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MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RF Review

Gaming laptops have long been associated with big, hulking machines which can weigh as much as a full-sized desktop and come dressed up in flashing lights. For the longest time, laptop companies have stuck to this formula since that was the perception of what ‘hardcore gamers’ want. While this is true to an extent, there are many who would prefer a more subtle look – something that can be carried to a business meeting, while still being able to handle a few rounds of Doom after work.

Razer has long been an advocate of slim and light gaming laptops with its Blade series, and it seems as though others are warming up to the idea as well. MSI recently unveiled its 2018 lineup of gaming laptops in India, refreshed with new 8th generation Intel ‘Coffee Lake’ CPUs. Among the new launches, the GS65 Stealth Thin 8RF was one laptop which got our attention during the preview session MSI held about a month ago. The company claims it’s the first laptop with a 144Hz display and such narrow screen borders, but what’s really interesting to us is the slim profile and the lack of any LEDs on the exterior.

However, all of this comes at a steep price, which we’ll get into later in the review. First, let’s see what MSI’s new kid on the block has to offer.

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RF design

With the lid closed, it’s hard to tell that the GS65 is in fact a gaming laptop.

It has very understated looks thanks to the matte finish of the metal on the lid and the rest of the chassis. At 17.9mm in thickness, it’s quite slim as far as gaming laptops go and we found the weight to be pretty manageable during our daily commute to work. The body doesn’t attract too many fingerprints, which is nice.

The new soft gold trim around the edges of the lid and the logo will be quite appealing to some people. The lid is a bit heavy so it does wobble if you’re using the laptop on the move. However, the dual hinges offer good support, and can open all the way to 180 degrees.

The 15.6-inch IPS display has very good brightness and produces vivid colours. The matte finish of the display helps prevent reflections. Along with a 144Hz refresh rate, you get a 7ms response time to boot.

Nvidia’s G-SYNC is missing, which would have a nice feature to have. The borders on either side of the screen measre just 4.9mm in thickness, which gives the effect of immersion when gaming or watching movies. The strip above the display is slim too, and yet MSI has managed to squeeze in an HD webcam.

The keyboard deck of the GS65 Stealth Thin is made of a single piece of metal, and there’s no discernible flex when you type. We liked the spacious palm rest and the large trackpad.

For the latter, we found the tracking to be smooth and precise, but the button feedback was quite stiff. There’s a single physical button for left and right clicks, which is no-go for a gaming laptop in our books. The chiclet keyboard has per-key RGB backlighting and is designed by SteelSeries.

The keys have comfortable travel for typing and gaming. We like the fact that MSI hasn’t compromised the size of the direction keys, although we could have used a bit more separation from the rest of the keyboard. There’s an isolated power button along with an LED for indicting which GPU is in use (white for integrated graphics, orange for discrete).

Being a premium gaming laptop, MSI hasn’t compromised on the type or number of physical ports you get. There are three USB 3.1 (Type-A) ports, one Thunderbolt 3 (Type-C) port, Ethernet, HDMI, and a Mini-DisplayPort. You also get separate headphone and microphone sockets.

Both sides of the laptop have vents for air circulation, and there are soft gold accents added here too. There are also vents between the two hinges at the back, and plenty more on the bottom of the laptop. The Stealth Thin doesn’t have any quick-release hatch for easily swapping out the RAM or SSD, which means you’ll have to take it down to a service centre to make any modifications.

The MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RF is a refreshing change in design and this is a trend we can totally get used to. We love the whole understated look of it, and the fact that it’s practical to carry around is a huge advantage. In our opinion, the Stealth Thin is one of the more premium-feeling laptops that we’ve seen from MSI in a while.

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RF Review

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RF specifications and features

The GS65 is small in size, but still manages to pack in some pretty powerful components. We have a hexa-core Intel Core i7-8750H CPU with support for HyperThreading, giving you 12 threads. There’s a total of 16GB of DDR4 RAM running in dual-channel mode, so if you wish to upgrade, you’ll have to swap out the existing modules (up to 32GB is supported).

