For anyone embarking on a budget sim rig journey considering using a cheap / spare TV instead of computer monitor, this is what I gathered from my recent sim racing experience, comparing my existing 55" 1080 TV setup to a computer monitor.
In sim racing builds, It's easy to assume that we can beat the system with a cheaper, larger TV instead of a pc monitor. Which is exactly what I did, by simply attaching an old unused 55" 1080p LG TV After all, it's bigger, so definitely better?
That's not the case when I personally tried a friend's sim rig with a generic 34" pc monitor, which was not only set further away from view, it is a lot smaller than my 55". I was surprised at how much more comfortable it is to look at, mostly because the details are way more sharper, which just made it feel more immersive.
What I realised
To race better we need to see better - Most people don't realise this but unlike circuit racing where we can use all our five senses, In sim racing, vision is everything. The sense of speed, corner curvatures, obstacles, are all presented visually.
Clarity from a close distance - TV monitors are almost always pixelelated when viewed from close proximity. I suffer from not being able to tell certain things apart for example 100M and 150M braking marker.
Contrast & HDR capability - New sim games are getting increasingly realistic and take advantage of hdr. So for dusk and night racing, vision will be way darker and key details will not pop on regular monitors
Size is not all - It's hard to believe but a 55" regular TV monitor stand no chance against even a 34" pc monitor just based on clarity alone, not including the higher refresh rates and contrast. The size doesn't matter if we can't make out the detail.
Eye strain - I'm a real specimen for eye strain when sim racing. The effort taken to anticipate and process details that are not there can be challenging and hair pulling when sim racing. Not to mention taxing on the eyes and draining on the mind.
Granted, there are newer 4K TVs currently that can comfortably replace computer monitors for sim racing, after all, even Gran Turismo is designed for TVs. So try to get the best one but one you can comfortably afford or course.
The following is not a paid promotion but a strong realisation after my personal experience with the current Samsung Neo G9 49" vs a LG 55" 1080p TV. They are literally on opposite ends of the spectrum. it's like comparing the best pc monitor money can buy today vs a last gen TV.
One could technically get similar results with a current and decently specced pc monitor or TV.
Samsung Odyssey Neo G9 49"
Took a bit of effort to haul this big S monitor in through the door and not to mention the need to move things aside just to park the massive box. It is probably the largest desktop monitor on the planet, measuring an ultra wide 49" diagonally.
But really what's out of this world is its spaceship physique, all white backside, with a curvature so mind bending, this art piece of a monitor adds a sci-fi mood to the room it sits in. Then there's the Tony Stark arc reactor RGB light feature at the center of it all. The Neo G9's extreme form and build can only be truly appreciated live in person.
What is it for:
This Samsung Odyssey Neo G9 review unit has been provided by Samsung Malaysia and was tested on my personal sim rig, which is typically hooked to a 55" TV. My intention was to experience first hand, the hype behind ultrawide curved screens vs the average TV screen for sim racing and if a huge single screen can replace triple screens.
Installing the Neo G9 on the sim rig:
For this, I had to transfer the wall mount attachment from the existing TV over to the Neo G9 and then hang it on my custom monitor stand. The custom stand is made with 2 vertical square pipes, paired with a TV wall mount attachment that is held on with a handful of L brackets, secured with screws and nuts. It holds a last-gen heavyweight 55" TV without breaking a sweat, so the Neo G9 is nothing more than a walk in the park.
What's nice is the Neo G9 supports vesa mount that matches the typical monitor arm or wall mount, as used in my build. So there's no need for special attachments, which is great, considering the atypical form of the Neo G9. Good fuss tree replacement for any setup. There's also the elaborate monitor stand that it comes with, which I didn't manage to try.
Finally able to dial in on that ideal monitor height and view angle with this ultrawide 32:9 screen which was impossible with the TV being taller, because of the inherent 4:3 aspect ratio. So the TV has always been too tall for the height I'm sitting at. I need to look up to the TV screen vs it being eye level with the lower and more compressed ultrawide Neo G9
The entire sim rig suddenly look way too upgraded with the presence of the Neo G9. So much so that my average sim setup seemed unworthy of the prized 49" monitor. Not that it's a bad thing at all.
Once the monitor is securely mounted, connected and turned on, I realised after spending a half hour fiddling with the cables that I had to select Displayport as source via the monitor or it'll just stick to HDMI even if displayport is the only cable connected. Weird but true.
Other than that the monitor simply plugs and play and Windows 10 automatically detects and sets the resolution to the max 5120x1440.
Jaw dropping size and plenty of head turning to do. End to end, there's over 3 times the screen real estate of a regular monitor. It's like sitting front row at a cinema.
Distance between the windows start button and taskbar clock requires about 30 degrees of head turn on Neo G9 vs zero effort with an average screen.
The 5120x1440 resolution is a sight to behold on the Neo G9. Although the ultra wide, and not very tall perspective does take some getting used to. It does feel like the screen should be a tad taller but that sensation goes away with tlme.
I have never experienced visuals from a computer monitor this crisp. The detail, colour and contrast literally feels like the super amoled screen on my personal Z Fold 3 but many times bigger in size. It really is indescribably clear, whatever content is displayed on screen. Be it a YouTube video or basic Web browsing. At night with the lights off, it gets more intimate as the massive curved screen seem to encapsulate the view and float just ahead.
