Glossy vs Matte – OLED Panel Coatings Compared, Including the Asus ROG Strix XG27AQDMG

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Nothing seems to generate as much discussion and heated debate as screen coating at the moment. Today we’re going to do a full comparison and testing of five different OLED panel coatings to see how each of them performs in a variety of test and metrics. The panels and coatings considered here include:

  1. The brand new, world’s first natively glossy WOLED panel from LG.Display (featured in the Asus ROG Strix XG27AQDMG)
  2. A standard matte coated WOLED panel from LG.Display (there’s been loads, but we will use the recently reviewed Cooler Master Tempest GZ2711)
  3. A semi-glossy QD-OLED panel from Samsung Display (we are using the Dell Alienware AW2725DF)
  4. A custom gorilla glass glossy coating applied to an LG.Display WOLED panel (from Dough’s recently launched Spectrum Black 27″ monitor)
  5. And for good measure, we’ve included a glossy WOLED TV (from the LG CX and LG 42C2 TV’s).

We’ll rank their performance in each area, and compare their appearance, image quality, image clarity, grain level, black depth, and ambient light handling and see how they compare to one another, and to see if we can discover which is really the best!

Why has glossy become so in demand recently?

The monitor market is still heavily weighted towards “matte” anti-glare (AG) screen coatings at the moment, which have been the standard really for the last 20 years or so. The alternative “glossy” finish has always had its fans; but with the notable exceptions of a few displays like those from Apple for instance, it’s not really been widely introduced by panel manufacturers, or added as an extra by display manufacturers.

It seems like the arrival and widespread adoption of OLED panels in the monitor market since 2022 has led to much of the increased demand for glossy, as users are looking to maximise the panel’s picture quality, and they are often now comparing their monitors to other devices like TV’s, tablets and phones which generally all have glossy finishes too.

What’s available in the monitor market so far?

So far in the OLED monitor market there’s really been two choices. All the WOLED technology panels produced by LG.Display have had the same matte anti-glare (AG) coating, while all the QD-OLED panels from Samsung Display have all had a standard semi-glossy screen coating, which looks glossy but has some added anti-reflection (AR) handling treatment. That’s nice and simple, you know what you’re getting depending on the two competing OLED panel technologies. All the 27″, 32″, 34″, 39″ and 45″ WOLED sized monitors have had the same matte AG coating, and all the 27″, 32″, 34″ and 49″ QD-OLED panels have had the same semi-glossy coating.

Here’s a quick reference of all the previously available OLED monitor panels launched and used so far, by panel size:

Panel Size and specTechnologyScreen coating
27″ 1440p, 240HzWOLEDMatte anti-glare (AG)
27″ 1440p, 360HzQD-OLEDSemi-glossy
32″ 4K, 240Hz/480Hz Dual-modeWOLEDMatte anti-glare (AG)
32″ 4K 240HzQD-OLEDSemi-glossy
34″ ultrawide, 175Hz, 1800R curveQD-OLEDSemi-glossy
34″ ultrawide, 240Hz, 1800R curveQD-OLEDSemi-glossy
34″ ultrawide, 240Hz, 800R curveWOLEDMatte anti-glare (AG)
39″ ultrawide, 240Hz, 800R curveWOLEDMatte anti-glare (AG)
45″ ultrawide, 240Hz, 800R curveWOLEDMatte anti-glare (AG)
49″ ultrawide, 144Hz, 1800R curveQD-OLEDSemi-glossy
49″ ultrawide, 240Hz, 1800R curveQD-OLEDSemi-glossy

Recently this has started to become more varied, with LG.Display now testing out glossy solutions for their WOLED panels, and some display manufacturers taking it in the other direction with QD-OLED panels and adding a separate matte anti-glare coating!

The Asus ROG Strix XG27AQDMG is the first monitor to feature a glossy WOLED panel, straight from LG.Display. You’ve got some manufacturers like Dough adding their own custom-glass coating to WOLED panels. And you’ve got Samsung Electronics (the display manufacturer) adding a matte anti-glare coating to the semi-glossy QD-OLED panels from Samsung Display.

