Samsung Odyssey G9 Evaluate: Tremendous-Ultrawide

The absolutely enormous Samsung Odyssey G9 is a curved super ultrawide monitor that promises the most immersive gaming experience on the market. We took a look at the Odyssey G7, the 16: 9 version of this display from Samsung, a few months ago and were pretty impressed with the performance. Hopefully the Odyssey G9 can live up to the same standard.

Let's discuss some basic specifications.

This is a 49-inch monitor with 5120 x 1440 VA, an aspect ratio of 32: 9, which corresponds to two 2760-inch displays sewn together with 2560 x 1440.

The display is very large with a width of over 1 meter. So you need to make sure there is enough desk space for this animal. In addition, Samsung uses the same 1000R curvature as the Odyssey G7, which is extremely noticeable given this width.

I wasn't a huge fan of the 1000R curve on the G7. I found it looked pretty weird on a 16: 9 monitor and created significant distortion for basic PC tasks like surfing the web or playing video. While you'll still notice distortion on the G9, mostly to the same extent, this is offset by the sheer immersiveness of the display for gaming.

The edges of the panel blend neatly into your field of vision when you sit on the desk at a normal viewing distance. In contrast to the G7, you hardly notice the curve when you are exploring game worlds or shooting down enemies. I think that this display would be worse with a less aggressive curve and not very good at all with a flat panel.

As I said earlier, there is still some distortion in non-gaming settings, which doesn't make the Odyssey G9 the most versatile monitor out there. We've talked in the past about how great displays like the LG 27GN950 are as dual-use monitors for gaming and content creation. This is not the case with the G9, it is a pure gaming monitor.

In keeping with its focus as a gaming display, the Odyssey G9 offers impressive specs. The refresh rate soars to a whopping 240 Hz, the highest we've seen for this resolution. The display has almost 90% the pixel count of a 4K monitor, but a far higher refresh rate than any other 4K display on the market today. This really pushes your GPU to its limits and offers a lot of future-proofing for line upgrades. It's also G-Sync compatible and has AMD FreeSync Premium Pro support with DisplayHDR 1000 certification.

The Odyssey G9 consists of two 1440p monitors side by side, but does not cost the same as two 1440p monitors, it is more expensive. A single 27-inch Odyssey G7 will set you back $ 700, while the Odyssey G9 has a regular retail price of $ 1,700, or about a 20 percent premium to get that resolution in a single display. We've seen the G9 come at a discount on occasion, but it's still a premium display.

All in all the design is quite good and we are impressed with what Samsung has achieved with such a large display. The stand is adjustable in height and tilt, which we expected, but it can also be swiveled and remains sturdy. For a large, heavy animal over a meter wide, having this range of motion in the stand is impressive.

You'll need to find quite a bit of desk space to fit on the wide legs, although it makes perfect sense as well. The construction looks top notch and Samsung opts for a sci-fi-like glossy white rear with a glowing RGB LED ring around the stand connection. It looks good from both sides, although from the front the massive display naturally dominates what you see.

In terms of connections, the main inclusions are two DisplayPort 1.4 and one HDMI 2.0 input. You'll need a GPU that allows display stream compression over DisplayPort to get the full resolution of 5120 x 1440 @ 240 Hz, while the HDMI port is limited to just 60 Hz.

The on-screen display uses directional switching controls and a fairly smooth surface that is easy to navigate. Samsung's range of features is decent, with gamer features like crosshair and black gain modes, as well as a range of color controls. You also get picture-in-picture, which is very handy for a display this large that works well with two 1440p inputs side by side. Unfortunately, there's no stroboscopic backlighting, one of the few things that were available on the G7 but weren't found on the G9.

Show performance

Before we dive into the "Performance" section of this review, let's address some of the quality assurance issues and flickering reports we've read about the Odyssey G9. It appeared that early buyers of this display were getting devices with poor quality control and numerous issues, leading Samsung to recall the monitor and do additional quality assurance. Although the "recall" was never official and remains an unconfirmed rumor, there appeared to be delays in the second round of stocking and our unit has a "QA Approved" sticker on the box.

