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Why Are Ultrawide Monitors So Expensive? The REAL Hidden Cost…


ViewSonic ultrawide monitor 3

I’m typing this article on an ultrawide monitor, and, in fact, that is my current monitor pictured above! I love my monitor, but I couldn’t help but wonder why they are so expensive.

Why are ultrawide monitors so expensive? Ultrawide monitors are expensive for a multitude of reasons:

  1. Ultrawide monitor popularity is on the rise, but it’s still a small portion of gamers.
  2. Ultrawide LCD panels are less common than 16:9 LCD panels.
  3. Ultrawide screens cost more to make because they are larger.
  4. The type of panel on the monitor you buy greatly dictates price, performance, and screen quality.

Now that you know the basic reasons, let’s drill deeper into this and explain how exactly each of these impact the current prices of ultrawide monitors.

In addition, we will also talk about the types of panels on ultrawide monitors and which one is best for you.

It could be the difference between spending $1,500 and $650.

1. Ultrawide Popularity Is On The Rise, But It’s Still Niche

Ultrawide monitors are in somewhat of a funny spot right now.

The demand is growing however since it is still a niche market the companies that make these monitors can charge more for their product since they aren’t as widely available as 16:9 monitors.

The good news is with the growing popularity of ultrawide, more and more games are supporting ultrawide so you don’t have to limit your enjoyment to a fixed portion of your screen as pictured below.

Sekiro being played on an ultrawide monitor
This is what it looks like when a game doesn’t support ultrawide.

On another positive note, with more popularity comes a bigger selection of monitors to choose from. There are many more budget options than past years which is allowing more people to get into ultrawide gaming.

If you are open to getting a 1080p ultrawide, you can save yourself a pretty penny by downscaling the graphics from a 1440p monitor to a 1080p.

2. Ultrawide LCD Panels Are Less Commonly Available

ViewSonic ultrawide monitor 2

There is an abundance of 16:9 LCD panels available to manufactures because that has been the standard for many, many years now.

For this reason, it costs more to get the less common ultrawide panels which then forces the gaming companies to charge more for their product.

As technology ages and ultrawide becomes more popular, more reasonably priced ultrawide monitors should start popping up more often.

This likely will take a while to change as currently ultrawide gamers are still a very small percentage of the overall pc gaming market.

3. Larger Screens Make For Larger Price Tags

Getting into the less obscure reasons here, it costs more to make larger screens. Especially, when you are talking about a 1440p ultrawide, with a quality panel that allows for great performance.

Since it costs more for the gaming companies to make, they will have to charge the buyers more to make back their money. Hence, another factor that raises the price tag on these monitors.

4. Monitor Panels Greatly Affect Price

IPS PanelVA Panel
Best Image QualityGood Image Quality
Not-As-Good Performance For The MoneyGood Performance For The Money
For The Best Single Player
Experience
For The Best Overall Experience
Most ExpensiveModerately Expensive
A table showing the differences between ultrawide monitor panels.

Without completely boring you with the technical jargon this really comes down to three types: IPS, VA and TN. What panel your monitor has is going to dictate the picture quality as well as the performance of your monitor.

Starting from the top is your IPS monitor, these have AMAZING quality to them that is undeniable. However, they typically have higher response times and often lower refresh rate.

This isn’t to say that these monitors can’t have great performance! However, if you want a monitor that has it all, IPS and performance that is the high-end monitor that will cost you top-dollar to get.

Before we continue you may be saying, what in the world is a response time or refresh rate? Let’s give you a couple quick answers before we keep going.

Response time is a measurement of the time it takes for pixels to change colors, the longer it is the more ghosting and motion blur you will see.

Refresh rate is the measure of how often your monitor refreshes the image. The more often this happens, the smoother your image movement is going to look.

In order to get the most out of a high-refresh rate monitor you must also have a system that can reach high FPS to max out the refresh rate of the monitor.

Everything has trade offs and for the IPS monitor is it trading good speed for fantastic picture quality.

If you are more of a single-player gamer that lacks interest in online games these monitors are good for you.

Then, we have the TN panels that are built for shocking speed! These are the monitors that reach that fantastic 240hz refresh rate and beyond.

One thing you should know is ultrawide monitors with TN panels don’t exist currently. TN panels are only made to work on a maximum display size of 27 inches.

These panels have high refresh rates and tend to be cheap, but they are limited to the smaller screens that aren’t ultrawide.

Lastly, we are brought to where most people such as myself land on the spectrum of monitor panel buying, the VA panel.

Here you have a combination of good picture quality, and performance. Often times a quality 1440p ultrawide monitor with a high refresh rate is going to have a VA panel.

You can still have good image quality for when you play games like Red Dead Redemption 2, while still being able to compete at a high level in games like Rainbow Six Siege.

The trade off here is that VA panels don’t quite excel in either category, you aren’t the fastest and you won’t have the image quality of IPS.

However, considering TN panels aren’t used on ultrawide monitors, VA panels are a great cheaper alternative to IPS monitors and still have good image quality and performance.

BONUS: The Cost No-One Tells You About

Now, it’s time to have a chat about the chunk of change that is going to surprise your wallet as soon as you buy your awesome new ultrawide monitor…the graphics card.

If you are already asking why ultrawide monitors are so expensive, then buckle up because it’s about to get even more expensive.

When I got my ultrawide monitor I had to dial down the settings in some games to about about medium just to get 60 FPS, dipping down to 50.

I loved the immersion that I got from gaming on an ultrawide monitor and doing any kind of work was a lot easier, but I just wasn’t getting the FPS I wanted with my graphics card.

After about 5 months, I decided it was time to upgrade to an RTX 2070 super and that was the best decision I’ve ever made.

The enjoyment I was able to get out of every game immediately shot up (as did the FPS). I bought Red Dead Redemption 2 shortly after and ran it on great graphics settings…it was 35 hours of pure bliss.

I then played many other games, turning up the settings and maxing out my monitor’s refresh rate which is around 100hz.

The point of that story is for you to keep in mind that when you are upgrading from a regular 16:9 monitor to a new fancy 1440p ultrawide you will most likely need to upgrade your graphics card too.

Unless of course, you already have a 2070 super or higher. At the time of purchasing my new ultrawide about a year ago I was using a 1070 TI.

So Should You Get An Ultrawide Monitor?

Speaking from personal experience, I would say only get an ultrawide monitor if you are ready to greatly increase your enjoyment of games and never want to game on a 16:9 monitor ever again.

Jokes aside, if you love to play story-driven games or are even a variety gamer that plays everything you cannot go wrong with an ultrawide.

It may cost a good amount more but the immersion and enjoyment out of every game increases so much.

The only people I would say may not need an ultrawide monitor are highly competitive gamers.

You are better off going for a 16:9 monitor, most likely even a TN panel, and getting the most frames and high speed performance on the market.

Ultrawide monitors are great for fully experiencing a game, but if it’s a competitive edge you are looking for you should stick with a high refresh rate, low response time 16:9 monitor.

Tom

I've been a PC gamer and builder for around 3 years now but my love for gaming spans many years all the way back to the Nintendo 64! Getting into PC gaming there was a lot of information that was hard to understand so I made it my mission to make PC gaming easy!

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