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Iiyama XUB3490WQSU review: Ultra-wide 34in excellence

Chris Finnamore
4 Jun 2016
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Iiyama XUB3490WQSU header
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
564
inc VAT (as of 2nd June)

The perfect screen for multitasking, if you can find it at the right price

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PC displays with a 21:9 aspect ratio used to be an oddity, but the ultra-wide form factor is becoming increasingly common. The monitors I’ve seen most recently with this screen shape have been gaming-orientated models; both the BenQ XR3501 and AOC C3583FQ have huge 35in panels with 144Hz refresh rates or above, but relatively low 2,560x1,080 resolutions. This made them great for fast-paced games, but mediocre for office work, where clear text and plenty of resolution for multiple applications is vital.

The Iiyama XUB3490WQSU is a 21:9 screen with no such limitations, as this 34in display has a 3,440x1,440 resolution. This means you have almost as many horizontal pixels as two 1,920x1080 monitors placed side by side, and a useful 25% extra vertical space to help show more of a web page or word processing document.

Ultra-why?

Admittedly, you don’t get as many pixels as on a 16:9 4K display, such as the 27in Iiyama GB2888UHSU with its 3,840x2,160 resolution, but in many ways the ultra-wide 34in XUB3490WQSU is a more practical monitor.

This is chiefly due to scaling. A 27in 3,840x2,160 monitor has so many pixels crammed into a small area (163 pixels-per-inch) that Windows has to increase the size of on-screen elements to make things legible. Windows 10 is better than previous versions of Windows at scaling properly, but many applications, including older ones such as Photoshop CS6 and even parts of Windows’ Control Panel, don’t scale properly, so have tiny icons and fuzzy text.

Iiyama XUB3490WQSU side

A 34in 3,440x1,440 screen, however, has a pixel density only slightly higher than that of a 24in 1,920x1,080 monitor (109ppi vs 91ppi), so even older applications scale correctly. Icons are also the right size and text is clear. More importantly, it’s a practical size for a desk; a 34in screen with a 3,840x2,160 resolution would be almost half a metre high, and not everyone wants to work or game with a TV on their desk.

The Iiyama XUB3490WQSU works well as an office monitor, then, especially for multitasking. It’s also excellent for films, as you’d expect, and games are more immersive as the screen fills most of your peripheral vision. I did find myself missing the curve of the BenQ XR3501 and AOC C3583FQ when gaming, and sometimes even during normal desktop tasks; the extreme left and right of the monitor do seem a long way away, and curved screens make you feel closer to the action/column AZ of the spreadsheet. The only curved monitor we’ve seen with this high a resolution is the Philips Brilliance BDM3490UC, but that’s over £130 more than Iiyama’s display.

The screen’s office credentials are also boosted by its picture-in-picture or picture-by-picture functions. I found I could plug a test machine into the monitor over HDMI, set its resolution to 1,720x1,440, set the main PC to the same resolution and have two computers side by side on the same display, in perfectly sharp native resolution. If you need a test machine, such as a Linux box, alongside your Windows PC, you’ll certainly find this feature useful.

Design

It’s easy to get the XUB3490WQSU into the position you want. It will rotate on its base, the panel will rotate around 45 degrees from horizontal towards vertical, and the screen is height-adjustable from 54-180mm. It’s all the adjustment we would expect on a screen at this price; the only thing missing is portrait mode, but I’m not convinced that would be practical on a screen this wide.

On the back you have DisplayPort, HDMI 1.4, HDMI 2.0 and HDMI/MHL ports, as well as a hub for two USB2 and two USB3 ports. The HDMI 2.0 port means you can drive the screen at 3,440x1,440 at 60Hz over HDMI, but only if you have a modern Nvidia graphics card. This means that if you plug the screen into a laptop over HDMI, you’ll most likely be limited to 30Hz, which is usable if slightly jerky.

I didn’t get on particularly well with the monitor’s menu system. There’s nothing wrong with the clear onscreen menus, but the writing on the face of the monitor denoting what button does what is almost impossible to see without shining a light directly on it.

Image quality

You shouldn’t have to do too much fiddling, however. By default the screen was displaying 96.7% of the sRGB colour gamut, with a colour temperature of 6360K (versus the ideal 6500K) and a Delta-E colour accuracy figure of 2.87 (the lower the better). These are reasonable, if not spectacular, figures, but matters improved significantly once I calibrated the monitor with an i1 DisplayPro calibrator. After calibration the monitor could display 99.2% of the sRGB gamut, with a near-perfect 6566K colour temperature and an excellent Delta-E accuracy score of 1.4. It’s a shame the screen wasn’t closer to these figures out of the box, but if you’re spending this much on a monitor you may find a calibrator is worth the investment.

The screen’s widescreen aspect may be well suited to games, but this is no hardcore gaming monitor. A 5ms pixel response time is fine for an IPS panel, if not up there with the fastest screens, but the panel’s 60Hz refresh rate (as opposed to 120Hz or more) means you’re unlikely to run into any problems caused by pixels not changing state quickly enough to cope with the action onscreen. There is a pixel overdrive function, but the ghosting test at testufo.com showed this to create significant image artefacts. I didn’t notice any ghosting during games, so just left overdrive at minimal levels. There’s also no Freesync adaptive sync, to smooth out gameplay at sub-60fps frame rates.

Iiyama XUB3490WQSU ports

Conclusion

If you want a super-high-resolution monitor but don’t want to worry about Windows scaling problems, or just want something special to watch 4K Netflix on, the XUB3490WQSU makes a lot of sense. It’s in a fairly niche category, so I’ll compare it to the other two 34in, 3,440x,1440 screens we’ve seen. The Philips Brilliance BDM3490UC has better image quality out of the box, and I think curved screens are an advantage when they’re this large. However, it lacks height adjustment and is very expensive. The AOC U3477PQU can’t match Iiyama’s screen for default colour accuracy, but it otherwise matches it almost feature for feature and is a useful £60 cheaper. The AOC screen just edges in front due to this price difference, but if you find the Iiyama XUB3490WQSU for around the £520 mark, snap it up.

Hardware
Screen size34in
Resolution3,440x1,440
Screen technologyIPS
Claimed contrast ratio1,000:1
Claimed brightness320cd/m2
Refresh rate60Hz
Claimed response time5ms
Response time typegrey-to-grey
Horizontal viewing angle89 degrees
Vertical viewing angle89 degrees
Screen depth24mm
Base (WxD)297x220mm
Screen elevation54-180mm
Portrait modeNo
Internal speaker (power)Yes (3W)
Detachable cablesYes
USB hub2-port USB, 2-port USB3
Integrated power supplyYes
Video inputs1x DisplayPort, 2x HDMI 1.4, 1x HDMI 2.0
Audio inputs3.5mm audio input