Reviews

Cooler Master GM34-CWQ2

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Introduction

The Cooler Master GM34-CWQ2 is the latest 34″ ultrawide display in the company’s mainstream monitor line-up. It’s got a 21:9 aspect ratio, 3440 x 1440 resolution and a 180Hz maximum refresh rate. The screen is built around a VA technology panel and so has a high contrast ratio (4000:1 quoted) and good black depth, better than common IPS competing models. The GM34-CWQ2 has a good range of connectivity options and features, including USB type-C, KVM support, PiP/PbP and an adjustable stand. It’s an update to the company’s existing GM34-CWQA which has a lower 144Hz refresh rate and was missing some of these features. We’ve got the new screen with us now for an exclusive first review, so we’ll put it through our usual extensive testing to see how it performs.

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Key Specs and Features

  • 34″ ultrawide with 21:9 aspect ratio with 1500R curvature
  • VA technology panel
  • 3440 x 1440 resolution
  • 180Hz maximum refresh rate with adaptive-sync VRR (AMD ‘FreeSync Premium’ certification)
  • Motion Blur Reduction mode with 0.5ms MPRT spec
  • 4000:1 contrast ratio spec
  • Wide colour gamut with Quantum Dot coating, covering 95% DCI-P3
  • 1x DisplayPort 1.4, 2x HDMI 2.0, 1x USB type-C (with DP Alt mode and 65W power delivery)
  • PiP and PbP support, KVM function, 2x 5W integrated speakers, 2x USB data ports, audio output
  • Tilt, swivel and height adjustments from the stand

Design and Features

The screen has a fairly minimalist design, with a thin edge around the sides and top. There is an ~8mm black edge along the sides and top, and a thicker black bezel giving a ~19mm black border along the bottom. The stand has a thin but pretty sturdy dark grey metal arm, and a familiar dark grey metal base in the shape of the Cooler Master logo. It’s a familiar overall design like the rest of their monitor range.

The back of the screen is encased in a matte black plastic and is fairly simple and subtle in design – no RGB lighting here. There is a cable tidy clip that you can attach to the back of the arm if you want to keep cables out of the way. You will also see the single OSD controller joystick located on the back left hand side of the screen when viewed from the rear.

The video connections and other ports are on the back of the screen, tucked under the cut out section you can see above.

On the left hand side of the screen are two easy-access USB data ports which is useful. It’s much easier to get to than those on the back.

The screen has a moderate 1500R curvature which is reasonable and fairly subtle on a screen of this size and format and didn’t feel too aggressive. It’s certainly a lot less than the 800R curve we’ve seen on some recent monitors (e.g. the Asus ROG Swift PG34WCDM OLED monitor). We personally prefer a curve like this on an ultrawide screen to improve immersion and viewing comfort.

There are a reasonable range of connections available with 1x DisplayPort 1.4, 2x HDMI 2.0 and 1x USB type-C (with DP Alt mode and 65W power delivery) located on the back of the screen. There’s also the USB upstream port and an audio output located here.

The stand provides tilt, height and swivel adjustments. They are all smooth in operation, but the tilt is stiff and a bit tricky to use. The screen also has a bit of a wobble as you reposition it or use the OSD controller.

The OSD menu is simple and easy to navigate with the joystick controller, and there’s a reasonable range of options to play with. The software does not remember your previous section annoyingly when you close and re-open it but apart from that there’s no issues.

Testing Methodology Explained (SDR)

Performance is measured and evaluated with a high degree of accuracy using a range of testing devices and software. The results are carefully selected to provide the most useful and relevant information that can help evaluate the display while filtering out the wide range of information and figures that will be unnecessary. For measurement, we use a UPRtek MK550T spectroradiometer which is particularly accurate for colour gamut and colour spectrum measurements. We also use an X-rite i1 Pro 2 Spectrophotometer and a X-rite i1 Display Pro Plus colorimeter for various measurements. Several other software packages are incorporated including Portrait Displays’ Calman color calibration software – available from Portrait.com.

