The box that something comes in can do a lot to set your expectations. Maybe a game’s case features a beautiful piece of artwork, or perhaps your new gadget comes in a bespoke package that’s jaw-droppingly luxurious. Maybe energy drinks come tumbling out of it when you open it up. In the case of the Samsung CRG9, it was the size. This is one big box – and in it? One gigantic monitor.
The Samsung CRG9 is a 49”, ultra-wide, curved Dual Quad HD monitor, and its prodigious size sets it apart from most monitor solutions out there. It arrives split into its constituent parts; screen, plastic casings and a weighty metal stand, but putting it together is a cinch, with four fixing screws ensuring that once the stand and that gargantuan screen are attached, they’re not easily un-attaching.
That’s a good thing, because the CRG9 is a serious piece of kit. Besides weighing in at 14.6kg, its RRP is £1100, more than a decent PC build and a great deal more than every average monitor on the market. The thing is, once you’ve hooked it up, you’ll realise this is as far away from being an average monitor as humanly possible.
Ultra-wide is one of the newer frontiers in PC gaming, but with a resolution of 5120×1440 the CRG9’s screen breaks into Super Ultra-Wide territory. Its 32:9 ratio is basically equivalent to two 27” monitors side by side. My poor 27” Predator monitor looked downright pathetic next to it, and wallowed for a fortnight next to my desk while the CRG9 took all the space humanly possible. It’s so big, in fact that it hung off both sides.
Despite its size though it’s somehow quite understated in its design. The metallic, brushed silver stand looks much like any number of Samsung’s centrally located TV stands, and the black gloss plastic bezel around the curved screen is slim enough as to be barely noticeable.
Samsung have packed a ton of features into the CRG9’s screen, and it all starts with having chosen a VA panel. Colour reproduction is excellent, and no matter what content you’re viewing it’s going to dazzle. Besides that there’s Freesync 2, the variable refresh rate going up to 120hz, and a 4m response time makes it a great option for competitive gamers – assuming you’ve got the necessary hardware to support it.
Gaming in Super Ultra-Wide is a revelation. Opting for Final Fantasy XV as my test bed, I was amazed by just how much more immersive the game became. Thanks to that curved screen it’s not far off playing something in VR, with the image wrapping around you, filling your vision. Surprisingly the jump didn’t tank my PC’s performance either, with my GeForce GTX 1070 and still up to the task of hitting 30fps despite having double the screen real estate to fill.
Support for the format hasn’t quite hit widespread adoption, so it’s up to you to find out what games in your library are going to work with it. For those that haven’t got 5120×1440 baked in, you can probably lean on your modding friends to sort you out. I was deeply disappointed at first to discover Monster Hunter World only went as far as basic 21:9 Ultra-Wide, but with a little bit of tinkering I can fight a Rathalos that’s bigger than my desk.
Probably the most noticeable issue when using the CRG9 – beyond having to scroll a long way with your mouse – is thanks to its form of local dimming. This system kicks in when using HDR, but it is wholly dependent on the type of content you’re using as to whether you’re going to notice it.
It’s most apparent when white text is displayed against a black background, as is often the case on opening text or credits in games or film. Thanks to the low number of edge-lit dimming zones on the CRG9, that background won’t be black, it’ll be an ugly grey wash as the screen tries to display the text clearly while maintaining the contrast between light and dark. It’s something you can definitely live with, but to be honest turning off the HDR function results in an overall better experience. It’s just a shame to have to make any concessions when you’re spending as much as this.
There’s more to the CRG9 than just experiencing the widest image in gaming, and as a productivity workstation that expansive screen is fantastic for having multiple windows or sources open. Running the wages for my business, or fitting holiday and pension data into multiple spreadsheet windows became a breeze. My eight-year-old son merrily put together his school PowerPoint presentation – while making me feel like Grandfather Time in the process – with reference material cosied up alongside the central PowerPoint window.
You can also split the screen in half and display two separate sources. There’s two DisplayPort inputs and a single HDMI to choose from, allowing you, for instance, to run a PS4 and your PC side by side, which might interest streamers or the eternally distracted. Or you could be the sort of idiot I am and stick a Wii U in there to play Monster Hunter World and Monster Hunter 3 at the same time. The downside to using it is that Freesync is disabled – alongside HDR – but it’s still a great option for those looking for a specific usage type.