- Incredible widescreen experience
- Like having two monitors in one
- Great gaming performance
- Impressive HDR
- Resolution a bit low for its size
- The price
- Impractically massive
- Review Price: £1299/$1948.5
- 49inch screen size
- 32:9 aspect ratio
- 3840 x 1080 resolution
- HDR ready
- 1ms MPRT
What is the Samsung CHG90?
Super-wide monitors are nothing new, but Samsung takes things up a notch with the CHG90. This enormous 49-inch display has an aspect ratio of 32:9, which is the equivalent of two 27-inch monitors sat side-by-side.
Unlike previous super-wide, 21:9 aspect ratio monitors, the CHG90’s aspect ratio is wider than just about any conventional film aspect ratio – and as a result, you’ll see black bars displayed either side of the image. As such, it’s less about having that widescreen cinematic experience but rather it’s great for gaming, or simply for gaining the productivity benefit of having two monitors in one.
Alongside the magnificent display, the CHG90 packs in plenty of other features. It’s HDR-compatible, plus it’s fully specced up for gaming with a 144Hz refresh rate, 1ms MPRT (motion picture response time), backlight strobing and FreeSync technology.
Inevitably, such a list of features means this monitor doesn’t come cheap, but at £1300 it’s competitively priced considering all that it offers.
Samsung CHG90 – Design and build
Clearly, the first thing that strikes you about a display such as this is its size. The box in which the CHG90 arrives is nearly 4.5ft wide, and the screen itself measures almost 4ft across. The monitor weighs in at 15kg – the box and other bits add a further 5kg – take your time when you take delivery of yours.
Despite its size and weight, this is an elegant-looking display. The stand, while 32 inches from toe to toe, is impressively slender and the display itself has a hidden bezel that gives it a lighter look than models with chunkier frames. The bezel can’t quite compete with the very slimmest we’ve seen, but it’s definitely an improvement over the CHG70, for instance.
In terms of build materials, the exterior is plastic aside from a strip of metal that runs round the very edge of the frame. The combination of grey and black finishes looks good; it’s smart but not staid.
Like the CHG70, the CHG90’s only adornment is a ring of light that emanates from the rear of the screen, where the stand affixes. This creates a subtle blue glow that looks quite nice. Alternatively, if you want it to shine even brighter then you can remove the ring of plastic that partially obscures it.
Beneath this you’ll find the screws that attach the stand. Undo these and you can fit the supplied VESA wall-mount adapter that lets you use this monitor on any normal TV or monitor stand – just make sure it’s strong enough to support this beast of a monitor.
Meanwhile, the supplied stand is practical and handsome. It offers height adjustment as well as tilt and left-to-right rotation. You miss out on the ability to pivot the display into a portrait orientation, but on a display of this size it’s perfectly understandable.
Samsung has been generous when it comes to connectivity. There’s a full-size DisplayPort 1.3 and a mini-DisplayPort 1.3, as well as two HDMI 2.0 – all of which support HDR. Along with the display’s picture-by-picture (PBP) mode, this allows you to quickly and easily flip between the various sources on each half of the screen – although note that several of the display’s extra features such as HDR, FreeSync and backlight strobing won’t be enabled with two sources in operation at the same time.
There are also a couple of USB 3.0 ports. However, it’s a shame that both are round the back; it makes them less useful for items you may want to plug in temporarily, such as a USB memory stick. In addition, the sheer size of this monitor makes it somewhat tricky to reach the connections on the back.
As for the display itself, it’s absolutely packed with features. It’s a VA LCD panel with a native 3000:1 contrast ratio, it refreshes at up to 144Hz and has FreeSync, blur-reducing backlight strobing, a 1ms MPRT – that’s response time as it’s perceived due to the backlight strobing – plus it’s HDR-ready. The latter means it can handle the extra colour accuracy, brightness and contrast that’s required to bring HDR to life.
However, one thing it can’t boast is a particularly high resolution. While 3840 x 1080 may seem impressive initially, resolution is relative, and on such a huge screen it’s actually rather low. This display is equivalent to two 27-inch monitors in size, yet its resolution is equivalent to two 24inch monitors; 27-inch displays normally have a 2560 x 1440 resolution.
