Memoires of a 21:9 Gamer

Greetings, PC gaming fans!

Has your curiosity ever been peeked by the legend of the 21:9 gaming monitor? Mine was, and that’s why I picked one of those beauties up a little while back: an Acer Predator X34. I will hopefully be doing a more in depth review for the X34 on Wednesday, so stay tuned if you’re interested in my thoughts on that specific monitor.

Like most PC gaming technology that is not widely adopted (looking at you CrossFire/SLI), 21:9 gaming comes with more than its fair share of technical glitches and compatibility problems. Many games (especially older ones) don’t support 21:9 resolutions, meaning you will get black bars on the sides of your screen. Some games or other applications are so adamantly against 21:9 that they will oddly distort or even crash, although these cases have be few and far between in my experience.

Sometimes, even when the game runs at 21:9, it does so in a distorted state that can cause difficulties with the in-game UI or (most annoyingly for me as someone who has some problems with motion sickness) frame of view. On several occasions, I’ve had an FOV that looks decent in 16:9 become nauseatingly restrictive in 21:9. Most recently, I’ve had some issues with Mass Effect: Andromeda, which supports my 3440×1440 resolution during most of the game, but awkwardly cuts to a 16:9 aspect ratio during some cutscenes and dialogue.

Now there are some applications that can help mitigate these negatives. I’ve personally taken to using a free (donation optional) app called Flawless Widescreen. Running this app in the background helps smooth out some of the above issues (in some cases including 21:9 support in its entirety), but can’t correct all glitches than might occur. Even if you leave it in its native resolution, it can increase the FOV or other hard-to-find options in some games.

There’s one more potential negative to 21:9 monitors, and it’s a big one: the price. 21:9 monitors tend to cost a pretty penny more than their 16:9 brethren.

So you may be asking yourself, why would I want to go through this hassle?

Well, you may not….but a 21:9 monitor comes with some great benefits as well. First off, you get a tremendous amount of desktop area. Second, a game that runs 21:9 well is the best gaming experience I’ve had. It feels more like being in the middle of the action, and less like simply watching the action from afar. In my mind, a widescreen monitor is preferable to a dual monitor setup thanks to the lack of a bezel.

The question becomes, are you willing to endure more and pay more for this experience, or would you rather stick to good ol’ 16:9?

For me personally, the hassle is more than worth the end results. To be clear, I don’t really mind the black bars on the side if the game doesn’t support 21:9. I also enjoy the ability to run a game at full 1080p in windowed mode while doing other things on my desktop at the same time. The only part that trips me up is the price….which for me personally ended up being substantial.

Let me know what your stance is or any questions you may have in the comments below.

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