LG 38GL950G Review, The New Ultrawide Performance Champion

Published on January 26, 2020
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Welcome back to hadron box today I’m returning to the world of high-end monitors to look at the LG 38g l9 50 G this monitor has been a long time coming it was first announced at CES in 2019 and only just towards the end of last year did we actually see it go on sale but for a lot of people interested in flagship ultra wide displays this one has been on the radar for some time now and there’s a couple of reasons for that firstly it’s a new display format 37.5 inch panel size with the 38 40 by 1600 resolution this gives it roughly the same pixel density as 34 40 by 1440 displays we’ve had for a while now and about the same aspect ratio technically neither format is exactly 21 9 but yet close enough in practice the result is the same sort of experience as 34 40 by 1440 but from a larger screen about nine centimeters wider and about three centimeters taller secondly the 38 GL 950 G uses LG’s new nano IPS technology which we first saw deployed in the LG 27 GLA 50 this allows for a wide gamut experience as well as super fast response times LG claims one millisecond greater gray and while the 27 GL 850 doesn’t actually achieve this with usable settings in the real world it’s still the fastest IPS technology out there approaching what is possible from TN panels and we’re also getting a very high refresh rate here of 175 Hertz going above what has been delivered with 34 40 by 1440 monitors which currently top out at 144 Hertz unless you buy the very expensive Jacek ultimate HDR models this combination of features promises an immersive ultra wide gaming experience with excellent motion handling really the technology here is set up to push ultra wide monitors further than they’ve ever gone before at the time LG announced this monitor the specs here were fairly unique although CES 2020 has just come and we’ve seen a few other 3840 by 1600 monitors announced including some from LG with different HDR capabilities and different refresh rates who knows when those are coming but even still LG is positioning the 38 gl 950 as the best of the lot what about this monitors other features well this is AG sync monitor not G sync compatible full G sync with invidious module inside that does provide real-world benefits which I’ll talk about later but as we all know it also pushes up the price there is some limited HDR functionality here too with display HDR 400 certification but I wouldn’t be getting too excited about that speaking of the price this is an expensive monitor really expensive it’s currently priced at 1,800 US dollars or nearly 3,000 ozzie which is 800 us more than LG’s previous flagship the 34 GK 950 F it’s much more expensive than most ultra lights on the market it’s not quite up there with the $2,200 price tag of the Acer predator X 35 but this is definitely high-end territory but even if you’re not interested in such an expensive monitor the performance will go through shortly we’ll give you a good idea how this panel will perform in some cheaper options that are set to hit the market soon it’s a very interesting display in my opinion the design LG is used here is once again quite similar to their previous Ultra Gear monitors there’s reasonably slim bezels on the front a wide v-shaped stand with black and red plastic a cylindrical pillar that this time is made of metal and a black minimalist rear you’ll spot a few more red highlights around the place like with the top vented area it’s not the slimmest monitor ever designed it’s got a bit of chunk to it but that’s not unusual for a curved ultra wide the rear includes a feature LG is calling severe lighting 2.0 which is an RGB LED ring around the pillar and ports it’s not the first time I’ve seen RGB lighting on a monitor but I think this is the best implementation there’s many more RGB lights than we usually get and they’re very bright often the issue with RGB lighting on the back of monitors is they’re dim and can really only be seen from the rear which typically faces a wall well with this the lighting is easily bright enough to create an ambient effect around the display and that’s good news because with LG’s software you can sync up the RGB effects to what is shown on the screen for an added ambient effect this works best in a dark room but even in my well-lit office you can see the lighting to an extent normally I just passed off RGB on a monitor is complete rubbish but yeah this is surprisingly good I also really like this stand LG is used here it has decent height adjustability plus tilt support but most importantly it’s very sturdy you know this is a big wide screen and any wobbles can easily be magnified at the edges simply because of how big it is but know this stand is strong and withstands a bit of punishment with ease don’t screen display is controlled through a directional toggle on the bottom edge and it’s a good OSD – it’s quick to navigate and