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Samsung Odyssey Neo G9 Review

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It’s another year, another super-ultrawide monitor from Samsung. Now in its fourth year (including the original C49HG90, which didn’t bear the Odyssey brand), each new super-ultrawide has brought new features that help the G9 series excel in more than mere size. 2021 brings the most significant upgrade yet: a Mini-LED backlight.

Mini-LED can precisely control the light beneath the LCD panel and, in some cases, turn it off completely. This improves contrast, brings big gains to HDR brightness, and eliminates the dreaded edge-lit glow common to gaming monitors.

Samsung Odyssey Neo G9 Review

The Samsung Odyssey Neo G9 delivers all of the above yet suffers new problems that take the shine off its best feature.

Samsung Odyssey Neo G9 – Design

The Samsung Odyssey Neo G9’s exterior is nearly identical to last year’s G9. The only aesthetic change is on the monitor’s lower left bezel, where the prior model’s bright green Nvidia G-Sync logo is replaced by a more subtle monochrome badge. It’s a minor, but positive, tweak.

I don’t blame Samsung for keeping the prior model’s look. Why mess with what works? The Neo G9’s glossy white rear plastic looks sleek, futuristic, and luxurious. A vent near the top provides sporty flair and the massive stand makes a statement on any desk. There’s also a vent-like ring rounding the stand’s connection with the monitor. This is where you’ll find the monitor's customizable RGB light.

Samsung also leaves the monitor’s functional problems untouched. The stand is an absolute unit that measures 31 inches wide and 9 inches deep. The full depth is 17 inches which, on my desk, places the edges of the monitor closer to the front of the desk than the rear. You might need to plan a desk upgrade to go along with the monitor.

I get it. This is a big monitor with a big curve, so it’s going to take up space. Still, I can’t help but think the monitor would be more practical with a less extreme curve and a stand that trades size for heft.

The stand does its job, at least. It keeps the monitor stable and includes adjustment for height, tilt, and swivel. The tilt and swivel action are well-tuned, making it possible to adjust the monitor with a light yet intentional touch. VESA mounting is supported with an included adapter. You might want to look up your monitor arm’s maximum weight, however, as the Neo G9’s display panel tips the scales at a hefty 26 pounds.

Samsung Odyssey Neo G9 – Features

The Samsung Odyssey Neo G9 includes two HDMI 2.1 ports, an upgrade from HDMI 2.0 on last year’s G9, and one DisplayPort 1.4 port. The HDMI 2.1 ports can handle a refresh rate up to 144Hz.

The monitor’s maximum 240Hz refresh rate is only available over DisplayPort 1.4, and only with a video card that supports Display Stream Compression (DSC). Cards prior to Nvidia’s RTX 20-series and AMD’s 5000-series lack this feature. This includes the Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti in my desktop, so I was limited to a refresh rate of 120Hz on my main gaming rig (I also tested with an RTX 30-series laptop).

Samsung’s inclusion of two HDMI 2.1 ports and one DisplayPort might sound like an upgrade, but it’s not. It’s actually a downgrade from the prior model, which had one HDMI 2.0 and two DisplayPort ports.

Yes, you can now connect an Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 at once, but neither supports an ultrawide or super-ultrawide aspect ratio. The Neo G9 can’t even deliver 4K from a console because its native resolution is 5,120 x 1,440, which is too low to handle 4K’s vertical resolution of 2160 pixels. HDMI 2.1 serves no purpose aside from letting Samsung slap that label on the monitor’s marketing.

Input and monitor settings are handled through a joystick control on the monitor’s lower right bezel. Monitor settings are placed in clearly labeled menus that are easy to navigate. An instrument panel at the top of the menu provides at-a-glance information about critical settings like refresh rate and response time.

There is one new feature for 2021: three buttons beside the joystick that can be used to switch between customized settings. This is great if you switch between different settings in different games. That’s not how I play, but gamers who use the black equalizer feature to boost visibility in dark games will enjoy it.

Speakers aren’t included. The monitor also lacks support for USB-C connectivity, but it does have two USB-A ports for adding wired peripherals.

Samsung Odyssey Neo G9 – Gaming Performance

It’s no exaggeration to say the super-ultrawide Samsung Odyssey Neo G9 is a game-changing monitor. It can deliver not just stunning visuals but improve the way you play some titles. Unfortunately, it falls far short of perfection.

The Neo G9 is the ultimate monitor for simulation gaming. A visual landing in Microsoft Flight Simulator is easy, as the monitor’s wider perspective offers a realistic sense of speed and elevation. This same perspective can be great in open-world games and MMORPGs, making the Neo G9 a superb choice for Final Fantasy XIV or World of Warcraft.

Not all games are better on a super-ultrawide monitor, however. Most place important UI elements along the edges or corners of a display. This is a problem on a super-ultrawide, as the width will push important information outside your center of attention. You’ll have to tilt your head to see information that’s normally a glance away.

