There is good news to share in the HDR section because finally there are a number of solid HDR monitor options that can be recommended. These will come at a premium—if you want true, real HDR performance, you’ll need to be willing to part with at least $800—but at the same time, true HDR monitors haven’t been very affordable, so we can finally recommend jumping into that ecosystem.
For now, there are three good options: Alienware AW3423DWThe LG C2 OLED 42 in. and Samsung Odyssey Neo G7. If we had to pick one as the best, we’d be torn between the Alienware or the LG C2, both of which are OLED screens. The Samsung Odyssey Neo G7 with its 1,196-area VA LCD panel would comfortably be in third place, motion clarity isn’t quite as good, the HDR experience is good but not as good as OLEDs, and while brightness is better, it’s a let down. With Samsung’s weaker color accuracy, poor viewing angles, and less solid HDR optimization. However, it is also the most affordable of the three at $800 which is very affordable.
The reason we keep recommending the Neo G7 is because it’s the most benchmark-friendly desktop monitor out there. If you don’t want the bulkiness of the LG C2 or the ultra-wide nature of the AW3423DW, the Neo G7 is a great option, provided you can put up with the 1000R curvature. It has the best text clarity and is probably the most suitable for normal desktop use. And while it may not be as good as OLEDs in some areas, it’s still a solid performer in many areas for an LCD.
The 42-inch LG C2 is big and very different from the 34-inch AW3423DW, so if there’s any hesitation about ultra-wide or larger screens, the choice is somehow pretty clear. But we think there’s plenty of reason to be on the fence here, after all, the C2 is actually quite a bit wider than the “ultrawide” AW3423DW and gives you a lot more headroom for more total screen real estate.
Here are the factors that separate: The AW3423DW is a monitor with a higher refresh rate of 175Hz and is better suited for PC use due to its DisplayPort connector, higher sustained brightness, and better burn-in policy. It has HDR performance similar to that of the LG C2, and at times it can get much brighter while clearly maintaining similar black levels. It has a good factory calibration, great HDR resolution, and decent ergonomics.
Leading the way with its feature set, the LG C2 is a complete TV with smart features and a much wider range of calibration options, including support for Dolby Vision, which the AW3423DW doesn’t. It’s bigger, has better screen coating, better sub-pixel mapping, and has better controller compatibility thanks to HDMI 2.1 support. It’s also a monitor with lower processing latency, and LG supports its products well with software updates, unlike the Alienware which doesn’t even have user upgradeable firmware.
When choosing any of these OLED screens, it’s hard to make a bad choice, there are no perfect choices and there’s a lot of room for improvement, but the picture quality they offer today’s gamers is fantastic. It’s also important to note that there’s a new variant of the AW3423DW called the AW3423DWF that’s 165Hz and omits the G-Sync module to save $200. We expect this to perform similarly to the model we tested, so it should be considered.