About 2 years ago Samsung launched their new Odyssey line-up of gaming monitors, two of which we reviewed at the time in the form of the 32″ C32G75T and 27″ C27G75T, or the “Odyssey G7” as they were known. These models marked a step-change in gaming capabilities, offering some impressive specs and performance including a 1440p resolution at 240Hz refresh rate, and the inclusion of HDR 600. These models also marked Samsung’s shift towards super-curved format screens, with the Odyssey G7 models offering a steep 1000R curvature that some people liked, and others found too aggressive. At the time we were particularly impressed in our review with the improvements Samsung had made with response times, and these were the first two screens we’d seen which had successfully eliminated the annoying black smearing you see on nearly all VA panels. This finally made VA a more viable option for high end gaming, and opens up the benefits of this panel technology like its high contrast ratios to more gamers.
While we didn’t get chance to review it, in July 2021 Samsung later released the next generation of their Odyssey screens with their 49″ ultrawide Odyssey Neo G9. The Neo series brought even more impressive specs, with this G9 model offering a 5120 x 1440 resolution and 240Hz refresh rate, the same 1000R curvature (more sensible on a super ultra-wide like this) but most notably the inclusion of a Mini LED backlight for vastly improved HDR experience. This included a peak brightness of 2000 nits as well according to the specs.
Samsung are continuing this trend today with their latest generation of Odyssey Neo screens including the model we have with us for testing – the Odyssey Neo G8. It’s full product name is the less catchy LS32BG850NUXXU, or perhaps shortened to 32BG850 – we prefer to call it the Odyssey Neo G8. This is the most impressive new display from a spec point of view, offering a 4K resolution combined with a 240Hz refresh rate. That’s a World’s first! The 1000R curvature is still here, but like the Neo G9, Samsung have added an impressive Mini LED backlight with 1,196 dimming zones, an advertised 1 million:1 contrast ratio and a 2000 nits peak brightness spec. The screen includes modern connectivity options as well like DisplayPort 1.4 with DSC (to make 4K at 240Hz viable) and HDMI 2.1 for latest gen consoles.
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Key Specs and Features
- 32″ sized panel with 1000R steep curvature
- 3840 x 2160 “4K” resolution
- VA technology panel
- 240Hz refresh rate
- Adaptive-sync VRR including AMD ‘FreeSync Premium Pro’ certification
- 1,196 zone “Quantum Mini LED” backlight
- “Quantum HDR 2000” with 2000 nits peak brightness and 1 million:1 contrast ratio for HDR
- Wide colour gamut with 95% DCI-P3 coverage
- 1x DisplayPort 1.4 (with DSC) and 2x HDMI 2.1 video connections
- RGB Core lighting
- Full adjustable stand with tilt, height, swivel and rotate
Design and Features
The Neo G8 comes in a somewhat muddled design, not really knowing whether it wants to be black or white (there’s a Michael Jackson joke in there somewhere!) From the front the screen has a black trim, bezel and foot, but from the rear there is a white glossy casing. Even the provided power brick and cable are in this white colour as well, so it gives a pretty confused appearance overall we felt. There is a fairly thin border around the sides and top, although the black plastic edge of the screen slopes away from you and so provides extra width. The total black edge is around 11 – 12mm along the sides and top in total from a head on viewing position. The bottom edge features a thicker black plastic bezel which measures ~28mm at its widest point where there is a small protruding Samsung logo in the middle.
The screen has an aggressive 1000R curvature which provides a “reality bending” experience as Samsung put it on their website. We’re not sure whether “reality bending” is a good thing to be honest, and we find the curve to be too drastic on such a small screen size. It’s fine and appropriate on a large ultrawide screen like the Odyssey Neo G9 (49″) but on something as small as a 32″ we would much prefer a flat format, or if it has to be curved, then something less drastic. The curve greatly distorts your view and while it might add some immersion for gaming up close, it makes it less viable for general and office work, and certainly for any multi-person use from different viewing positions. You really need to be head on to the screen to use it with a curve like this to avoid image distortion and challenges with viewing angles too.
The back of the screen includes Samsung’s RGB lighting ring around the top of the stand which can be customised, or turned off, from within the OSD menu. There are also two small light bars on the bottom edge of the screen at the front, but these are quite hard to see from a typical viewing position. The connections are tucked in to the bottom section of the screen at the back with a removable plastic section available to help hide these if needed. The stand can be removed for VESA 100 x 100mm mounting as well if you want. You can see the confused colour scheme from the back here as well – why is the monitor foot entirely black and without at least a white back section?
A cable tidy clip is provided for the back of the stand too. The curved format gives it a fairly thick side profile.
The screen has a full range of ergonomic adjustments with tilt, height, swivel and rotate adjustments offered. All of these are pretty smooth and easy to use, although the screen does have a fair wobble to it when you re-position it, or even while using the OSD control buttons on the bottom edge. It’s not as stable and sturdy as we would like.
The back of the screen includes all the connection options with 2x HDMI 2.1 ports, 1x DisplayPort 1.4 (with DSC), 2x USB 3 data ports (+1 upstream) and a headphone jack. On the photo above you can also see the OSD control buttons which are located on the bottom edge of the screen. These are pressable soft-touch buttons but they’re a little fiddly to use we found.