We measure the screen at default settings (with all ICC profiles deactivated and factory settings used), and any other modes that are of interest such as sRGB emulation presets. We then calibrate and profile the screen before re-measuring the calibrated state.

The results presented can be interpreted as follows:

  • Gamma – we aim for 2.2 gamma which is the default for computer monitors in SDR mode. Testing of some modes might be based on a different gamma but we will state that in the commentary if applicable. A graph is provided tracking the 2.2 gamma across different grey shades and ideally the grey line representing the monitor measurements should be horizontal and flat at the 2.2 level, marked by the yellow line. Depending on where the gamma is too low or too high, it can have an impact on the image in certain ways. You can see our gamma explanation graph to help understand that more. Beneath the gamma graph we include the average overall gamma achieved along with the average for dark shades (0 black to 50 grey) and for lighter shades (50 grey to 100 white).

  • RGB Balance and colour temperature – the RGB balance graph shows the relative balance between red, green and blue primaries at each grey shade, from 0 (black) to 100 (white). Ideally all 3 lines should be flat at the 100% level which would represent a balanced 6500K average colour temperature for all grey shades. This is the target colour temperature for desktop monitors, popular colour spaces like sRGB and ‘Display DCI-P3’ and is also the temperature of daylight. It is the most common colour temperature for displays, also sometimes referred to as D65. Where the RGB lines deviate from this 100% flat level the image may become too warm or cool, or show a tint towards a certain colour visually. Beneath this RGB balance graph we provide the average correlated colour temperature for all grey shades measured, along with its percentage deviance from the 6500K target. We also provide the white point colour temperature and its deviance from 6500K, as this is particularly important when viewing lots of white background and office content.

  • Greyscale dE – this graph tracks the accuracy of each greyscale shade measured from 0 (black) to 100 (white). The accuracy of each grey shade will be impacted by the colour temperature and gamma of the display. The lower the dE the better, with differences of <1 being imperceptible (marked by the green line on the graph), and differences between 1 and 3 being small (below the yellow line). Anything over dE 3 needs correcting and causes more obvious differences in appearance relative to what should be shown. In the table beneath the graph we provide the average dE across all grey shades, as well as the white point dE (important when considering using the screen for lots of white background and office content), and the max greyscale dE as well.

  • Luminance, black depth and contrast ratio (static) – measuring the brightness, black depth and resulting contrast ratio of the mode being tested, whether that is at default settings or later after calibration and profiling. We aim for 120 cd/m2 luminance which is the recommended luminance for LCD/OLED desktop monitors in normal lighting conditions. Black depth should be as low as possible, and contrast ratio should be as high as possible.

  • Gamut coverage – we provide measurements of the screens colour gamut relative to various reference spaces including sRGB, DCI-P3, Adobe RGB and Rec.2020. Coverage is shown in absolute numbers as well as relative, which helps identify where the coverage extends beyond a given reference space. A CIE-1976 chromaticity diagram (which provides improved accuracy compared with older CIE-1931 methods) is included which provides a visual representation of the monitors colour gamut coverage triangle as compared with sRGB, and if appropriate also relative to a wide gamut reference space such as DCI-P3. The reference triangle will be marked on the CIE diagram as well.

  • dE colour accuracy – a wide range of colours are tested and the colour accuracy dE measured. We compare these produced colours to the sRGB reference space, and if applicable when measuring a wide gamut screen we also provide the accuracy relative to a specific wide gamut reference such as DCI-P3. An average dE and maximum dE is provided along with an overall screen rating. The lower the dE the better, with differences of <1 being imperceptible (marked by the green area on the graph), and differences between 1 and 3 being small (yellow areas). Anything over dE 3 needs correcting and causes more obvious differences in appearance relative to what should be shown. dE 2000 is used for improved accuracy and providing a better representation of what you would see as a user, compared with older dE methods like dE 1994, as it takes into account the human eye’s perceptual sensitivity to different colours. 

Default Setup

The screen comes out of the box in the ‘standard’ preset mode, with the colour space set to ‘auto’ (delivering the full native gamut of the backlight), and the colour temp set to ‘native’.

