Review: The LG 34UC89G shapes up nicely for ultra-wide gaming at 1080p
CompatiThe sharp lines and black-red colors of the LG 34UC89G makes it clear that this curved ultra-wide is built for gaming. The 34-inch IPS finally brings Nvidia G-Sync to the LG table, yet like its predecessor is locked to a 2560 × 1080 resolution. Even so, the reduced pixel density may be an acceptable sacrifice for mid-range systems looking to run games in 21:9 at speeds of 144Hz or more. And if the responsiveness doesn’t impress then perhaps the colors will.
While evidently targeted at gamers, the 34UC89G manages to toe the line between reserved and flashy. From the front, the gentle curves and black-gray finish looks entirely at place in an office setting. It’s the sleek, V-shaped stand and the monitor’s rear panels that brings “gaming” to mind the most, the splashes of red and the chiseled lines looking right at home among contemporaries such as ASUS ROG and Acer Predator.
The stand itself offers both angle and height adjustments but, as expected of a curved display, not rotation. Colors aside, the stand doesn’t stray from LG’s usual design conventions and it’s both stable and easy to set-up. You can adjust the monitor with one hand, though I’d recommend using two just to prevent wobble and stress on the panel. A VESA mount is present for monitor arms. There’s an optional cable management clip-on reminiscent of a rifle scope or a battlement’s merlon; while it works fine as a guide, you’ll still need to employ a couple of ties to completely mask the cable bundle from view.
Connectivity and Set-Up
More pertinent is the interface panel. You’ll find a DisplayPort 1.2 and (disappointingly) HDMI 1.4 for video, as well as four USB 3.0 and a 3.5mm headphone jack for utility. One of those USBs is reserved for an upstream connection, though I do wish the remaining USB and audio ports were located to the side – having them all grouped together leaves the 34UC89G in a neither-here-nor-there spot when it comes to accessibility. The lack of a 3.5mm microphone input is also notable, especially for gamers without USB headsets.
A clickable, 4-way joystick along the bottom edge is used to access and navigate the on-screen display. LG isn’t the only one to take the joystick approach, but it does slow the initial set-up as you go through the same set of menus again and again to access the settings. This is also where you’ll adjust volume levels, swap display inputs, or access extra features such as game mode, a black stabilizer, LG’s Screen Split 2.0 and more.
The better alternative, one I discovered when browsing LG’s product page, is to download the OnScreen Control app. This way you’ll just have to use your mouse when making the adjustments, and it is by far a more pleasant way to use and navigate the OSD. I found myself turning on game mode or using the black stabilizer more often, though this does mean the onus is on LG to keep the app updated through various operating system updates.
Fresh out the box, the 34UC89G cut a better impression than its predecessor. The colors were better presented, although users won’t have plenty of options when it comes to fine-tuning. Nonetheless, the display looks great for both games and Netflix movies, with strong black level performance that leaves the overall presentation satisfyingly vibrant. It handled the dark vastness of space in Elite Dangerous (highly recommended for an ultra-wide!) and the carnival of colors in Heroes of the Storm well enough, while shows such as Star Trek: Discovery and Stranger Things 2 proved just as enjoyable. While a great fit for gamers, the lack of advanced calibration tools will likely give digital artists and photographers pause, sRGB mode or not.
On the bright side, viewing angles didn’t pose any problems when sharing the screen with another, seated user. The curve is gentle and contrast shifts were only more evident when standing and off to the side, but nobody’s going to look at a curved display like that. The biggest letdown is, of course, the 2560 x 1080 resolution. The extra real estate is a plus, but if you’re sizing up from a 1440 monitor then this does feel like a downgrade.
Where that 1080 ceiling does come in handy is for games, allowing mid-range systems to redirect their efforts towards framerate. The 34UC89G goes up to a buttery 144Hz but can be pushed to 166Hz when overclocked. Motion blur and ghosting were negligible (unless one obsessively compared it to a 240Hz esports monitor) and the G-Sync was ready to smooth over any hiccups. The 5ms response time is sufficient for a majority of gamers, too, with no perceptible lag when hopping about in Overwatch or CS:GO.
A fantastic option saddled by a steep price tag
The LG 34UC89G is a great monitor that addresses any gamer’s desire to go ultra-wide. The 21:9 aspect ratio takes some getting used to, especially when at a 1080 resolution, but the agreeable colors and fast performance help to drive up this display’s appeal.
Unfortunately, the S$1,399 price tag doesn’t mesh with the mid-range crowd it seems to be targeting. And despite this being LG’s first G-Sync monitor, the absence of HDMI 2.0 and offset USB 3.0 ports leaves the whole package feeling decidedly outdated. If you’re comfortable with the price point and don’t mind some of the minor negatives then do make a point to check out the monitor in-person.
A unit was loaned for this review.