Are curved monitors good for gaming? Or should you go for a regular flat screen? As a competitive gamer with over 35 years of experience, I have spent countless hours testing different monitors, screen sizes, and technical features.
This post discusses if or when curved monitors make sense for gaming compared to flat-screen monitors. I give you a quick undetailed answer for a start:
In general, pro-gamers are not used curved monitors because competitive gaming events do not support curved screens. Furthermore, in competitive and gaming, some advantages of a curved monitor turn into disadvantages. On the other hand, a curved monitor provides an excellent immersive experience for casual gaming in single-player mode.
I played computer games for over 35 years, so I played just about every good FPS game from Doom, Quake, and Unreal to Half-life, CSGO and Halo to Battlefield, Call of Duty, Valorant, PUBG, and many more.
My brother (Flashback) and I played on CRT monitors in the 80s. Then in the 90s, TFT-LCD screens came on the market. With OLED monitors, the next technology step is already around the corner. We have played on tiny monitors and giant TVs, tested VR and AR glasses, and, of course, curved monitors. We also used all display devices for gaming and evaluated them for us.
So if you ask us: Are curved monitors good for gaming? We can tell you clearly from experience: Curved monitors are great for many things, but we prefer flat screens for gaming, especially playing first-person shooters (FPS). And we are not alone with this opinion. According to Prosettings.net, not a single FPS Pro Player plays with a curved monitor.
Ask pro gamers for the best gaming mouse, and you will get 1000 answers.
Ask pro gamers if they prefer flat screens or curved monitors, and you’ll get 99% of the same answer: “For better gaming, go with a flat-screen.”
But why is that? Let’s have a look.
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Note: This article was written in English. Translations into other languages may not provide the same linguistic quality. We apologize for grammatical and semantic errors.
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What is so Great About a Curved Monitor?
Go to any website of a manufacturer that makes curved monitors, and you will hear in flowery words a ragbag of great benefits that a curved screen will bring you. Take this page from BenQ, for example, https://www.benq.com/en-us/knowledge-center/knowledge/curved-gaming-monitor.html
I’m not a monitor salesman, but I’ll list a few points:
- Less strenuous on the eyes
- 30% more viewing area due to ultra-wide-mode
- More natural feeling for 3D spaces in virtual reality games
- More consistent color saturation from different viewing angles
And you know what? If you are gaming a bit and want to relax and have fun in your free time or after work, these promises are mostly correct. Graphic designers love curved monitors because all color pixels reproduce the correct color value – from the center to the edge. A flat-screen monitor would be a disadvantage here.
But if you are a gamer and want to play video games on a higher, maybe a professional level, then think twice before you put a curved monitor on your desk.
Are Curved Monitors Better for Your Eyes?
In general, practice shows no difference to the human eye whether the gaze falls on a flat-screen or a curved screen. No representative study proves that a curved screen has a different effect on the human visual system. The curvature of the screen also has no significant impact on vision.
If you look at the marketing pages of curved monitor manufacturers, you might get the impression that curved screens relax and are easier on the eyes. So are flat screens harmful or even dangerous? No, of course not.
One study (source) states in the result that with eye pain, a curved monitor has noticeable positive effects compared to flat screens. However, apart from the fact that the study is anything but representative and thus meaningful with 20 test persons, the test participants did not notice any significant differences in headaches, dry eyes, tearing, or blurred vision.
General Advantages of a Curved Monitor
As this picture shows, you save a lot of space with a curved monitor compared to a flat screen and get the same Field of View (FOV). That means you see just as much on a curved 34″ monitor as you do on a 36″ flat screen. Unfortunately, in this case, smaller also means more expensive.
Humans see in three dimensions. Our eyes perceive the length, height, and width of objects, and our brain arranges all objects in space correctly to each other. The better this mapping works, the higher our immersive experience. The term immersive experience emerged with the first 3D graphic elements in movies and games. It describes how well a viewer can empathize with a virtual world. If the real world’s perception is diminished and one can identify with a virtual world, then the Immersive Experience is very high.
Curved monitors address all three dimensions with their composition and thus imitate our eyes’ structure.
In gaming, the immersive experience is mainly affected by the graphics, the player’s interaction possibilities, and the game world’s reaction.
For example, the immersive experience is negatively affected when two graphic objects are suddenly rendered inside each other due to a bug. The illusion of a real-world is immediately gone.
Due to the curved structure, reflections are avoided as far as possible. However, anyone who has ever played a whole day next to a window knows that at some point, the time of day has come when you must use the curtain.
I don’t know if this is a massive advantage in the battle of curved monitors vs. flat monitors, but – well, who needs light? 😉
Unlike flat panel displays, curved monitors utilize the viewing area right to the edge. As a result, the human eye actively fades out the edge of a curved screen as much as possible. Sometimes, movements on the screen can cause the eye to focus on the edge again. Of course, this negatively affects the immersive experience.