You get 512GB of storage, which is comprised of two 256GB NVMe SSDs in RAID 0. Having two drives in a RAID 0 configuration improves the read/write speeds, and generally offers better performance than a single large drive, but if either one fails there’s no way to get data off the other. Due to space constraints within the chassis, a regular Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 probably wouldn’t have been the ideal choice, which is why MSI has gone with an Nvidia GTX 1070 with its Max-Q optimisations The Max-Q moniker indicates that the GPU has been tweaked to stay within the sweet spot of performance and power efficiency by lowering clock speeds whenever possible.

This Max-Q GTX 1070 runs at a base speed of 1,101MHz, compared to the 1,506MHz of a standard GTX 1070. This would be a slight compromise in performance but in return, you get to use a much slimmer chassis. Other specifications include Gigabit LAN, Wi-Fi 802.11ac, and Bluetooth 5 by Killer Networks and two bottom firing stereo speakers that are placed underneath.

Windows 10 runs well, and like most laptops, this one ships with a bunch of preinstalled software including a 60-day trial of Norton Internet Security, a 30-day trial of Norton Online Backup, a one-year licence for Xsplit Gamecaster, and a 30-day trial of Microsoft Office 365. MSI also has its own utilities such as True Colour for switching between different colour profiles, a battery calibration app, and an SCM app, which gives you quick toggle switches for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, etc. MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RF Review

The main MSI app is called Dragon Centre, and this has gotten a major overhaul for 2018. First off, it looks a lot slicker than before with a nice transparency effect for the background. System information is also a lot easier to get to thanks to the cleaner layout.

The ‘System Tuner’ tab lets you set custom power profiles, fan speed and display colour profiles. To switch between these, you still have to launch the app, which can be done via a keyboard shortcut. It also offers an option for boosting the audio level when you use a VoIP program and the ability to check your system status through the MSI smartphone app, provided you’re on the same Wi-Fi network.

The big ‘G’ button in the middle is ‘Game Mode,’ which lets you set customised lighting effects, display profiles, etc for a supported game when you launch it via Dragon Centre. Currently, only about 10-15 games are supported.

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RF performance and battery life

Given the powerful components inside, the Stealth Thin has very good boot times and has no trouble with multitasking and usage in general. When running on battery power, the laptop defaults to the ‘Eco’ mode which keeps clock speeds down in order to give you the best battery life.

Streaming videos in a Web browser does make the fans ramp up a bit, but they are still not audible. In an air-conditioned room, the laptop ran fairly cool with general browser and Office document usage. However, in an open room during the current Indian summer, the laptop got hot quickly.

Even streaming video caused the metal area near the vents to get very hot, very quickly. We would strongly advise using this laptop on a flat desk or similar surface so that the vents on the bottom don’t get blocked. Fire up a game, and the laptop gets very hot, even if you’re in an air-conditioned room.

MSI uses what it calls the Cooler Boost Trinity cooling solution, which uses copper blocks, heat pipes, and three fans to keep the temperatures under control. However, it simply isn’t enough to handle the heat this laptop puts out. We would have liked to see something more capable, like a vapour chamber solution.

Thankfully, the heat is kept away from the palm rest area and most of the keys you’d typically use for gaming. The base of the laptop, near the vents, got too hot for us to use this laptop on our laps. The fans are also noisy, so make sure you have a pair of headphones handy when gaming.

Games, and even Windows, feel buttery smooth thanks to the high refresh rate. This does mean a slight overhead, which we noticed as a dip in framerates in some games. For instance, in Rise of The Tomb Raider, we recorded 87fps in the built-in benchmark at 144Hz (Very High preset) versus 89fps at 60Hz.

It’s not a big difference when you’re pushing a 60fps+ framerate, but it’s there. MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RF Review In Doom, we managed to average 100fps in the Foundry level.

This was with the settings cranked up to Ultra, anti-aliasing set to SMAA (1TX) and at the native resolution of 1080p. In Metro: Last Light Redux, we averaged 63fps with the Very High graphics preset, 16X anisotropic filtering, and the motion blur and tessellation set to Normal. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is another stressful game for any GPU, but it avenged a healthy enough 40.1fps with the settings at Very High and with 2x MSAA enabled.