Speaking of the OSD menu there are a decent range of options available and navigation was pretty intuitive with the available buttons, if a little clumsy and slow. We would have probably preferred a simple joystick control for quick use. The software will be familiar to anyone who has used an Odyssey screen in recent years. Some of the sections include more options within them than are first visible on the right hand side, with no real indication that the list can scroll down further than what you first see which is a bit annoying. It’s also annoying that many of the settings don’t work along side others, so for instance something like the Motion Blur Reduction mode (tested later) you have to first disable both adaptive-sync and local dimming before you can use it. Then once you’ve finished with it, go back and turn those things on again if you were using them before. All a bit cumbersome.
The Odyssey Neo G8 offers a wide colour gamut backlight which provides vivid and saturated colours well suited to modern multimedia, games and HDR content. If you like that more colourful appearance then the screen does nicely here. It’s also potentially more useful if you’re working with wide gamut content for photography and colour accurate work. However, for a lot of normal desktop uses actually you want to work with a smaller sRGB colour space and that can be more difficult on a wide gamut screen. We will see how this screen handles that usage scenario shortly.
We first want to measure the accuracy of the default out-of-the-box setup relative to typical sRGB content, while also examining the screen’s suitability and accuracy for common wider colour gamut spaces such as Adobe RGB which is used in the professional and photography markets quite often.
For these measurements we made sure that local dimming, dynamic brightness, the ECO sensor and Eye Care settings were all disabled, so as not to interfere with the measurements. The screen has local dimming enabled by default, and when you disable this you get a small increase to the screen brightness, which is actually set pretty low out of the box to start with (a setting of only 13).
The screen is also factory calibrated according to Samsung in the default ‘custom’ mode, and rather than provide a printed calibration report in the box, the results are built in to the OSD menu in the ‘calibration report’ section as shown above. On our sample this report suggests that the screen has been calibrated to a 2.24 gamma average and a 1.46 dE greyscale maximum. It doesn’t list any target or results for colour temperature or colour accuracy though oddly.
The screen looks very dark out of the box and is set for some reason at a brightness level of 13. This causes the image to look quite dull and washed out, but of course you can easily change this brightness control to your liking. It’s an odd default setting though when monitors are usually set much brighter out of the box, perhaps it’s some energy saving measure. We measured a default luminance of 61 nits which is low, but on the plus side because of the VA panel the contrast ratio was very good at 2450:1. Samsung don’t actually list a static contrast ratio spec other than what is applicable when local dimming is in use, but 2450:1 is certainly better than all IPS and TN Film technology displays, although as we’ve seen recently, the new ‘IPS Black’ panels are getting closer! We are aware that some other outlets have measured higher contrast ratio on their samples, but having tested this with various devices and software packages, our unit cannot reach more than 2500:1 unfortunately. Perhaps results will vary from sample to sample.
The screen has a very wide adjustment range for the backlight by the way, allowing you to adjust between 329.5 cd/m2 and 14.2 cd/m2. It doesn’t quite reach as high as its 350 cd/m2 spec, but comes very close. This is without local dimming enabled keep in mind, and the screen can reach higher peak brightness levels for HDR content as we will look at later. There’s a very good adjustment range at the bottom end though for darker room conditions, and we confirmed a flicker free (PWM-free) backlight operation.
The gamma curve was too high overall with an average 2.34 measured in our testing. In simple terms the brightness of each grey shade is higher than it should be, so there is some compressing of dark greys which can result in loss of shadow detail and some washing out of lighter grey shades as well. Visually the screen did look a little washed out, not helped by the overly dark brightness level which dulled the image. The balance of the RGB channels was also very variable as you can see from the middle graph, and although the average greyscale colour temp was measured at 6499K (0% deviance from our 6500K target) this really varied across the grey range. In darker shades the colour temp was too warm around 5700K, and in lighter grey shades it was too cool around 6900K. This wasn’t too drastic, but it led to some inconsistencies and the resulting greyscale accuracy measured on the right showed high dE errors at 4.3 average. We also had a white point that was 7% too cool at 6945K. All in all not a great default setup in these areas.
The default ‘custom’ mode operates with the full native gamut of the backlight and as you can see from the top left CIE diagram above, this extends quite a long way beyond the sRGB reference space. We had a 98.9% absolute coverage of sRGB, and a 131.8% relative coverage with some small over-coverage in green and blue shades and a large over-coverage in red shades. This means that when viewing sRGB/SDR content, reds in particular look the most over-saturated in appearance. We measured a 94.3% coverage of DCI-P3 (105.1% relative) along with a 89.6% coverage of Adobe RGB (112.9%).
As a result of running in this wide colour space the accuracy of sRGB colours is poor with a dE average of 4.1, maximum of 6.4. But this same thing applies to most wide gamut screens anyway. We will test the sRGB emulation mode in a moment and see whether that improves accuracy for sRGB content. The bottom section we have compared the colours against the wider Adobe RGB reference space, which is commonly used in professional and photography sectors. You can see from the CIE diagram that the screen’s colour space falls a bit short in green shades, and has a significant over-coverage in red shades compared to Adobe RGB, and we only had a 89.6% absolute coverage available as well. The accuracy of Adobe RGB colours was again poor with dE average of 4.4, max of 8.3 measured.
This default mode felt very odd to us and left a lot to be desired to be honest. It’s supposed to be factory calibrated, although seemingly only for gamma and greyscale according to the report in the OSD menu, but from our measurements doesn’t achieve either of the supposed targets anyway. It’s set very dark out of the box and so looks quite dull and washed out which doesn’t give the best first impression. The RGB balance is also very varied which impacts greyscale accuracy, and the colour space is wide enough to make sRGB content inaccurate, while not really being wide enough to support wide gamut colour spaces like Adobe RGB properly. Contrast ratio was at least strong, but you will definitely want to make some tweaks to the settings to get a better looking picture. We will provide recommendations in a moment. For a mode that’s supposed to be factory calibrated we would expect more attention to detail and accuracy from Samsung.
sRGB Emulation Mode
There is an sRGB preset mode available as well which includes an emulation of the sRGB colour space.