includes handy features like crosshairs and FPS counters however like the 27 GL 850 there’s no backlight strobing mode available for even more clarity improvements I’d have liked to see that here port selection is standard for monitors that use invidious chase sync module yet one HDMI port and one DisplayPort there’s USB hub here as well and let’s take a brief moment to talk about what you can and can’t do with these ports because there are some restrictions over DisplayPort you can use up to the 175 Hertz maximum refresh rate but even with 8-bit color you’ll be limited to chroma subsampling at the max refresh and resolution however 8-bit color is achievable at 160 Hertz and for 10-bit color you’ll need to drop down to 120 Hertz although of course you can still use HDR with 8-bit color if you prefer the higher refresh rates meanwhile the HDMI port is limited to just 85 Hertz so probably wouldn’t be using it without display stream compression or DSC which leaves us with chroma subsampling at the maximum refresh rate I think most people will prefer to use this monitor at 160 Hertz to get that crisper clear experience particularly on the desktop the difference between 175 and 160 hertz isn’t massive but it is a bit disappointing the maximum refresh mode is restricted in this way hope for your future revision will support DSC and alleviate this problem not that this does much for people forking out well over a $1000 price tag for this moment of right now a couple of other quick notes you may have heard invidious latest generation g-sync module also supports a basic adaptive sync ok free sync allowing you to use G sync monitors with AMD GPUs and still get a variable refresh rate this is one of those monitors so it does come with the newest variant of the cheese sync module just to repeat the variable refresh experience here is available with both Nvidia and AMD GPUs even though it uses the g-sync module so there’s no reason to be concerned that also there is a small cooling fan inside this monitor however in my experience it’s virtually silent and nothing to worry about it’s definitely quieter than some of the chasing ultimate monitors I’ve reviewed previously let’s look at response time performance now LG provides for overdrive modes with this monitor claiming a one millisecond greater great response only at the maximum faster mode however performance is still very strong even with overdrive off at 175 Hertz we saw a greater great average of 6.4 milliseconds with this setting which is very quick by modern IPS standards normally an IPS panel needs overdrive to achieve these sorts of response times and even then some monitors don’t get this quick normal is a step up again about one millisecond faster but it’s the fast mode where the LG 38 GL 950 G really flexes its muscles here we are getting an incredible 3.17 millisecond greater great average with levels of overshoot that are present but manageable 85 percent of transitions had no problems it’s only with a few close together transitions that overshoot exceeds 20% or so and in game play I found these issues virtually impossible to spot with these sorts of speeds a hundred percent of transitions fall within the reasonably tight 5.71 millisecond response window for 175 Hertz gaming which is perfect however as you might have noticed this isn’t technically a 1 millisecond monitor at this overdrive mode for that we need to push up to faster and yep same problem as the 27 GL 850 overshoot is incredibly high here resulting in obvious light trails to any moving objects on the screen the ground great average is 1.83 milliseconds with some transitions completing in less than one millisecond but that doesn’t matter much when overshoot is so high and while this mode is unusable and the monitor really isn’t one millisecond capable I don’t want to take away from what is otherwise a very fast IPS monitor experience usable speeds in the 3 millisecond range with the fast mode is still outstanding what’s even better here is how the 38 GL 950 G holds up across the refresh rate range at 160 Hertz the experience is essentially the same as 175 Hertz which is great used for those that don’t want to deal with chroma subsampling then at 144 Hertz overshoot gets a little worse but even then this is still a usable experience soon story at 120 Hertz which still delivers sub formula 2nd response times from there it actually gets better at 85 Hertz overshoot is reduced substantially with response time averages only creeping up to four point five six milliseconds then at sixty Hertz we see similar overshoot with slightly higher response times while this is a bit slower than what is possible at 175 Hertz had LG kept three millisecond type performance of 60 Hertz we likely would have seen considerable overshoot going on the trend that was being shown with those high refresh rates so the better option here was to drop down speeds a bit and five milliseconds is still quite quick for an IPS what we’re also seeing here is the result