Samsung Odyssey Neo G9 review
It’s another year, another super-ultra-wide to watch from Samsung. Now in its fourth year (including the original C49HG90, which didn’t carry the Odyssey branding), each new super ultra-wide has brought new features that help the G9 series excel in more than just size. 2021 brings the biggest upgrade yet: a Mini-LED backlight.
Mini-LED can precisely control the light under the LCD panel and in some cases turn it off completely. This improves contrast, makes big gains in HDR brightness, and eliminates the dreaded edge-lighting glow common to gaming monitors.
Samsung Odyssey Neo G9 review
The Samsung Odyssey Neo G9 offers all of the above but suffers from new issues that make its best functionality shine.
Samsung Odyssey Neo G9 – Design
The exterior of the Samsung Odyssey Neo G9 is almost identical to last year’s G9. The only cosmetic change is in the lower left frame of the monitor, where the previous model’s bright green Nvidia G-Sync logo is replaced by a more subtle monochrome badge. It’s a minor adjustment, but a positive one.
I don’t blame Samsung for keeping the look of the previous model. Why play with what works? The glossy white rear plastic of the Neo G9 is sleek, futuristic and luxurious. A vent near the top provides a sporty touch and the massive stand makes a statement on any desk. There is also a vent-shaped ring that surrounds the connection of the stand with the monitor. This is where you will find the customizable RGB monitor light.
Samsung also leaves the functional issues of the monitor intact. The bracket is an absolute unit that is 31 inches wide and 9 inches deep. The total depth is 17 inches, which on my desk puts the edges of the monitor closer to the front of the desk than the back. You may need to plan for a desktop upgrade to accompany the monitor.
I understand. It’s a big monitor with a big curve, so it will take up space. Still, I can’t help but think that the monitor would be more practical with a less extreme curve and a stand that trades size for weight.
The support is at least doing its job. It keeps the monitor stable and includes height, tilt and swivel adjustment. The tilt and swivel action is well tuned, allowing the monitor to be adjusted with a slight but intentional touch. VESA mounting is supported with an included adapter. You might want to look for the maximum weight of your monitor arm, as the Neo G9’s display panel tips the scales at 26 pounds.
Samsung Odyssey Neo G9 – Specifications
The Samsung Odyssey Neo G9 includes two HDMI 2.1 ports, an upgrade from HDMI 2.0 on last year’s G9, and a DisplayPort 1.4 port. HDMI 2.1 ports can handle a refresh rate of up to 144Hz.
The monitor’s 240Hz maximum refresh rate is only available on DisplayPort 1.4 and only with a video card that supports Display Stream Compression (DSC). Cards older than Nvidia’s RTX 20 series and AMD’s 5000 series do not have this feature. This includes the Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti on my desktop, so I was limited to a 120Hz refresh rate on my main gaming rig (I also tested with an RTX 30 series laptop) .
Samsung’s inclusion of two HDMI 2.1 ports and a DisplayPort may seem like an upgrade, but it isn’t. This is actually a downgrade from the previous model, which had an HDMI 2.0 port and two DisplayPort ports.
Yes, you can now connect an Xbox Series X and a PlayStation 5 at the same time, but neither supports ultra-wide or super-ultra-wide aspect ratio. The Neo G9 cannot even deliver 4K from a console because its native resolution is 5,120 x 1,440, which is too low to handle the vertical resolution of 2160 pixels of 4K. HDMI 2.1 is useless other than letting Samsung stick that label on the monitor’s marketing.
Input and monitor settings are managed via a joystick control on the lower right frame of the monitor. Monitor settings are placed in clearly labeled, easy-to-navigate menus. A dashboard at the top of the menu provides at-a-glance information on critical parameters such as refresh rate and response time.
There’s something new for 2021: three buttons next to the joystick that can be used to toggle between custom settings. This is great if you switch between different settings in different games. It’s not how I play it, but players who use the black equalizer feature to increase visibility in dark games will appreciate it.
The speakers are not included. The monitor also doesn’t support USB-C connectivity, but it does have two USB-A ports for adding wired peripherals.
Samsung Odyssey Neo G9 – Gaming Performance
It’s no exaggeration to say that the super ultra-wide Samsung Odyssey Neo G9 is a game-changing monitor. It can not only offer stunning visuals but also improve the way you play certain titles. Unfortunately, it is far from perfect.
The Neo G9 is the ultimate monitor for simulation games. A visual landing in Microsoft Flight Simulator is easy because the monitor’s wider perspective gives a realistic impression of speed and elevation. This same outlook can be great in open world games and MMORPGs, making the Neo G9 a great choice for Final Fantasy XIV or World of Warcraft.
