Curved ultrawide monitors are becoming increasingly popular amongst today’s gaming community, mainly thanks to the increased levels of immersion they provide when compared to 16:9 alternatives. However, thanks to the large price tags that come hand-in-hand with ultrawide displays, many people find themselves left disappointed – unable to meet the budgetary requirements needed to purchase one.
Luckily, as ultrawide monitor technology continues to evolve, we are starting to see more affordable options become available. We’ll be reviewing one of those monitors today, the AOC CU34G2 – a budget 34-inch ultrawide gaming monitor that, despite its flaws, is still an extremely attractive prospect at its current price tag.
In the following article, we’ll be putting the AOC CU34G2 to the test, seeing how it stacks up in gaming performance, picture quality and color accuracy, and overall value for money – pitting it against similarly priced alternatives as we go.
So, with plenty to get through, let’s dive straight into it!
3440 x 1440
124% sRGB, 92% Adobe RGB,
100 x 100mm
48Hz – 100Hz
Great Value For Money
Low 1ms response time
WQHD screen clarity
Nice design that isn’t too gamey
Stand lacks adjustability
Overall build quality could be better
The AOC CU34G2 comes in a fairly basic box, tightly secured amongst a number of different layers of styrofoam packing. The monitor comes unassembled and is separately packaged inside the box. Assembly is extremely self-intuitive and doesn’t require any tools to do so.
Alongside the panel and the stand, users will find the following items:
- AOC CU34G2
- Kettle Plug
- DisplayPort 1.4
- HDMI Cable
With specifications out the way, let’s take a more comprehensive look at the build quality, design, and mechanical features the AOC CU34G2 comes equipped with.
Like most of the monitors within AOC’s arsenal, the CU34G2 comes with an understated design that is neither boring nor overly gamey. It sports the classic red on black color theme that we’ve seen across numerous AOC offerings in the past. Flashes of red can be seen on the rear of the panel as well, designed in an arrow style that matches the sharp ‘V’ shaped base of the stand.
The front of the panel definitely leans on the stylish side, benefitting greatly from the thin bezel and ultrawide 1500R curve. All being said, the design is fairly basic and doesn’t really showcase any premium features – as you’d expect from a budget-oriented panel.
I wasn’t overly impressed with the build quality of this monitor, but that’s to be expected from a monitor of this price point. The panel is mainly constructed using plastic – and not the most robust plastic either. That said, the stand does have a steel interior which does provide excellent rigidity.
The rear of the monitor is entirely plastic and doesn’t feel premium in the slightest. It has quite a bit of flex to it and doesn’t feel like it’d offer too much protection if dropped or hit. With that in mind, there are some positives. The front of the monitor feels excellent and there are no gaps in between the frame of the monitor itself.
Overall, compromises have clearly been made during the construction process of this panel. That being said, it’s not the worst build quality we’ve ever seen and does have some positives.
AOC has opted for an anti-glare panel coating (in matte (3H)) which does an extremely efficient job of mitigating both natural and manmade light sources. That said, this coating does tend to pick up a lot of finger prints and oils which can be annoying and obvious.
Bezels are one of the better features of this monitor’s design. Whilst they aren’t the thinnest I’ve ever seen (that crown goes to the new Alienware AW2721D), they are almost completely frameless. This design offers a tonne of immersion when gaming and just adds a good amount of style to the monitor’s design.
Moving onto the stand, the AOC CU34G2 does fall a bit short in this department. I’ve tested a tonne of ultrawide monitors now, and, to be honest, whilst most offer good adjustability, not all provide the stability you would want. The same can be said for the CU34G2 from AOC.
The stand provides tilt, height, and swivel functionality – allowing you to position the monitor to your exact requirements. That said, it does feel a little flimsy at the best of times. There is a little bit of wobble in it as well – potentially noticeable if you’re using a desk that also moves.
Below are the full adjustments available with this particular panel:
- Forward Tilt – 3.5 degrees
- Backward Tilt – 21.5 degrees
- Left Swivel – 30 degrees
- Right Swivel – 30 degrees
- Height – 130mm
If the stand isn’t doing it for you, remember, you can mount this monitor using a 100 x 100 mm VESA mount.