There’s very little change here in these measurements compared with the default ‘custom’ mode. The gamma is too high still at 2.33 average. RGB balance is off and results in warmer dark greys, and cooler light greys as well as an 8% deviance and too cool white point at 7044K. The resulting greyscale accuracy is poor as well with dE 4.0 measured. The screen remains at the same low brightness with 58 nits measured here, but contrast remains consistently high as it was in the custom mode thankfully at 2445:1.
The only real changes in this mode are in the colour section. You can see on the left now that the colour space of the monitor is closer to the sRGB reference space a bit. We had a slight over-clamping of the colour space in some shades resulting in a 96.1% sRGB absolute coverage which was fine, but we are left with some over-coverage still in blue and red shades, leaving a 112.4% relative coverage. We would have liked a tighter and more accurate clamping of the colour space in this mode. Thankfully you do still have control over settings like brightness, so you can move out of the overlay dark default mode. You also have access to gamma, but not to any of the colour settings which is a shame, especially as we’d seen the greyscale and white point colour temps show some deviance from our targets. Resulting colour accuracy was better than the native gamut mode, but only what we’d call moderate with a 3.0 dE average. This mode might be useful to some people when working with SDR content, but to be honest you shouldn’t expect particularly good accuracy if that’s an important factor for your work.
Before we get in to the calibration we also measured each of the gamma modes in the menu to see if any of them improved the default mode 1 at all. That had shown a 2.34 gamma average which was too high. Mode 2 went the other way, being a bit too low with a 2.1 average. Mode 3 was even higher than mode 1 at 2.51 average. It’s a toss up between modes 1 and 2 really as to which is more accurate by default. You will need a calibration device to correct the gamma further.
A proper calibration brought good results in this section. Gamma was now corrected very nicely to very close to 2.2 and the colour balance, greyscale colour temperature and white point were also now much better. We had a white point of 6532K (0% deviance) and this all resulted in a far more accurate greyscale with a dE average of only 0.3. Brightness had been adjusted to return a more comfortable and brighter 120 nits, while maintaining the strong VA contrast ratio at 2503:1. All good here, but we had to use a calibration device to get here.
The problem came when trying to profile the native wide gamut mode back to the sRGB colour space. Despite many attempts in different modes, different colour temp modes and with different settings and even different calibration devices, we could not seem to get a perfect colour accuracy. We reached 1.4 dE average which is good, but some colours still showed some higher errors up to 4.0 for some reason and we couldn’t seem to correct this. If you want you can still try our calibrated ICC profile out.
General and Office
One of the key features of this screen is its high 3840 x 2160 Ultra HD (“4K”) resolution which is an upgrade over the previous Odyssey G7 model which offered the same 240Hz refresh rate, but with a 2560 x 1440 resolution. Samsung have pushed up to 4K here while still keeping the same screen size and the same very high refresh rate.
This 4K resolution is a bit too high to use at native scaling (100%) on a screen even of this pretty large 32″ size although some people may find it ok. Text is small but if you’ve got good eye-sight and are up close then it’s still reasonable and does provide you then with a massive screen real estate and very sharp picture. It’s certainly viable unlike on a 27″ models with 4K where you really have to use 150% scaling to make it usable. Other people will probably want to use operating system scaling to ensure fonts and text are a more sensible and readable size though. 150% is unnecessarily large, with 125% scaling offering a nice balance on a screen of this size we think. That gives you comfortable text size which is very similar to a 27″ 1440p screen, but does give you the equivalent desktop real-estate area of a 3072 x 1728 resolution. So that’s quite a nice jump up from common 2560 x 1440 resolution screens in this approximate size range and from the older Odyssey G7. The extra pixel density of the 4K resolution will provide a very sharp and clear image for all uses including office and general applications. Just make sure that your software will support scaling effectively as it can sometimes be a bit difficult to get it right.
The curvature of the screen is likely to be a key consideration for buyers as the 1000R curvature is steep and aggressive, especially on a relative small, non-ultrawide screen like this. It may increase your feeling of immersion for gaming perhaps, and certainly it brings the edges of the screen closer to you, but at the same time if you are working with spreadsheets or any content where straight lines are important, this can look odd and cause problems. Images can look distorted and viewing angles of the panel are also tricky. You get pretty noticeable gamma shifts as you move horizontally, and especially vertically which wash out the image, and really you will want to be facing the screen head on to get the best experience. With the curvature it’s not really viable to view it from any other angle anyway. Personally I don’t like a curve of this type on a screen this size but that’s down to user taste.
There is a very good brightness adjustment range provided by the screen, allowing you to control the brightness from ~330 nits all the way down to ~14 nits. This provides a lot of flexibility in a wide variety of working conditions, including darkened rooms which was good to see. The default out of the box brightness is very low though (~60 nits) and so you will almost certainly want to increase that to something more practical. A setting ~34 should return you a luminance close to 120 nits. Dimming is controlled without the need for PWM and so the backlight operation is flicker free which is good news.
The default setup for both wide gamut and sRGB usage cannot really be considered very accurate sadly despite the supposed factory calibration; with a gamma that’s a bit too high, a slightly too cool white point and poor colour accuracy. It’s really set up more for gaming where this kind of thing is arguably less important. The sRGB clamping in the emulation mode is moderate but has some issues with the colour space matching, and resulting colour accuracy still. You would probably want to be able to calibrate and profile the screen with a colorimeter if you were doing anything reliant on accuracy for non-gaming uses we think.