As far as we can tell from buyers who have received newer units in the past few months as well as our own unit, most of these QA issues have been resolved. The processing and image quality of our test device is actually very good, certainly not like some of the first reports. And with the latest firmware version 1008.1, which all owners should download and use, there were no flickering issues while playing.

However, there are two persistent issues with the G9 that early adopters should be aware of. The first is that when we tested the monitor's HDR mode at 240 Hz, we saw a flicker, although it wasn't there at 120 Hz. The second is that with the latest drivers, the G9 won't work with GeForce RTX 30-series GPUs at 240Hz. This is an issue with the Nvidia driver as the display will work on series 20 cards that support DSC and will work fine on supported AMD GPUs at the maximum refresh rate. We expect this to be fixed at some point, but for a monitor that Nvidia has certified as "G-Sync Compatible" this is not a good situation right now.

Time to take a look at the response times, and like the Odyssey G7, if you're using the display with the adaptive sync variable refresh rate enabled – and we suspect most people will assume this monitor will work with all modern GPUs – then it's you The overdrive setting cannot be changed. So the focus of these tests is on this single mode.

When viewing the response time at 240 Hz, it is immediately clear that the Odyssey G9 and Odyssey G7 do not offer the same experience. The G9 in our tests is a faster monitor at this refresh rate, with an impressive gray-gray average of 1.94 ms. However, this is at the expense of a higher level of overshoot. There are many more transitions where inverse ghosting can be seen. Fortunately, these inverse ghost trails disintegrate quickly so they're not obvious. However, we suspect that most people will still see them. Instead of achieving an average response time of up to 2 ms, the G9 ideally selects the overdrive back a little to reduce the overshoot.

However, like the G7, there is no smear of darkness as Samsung has effectively solved this problem with the latest generation of VA panels. The overshoot is highest in the dark regions, but the sluggish reactions in the gray range from 0 to 40% are no longer there, so you don't see long dark trails behind moving objects. In general, this is a clear experience.

Now many people who see this picture will likely be disappointed with the performance on offer here given the high overshoot. But there is good news, because overshoot is only problematic at 240 Hz. If we downshift to 200 Hz, most of the overshoot from the panel disappears and few problems remain for dark transitions. We have an average response time of 2.57 ms, which is very fast for a modern monitor. In fact, we can tell you that this performance goes up to 220Hz or so, which only makes the top 20Hz bad in terms of overshoot. Given that games at resolution as high as this, over 220Hz will be difficult at least for the next few years, having the best 20Hz perform worse isn't ideal, but it's not as bad as it could have been.

At lower refresh rates of 165 Hz to 60 Hz, the performance remains about the same, with the response times changing slightly and mostly between 2.0 and 3.3 ms. Most frame rates still have some overshoot issues in the dark area, but the performance is very strong and lightning fast and offers great clarity especially at higher frame rates. This also means we get a single overdrive mode experience for variable update games, a requirement for high-end displays, and not having access to overdrive settings isn't too problematic.

When comparing the Odyssey G9 with other monitors on the market, this new Samsung Super-Ultrawide has an advantage in terms of response times at maximum refresh rate. However, due to the high overshoot, the G9 sacrifices the accuracy to get there. Therefore, panels like the Asus PG259QN and Odyssey G7 ultimately offer a better experience, although admittedly they are in different classes.

The G9 shines on average over the variable update range and leads the charts. As already mentioned, the monitor only suffers from high overshoot above 220 Hz, and the extent of the overshoot is manageable at all other frame rates. While the Odyssey G9 still has a relatively high average inverse ghosting rate compared to other displays, it has a class-leading gray to gray average of 2.7 ms. This makes it the fastest display we tested and a bit faster than the Odyssey G7.

It also outperforms other ultrawide monitors on our charts, including entry-level monitors like the LG 34GN850. While this is a more expensive display, it's good to see Samsung deliver.

