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Samsung CRG9 Review

Samsung CRG9 Review

Samsung CRG9 02The Samsung CRG9 is a 49in widescreen monitor with a 32:9 aspect ratio and a 5,120 x 1,440 resolution. It’s curved, and is designed for gaming and productivity – and it also has HDR 1000 compatibility, AMD FreeSync 2 and QLED screen technology. It’s not cheap, though, with a price of $1,589 in the USA and £1,130 in the UK. That’s a lot for anyone to spend, and it’s more expensive than its key rival – the Asus ROG Strix XG49VQ costs $899 or £950. Can the Samsung win us over? Read our Samsung CRG9 review to find out!

Samsung CRG9 Review – Size and Resolution

The CRG9 has a native resolution of 5,120 x 1,440 stretched across its 32:9 screen, and it includes HDR, FreeSync 2 and 10-bit colour.

The 49in size and 32:9 aspect ratio matches the Asus, and it makes the Samsung and Asus two of the largest consumer screens available.

It’s immediately impressive, but this form factor has its pros and cons. The width and curve improve immersion, particularly in racing, FPS and adventure games. It’s good for productivity, especially if you work with wider applications or lots of windows. The Samsung’s curve is 1800R – the same as rivals and normal in the market.

However, you’ll still get black bars down the side if you watch movies, and certain game UI elements may not work well. They may not render properly, or vanish to the extreme corners of the screen. It’s also worth bearing in mind that screens of this size may be banned from some gaming competitions because they can give players an unfair advantage.

Samsung CRG9 14There’s also the fact that some gamers and workers may just need more vertical space. The Samsung is better than the Asus, because it has 1,440 vertical pixels rather than 1,080, but it’s still not as versatile as 4K’s 2,160 vertical pixels.

The CRG9’s full resolution of 5,120 x 1,440 goes a step further than the Asus, which has a resolution of 3,840 x 1,080.

This resolution, like the screen’s aspect ratio, has advantages and disadvantages. The huge pixel count means that this screen is crisp – which is good for gaming, where more detail can be rendered, and work, where more windows and applications can be displayed.

Samsung’s panel has a density level of 109ppi. That’s better than the Asus, obviously, and it means that pixels are hard to pick out, even up close. However, it’s not as good as a typical 4K screen: a 32in 4K panel has a density of 138ppi, and even a 40in 4K screen sits at 110ppi. So, while Samsung is decent in this regard, you’ll still want a 4K panel if you want maximum sharpness.

The Samsung’s resolution does have downsides. The key one concerns the hardware in your rig: you’ll need a powerful GPU to run games smoothly. The CRG9 uses 7.3 million pixels, which is less than 1 million behind a 4K screen – and more than the 4.1 million on the Asus.

And, even if you have a capable GPU now, you’ll have to keep upgrading if you want to run tomorrow’s top games. This is not a unique issue on the Samsung, but having high-resolution panels for gaming is expensive.

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Key Features

Samsung CRG9 06One of the CRG9’s biggest advantages is its implementation of HDR, which adheres to the VESA DisplayHDR 1000 protocol. Our Samsung CRG9 review shows just how impressive this is.

It’s a great standard to aim for – DisplayHDR 1000 requires a screen to serve up a 1,000cd/m2 peak brightness, 10-bit colour support and 90% DCI-P3 coverage.

The Samsung’s HDR support easily outstrips its rival. The Asus only supports VESA DisplayHDR 400, which is the entry-level protocol. It’s so low-end that there’s virtually no improvement in HDR content – it may as well not be installed.

Samsung’s HDR specification works well. When viewing HDR content on this screen there are obvious improvements to contrast, depth and subtlety across the board – it makes a significant, noticeable impact.

If you’re interested in a 49in monitor with HDR then the Samsung is the only option – the Asus can’t compete.

The Samsung also has AMD FreeSync 2. The move to FreeSync 2 removes the need for a minimum framerate, and it now works with HDR and wider colour gamuts. And, thanks to driver updates, it works on both AMD and Nvidia graphics cards.

Samsung CRG9 10Samsung’s screen uses FreeSync 2 with a peak refresh rate of 120Hz. It’s a good refresh rate that will deliver smooth gaming, but it’s not as high as the Asus, which peaks at 144Hz.

There are other issues worth considering regarding the CRG9’s implementation of FreeSync 2. For starters, you’re going to need a beefy graphics card to run the Samsung at a 100fps+ framerate. And it’s no surprise that the Asus has a higher refresh rate – it also has a lower resolution, so it’s easier to achieve 144fps on that panel.

If you want the extra speed and smoothness that its 144Hz specification provides, the lesser resolution is a price worth paying – and more graphics cards will be able to run it.

If you want to use the Samsung with HDR and 10-bit colour then you can’t run FreeSync at 120Hz – you’re restricted to 100Hz. Running at 120Hz reduces the colour output to 8-bit. Most gaming and work situations won’t be affected by dropping down from 10-bit to 8-bit, but this is worth remembering for some users.