Confusingly Samsung list several options in the OSD menu that according to their documentation do the same thing. There is the ‘ECO sensor’ function that “Optimises brightness in real time, based on your lighting environment.” Then there’s also the Eye Care adaptive that “Optimises brightness and provides the best picture quality in real time, based on your lighting environment.” Not to mention the ‘Dynamic Brightness’ option that “Automatically adjust the Brightness to provide the best possible screen contrast under the current conditions”… So confusing. One or more of these seems to offer an ambient light sensor. The Samsung manual for this screen isn’t the clearest, and it feels like there’s so many caveats about every setting available that it becomes really difficult to figure out what you do and don’t want to use.
The screen has a blue peak at 444 nm and is therefore not part of the Eyesafe certified range of products, which specifies a supposed harmful range between 415 – 455nm. There are no specific low blue light modes in the OSD menu, but there is an ‘Eye Care’ setting with options for low and high. Low makes the image a bit warmer at 5552K but starts to make the image look more washed out. The high setting is unusable with a colour temp warmer at 4661K, but with a very washed out appearance. We have no idea why Samsung choose to set the mode up like this, but can only assume it wasn’t tested by anyone with actual working eyes.
The screen offers support for Picture in Picture (PiP) modes but oddly not Picture by Picture (PbP) with a range of different settings if you want to have multiple inputs displayed. There are a couple of USB 3 data ports and a headphone jack, but no other features that some people may like for office environments like USB type-C, KVM switches or motion sensors. You can find USB-C and KVM on a lot of modern gaming screens so if those are important, you will miss them here.
Refresh Rate and VRR
Gaming is a key focus of the Odyssey Neo G8 and this is the first screen we’ve seen released that combines a 4K resolution with a high 240Hz refresh rate! This is achieved thanks to DSC (Display Stream Compression) over DisplayPort so make sure you have a modern graphics card that supports this. The screen actually comes out of the box locked to a 120Hz mode which Samsung list as “optimal” in the user manual. The switch between 120Hz mode and 240Hz mode is available as a setting in the OSD menu. You need to switch this to 240Hz before that mode is available to you in Windows.
|(at native resolution)||Refresh Rate|
|Maximum Refresh Rate DisplayPort||240Hz|
|Maximum Refresh Rate HDMI||240Hz|
|VRR range||68 – 240Hz +LFC (DP and HDMI)|
Obviously you are going to need a very powerful system to get anywhere near this kind of resolution/refresh rate combination, and we expect most of the time you’d either need to live with a lower resolution and push refresh rate, or visa versa. The screen handles interpolation of lower resolutions like 1440p and 1080p nicely without much blurring which is good news. Still, the screen gives you room to grow in to as graphics cards improve over the years. There are only native options in the EDID that present resolutions of 240Hz, 120Hz and 60Hz, but you should be able to create custom resolutions for things like 200Hz or 165Hz for instance if you needed to.
You can run at 3840 x 2160 resolution, 240Hz refresh rate and with 10-bit full 4:4:4 chroma as shown below:
The 4K resolution provides a sharp and detailed image and on a screen size like this (32″) it’s a nice balance between size and resolution. To make running the screen easier, the Neo G8 does of course support adaptive-sync for variable refresh rates (VRR) from both NVIDIA G-sync and AMD FreeSync systems. The screen carries the AMD ‘FreeSync Premium Pro’ certification designed to give some reassurance around VRR performance. Older Samsung Odyssey screens had some issues with flicker in VRR situations, and so Samsung added a “VRR control” function in the menu which is designed to help avoid this flicker if you run in to issues. That’s present here in case you come up against issues, although we didn’t experience any during our testing.
|VRR capabilities and Certification|
|AMD FreeSync Premium certification|
FreeSync Premium Pro
|Native NVIDIA G-sync module|
|NVIDIA ‘G-sync Compatible’ certified|
|HDMI-VRR (consoles via HDMI 2.1)|
One thing we should comment on is the so-called “scan lines” which were evident on some of the older Samsung gaming screens and are present here when you push the Odyssey Neo G8 up to 240Hz. Perhaps this is why Samsung list 120Hz as “optimal” in their documentation?
They are not visible all the time but in certain situations you might see these appear. We captured the above photos of even the simple Windows volume control where you can see faint horizontal lines in the left hand image on the blue bar when the screen is running at 240Hz, instead of what should be a smooth blue block. If you switch down to a lower refresh rate like 120Hz these disappear, but it does mean that should you want to take advantage of the screen’s full capabilities, you might experience some of these visual issues from time to time. They aren’t present in all situations, but could be distracting if you start to notice them in your normal usage.
We are pleased to see Samsung pushing the boundaries and offering 4K 240Hz which is certainly very impressive, but at the same time when it has some visual issues and limitations it starts to feel a bit like things are being pushed just a little too far at the moment. We expect some users with a keen eye will spot these issues easily, while others may never see issues at all in their use, so it’s a bit hard to judge whether it’s going to be a widespread problem. We didn’t feel that it made 240Hz mode unusable or anything as extreme as that, it just didn’t look as good as 120Hz mode in some situations where the scanlines were present. On the other hand, the improvements you get in motion clarity and frame rates may well outweigh these scan line visual issues that arise. There’s certainly some very nice gains to be had in that area, if you can push up to 240Hz.