You can see from the left hand graph that the tracking of the gamma curve is reasonably close to the 2.2 target, measured at 2.28 average and being a little too light in mid grey shades which leads to some loss of grey detail. The main issue with the default setup is the overly cool colour temp, with the red channel being imbalanced compared with green and blue, and resulting in an average greyscale temperature of 7374K, being 13% out from our 6500K target. The white point is slightly better at 7078K, but still 9% too cool. This means greys and whites can look a little bluish in practice. This results in a poor greyscale accuracy, with dE 6.4 average measured on the right-hand graph.

The VA panel does provide a nice high contrast ratio of 3040:1, surpassing what is possible from competing TN Film and IPS panel technologies at the moment. This is not as high as the 4000:1 spec though, it seems like the panel is actually likely to be from the 3000:1 spec generation as far as we can tell.

The brightness of the screen can be adjusted between 47 and 442 cd/m2, so there’s a decent adjustment range available to suit different ambient lighting situations. The backlight is flicker free without the need for PWM dimming which is good news.

The top left CIE diagram shows that the monitor’s colour space extends a long way beyond the sRGB colour gamut, reaching 142.3% relative coverage by our measurements. This is made possible by the Quantum Dot coating which provides a very wide colour space. You can see in the bottom section that this colour space reaches 82.6% of the large Rec.2020 colour space which is impressive, also being able to cover a high portion of the DCI-P3 and Adobe RGB reference spaces (~97%), and extending beyond those spaces in fact quite a lot. That means it is in theory possible to use this screen for wide gamut work in either space if you need to, although there are some difficulties doing that which we will explain in a moment.

The very large colour gamut of the screen means that for sRGB content there is high over-saturation of red and green shades, and this leads to large inaccuracies in sRGB / SDR colours in practice. We measured a 4.2 dE average, but this kind of error is common when trying to view standard gamut content on a wide gamut display so we shouldn’t be too concerned with that. Comparing the colours against the wider DCI-P3 reference space commonly used for HDR content wasn’t much better though really. We still had a pretty large over-coverage of that colour space with 113.4% relative coverage measured, and high colour errors with dE 3.9 measured.

We did try the specific DCI-3 colour space setting in the menu as well, but this only changed the colour gamut but about 2%, and didn’t remove all the over-coverage, still leaving us with ~111% relative coverage. It’s the same story with the Adobe RGB mode, it doesn’t accurately emulate that colour space unfortunately and so you are left with very large over-coverage in red shades (~120% relative coverage measured for Adobe RGB).

This is a shame, as the screen can cover both of those colour spaces nicely, it’s just that the emulation from the hardware is not accurate, or simply not working perhaps. This means you can use the screen for more colour critical work within those reference colour spaces if you like, but you’re going to need a calibration tool to profile the screen properly and map the monitor’s wide colour gamut back to the accurate colour space you want. Working emulation modes from the hardware would have been a simpler and more accessible approach. Unfortunately Cooler Master tell us that this model will not feature a firmware upgrade option, and so unless they fix this in a later production run, it looks like this will be a problem on this screen.

Overall it’s not a particularly accurate setup, being too cool and having inaccurate colours. Let’s see if we can improve that in any other modes, and through calibration of the screen.

sRGB Emulation Mode

There is a setting in the OSD menu to change the colour space to ‘sRGB’, but one of the noticeable issues with this straight away is that it locks basically all the other settings you might want to change. Brightness is capped at a setting of 25 and you aren’t able to change this, although it does give you a fairly comfortable 118 nits brightness which at least isn’t too bad. But there’s no flexibility to change this to anything else when using this mode which is annoying.

The settings for gamma and colour temp are available in the OSD menu, but cannot be used. Changing gamma doesn’t actually do anything in this mode at all. Changing the colour temp just moves you away from the sRGB gamut setting so is unavailable.