These are the other new panel / coating options emerging in the market.

Panel Size and specTechnologyScreen coating
27″ 1440p, 240HzWOLEDNative glossy option
27″ 1440p, 240HzWOLEDAdded custom gorilla glass glossy
27″ 1440p, 360HzQD-OLEDSemi-glossy panel with added matte coating
32″ 4K 240HzQD-OLEDSemi-glossy panel with added matte coating

Let’s have a quick look at some monitors using those new/unusual panel and coating combinations, which are of interest for this article:

Asus ROG Strix XG27AQDMG

This was only announced very recently, but it’s already available to buy in some areas, like for instance in the US from Newegg (affiliate link). This is the first screen to be released featuring a natively glossy WOLED panel produced by LG.Display. No need for Asus to change or add anything, it has been supplied with a glossy finish from the factory.

It’s a glossy version of the commonly available 27″ 1440p 240Hz WOLED panel that was produced last year in 2023, and that has been widely adopted by many display manufacturers. Asus are the first though to get the glossy version, apparently on an exclusive, although we don’t know for how long. More information and specs on this screen available here in our news piece.

Dough Spectrum Black 27″

We know how some people feel about Dough (formerly Eve) and it’s fair to say they have a somewhat checkered history. We’ve had quite a lot of people asking how the new glossy panel from Asus’ model compares with Dough’s screen, and we don’t want to pretend this screen doesn’t exist, or that there won’t be people interested in buying it. Our interest here is in the technology and this unique approach to an OLED screen coating.

As always, if you have any concerns with Dough (or any other manufacturer for that matter), we would encourage you to read around on Reddit and other forums for the latest customer views and opinions. Dough’s screens are now available from major retailers including Amazon and B&H for instance, and so if you’re considering buying any of their screens, that should give you some purchasing reassurance. This particular model is starting to be shipped to buyers at the moment.

With all that aside, the reason for including this screen is the fact that it has a glossy WOLED panel as well. Unlike the Asus XG27AQDMG, the panel isn’t natively glossy from LG.Display. Dough actually take the standard matte AG coated WOLED panel from LG.Display like many other display manufacturers have. However, through a complex bonding process they attach a “gorilla glass” coating from Corning, in a way that basically eliminates the matte AG coating and the grain from it. The result in a glossy, clear screen surface. This gorilla glass features Corning DXC Anti Reflective coating which apparently reduces reflections by 70% too. Unlike Industry conventional matte coatings that reduce reflections via haze and scattering reflections, the Spectrum Black’s DXC AR coating uses a carefully engineered combination of layers with different refractive indices.

It will be interesting to see how their glossy WOLED approach is different to the Asus’ native glossy panel straight from LG.Display. More information and specs on this screen in our news piece here.

Samsung Odyssey G60SD / G80SD

The other panel coating of note here is being used on the Samsung Odyssey G60SD (27″ 1440p, 360Hz) and G80SD (32″ 4K 240Hz). Unfortunately we don’t have these screens with us at the moment to be able to include them in this comparison, but as and when we do get hold of them, we will update this article.

These two screens are built around Samsung Display QD-OLED panels, with the standard semi-glossy panel coating straight from the panel factory. However, Samsung Electronics (the display manufacturer) have then added a custom matte anti-glare coating on top, designed to help improve reflection handling and reduce glare. You can see the effect this has from the photo below:

New matte AG coating on the left compared with normal QD-OLED coating on the right.
Courtesy of Little Snowman review of the 27″ G60SD

Are other natively glossy WOLED panels coming from LG.Display?

We knew about the planned production of the 27″ WOLED panel from LG.Display quite some time ago, it’s been in our OLED panel roadmaps for quite some time (latest roadmap here). At the moment we have not seen any plans to produce glossy versions of any of their other panel sizes unfortunately. That’s not to say they won’t be considered later on, but we expect this is a case of LG.Display testing the water with a panel that has been produced for a long time now, and widely adopted in the market. It’s been a really popular panel option for OLED monitors, so it makes sense to test in this segment and see how it goes.