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Aspect ratio control options are not available while adaptive-sync is enabled which is probably fine as you are only really going to need these for handling external devices with a non-16:9 aspect ratio anyway, which don’t support or use adaptive-sync. There are modes for auto, wide, and then a range of custom screen sizes and aspect ratios including 17″ 4:3, 19″ wide 16:10 and 27″ wide 16:9 for instance.
|Quoted G2G Response Time||1ms G2G|
|Quoted MPRT Response Time||n/a|
|Variable Overdrive supported|
|Overdrive Control Available Via OSD Setting|
(only with Adaptive-sync OFF)
|Overdrive OSD Settings||Standard, Faster, Extreme|
(plus Extreme MBR mode for blur reduction)
The monitor does include a setting for the user to control the overdrive mode, but this ‘Response time’ setting is only available when Adaptive-sync is disabled as we’ve seen on other Samsung monitors in the past. This means that for VRR situations we are entirely dependent on Samsung’s factory configuration and implementation so let’s hope that’s decent! If you do want to disable adaptive-sync, this opens up a few other options like the Motion Blur Reduction (MBR) backlight mode, and as we say it also gives you access to the response time setting where there are options for standard, faster and extreme.
We tested the screen first of all with adaptive-sync ENABLED and at a range of refresh rates across the VRR range:
You can see here that there’s some excellent response time behaviour in the VRR mode (thank god!) and across all the refresh rate range. At the maximum 240Hz the response times were really impressive, with a 2.5ms G2G average and a best case 1.1ms measurement. This is one of the best performing panels we’ve seen in the LCD space of any type. This was all without any significant overshoot at all, certainly nothing visible in practice. Response times were slowed a little as refresh rate lowered in order to avoid overshoot and using a variable overdrive tuning by the look of things. This means there is a “single overdrive mode” experience available on this screen across the refresh rate range, or rather you can just leave adaptive-sync turned on and use the default configuration easily. This worked really well and we were very impressed with the response time performance. Excellent performance here.
Most pleasing of all was that like the older Odyssey G7 models, the Neo G8 showed none of the black smearing that you commonly get from VA panels, the response times across that top row of the table (changes from black to grey shades) were all very fast. In practice you get sharp and clear motion clarity, especially at something as high as 240Hz. Bravo Samsung! We were very pleased to see they’d maintained that strong performance from the old G7 models here.
We also disabled adaptive-sync and tested the response times in each of the available overdrive modes, at the native maximum 240Hz refresh rate. You can see that the adaptive-sync ON mode sits somewhere in between the ‘standard’ and ‘faster’ modes in terms of overdrive tuning which was a good balance. Visually you could see a few overshoot artefacts creeping in when using the middle ‘faster’ mode, but nothing too severe. There were some halos starting to appear in visual tests. Switching up to the ‘extreme’ mode showed more noticeable overshoot errors with some dark and pale halos in practice. The same pattern of performance between these three modes applied for lower refresh rates as well. So if you are disabling adaptive-sync in the menu and want to use a specific fixed refresh rate, the best mode is standard, with there being no real benefits moving up to the higher modes in practice.
Motion Clarity – Pursuit Camera Photos
We captured some pursuit camera photos which demonstrate real-world perceived motion clarity at 240Hz in each of the response time modes. You can see that there is some small overshoot in the ‘faster’ mode on the middle image without any real improvement to motion clarity to show for it compared with the standard setting, and this overshoot gets more pronounced when you move up to the ‘extreme’ mode, also then starting to impact the top image. The ‘standard’ mode is visually equivalent to adaptive-sync ON mode and we would recommend using adaptive-sync for VRR situations (obviously), and wherever possible. If you are going to disable it, we think the standard mode is likely to be preferable for most users.
Extreme (MBR) – Extreme Motion Blur Reduction
|Motion Blur Reduction Mode|
|Motion Blur Reduction Backlight|
|Blur reduction available with G-sync/FreeSync VRR|
|Strobe length control|
|Strobe timing control|
|Brightness capability (SDR, max refresh rate supported)|
|Motion blur OFF – Max brightness||330 nits|
|Motion blur ON – Max brightness||181 nits|
The ‘Extreme (MBR)’ setting is an additional motion blur reduction, strobing backlight mode which is only available when adaptive-sync is disabled, and also when you have local dimming disabled. So to get access to it you will have to disable both those features first which is a bit time consuming and annoying. Not to mention having to switch them back on again when you decide to disable blur reduction mode. We would prefer it if you could simply enable MBR and it take care of turning relevant unsupported things off for you, then turn those same things back on when you disable MBR.
Samsung provide no control over the blur reduction mode to alter the strobe timing or strobe length so you are reliant on their configuration. While the brightness control is locked when MBR is enabled, it operates at the same brightness setting as you had in normal mode, so you can set the brightness to something suitable before enabling MBR to achieve a desired brightness. If you set brightness to 100% for instance, the max MBR luminance produced is a reasonable 181 nits. It would be better if this mode had it’s own brightness control independent of normal mode, as it’s a pain to have to increase the brightness slider first before you enable MBR (otherwise a calibrated 120 nits ends up being ~62 nits in MBR), and then having to change it back again after. All a bit fiddly.
Once active, the backlight is strobed off and on rapidly in sync with the refresh rate you have set, in the example above this is at 240Hz. This changes depending on your active refresh rate.
We tested this at a range of refresh rates with the option working at 240Hz, 120Hz and 60Hz too as examples (with single strobe behaviour). The motion clarity for the 240Hz mode is shown above, captured for the top, middle and bottom regions of the screen. At 240Hz the motion clarity looks good, but there weren’t really any significant improvements over the MBR-off modes to be honest, as motion clarity was already very good thanks to the high refresh rate and excellent pixel response times. Tracking of moving images across the screen is perhaps a little clearer and sharper, and at 240Hz there were very low levels of ghosting and strobe cross-talk across the whole screen which was great news at least. This makes it a useable mode, but with questionable benefits over just leaving it off.