We had a reasonable tracking of the 2.2 gamma in this mode, now being a little too low and measured ad 2.13 average. Colour temp and white point were still too cool as they had been before, with a 6917K white point measured which was 6% out from our target. This was a bit closer than in the ‘auto’ default mode. Contrast remains strong at 2997:1 at least but again suggests this is a 3000:1 spec panel, not 4000:1.

The other big issue with this mode besides the locked settings is that actually it doesn’t seem to work properly at all anyway! There is no reduction in the colour space of the screen or clamping of the colour gamut back to sRGB! This also means you continue to have over-saturated green and red shades, and colour accuracy is still only moderate. Like the DCI-P3 and Adobe RGB gamut options, no clamping seems to be working on this screen.

All in all, this sRGB mode is unusable. It doesn’t so what it’s even designed to do with reducing the colour gamut, and all the settings are locked too. That’s a real shame. This means you are again going to need to be able to profile the screen yourself using a calibration device if you want to work within the sRGB colour space more accurately and clamp the gamut back. With the screen seemingly not supporting user firmware updates either, that’s another issue.

Calibration

The pretty poor default setup, and unusable sRGB emulation mode leave us with only the option to calibrate the screen ourselves. You can improve the RGB balance and colour temp pretty nicely through some simple OSD changes, like moving to the ‘user’ colour temp mode and adjusting the RGB channels from there. That’s a simple start for everyone.

The calibration and profiling can then produce very good results if you have a suitable device and software. This was profiled to 2.2 gamma, 6500K colour temp and to the sRGB colour space. The screen was left in its native wide gamut mode, but this profile will be used in colour-aware applications (e.g. Photoshop) to map back to sRGB in this instance. Overall the calibrated results were very good as you’d hope. You can find our calibrated settings and ICC profile in our ICC profile database now too which may help.

Office and General Use

The VA-type panel used for this screen offers some decent all round performance including fairly wide viewing angles and a stable image quality that you’d expect from this technology. It’s not quite as good as an IPS panel, and you get more noticeable colour tone and gamma shifts as you move your viewing position, but it’s clearly better than TN Film panels. This gamma shift, especially vertically may lead to some loss of detail in some situations, especially darker scenes and you also get the familiar off-centre VA gamma shift where dark shades can get crushed when viewing the screen head on. This is inherent to all VA panels though and relates to their liquid crystal orientation. Darker content was much better than an IPS panel though as it was free from the familiar off-angle IPS pale glow associated with that technology. Combined with the much higher contrast ratio and deeper blacks, it’s much better at handling darker content as a result.

The resolution of 3440 x 1440 is also comfortable on a 34″ ultrawide sized screen providing a nice desktop area to work with, including decent support for split screen working and a sharp text clarity. This ultrawide format is well-suited to office, general and productivity working and it’s a popular format as a result. The screen has a light matte anti-glare (AG) coating which is the same as other modern VA panels.

We confirmed the backlight is flicker free at all brightness settings, without the need for any PWM dimming.

The spectral distribution is shown here at a 6500K white point. The blue peak is at 448 nm wavelength which means it is not part of the Eyesafe certified range of products where there is a supposed harmful range between 415 – 455nm. There is a setting for ‘blue light filter’ which basically just makes the image warmer and more yellow. It’s available in increments of 10, and useable up to the setting of 30 (which measures at 4698K) before it then starts to look very yellow. The lower settings of 10 and 20 are probably ok if you want a slightly warmer setup for nighttime viewing or a lot of text work.

The screen has a decent range of ergonomic adjustments with tilt, height and swivel available so you can move the screen around if you need for different uses and viewing positions. Connectivity and related functionality is reasonable by today’s standards with DisplayPort 1.4, USB type-C and HDMI 2.0 available. The power delivery from the USB-C connection is decent at 65W, and there are a few added extras like 2x USB data ports (easy access on the side which is a nice touch), an audio output, KVM function and moderately powerful integrated 2x5W speakers. The screen also supports Picture In Picture (PiP) and Picture by Picture (PbP) modes given the large screen format. This provides a decent overall range of options and extras for a mainstream model like this.