The Mini-LED backlight includes 2,048 individual dimming zones and is paired with a VA panel. Last year’s edge-lit G9 already had a solid measured contrast ratio of 1760:1, but the Neo G9 blows that away with an incredible measured contrast ratio of 8780:1. This beats Asus’ ROG Swift PG32UQX, which also uses Mini-LED. That display reached a measured contrast ratio of 4890:1.

The Neo G9’s incredible contrast provides a rich, deep image with great dimensionality. Yet, if anything, the high contrast ratio undersells the display’s strengths. Mini-LED completely eliminates the edge-lit glow that plagues most gaming monitors and ruins the ambience of dark scenes. Watching the sun set in an open-world game is a truly beautiful experience.

What about brightness? Yeah, the Neo G9 has it. Samsung claims a maximum peak brightness of 2000 nits. I measured a sustained brightness of 647 nits – the second highest I’ve ever recorded. The Neo G9’s overall HDR performance is great, with sharp, detailed highlights. Asus’ PG32UQX looks more vivid and delivers bolder, brighter color in HDR, but the Neo G9 defeats every other monitor on the market. A monitor with a conventional backlight, like the Alienware AW3821DW, can’t hope to keep up.

However, the Neo G9 has a problem. The Mini-LED backlight has a subtle pattern I noticed even on the Windows desktop. It’s not always visible in games but can create a series of horizontal bars that stand out in motion. The problem is most significant in bright scenes like a sunlit sky or a sterile laboratory room.

The Neo G9 also struggles with severe blooming, which causes bright halos to appear around objects on a dark background. You’ll see blooming around big objects, small objects, fast objects, and slow objects. You’ll even see inverse blooming, where the edge of bright objects appear faded against a darker background.

Some blooming and uniformity problems can be expected with Mini-LED, but Samsung can do better. The Asus ROG Swift PG32UQX does not have the same uniformity issues and while blooming does occur, it’s much less distracting.

Samsung Odyssey Neo G9 – Motion Performance

The Samsung Odyssey Neo G9 has a cutting-edge VA panel that all but eliminates the smearing issues that cause gamers to believe “VA” is a dirty word. I was able to identify some smearing of dark borders around objects when looking for it specifically, but the problem is so minor that I have trouble finding it even when examining content I know will show it.

Overall, the Neo G9’s clarity beats most gaming monitors sold today. It delivers fast response times and crisp, clean lines at the maximum refresh rate of 240Hz. Clarity holds up at lower refresh rates, too, and that’s important. Odds are good your video card can’t actually play your favorite tiles at 240 fps at this monitor’s native resolution of 5,120 x 1,440.

The Mini-LED backlight can be distracting, though. Blooming doesn’t reduce motion clarity but can lead to image quality issues that harm the monitor’s visual appeal in fast-paced games. Blooming behind a fast-moving object isn’t a motion clarity issue in the traditional sense – but it still doesn’t look great.

Samsung Odyssey Neo G9 – Day-to-Day Performance

Unboxing the Samsung Odyssey Neo G9 and placing it on your desk will leave you awestruck. It’s impossible not to be impressed by not only its size but also its image quality. As mentioned, the Neo G9 has an outstanding contrast ratio and very high maximum brightness. Its color performance isn’t exceptional but holds its own against other high-end monitors and will prove more than adequate for most people.

Despite this, the Neo G9 isn’t a great monitor for day-to-day use or content creation. The super-ultrawide aspect ratio and aggressive 1000R curvature are a problem when using the monitor to view and edit photos and videos. A 32:9 aspect ratio isn’t a great fit when editing content for a 16:9 display. You’ll also see distortion introduced by the curve. A straight line will never look straight.

The Mini-LED backlight’s issues are a problem. It’s so slow, and blooming is so noticeable, that you’ll see issues around the edges of windows. I’m not sure this is a functional problem for content creators, but it certainly feels unworthy of a premium monitor. Photo editors will despise the subtle pattern created by the backlight’s uniformity problems.

While the Neo G9’s HDR performance is great in games, it’s not ideal in Windows. Turning on HDR makes the display appear washed out and dull rather than more vivid. You’ll want to turn HDR off outside of games or HDR movies. This is a common problem for all monitors, but one the Neo G9 doesn’t resolve.


The Samsung Odyssey Neo G9 is the best super-ultrawide monitor ever made. It also has issues. It delivers great HDR, boosts contrast four-fold compared to its already solid predecessor, and offers excellent motion clarity at a variety of refresh rates. However, the imperfect Mini-LED backlight leads to noticeable image quality issues that will bug gamers with a critical eye. So is it worth $2,500? Maybe. I recommend it to gamers who want the most immersive gaming experience short of a VR headset and are willing to spare no expense. Just be warned: you’ll end up on the wrong side of FOMO if Samsung’s next hardware update fixes the backlight.

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