Over the past couple of years, curved monitors have become increasingly popular amongst gamers and enthusiasts alike. Thanks to the huge drop in curved monitor pricing - and performance levels that now challenge flat alternatives - we get asked the same monitor-related questions over and over again. One of which is; curved vs flat monitors, which should I choose?
For this reason alone, we thought it would be a good time to take a more comprehensive look at some of the differences that separate curved vs flat monitors. We'll be exploring which is best for gaming, entertainment, workflows, and general-use purposes - all while showcasing some of our favorites available in today's market too.
So, with all that in mind, let's waste no further time and jump straight into it!
Before we take a closer look at the more technical differences that separate curved and flat monitors, we thought it was worth quickly going over some of the physical differences between the two monitor types.
Below, we have chosen two monitors of similar size, comparing physical specs like height, weight, and width.
As you can see, both monitors are rated at 32 inches in size (albeit one is actually 31.5"). They also offer very similar height, width, and total display areas. So, overall, fairly similar for the most part. That being said, there were two pretty obvious differences that could affect your purchasing decision.
The first difference we noticed was the depth. Whilst this will be fairly obvious to some individuals, it's worth mentioning that the depth of the curved monitor is about 40mm greater than the flat-alternative - no big shock if truth be told. Something a little less expected, however, was the weight difference. The curved monitor comes in at almost 3kg lighter than the flat counterpart. Whilst that doesn't seem like a great deal, it makes the flat monitor over 50% heavier than the curved - fairly substantial if you plan on using a VESA mount or a glass desk.
All-in-all, it's safe to say there isn't a great deal of difference between the two. However, if you're extremely picky, you might want to take these findings into consideration.
Now that we've got the physical differences out the way, let's take a closer look at the technical specifications and how they differ between the two monitor types. This should give us a better indication of how each monitor type performs and what scenario they'd be best suited for - ie gaming, entertainment, or general-use purposes.
Below, we've gone for two monitors that utilize the same panel technology. We've done this to give us a more standardized way of recording the difference in performance. Choosing two monitors that use different panel technologies would have resulted in much wider specification differences.
That being said, let's dive into the differences found between these two IPS monitors. Both are certified for gaming, so they should come equipped with the best performance specs possible.
The first (and potentially biggest) difference between these monitors is the refresh rate. Refresh rate is one of the biggest factors when looking at a monitor for gaming purposes. It dictates how smooth your image will be and can literally give you the edge over your competition. So, when a monitor can boast a 50Hz faster refresh rate, it's safe to say it's probably going to be much better for gaming than the alternative.
The next obvious difference is response time. This, however, is much less noticeable in terms of physical gaming performance. Response time determines how fast a monitor's pixels can change color, usually using the GTG (Gray-to-gray) color transition. In modern-day gaming, I'd say anything below 4ms is acceptable. However, if you want the absolute best gaming experience, 1ms and below is the advised response time.
Finally, we have the color gamut difference. Color gamut is a range of colors used to determine how many colors a monitor can reproduce. As a general rule, the wider the color gamut, the better the color reproduction is.
So, as you can see from the above comparison, the PG349Q can display 100% of the sRGB color gamut - not bad. However, when compared with the XG279Q - a monitor that can provide 125% sRGB / 95% DCI-P3 - it becomes clear that it can't produce nearly as much color as the latter.
Apart from that, the only factor left to discuss is the price. As you can see, the curved monitor is much more expensive than the flat-alternative - albeit losing out on critical gaming performance.
Curved Monitor Vs. Flat Monitor: Benefits Of Each
With the decision to choose between curved and flat monitors being so difficult, let's weigh up some of the major benefits of each. This should give us a clearer understanding of each monitor type and help conclude which is best for your specific needs.
First, let's start with the pros and cons of curved monitors:
- Immersion - As many will already know, modern-day curved monitors have a lot going for them. That being said, one of the main reasons why people choose to go for a curved display over a flat one comes down to the immersive experience they provide. Whilst games offer up a ton of immersion all on their own, it's safe to say the right monitor can add even more to the equation. The curved nature of a monitor automatically adds immersion to the experience, with other features chipping in along the way.
- Less distortion - Distortion in monitors can occur when the image you're trying to view is wider/larger than your eye's peripheral vision. With flat monitors, the light is being shot in a straight line, with some elements going past the sides of your head. With a curved monitor, that isn't the case. Because of its shape, the entire image is being directed at your eyes - ultimately leading to less distortion in picture viewing quality.