Asus have apparently got an exclusive on this glossy 27″ WOLED panel at the moment, but once that lifts we would probably expect to see other manufacturers make use of it, especially of the Asus model does prove popular. Lots of people have been shouting out for glossy WOLED panels, so here’s the chance to prove there’s a decent market for them.

Pros and cons of a glossy panel coating

The main arguments in favour of a glossy panel coating would be:

  1. The cleaner and clearer image they offer, being free from grain that you might see on matte coatings
  2. The glossy coating can help the image colours and blacks “pop” a bit, making the whole image look more vivid and life-like
  3. Since they are free from an added anti-glare coating, external light sources are not diffused in the same way as on matte panels, which in turn can help protect the perceived black depth and ambient contrast ratio.

On the other hand there are some negatives for glossy coating, mostly related to how it handles external light sources. They will show more glare than alternative matte anti-glare coatings, and reflection handling is not nearly as good. We’ll talk a bit more about which might be best for you and compare the different options later, but these challenges are largely why matte panels have been used almost exclusively used in the monitor market to date.

Keep in mind that monitors are typically being used during the daytime for work, in office environments and in well-lit rooms. They’re not like TV’s where you are probably using them more exclusively at night, in a darker lounge environment. A glossy finish on a TV is less of a challenge when it comes to glare and reflections as a result, but on desktop monitors it can be far more of an issue. Yes, you can of course close your curtains or play your games in a dark room, but that’s not going to be a common use case.

Let’s take a look then at the five OLED panel coating options in more detail, including the brand new glossy WOLED panel from LG.Display that has been adopted in to the new Asus ROG Strix XG27AQDMG which we have with us now.

Monitors used in this testing

Monitors used

  • Matte AG coated LG.Display WOLED panel – Cooler Master Tempest GZ2711
  • Native glossy coated LG.Display WOLED panel – Asus ROG Strix XG27AQDMG
  • Custom Gorilla glass coated LG.Display WOLED panel – Dough Spectrum Black 27″
  • Native glossy coated LG.Display WOLED TV panel – LG CX and C2 TV’s
  • Semi-glossy coated Samsung Display QD-OLED panel – Dell Alienware AW2725DF

Grain and image clarity

We set up each screen to be compared side by side for image quality and clarity, looking specifically at the screens up-close for any graininess. This can impact the viewing experience, especially where the level of grain is high, and is one of the reasons why people prefer the smoother, cleaner and clearer looking image that a glossy coating produces. This was not possible to capture in any meaningful way with photos so we will provide commentary below on our findings:

Image clarity ranking (best to worst)
1Semi-glossy QD-OLED monitor
Gorilla glass glossy WOLED monitor
2Native glossy WOLED monitor
3Matte AG coated WOLED monitor

The Asus ROG Strix XG27AQDMG’s natively glossy WOLED monitor panel has a very small amount of visible grain when compared side by side with the Dough gorilla glass WOLED, a natively glossy LG WOLED TV and the Dell’s semi-glossy QD-OLED panel. The screen still looks very glossy and shiny overall, it’s just there’s a very slight bit of grain to the image if you are observing it from very close up, and comparing it side by side with these other panels.

he gorilla glass on the Dough looks a little cleaner and smoother. Same for the semi-glossy QD-OLED panel and the glossy WOLED TV. Side by side, there was no difference in the image clarity between the Dough, Dell and LG TV displays so we’d rate those as all equal in terms of image clarity.

This very minor grain on the Asus was very hard to spot from any normal viewing position, you really have to go looking for it up close, and we don’t think it should cause any problems for normal usage. If you compare that to the matte AG coated WOLED panel you can immediately see the difference. The coating on those standard WOLED panels is pretty grainy, more so than modern IPS LCD panels for instance and we’ve criticised them in the past for this. We would like to see LG.Display adopt the same coating level on their WOLED panels as their modern IPS LCD panels to help this situation.