For lower refresh rates like 120Hz and especially 60Hz, we felt the ghost images and strobe cross talk became too significant, and it spoilt the experience quite a lot. Still, a nice mode for 240Hz if you want to use it at that refresh rate and can power your games effectively.
|Native panel resolution||3840 x 2160 “4K”|
|Maximum resolution and refresh rate supported||4K @ 120Hz|
|PlayStation 5 support||4K @ 120Hz 4:2:2 chroma|
|Xbox Series X support||4K @ 120Hz 4:4:4 chroma|
|Virtual 4K support|
|4K at 24Hz support|
|4K at 50Hz support|
|HDMI connection version||v2.1|
|HDMI connection bandwidth||40Gbps|
|HDMI-VRR (over HDMI 2.1)|
|Adaptive-sync (FreeSync) over HDMI|
|Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM)|
|Display aspect ratio controls||Auto, Wide, range of 4:3/16:9/16:10 sizes|
|Ultra high speed HDMI 2.1 cable provided|
The Odyssey Neo G8 is nicely suited to console gaming as well, although with its steep curve you will need to be careful about your viewing position, you need to be head on really and it’s not well suited to multi-player gaming due to the restricted viewing positions. The screen has 2x HDMI 2.1 interfaces which we believe operate at 40Gbps (the max of either the Xbox Series X or PS5 anyway). These will support 4K 120Hz gaming where the console supports it and the native screen resolution of 4K means no need for scaling or interpolation from a lower resolution.
In the OSD menu the ‘adaptive-sync’ option actually gets called ‘FreeSync Premium Pro’ when you’re using the HDMI 2.1 input which is strange. Only once this is enabled in the menu do you have access to the VRR and ALLM functions in the menu for the Xbox Series X. As far as we know the screen will support HDMI-VRR as well as FreeSync over HDMI, although unfortunately we do not have a PS5 to be able to check. With the Xbox Series X we can’t tell whether it’s using HDMI-VRR or FreeSync when that function is enabled in the menu.
Aspect ratio control options are not available while adaptive-sync is enabled which is fine as you shouldn’t need to use any of them anyway given the screen is a native 16:9 aspect ratio. There is a useful ‘Auto Source Switch+’ option in the OSD menu for the screen where the monitor detects when connected devices are turned on and instantly switches to the new source signal. This helps you get to your game action faster without flipping through multiple input sources.
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:
- Class 1) Less than 8.33ms – the equivalent to 1 frame lag of a display at 120Hz refresh rate – should be fine for gamers, even at high levels
- Class 2) A lag of 8.33 – 16.66ms – the equivalent of one to two frames at a 120Hz refresh rate – moderate lag but should be fine for many gamers. Caution advised for serious gaming
- Class 3) A lag of more than 16.66ms – the equivalent of more than 2 frames at a refresh rate of 120Hz – Some noticeable lag in daily usage, not suitable for high end gaming
The lag of the Odyssey Neo G8 was measured with adaptive-sync (VRR) enabled and disabled. When it’s turned off in the OSD menu there is access to a new ‘low input lag’ setting as well which we left on. With VRR enabled we had a total 6ms display lag. With ~0.63ms of that accounted for by the very fast pixel response times, we can estimate a ~5.38ms signal processing lag when adaptive-sync is enabled. If you disable this setting the lag seems to improve a little, down to a display lag of 3.62ms, leaving an estimated signal processing lag of ~2.90ms. Both situations should be fine for most gaming, but if you’re particularly sensitive to lag or playing very competitively then you may want to disable VRR in your gaming. We didn’t see any additional lag added of note when local dimming was enabled by the way.
High Dynamic Range (HDR)
The Odyssey Neo G8 features a so-called “Quantum Mini LED” Full Array Local Dimming (FALD) backlight with an impressive 1,196 local dimming zones. This sets it apart from common edge lit local dimming monitors, including the old Odyssey G7 range which only had a measly 8 edge lit zones. FALD backlights provide a much better control over the image on the screen, being able to dim smaller parts of the image while brightening others to improve the contrast and dynamic range. Dark areas can often be dimmed so low that they are basically being turned off, while bright highlights can often be brightened to very high peak brightness levels. That’s one of the key benefits in using a direct lit backlight with many zones like this.
Each zone is responsible for around 6935 pixels which obviously isn’t as finite in control as something like OLED which has per-pixel level dimming control. 1,196 zones is very good though on a screen this size. This helps reduce blooming and halos in practice, aided by the VA panel with it’s strong static contrast ratio. We will talk about the 3 available local dimming modes in a moment, but it’s possible to create a very pleasing HDR experience on the Neo G8, with low levels of blooming, deep blacks and bright highlights. HDR content is very enjoyable on the screen.
There are still challenges on very specific content like star fields for instance, or scenes with very small bright areas, but that’s going to be hard for an FALD screen to handle and you really need something like OLED to avoid all halos. The performance here is way beyond the older Odyssey G7 models in all regards, with better blacks, better bright areas and much better local dimming capability. This is one of the major upgrades with the new Odyssey Neo series. In our very specific test patterns where you have fixed sized boxes, you do see what we would call “dirty edges” for want of a better term, where the dimming starts to make edges of fixed shapes darker. You are unlikely to see this in real HDR content, but on even a high zone FALD like this isn’t not possible to avoid the points where a zone has to decide if it’s going to be bright or dark, and so you get some blending between the two as the image varies. It appears on this screen that Samsung have tried to optimise the performance to avoid halos which is probably a good thing overall.