of variable overdrive which you get with all full g-sync monitors through in videos high-end chasing scaler you’ll notice that we didn’t have to change the overdrive setting at all to get excellent results at 175 Hertz through sixty Hertz we were able to comfortably keep it on fast without any issues and performance did noticeably change between 120 and 85 Hertz to maintain acceptable overshoot levels which is what variable overdrive does it modifies the level of overdrive depending on the refresh rate now variable overdrive is possible on non g-sync displays through traditional scalars but it’s rarely implemented so one of the few ways to get it is with full gear sync monitors some panels need this tech to deliver the best performance at all refresh rates and it seems like this is one of those cases some panels don’t as well but this is a tangible benefit to having Qi sync with this display whether this is worth the price premium depends on of course how response time sensitive you are let’s look at some comparison charts and yet the 38 GL 950 G looks very impressive here it doesn’t have the absolute fastest response times I’ve tested but it sits among 10 monitors like the speedy gigabyte or SKT 25 F and the HP omen X 27 from IPS monitor with significantly better colors and viewing angles that’s pretty unprecedented the performance here is simply outstanding there are some other noteworthy comparison see overdrive is better tweaked with the 38 GL 950 G so it’s faster than the 27 GL 850 I think both panels perform similarly overall when you factor in overshoot as well but the 38 GL 950 G is much closer to its limits and has variable overdrive as well compared to other ultra wide monitors the newest competitor is the ASA X 35 although it’s slower and being a VI panel it has issues with dark level smearing and overshoot to a certain extent you can see improvements over LG’s previous generation monitor here to the 34 TK 950 F is good with the 5.1 for millisecond gray –great average but LG has shaved off nearly 2 milliseconds here which is significant and allows for a clearer image in conjunction with it’s faster afresh rate budget ultra wires offer more like a 7 to 8 millisecond response time and aren’t in the same performance class again we see the benefits of IPS tech with the dark level average performance previously you saw the X 35 come close to the 38 G or 950 gene overall averages well with dark levels the X 35 falls down the ladder due to the inherent limitations of VA technology response time and compliance is perfect even at its high 175 Hertz refresh rate a feat many monitors could only dream of the downside here our error rates which is where the differences between LG’s nano IPs and most TNS come to the forefront the LG 38 GL 950 G is being run at its limits hence higher error rates whereas most three millisecond tiens I’ve tested hit that sort of speed with relative ease the 38 GL 950 G is hugely impressive but nano IPS panels aren’t quite at the level of TNS yet again you see this with that inverse ghosting chart the fastest turns out there with 0.5 millisecond class response times hit very quick responses with no overshoot issues like the gigabyte or SK the 25 F for example at 60 Hertz the 30 Hz or 950 G is – a strong performer it is beaten by the 27 GL 850 which also maintains strong performance without needing to change its overdrive setting but that’s a different nano IPS panel input lag is great with processing lag below one millisecond a fast refresh rate and quick response times all combining to deliver end-to-end lag of under seven milliseconds which is elite level performance nothing at all to be concerned about here power consumption while that’s higher than 34 inch equivalents which is to be expected given the larger panel size here and that bright RGB light on the back 62 what’s just a reasonable though but perhaps not the most efficient on this list another area where the third gl9 50g performs really well is in color performance LG lists this panel is being factory calibrated and that’s definitely true based on my testing out-of-the-box CCT performance is strong with a near perfect temperature and gamma curve allowing for a 1.09 delta average from the factory which is much better than most monitors when measuring against srgb it does suffer from not shipping with an sRGB clamp by default although it does have an sRGB mode that I’ll talk about in a moment so if you don’t enable the srgb mode you will get oversaturated colors and Delta ease in the 2.0 to 3.0 range which is still pretty good for a game you monitor but not perfect what about the srgb mode then well it’s pretty good the top-end of greyscale is tinted a bit too blue at least with my review unit and unfortunately you can’t correct that in the OSD as the color temperature setting is grayed out a delta a of 1.76 is still very good but ideally the srgb clamp this mode provides would also be accessible in a different mode that allows color temperature