Reflection handling

Each coating type handles reflections and glare in different ways and it is widely understood that one of the drawbacks of the glossier finishes is that they are worse in this regard than matte AG coatings. With desktop monitors needing to handle many different viewing environments, including well-lit offices, this is the main reasons why matte AG coating remains the firm choice for panel and display manufacturers in this space.

Reflection handling ranking (best to worst)
1Matte AG coated WOLED monitor
2Semi-glossy QD-OLED monitor
3Gorilla glass glossy WOLED monitor
4Native glossy WOLED monitor
5Glossy WOLED TV

The winner here is the matte AG coating, as it shows the lowest level of reflections during normal use, and even if you shine a bright light source on the panel directly (a proxy for a lamp or window perhaps), the light is diffused across the panel and reflections are kept to a minimum. It’s this diffusion of the light which also impacts the perceived black depth and the ambient contrast ratio of the panel which we will look at more in a moment.

The glossy panels on the other hand show significantly more reflections than the matte AG coating, and you really need to be mindful of your viewing environment and the position of external light sources if you’re going to use one of these screens.

We’ve already seen that the native glossy WOLED monitor panel of the Asus is not identical to the glossy WOLED TV panels produced by LG.Display, with a very small amount of grain visible. The native glossy WOLED monitor panel (Asus) is however a little better at handling reflections than the glossy WOLED TV (LG). The coating seems to be a little less mirror-like, diffusing light sources a little bit more than the glossy TV panel.

Native glossy WOLED monitor (left) vs glossy WOLED TV (right). Courtesy of Monitors Unboxed

You can see some of this difference in the above screenshot captured from the Monitors Unboxed review of the Asus (look for Tim in a white top in the area where the screens meet).

Native glossy WOLED monitor (left) vs glossy WOLED TV (right). Courtesy of Monitors Unboxed

This closer up image also shows the difference between the native glossy WOLED monitor (left) and the glossy WOLED TV (right) in the way they handle reflections.

Courtesy of Monitors Unboxed

There’s also this amalgamated screenshot where a light bar is being shone directly on to the screen surface. There’s some further reflection examples in the excellent Monitors Unboxed review of the Asus at this timestamp too so do check that out for more! These are minor differences between the native glossy WOLED monitor panel and the glossy WOLED TV panel but you can see that it’s not quite the same surface treatment, despite both coming from the LG.Display factory.

We’ve taken some photos of the various panels placed on the floor to compare reflection handling. Look at me leaning over to take the photo for the best comparison of how reflections appear, ignore the various doors and windows you can see in the shot! You’re looking for how sharp and clear the reflection of me is, and the more “blurred” the reflection is, the more it is being diffused and reduced by the coating.

The Dough glossy WOLED panel with its custom Gorilla glass coating actually handles reflections quite a lot better than the natively glossy WOLED panel of the Asus (and the glossy WOLED TV). The reflection handling is surprisingly good in fact for a glossy screen coating, and one that also looked marginally cleaner and clearer than the Asus in side by side comparisons as we discussed in the previous section. This is obviously more than just a simple glass finish, with some decent anti-reflection (AR) and anti-glare (AG) performance.

You can see the significant difference that the matte anti-glare coating makes as well to the reflections (and glare) that you might see on a glossy screen coating.

The semi-glossy QD-OLED panel also handles reflections pretty well overall, although you can see the way that the black screen surface becomes more grey and purple as external light hits it. More on that in a moment. The reflection handling is better than the Asus glossy WOLED as it has an anti-reflection (AR) treatment to the panel surface. It appears less reflective than full glossy panels, and is the reason why we refer to it as “semi-glossy”. As we discussed in the previous section, it still looks as clean and clear as you’d hope for from a glossy panel coating, a very small amount better in fact than the native glossy WOLED panel of the Asus.