Last but not least, we also tested everyone’s favourite open-world game, GTA V. Here, with nearly all the sliders pushed to their limit and at 144Hz, we got a benchmark score of 67fps. The two SSDs in RAID make a big difference in the load times and general speed of running Windows programs.

We averaged a sequential read speed of 2.89GB/s and write speed of 2.26GB/s in SiSoft Sandra, when we’ve typically recorded speeds of around 1.7GB/s and 1.4GB/s on average for the same test with a single SSD. The SteelSeries keyboard lighting is smartly implemented. Pressing the Fn button only lights up those keys which have a second function, so they’re easier to get to.

You can select some of the presets or customise one of your own with an RGB palette. Switching profiles is as simple as hitting a shortcut key on the keyboard. The intensity of the lighting can also be varied.

The SteelSeries app has a section called ‘Engine Apps’ which lets you use the keyboard lighting in creative ways, like for displaying a graphic equaliser while a song or video plays for instance. Audio performance from the two stereo speakers is not bad. Sound can get pretty loud and you can add vocal effects and tweak the bass and treble levels through the Nahimic program.

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RF Review MSI claims that the GS65 Stealth Thin 8RF can deliver 8 hours of battery life but this seems a little ambitious. In our experience, with regular usage, we averaged at the most 4-4.5 hours while using the onboard GPU.

The power adapter is fairly slim, which is good as there’s less weight to lug around. In the Battery Eater Pro test, which is designed to stress the battery, the laptop ran continuously for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Verdict
The top-end version of the MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RF that we reviewed today retails for Rs.

1,89,990 and comes with a backpack, plus you get a two-year warranty. This is a lot of money to sink into a laptop designed for recreational needs (unless you’re a professional gamer) but given the configuration, there’s no avoiding this sort of pricing. You could get other similarly configured laptops with GeForce GTX 1070 GPUs for a similar price but finding one that’s as slim and light as the GS65 is tough.

Besides the compact form factor, the laptop also has a good quality display, a comfortable keyboard with endless lighting customisation options, good set of physical ports, speedy hard drive performance and for the first time, in a long time, a genuine premium feel. With that said, the the MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RF runs hot very easily and the trackpad buttons are quite stiff, which is something we didn’t like. Slim gaming laptops with Nvidia’s Max-Q optimisations have only just started trickling into our market, and this year, we’ll be seeing a bunch of similar new laptops.

Among these, we feel the Asus Zephyrus M (GM501) looks particularly interesting and should compete well with the GS65 Stealth Thin 8RF when it hits India. Plus, Asus’s option also has a 144Hz panel but with G-SYNC, something that’s missing on MSI’s offering. We’re only just seeing the first of a new wave of slim and light gaming laptops that don’t have to compromise much on performance.

Sure, these will cost and arm and a leg initially, but so do standard gaming laptops. We hope that over time, they will become a lot more affordable.
Price (MRP): 1,89,990

Pros

  • Slim and relatively light
  • Powerful specifications
  • Well built
  • Vivid 144Hz display

Cons

  • Runs hot
  • No Nvidia G-SYNC
  • Stiff trackpad button

Ratings (Out of 5)

  • Design: 4
  • Display: 4
  • Performance: 4
  • Software: 4.5
  • Value for Money: 3.5
  • Overall: 4

Samsung HW-N650 review: Surround sound without the hassle

Samsung is constantly adding new features and technology to its range of soundbars. Last year its HW-MS650 soundbar[1] harnessed the company’s distortion cancelling technology to great effect, earning itself a five-star review no less, and now the all-new HW-N650[2] is attempting to repeat the feat. READ NEXT: Samsung HW-MS650 review: The innovative soundbar with distortion cancelling technology[3]

Samsung HW-N650 review: What you need to know

The HW-N650 uses Samsung’s Acoustic Beam technology, which aims to replicate a surround sound setup by bouncing sound waves off your walls and ceiling.

This might be new for Samsung, but its rivals have been doing it for some time now – a few spring to mind: the Bose SoundTouch 300[4], the Sky Soundbox by Devialet[5] and the Sonos Playbase[6]. Still, the HW-N650 holds a few tricks up its sleeve. It comes with a powerful wireless subwoofer that provides an excellent low-end thump, has a sleek design that’ll fit in most living room setups and has a good array of connectivity options.