Gaming

The GM34-CWQ2 has a 165Hz native panel refresh rate, with a 180Hz maximum supported via an overclock. This actually doesn’t need to be enabled in the menu or anything, it’s just available by default for you to select from your graphics card control panel. It’s supported by adaptive-sync for variable refresh rates from compatible AMD and NVIDIA systems, and the screen has been certified under the AMD ‘FreeSync Premium’ scheme too.

VRR capabilities and Certification
AMD FreeSync certification
FreeSync Premium
Native NVIDIA G-sync module
NVIDIA ‘G-sync Compatible’ certified
VESA ‘AdaptiveSync’ certification
HDMI-VRR (consoles via HDMI 2.1)

The ultrawide format is an attractive option for gaming if you have games that can support 21:9, as it provides a much greater horizontal viewing area and increases immersion. The fairly subtle 1500R curvature of the panel is good on a screen this size we think, without looking too curved, bringing the edges a little closer to you and aiding viewing comfort.

Response Times
Panel ManufacturerAU Optronics
Panel TechnologyAMVA (VA-type)
Quoted G2G Response Time2ms G2G
Quoted MPRT Response Time0.5ms MPRT
Overdrive Used
Variable Overdrive supported
Overdrive Control Available via OSD Setting
Overdrive OSD SettingsOff, Normal, Advanced, Ultrafast,
Dynamic, User

Cooler Master advertise a 2ms G2G response time which may be a little adventurous for a VA-type panel, but we will see how it performs in a minute. There’s also a 0.5ms MPRT spec, as the screen includes a motion blur reduction strobing backlight mode.


Our thanks to the following manufacturers for support in the build of our new test system:

AMD Ryzen 9 7950X | Buy AMD Ryzen 9 CPUs here on Amazon
Asus ProArt B650-Creator | Buy Asus B650 motherboards here on Amazon
Corsair DDR5 RAM | Buy here on Amazon
Corsair H100i Elite Capellix AIO cooler | Buy Corsair coolers here on Amazon
Corsair iCUE RGB Elite Fans | Buy here on Amazon
NVIDIA RTX 3090 | Buy NVIDIA RTX graphics cards here on Amazon
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Response Times

We first of all measured the response times at the maximum 180Hz refresh rate, in each of the overdrive modes (except for ‘off’). There is a small improvement in G2G response times when moving up from the ‘normal’ to the ‘advanced’ mode, which reaches 4.7ms G2G average. This was with only minor increases in overshoot measured, which is not really visible at all in practice anyway. We were pleased to see that despite being a VA panel, it was not plagued by the same severe black smearing you get on many panels of this type (e.g. the recently reviewed Cooler Master Tempest GP2711), normally evident by super-slow response times along the top row of the table. The transitions from black to dark and mid grey (0 > 50 and 0 > 100) were a bit slower than the rest, but they didn’t enter “red” territory, and were not too bad. In practice there was a bit of added smearing in certain situations, but the panel was mostly free from the major black smearing you often associate with these panels.

Moving up to the ‘ultrafast’ mode reduced this further, and sped up the response times quite a lot down to 2.8ms G2G, but it was at the cost of some high levels of overshoot. This wasn’t always obvious at this refresh rate, but was more apparent on lighter coloured content and backgrounds. This was pushing the response times too high and so the ‘Advanced’ mode seemed preferrable.

There is also a ‘Dynamic’ mode which at 180Hz seemed to sit somewhere in between the two. A bit more overshoot than ‘Advanced’ mode, but still at reasonable levels, and with slightly faster response times reaching 3.5ms G2G which helped reduce the blurring a little further.

We tested the ‘Dynamic’ mode during VRR situations including various visual tests, and captured the results above where the frame rate lowered down to 120Hz and 60Hz levels. We expected this mode to offer some kind of ‘variable overdrive’ mode as the name implies, and as Cooler Master’s website suggests it features. Actually, it didn’t seem to operate as intended, as these modes should tone down the overdrive level in order to reduce the overshoot at lower refresh rates, and you’d see the response time figure get slower as well as a result. Here, the response times actually seemed to get a little faster as the refresh rate lowered, and as a result the overshoot levels also got quite a lot worse. There were obvious and distracting halos at lower refresh rates, especially noticeable as pale artefacts and halos.