You can see that the QD-OLED panel’s semi-glossy coating is also slightly better than the gorilla glass of the Dough glossy WOLED panel, although it’s a bit closer in overall reflection handling.

Just to recap, here’s the ranking again:

Reflection handling ranking (best to worst)
1Matte AG coated WOLED monitor
2Semi-glossy QD-OLED monitor
3Gorilla glass glossy WOLED monitor
4Native glossy WOLED monitor
5Glossy WOLED TV

Ambient light handling and black depth

You may have read our article or watched our video on this topic when we published it in November last year. Each OLED panel type and each panel coating handles external ambient light sources in different ways. OLED panels can turn each pixel off individually and fully, meaning that in a fully dark room, the screen will be completely black and offer a true 0 nits black depth. As you introduce ambient lighting to your viewing environment, the black depth increases (i.e. becomes less black) and in turn the contrast ratio of the panel is reduced. This change to the black depth depends on the panel technology, the screen coating and importantly the position and brightness of your ambient light sources. Loads more information on the topic in our previous detailed study.

We set up each screen in this article in a light controlled environment as explained in our previous article and measured the black depth of the panel as we increased the ambient lighting in the room. The light source was in front of the screen, although off to the side so as not to cause any direct reflections. The actual numbers in nits are less important here, it’s the differences between the different panels and coatings that are of most interest.

Here’s a graph showing all five of the panel options. We’ll hone in on the WOLED panels in a moment, but one obvious difference here is how much better all those panels are at handling ambient light sources than the QD-OLED panel. In a dark room there’s no observable differences but when you start introducing external light the differences become increasingly more apparent. The WOLED panels all look blacker and darker than the QD-OLED panel, especially in well-lit rooms.

The QD-OLED panel lacks a polarizer, and when external light hits the panel it activates the Quantum Dot layer and causes the panel to start to go more grey, severely impacting the perceived black depth. A purple colour tinge is also visible in these situations.

QD-OLED (left) vs matte WOLED (right) in dimly lit room
QD-OLED (left) vs matte WOLED (right) in brightly lit room

The black depth of the QD-OLED panel reaches around 3.1x higher than the matte coated WOLED panel (i.e. it’s worse, as a lower figure is better here). We should note that in our original study we had found that a gen 2 QD-OLED panel was around 2x higher in black depth than the matte WOLED panel, although at the time that was a curved QD-OLED panel as that was all that was available in gen 2. Here we’ve used a flat panel (only produced from gen 3) and we believe it is that change from curved to flat that is impacted the measurements here, with the curve likely influencing the amount of light hitting the panel surface in our testing environment. Anyway, none of this changes the continued observation that QD-OLED handles ambient light far worse than WOLED panels unfortunately.

Let’s hone in on the various WOLED panels now. You can see at the top is the blue line from the matte AG panel. This is higher than the two glossy WOLED monitor options, the orange line from the Dough gorilla glass glossy panel and the pink line from the Asus natively glossy panel. In these tests the Dough was around 10% better than the matte AG panel. While the coating still has very good reflection handling, it doesn’t diffuse the light in the same way as the matte AG coating, and it’s that diffusion which causes the light to be “spread” across the panel and raises the black depth a bit.

We should note that we have observed some minor differences in black depth handling on the two samples of the Dough screen that we’ve had, one an early production sample and this one a final production sample. This is down to the small variations in the glass bonding process, bonding liquid thickness and bonding temperature. It still remains better than the matte AG coating at retaining black depth in the presence of ambient light sources, along with the other benefits already discussed around image clarity and quality.

