsung's quantum dot technology, this monitor can deliver sharp, accurate colors at a much cheaper price than its OLED competitors. Since it was some time ago that it was originally released, the Samsung CF791 currently only costs $ 750. At $ 250 less than the original price, this value is hard to beat.
Before you turn it on, the Samsung CF791 cuts an elegant figure. A wide, aluminum-colored pane carries a glossy white anchor, which seems to effortlessly hold the display up. It does not often happen that the adjustable stand of a monitor differs significantly from all others on the market. It does a simple job: hold the monitor up, hold it steady, and don't worry if you need to adjust the height or angle.
It's a straightforward, but thankless task, and you'll only really notice the stand if it behaves badly – if your display is shaky or if you never manage to stay at the right height. Manufacturers of curved monitors sometimes cut off here and offer stands that look good, but are insufficient or stable, but are too large. Samsung creates a comfortable middle ground with the CF791.
The base is big, but not too big. It offers stability without going too far and taking over the entire desk. Despite the size of the base, it never seems overbearing, and the stability it brings to the monitor is a welcome addition. Ultra-wide curved monitors have a bad reputation for being unstable due to their size, but the CF791 is a steady hand.
A narrow hinged anchor, covered with glossy white plastic rungs, sprouts from the back of the base. This arm holds the monitor up and ensures the impressive adjustability of the CF791. Each monitor is adjustable in one way or another, usually just a little bit up and down, with some tilting forward or backward – and the larger but less flexible LG 38UC99 is one example. Typically, these adjustments produce audible clicks or require muscle to get just right.
Even if bright, lively rose red contrasts well with strong, snowy white tones.
Again, the Samsung CF791 manages to improve a simple aspect of the user experience that is very easy to ignore. Adjusting the large, curved display of this monitor is easy. Not only that – it is pleasant, which is strange to say. If you pull the display towards you and tilt it up or down, the arm moves with just the right amount of resistance before it moves into its new position.
Once set, the stand is remarkably stable. Tapping or bumping on the display does not change its position, nor does it bump the table or desk it is sitting on. The display itself only wobbles noticeably if it is disturbed directly or if you start to shake the table.
The CF791 has a standard layout of ports and connectors, including two HDMI 2.0 ports, a DisplayPort 1.4 port and a USB port, as well as built-in speakers. It is also VESA compatible, another nice standard addition.
Bill Roberson / Digital Trends
The basic configuration is carried out via a series of familiar on-screen menus, which are accessible via the jog button on the right rear side of the monitor. It responds and makes clicking through the menus easy enough, but like most jog buttons, you will occasionally make the wrong setting. It's not exactly a precision instrument, and the Dell U3818DW does a better job in this area.
The menus themselves are easy to navigate, clear, precise and surprisingly robust. There are many options here. You can adjust brightness, contrast and individual color levels, configure which HDMI or DisplayPort version the monitor should run on each of the input ports (1.4 or 2.0), and switch AMD's FreeSync on or off.
It is impossible to discuss the Samsung CF791 without mentioning its overwhelming size.
The CF791 supports a refresh rate of 100 Hz, even without AMD's FreeSync, if you do not have an AMD graphics card. It's a nice addition and definitely puts the CF791 in competition with other gaming monitors.
The speakers do the work, but they are not something to write home about. If you play music through them, you end up losing most of the bass, and games don't do much better. Shots are sharp and snappy, but deep, rumbling noises are lost when translated.
Looking for content
It is impossible to discuss the Samsung CF791 without mentioning its overwhelming size. This is a great monitor. With a wing span of 34 inches diagonal and a resolution of 3,440 x 1,440, the CF791 has a comfortable 110 PPI. The deep curve makes the already impressive presence of the monitor even more dramatic. If you just put it on your desk, your workstation looks like a futuristic command center.
Bill Roberson / Digital Trends
Before we opened our colorimeter and started calibrating the CF791, we had to find some video content that we could use to test it. This is not a 4K display and not 1080p. Of course, 1440p content is easy to find, but with an adequate aspect ratio to really take advantage of the large screen area of the CF791? Not as much.
This is actually a bigger problem for the CF791. Games easily support their unusual dimensions, but streaming services like Netflix, HBO Now and Amazon Video have had problems scaling video content without losing quality. HBO Now actually had the biggest problems scaling to the CF791's enormous and unusual size by enlarging one corner of the video and chopping off the rest.