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Samsung HW-N650 review: Price and competition

The HW-N650 can be found for GBP700 at John Lewis[7] and Hughes[8].

At this price, it’s going up against the Sonos PlaybaseGBP650 LG SJ9HW-MS650 which has now had a price cut down to GBP390[14]. Apart from the LG SJ9, none of the above have a dedicated subwoofer.

You can, however, purchase the Samsung SWA-W700 subwoofer for GBP430[15] – which combined with the HW-MS650 take it up to around GBP820. READ NEXT: Best soundbars of 2018 – our favourite TV speakers[16]

Samsung HW-N650 review: Design, features and connectivity

The N650 measures 1.1 metres wide, stands 6cm high and is 10cm deep, which makes it noticeably slimmer than its stablemate, the HW-MS650. This makes it easy to accommodate in most living room spaces – you can pop it in front of your TV without it taking up too much room on your AV stand, and it can be wall mounted, too.

Usability is a highlight. The HW-N650 comes with Samsung’s excellent remote, which can also be used as a remote to control your Samsung TV. And if you just so happen to misplace the remote, there are four physical buttons on the soundbar’s right-hand flank: power, source and volume up and down.

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Much like its siblings, the HW-N650 has an LED display around the front.

Located under the right-hand speaker grille, the display provides information on your selected input source, the volume and the surround sound settings, which can be cycled through with the remote. For connectivity, there are a few inputs to choose from: HDMI, auxiliary 3.5mm, USB, optical and Bluetooth. There’s a HDMI output (TV-ARC), too.

Unfortunately, if you own a HDR TV and you’re looking to minimise the cables by passing the signal via the soundbar, you’ll be bitterly disappointed: the HW-N650 lacks HDR support.

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Samsung HW-N650 review: Surround sound without the hassle

Yet again, there’s no support for aptX codec – so you won’t benefit from higher quality streaming over Bluetooth. Also missing from the list is support for the latest object-based surround formats DTS:X and Dolby Atmos – this probably won’t bother the vast majority of users, though. This time around, Samsung has chosen to leave Wi-Fi out of the equation.

So, you won’t be able to wirelessly stream music through the Samsung Multiroom App. On a more positive note, the included subwoofer does connect wirelessly to the soundbar – reducing clutter and the need for any extra wires, and gives you the option to place the subwoofer conveniently out of sight. READ NEXT: All soundbar reviews[17]

Samsung HW-N650 review: Sound quality

The HW-N650’s eight speakers aim to provide proper 5.1 surround sound, and if you include the the subwoofer it has an impressive-sounding 360W of total power at its disposal – that’s plenty to fill a large living room space.

Surprisingly, the soundbar doesn’t feature the same Distortion Cancelling Technology as its older sibling, and that comes across in the mid-bass reproduction. The bass punch isn’t as refined or as controlled as the HW-MS650 – that’s not to say the HW-N650 is bad, far from it. For example, when compared to the Sonos Playbase, the soundbar reproduces a much more accurate bass response, which is partly down to the HW-N650 having a dedicated subwoofer.

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Samsung HW-N650 review: Surround sound without the hassle

When it comes to sub bass, the HW-N650’s subwoofer gives it the upper hand over most of its rivals.

Unlike other soundbars that cut off at around 40Hz, this one extends far deeper, with the subwoofer adding a powerful low-end rumble. Fire up an action-packed game such as PUBG[18], and the HW-N650’s weighty bass and crisp, exciting treble sends gunfire sparking across the room in a genuinely unsettling manner. Overall, the HW-N650 is capable of reproducing a very accurate sound, but it lacks the finesse for voices and instruments in the mid-range that I’d expect from a GBP700 soundbar.

Much like the HW-MS550,[19] (the smaller and cheaper variant of the HW-MS650) I found dialling up the treble to +2 helps. In Jay Sean’s ‘Make My Love Go’[20], the artist’s voice isn’t as present or at the foreground of the song – his voice is a little pushed back. By comparison, the HW-MS650 is excellent in this department, arguably the best in its class.