Unlike other monitors within the AOC range, the CU34G2 doesn’t skimp on the inputs. It offers up 4 x USB 3.0 (downstream), 1 x USB 3.0 (upstream), 2 x HDMI 2.0, 1 x DisplayPort 1.2, and 1 x 3.5 mm audio out (for headphones). This gives you plenty of versatility and allows you to hook numerous peripherals and other devices to the panel.
See specifications for a full list of this monitor’s inputs
Finally, we have the on-screen display. For me, I’ve never liked the AOC OSD – and they’ve done absolutely nothing to change my mind this time around. Annoyingly, AOC are still using several buttons as OSD navigators. Even more frustrating is that, once you’ve found your way into the on-screen display, it’s still a pain to actually navigate the various menus that it offers. This is another monitor that would have benefitted largely from the utilization of a joystick-style navigation button.
On a more positive note, this monitor does offer plenty of customization within the on-screen display. You have a number of different color temps to choose from, alongside more comprehensive game modes that allow you to alter input lag, adaptive sync, overdrive, and shadow control – to name but a few.
Overall, the on-screen display is a little hit and miss for me. Whilst it does offer plenty of functionality, it also provides equal levels of frustration too.
The following section will be a more comprehensive look at the color accuracy and picture quality of the AOC CU34G2. We will be testing a number of different color presets to determine which is best for out the box usage. Furthermore, we will be calibrating the monitor to see how accurate the colors are, recording the color gamut and panel uniformity as well.
Below are the results.
|Preset||White Point||Black Depth||Contrast Ratio||Average ΔE*00||Gamma|
|Standard (Out The Box)||6580K||0.0565 cd/m²||2135.1:1||2.21||2.17|
|Warm Preset||9022K||0.1165 cd/m²||1796.3:1||1.94||2.27|
|Game 1 Preset||8193K||0.1149 cd/m²||1993:1||1.93||2.1|
|Custom Preset||7470K||0.1131 cd/m²||2134.5:1||2.02||2.25|
|Cool Preset||6865K||0.0927 cd/m²||2233.3:1||1.33||2.17|
Like always, I started by running a quick ‘out the box’ test to see what the AOC could provide without any customization. Worth noting, AOC has gone to the effort of pre-calibrated all their color settings inside the monitor’s OSD. They say each preset has been calibrated to an accuracy of under delta 2.
That being said, the monitor was set to ‘Warm’ and was around 220 candelas of brightness. For the test, we reduced the brightness to 120 – our standardized testing luminance. Results were pretty good – showcasing great white point, deep blacks, and pretty good contrast ratio – albeit not the 3000:1 it was rated to. Average deltaE scored an impressive 2.21 and gamma was around 2.17 – pretty good considering the circumstances.
We moved onto test a number of different game and color presets, including FPS, Racing, Gamer3, and sRGB – to which sRGB was the strongest. The sRGB preset offered an excellent white point and good black depth. It also produced the greatest contrast ratio and lowest average deltaE (1.33).
|Preset||White Point||Black Depth||Contrast Ratio||Average ΔE*00||Maximum ΔE*00||Gamma|
|Warm Preset (In-depth)||6646K||0.1013 cd/m²||2164.2:1||1.55||5.4||2.17|
|Custom Calibrated (In-depth)||6595K||0.0571 cd/m²||2089.8:1||0.36||1.88||2.2|
At this point, we decided to perform a more in-depth color test on the sRGB preset – the most accurate of the available presets. White point, black depth, and contrast all stayed pretty much the same. However, the average deltaE did increase to 1.55 and the maximum deltaE was 5.4 – not the best but most certainly not the worst. Gamma was measured at 2.17 which is pretty good for most viewing experiences. Be warned though, when in the sRGB color preset, you are locked to the brightness it sets. For this monitor, that is 207 candelas – more than what we like to recommend for healthy viewing.
Panel uniformity is a test we run to check how uniform the luminance and colors are across the entirety of the screen. During this test, the center square is used as the reference space. Every other square is then tested to see how far it differentiates from the reference.
In an ideal world, we want every square to be green, meaning it hasn’t broken the differential threshold – something we can set at the start of the test.
Note: results will differ from panel to panel.
Unlike the last ultrawide monitor we tested, the AOC CU34G2 actually showcased pretty good panel uniformity. As you can see, the bottom right-hand side of the panel was a little on the dark side, with 4 portions of that area being classed as red – poor uniformity. Apart from that though, you’d have to give this monitor a thumbs up as far as uniformity goes.
