The G95SC combines a glorious QD-OLED panel with great speakers, but its interface and connectivity are a problem
- Superb 5K ultrawide QD-OLED panel
- Loud and tuneful speaker system
- Stylish and well-made
- OSD menu system is bizarre
- The stand has limited adjustability
- Limited port selection
Interestingly enough, this amazing-looking monitor wasn’t the 49in QD-OLED panel I was expecting to review. You see, there are two very similar 49in Samsung models on the market – the G95SC and the G93SC.
The difference between them is that the G95SC comes with Samsung’s Tizen-based Smart TV functionality, including all the usual streaming apps and a gaming hub, running on Samsung’s Neo Quantum Processor Pro chip. The G93SC doesn’t come with the smart TV functionality, but it’s otherwise identical and, crucially, cheaper.
I don’t see the point of a smart PC monitor, because it’s designed to be connected to either a PC, a Mac, or a games console, devices that are already smart. If you want to know more about Samsung’s smart TV features, then our Samsung S90C TV review is the place to go.
Something else to remember is that Philips uses the same Samsung-made QD-OLED panel in the G95SC in its Evnia 49M2C8900. I’ve not tested that particular model, but I have spent time with its little brother, the Evnia 34M2C8600, which again uses a Samsung QD-OLED panel and is a high-quality gaming monitor.
The question is: does the smart-enabled G95SC do enough to steer me away from its cheaper sibling?
Samsung G95SC review: What do you get for your money?
Looking at Samsung’s UK website, due to a deal, the G95SC currently costs £1,399, and the G93SC is priced the same. However, the G95SC is available from resellers at considerably less than that, so it’s reasonable to assume the G93SC will also be available at far less in due course.
The core of the G95SC is a 49-inch, 5,120 x 1,440 resolution, quantum-dot OLED panel with an ultra-wide 32:9 aspect ratio, pixel density of 110dpi and 1800R curvature. It’s housed in a very well-made, slim, curvaceous cabinet, thanks to a massive 220W external power brick.
Sitting towards the middle on the back of the cabinet and surrounding the quick-release stand mechanism is a globulus lighting array which Samsung calls “Core Lighting”. In practice, it works much like Philips’ Ambiglow and can be set to illuminate in sympathy with whatever is on the screen.
Like most of these types of lighting effects, I wish it was brighter. As it is, you lose much of the effect unless you’re sitting in a near-dark room.
The stand is beautifully designed. Granted, the hexagonal foot is quite large at 350mm by 220mm, but it’s flat so can act as a tray. The stand isn’t overly adjustable, but you can tilt it between -2 and +15° with a height adjustment of 120mm.
Samsung advertises the G95SC as only being AMD FreeSync Premium Pro-certified, but the adaptive sync worked just as well with Nvidia’s G-Sync protocol. As you’d expect, there’s also HDMI Forum VRR and support for Low Framerate Compensation which allows VRR to operate even when the frame rate drops below the minimum supported by Active Sync.
PC gamers get a full-on 240Hz refresh rate, but console gamers have to make do with either 120Hz at 2,560 x 1,440 pixels or 60Hz at native resolution. Given that neither the latest PS5 nor Xbox machines can take full advantage of the 32:9 ultrawide format, the G95SC is clearly aimed more at the PC market.
To manage the menu system, you get a rather unintuitive remote control that looks and feels a bit cheap and a small “pointy” joystick found on the rear of the monitor cabinet at the bottom and a little right of centre.
The joystick is easy to access and use, but that part of the cabinet does get rather hot after prolonged use, and a sweaty hand is never a good thing when gaming.
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Samsung G95SC review: What type of connections does it have?
Idiosyncratic is the word I’d use to describe the G95SC’s selection and arrangement of ports, but there are enough for most gamers to hook up what they need to.
For video input, you get HDMI 2.1, DisplayPort 1.4 and micro-HDMI 2.1, while for data, there are three USB-C 3.2 Gen 1 ports, one upstream and two downstream. Samsung bundles Type-C to Type-A and HDMI to micro-HDMI cables in the box, although the latter is rather short.
The upstream Type-C port doesn’t support DP Alt Mode, so there’s no KVM functionality. And I’m not entirely convinced that having Type-C downstream ports is the best idea when most corded gaming peripherals come with Type-A cables.
Strangely for a gaming monitor, there’s no 3.5mm audio jack, so you’ll need to connect your headset via Bluetooth. I don’t see many gamers thinking that’s a good idea. Being a smart monitor, the G95SC has a Wi-Fi 5 radio.
The full-sized video inputs and the three USB ports are located on the side walls of an indent below the Core Lighting bulb on the back. If I was asked to locate the ports in the most inconvenient and hard-to-access place on a wide, heavy monitor with limited adjustability, that’s exactly the place I’d choose.
The micro-HDMI port and power jack face directly outward next to the cutout on the left. So the two ports you will most likely need to access least often are in the easiest position to get at.
Samsung G95SC review: How good is the image quality?
This is where the G95SC knocks the ball out of the park thanks to the quality of its quantum dot OLED display and image processing by Samsung’s Neo Quantum Processor Pro chip.