tweaking just to correct any slight issues with the unit from the factory did I say srgb clamp well yes I did and that’s what the srgb mode provides meaning sub 2.0 deltas are possible if you want srgb accuracy out-of-the-box I’d recommend using this mode despite some issues with color temperature with all things considered it’s the best mode to use for displaying srgb content d65 p3 performance is also strong out of the box grayscale performance is similar to what we’ve just been discussing with saturation and color checker Delta is also below 2.0 this is the sort of factory calibration I like to see we basically have two modes here that provide decent srgb and decent p-3 performance without the need for tweaks from here we can do a full calibration using display account which sees all the remaining issues tightened up completely srgb deltas are around that 0.5 mark and similar with p3 however we aren’t quite getting full p3 coverage we’re still limited to around 95% with this panel a very good result among consumer IPS monitors but this does lead to some slight clipping right at the top and when displaying wide gamut content if you’re a perfectionist this may be a concern otherwise this is a great result from a gaming focused monitor no issues with panel brightness see the 38 GL 950 G delivers over 400 nits when calibrated which is very bright viewing angles are excellent not quite the best IPS viewing angles of monitors I’ve used but significantly better than Tian and many VA offerings IPS glow is minimal with my review unit – a lot of people get concerned when buying IPS monitors that they’ll get terrible glow but most current gen panels I’ve seen don’t suffer from severe glow problems if you’ve seen any other review coverage of nano IPS displays you’ll probably know that contrast ratios and black levels are a major problem unfortunately this is true of the 30 Hz or 950 G as well I measured a contrast ratio of 879 to one after calibration which admittedly is a bit better than my 27 GLA 50 unit however it’s still not great staying within the realms of TN panels rather than pushing up to the 1001 and above that we expect from the best IPS monitors what does this mean in practice well if you game under artificial lights or during the day it’s unlikely you’ll notice any issues with contrast ratio compared to other types of monitors this is because ambient light interferes with observed black levels to an extent it’s only in darker viewing environments where the 38g or 950 G falls behind other monitors especially v8 models while this is a poor result for nano IPS panels I think it’s important to note that even though in contrast is similar to tiens the 38 GL 950 G + 27 GRA 50 have a significant advantage over T ends in viewing angles and color performance it seems that a sacrifice to improve response times near TN levels has been contrast which is an area I’d rather see hit than viewing angles to be honest and even then the 38 GL 952 is only 8% behind the 34 GK 950 F in terms of contrast and 15% behind at the pic 0px 7 prime so it’s not as bad as it might seem uniformity is good but not perfect the center section of this display is strong but my unit did have a slight vignette effect along the top and bottom edges which is noticeable during regular usage I think for an $1,800 display vignetting is not a good result but at the same time it’s not a major issue and it’s definitely not noticeable while gaming finally we get to HDR performance I’m not gonna dive into this much because the 38 GL 950 G lacks local dimming of any kind so it realistically cannot display single frame contrast ratios above 1000 to 1 this means the actual dynamic range of this monitor is standard not high like you need for high dynamic range so we aren’t getting a true HDR experience brightness also falls behind required targets hitting just 416 it’s in its HDR mode I will say that HJ inputs support is actually good so the monitor doesn’t look like trash when you enable the HDR mode in Windows but the actual picture quality isn’t in the same league as true HDR displays that said you might find the HDR mode useful for wide gamut work is just not real HDR well that’s a lot of testing hopefully for anyone waiting for an in-depth review of this monitor all your questions have been answered but if you saw a reviews of the 27 GLA 50 you are already part of the way to uncovering how the 38 GL 950 G performs given it uses the same sort of nano IPS panel technology outside of HDR gaming this is clearly the best ultrawide monitor on the market right now it essentially takes every feature we got with previous flagship ultra wide displays and takes it up a notch the resolution and panel size is physically bigger if only slightly which i think is really good I love the size and the bump up from thirty four forty by fourteen forty two thirty eight forty by sixteen hundred is handy it’s more immersive in my opinion for gaming and better for split-screen productivity work the refresh rate