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Samsung HW-N650 review: Surround sound without the hassle

The HW-N650’s ace up its sleeve is its soundstage: with ‘Surround Sound’ selected through the DSP toggle, the HW-N650’s sound reaches far and wide, and genuinely fills the room with sound.

For example, in Priya Jaye – Falling[21], the instruments and vocals aren’t just lumped together; each instrument and vocal line floats freely from left to right. In movies, such as 300[22], meanwhile, you’re put slap bang in the midst of the epic Spartan-Persian battle. It’s quite remarkable that Samsung’s implementation of two spiral speaker grilles at the top of the soundbar can produce such a positive effect.

It’s even more evident when you walk to the left or right side of the speaker – that extra spaciousness to the sound is clearly noticeable. READ NEXT: Samsung HW-MS550 review: The cheapest all-in-one soundbar from Samsung[23]

Samsung HW-N650 review: Verdict

Samsung’s HW-N650 soundbar isn’t quite perfect. Why?

Well, it’s missing a few elements that take it away from a full-fledged five-star review. For instance, if you don’t mind forgoing the wireless subwoofer, then the HW-MS650’s dramatically more precise mid-range puts it in a different league. Nonetheless, the HW-N650 still deserves plenty of praise.

It provides room-filling sound from a relatively compact body, and its subwoofer adds an alluring physicality to the sound – something which puts it head and shoulders above the competition.

In fact, I’d go as far as saying that there’s no soundbar, subwoofer combo that matches the HW-N650 for under GBP700.

References

  1. ^ HW-MS650 soundbar (go.redirectingat.com)
  2. ^ all-new HW-N650 (go.redirectingat.com)
  3. ^ Samsung HW-MS650 review: The innovative soundbar with distortion cancelling technology (www.expertreviews.co.uk)
  4. ^ Bose SoundTouch 300 (www.expertreviews.co.uk)
  5. ^ Sky Soundbox by Devialet (www.expertreviews.co.uk)
  6. ^ Sonos Playbase (www.expertreviews.co.uk)
  7. ^ John Lewis (go.redirectingat.com)
  8. ^ Hughes (go.redirectingat.com)
  9. ^ GBP800 Sky Soundbox (go.redirectingat.com)
  10. ^ Bose SoundTouch 300 (go.redirectingat.com)
  11. Sonos Playbase (www.amazon.co.uk)
  12. GBP650 LG SJ9 (www.amazon.co.uk)
  13. ^ HW-MS750 at GBP800 (go.redirectingat.com)
  14. HW-MS650 which has now had a price cut down to GBP390 (www.amazon.co.uk)
  15. Samsung SWA-W700 subwoofer for GBP430 (www.amazon.co.uk)
  16. ^ Best soundbars of 2018 – our favourite TV speakers (www.expertreviews.co.uk)
  17. ^ All soundbar reviews (www.expertreviews.co.uk)
  18. ^ PUBG (playbattlegrounds.com)
  19. ^ HW-MS550, (www.expertreviews.co.uk)
  20. ^ Jay Sean’s ‘Make My Love Go’ (www.youtube.com)
  21. ^ Priya Jaye – Falling (www.youtube.com)
  22. ^ 300 (www.imdb.com)
  23. ^ Samsung HW-MS550 review: The cheapest all-in-one soundbar from Samsung (www.expertreviews.co.uk)

Samsung C49J89 review

We love a good ultra-wide monitor here at TechRadar, and the Samsung C49J89, which comes with a ‘super ultra-wide’ aspect ratio, makes most of the monitors we’ve previously tried feel rather cramped and titchy by comparison. This is thanks to its combination of a large 49-inch screen and an aspect ratio of 32:9. In comparison, standard widescreen monitors usually have an aspect ratio of 16:9, while ultra-wide monitors, like the BenQ EX35[1]01R[2], have aspect ratios of 21:9.

In fact, the Samsung C49J89 has only one rival when it comes to 32:9 aspect ratio, and that’s another Samsung monitor: the Samsung[3] CHG90[4], a gaming-focused monitor with the same 49-inch screen size and 32:9 aspect ratio.