These compromises are caused by DisplayPort 1.4 – there’s just not enough bandwidth to support anything more. DisplayPort 2.0 is still too new for this screen, but it may be included in future models.

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Other Specifications

Samsung CRG9 09Underneath the headline features is a VA screen that uses Quantum Dot technology. Samsung claims 100% support for sRGB, 92% support for Adobe RGB and 95% for DCI-P3. The former is great for gaming, and the latter is impressive for HDR. Those figures are slightly behind what Asus claims.

The Samsung has a 4ms response time. That’s the same as the Asus. It’s fine for mainstream gaming, with no ghosting. However, keen competition players will still prefer a non-widescreen panel with a 1ms response time.

Elsewhere, several of Samsung’s peripheral features are borne from balance and compromise. While this screen’s HDR functionality is facilitated by up to a dozen vertical dimming zones, this screen is edge-lit – it doesn’t have full-array local-dimming. So, while this is a better state of affairs than the Asus and won’t hinder HDR gaming, it won’t match top-tier HDR TVs.

Samsung’s picture-by-picture mode is fine – useful for work, especially if you want to replicate two screens, or if you need to view two systems. It’s possible to have one screen at 21:9 in this mode, and to divide the screen down the middle and use half of it for a console.

In this mode, HDR and FreeSync aren’t available and the panel peaks at 100Hz. That may prove irritating if people want to use the CRG9 for streaming or gaming – because they won’t be able to get the best experience possible on the half of the monitor they’re using for gameplay. That’s not just unique to the CRG9, though – the Asus also has these limitations.

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Setup & Design

The CRG9 looks good: it has impressively slim bezels and a smart metallic stand. It’s subtle enough to fade into the background during gameplay, and smart enough to sit comfortably in an office.

However, gamers may want something more extravagant. The Asus does a better job here – it’s got a larger, more dramatic base.

The CRG9 has 120mm of height adjustment, -2 to 15 degrees of tilt, and -15 to 15 degrees of swivel. It’s also compatible with 100mm VESA mounts. The rear of the stand can be removed to allow for very neat cable management. There’s also a headphone hook.

That’s solid, but the Asus has more tilt and swivel. The Asus also includes speakers, which the Samsung doesn’t.

The Samsung has two DisplayPort 1.4 connections and one HDMI 2.0 port. That’s better than the Asus, which only used DisplayPort 1.2.

Samsung’s screen includes two USB 3.0 ports and two USB 2.0 ports. That’s reasonable, but it’s a little disappointing that the better transfer speeds of USB 3.1 Gen 2 are not included. There’s also no USB Type-C.

There’s one final point to make here: the CRG9 is a little bit wobbly. That’s not unusual with 49in screens, and the Asus also moves if it’s touched. But it should be noted that the Asus is a little sturdier. The Asus is also a little easier to build – it uses tool-free screws.

The Samsung’s on-screen display is excellent. It looks better than the Asus menu – it’s clearer, sharper and more futuristic.

Along the top is a row that highlights key options, like HDR, refresh rate and response time. This bolder, condensed menu is also used when the three dedicated mode buttons are used. These can be fully customised, so it’s easy to switch between modes for different games.

The main menu organises things well, with separate sections for game options, picture settings and system tools. Handily, there are self-diagnosis and calibration sections.

The menu is navigated by a joystick beneath the bottom bezel. Pushing the joystick in different directions opens volume, brightness and contrast controls.

Pressing the joystick opens another menu with picture-by-picture and source sections alongside links to the full menu and an option to turn the screen off.

Enjoyed the CHead here for the latest information on the status of ray-tracing on the entire Nvidia range of GPUs!

Performance

The CRG9 review showed that this screen was immediately impressive. Its Delta E, out of the box, sat at 2.08. That’s easily below the 3.0 point where eyes will tell the difference. It’s marginally better than the 2.16 of the Asus.

The colour temperature is good, too: the CRG9’s result of 6,366K is a tiny bit warm, but it’s not far enough away from 6,500K to prove noticeable – and closer to that figure than the Asus, which hit 6,825K. The Samsung also produced a solid Gamma average of 2.12 in these tests.

The CRG9 impresses with initial contrast. Its brightness level of 385cd/m2 is ample for normal gaming and media work – too high for many people, in fact. It’s paired with a superb black level of 0.14cd/m2, which creates a fantastic contrast ratio of 2,750:1. Measured contrast can quite easily go higher than this level, too, depending on the equipment that’s being used to conduct tests – so this 2,750:1 result is very much a minimum figure.

Happily, I was able to reduce the brightness to a more manageable 150cd/m2 and the contrast and colour figures remained just as good. And, if you want more brightness, I measured the panel easily hitting 535cd/m2 – and that was before HDR content and modes were activated.

This are great figures, but the Asus has better contrast. It managed a huge 4,536:1 thanks to better initial brightness figures and a stonking black point of 0.11cd/m2. The CRG9 only manages to match and beat that figure in HDR modes.