This image illustrates the difference quite well:
These Advantages Become Disadvantages for Gaming
I bet you’ve stood in front of a Curved Monitor at the electronics store and thought about whether it helps you become a better player in gaming. The sign on the curved monitor states: You can see a lot more, and supposedly a monitor like this is more comfortable for the eyes and <insert some marketing phrases here>. But then why do pro gamers play on flat-screen monitors and not on curved monitors?
The answer: For gaming, especially first-person shooters (and who doesn’t play them?), curved monitors show some weaknesses.
All competitive games are optimized for 16:9. But almost all curved monitors are widescreen, so 21:9. Now you might think, great; then I can see more. But, in reality, you have to live with black borders, or your field of view (FOV) is artificially limited. So the game tries to scale the picture to 16:9.
If these games were optimized for 21:9, you would have an advantage over players with regular 16:9 monitors. This is why most development studios refuse to include a widescreen resolution in the game. Most anti-cheat tools in shooter games even block you if you start the game with a 21:9 resolution.
If you only play console games alone (Xbox, Playstation 4 or 5, Nintendo Switch) and can afford a large curved monitor for it and only play for fun, then a curved monitor is probably right for you. But if you occasionally want to play with others on the console, you can forget about the Curved Monitor again. That’s because curved monitors are single-player devices.
It is essential to mention that you have to sit up straight in front of a curved monitor. Otherwise, visual inaccuracies will occur.
Especially with fast 3D shooters, you may notice distortions at the edges of the curved display. Whether this effect occurs or not depends on the screen’s curvature and your eyes’ perceptive ability. This is a problem for the peripheral vision of the players, as you may miss the opponents.
Games that allow 21:9 and stretch the image outwards arrange the GUI elements (life display, mini-map, etc.) further outwards. This can lead to the fact that you no longer have all the essential information in view. To see this information again, you would have to move away from the screen. Logically, this will bring you other disadvantages.
The ultrawide mode of a curved screen naturally requires more pixels to be calculated by your graphics card. We are talking about 30% more processing power that your GPU has to provide. Pro Gamer would rather see this power converted to more FPS. See also our article Why Is FPS Important in Gaming?.
You’ve been playing with a curved monitor for months, and you’re going to make the finals. You and your team are going on a journey. You sit down at the provided equipment at the venue, and suddenly your performance is terrible.
A significant factor could be that you are now sitting in front of a flat-screen. Can your eyes get used to it again within a few hours?
Do you want to get into this situation?
I’d rather not. Okay, to be fair, this point doesn’t apply to the average gamer, but this blog has the goal to make you a better player! 🙂
Should I Buy a Curved Monitor For Casual Gaming?
I don’t want to criticize curved monitors in general. However, if you’re playing for fun and jumping back and forth between Netflix and browser or doing many things with graphic or video design, a curved monitor is undoubtedly an experience.
In general, casual gamers playing alone will have a more intense gaming experience with a curved monitor than flat-screen. On the other hand, console gamers who sit in front of the monitor with several people at the same time or gamers who mainly play FPS games should better decide against a curved monitor.
The pictures show the optimal viewing angle of Curved Monitor (left side) vs. Flat Screen (right side). But, of course, if you play in a coop, both players will not have the optimal viewing angle with a curved one.
If you want to move up into the professional leagues, you’d better orient yourself to professionals.
100% of pro gamers in the first-person shooter genre play with flat screens, and this is for good reasons I have described above.
You don’t just have to take my word for it. Just rely on the hard facts and figures that we have gathered here from hundreds of pro gamers:
And one more thing: Even though this type of monitor has now arrived on the mass market, a flat-screen monitor costs considerably less than a comparable curved screen.
Related Questions About Curved Monitors
What is the Best Curved Monitor for Gaming?
I have tried curved monitors but never played with a curved monitor permanently. Therefore, I do not presume to evaluate which is the best curved monitor for gaming. Here I would like to refer to the colleagues from https://www.rtings.com/, who have made a detailed test and recommend curved monitors for gaming in this article.
The favorite curved gaming monitor there is the Samsung Odyssey G7.
Is a Curved Monitor Good for CSGO?
Among the top 100 CSGO pro gamers, not a single player uses a curved monitor. CSGO is optimized for a 16:9 aspect ratio. Curved monitors with a standard aspect ratio of 21:9 are not well suited for gaming Counter-Stike: Global Offensive.
What is the Biggest Curved Monitor on the Market (2021)?
Check this one out on Amazon: Samsung 49″ CHG90 – a monster. 49″ Ultra-Wide.
What does the R-Value mean in the Context of Curved Monitors?
A display’s curvature is measured by the radius the curve would deliver if it formed a complete circle. When measuring curved monitors, the value ‘R’ is used to indicate the curvature radius.
For example, a monitor with a curvature of 4,000R would form a circle with a radius of 4,000 mm, or 4 meters or 13.12 feet.
The smaller the “R” value, the stronger the curvature of the monitor.
This image visualizes it once again:
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Masakari – moep, moep and out!