Samsung advertise on their website a “typical” peak brightness of 1000 nits, which in itself is impressive for a screen you’re going to be using up close. However, they also promote the so-called “Quantum HDR 2000” capabilities of this screen, suggesting it is capable of a 2000 nits peak brightness as well. We should note that there is no VESA DisplayHDR certification that goes this high with their highest brightness tier being DisplayHDR 1400. In fact this Samsung screen doesn’t appear to be certified at all by VESA under any tier, at least according to the VESA certified product list. It’s also not listed on Samsung’s product page. Is this because Samsung want to promote “HDR 2000” as opposed to only receiving the HDR 1400 badge maximum from VESA? Is this because actually it can’t meet the testing and certification criteria for VESA’s standard either?
We aren’t really fans of manufacturers inventing their own HDR certifications, especially when it’s clear that by branding it as “HDR 2000”, people are going to assume that it is the same kind of certification as other screens they see that actually earned that badge in a different way, and were certified properly. What does “Quantum HDR 2000” even mean?! Must everything from Samsung now have the word “Quantum” in it? Yeah, we get it, you use Quantum Dots…
Anyway, back to the “Samsung Quantum Odyssey Neo 2000 G8 Quantum”. Within the OSD menu there is a setting for local dimming with options for auto, low, high and off. We will test the performance in each of those modes in a moment.
|HDR Technical Capabilities|
|VESA DisplayHDR certification level||None|
|HDR formats supported||HDR 10 only|
|Local dimming||1,196 zone FALD|
|High number of local dimming zones||1,196 zone FALD|
|Increased peak brightness||1097 nits measured|
|Reaching advertised peak brightness||nowhere near 2000 nits advertised|
|Increased dynamic range (contrast) max||>500,000:1|
|Increased “local” HDR contrast ratio max||>17,000:1|
|Wide colour gamut >90% DCI-P3||94.3% absolute coverage|
105.1% relative coverage
|10-bit colour depth support||Supported|
When you enable HDR there are no specific preset modes in the OSD menu, you can just configure one of the normal modes to your liking such as the default ‘custom’ mode. This mode does carry it’s own range of settings that are different to what you might have configured in SDR mode. When you enable HDR in Windows the image doesn’t really look very good by default. Dark greys get washed out significantly and black detail is crushed. The image looks overly bright in many places.
Local Dimming Setting and Tests
The only other setting you have access to is the local dimming control, with options for auto, low and high available. We tested each of the HDR modes to see how they performed in a range of visual tests and measurements. You can flick through each local dimming mode using the tabs in the sections below:
There was very little difference in the setup of any of these modes in these measurements apart from in PQ curve tracking. They all showed very similar greyscale dE, and the colour temp, RGB balance and white point were all very similar. Note that the RGB balance is off in lighter grey shades resulting in a cooler image including at white which we measured at 7067K. The only real difference in these measurements was in the screens peak brightness (more on that in a moment) and in the tracking of the PQ curve. The low setting followed PQ more accurately but doesn’t get as bright overall, whereas the auto and high modes were further away from the target PQ curve and showed greys that were a fair bit brighter than the intended shade. This was particularly evident in the auto mode where even the dark grey shades were brighter than they should be.
The main difference in the measurements was in the peak brightness. The auto and high modes were very similar, but the low mode delivered much lower peak brightness. We reached only around 750 nits peak brightness (10% window) vs ~1100 nits in the other modes. The low auto dimming mode seemed to focus more on reducing halos and blooming by being a little more subtle in its local dimming. It therefore doesn’t push the peak brightness as high as the other modes, but you do get a more subtle difference between zones and this can help reduce blooming further. You can still reach the same ~1100 nits peak brightness in some specific test situations when using the ‘low’ mode, but it’s far less likely and common as the backlight dimming and brightening is more subtle and gradual.
Although it’s not really detailed by Samsung it seems that Auto is very similar to high, although it’s not clear if the auto mode is supposed to be doing something different. This is probably the kind of thing you’d want to play around with in practice and find the setting that looks best for your usage, content and preferences.
We measured some impressive contrast ratio improvements with local dimming enabled in HDR. Full screen/single frame contrast ratio measuring a 10% white area in the centre, relative to a black area near the edge of the screen (far away) reaches over 500,000:1 comfortably. “Local contrast” ratio measuring adjacent white and black areas reaches >17,000:1 and improves on the screens native contrast ratio of ~2500:1 nicely. The local dimming can do a good job of dimming dark areas while brightening light areas. A checkerboard pattern delivered the same performance for local contrast ratio.
There was very little difference in colour accuracy between any of these three modes, as the local dimming isn’t really changing anything there anyway. Note that these measurements were excluding luminance error. You can see that the coverage of the large Rec.2020 colour space used for HDR content is moderate at 76.1%. You can find some screens that push higher than this, but the coverage here is fairly typical for a monitor. The colour accuracy of Rec.2020 colours is unfortunately poor overall, we would have liked to have seen more focus from Samsung on factory calibration in the HDR mode.
Where is the 2000 nits peak brightness?
