Should you find yourself looking around on the internet at cool gaming setups, or ways to improve your productivity, doubtless you’ll have come across people extolling the virtues of ultrawide monitors.
Like most of us you then popped off to the website of your choice and saw how much a good one was, and decided that your current display was satisfactory. However, just because most of them have huge price tickets doesn’t mean that they all have to. The latest addition to the ever-growing Cooler Master product range is the GM34-CWQ ARGB. A 24 inch 21:9 Ultrawide curved monitor with a VA panel and the popular 3440×1440 resolution.
Should you run a regular 16:9 1440P monitor that’s an extra 1.2 million pixels of room for your productivity, or even a great place to dock a chat window for streaming. However, if you’re a dedicated gamer the extra width and FOV you get from a 21:9 display in a suitably compatible game can make the difference in a situation where skill is equal.
With a choice of inputs, a serious curve and a lot of lighting from the base, the Cooler Master GM34-CWQ has a lot to offer at a price that isn’t much more than a regular large VA-equipped panel. Additionally it supports both GSYNC and FreeSync Premium, and has low blue light options for those of you who are sensitive. Let’s take a look.
When you’re used to a 16:9 monitor, no matter how large it is, the extra width of an ultrawide display is always a surprise. The primary thing you notice with the GM34-CWQ though is the curve, which at 1500R is on the seriously curvy side of the market. Not quite as bad as the Samsung G9 Odyssey, but still very deep.
When the stand is such a big part of the visuals and feature set of the new Cooler Master panel, it has to be adjustable enough that you’re not immediately seeking to replace it with a more ergonomic offering, and thankfully the GM34-CWQ has enough height adjustment to be positioned exactly where you need it. You don’t want to sit hunched over for any length of time after all.
Height isn’t the only important element in a stand, tilting is just as key to ensuring you are sitting comfortably during those marathon sessions. Because we all take a 15 minute break every hour don’t we? Ha.
On the left hand side we find two USB ports to save you having to fumble about behind your case should you have items you only use occasionally. It’s perfect for TrackIR or webcams.
Underneath you find the two HDMI 2.0 inputs alongside the DisplayPort. There is also the USB Type B connector to power the two side ports, and a Type-C port if the need arises. You can also see how thick the frame of the GM34 is too.
The OSD is about as comprehensive as we’ve seen, with dozens of profiles and options available. Like most monitors around this price point the Cooler Master is controlled with a joystick nipple mounted on the back right of the chassis that doubles up as the power button.
Stand Base Lighting
With the Cooler Master logo being a hexagonal lozenge, it is a nice touch that the base of the GM34-CWQ ARGB echoes their branding. It also provides a nice place to put your Stream Deck or similarly sized peripheral. Around the edge of the base is a configurable ARGB lighting setup so you can tune the glow on your desk to whatever colour and pattern you desire.
There are primarily two different types of panel available, with VA usually providing the fastest refresh rates and generally the more affordable monitors, whilst IPS is better for colour reproduction and viewing angles. Ultrawide monitors are already very expensive so it is no great surprise to see that Cooler Master have utilised the VA panel for their GM34-CWQ.
In fact that choice isn’t the only one that Cooler Master have made, with the panel being only an 8 bit model too. That gives you 256 different shades of each red, green and blue, leading to 16 million colours. 10 bit panels by contrast have 1024 versions of each colour and thus over a billion possible colours displayed. It might seem that 16 million colours are plenty but with the fidelity of modern games, or the colour accuracy required from creative tasks, you quickly notice the more stepped colour graduation and a slightly muted display. Cooler Master are by no means at all the only panel that is 8 bit, we’re just pointing out that it’s one of the ways in which they have managed to bring you a huge display at a very affordable price point. The panel is advertised as having the Quantum Dot technology, but we have to say that we didn’t really notice any difference between this feature and other panels we have tested without it.
Out of the box then the Cooler Master GM-34 CWQ ARGB requires more calibration than most we’ve reviewed. Whether that is because we often get review samples that might have been tweaked before reaching our office and the Cooler Master was a retail example, or if it just needs a little more manual adjustment to obtain an image we’re happy with is tough to know. Naturally as we create all our content we run 10 bit panels, so it might have just been us trying to balance the image to one we’re more accustomed to. Just be aware that you might need to make full use of the OSD to fine tune the display to your room and desires.
Thankfully the OSD is exceptionally capable with many default profiles available to tune and a whole raft of options within each to ensure you can quickly get up and running. Once you do the extra width is extremely handy in creative applications. It might only be an extra million pixels over a 1440P 16:9 display, but that makes a massive difference when editing videos or images. Any chance to have more tools open will speed up your workflow and it is something we enjoy very much.
Let’s not kid ourselves though, most people are buying an ultrawide monitor for gaming and, assuming your game supports ultrawide resolutions, having all that extra girth is something that brings massive benefits. FPS games give you a broader view of the battlefield and thus a chance to see your enemies before they spot you. Driving games are much more immersive with close racing made significantly easier, and if you like grand strategy games then it is significantly easier to keep an eye on all your owned territories. Whilst not every game is designed for 21:9 resolutions, those that are look so glorious that you immediately feel justified in your purchase.
We do find the 1500R curve to be slightly too much. The middle of your screen has a slight pincushion effect which is just an optical illusion but difficult to ignore. The moment you switch from this back to a non-curved display everything looks like it has barrel distortion. If you’re unaware, the lower the number the more curved the display is. 1500R is the second deepest curve we know of. However, if you are more familiar with curved displays, or do solely game, then it quickly becomes a non-issue. If you use your rig for both gaming and creation, or even primarily creative endeavours, then perhaps a less extreme curve would be better.
If you want to stretch both your eyes and your usable desktop space then the Cooler Master GM34-CWQ ARGB is a great way to get on board the ultrawide train without busting the bank. Naturally some areas are compromised to achieve that affordable pricing, but if you are a heavy gamer with some time spent calibrating it you will adore all that extra field of view, and thus it wins our OC3D Gamers Choice Award.