LG 34UC97-S Monitor Review
Ahh 21:9 UltraWide monitors, one of my favourite products of the last few months and I’m sure we will see a lot more of these over the course of 2015. One of the market leaders in this sector is LG, who produced the impressive LG Flatron 34UM95-P some 6 months ago. But LG haven’t been sat idle, they’ve been busying away trying to bend these UltraWide panels, and, it would appear they’ve done it!
As, today I will be taking a look at the LG 34UC97-S monitor; this 34″ curved monitor features a 21:9 UltraWide IPS panel with a QHD resolution of 3440 x 1440. The panel has a 5ms Response Time and screen is also equipped with x2 7W speakers. Connectivity is provided by way of 2x HDMI, 1x DisplayPort & 2x ThunderBolt ports.
As you would expect the LG 34UC97-S arrived at pcG in a rather large box, but, rather disappointingly the box itself wasn’t curved! 😉 The front of the box (well at least I think that’s the front) features an oversized image of the monitor and stand with a short description and model name shown in the bottom right. Also there’s a handful of images highlighting the following: IPS Panel, 21:9 Curved Panel, UltraWide QHD Resolution, Thunderbolt and Mac compatible.
The back of the box is (unfortunately covered in shipping labels), and features a slightly different image of the 34UC97-S, otherwise it is the same as the front.
On opening the top of the box, we can see some unpacking instructions on the left, some of the cabling (DisplayPort cable etc) nearer the centre, and we can also appreciate (or not) the somewhat mediocre packaging. Considering the price of the monitor, I was expecting a little better to be honest, although it’s also worth noting that this review sample had been opened before…
Lifting the top section of polystyrene allows us to see that lovely curved panel hiding within, as you can see overall packaging is a little rudimentary, but the panel is a least protected by a various pieces of polystyrene and a soft foam bag.
As there’s some self assembly required for the LG 34UC97-S, there’s actually quite a lot within the box.
First there’s the two silver stand sections and the panel’s back cover plate. Then there’s a raft of paperwork that includes a Display Quality Assurance Report, Handling Guide, Easy Setup Guide, Owner’s Manual and Driver CD and a Software CD. Finally we have the cabling, consisting of a power brick and mains cable, HDMI cable and a DisplayPort cable.
At the time of writing the LG 34UC97-S is retailing for £990 at Overclockers UK and comes with a 3 year on-site warranty.
courtesy of LG
As you can probably guess first impressions of the LG 34UC97-S are nothing short of amazing, there’s no doubt that when you lay your eyes upon this monitor for the first time (even before it’s turned on) you’ll be dreaming of ways of how you’re are going to fund your purchase. As we first saw with the AOC U3477PQU 21:9 monitor, once you’ve seen an UltraWide you know it makes sense.
Well this is 34 inches of UltraWide, with an ultra resolution of 3440×1440 to match, and then there’s that curve, subtle? yes, but it sure as hell adds to its desirability… I think I’m going to enjoy this review! 🙂
Once out of the box it’s time to work out how to assemble the stand, and in fact find all of the parts. The first task was to attach the stand to the arm, both of these seem to be made from solid aluminium.
The arm itself just slots into the centre of the stand and is secured by way of two screws. The base of the stand has four, square rubber feet to prevent it from moving around once on the desk. With the arm firmly attached to the stand, it was time to attach the stand to the back of the monitor itself…
The arm fits to the back of the monitor (not by way of your usual VESA mount) but by the same method as the arm to the stand, yes that’s right that’s what those other two screws were for! The screws themselves, and the associated mounting arm on the back of the monitor can then be covered with the silver cap provided. This obviously helps to clean up the overall look of the back on the 34UC97-S.
The first issue here, that may now be obvious, is that the LG 34UC97-S has no height adjustment and no swivel functionality, only tilt! I have to say for a monitor costing almost £1000, I think this is unacceptable… 🙁
As you may have noticed the front of the monitor is completely devoid of any controls, which is always nice to see, as it cleans up the front of the monitor and means there’s no coloured LED’s distracting you when in Game. Underneath the front panel and under that LG logo there lurks a single control, that control is just a simple joystick. Everything can be controlled from here with a simple press just turning the monitor On or activating the on-screen menu functions.
Taking a look at the back of the LG 34UC97-S we can appreciate that subtle curve and also see how minimalistic and clean the back actually is, even the I/O area will be covered by the back panel plate after wiring is complete. What’s also visible in the image above right are the two 7W speakers in the base of the panel, either side of the joystick control in the centre.