In fact, a 1080p resolution on a 24-inch display can look a little blocky and pixellated, so on a 27-inch display pixels look positively gargantuan. In pixels-per-inch terms, a typical 1440p 27-inch display has 110ppi while a typical 1080p 24inch display has 90ppi; this display has just 80ppi. We’ll come back to how this looks in the image quality section of the review.
Samsung CHG90 – OSD and setup
Physically, the CHG90 is quite a beast to setup because of its size and weight so will require some strength. Samsung has been careful to very clearly label which side of the box you should open first in order to remove the display safely. Also, it should go without saying, but do double-check beforehand that your desk is big enough to accommodate it.
It arrives in three parts, with the base and stand needing to be joined and then attached to the display. You’ll need a screwdriver.
Samsung also provides nearly all the cables you’ll need: a full-size DisplayPort cable, a mini-DisplayPort cable, a USB uplink cable for the USB hub, and one HDMI cable.
As to making changes to the display, there’s very little you should need to do since Samsung calibrates each monitor before it leaves the factory so it should turn up looking its best. The only items you may want to change are the brightness and various gaming settings.
Whatever tinkering you do is made easy by the excellent menu system. Navigation of the menu system is via a single joystick on the underside of the monitor, which does a fine job of making it quick and easy to work your way through. The actual menus themselves are clearly laid out and intuitive, so you’re unlikely to be left scratching your head as to where to look for a particular setting.
The styling is somewhat odd, given that Samsung has steered clear of garish, gamer-orientated design for the exterior of this display. The turquoise lettering, angular lines and dials along the top are an interesting choice – although notably, the latter are actually quite useful for providing a quick overview of the display’s various gaming settings.
Beneath the frame of the monitor you’ll also find three further buttons that can be used to call up menu presets. These are a useful addition, allowing you to switch between a more aggressive set of gaming settings (response rate at fastest, 144Hz, and so on) and desktop-orientated settings (lower brightness, standard response rate, for example) at the touch of a button.
Samsung CHG90 – Image quality
First things first, let’s deal with the issue of that resolution. If you’re used to a conventional 27-inch monitor and sit a typical 50cm or so from your screen then the CHG90 will appear a little blocky and pixellated.
However, since this is quite a sizeable screen you may be inclined to position it a little further back, which will make everything look sharper. Meanwhile, those accustomed to 24-inch displays are unlikely to notice the difference much. Nonetheless, this screen is more about the spectacle of it being so large and wide than it necessarily being the most practical way to fit as much resolution as possible on your desk.
But what a spectacle it is. Plus, it does still have its practical benefits too.
For instance, take Windows 10’s Snap feature, which allows you to quickly make a window fill a half or a quarter of your display. On most monitors it’s of limited use, but here you can snap one window to the side and it automatically fills that whole 1920 x 1080 side of the screen. This makes it super-convenient for quickly arranging and prioritising your whole desktop.
There’s also the option of using picture-by-picture to the same effect, but with two different video sources. Want to play your Xbox while still being able to see emails come in and control your music? No problem at all. You can also download Samsung’s Easy Setting Box software to enable further control over how the screen is split up into different sections.
As for overall image quality, it’s fantastic. Thanks to each display being calibrated before it leaves the factory, the CHG90 should arrive good to go – and sure enough this was the case with our particular unit.
Samsung CHG90 image quality – non-calibrated
- Max Brightness: 314nits
- Contrast: 2797:1
- Gamma: 2.22
- Colour Temperature: 6511K
- Delta E average: 0.11
- sRGB coverage: 99.7%
- DCI P3 coverage: 90.5%
The two most common issues of monitors that haven’t been calibrated properly are the colour balance and gamma. Other settings can make a display look poor, but most are inherent to the technology or the way it’s been put together. These two settings are the easiest for manufacturers to tweak after the fact.
As such, all too often perfectly reasonable displays will ship uncalibrated and so colours will look off balance or dull and washed out – despite the display being capable of doing much better. The CHG90 displays the perfect colour balance and gamma setting.
Added to this is the inherently brilliant contrast of the VA LCD panel. Samsung claims up to 3000:1, and while I didn’t quite hit that level, the monitor did still manage 2800:1. That’s vastly superior to any IPS or TN LCD panel and immediately gives the display a punchiness and depth that most others can’t match. These figures also put the CHG90 ahead of most other monitors with regards to reproducing HDR content.