The unreal curvature just seem to surround the POV, adding a new sense of dimension never before felt, which alone exudes a special treat not available from flat screens, especially for the purpose of sim racing immersion that the 1000R curve actually adds to.
The curved screen stay parallel to the eyes, so no matter where the head turn when viewing content, centrally or either of the lengthy sides, the screen is almost always at the same distance to the eye, at least it strives to. As opposed to a conventional flat screen, which probably wouldn't work as well if it were flat and as wide.
It feels like a toned down version of a triple screen at times, but in reality the 49" ultrawide Neo G9 is in a class of its own, which is by no means a triple screen replacement, but is fact just a step below. It will not replace the immersion you get from the triple screens' even wider, also taller perspective, but it slots itself somewhere in between single and triple screen, like having the best of both worlds, but without the intense GPU resource that triple screens demand.
On the topic of resources, the Neo G9 made me realise how underspecced my regular gaming pc is. While it is more than enough for most 1080 gaming, video editing usage and still more than enough for CS:GO with everything turn up to full and is creamy smooth at ultrawide 5120x1440. I have to say CS:GO has been really enjoyable on the Neo G9 which I will elaborate further in the impressions below.
But the same cannot be said about the more gpu hungry Assetto Corsa Competizione which this sim rig predominantly consumes at a humble 1920x1080.
Although even at 5120x1440 on the Neo G9, It'll run pretty high graphics modes in single player but immediately stutters in multiplayer. There's no other way but to turn the individual modes down or use the geforce app to automatically optimize and retard graphics for ACC.
Even so, the new found visual clarity, contrast, high refresh rates and above all, the immersion totally negates the graphics deficit. I can live with the lower graphics but the new perspective had me sold on ultrawide screens. It really is the pinnacle of single screen sim racing.
Here are some impressions from the 2 games I consume most on the sim rig:
Assetto Corsa Competizione
- Upon firing up the premier racing simulator on the new 32:9 resolution, there's a need to set and readjust the cockpit to the now wider fov.
- I miss the taller 16:9 as the 32:9 aspect ratio cuts out some top and bottom view, almost like squinting or viewing out from a narrow visor. With further use, this need does melt away and the added immersion more than makes up for the sacrifice.
- Admittedly, there's not a lot more to see compared to a conventional 16:9 ratio, depending how the FOV is set but the ultrawide 32:9 POV does simulate a somewhat more realistic view out of a windscreen and it is very apparent.
- The ACC visual presentation in 32:9 is extra breathtaking for some reason, the game just seem grander, newer and more correct in the ultrawide aspect ratio.
- Increased refresh rate is new to my eyes, translating to a quicker reaction to the road ahead. Does contribute to better immersion. Also has little to no ghosting like I would get with a the TV monitor.
- The blacks stay completely black, stunning especially with the lights off.
- Textures that were barely noticeable, like the wrinkles on the roll cage sponge are now visible and detail like the carbon fiber weave really pop
- The increased immersion actually lead to better visual judgement, improved lap times and overall consistency.
- I did find it easier to learn a new a circuit and be competitive with the Neo G9 screen in the recent sim races.
- There's less effort needed to see what's ahead, the braking points, the corner exits seemed more apparent than before
- Playing this classic on a 55" TV is already a joy, on the Neo G9 it's on a whole other level.
- It appears way, way more panaromic on the ultrawide 32:9 than one can imagine.
- So wide it's almost an unfair advantage.
- it feels like there's more peripheral vision, although the screen appear stretched, it is not.
- there's more side vision like how we see more in sim racing with triple screens
- The brilliant contrast reveals everything. Shadow or dark places don't hide the enemies no more.
- On the regular TV, with the enemy far away, I might just see a dot among the rough pixels, but with the Neo G9 I can easily make up the subject without even trying.
- Again, like sim racing, one can get by with mediocre screens but real enjoyment and competitiveness can only come from better vision.
- The 1000R curve surrounds the view and actually adds a substantial sense of immersion, where its physical advantages in sim and general gaming continue to linger on, long after the epic visual quality cease to impress the eye.
- The visual is indeed the most impressive I've ever experienced in a pc monitor but that's no surprise with the tech spec it possess.
- If there's an upgrade that has improved my sim racing hobby, in terms of enjoyment and lap times, it is hands down the Neo G9
- It has definitely contributed to added lap consistency with the increased immersion.
- there's nothing more important than a crisp visual when we're talking vision
- I finally realised the gravity of graphical deficit I've been missing all this time opting an unused TV for sim racing.
- There's really nothing more important than visual quality when sim racing because vision is the one thing we rely on.
- It just seem harder and substantially more taxing on the eyes with a regular TV especially at a close distance, revealing the coarse pixels that show very little detail.
- I can confirm this, as I've switched back to my good old 55" LG TV and realised life isn't the same.
- Most of all, I really enjoyed the zero fatigue, super crisp screen of the Neo G9
- I can race all night in the Neo G9 and not feel the slightest strain but not with the TV, which really tire the eye and drains me in just an hour or 2 of exposure.
- The Neo G9 made me realise I need a proper monitor. While it is not the end all be all of pc monitors, it certainly is the most desireable, at least in the sim racing genre.
- Its magnificent curve, clarity and vastness are easily the best parts of the Samsung Oddysey Neo G9 49"