INPUTS & OUTPUTS
The LG 34UC97-S was tested using our Test Rig with a fresh installation of Windows 7 Professional 64bit (service pack 1) installed together with all the latest relevant drivers and software. No additional screen calibration software was used, all of the default modes were tested and then the screen was calibrated by hand and eye to the best of my ability.
During the review I used the following Benchmarks and Games to help in the evaluation of the monitor.
With the LG 34UC97-S connected to our Test Rig it was time to fire up the first monitor that I’ve ever seen with a curved panel, just a simple press of that joystick should do it! After a second or two the joystick glows white and I’m greeted with a audible (short) melody, and then voila, we have a picture. I could now bask in the glory of that 34″ curved 3440×1440 image in front of me, and good it was too, really good!
After a few checks with various coloured screens I could not see any dead/stuck pixels, but what as apparent was backlight bleed! In fact the backlight bleed was really rather bad, with three of the four corners having noticeable bright areas. Now while I admit this is pretty poor for a premium monitor such as this one, in game and in Windows it’s hardly noticeable at all! To be honest it’s not as bad as it sounds, and it’s not something that would prevent me from buying…
After sifting through my wallpaper collection looking for imagery, I went about the process of setting up the picture to my taste, but there was a problem! The picture was just perfect the way it was! 🙂 Assuming (as this was a review sample) that the image may have already been calibrated in the past I opted (bravely!) for a factory reset! The result was the same, the out of the box picture of the LG 34UC97-S was one of the best I have ever seen, I’m happy! Now it was time for some Gaming, I mean testing…
I have already tested Gaming on a 34″ 3440×1440 monitor when I tested the AOC 34, the question is would the LG 34UC97-S be any better, would that curved screen help any!? The simple answer is yes, I think so, apologies if that sounds woolly but I have to be honest I think there’s a bit of a placebo affect in effect here! Can I prove that the curved screen in Game is better? No. Do I think it’s better? I can’t really say for sure. Do I prefer it to a flat screen? Hell yes! 😉
There’s no doubt about it the LG 34UC97-S has served up the most immersive Gaming experience I have ever experienced, currently this is as good as it gets when it comes to Gaming. Gaming just takes on a whole new dimension, yes the picture quality is very good, colour depth is very good and the picture is pin sharp! But the best part is still simply that 34″ UltraWide 21:9 panel.
Other than the aforementioned backlight bleed, there’s some other issues that are really nothing to do wit the monitor per se! The first of which is that not all Games natively support the QHD resolution so sometimes you can end up with black bars left and right. The other issue is that to drive this resolution (just like 4K) requires more than one Graphics Card, with just one card you’ll be looking at sub 60FPS performance for most of the time, which surely is going to spoil that very immersion that I’ve just been talking about…
There’s no doubt about it the LG 34UC97-S is one fine monitor for Gaming, offering immersion to a level that no other monitor can match, there are some issues though and boy is it going to cost you…
The LG 34UC97-S came to pcG in a large (unfortunately not curved!) box and the contents we relatively well packaged, but I have to admit I was expecting more for a product retailing at this sort of price level. Once out of the box the curved panel looks awesome and that’s before I’ve attached the stand or turned it on! The curve is surprisingly subtle, but is still looks pretty darn cool!
Assembling the stand was easy enough with two screws attaching the stand to the arm and a further two attaching the arm to the monitor. But please note there’s no VESA mount here. Also worth noting is the fact that the fixed stand has no support for height adjustment or swivel, which again at this level, I feel is a little unacceptable.
Once on the desk though, and once powered on all of these niggles tend to fall off the radar, which is good news. Apart from the fact that while the image is one of the best I’ve seen out of the box, the 34UC97-S suffers from some pretty bad backlight bleed. Now I know for some this seems to be unacceptable (and to some degree I agree), but this backlight bleed is pretty much invisible once in Game, although I have to admit I’ve not been playing Elite: Dangerous! 😉
As I have stated already the out of the box image produced by the LG 34UC97-S is extremely good, with great colour depth and incredible detail. But what this screen offers more than anything else is a new degree of In-Game immersion. And it is that the starts to make you think, I want one of these, and I know I do…
Of course the big issue here is the price, this is one of the most expensive hardware items we have ever tested here at pcG, and while it may indeed cost the earth (although prices fluctuate heavily) at £980, I know I will be Very sad to see it go…
Please Share, Like & Comment below, we really value your thoughts and opinions…
LG Flatron 34UC97-S 34″ Super-Wide Curved LED Monitor
Many thanks to LG for providing this sample for review