Display type: VA Panel
Refresh rate: 120 Hz
Frame rate control: AMD Freesync
Definition: DQHD (Dual Quad HD)
With Reddit users gushing ad nauseum about their insanely massive 49-inch Samsung Odyssey G9 super ultrawide monitors, it can be hard not to feel a bit jealous. The Odyssey G9 is a $1,500 behemoth of a display, one that can churn out 240Hz and sports a 1000R curve. But at that price, very few can justify the purchase, especially when that cash could go toward a gaming laptop or a console like the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. Luckily, there is an option for users wanting to enter the world of DQHD (Dual Quad HD) displays on a somewhat more reasonable budget.
Monoprice, the purveyors of affordable high-quality generic cables, have come out with the Dark Matter 49-inch Curved Gaming Monitor. At $900, it offers solid performance at a price that’s quite a bit more palatable than the Odyssey G9, even if it’s lacking some features.
The Dark Matter is a DQHD display, which is essentially two 27-inch 1440p monitors smashed together with a 5120 x 1440 resolution, 32:9 aspect ratio, at 120Hz with a 4-millisecond response time. While it’s not totally fair to compare it to the Samsung Odyssey G9, it still has other DQHD displays, like the Samsung LC49RG9 and AOC AG493UCX, beat in terms of price.
Monoprice Dark Matter 49-inch Curved Gaming Monitor design
Let’s be honest, at this price, users are not going to get the futuristic R2D2 aesthetic found on the Odyssey G9. Monoprice had one thing in mind with this monitor: price-to-performance ratio. The Dark Matter is as basic of a monitor as you can get. It’s black all around with the center-mounted two-leg stand. There is a glowing light on the back that can be adjusted to one of seven colors.
That’s not to say it’s a bad-looking monitor. The thin bezels that border the screen give it a striking, all-encompassing look.
Controls for the monitor can be found at the bottom and offer a range of adjustments, like colors, backlight, and response time. Other reviews have noted a remote control was included, but we couldn’t find one with our unit.
Unfortunately, the stand is where the Dark Matter 49” Curved Gaming Monitor suffers. It’s archaically basic. It doesn’t offer swivel, height adjustability, the tilt is minimal, and because of the size of the monitor, is prone to wobbling. Honestly, we’d recommend ordering a wall mount, as it will be the best way to adjust this display. Luckily, it is VESA 75 x 75 certified, so there are plenty of options available.
Monoprice Dark Matter 49-inch Curved Gaming Monitor performance
The Dark Matter by Monoprice 49-inch Curved Gaming Monitor delivers strong performance for an 8-bit display. It’s a VA panel, meaning it gives deep blacks, and thanks to Samsung’s Quantum Dot technology it emits strong colors. It isn’t an IPS panel, meaning that when viewed at an angle, there’s some color shift. It’s at its worst when looked at from below, so it’s best to keep the screen at center eye level.
This panel also boasts a 120Hz refresh rate. While that’s nowhere near as fast as the 240Hz Samsung Odyssey G9, it still works well for single-player games. Loading up Assassin’s Creed Odyssey gives a comically wide field of view, but one that’s exhilarating to experience. It’s hard to switch back to a standard 16:9 display.
The Dark Matter offers a competitive advantage in light competitive games like Rocket League. Because Rocket League isn’t a twitchy shooter, having the massive real estate gives a full view of the field at any time.
Where the Dark Matter does struggle is fast shooters like Overwatch or Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. While it’s possible to play on a massive 49-inch screen, there’s a reason you don’t see ultrawides at e-sports tournaments. Ultimately, when you’re trying to snipe someone at the corner of your screen, a smaller display and a lower resolution prove to be more beneficial. Now, it is possible to play the game at a lower resolution with black bars on both sides. But if you’re serious about first-person shooters, it’s probably best to go with a faster TN panel at a more modest resolution and size.
As a quick note, while the Dark Matter does offer AMD FreeSync support, it’s the most basic version. Other monitors offer FreeSync 2 and FreeSync Premium, which deliver better performance. It’s also possible to enable Nvidia G-Sync by disabling FreeSync in the monitor’s settings and enabling G-Sync in the Nvidia Control Panel.
Monoprice Dark Matter 49-inch Curved Gaming Monitor colors
As an 8-bit panel, the Dark Matter by Monoprice 49-inch Curved Gaming Monitor can only push so many colors.
For those unfamiliar, there are two types of bit depths used in modern displays. The most common are 8-bit panels, which can reproduce 256 variants of reds, blues, and greens. And 256^3 equals 16,777,216 colors. Newer 10-bit displays can represent 1,024 variants of reds, blues, and greens. And 1,024^3 equals 1,073,741,824, which is significantly greater. But to push those colors requires special displays that can evenly distribute very bright whites and dark blacks. At the moment, OLED displays are best suited for 10-bit HDR color. Although new Mini LED and MicroLED technologies aim to deliver OLED performance at more reasonable price points.
