Ultrawide monitors have risen in popularity over the years. Initially hailed as productivity-centric monitors, they’ve made their way toward gaming too. With 16:9 monitors being the defacto standard when it comes to gaming monitors, this begs the question, which is better for gaming? An Ultrawide or a 16:9 monitor?
|Topic||Ultrawide (21:9)||Standard (16:9)|
|2K Resolution Example||3440×1440||2560×1440|
|Compatibility with Older Games||Often not supported (black borders)||Widely supported|
|Popularity Among Gamers (c. 2018)||2-3% according to Steam surveys||Predominant standard|
|Advantage in Competitive Games||No significant advantage; often stretched||Better compatibility; higher FPS potential|
|Immersiveness in Singleplayer||High; cinematic feel||Standard view; still immersive|
|FPS Performance Requirement||Demands more due to higher resolution||Lower resolution, often results in higher FPS|
|Future Outlook||Growing but not expected to replace 16:9||Continues to be the dominant standard|
What’s The Difference Between 16:9 And Ultrawide Monitors?
Ultrawide monitors are ones that have a 21:9 aspect ratio or greater. Generally speaking, you’ll see 21:9 monitors also being referred to as Ultrawides, thanks to their horizontal width compared to their vertical length.
The primary difference between the two monitors is in their aspect ratio. You’ll see Ultrawides covering more horizontal space compared to a typical 16:9 display. This also leads to their resolution.
For example, a 2K display at 16:9 will have a resolution of 2560×1440 while an Ultrawide will be at 3440×1440. So, an Ultrawide always has a higher resolution for the same fidelity. Besides this, there’s no difference between both monitors.
So, to summarize – the two differences between Ultrawides and 16:9 monitors are:
- Ultrawides have more horizontal space thanks to their wider aspect ratios.
- They have a greater resolution (more pixels) for the same visual fidelity.
Ultrawide Monitors in Gaming: Are They Worth It?
Ultrawide are recent entrants in the gaming space while 16:9 monitors threw out the previously popular format, 4:3. While there were genuine arguments made for the transition between 4:3 and 16:9, thanks to the latter’s relatively boxed-in ratios, the case for 21:9 isn’t that clear.
As we’ve mentioned, Ultrawides / 21:9 are a new format for gaming. Because of this, most old games don’t support the format. So, you’ll be met with huge black borders on both sides with the game being rendered only in the center.
Thankfully though, newer games post 2018 tend to support Ultrawide. However, don’t expect every game to support this resolution primarily because of its adaptation as of yet. According to Steam’s user surveys, only 2-3% of gamers have Ultrawide monitors.
Ultrawides take up more of your periphery and stretch characters out. For competitive games, this can turn out to be quite a disadvantage. In games like Valorant and CS:GO, you’ll have to be more aware of your corners while also requiring more time to move your mouse from one side of the screen to the other.
Contrary to popular belief, you won’t be able to see more of the screen in a competitive game like Valorant. Instead, everything will appear stretched out. So, you’ll have the same FoV as a 16:9 player. But, everything will just appear wider.
However, this does not apply to every game though. Some titles like Call of Duty: Warzone genuinely provide you with a field of vision advantage if you have an Ultrawide screen. But, all of these titles also have a FoV slider built in that lets you adjust your FoV on a 16:9 display as well.
In essence, you won’t be experiencing a competitive advantage by switching to an Ultrawide monitor. So, if that’s the reason why you wanted to shell out for one, you are better off with a higher refresh rate monitor at 16:9 instead.
Low Frames Per Second
An Ultrawide monitor has a higher resolution than a 16:9 monitor. So, unless and until you have a GPU that can drive those frames up, you will be getting less FPS on an Ultrawide. Because of this, playing games, especially competitive ones tends to be a sub-optimal experience.
Before you go ahead and make that investment, we recommend checking your GPUs specific benchmarks on Ultrawide resolutions to ensure it can produce enough frames. Otherwise, you’ll have to either reduce your resolution or play on 16:9 on a 21:9 aspect ratio monitor, which looks very odd.