Instead of using the ‘Dynamic’ mode, we found the ‘Advanced’ mode to offer better overall performance for VRR situations. It was the same situation in that response times got slightly faster, and overshoot crept up as the refresh rate lowered. But in this mode it was not as severe, and only reached what we could call “moderate” levels for the lower end of the refresh rate range tested at 60Hz. This would be a better setting to use for VRR situations we think, largely handling the VRR range nicely.

If you find you end up gaming at the lower end of the VRR range more often (<100Hz), or are using a fixed 60Hz input device, then you may want to move down to the ‘normal’ mode instead which eliminates the overshoot. We’d say the screen can probably still be used with a single overdrive mode if you want (Advanced mode) for VRR, although it’s not optimal and arguably you’d be choosing between normal and advanced modes depending on your frame rates achieved.

Motion Clarity and Gaming Experience

We captured some pursuit camera photos of the screen at a variety of refresh rates, designed to capture real-world perceived motion clarity. This gives you a good indication of how the screen looks in real use, beyond raw measurements.

The perceived motion clarity at the maximum 180Hz refresh rate, and in the optimal ‘Advanced’ response time mode is captured above. You can see there is a bit of black smearing on the darkest background colour behind the moving UFO, but that gets progressively lower as the background colour gets lighter. It’s of pretty low levels on the middle image relative to many VA panels, and eliminated altogether on the right hand light-background image. Overall motion clarity was good compared with a lot of VA panels, but isn’t quite as clear as fast IPS gaming screens which are free from the small amount of black smearing that remains here.

The near black shadow detail was moderate but it was hard to pick out very dark grey shades in this test image with box 5 being the first that was easy to distinguish, although some of that is down to the viewing angle limitation of VA panels where dark grey shades can get crushed to black from a head-on viewing position. This was improved somewhat after calibration with our ICC profile though. There is a ‘Black Stabilizer’ setting in the OSD menu as well, which has a good level of control and allows you to tweak that near-black detail if you need to, although it does reduce the contrast ratio a bit as you do and raises blacks a bit. The black depth and contrast are strong though thanks to the VA panel, and it avoids a lot of the pale glow you can get on competing IPS panel options.

We will briefly mention in HDR. The screen can accept an HDR10 input signal but lacks any backlight local dimming which is required to actually offer an HDR experience beyond the panel’s native contrast ratio. There is a wide colour gamut here for boosted colours, but without the necessary HDR hardware, we can’t consider this a screen suitable to HDR gaming or content.

Motion Blur Reduction Mode

Motion Blur Reduction Mode
Motion Blur Reduction Backlight
Refresh rates supported180, 165, 144, 120, 100 Hz
60Hz single strobe operation
Blur reduction available with G-sync/FreeSync VRR
Strobe length control
Strobe timing control
Brightness capability (SDR, max refresh rate supported)
Independent brightness control available
Motion blur OFF – Max brightness 442 nits
Motion blur ON – Max brightness180 nits – low
106 nits – medium
51 nits – high

The screen provides a strobing blur reduction backlight mode via the ‘motion clearness’ setting in the OSD menu. This should only be used for gaming really, not for desktop or static work as you don’t want the backlight strobing in those situations. This mode can only be used at a fixed refresh rate, not at the same time as VRR, but it’s easy to turn on and off. You can enable it even when adaptive-sync is turned on, and it will just auto-turn that off for you. Once enabled there are 3 settings for low, medium and high available although the brightness setting in the OSD is now locked in all modes. You will need to use the blur reduction setting, and perhaps the refresh rate, to dictate what screen brightness you want.

