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LG 49 UltraGear gaming monitor review: Ultrawide nirvana

It’s a miraculous screen – as long as you have the desk space for it.

Photo by Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

When I saw one of the first 49-inch ultrawide monitors from Samsung five years ago, I found it to be a curious creation. I was no stranger to the world of ultrawides, but that screen was a bit much. It was too unwieldy, and its odd resolution wasn't tall enough for my tastes. Since then, though, the 49-inch category has evolved: They're cheaper, have newer display technology and are better equipped for gaming. Sure, you'll still need to have a lot of room on your desk (or a very sturdy mounting arm), but these days they could actually be considered practical.

LG's 49-inch Curved UltraGear is a prime example of how much things have changed. Starting at $1,300, it offers 49-inches of glorious screen space with a sharp 5,120 by 1,440 resolution; an ultra-fast 240Hz refresh rate and 1ms response time; and AMD FreeSync Premium support. It's LG's largest and most immersive gaming monitor yet. And after spending several weeks with the UltraGear 49, it has finally made me a convert of for the 49-inch ultrawide life.

LG

The 49-inch Curved UltraGear has almost everything you'd want in an extreme ultrawide gaming monitor, but many games won't run at its native resolution, and it requires a ton of desk space.

Pros
  • Bright and sharp ultrawide display
  • 240Hz refresh rate
  • 1ms response time
  • HDR support
Cons
  • Not all games support its full resolution
  • Requires a significant amount of desk space
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Of course, one does not simply decide to buy the 49-inch UltraGear. You need to have the space to fit its bulky frame, which measures 46-inches across. You need to make sure all of your accessories can still fit on your desk (it's particularly annoying if you regularly use cameras and large microphones). And, last but not least, you also need to ensure the games you play the most can take full advantage of the UltraGear's wide 32:9 aspect ratio.

That any game can run at 5,120 by 1,440 pixels is a testament to just how far the ultrawide monitor movement has grown over the last decade. A typical widescreen TV has a 16:9 aspect ratio with a 1,920 by 1080 (1080p), 2,560 by 1,440 (1,440p) or 4K resolution. Ultrawide displays stretch those proportions a bit with a 21:9 aspect ratio, typically running at either 2,560 by 1080, or 3,440 by 1,440 pixels. These days, it's rare to find a new PC title that doesn't support those ultrawide resolutions. And when they don't, as in the case of Elden Ring, developers often argue it's done to avoid giving ultrawide players any advantage. (Of course, as is often the case with PC gaming, modders will find a way.)

Windows 11 on the LG UltraGear 49 ultrawide monitor
Windows 11 on the LG UltraGear 49 ultrawide monitor (Photo by Devindra Hardawar/Engadget)

Official support for extreme ultrawides like the 49-inch UltraGear is more rare, but it's not unheard of. I was able to play several hours of Halo Infinite, Cyberpunk 2077, No Man's Sky, Armored Core VI and the recently released FPS Sprawl at the LG's full 5,120 by 1,440 resolution. You'll still need the GPU horsepower to actually get decent framerates, of course, but the UltraGear's native resolution is still less demanding than 4K. (For the record, I tested the UltraGear 49 on my personal PC equipped with a Ryzen 7800 and an NVIDIA RTX 4090.)

Starfield (below) was the first new game to spoil my extreme ultrawide fun. It supports 3,440 by 1,440 , but it can't stretch out to 32:9 resolutions. That meant I spent my first 10 hours of the game with black bars on the sides of the screen. It was still playable, but I think anyone who buys a monitor this size will be disappointed with the restrictions. You could easily hack Starfield to support wider resolutions, but there's no guarantee those solutions will work forever.

Starfield on the LG UltraGear 49 ultrawide monitor
Starfield on the LG UltraGear 49 ultrawide monitor

In many ways, the 49-inch Ultragear is emblematic of PC gaming itself: Owning one puts you right on the bleeding edge, but the experience isn't always perfect. Incompatibility risks and other issues are simply a fact of life if you want a screen that can completely consume your peripheral vision. And to its credit, the Ultragear still looks and feels like a typical gaming display. Setting it up was just a matter of assembling the sturdy stand and slapping the screen on the rear mount. The stand also supports vertical, swiveling and tilting adjustments, letting you dial in just the right viewing angle.