Still, there’s enough contrast on the Samsung for any game, film or HDR scenario – it’s bright, punchy and deep enough to make games and films look excellent, with plenty of vibrancy and subtlety.

Samsung has paired those great initial figures with reasonable gamut levels. The CRG9 returned an sRGB gamut coverage of 99.7%, and it hit 89.5% in the DCI-P3 test. The former figure matches the Asus, while the latter is nearly 10% better than the Asus.

The Samsung’s DCI-P3 figure is slightly below Samsung’s quoted 90% coverage level and slightly below DisplayHDR 1000’s 90% demand – but it’s still high enough to handle HDR content without issue.

As usual, the CRG9 has numerous alternative screen modes. The best is the sRGB option: here the screen’s colour temperature and average Delta E results improved to 6,470K and 1.9, which are both superb. Contrast remained excellent.

The FPS mode ramps the colour temperature up to 7,051K and sees the Delta E average and maximums decline to 3.73 and 8.14 and the gamma decline to 1.73. This mode is very bright and its cooler colour temperature leaves images looking a little grittier, but it’s not transformative.

The RPG mode barely deviates from the Samsung’s best results, but makes the Delta E average and maximum decline to 2.29 and 5.11. The RTS mode is the worst of both worlds: like the FPS option it makes colour temperature worse, and like the RTS setting it hampers Delta E. The MOBA/AOS mode is no better.

The Samsung is an excellent performer when it comes to HDR. The DisplayHDR protocol demands a consistent brightness level of 600cd/m2 and a peak of 1,000cd/m2, and this screen can manage that when using HDR modes: it got way beyond 600cd/m2 in full screen white tests while rarely dipping to 592cd/m2, and it managed to hit burst levels at 1,000cd/m2 – although in some areas it did occasionally dip to 958cd/m2. In some tests the Samsung’s black level dipped to a stunning 0.0034cd/m2.

These results are miles beyond the Asus. HDR content looks great on this screen. t has the improved contrast, lighting and depth that HDR should deliver. There’s just no competition in this department.

The CRG9’s uniformity levels are good. However, they’re not always perfect. Around most of the screen the backlight strength only deviated by around 5%, with a peak of 13% along the top edge. Delta E remained consistent except in the top-left corner.

The Asus lost between 17% and 25% of its backlight strength, and its Delta E diverged more than the CRG9.

The screen in this CRG9 review is better than the Asus, and its small issues didn’t cause real-world problems. We only saw backlight bleed and discoloration on static dark or light screens – they just won’t be visible when gaming or working.

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Samsung CRG9 Review – Conclusion

The Samsung CRG9 review proves that this monitor is comfortably better than the Asus – although its $1,589 and £1,130 prices also mean it’s more expensive than its key rival, which now costs $899 or £950.

The feature set is superb, and more well-rounded and inclusive than the Asus. The resolution is huge, the FreeSync compatibility is good, and the HDR options are far better. It makes for a supreme gaming experience – while the Asus has a slightly higher refresh rate, that won’t make a big difference, but the Asus’ lesser resolution and poorer HDR will have a larger impact and see it fall behind the Samsung in key departments.

The CRG9 has better features than its rival. It pairs that with solid physical design, good adjustment options and an excellent OSD.

The CRG9 has also got excellent image quality. Its colours are accurate, contrast and black points are fantastic, and it has good gamut handling.

However, there are still compromises when it comes to running different screen modes. The ports could be a little better, uniformity still has room for improvement, and not every gamut is nailed.

We’re nit-picking, though. The Samsung CRG9 is better than the Asus in almost every area, with more features, better image quality and superior HDR.

This screen is only worth buying if you have a huge budget and a powerful PC – and if you’re actually going to make use of the CRG9’s features. But, if you do tick those boxes, our Samsung CRG9 review shows that this is the best large widescreen on the market.

The machine in our Samsung CRG9 review costs £1,130 in the UK and $1,589 in the US. Discuss our Samsung CRG9 review on our Facebook and Twitter pages. And, if you need some more inspiration after reading our Samsung CRG9 review, check out our guide to our favourite laptops or go deep with our ultimate guide to 4K monitors – covering the technology, the terms and our top recommendations!

The Good

  • Fantastic screen quality
  • Class-leading HDR ability
  • Decent physical design
  • High resolution and huge width
  • Fast, well-designed OSD

The Bad

  • 32:9 isn’t always suitable
  • Lots of graphics cards will struggle
  • No speakers
  • Only a 120Hz refresh rate

The Specs

Panel Technology: VA
Native Resolution: 5,120 x 1,440
Diagonal: 49in
Syncing: 120Hz AMD FreeSync 2
Display Inputs: 2 x HDMI 2.0, 1 x DisplayPort 1.4
Speakers: n/a
Ports: 2 x USB 3.0, 2 x USB 2.0, 1 x audio
HDR: VESA DisplayHDR 1000
Weight: 11.6kg
Warranty: 1yr RTB

 

 

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Samsung CRG9

About Author

Mike Jennings

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