You may be luckier if you plugged in a game console or downloaded the official app of your favorite streaming service instead of streaming it through your browser.
The quantum dot technology of the CF791 offers unprecedented color depth and contrast ratios.
This is not the monitor's fault and a symptom that you will see on any monitor with a resolution that is slightly out of the norm. The LG 38UC99 and the Samsung U3818DW will suffer the same fate. If in doubt, it's best to only use 4K content on these monitors. Browsers and streaming services can be reduced in size rather than enlarged.
Aside from a handful of user-created videos on YouTube, it was quite difficult to find content with a native resolution large enough to fill the CF791's display. You should take this into account, especially if you want to use this monitor mainly for media. Worse, you will only find black bars on either side of everything you are watching, or you may need to temporarily lower the resolution of your monitor to capture the video content.
After finding some appropriately large video content (4K or 1440p), the Samsung CF791 exceeded our expectations in a most spectacular way. If you get it going, this monitor is stunning.
The technical specifications of this monitor alone would be impressive, but the CF791 has another trick up its sleeve: a technology called quantum dots that fills up the screen nanocrystal semiconductors. The technology delivers unprecedented depth of color, contrast ratios and all kinds of other stimuli for your retina.
The CF791 delivers rich, velvety colors from edge to edge. When you watch a movie trailer, the colors simply cascade across the screen, red tones jump against deep, deep black, white is sharp and strong. These colors don't run, they don't bleed, they're right where they need to be, and they never stray out of line. Even if bright, glowing beet red wines contrast with snow-white shades of white, the CF791 does not miss a beat.
It's easy to understand why – the CF791 immediately has an impressive 910: 1 contrast ratio and displays 100 percent of the sRGB spectrum and 85 percent of the AdobeRGB spectrum with an accuracy of 2.56.
What does that mean in practice? This means that this monitor looks great without making a single adjustment. Pull it out of the box, put it on a desk, light it and you're done. You don't have to mess around with the contrast settings to get the most out of this monitor – it's not shy, it doesn't have to be persuaded.
Compared to Samsung's previous 34-inch monitor, the S34E790C, the CF791 is an improvement over an already great product. The new design virtually eliminates the frames around the screen, deepens the curve and breaks the S34's impressive 740: 1 contrast ratio with its own 910: 1 contrast ratio. Gamma is pretty much in the middle of the road and comes around 2.1.
The basic calibration of the CF791 gives you almost perfect color accuracy in professional quality.
The maximum brightness is around 297 lux, and the black levels are noticeably low – they move to only 0.32 at full brightness and to 0.0 at the lowest brightness setting. What does this mean for your display? Only that your highlights and lowlights, your bright spots and shadows remain well differentiated regardless of your brightness setting – thanks to the fantastic contrast ratio of the CF791.
How did Samsung do it? Well, this contrast ratio is the result of these quantum dots, which use colors much more efficiently than standard LCD displays. They are essentially molecular prisms that bend the light into different colors (frequencies) depending on the size. These nano-crystal semiconductors act as a filter between the backlight of the LCD and the display, ensuring that the colors get where they are needed, when they are needed and nowhere else.
These quantum dots manage to stay ahead of the CF791 without increasing its price. For example, the LG 38UC99 offers an impressively high brightness of 300 lux and a 38-inch screen, but the contrast ratio of 660: 1 does not come close to the impressive contrast ratio of the CF791 of 940: 1.
Speaking of contrast: the contrast ratio of the CF791 slightly exceeds what we saw from HP's newer Ultrawide, the Z38c – which was 630: 1. This is particularly impressive since the CF791 came on the market in 2016 and the Z38c in early 2018. The Z38c offers slightly better color accuracy and has an average color error of 2.01 compared to the 2.56 of the CF791. It also outperforms the Z38c in color gamut 85 in the AdobeRGB spectrum, compared to the Z38c's top mark of 74 percent.
Even more than a year later, the quantum dots of the CF791 make its colors sharper, more vivid and more precise. Let's see if we can make them work a little harder with some calibration.
Wait, it gets better
Typically, calibration can help eliminate a monitor's shortcomings. You can improve the color accuracy and correct the unusual gamma, but that's usually the case. It is unrealistic to expect anything other than a slight improvement – mostly.