The mode is available at all fixed refresh rates detected from the monitor EDID apart from 60Hz, so you can use it at 100, 120, 144, 165 and 180Hz. The brightness increases quite a bit as you lower the refresh rate, but the optimal performance in terms of motion clarity can of course be found for the higher refresh rates. We measured brightness of 180 (low), 106 (medium) and 51 nits (high) when using it at 180Hz. The strobe length is adjustable using this setting, which basically controls how long the “on” period of the strobe is. The high setting has the shortest strobe on time, which can improve motion clarity a little compared with the other modes, but this is why it ends up looking the darkest. For reference, if you need it to be a bit brighter you could also consider dropping down to 165Hz, at which point you can achieve 275 nits (low), 211 nits (medium) and 158 nits (high) which is quite a substantial brightness improvement compared with the 180Hz operation. This increases a bit more each time you lower the refresh rate.

We would suggest choosing a setting that provides you a suitable brightness for your game and viewing environment, given you cannot alter the brightness independently via that ‘brightness’ setting.

You can see the oscillograph measurements at 180Hz in each of the 3 modes below. The strobing is in sync with the refresh rate as intended, so in this case it’s every 5.55ms. You can see that the “on” period of the strobe (the high peaks) are shorter in duration as you move up through each setting.

Low
Medium
Hig

We used the blur reduction mode in various visual tests and were pleasantly pleased with the performance. These modes can often be really bad, especially on VA panels, but the performance was overall decent here. The clearest images were in the central area of the screen which was optimal, as this is where a lot of your attention will be focused in games. There were low levels of strobe cross talking ghosting behind the moving objects, but overall the tracking across the screen was clearer and easier. You could still detect some of the low levels of black smearing we’d seen before because of the response times, although it may be worth exploring the ‘ultrafast’ overdrive mode in this instance, as at a fixed 180Hz (i.e. not using VRR) the overshoot is not too noticeable in many situations, and it can clear up that remaining minor black smearing. Overall this mode seemed to work well.

Console Gaming

Console Gaming
Native panel resolution3440 x 1440
Maximum resolution and refresh rate supported4K at 60Hz
1440p not supported
1080p at 60Hz or 120Hz
Virtual 4K support
4K at 24Hz support
4K at 50Hz support
HDMI connection version2.0
HDMI-VRR (over HDMI 2.1)
Adaptive-sync (FreeSync) over HDMI
(not with correct aspect ratio used)
Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM)
Display aspect ratio controls for 16:9

We tested the screen with an Xbox Series X. Obviously the screen has an ultrawide format, and with modern consoles only supporting 16:9 aspect ratios you need to use the 16:9 scaling option available in the OSD menu to ensure the image is not stretched, and play with black borders down the sides. We noticed that the aspect ratio control is only available when you have adaptive-sync disabled in the OSD menu, which results in VRR not being available at all on this screen for consoles.

The screen will accept a 4K input resolution (virtual 4K support) but only at 60Hz since the screen has only older HDMI 2.0 ports and bandwidth. When using 4K mode, you can get support for 10-bit colour depth and for HDR10 if you want, but only by enabling the 4:2:2 chroma option on the console. There’s no real reason to use HDR on this screen given the lack of HDR hardware capabilities, so we’d probably just leave it at 4K 8-bit and 4:4:4 chroma instead on the console.

Oddly the screen doesn’t seem to support 1440p resolution from the console, despite actually having the exact same number of vertical pixels. So the next step down from 4K 60Hz would be 1080p, which can run at either 60Hz or 120Hz if you want. The integrated speakers come in quite handy her for connecting external devices and they are of modest capability, better than many tinny 2W speakers you often see.

Input Lag

Read our detailed article about input lag and the various measurement techniques which are used to evaluate this aspect of a display. The screens tested are split into two measurements which are based on our overall display lag tests and half the average G2G response time, as measured by our oscilloscope. The response time element, part of the lag you can see, is split from the overall display lag and shown on the graph as the green bar. From there, the signal processing (red bar) can be provided as a good estimation of the lag you would feel from the display. We also classify each display as follows:

Lag Classification (updated)