- More comfortable on your eyes - Curved monitors were first introduced for aesthetic and immersive reasons. However, after a while, manufacturers realized that less eye strain was a real benefit of the technology. The shape of a curved monitor almost matches the curvature of your eyeball, giving it a more natural viewing feel.
- Aesthetics - Lastly we have aesthetics. If you've ever purchased a curved monitor before, you'll know what I mean by this. There is something about a curved monitor that just excels it above its flat counterpart. Aesthetics are a huge benefit in curved monitors and should not be overlooked.
- Price - As you can clearly see from the comparison above, price is a huge factor when it comes to gaming monitors - especially curved ones. Thanks to the nature of a curved monitor, price is one of the biggest flaws to consider before purchasing.
- Gaming Performance - Another huge downside when referencing curved monitors is their overall gaming performance. They usually fall short of flat monitors in both refresh rate and response times - with flat monitors being more affordably priced too.
Now let's take a look at the flat monitor in comparison:
- Better overall gaming performance - Generally speaking, flat monitors usually have better gaming credentials, offering up better refresh rates, response times, and color accuracy across the board. Whilst this isn't always the case, finding a curved monitor with similar specifications to a flat monitor will normally come equipped with a hefty price tag to match.
- More functional stand - It's true, many curved monitors come with very good stands. However, a large percentage of the time, curved gaming monitors don't offer nearly as much versatility as flat alternatives, with many budget, mid-range, and high-end flat monitors offering tilt, swivel, height, and rotational adjustments.
- Not as immersive - To mirror what was said in the curved monitor pros, flat monitors don't really provide as much immersion as their curved cousins. Whilst this isn't the case for all flat monitors, most of the time, they simply aren't as immersive.
As you can see, both curved and flat monitors have their own unique set of pros and cons. So, now we understand this more clearly, which monitor type is best suited to your needs? Well, let's take a look.
Curved Vs Flat Monitors: Which Should You Buy?
To make this easier to digest, let's break this up into sections. Each section will recommend a flat and curved monitor that we feel is worthy of your consideration:
Gaming is one of the main factors when it comes to getting a new monitor. Choosing the wrong one can have serious repercussions in terms of gaming performance and immersion. So, if you're a gamer, should you choose a curved or flat monitor? Well, it really comes down to a couple of different factors.
First, is the price. If you don't have a set budget and are looking for an immersive gaming experience, there's absolutely nothing wrong with a curved gaming monitor. They provide good colors, decent immersion, and acceptable in terms of performance specifications.
That being said, competitive gamers should absolutely steer clear of curved gaming monitors. If you want to take your game to the next level, a flat monitor is truly the only way to go. They offer the highest level of refresh rate (over 240Hz) and offer extremely low input lag and response time.
Entertainment is a fairly broad term, but for the most part, I refer to very light gaming, movies, and general-use purposes. In this specific scenario, I'd probably say a curved monitor is more to your suiting. Not only is it aesthetically pleasing to look at, but its curved display is a more natural shape for your eyes, creating less eye strain and more immersion. Watching films is a true joy and should not be overlooked in a curved monitor.
Work And Creative
Again, this has to be another check for the curved monitor. Because most curved monitors are widescreen, you are physically increasing your visual real-estate. This is going to make creative workflows and multi-tasking much more accessible. The alternative is to get a large flat widescreen or a dual-monitor setup. Both of which fall short of a decent ultra-wide curved monitor.
Below are some pages we feel you may be interested in:
- Best 27" monitors
- Best PC monitors
- Best monitor size for gaming
- TV vs Monitor for gaming
- Best 4K 144Hz gaming monitors
- What to look for in a gaming monitor
There you have it guys, our conclusive guide to curved vs flat monitors. In the quest to make your purchasing decision that much easier, we've tried to be as thorough as possible in this comparison. Ultimately, both flat and curved monitors have their own unique set of pros and cons, making them better suited to individual scenarios. It all comes down to your personal preference.
Right now, whilst there are great offerings in both camps (flat and curved), gaming performance seems to lie more preferably in the flat monitor corner. That in mind, entertainment and work style scenarios definitely seem more suited to the curved counterpart - with price being a rather impactful factor.
If you have any questions regarding which monitor type to choose, feel free to drop us a comment in the section below. Better still, why not head on over to our Community Hub where you can discuss everything monitor related with like-minded individuals.