The natively glossy WOLED panel on the Asus screen is a little better again, around 15% better than the matte AG coating. It does however show more noticeable reflections as discussed above. Both the Dough and Asus glossy WOLED panels are a bit better at retaining black depth than the matte AG coated panel, with less diffusion of the light across the panel, although it does come at the expense of more reflections.

glossy WOLED TV (behind) vs matte AG WOLED (front) in dark room conditions
glossy WOLED TV (behind) vs matte AG WOLED (front) in bright room conditions

The glossy WOLED TV continues to offer much stronger performance, being around 3.5x better than the matte AG coating, and around 2.9x better than the Asus glossy native panel. While LG.Display are producing the natively glossy panel for the TV, and for the Asus monitor, there are clearly differences in their viewing characteristics. We’ve already talked about the image clarity and reflection handling which are both slightly different, but the glossy TV hangs on to its black depth far better still than the Asus monitor panel. This is likely down to a number of factors including the panel structure and MLA (Micro Lens Array) stack.

Black depth retention ranking (best to worst)
1Glossy WOLED TV
2Native glossy WOLED monitor
3Gorilla glass glossy WOLED monitor
4Matte AG coated WOLED monitor
5Semi-glossy QD-OLED monitor

Summary – Which coating is best for you?

There is no “best” overall screen coating, it’s a very subjective preference and as you’ve seen from the above comparisons and testing, they all seem to have their strengths and weaknesses; their pros and cons. Your viewing environment, ambient light levels, lighting positioning and individual preferences will dictated which is going to be best for you.

The new natively glossy WOLED panel used in the Asus ROG Strix XG27AQDM is a very welcome addition to the market we think, providing a choice in the WOLED space for users and hopefully satisfying all those glossy fans out there. It isn’t exactly the same as their glossy WOLED TV panels though. It has a very slight grain to it, although to reiterate, this is very hard to see unless you’re examining it up close or comparing it side by side with other coating options. It’s still much cleaner and clearer than the matte AG panels, and still provides a true glossy appearance. Being glossy it is the most reflective of the monitor panel coatings, although it has slightly better reflection handling than the TV panels. It doesn’t retain its black depth as well as the TV panels which is likely down to the different panel and MLA stack, but it is still the best monitor panel coating compared here at retaining black depth and contrast ratio, although only by a small amount over the Dough’s glossy gorilla glass coating. We think people will be happy with this coating offering and if it proves popular, we would like to see LG.Display introduce glossy options on their other future panels in other sizes.

The gorilla glass glossy coating on the Dough provides an interesting alternative. It provides a very slightly clearer and smoother image than the Asus screen, and it also handles reflections and glare quite a bit better in practice thanks to the AR properties of this approach. It isn’t quite as good in this area though as semi-glossy QD-OLED panels, or the matte AG coated panels. With the elimination of the panel grain, and the decent reflection handling, it is far more than just a simple glass cover added on top of the panel! It’s black depth handling is slightly worse than the native glossy panel, but only by a small amount. The challenges with this coating option compared with Asus’s screen will be the higher price point of Dough’s model, and your trust level and views on buying from each brand.

The semi-glossy QD-OLED panels are a very good solution, held back by one major flaw unfortunately. The image clarity is again slightly better than the native glossy WOLED panel, and on par with the Dough gorilla glass. So it provides the joint-best image quality and cleanness. It has decent reflection handling too, being quite a bit better than the native glossy WOLED panel, and marginally better than the gorilla glass WOLED panel too. It does well in these two areas. It’s big problem is how the black depth is impacted by ambient light sources, with a very noticeable drop off in black depth and the screen going more grey and purple in colour pretty quickly in the presence of external light. If you’re going to be viewing the screen in a dimly lit room, or primarily have light sources located behind the screen, then this can be largely avoided though. In brighter rooms, it’s a noticeable problem. If Samsung Display can address this weakness, it would be a very compelling option.

Finally, the matte anti-glare panels still have their place for many users – the majority in fact. At the moment the panel coating is pretty grainy, and we would like to see LG.Display at least bring this in line with their modern IPS LCD panels. That would improve image clarity nicely. They handle reflections and glare the best, and are well suited to brighter environments and offices as a result. While they handle external light sources very well in terms of glare and reflections, this does cause a drop in black depth and they are the weakest out of the WOLED coating options in this area.

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