A fair question! We didn’t get anywhere near 2000 nits peak brightness in any of our tests, in any local dimming mode. We tried various different APL and window sizes, and a wide range of different test suites, and at no point did we get near this spec. We are aware that Hardware Unboxed reported being able to achieve >2000 nits in a very specific 10% APL test pattern in their review (but never in any other situation), but we couldn’t even replicate that here. I don’t know where Samsung got this spec from or how they think it is achieved, but in all our testing it seemed entirely unrealistic. Another reason to really dislike the random HDR branding and claims. That’s not to say that the 1097 nits we saw in real use conditions wasn’t very good, as it is; but there’s no need to quote unrealistic specs and chase larger numbers like this so-called “Quantum HDR 2000” Samsung advertise.
Local Dimming and Response Times
Backlight local dimming can have an impact on pixel response times as well which is a challenge on all Mini LED and FALD backlights, especially with high refresh rates and VRR at play. That’s why many to date have been manufactured jointly with NVIDIA and integrated in to screens with their Native G-sync module where response time performance can be carefully and finely tuned. It’s also why panel manufacturers like AU Optronics are investing in their AmLED backlights, everything is focused around ensuring that response time and VRR performance remains solid when the Mini LED backlight is in use.
We measured some of the response times with the local dimming settings enabled to see what impact it has on response times. You can switch between each mode using the tabs below, starting with the local dimming = OFF setting, and the target response time curve. This is for the 0 – 255 transition (black to white) as an example:
You can see that on the rise time (the upward slope from black to white) the response times are quite a lot slower once you enable the local dimming setting and it has a couple of steps to get to the desired shade. We measured in this example ~15ms instead of the 3.1ms we’d seen with dimming off. Because the backlight is being turned up in these situations and needs to in theory reach a high peak brightness of >1000 nits, the response times need to be slowed down a bit so as to be timed with the brightness change properly. In practice you may see some added darker smearing of content, although it’s going to be hard to spot in real use with gaming, and certainly with HDR video. Fall times (changes from light to dark shades) were much quicker and on par with the performance when local dimming was turned off, so it seems the screen just has some additional delay when trying to brighten a zone, but is fast when it decides to turn that zone off.
If you’re playing any super-competitive games and want to maximise response time performance then you might want to consider turning local dimming off, but otherwise we don’t think it should cause any significant problems for most users.
There’s no doubt that the Samsung Odyssey Neo G8 has some of the most impressive specs on the market at the moment. In some areas it delivered on the promises and performed extremely well, but in others we were left feeling a little disappointed, or felt that perhaps more attention could have been given to certain aspects.
Let’s look at the target use cases first of all, and that’s gaming and HDR. We were really pleased to see that Samsung had delivered some excellent pixel response times, some of the best we’ve seen from any LCD display in fact. They were very fast across the entire refresh rate range, offered a single overdrive mode experience, worked really well with VRR and even included variable overdrive resulting in no overshoot problems. Best of all they also avoided all the issues with the dreaded VA black smearing like the older Odyssey G7 models had, making the panel very well suited to gaming. Really impressive for a VA panel.
The 4K resolution provides an excellent and sharp picture quality and a step up from 1440p on the older G7 model, especially useful on a 32″ sized screen like this. The VA panel provides very good black depth and contrast ratio of course. The 240Hz support at 4K is really impressive, and provides excellent motion clarity in gaming if you can push to that level and have a powerful enough system. We were a bit disappointed to see that pushing to max refresh rate introduced some visual issues like the scan lines we documented, but likely only a problem in some situations and to some users. If a screen is going to offer a spec like this, we do feel it should be as free from issues as possible though. Elsewhere in gaming the lag was very low, although perhaps slightly higher than you might expect from a top-end gaming display. The blur reduction mode was largely pointless being fiddly to enable, not working with VRR, and offering very little benefit in motion clarity anyway. Console support was at least solid with 4K 120Hz, VRR and ALLM featured along with 2x HDMI 2.1 connections.
HDR performance was generally very good as well, if we ignore the unrealistic specs and claims from Samsung – which of course we do need to penalise the screen for. The 1,196 zone Mini LED backlight provides a very high level of control over the content, and combined with a VA panel with a decent native contrast ratio, produces deep blacks and excellent visual contrast. There are low levels of blooming and halos in most situations, with some OSD options that allow you to tweak things to your liking as well. All in all the HDR experience was very good. Our only issues with HDR really are firstly that the screen is not very accurate, and looks somewhat washed out in some situations. Secondly, at no point and in no test conditions were we able to reach the supposed “Quantum HDR 2000” peak brightness which just makes us feel lied to in the specs. The peak brightness was impressive at >1000 nits, and the local dimming was very strong, but please don’t advertise things that can’t be delivered!
|Check pricing and availability in your region|
Away from gaming and HDR we felt there could have been a bit more attention to detail. Samsung promote a factory calibration but actually we found the default setup to be overall poor. The same goes for the sRGB emulation mode which lacked a tight clamping of sRGB and had the same issues with accuracy. Some of the menu is annoying to use and navigate, and with so many options seeming to carry caveats around usage combinations it gets very confusing. Also several settings seem to do the same thing, or at least there’s little clarity in the documentation on what settings do. While the stand is versatile and easy to use with a good range of adjustments, it was a bit wobbly when repositioning it or using the menu buttons. And as we commented on early, some of the design and colour scheme choices seemed muddled too.
The last significant consideration is likely to be around the curve of the screen and that’s really going to come down to user taste. If you’re after a very capable gaming or HDR screen, like VA panels, and want some impressive specs and capabilities that are very future-proof then the Odyssey Neo G8 is worth considering. It’s available in several regions already including in the US at a current retail price ~$1500 USD and in the UK at ~£1300. You can check the pricing and availability in your region from Amazon here and also in the UK from Overclockers.
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