Smearing on a dark layer is no problem with the Odyssey G9 or the Odyssey G7. This is really the first series of VA panels where dark performance is acceptable compared to TN and IPS alternatives, and that's a great thing for the future of this panel technology.

The average error rates are very high at 240 Hz, which just highlights what we talked about earlier. At 60 Hz, the display is fast, especially when using a variable refresh rate. The display offers significantly worse performance at a fixed 60 Hz as opposed to using 60 Hz as part of a variable refresh with a maximum refresh of 240 Hz. Therefore, this display is really geared towards variable refresh rate games.

The input delay is very good, there is essentially no processing delay on the monitor side. With extremely fast response times and a high refresh rate, the total delay in the chain is less than 5 ms. This is one of the best results we've ever seen. With that in mind, we should point out that if you want to run the monitor in 60Hz mode, the input delay is much higher, although we don't think a lot of people will.

Of course, the power consumption is high, if not worse than the Acer Predator X35, which uses a smaller panel with a FALD backlight. The consumption is also less than twice as high as the Odyssey G7, although there is twice as much screen space available. So from this point of view, it is more efficient to have one G9 than two G7s with a reasonable lead.

Color performance

Color space: Samsung Odyssey G9 – D65-P3

In terms of color performance, the Odyssey G9 covers 89% of the DCI-P3 color gamut, on par with the Odyssey G7 and other VA monitors we've seen in the past few years. The gamut coverage isn't as impressive as most modern IPS monitors, so it's not enough for color work with a wide gamut, but offers a gamut greater than sRGB for higher saturation and better colors in HDR mode.

Standard color performance

The color accuracy out of the box is average and not as good as the Odyssey G7 in terms of adherence to the sRGB gamma curve. With an overall gamma value in the range of 2.4, the monitor is on average too dark, which leads to mediocre DeltaE results. This also affects the saturation and ColorChecker results. The DeltaE 2000 averages in the 3.0 to 4.0 range are around the average for a gaming monitor and are certainly no better than the average we would expect from a high-end display.

OSD optimized color performance

This performance cannot be significantly improved by adjusting the OSD settings. There is an sRGB mode that clamps the color gamut somewhat well to sRGB, but otherwise has problems with saturation and leads to a high DeltaE performance that is not significantly improved compared to the standard configuration. The best practice here is a full calibration.

Calibrated color performance

Barring a few inconsistencies here and there, we usually get solid results from a DisplayCAL calibration. As I've said a few times in this review, the Odyssey G9 isn't an ideal monitor for color accurate work due to its curvature and insufficient P3 coverage, but you can still get some respectable results for sRGB and P3 with a color profile.

The brightness in SDR mode is strong with a peak value of over 400 nits, while the minimum brightness is also good in the range of 60 nits. The contrast ratio, on the other hand, is not impressive for a VA panel. While it's higher than IPS and TN monitors at 2000: 1, it stands behind the best VA panels we've tested. So you can expect slightly deeper blacks than an IPS, but it won't give you the best experience we've seen in the field.

The evenness was surprisingly good for such a wide display and led to better results than with the Odyssey G7, especially with dark gray evenness, where the G7 had a noticeable background lighting on the outer edges. This wasn't a problem on our G9 device, and we were generally impressed with how smooth the image is, although the DeltaE results aren't perfect. This is a really wide display so getting the uniformity perfect is a challenge and we believe Samsung did well here.

To conclude our testing, here's a quick rundown of HDR performance. Like the G7, the Odyssey G9 is a semi-HDR panel in that it has some areas that are superior to normal SDR displays – such as a wider color gamut and high peak brightness – but does not have a strong contrast ratio. This is because the Odyssey G9 only has 10 edge-lit local dimming zones, which is not enough for such a large display. While you may occasionally get a better SDR experience due to the high flash brightness or better colors, the amount of halo around bright objects due to the dimming of the number of zones is terrible and negatively affects the experience.