  • Class 1) Less than 4.17ms – the equivalent to 1 frame lag of a display at 240Hz refresh rate – should be fine for gamers, even at high levels
  • Class 2) A lag of 4.17 – 8.33ms – the equivalent of one to two frames at a 240Hz refresh rate – moderate lag but should be fine for many gamers. Caution advised for serious gaming
  • Class 3) A lag of more than 8.33ms – the equivalent of more than 2 frames at a refresh rate of 240Hz, or 1 frame at 120Hz – Some noticeable lag in daily usage, not suitable for high end gaming

The overall lag at 180Hz was measured at 3.25ms. The response times account for around 1.18ms of the total lag measured, leaving an estimated signal processing lag of ~2.08ms at 180Hz. This is a little slow compared with many gaming screens nowadays, but still decent overall and should be considered fine for most gaming. The lag remained fairly consistent really at 60Hz which was great news, as many screens show a much higher lag at these lower refresh rates.

Conclusion

The GM34-CWQ2 provides an interesting new option in the mid-tier 34″ monitor market. It provides a nice range of features and extras for the price point, along with some generally solid all round performance. We liked the inclusion of things like USB type-C connection (with 65W power delivery), KVM function, PiP/PbP modes and even some modest 2x 5W integrated speakers. It helps make it a pretty versatile monitor for general uses, work and play.

The VA panel provides some typically good all round performance, and does well compared with competing IPS panels when it comes to contrast ratio and black depth performance. We did find that the contrast ratio was around 3000:1 instead of the advertised 4000:1 but this is still a lot better than you’d get from IPS technology panels. The viewing angles and image stability are not as good as on IPS panels though, with more noticeable gamma and colour tone shifts as you move your viewing position, but on the other hand darker scene content is handled better, avoiding a lot of the pale glow you get on IPS panels. This makes it a bit better suited to darker scenes in movies for example. There’s no HDR hardware capabilities here though so if you want to handle HDR content you’d be better off looking for some of the now pretty affordable Mini LED monitors on the market.

There were some issues and limitations with the colour performance though. Default setup wasn’t very good, and unfortunately none of the provided colour space modes seemed to work properly. This was a shame as the wide gamut of the panel provided by the Quantum Dot coating makes the screen suitable in theory for working in a variety of colour spaces, including sRGB, DCI-P3 and even Adobe RGB if you need. It’s a shame then that the emulation and clamping from the hardware did not work, especially for sRGB colour content which is very common. Even if the emulations had worked, the fact that the sRGB mode was entirely locked down, even for brightness controls, is a problem and inexcusable in today’s monitor market we think. Although there’s no reason to use that mode anyway when the colour space is not clamped properly.

You can thankfully get some better performance with a few simple tweaks to the OSD menu for colour temp etc, and gamma tracking is overall pretty decent, but if you want to work with smaller colour spaces in colour-aware applications you will be reliant on separate profiling and calibration with a colorimeter, or perhaps making use of our calibrated ICC profile. This colour performance and the non-functioning emulation modes were the screen’s main weaknesses, but may not matter to many casual users.

From a gaming point of view we were pleasantly surprised by the performance of the VA panel. Many of these mid-tier VA displays have very slow response times and loads of black smearing, but thankfully that wasn’t the case here. There was still some low levels of black smearing on darker content, but it was better than many VA screens. The 180Hz refresh rate provided decent motion clarity as well, and even the blur reduction mode was pretty decent. The input lag was low, but not super low, and console support was limited as is the case on many of these ultrawide screens, but overall the GM34-CWQ2 should be able to handle some moderate and casual gaming pretty well.

Check pricing and availability in your region

The GM34-CWQ2 should be available soon at an MSRP of $419 USD which puts it competitively priced with some competing options from the likes of MSI (MAG342CQR) and Asus (TUF Gaming VG34VQ) for instance which have slightly older specs as well – lower refresh rate, fewer features and connections. You can check availability and pricing for your region on Amazon here.

ProsCons
Good range of features and extrasColour space emulation modes do not work
VA panel provides good all round performance, with high contrast ratio and good black depthUnreliable default setup, and no available or working sRGB mode
Gaming performance decent for a mid-tier VA panelLacking any HDR hardware capabilities

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