Alright, this is where Ultrawide monitors hands down provide absolutely amazing experiences. Ultrawides add a layer of immersion that a 16:9 monitor simply cannot. The increased aspect ratio allows the game to soak up your entire peripheral vision providing you with a cinematic experience like no other.
So, if you are someone who plays more singleplayer games such as Civilization and other AAA titles, you’ll feel right at home with an Ultrawide monitor. This is because of two reasons. Firstly, you end up actually seeing more of the game at any time unlike most competitive titles, leading to a greater degree of immersion.
Secondly, single-player games don’t really require a lot of FPS for them to be enjoyed. You can still enjoy the Last of Us if it was running at 60 FPS. And, many would argue that the relatively lower frame rate adds to the cinematic experience.
Are Ultrawides the Future of Gaming?
No, Ultrawides are not the future of gaming. We’re expecting to see 16:9 keeping its place for a very long time. This is because it is the same aspect ratio used in movies, films, and television. Moreover, going any greater leads to you needing to sacrifice a lot of performance for just a little bit more horizontal space.
Therefore, we’re going to see natural evolutions towards 1440p and 4K in the 16:9 format. And, while Ultrawides isn’t going to phase out 16:9 anytime soon, sales for Ultrawides / 21:9 monitors have been increasing drastically as more and more GPUs are able to provide reasonable frame rates with their higher resolution demands.
The Verdict: Are Ultrawide or 16:9 Monitors Better for Gaming?
16:9 monitors are better for gaming. This is because they’re compatible with every modern-day game, their lower resolutions allow for better frame rates and there’s no advantage of using them in competitive titles.
However, if you only play narrative-driven singleplayer titles, you should opt for an Ultrawide monitor given that your GPU can produce reasonable enough frames for it. This is because the level of immersion and peripheral encompassment that an Ultrawide can provide will remain forever unmatched by a 16:9 monitor.
Gaming Monitor FAQs
Is 21:9 or 16:9 better for gaming?
Both 21:9 and 16:9 aspect ratios have their advantages. 21:9, also known as ultrawide, provides an immersive gaming experience with a wider field of view. On the other hand, 16:9 is more common and has better compatibility with most games. The choice depends on your personal preferences and the types of games you play.
Are ultrawide monitors better for gaming?
A: Ultrawide monitors can be better for gaming in some cases, as they offer a more immersive experience with an increased field of view. They are particularly suited for open-world, racing, and simulation games. However, not all games support the ultrawide format, and competitive gamers might prefer standard 16:9 monitors for better performance and compatibility.
What aspect ratios are best for gaming?
The best aspect ratio for gaming depends on individual preferences and game types. The most common aspect ratio is 16:9, which is widely supported and offers a balance between screen real estate and performance. 21:9 (ultrawide) is an excellent choice for immersive gaming experiences, while 4:3 may be preferred by some competitive gamers for specific titles.
Is a 34-inch ultrawide too big for gaming?
A 34-inch ultrawide monitor is not necessarily too big for gaming. It can provide an immersive experience with its wide field of view, especially in open-world, racing, and simulation games. However, ensure that you have enough desk space and sit at an appropriate distance from the screen to avoid eye strain and maintain a comfortable gaming experience.
Why is 16:9 so common?
The 16:9 aspect ratio is common because it has become the standard for most modern displays, including TVs, monitors, and smartphones. It is a compromise between the older 4:3 aspect ratio and the wider 21:9 ultrawide format, providing a good balance between screen real estate and compatibility with various media types, including movies, TV shows, and games.
What aspect ratio is best for high FPS?
A 16:9 aspect ratio is generally better for high FPS gaming, as it is more widely supported by games and has better performance due to lower pixel count compared to ultrawide formats. However, your overall FPS will also depend on other factors such as your graphics card, CPU, and in-game settings.
What aspect ratio is most realistic?
The most realistic aspect ratio is subjective and depends on individual preferences. 21:9 ultrawide monitors can provide a more immersive and realistic experience due to their extended field of view, which closely resembles human peripheral vision. However, some people might still prefer the standard 16:9 aspect ratio as it is more common and widely supported by games and media content.