The Samsung CF791 is full of surprises. Although the ready-to-use color accuracy is not ideal, it is 2.56 (anything less than 1.0 is undetectable to the human eye). If you walk them through a basic calibration, you'll get near-perfect color accuracy – around 1.08, which is only a few decimal places away from professional color accuracy. Thank you, quantum dots.
The CF791 also avoids a common danger of curved ultrawide monitors – the dreaded bleeding of light. During our tests, the CF791 maintained its dark color even with a completely black but active screen, even if we tried to reproduce frequent light bleeding. No light bleeds around the corners, none along the top or bottom edge. In this regard, the CF791 can again circle some of its high-end competitors, such as the HP Z38c and LG 38UC99, which outperformed most curved monitors, but still had an ugly light around the curvature of the screen.
Before you turn it on, the Samsung CF791 cuts an elegant figure.
The calibration also improved the contrast a bit. In our tests, the pre-calibration contrast ratio rose slightly from 910: 1 to 940: 1. Brightness and black levels remained pretty much the same before and after calibration, but these improvements in color accuracy are definitely worth the effort.
If you don't have access to a professional colorimeter, don't worry. In our calibration guide you will find some tips on how to get the most out of this or another monitor.
The color accuracy of the Samsung CF791 can outperform some competitors, including the Samsung S34E790C, which comes close but does not quite match the outstanding accuracy of the CF791. In fact, after calibrating, the CF791's color accuracy comes close to the accuracy you'll find on a professional monitor like the BenQ SW2700PT with a ready-to-use 0.84 color accuracy.
The Samsung CF791 comes with a one-year standard parts and labor warranty that covers manufacturing defects in material and workmanship, but only protects against non-commercial use. It's not an uncommon guarantee, it's just a little sparse. For example, the Acer Predator Z35 offers a three-year warranty, which is much more common with high-end monitors.
When buying a CF791, you may want to take out equipment insurance or an extended care plan from a trusted retailer – the included warranty comes with many limitations.
Ultrawide curved monitors are impressive to look at. You just look great. They are aesthetically pleasing, create a lush work area that replaces typical two-monitor setups, and they are impressive. Size and scope often compensate for defects that a typical Ultrawide monitor may have.
The Samsung CF791 is not a typical ultrawide monitor. It has no real flaws. It doesn't have to compensate for anything as it delivers in every way you need. It is a gaming monitor that enhances your work area and a work area that offers excellent gaming performance. But it's a little over a year old now and it's still the best you can buy.
Is there a better alternative?
Simply put? No, there is no better alternative. The CF791 is conveniently in the Goldilocks zone in terms of price, performance and image quality.
There is the Acer Predator Z35 if you need an incredibly fast refresh rate, but lose that deep curve and the strong contrast that the CF791's quantum dot display offers.
Similarly, you could pick up the LG 38UC99, a 38-inch IPS monitor that offers an impressive experience with a solid panel, but has less than impressive contrast. It's also significantly more expensive at $ 1,300. That's almost double the CF791's current price of $ 800.
How long it will take?
We are in a unique time when it comes to consumer technology, especially monitors. The resolutions continue to increase year after year, but for most applications we have reached a comfortable plateau. For example, 4K displays have problems scaling symbols and text due to their overwhelming pixel density. On the other hand, 1440p is a happy medium between 1080p and 4K – a safe place for a while.
The Samsung CF791 offers two major advantages that contribute to its durability. Its size, which is unlikely to be overshadowed soon, even more than a year after its release. After all, monitors may get bigger, but desks don't. You only have enough space for a monitor, and the CF791 barely scratches the ceiling on this front.
Second, the resolution and pixel density are perfect for text. The pixel density is high enough so that text and symbols are not visibly pixelated – they are sharp and smooth like a pen stroke – and the resolution can approximate 4K content without too much difficulty. After all, it is only 400 pixels less than 4K.
In short, the Samsung CF791 will have a terribly long life. It will outlast most of the components of your PC and still offer an impressive gaming experience even after you replace your brand new graphics card.
Should you buy it
Yes you should It's expensive, but for what you get, it's good business. The Samsung CF791 will outlast your current gaming rig. If you buy it for a general purpose PC, it will last even longer – as a work area, 21: 9 is quite modern.
Samsung has surpassed itself with the CF791. With a below average selling price, this is a monitor that you don't want to miss.