Pointing my trusty colourimeter at the G95SC told me that peak SD brightness was 251cd/m² while in HDR mode and from a small screen area (<10%) the peak was 607cd/m², well over the level mandated by the VESA HDR True Black 400 certificate and par for the course for a big OLED screen.
There’s plenty of vibrant colour with gamut volumes of 167.3% sRGB, 115.3% Adobe RGB and 118.5 DCI-P3. Colour accuracy isn’t a problem either, the panel registering a Delta E variance of 1.5 against the sRGB profile and 1.82 vs DCI-P3, the former with the colour mode set to Auto in the Colour Space Setting menu which acts as an sRGB clamp. Given the zero black levels inherent in OLED technology, the contrast ratio is infinite.
As with most gaming monitors, you can faff about with the various colour settings in and out of Game Mode to get something to suit every taste. One thing I do like about the G95SC is the absence of an overly intrusive automatic brightness limiter, so there are no jarring changes when you maximise or minimise white workspaces on the desktop.
The panel is also impressively uniform, with only a slight variation in brightness in the upper left and right corners, but you’d never notice this with the naked eye.
With a 240Hz refresh rate and a claimed G2G response time of 0.03ms, you’d expect motion handling to be spot on, and so it proved with ghosting, smearing and blurring noticeable only by their absence.
Notwithstanding generous manufacturer claims for G2G refresh times (generally only on nodding terms with reality) the G95SC is clearly fast with a capital F.
In line with its recent QD-OLED TVs, the G95SC monitor has an improved screen filter which reduces reflections and offsets ambient light without affecting the perceived black level. That means there are fewer issues with the slightly grey blacks that could be noticed in bright environments on earlier QD-OLED models.
The end result is an extremely high-quality picture, regardless of source. Viewing 4K HDR content looks jaw-droppingly good. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Halo Infinite look as impressive in superwide HD as it does on this fantastic panel.
The G95SC has something called a “sharpness” setting which, out of the box, is set to 11 (out of 20). Reducing that to six makes text on the Windows desktop far clearer and offsets the usual issues generated by the unconventional pixel layout that’s inherent to Samsung’s quantum dot OLED displays.
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Samsung G95SC review: Are there any other features I should know about?
The two 5W speakers built into the G95SC’s cabinet are almost a match for the screen in terms of media playback quality.
Measured against a pink source at a 1m distance, the average volume registered at 81dB(A), which is a very good result. The soundscape is tight, punchy and detailed, with an impressive sense of space and separation.
However, the G95SC’s onscreen menu system really doesn’t show Samsung in the best possible light. I could rant for ages about the disappointing interface, but here are a few examples of what’s wrong with it from a depressingly long list.
If you open the Game Menu and toggle the first option, Game Mode, to Off, then re-open the menu, the first option now reads Adaptive Sync. Toggle that from On to Off, and Game Mode magically reappears. Until the coin dropped, I thought I was having a senior moment and had imagined the Game Mode option. (It doesn’t help that the on-screen prompt tells you that to turn Game Mode on you do just that rather than turn Adaptive Sync off!)
Secondly, the remote doesn’t have a menu button. Long press the Play/Pause button in Game Mode, and the Gaming menu pops up from the bottom of the screen (you can access the main settings menu from this), but if you’re not in Game Mode, the long press doesn’t do anything, so you can’t open any part of the settings menu from the remote.
Another annoying thing is that when you access the main menu with the joystick, there’s no way to dismiss it. You have to wait for it to time out – for a full minute – or reach for the remote. There’s no option to adjust the length of time the menu stays open either – a feature common to even the cheapest gaming monitors.
Other gripes include often-used features like the brightness adjustment and the Game Motion Plus Settings being buried deep within the menu system. Not that I could work out what the latter settings do, because after a week with the G95SC, I’ve still not managed to access them. No matter which settings I changed, the menu still remained greyed-out.
All in all, it’s one of the most counter-intuitive, clumsy and ill-executed menu systems I’ve ever encountered on a monitor. This sort of thing would be hard to forgive on a cheap no-name panel from China, but on a high-end Samsung model with an RRP of over £1,500, it’s inexcusable.
Samsung G95SC review: Should I buy it?
If you really want a superwide OLED gaming monitor with a full suite of smart TV functions, then yes. But, then, the G95SC has that highly specific part of the market pretty much all to itself. Otherwise, I’m not so sure.
The display and sound system are both top quality, but can be had more cheaply if you choose the “dumb” G93SC model, which is identical to the G95SC, other than it lacks the Tizen smart platform. I can’t think of a reason why anyone would opt for the G95SC over the G93SC, but don’t forget, the clumsy menu system is common to both.
The elephant in the room is the Philips Evnia 49M2C8900, which uses the same Samsung QD-OLED panel, but has a user interface that won’t have you tearing your hair out. It also has four 7.5W speakers and full KVM functionality.
Until UK prices settle down for the Evnia and G93SC, it’s hard to say which is the better choice if you want a top-quality superwide OLED gaming monitor, but assuming the G93SC ends up at slightly over £1,000, then that’s the one I’d go for. At that price, I’m prepared to overlook the clumsy UI, suspect ergonomics and absence of a headphone jack.