I don't think it's hyperbole to say that computer games did more than anything else to push the limits of Moore's Law -- like porn was to the spread of the internet. Now, as Moore's Law is slowing, nothing is more ubiquitous than high-quality gaming. The GPU remains important for the latest games that push the boundaries of graphics, but most titles are readily handled by any computer today, and components are cheap.
This is why Samsung's CJG5 monitor comes at the right time. The CJG5 series comes in curved WQHD (2,560x1,440) resolution VA panels with a refresh rate of 144Hz. It has a 2.0 HDMI port and a 1.4 port, as well as DisplayPort input.
I had a chance to enjoy the company of the 32-inch version, model C32JG52, for a little over a month. I've played mega-hit first-person shooting titles like PUBG and Doom 2016 using the monitor, and, simply put, the CJG5 offers high resolution, is responsive, and comes in a sleek design.
Most importantly, it is affordable for what it offers -- $400 for the 32-inch version, with the 27-inch C27JG50 version priced at $320. It is the perfect companion for gaming that goes with your average or slightly above average computer that will make you feel like the boss in any game.
144Hz refresh rate, hell yes
Samsung claims the CJG5 has a rapid refresh rate of 144Hz and a 4ms response time. Doom 2016 offered the perfect gameplay to test this; the title is now two years old, but still requires reasonably decent hardware specs and the latest GPU to fully enjoy.
As in Doom 1993, the granddaddy of all first-person shooter games, the player is a lone marine fighting against the legions of hell in this modern-day reboot. So any latency problems are a real no-no.
After spending days and days of burning the late-night oil, I can safely say that I had no one to blame but myself for being ripped apart by demons. The best gaming monitors stay out of the player's way; as in, you don't notice them. My movements were smooth, and there were only a couple of instances of blurred screens during a month of hours of play, which has more to do with my computer specs.
Doom intentionally traps players in a set environment to fight demons -- the so-called arena-style combat -- with beautiful, wide scenery in the background to give the illusion of open space, but it has many instances where the land to traverse is wide open, which is graphics-intensive. It's also a completely 3D environment, where the players rotate 360 degrees to aim at demons as they jump and charge at various angles. Players also need to jump to climb objects and walls, and fight in mid-air.
These cursor movements and transitions from enclosed spaces to wide areas are where latency problems can exasperate gamers -- but the CJG5 handles these moments with ease.
Latency issues are a major cause of dizziness, especially for older gamers. I am in my mid-30s, and have intentionally stayed away from fast-paced first-person shooter games and stuck with strategy games like DOTA, but I can report that five- to six-hour sessions are handled without any dizziness. Users can also lower the refresh rate to 60Hz and 120Hz as need be.
Deep blacks, rich colors
The CJG5 offers a contrast ratio of 3,000:1. I've always felt that deep blacks are more important than brightness. OLED may be the king in deeper blacks, but its only starting to get a foothold in the super-premium TV areas despite the price drop, and the burn-in problem doesn't sit well with me for long hours of game play -- which usually have a stationary health bar or ammo status that remains static, which could be susceptible to this.
Samsung's VA LCD monitor offers very deep blacks. More than games, watching high-resolution movies shows it off more and the contrast will be immediately noticeable. The top and side bezels of the CJG5 are very thin, with the inner bezel just 1mm thick, which seems to be an intentional design to accentuate black when it is the background colour.
LCD is a mature technology that still reigns for monitors, and I suspect it will for some years to come. Samsung has done wonders over the years in display hardware. The colour never feels too saturated, yet remains rich and eye-friendly. It packs an Eye Saver mode that dims the blues, but its natural setting and the wide screen, as well as the distance from the screen to the eye that the desktop setup forces, is already sufficient to minimise eye fatigue.
The CJG5 doesn't have HDR. For first movers, this may be a negative, but for budget-conscious consumers, which the monitor is aimed at, I feel this will be acceptable because the CJG5 already offers other features. Also, while HDR would not be bad to have, the technology has barely even settled on TVs. I feel that most games will be fine without it, and the CJG5's 3,000:1 ratio more than delivers enough contrast.
PUBG is played in a bright environment, so the contrast ratio wasn't as noticeable. But Doom takes place in hell and in a research facility overrun by demons that have many, many ominous dark corners. The demons are intentionally in bright colors like orange and pink with only a few exceptions, and a good contrast ratio is important to spot them at a distance or when they are in corners.
Don't mind the curve: Premium design
Whether curving displays have any real effect in viewing experience has been debated since they were first introduced. The majority opinion is that TVs can benefit from it, because you usually watch them from a few metres way. For monitors, which are closer, the effect is likely minimal.
As for the curve on the CJG5, Samsung claims the 1800R curvature makes your eye less busy, because it keeps the distance from the eye to the screen the same for the whole width, thus reducing eye fatigue. I would love the opinion of an ophthalmologist on whether Samsung's claim is true.
But I actually loved the curve. I can't speak for the smaller 27-inch version, but for the 32-inch one that I had, the wide screen coupled with the curves really makes the monitor feel premium. I loved the wide screen, and feel it will be hard to go back to a smaller one.
The curves are inviting, and the V-shaped stand seems to also be an intentional design choice to give the feeling of being drawn into the screen. Coupled with the thin bezel, the overall setup and design choices made by Samsung immersed me.
Overall, for the 32-inch version at least, the wider real estate makes the curve very noticeable even from the front view, and helped me dive into the world that the game offered.
Whether it is science or really just psychological, I didn't really mind.
Outside of games
As a rule of thumb, gaming monitors can always just double as a "regular" monitor. I am sure many professionals have dual- or multiple-monitor setups, or even their wider-screened TVs as monitors.
But for budget-conscious consumers, the CJG5 offers a good one-in-all. The wide screen, particularly the 32-inch version, is able to handle multi-screen setup without taking too much space, and it can be placed anywhere.
The contrast ratio makes it good for movie viewing thanks to the deep blacks -- which more and more people do with a monitor than a TV, courtesy of Netflix and YouTube. Graphic designers who need a capable, additional monitor at a bargain price will also welcome the CJG5.
Samsung is serious about gaming
The CJG5 will allow any delusional player to know that they really suck, or prevent any good player from being bogged down by weak hardware.
Strategy wise, I also feel that Samsung made the right choice by offering an affordable monitor like the CJG5 at a reasonable price. Selling monitors is a crowded field. Of course, the South Korean tech giant offers super-premium products like the CHG90, a curved 49-inch panel with 32:9 ratio at 3,840x1,080, which costs $1,100. Like in TVs, it is where hardware manufacturers get to flaunt their tech muscle.
But it's the mid-range line-ups that bring market share. Monitor specs are rising quickly. According to IHS, 74 percent of gaming monitors in 2019 will be WQHD, not Full HD, and more will jump from 60Hz to 144Hz.
In this era of ubiquitous games, the CJG5 is the first step to showing the gaming community that Samsung knows games. It's an honest product that pushes aside trendy features like HDR and gives you real, hard performance for the right bucks.