is higher previous models topped out at 144 Hertz now we’re getting up to 175 Hertz although with chroma subsampling that’s realistically 160 Hertz for full quality viewing the chroma subsampling issue is disappointing to an extent but I think it’s forgivable when it’s still delivering a high refresh rate at a large resolution the bump may not be large for those that already have a 144 Hertz ultra wide but if you’re coming from a popular 100 or 120 Hertz monitor like the ace of Predator X 34 this is a significant improvement in my opinion and as a longtime x34 user myself most impressive of all other response times which are excellent this is the first time I can say an IPS monitor delivers response times equivalent to TN monitors it’s a really quick display a small amount of overshoot with a 38 G online 4 VG still gives the best tier monitors and edge in terms of overall performance but the clarity in motion with this monitor is equivalent to a TN at the same refresh rate it’s a big upgrade over previous IPS panels had five millisecond response times and given the other benefits you get from IPS this is a next-generation viewing experience some people will know that criticizes monitors inability to actually hit a one millisecond greater great average with a usable overdrive mode but this is no different to TN panels I’m yet to review a TN monitor that hits one millisecond on average either and at this point I’ve looked at several that claim 0.5 millisecond response times yes I’ve seen one millisecond and 0.5 millisecond minimum response times but not on average the point is the 38g online 50 G’s best usable overdrive mode is still mighty impressive and comparable to optimized tiens the 38 GL 950 G also delivers in many other ways variable overdrive keeps performance rock-solid across the entire refresh rate range even though it has a g-sync module it’s free sync compatible and works with AMD GPUs input latency is very low LG’s factory calibrating these panels and the results are very good both for srgb in the srgb mode and for wide gamut usage did I mention this is a wide gamut panel that has 95% p3 coverage yeah you get that too and high brightness levels and excellent viewing angles and a great design with functionally useful RGB lighting while in general this is an excellent monitor it’s also not perfect so let’s acknowledge some of its flaws the biggest is the contrast ratio which is unimpressive against other IPS and especially VA monitors whether this is an issue for you will depend on how you view your monitor with those that game in the dark the most affected chroma subsampling at 175 Hertz is another issue as is the complete lack of true HDR functionality normally I can forgive a bit of slackness on the HDR front when the monitor is fine for SDR gaming but given the high price tag of the 38 GL 950 G having proper HDR functionality is almost a requirement in my opinion and this brings me to the final consideration here which is the price tag eighteen hundred US dollars is a huge amount of money to spend on a monitor admittedly this is a really really good monitor but I just think this price tag is a bit too high especially with a number of 3840 by 1600 monitors with 160 hertz refresh rates set to hit the market soon including LG’s own 38 GM 950 not that we have pricing on that monitor I just expected to be cheaper and it sounds like it could offer a similar experience my opinion here also comes from looking at previous flagship ultra wide pricing like the Acer predator X 34 and the LG 34 GK 950 F those have typically been around 1000 to 1200 dollars at launch yes that’s still expensive but it’s not $1,800 expensive is the 38 GL 950 G $600 better than the 34 GK 950 F or $800 going on current pricing this is a fantastic monitor but with that difference in price I’m not sure it’s good enough without real HDR capabilities that said pricing on LG monitors do change often they’re a company that is known to discount products in the months after launch so it wouldn’t surprise me if this is selling around $1500 mid year there’s probably still a bit pricey but it’s easier to justify for one of the best displays on the market that’s it for this one hope you all enjoyed this review of the LG 38g l9 50 G I think I’ve said that product name a bit too many times in this one as always you can subscribe for more monitor coverage we’re going to be doing some more roundups and buying guides and all that sort of things in the coming weeks so you probably want to check out those when we put them up on the channel you can also support our monitor testing directly through our patreon page we do really appreciate everyone that supports us through there you can download all the ICC profiles we correct the monitors through there and also we definitely use some of that money that we get from patreon to buy monitors that we’ve tested on the channel so it really does help out and yeah we also have the merch 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