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Viotek SUW49C Ultrawide Curved HDR Gaming Monitor Review

By Poorna Shankar on June 19, 2019 | Hardware Reviews | Comments

Viotek SUW49C Ultrawide Curved HDR Gaming Monitor Review

Last November, our Hardware Editor, Chris Coke, reviewed the GN32D 32” Curved Gaming Monitor from Viotek. Priced at $380, he came away impressed. It’s literal bigger brother, the Viotek SUW49C Ultrawide Curved HDR Gaming Monitor, is a different beast entirely. Featuring an absurd 32:9 aspect ratio across 49” of curved display, it is easily the most expansive monitor I’ve used. But is the 144 Hz refresh rate enough to offset the low 1080p pixel density?

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Specifications, Build Quality, and Design

  • Model: Viotek SUW49C Ultrawide Curved HDR Gaming Monitor
  • Price: $899 at time of review
  • Resolution: 3840x1080p
  • Screen Ratio: 32:9
  • Refresh Rate: 144Hz
  • Response Time: 4ms with Overdrive
  • Curvature: 1800R
  • Viewing Angle: H178° / V178°
  • Display Colors: 16.7M Colors
  • NTSC: 85%
  • Contrast Ratio: 3000:1
  • Dynamic Contrast Ratio: 1M:1
  • Brightness: 320cd/m2 (320 nits)
  • VESA: 75x75mm
  • Ports: 1x DP 1.2 (cable included), 1x DVI, 1x HDMI 2.0, 2x HDMI 1.4, 1x 3.5mm audio input
  • Speakers: 3W
  • Backlight: E-LED
  • Tilt Adjustable: Yes (-5° ~ 15°)
  • Dimensions (with Stand): 47.2 x 17.6 x 9.5 in
  • Weight: 25.2 lb (net), 33.5 lb (gross)
  • Additional Features: GamePlus, Overdrive, AMD FreeSync™, PIP/PBP, Low Blue Light mode, RGB LED Backlight, Remote, Cable Management
  • Color Availability: Black (Silver stand)

My personal monitor is an Acer Predator XB321HK 4K Gsync monitor. Naturally, I’ve been accustomed to sharp images, but at 60 Hz. With that in mind, some quick math of the Viotek SUW49C’s resolution of 3840x1080 will yield a pixel count exactly one half that of native 4K. Theoretically then, I should expect roughly twice the framerate on this monitor for games that support the full 32:9 aspect ratio.

Additionally, the Viotek SUW49C in no uncertain terms states that this monitor is meant to be an HDR monitor. However, with a peak brightness of 320 nits, I was very skeptical of its efficacy. This is a big limitation which factors into my own HDR gaming experience, and I’ll expand on further on in the review.

The Viotek SUW49C includes a game mode option to project a reticle as an overlay. There are multiple reticles to choose from, ranging from a simple red dot all the way to a neon green tradition crosshair. More on this below.

The sheer size of the monitor is what makes unboxing so awkward, but thankfully, setup was simple. Judging by the image above, that may not seem to be the case. However, the included directions were clear, concise, and extremely easy to follow. Overall setup took no more than 15 minutes, with most of that dedicated to simply trying to get the monitor out of the packaging.

Build quality is overall solid. While the back brace is plastic, the stand and feet are metal and feel sturdy. I was worried about wobble for a monitor this wide, but during normal gaming and productivity, I didn’t perceive any. The rear brace does include a hole for cable passthrough, which I gratefully accepted.

You can tilt the Viotek SUW49C, but there appears to be no height, swivel, or pivot adjustment. On one hand, this makes sense because trying to swivel such a massive monitor would be cumbersome and border on absurdity. But excluding height and pivot adjustment seems a baffling omission. Height adjustment is something I personally need and use, so to see the Viotek SUW49C lacking here is very unfortunate. It is, however, in line with many other Viotek monitors and one of the ways in which they keep prices down, so it’s worth factoring into your decision.

The included remote is honestly nice because the buttons on the monitor are under the display and frankly a nuisance to use. Being able to simply navigate the OSD with the confidence of a remote instead of cumbersome onboard buttons is legitimately nice. Finally, the built-in speakers are tinny and really shouldn’t be used for gaming, watching movies, or listening to music. Just use headphones.

In my use across gaming and productivity, I perceived no real backlight bleed. The Viotek SUW49C sports good viewing angles for a monitor this size, with only minor dropoff in the corners. But when gaming, your entire focus is on the center of the screen, so this minor dropoff in the corners will largely go unnoticed.

Small bezels really drive home the expansive immersive feeling Viotek are going for. The monitor feels like it wraps around you and almost melts into the background. Pictures don’t do justice to just how wide this thing is. Just look at this thing.

Gaming

The Viotek SUW49C’s settings features a Freesync toggle, which I turned on. Due to drivers from Nvidia which effectively opens Gsync support to variable refresh rate monitors, I went ahead and enabled Gsync on my Nvidia Control Panel. Initially, doing this dropped the refresh rate from 144 Hz to 120 Hz. However, restarting my PC allowed the refresh rate to go back to 144 Hz.

Man, I missed 144 Hz. A big question I wanted to answer was whether or not giving up pixel density from 4K to 1080p was worth the benefit of moving from 60 Hz to 144 Hz. Well, it’s here where things get interesting.