However, not all games look better on a super ultra-wide monitor. Most place important UI elements along the edges or corners of a screen. This is a problem on a super ultra-wide, as the width will push important information out of your center of attention. You will need to tilt your head to see information that is normally within sight.
The Mini-LED backlight has 2,048 individual dimming zones and is paired with a VA panel. The edge-lit G9 from last year already had a solid measured contrast ratio of 1760: 1, but the Neo G9 outshines it with an incredible measured contrast ratio of 8780: 1. This beats Asus ROG Swift PG32UQX, which also uses Mini-LEDs. This display achieved a measured contrast ratio of 4890: 1.
The incredible contrast of the Neo G9 provides a rich and deep image with great dimensionality. Still, the high contrast ratio underestimates the strengths of the display. The mini-LED completely eliminates the edge-lit glow that plagues most gaming monitors and ruins the mood in dark stages. Watching the sun go down in an open world game is a truly magnificent experience.
And the brightness? Yes, the Neo G9 does. Samsung claims a maximum maximum brightness of 2000 nits. I measured a sustained brightness of 647 nits – the second highest I have ever recorded. The overall HDR performance of the Neo G9 is excellent, with crisp and detailed reflections. The Asus PG32UQX looks sharper and offers brighter, more vivid colors in HDR, but the Neo G9 beats every other monitor on the market. A monitor with a conventional backlight, such as the Alienware AW3821DW, I can not hope to follow.
However, the Neo G9 has a problem. The Mini-LED backlight has a subtle pattern that I noticed even on the Windows desktop. This is not always visible in games but can create a series of horizontal bars that stand out in motion. The problem is greatest in bright scenes such as sunny skies or a sterile lab room.
The Neo G9 also struggles with severe blooming, which causes light halos to appear around objects against a dark background. You will see blooming around large objects, small objects, fast objects and slow objects. You’ll even see an inverted bloom, where the edge of bright objects appears dimmed against a darker background.
Flowering and uniformity issues can be expected with Mini-LEDs, but Samsung can do better. The Asus ROG Swift PG32UQX doesn’t have the same uniformity issues and although flowering does occur, it is much less of a nuisance.
Samsung Odyssey Neo G9 – Motion performance
The Samsung Odyssey Neo G9 features a state-of-the-art VA panel that virtually eliminates smear issues that make gamers think “VA” is a dirty word. I was able to identify dark border smudges around objects by looking for them specifically, but the problem is so minor that I have a hard time finding it even when looking at content which I know will show it.
Overall, the clarity of the Neo G9 beats most gaming monitors sold today. It delivers fast response times and crisp, crisp lines at the maximum refresh rate of 240Hz. Clarity also holds up at lower refresh rates, and that’s important. Chances are good that your video card can’t actually play your favorite tiles at 240 fps at the native resolution of this 5120 x 1440 monitor.
The Mini-LED backlight can be annoying, however. Flowering does not reduce the clarity of movement, but can cause image quality issues that affect the visual appeal of the monitor in fast-paced games. Blooming behind a fast-moving object isn’t a clarity of movement issue in the traditional sense, but it still doesn’t look great.
Samsung Odyssey Neo G9 – Daily performance
Unboxing the Samsung Odyssey Neo G9 and placing it on your desk will leave you speechless. It is impossible not to be impressed not only by its size but also by its image quality. As mentioned, the Neo G9 has an exceptional contrast ratio and very high maximum brightness. Its color performance is not great, but stands out from other high end monitors and will prove to be more than enough for most people.
Despite this, the Neo G9 is not a great monitor for everyday use or content creation. Ultra-wide aspect ratio and aggressive 1000R curvature is a problem when using the monitor to view and edit photos and videos. An aspect ratio of 32: 9 is not ideal when editing content for a 16: 9 display. You will also see a distortion introduced by the curve. A straight line will never look straight.
Mini-LED backlight issues are a problem. It is so slow and the flowering is so noticeable that you will see problems on the edges of the windows. I’m not sure this is a functional issue for content creators, but it certainly looks unworthy of a premium monitor. Photo editors will despise the subtle pattern created by backlight uniformity issues.
While the Neo G9’s HDR performance is great in gaming, it’s not ideal on Windows. Enabling HDR makes the display washed out and dull rather than more vivid. You’ll want to turn off HDR outside of games or HDR movies. This is a problem common to all monitors, but one that the Neo G9 does not solve.