The difference between the Samsung C49J89 and the Samsung CHG90 is the latter’s focus on gamers, so the C49J89 on test here has a lower maximum brightness (300cd/m2 compared to the CHG90’s 350cd/m2), and a slower response time (5ms (GT) compared to the CHG90’s 1ms (MPRT)). There’s also a difference in price, with the Samsung C49J89 costing a fair bit less than the Samsung CHG90.

Price and availability

The Samsung C49J89 is now available to order in the US for £1,099, in the UK for GBP899, and in Australia for AU£1,899. While this is pretty steep for a monitor, you are getting a lot more screen than you usually would.

It’s not the most expensive monitor we’ve tried either, and is less expensive than the Samsung CHG90, although that monitor is now seeing discounts if you shop around. So, if the gaming-centric features of the Samsung CHG90 don’t appeal but you still want that huge 32:9 aspect ratio for working on, watching movies or doing the odd bit of gaming (or all three at once – seriously, this monitor is wide), then you could save yourself some money by going for the Samsung C49J89 instead.

Design

At first glance the Samsung C49J89 looks pretty much identical to the Samsung CHG90, with the same screen size and aspect ratio, along with a pretty much identical body and stand. It’s little surprise that the design is so similar, as Samsung would hardly have a wide selection of 32:9 monitor bodies knocking around, so it makes sense to use the same chassis.

Unless you’re familiar with its sibling, the Samsung C49J89 looks like no other monitor you’ve seen, with its almost ridiculous width sometimes appearing as if it were an optical illusion – it quite easily fills your horizontal field of vision. However, the wider monitors get, the more the vertical aspect seems diminished, so here you get a very wide, yet narrow, monitor. Combined with the resolution of 3840 x 1080, which gives you the same vertical resolution as a high-definition TV, you may find the aspect ratio a bit constrictive.

In comparison, the 21:9 BenQ EX3501R has a resolution of 3440 x 1440, and that extra vertical resolution is greatly appreciated. Of course, upping the vertical resolution of the Samsung C49J89 would likely increase the asking price dramatically, and would also make it require more powerful hardware to operate, especially if you wanted to game on it. If you are eyeing up the Samsung C49J89 you’ll need a pretty wide desk to handle its 47.36-inch span.

And, sitting in front of it, you’ll likely find yourself having to turn your head to see open windows positioned at the extremities. Like the Samsung CHG90 it’s curved, which makes it more comfortable to take in the full screen. It has a curvature of 1800R, which is pretty pronounced – 1800R is quite common in curved monitors, but some (as well as curved TVs) go for a 3000R curvature, which is subtler.

But then there’s nothing subtle about this monitor.

The screen is easily attached to the arm and stand, although you will need a screwdriver to properly affix it, and when assembly is complete you can swivel and tilt the screen, as well as adjust the height. Around the back are two 7-watt speakers, and on the bottom are the various ports. Given the vast width of the Samsung C49J89 you can imagine that there’s plenty of space for ports, and Samsung hasn’t passed on the opportunity – the monitor comes with two HDMI ports, a DisplayPort, two USB Type-C ports, two USB 2.0 ports, a USB 3.0 port and an audio jack.

It also has a USB Type-C upstream port, enabling you to turn the monitor into a hub. It’s a stylish, slick, but also domineering monitor, thanks to a classy design by Samsung, and of course the sheer size of the screen.

Performance

The Samsung C49J89 has a VA (vertical alignment) panel. On paper VA panels should deliver excellent blacks, but they can suffer from having a rather narrow viewing angle, which means VA screens can sometimes appear washed out if you’re viewing them from an angle, rather than straight-on.

Due to the sheer length and size of the C49J89 there’s a good chance that you’ll be viewing at least some of the screen at an angle, but in our time with it we didn’t notice any deterioration in image quality at the extremities when sitting in front of it at a desk – the curvature of the screen certainly helps here. The Samsung C49J89 is designed more for productivity use than for gaming, and Windows 10 does a good job of scaling the desktop to the super-ultra-wide aspect ratio. You really do get a lot of screen space to play with, and we were able to work quite comfortably with a large number of programs, apps and websites all open at once.