I loaded up Forza Horizon 4 and immediately went to work on the settings. Thankfully, Playground Games does support this insane 32:9 aspect ratio. Despite what the image above may look like, I assure you, the in-game experience did not feel stretched nor warped. The FOV was insanely immersive, especially when traveling at speed.

Gsync does work in this game, which is great. Performance never really dipped below 100 fps.However, the image overall lacks sharpness. I found road signs difficult to read all of a sudden (note, I did not use FXAA and instead only used MSAA).

HDR is somewhat washed out. I have a Sony Bravia 4K HDR TV and have played Forza Horizon 4 on it with HDR. Despite spending time tinkering with the Viotek’s settings, my TV looks far brighter, has greater contrast, and overall more saturated. In fact, Forza Horizon 4 in SDR on the Viotek looks better than it does in HDR on the monitor, though it would be fair to say that these are different calibers of display as the price clearly demonstrates.

I then moved to Elder Scrolls Online. In my use, Gsync doesn’t work here. I noticed tearing in the top third of the screen. On the plus side, developer Zenimax Online Studios does appear to support the native 3840x1080 resolution of the Viotek SUW49C. Performance was mostly above 60 fps, but most of the variability comes down to the fact that it’s an MMO. Powerful hardware can’t offset server performance.

Next up was Destiny 2. Again, Bungie supports the 32:9 aspect ratio, but they went a step further by centering your HUD elements instead of pushing them to the corners as is usual in game design. Nice.

Once again, Gsync works here. The FOV is great when maxed out. Performance was phenomenal, and I was consistently above 140 fps.

HDR was recognized, but unlike Forza Horizon 4, Destiny 2 made the image much darker. Again, I tinkered with settings in-game before messing with any monitor settings. But the game just didn’t look right with HDR. I’ve also played this on my Sony Bravia in HDR and the image there looks far superior. The SDR image in Destiny 2 on the Viotek SUW49C looks much better than its HDR counterpart.

Finally, I used the built-in reticle overlay for Destiny 2. Honestly, it’s fine. However, I can’t imagine users going out of their way to disable an in-game reticle to enable the monitor’s overlay. To me, the built-in reticle overlay feature comes off as just another feature to simply include on the packaging, rather than something actually useful.

I finished off game testing with Overwatch. Gsync does work here, however, it appears Blizzard doesn’t support the native aspect ratio. You can select 3840x1080 as a resolution, but it maxes out at a 21:9 aspect ratio so you get black bars on the left and right. Performance was consistently well over 250 fps.

Finally, I primarily use Dolby Atmos as my sound driver, Having such a wide field of view afforded by the Viotek SUW49C across all these games really makes Dolby Atmos that much more effective because now it sounds and looks like the audio is wrapping around you. It’s awesome.

Productivity

The Viotek SUW49C is amazing for productivity. Being able to effectively have three monitors’ worth of information on display at once without having to physically set up three separate monitors is the Viotek’s true party piece.

I can easily see how more productivity-focused users would find the 49 inch canvas extremely useful for things like office work, music production, and video production. I used this monitor for editing my podcast and found the extra real estate to be a real benefit for audio editing and FTP management. I cannot stress this enough.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, to answer the question I posed myself at the onset of this review, I am simply not willing to give up the sharpness and clarity of my 4K monitor for the speedier refresh rate of 144 Hz offered by the Viotek SUW49C. If this was a 3440x1440 monitor at 144 Hz, then I’d consider it. That resolution still maintains some sharpness in comparison to native 4K. But moving from 4K to effectively 1080p really highlights the lack of pixel density and I’m personally not willing to compromise that much on clarity in exchange for a higher refresh rate.

If you’re a gamer, I can’t quite recommend the SUW49C for gaming purely because 1080p simply doesn’t produce a sharp enough image, especially with resolving the high frequency details of modern games. And for $899 at the time of writing, you may be better served spending that on a 21:9 3440x1440p display, or even a variable refresh rate 4K display.

[Editor’s Note: If you’re already using a 1080p display, you may not notice this at all. Consider the SUW49C as three 1080p monitors put together and you’ll have a good idea what Poorna is describing in picture resolution]

However, if you’re a creator or someone who likes working across multiple monitors and your primary use-case is productivity, the Viotek SUW49C is a legitimate beast. It’s a far more elegant solution than trying to fit three 1080p monitors (and their stands, don’t forget) onto a smaller desk like mine, while providing that seamless expansive canvas that three discrete monitors simply cannot provide.

Pros

  • Legitimately transformative for productivity
  • Expansive real estate makes multi-tasking more viable
  • 144 Hz fluidity for productivity tasks is great
  • Solid backlight consistency
  • Freesync support is great, but...

Cons

  • ...feels overpriced for effectively 1080p pixel density
  • Games lack sharpness and clarity
  • Not all games support the native 32:9 aspect ratio
  • No height, swivel, or pivot adjustment
  • HDR is inconsistent and subpar

The product described in this review was sent on loan from Viotek for evaluation purposes.

Poorna Shankar / A highly opinionated avid PC gamer, Poorna blindly panics with his friends in various multiplayer games, much to the detriment of his team. Constantly questioning industry practices and a passion for technological progress drive his love for the video game industry. He pulls no punches and tells it like he sees it. He runs a podcast, Gaming The Industry, with fellow writer, Joseph Bradford, discussing industry practices and their effects on consumers.