As for colour accuracy and depth, this display actually exceeds the requirements for the normal sRGB colour space used in every day computing thanks to its quantum-dot backlight technology. This is so that it can better represent HDR content, but it can also mean that colours sometimes look a touch oversaturated. This isn’t a problem most of the time, but if you’re a professional who regularly edits pictures or video then you may be better off with a display that more strictly adheres to the sRGB space.
Also, while the colour gamut here is wider than sRGB, it doesn’t stretch as far as full Adobe RGB coverage. As such, those who require that level of coverage will have to look elsewhere.
As for the curve, viewing angles and general uniformity of the display, the CHG90 continues to impress. The curve helps to present the far edges of the display at a better angle than if the display were flat, reducing the potential problems of viewing an LCD panel at an acute angle.
Not that this display has particularly poor viewing angles. Moving from left to right, there’s very little change in the image – and while there’s a slight change in overall brightness from top to bottom, it’s subtle enough to largely go unnoticed, especially if you sit a little further back.
Meanwhile, despite the enormity of this panel, the image stays surprisingly even right across its width. There’s just a 2.2% average variation in brightness between the centre and the rest of the panel and just a 2.6% variation in colour temperature.
All told, this is a top-quality monitor in nearly all aspects of its image quality.
Samsung CHG90 – HDR
Samsung is making a big deal of the HDR capabilities of this monitor and its sibling, the CHG70. Thanks to the native contrast ratio of its VA LCD panel, the high 600nits maximum brightness of its backlight and its extended colour gamut, this display can reproduce the greater range of colours and brightness levels that HDR requires.
To get the full low-down on what HDR is and what’s required of it, read our guide to HDR TVs and the HDR page of my CHG70 review. Essentially, it makes images more dynamic, more life-like – more colours, greater depth, and so on – and the CHG90 does a good job of demonstrating that.
Fire up an HDR game or video and you can see greater variation in colour, more detail in the brightest and darkest areas of the image; the whole thing just has a greater sense of realism.
However, the key things to note are that HDR support on Windows is currently rather flaky, meaning you constantly have to manually switch HDR support on and off, depending on the type of content you’re watching. Moreover, there just isn’t that much content at the moment. Much of the HDR video that the likes of Netflix and YouTube have made available doesn’t playback properly – it only works through apps on HDR TVs – and most Windows video players don’t support it either.
This mainly just leaves a handful of games, and you can plug an HDR-ready Blu-ray player or games consoles into the HDMI inputs and this will work too.
As such, while nice to have, HDR isn’t perhaps the big selling feature of this display. It’s more that it’s there for when support improves. Crucially, the only way you’ll get better HDR is from OLED displays or LCD units that use full array local dimming backlights – both are which are far more expensive technologies and still very rare when it comes to monitors.
Samsung CHG90 – Gaming
Thanks to this display’s resolution being double that of 1080p, game support for its massive 32:9 aspect ratio is surprisingly good. Exactly how each game deals with the resolution will vary, but the majority of modern games will at least work.
Meanwhile, the 144Hz refresh rate, FreeSync and native response time – which Samsung hasn’t specified, but which is better than other VA LCDs I’ve experienced – combine to make for a great gaming experience.
What’s more, this display has a backlight-strobing technology to reduce the perceived response time, making for an even sharper, more responsive gaming experience. However, this can’t be enabled at the same time as FreeSync, and Samsung also doesn’t allow you to adjust brightness with it turned on. That’s why it’s all the more useful that you get those menu presets – you can have one for desktop use, one for slower-paced games where you care more about having the image quality of FreeSync, and a third one for competitive gaming where response time matters.
Should I buy the Samsung CHG90?
On the one hand, the Samsung CHG90 absolutely nails its remit as being a spectacular and rather convenient way of essentially having two monitors in one. It’s certainly big enough and has all the connections and key features you’ll need to get the most from such a large screen.
Add in the fact that it also offers excellent image quality, fantastic gaming performance and can do HDR and it becomes ever more compelling.
The only fly in the ointment is the relatively low resolution considering its size. Having a higher resolution would make things more complicated in terms of needing to use multiple video connections and being limited when it comes to refresh rate, but would make for an even more impressive and practical result with regards to desktop work.
Nonetheless, this is far from a deal-breaker and overall this display is a seriously tempting proposition.
This gargantuan screen is stylish, feature-packed, great for gaming and has excellent image quality.