Unfortunately, the Dark Matter’s panel delivers images with lots of color banding. Essentially, 8-bit panels can’t easily represent shifts in colors. It’s why you sometimes see jumps in tone in images of sunsets. It takes a lot of colors to show that dissipation of light across the horizon.
Some panels, like the smaller Dark Matter by Monoprice 34-inch Curved Ultrawide Gaming Monitor, also an 8-bit panel, use a technique called dithering. It aims to blur the gradient shift in color by adding noise. It’s a half-step to true 10-bit color and it’s a little surprising that the feature wasn’t included in the 49-inch variant.
Our sister site Tom’s Hardware has a rundown explaining the difference between 8 and 10-bit color.
Is the lack of 10-bit color a dealbreaker? Definitely not. The few monitors that can output pristine 10-bit color are very expensive, and are better suited for creative professionals. For most gamers, an 8-bit panel will get the job done. But as newer technologies emerge that can output 10-bit color more easily, the Dark Matter 49 might soon seem dated.
As for that 8-bit performance, it’s surprisingly solid. This is likely thanks to the Samsung Quantum Dot technology found in the panel. In our tests, we saw 349.4 nits of brightness, which is less than the advertised 400 nits. In some of our tests, peak brightness did hit 379. As for colors, we hit 99.7% of the sRGB color spectrum and 91.4% of the Adobe RGB color spectrum. For a gaming monitor, these are solid numbers. It’s good enough for Photoshop and less intensive photo/video editing.
Surprisingly, contrast on this panel was excellent. With a contrast of 2815:1 in our tests, the Monoprice provided deep and excellent blacks. It’s still not at the level of Samsung’s highest-end QLED or LG’s OLED TVs, but compared to other monitors, it does well.
More surprisingly, in our local dimming tests, bright whites were even on dark backgrounds, with little light dissipation across the panel. Even when compared to RTINGS’ review of the Samsung Odyssey G9, the Monoprice, in our tests, seemed to greatly outperform it.
There is some minor backlight bleed near each of the four corners, but it’s not at unacceptable levels. Ultimately, this is still an edge-lit monitor, but one that’s able to accomplish impressive contrast and deliver solid local dimming performance.
Monoprice Dark Matter 49-inch Curved Gaming Monitor ports
The Dark Matter by Monoprice 49-inch Curved Gaming Monitor offers two DisplayPort 1.4 ports and 2 HDMI 2.0 ports, as well as a USB port and audio jack. Normally, that’s where we’d end this section, but there’s a cool trick with this monitor: Picture-by-Picture, or PbP.
Given the high resolution of this display, it’s possible to use it as two separate monitors. So, on the left side of the screen you can have your computer running, and on the right side, a Nintendo Switch. Actually, it’s possible to plug in four devices and split it up into four separate displays, but at that point, it might feel like playing Goldeneye multiplayer on the Nintendo 64.
On paper, the Dark Matter by Monoprice 49-inch Curved Gaming Monitor isn’t the best on the market. It doesn’t have the advertised 600 nits of brightness of the Samsung LC49RG90 nor its purported HDR1000 specification. Being a VA panel, it doesn’t have the snappy pixel responsiveness of the LG 49BL95C-W, which uses IPS technology. And while it does deliver solid colors, it doesn’t reach the advertised 121% sRGB gamut on the Viotek SUW49DA.
But in our testing, it did impress. It still offered deep black levels and solid 8-bit color performance. While there is ghosting with white text on dark backgrounds, it’s something the eye can get used to. Colors do pop, even if there is banding across gradients. And gaming performance is solid for lighter competitive titles and single-player games.
The main selling point for the Dark Matter is its price point. At $900, it is cheaper than competing Samsung, LG, AOC and Viotek monitors. The thing is, it’s not that much cheaper. The Samsung LC49RG90 retails for $1,130 on Amazon. The Viotek isn’t far off either at $963 on Amazon.
But before you decide to drop an extra $130 on the LC49RG90, do know that both use Samsung’s LSM490YP02 panel. While Samsung can push through more light and add a controller to allow for dithering, it’s by no means a true 10-bit panel. The HDR 1000 claim can only go so far, especially when compared to an OLED display. With that in mind, why pay extra for a monitor that uses the exact same panel?
Ultimately, we do recommend the Dark Matter by Monoprice 49-inch Curved Gaming Monitor, but with some caveats. Know that within the next few years, technologies will emerge that can give true HDR performance on monitors at reasonable prices. The Dark Matter, while cheaper than the competition, isn’t good enough to make it an immediate value-buy. And the monitor’s lack of articulation forces buyers to purchase a separate wall mount, which adds cost.
Even then, the Dark Matter by Monoprice 49-inch Curved Gaming Monitor delivers solid enough performance. And if Monoprice ever significantly drops the price -- as it often puts items on sale -- it will be well worth the purchase.