Compared to Samsung's monstrous 55-inch Odyssey Ark, the 49-inch UltraGear is far easier to use for both gaming and regular productivity tasks. Sure, it can't rotate to be completely vertical, but that feature always felt like a gimmick on Samsung's screen. Instead, I appreciated the simple things, like being able to have two browser windows opened up alongside Slack while I was doing research. While recording podcasts, I could simultaneously keep an eye on my audio timeline, as well as have windows dedicated to a video chat with my cohosts, a Google Doc with shownotes and a browser for research.

For the multitasker who demands as much usable screen space as possible, the 49-inch UltraGear is heaven. Just be prepared to stretch your neck more than usual to see the extreme edges. You could always push the monitor back a bit to avoid that, but that also hurts immersion, which is the whole point of buying this thing.

Based on several hours of gameplay, as well as watching clips from 4K HDR films and plenty of other video content, the 49-inch UltraGear was just as bright and bold as I'd expect from a modern monitor. It can reach up to 1,000 nits of peak HDR brightness, and it covers 95 percent of the DCI-P3 color gamut. While the images didn't exactly leap off the screen as they did with Alienware's phenomenal QD-OLED display, a more expensive 34-inch screen, the sheer size of the 49-inch UltraGear made me feel like I was actually driving around Night City in Cyberpunk 2077, or exploring alien planets in No Man's Sky.

While the screen doesn’t really give you an advantage in FPS titles like Halo Infinite, since your view is basically cropped from what 16:9 players see, I still enjoyed having an extra wide view of every match. You may have to tweak field-of-view settings in some titles though, as the monitor's large 1000R curve can lead to distortions along the edges of the frame. (This could also be a problem when it comes to photo editing, or any task requires exact measurements.)

Windows 11 on the LG UltraGear 49 ultrawide monitor
Windows 11 on the LG UltraGear 49 ultrawide monitor

While I reveled in having such a vast amount of screen space available, using the 49-inchUltraGear led to some awkward adjustments outside of the screen. To record podcasts, I had to push it down to its lowest position and maneuver my rear desk-mounted microphone over the display. With my own 34-inch ultrawide monitor, there was enough room for the microphone to fit along the right side of the screen. I also had to push my large desktop speakers even further away to fit the 49-inch UltraGear on my desk. If you're actually considering this screen, it's worth thinking seriously about how it will fit in your space and alongside your other accessories. (You could also attach it to a wall or a monitor arm that fits a 100 x 100 mm VESA mount.)

The 49-inch UltraGear is clearly a gaming focused monitor: it includes features like a built-in crosshair, FPS counter and requisite RGB LED lighting. There aren’t any speakers attached (because really, who uses those?) but you can plug in headphones for DTS HP:X virtual surround sound. (That sounded fine in my testing, but I stuck with Windows’ Dolby Atmos upmixing while playing with the Arctis Nova Pro headset.) There are also 2 USB 3.0 ports along the rear for accessories, but for a monitor in this price range I expected even more connectivity.

Given that 27-inch 5K screens like Apple’s Studio Display sell for $1,599, the 49-inch UltraGear’s $1,300 retail pricedoesn’t seem so bad. But with great 16:9 gaming monitors going for around $300, it’s still a hefty price to stomach. And if you’re ready to pay more than $1,000 for a monitor, it may be worth holding out for an OLED screen that can deliver better contrast. (The Alienware 34-inch QD-OLED is now available for $900 with AMD’s FreeSync Pro, while LG’s UltraGear 45 ultrawide OLED goes for a whopping $1,700.)

Few people actually need a 49-inch monitor. But LG has built one that’s laser-targeted at the people who demand that much screen. It does everything you want a gaming monitor to do: It’s bright, colorful and can play titles at incredibly high frame rates. And it does it all while consuming your entire field of view. When it comes to sheer immersion, the UltraGear 49 is the next best thing to putting on a VR headset.