An area where this monitor didn’t excel so great, however, is the viewing angles. The VA panel it utilizes falls a little short in this category, with large color shifts occurring as soon as 40 degrees from flat. That said, the panel is large enough and offers enough adjustability to not really require a great deal of side on viewing.
As part of the calibration process, the DisplayCal will give an accurate measurement of the color gamut the monitor can provide. Below are the results of the color gamut test:
I was pretty impressed by the color accuracy and gamut this monitor provided. Yes, it isn’t nearly as impressive as Nano IPS technology, but it still very accurate – especially when compared to other ultrawide monitors of this particular price point. With 99.2% sRGB coverage (125% volume), this is a great monitor for individuals that produce content using this particular color gamut. Furthermore, with 81.8% Adobe RGB and 87.8% DCI-P3 color coverage, this monitor offers much more than the basic sRGB color spectrum.
The graph above shows you this monitor’s color gamut in its entirety. As you can see, the CU34G2 covers all of the sRGB spectrum – apart from a small section of blues in the bottom left of the triangle.
Maximum And Minimum Brightness
We ended the color accuracy and picture quality testing by checking the maximum brightness, minimum brightness, and 120 candelas level on this panel. The results are below:
|100% Brightness||273.45 cd/m²|
|0% Brightness||60.70 cd/m²|
|30% Brightness||120 cd/m²|
Color accuracy and panel uniformity out of the way, it’s time to put the AOC Cu34G2 through its paces to see how it performs when gaming. We’ll be running a number of different games to see how it performs in a variety of different scenarios.
Before we started, the monitor did require a little tweaking to make it the best it can be. For example, overdrive is not set out of the box – meaning it won’t have the advertised 1ms response time. Furthermore, you’ll have to enter your GPU settings to make sure the refresh rate is set to its maximum.
That out of the way, I started by loading up a game that I thought this monitor would benefit from. A single-player story-based title where immersion is the main goal. I loaded Shadow Of The Tomb Raider and it really was an excellent experience. The large 34″ panel provided great immersion, allowing me to really focus on the game and nothing else. The colors felt extremely realistic and were definitely vibrant in the right places. With overdrive enabled, I did have a little look to see if any ghosting occurred but couldn’t see any on the first inspection.
We enabled the monitor’s adaptive sync feature (FreeSync) and games like COD and CS:GO did benefit quite a lot. Fortunately, these games aren’t overly intensive, meaning we were able to push well over the required 100 frames per second to get the most out of this panel. That being said, this obviously isn’t the best screen size for playing games of that ilk. You probably want to stick to something a little smaller and more tailored to the job – Alienware AW2721D, for example.
Enabling HDR in Windows was the next port of call – and to be honest, results were a little hit and miss. After some in-game setting tweaks in both SOTTR and Red Dead 2, we were able to achieve increased detail in both bright areas and shadowy backdrops. However, with a max brightness of around 300 nits, it’s hard to classify this as any other than SDR.
Overall, you’d have to say that the AOC CU34G2 isn’t the worst monitor I’ve used for gaming. Whilst it isn’t ideal for competitive multiplayers, it certainly excels in other game types – story-based and free world titles.
So, there you have it, our complete rundown of the AOC CU34G2 gaming monitor. The only thing we have yet to discuss is the price and whether we feel this monitor displays good value for money.
Well, for me, it all comes down to what you prioritize in a monitor. If you’re the kind of person who enjoys playing single-player titles and wants to up the level of immersion by opting for an ultrawide panel with excellent colors, the AOC CU34G2 is not a bad option by any means. It offers a stylish design and an immersive 1500R curve that is not to be overlooked. It also provides great colors right out of the box and good enough specs to have an enjoyable gaming session. That being said, if you like to play more competitive titles and priortize pure gaming performance over color and quality, chances are this monitor won’t be right for you.
With all that in mind, at around $450, it’s hard to argue with the great value this monitor provides. It really is one of the cheapest and best ultrawide monitors in its price range.
As far as ultrawide monitors go, the AOC CU34G2 is one of the cheapest options available right now. Don’t let that put you off though, with a 100Hz refresh rate, 1ms response time, and excellent (pre-calibrated) color accuracy right out of the box, this monitor still showcases fantastic value for money.