With major monitor manufacturers like Acer, ASUS, and Dell all tossing their hats into the ultrawide market over the past two years, competitors like LG have been steadily releasing a stream of high quality displays that rival some of the best in the business. It is easier than ever to find the best gaming monitor. Now with the 38UC99, LG has officially thrown down the gauntlet on the ultra-premium ultrawide monitor, with the biggest, baddest, (and most expensive) display we’ve tested to date.
But does a high price point alone a solid monitor pick make? Read on in my LG 38UC99 ultrawide monitor review to find out!
Price: $1549.99 on Amazon
Available: February 1, 2016
Summary: The LG 38UC99 is the crème de la crème of ultrawide monitors, offering tons of screen real estate, pitch perfect color performance, and plentiful gaming options to boot. If you have the cash to spare, this is the display that spares no expense.
What We Liked
- Incredible image quality in all use cases
- Surprisingly good onboard speakers
- 5-way joystick menu navigation
- Solid gaming performance
What We Didn’t
- The high price is enough to scare off most casual customers
LG 38UC99 Ultrawide Specs
|Resolution||3840 x 1600|
|Contrast Ratio (Dynamic)||"Mega"|
|Refresh Rate||60Hz (75Hz overclock)|
|Response Time||5ms GTG|
|Device Dimensions||35.3” x 18.3” x 9|
|Ports||2 HDMI 2.0, 1 DP 1.2, 1 DP-out, 2 USB 3.0, 1 USB Type C|
|Onboard Speakers||10W x 2 w/ Bluetooth Speaker|
If you haven’t seen or used an ultrawide monitor before, the design of something like the curved LG 38UC99 might be a bit jarring to get used to at first. With an absolutely massive 38″ spread to work with, the UC3899 will be an imposing presence on anyone’s desk, so first and foremost you should make sure you actually have the room to house this beast of a display before you actually buy it.
Overall the design of both the stand and the display itself don’t deviate too far from what we’ve seen on previous LG ultrawides like the 34UM88, which we reviewed last year. Aside from a color change from black to white/silver, you might not even be blamed for getting the two mixed up aside from the size difference and number of available ports on the back.
Just as we mentioned there, while the bezels aren’t the thinnest around, they’re not exactly thick either, and should blend fairly well into the background whenever you’re watching a movie or playing a game. That said, you’d be hard-pressed to even be able to get the bezels in your peripheral given the sheer scale of this massive beast of a monitor, and more often than not I found myself actually having to turn my head to focus on another window since the distance between both edges of the display are physically so far away from one another.
Unfortunately there was no side-play to the stand, so rotating it from left to right wasn’t an option. The adjustments we could make included the height and the vertical angle of the display, but that was it. This could be changed up if you chose to use the VESA mount on the back, however at stock your customization options in this department will be pretty limited.
The LG 38UC99 is a 38″ IPS LED curved ultrawide monitor that runs at a resolution of 3840 x 1600 at an aspect ratio of 21:9, with what LG only refers to as a “Mega” contrast ratio (we couldn’t find anything more specific than that). Other stats include a 5ms GTG response time with a 60Hz standard refresh rate that can be pushed to 75Hz in overclocking, 300cd/m2 of brightness, a 178° viewing angle, and the whole thing is AMD FreeSync-ready.
On the back of the display we found a fairly limited number of open slots given the pricetag, including two HDMI 2.0 ports, one DP 1.2, two standard USB 3.0 slots and one USB-C port.
Underneath the unit are two 10W speakers, which were unequivocally amazing in both sound quality and overall loudness. Because the LG 38UC99 doubles as its own Bluetooth audio speaker this boost in sound isn’t all too surprising, but the company really went above and beyond the call of duty here. Although I wouldn’t permanently replace my own sound system with these speakers, they still most certainly get the job done in a pinch.
As you should expect on a monitor at this cost tier, the LG 38UC99’s settings menu is both extensive and packed to the nines with extra features, ranging from changing the brightness/color/gamma settings to enabling the 1ms Motion Blur Reduction option for ultimate gaming precision.
All of this is controlled with the help of a 5-way joystick on the bottom of the unit, which just so happens to be my preferred method of navigating around the settings of any monitor we test.
Even more convenient, however, is the addition of LG’s own OnScreen Control system, which lets you change any of the settings mentioned above with the click of a mouse. Instead of rummaging around in a standard settings screen, you can control every aspect of how your monitor looks and behaves using software that’s installed on your computer, and handled through app commands issued via the desktop.
Other notable inclusions for professionals include Screen Split 2.0, PBP, and Super+ Resolution, all of which are vital if you run multiple machines from the same desk (like your laptop and desktop), or need as much resolution as possible while doing photo, video, or color work for clients that demand the most accuracy possible. This is a great IPS panel monitor.
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Speaking of color accuracy, in our tests using Datacolor’s Spyder5Elite Pro calibration tool on the LG 38UC99, we not only hit LG’s advertised color gamut of 99% sRGB – we actually beat it by maxing out the meter at a clean 100%.
After three runs both in sRGB and stock color settings, the LG exceeded all expectations, and although its Adobe RGB ratings could be slightly better at just 80%, it’s clear this is still a monitor that can carry the weight of the average or professional creative user in nearly every use case we could think of.
While the LG 38UC99 can’t match the Acer Predator X34’s 100Hz refresh rate for maximum smoothness in games, the 75Hz bump above the standard 60Hz is still a nice touch that makes single player games a bit more buttery and could be the difference between a headshot and a death in the clutch of an online multiplayer match.
This isn’t the fault of LG, of course. For the time being it seems the fastest that we can push screens that carry 3440 x 1440 resolutions or above is about 100Hz, thanks to the limitations of DP 1.2. Until DP 2.0 is released (or even 1.4 for that matter), we won’t see any screens at this size or pixel count moving into the competitive gamer’s realm of 144Hz, so if that’s the only reason you’re picking this display up you might be better going off with LG’s more speed-centric LG 34UC79G-B instead for less than half the total price.
Overall though the 38UC99 still held its own when helped out by options like the 1ms Motion Blur Reduction feature with AMD FreeSync turned on, though it’s important to keep in mind that with all those features enabled you’re going to need a seriously high-powered graphics card to keep the whole thing running at max spec.
At this point, it should be no surprise that the single most expensive monitor we’ve ever laid our eyes on also happens to be the best performing to date. The LG 38UC99 is an expensive monster of an ultrawide monitor, one that fulfills all my childhood dreams of the future and then some, but all that added functionality definitely comes at a price.
If you’ve been saving up for your next creative workstation or want a massive gaming display that makes a few tradeoffs in refresh rate for a higher resolution, there’s no doubt in my mind that the LG 38UC99 is the way to go.
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