The sustained brightness in full screen mode is around 650 nits, which is respectable and definitely enough for most content. The flash brightness is also very strong at over 1100 nits and matches some of the better FALD HDR monitors we tested. We also see around that 1100 nit mark with small window sizes below about 25%, so small bright elements on this monitor are brightly lit and drop down to 650 nits with larger window sizes.

In contrast, there is good news and bad news. The good news is that the local dimming array completely turns off the backlight to display black, resulting in a very high contrast between flash and black that is beyond the capabilities of our testing tools.

Due to the size of the panel, the Odyssey G9 also had an advantage in our best single-image contrast test. If you have a bright element on the left side of the display it can be displayed at up to 1100 nits, while in a dark area on the right the FALD backlight can be completely off and deliver 0 nits. There is no bleeding between these zones because the control panel is so massive that a large contrast ratio can be displayed on the screen at the same time.

However, we will see these worst-case numbers more realistically, in which the Odyssey G9 only delivers its native contrast ratio. This is because the number of local dimming zones is very low, so you will see massive halos extending from all of the bright areas to the edges of the panel. It's very noticeable and looks awful. In dynamic scenes with many different areas of light and dark tones, the contrast sometimes becomes a little better than the SDR contrast. However, when the scene is busy, you get those worst case numbers that aren't impressive.

What we learned

The Samsung Odyssey G9 is a premium super ultrawide monitor for gaming that fills a niche that no other monitor on the market can match.

It has a unique combination of double the resolution of 1440p, a super high and future-proof refresh rate of 240 Hz and decent VA colors which are very attractive to those looking to put together an elite gaming setup.

The strengths of the Odyssey G9 lie solely in its response time. While there are some stumbling blocks at 240 Hz, at refresh rates of 220 Hz and below, the G9 offers excellent performance among the fastest monitors we tested. This contributes to a gaming experience with excellent movement clarity and a consistently high frame rate, without the typical disadvantages of VA such as smudging of darkness. It's impressive to see a VA panel score this high on our charts, and twice that when it's at this high resolution.

The G9 does a few things better than the G7. In particular, we think the 1000R curve is much better suited for such a massive display and greatly improves immersion while gaming. The device we tested also had better smoothness and in HDR mode it can get a bit brighter if you are interested in gaming in that mode.

Samsung also manages to deliver good color performance. You get good viewing angles, a wide color gamut, and a contrast ratio that is better than IPS, making the G9 better suited for gaming in dark environments. The color calibration is just average, the P3 gamut coverage is below that of today's best IPS displays despite using Quantum Dot technology, and the contrast ratio could be better for a VA.

Overall, the G9 delivers very good graphics, it just doesn't quite exist as a dual-use monitor (gaming and productivity), and the curve doesn't help in this regard. When you buy an Odyssey G9, it should be suitable for high refresh rate gaming on a huge ultrawide screen and nothing else.

It should be noted that Samsung appears to have resolved some quality control issues with the first generation, but some remain in HDR mode and RTX 30 series GPU compatibility. We also think HDR performance isn't great for a $ 1,700 product. This display is more expensive than, for example, the 48-inch LG CX-OLED, but delivers a much worse HDR. A side note on pricing, the Odyssey G9 briefly went on sale for less than $ 1,200 during Black Friday and then ran out of stock as many took the opportunity. Our Product Finder allows you to set an alert to monitor prices when they're back in stock.

Bottom Line: If you're willing to overlook some early adopters issues, the Samsung Odyssey G9 is definitely worth considering. It's a premium gaming monitor the equivalent of two 1440p displays in one panel, and playing on this beast has been one of the most impressive experiences we've had to date.

Purchasing links:
  • Samsung Odyssey G9 49 "Super-Ultrawide at Amazon
  • Samsung Odyssey G7 32 "at Amazon
  • Asus ROG Swift PG259QN on Amazon
  • HP Omen X 27 in the HP Store
  • LG 27GL850 on Amazon
  • Asus TUF Gaming VG279QM on Amazon
  • GeForce RTX 3080 on Amazon

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