However, the 1080-pixel vertical resolution does mean there’s not a lot of vertical screen space, and if you’re coming from a monitor with a WQHD resolution (2560 x 1440) you may actually find the Samsung C49J89 a bit too narrow. However, being able to have so many windows open while only having one monitor on your desk is a fantastic feature, and image quality out of the box is pretty good. The buttons on the bottom of the bezel are shortcuts for certain features, with the first switching between input sources.

The second turns on the monitor’s Picture-In-Picture mode – this is an excellent feature that allows you to plug in a second source, such as a laptop, and display that screen within the main screen connected to your PC. Because of the sheer size of this monitor this is a very handy addition, and it works well.

The third button enables you to use the Samsung C49J89 as a KVM (keyboard, video, mouse) switch, so you can have one keyboard and mouse plugged into the monitor, and the button will let you switch the peripherals to other devices you have plugged into the monitor without having to physically unplug and move the mouse and keyboard. It’s another useful feature for business users.

Behind the power button is a joystick-like button that’s used to bring up and control the onscreen menu. It’s hidden away a bit, but once located it can be used to go through some of the pre-set display modes, which you can tweak to your liking. Samsung also has a piece of software, EasySettingBox, that works with the Samsung C49J89.

This software lets you quickly split the screen into multiple areas, either using one of the ready-made templates or one that you’ve created yourself. Then, when you drag a window you can place it in an area (they’re highlighted in blue) and the window will expand or shrink to fit in that area. The idea with this is to make it quick and easy to arrange multiple windows, and it’s quite a handy tool, and worth having a play around with.

While unlike the Samsung CHG90 the Samsung C49J89 isn’t designed primarily as a gaming monitor, there will be people who want to use it as one, with the super ultra-wide aspect ratio and 144Hz refresh rate being two compelling reasons. So we fired up a couple of games to see how it performed. Most modern games can cope with the unusual resolution and aspect ratio of the C49J89, but you may have to tweak a few settings to get them displaying properly.

We did with Wolfenstein II, and when we fired up a level the results were really impressive. The field-of-vision-spanning aspect ratio really is immersive, and if you sit in the right spot it’s almost like wearing a VR headset, as your entire vision is filled with the game. The view is so wide that you can physically move your head to look around you, rather than using the mouse, which takes a bit of getting used to but could end up giving you a real advantage in certain games, as enemies will have a harder time sneaking up on you.

The slower response time of the Samsung C49J89 compared to gaming monitors does make the gameplay feel a little more sluggish.

We’ve recently been spoiled by gaming monitors with G-Sync and Free-Sync technology that combines high refresh rates with low response times for incredibly smooth gameplay, although none of them can match the sheer spectacle of the Samsung C49J89’s 32:9 aspect ratio. If you often work over multiple monitors, and you’d like to do a bit of gaming as well, then you’ll be very happy with the Samsung C49J89’s performance. We’d love to see a version with a higher resolution (and there are now rumors that Samsung is working on one[5]) and if you’re a competitive gamer who’s conscious of input lag then a gaming-orientated monitor would be more to your liking.

Verdict

If the gaming-orientated Samsung CHG90 was a bit too expensive for your tastes, the Samsung C49J89 is a very good alternative, offering the same rare 32:9 aspect ratio for a lower price, and without sacrificing too many features.

It’s not quite as good for gaming as the CHG90, but it still puts on a good show – that super ultra-wide aspect ratio really can be breathtaking when you’re playing games.

It’s also got some great productivity tools that make it a good choice for business use, especially if you often work over numerous monitors, as you can now swap out those for a single Samsung C49J89.

Our only major complaint is the lack of vertical resolution – at 1080 pixels it does make things a little tight, but if you’re used to 1080p monitors you’ll love the extra horizontal space.

References

  1. ^ BenQ EX35 (www.techradar.com)
  2. ^ 01R (www.techradar.com)
  3. ^ Samsung (www.techradar.com)
  4. ^ CHG90 (www.techradar.com)
  5. ^ rumors that Samsung is working on one (www.techradar.com)
  6. ^ best monitors of 2018 (www.techradar.com)

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