Curved vs Flat Monitor – Which Should You Choose

If you’re interested in an ultrawide display, we recommend getting a curved model. For widescreen monitors, it’s a matter of preference.

Answer:

If you’re interested in an ultrawide display, we highly recommend getting a curved model.

As far as the widescreen monitors are concerned, it’s a matter of personal preference.

When curved displays first appeared on the market, most people thought it was just a gimmick and a passing fad that was not worth the extra cost. And while that’s partially true for TVs, it’s a whole different story when it comes to monitors.

So, why exactly do curved monitors make more sense than curved TVs, and what are the advantages and disadvantages of curved monitors in comparison to flat-screen models?

Curvature Ratings

Monitor Curvature

First, we’ll explain what different curvature radius ratings mean, such as 1000R, 1500R, 3800R, etc.

The lower the number preceding the R is, the steeper the screen curvature will be.

1500R, for instance, refers to a radius of 1500mm or 1.5 meters. If you were to form a circle out of a bunch of 1500R curved monitors, the radius of that circle would be 1.5m.

Additionally, the curvature rating tells you the optimal viewing distance.

With a 2000R curved monitor, you’ll only get full benefits of the curvature if you are no more than 2 meters away from the screen.

Curved vs Flat Monitors

curved vs flat monitor difference

Curved Monitors vs Curved TVs

Unlike curved TVs, which usually have subtle curvatures of ~4000R, most curved monitors have steeper curvatures of ~1500R. This makes sense as you’ll be sitting further away from a TV than you’d from a monitor.

However, the problem with TVs is that to take full advantage of a curved screen, you also need to be sitting directly in front of it, which is impossible to do if you have a lot of people in the room.

Additionally, people watching the TV from the far sides of a room wouldn’t be able to see the entire screen due to the curvature.

So, it’s understandable why, for most people, a curved TV is not worth the extra cost.

There are some advantages to curved TVs too, which you can learn more about in our curved vs flat TV article.

These problems don’t affect curved monitors as they are intended for one person sitting in front of the screen.

What’s more, curved monitors are not necessarily more expensive than flat-screen models. Oftentimes, curved panels are used for budget gaming monitors that are actually more affordable than their flat-panel counterparts.

Of course, just how useful is the curvature on a monitor mainly depends on the display’s size and curvature radius.

Small 24″ and 27″ sized curved monitors usually have curvatures of 1500R or 1800R, which aren’t even that noticeable due to their small screen size.

With 32″ or bigger curved monitors, the curvature becomes more noticeable, especially if it’s 1500R or steeper, but even then, the curvature isn’t exactly necessary.

You shouldn’t buy a 24″ – 32″ widescreen (16:9 aspect ratio) monitor just because it’s curved unless you’re also interested in other features and specifications the display offers.

Advantages Of Curved Monitors

curved monitors vs flat monitors image distortions

It’s only when we get to ultrawide (21:9 aspect ratio) or ‘super’ ultrawide (32:9) monitors that the curvature becomes almost vital for an immersive viewing experience.

Due to the extra width of these monitors, the curvature brings the edges of the screen closer to you thus covering more of your peripheral vision.

This adds extra depth to the image as you can see more of the screen at once, without having to move your eyes or head as much, which improves both immersion and eye comfort, and also eliminates distortion at the edges of the screen.

Disadvantages Of Curved Monitors

The main disadvantage of curved monitors is the viewing angles as you won’t get the optimal viewing experience unless you’re sitting directly in front of the screen.

So, if you wish to watch a movie from your bed, and your curved monitor isn’t facing it, the picture quality may not be ideal, especially if the monitor has a VA panel with inferior viewing angles to IPS technology.

Naturally, this depends on the monitor’s screen size and curvature as well as the particular angle you’d be looking at the screen.

Another concern users have with curved monitors is regarding professional use, such as architecture, 2D and 3D modeling, design, etc., but as long as the curvature is not too steep, it won’t be an issue.

Conclusion

In the end, the most important thing to consider is the panel quality itself.

For professional use, you’ll want an IPS panel display for the most accurate colors and widest viewing angles, and almost all widescreen IPS displays are flat-screen.

When it comes to ultrawide models, the ones intended for professional use have subtle curvatures precisely for this reason; they eliminate distortion without stretching out the objects that are close to the edges of the screen.

For gaming and multimedia/everyday use, we recommend getting a curved monitor if you want an ultrawide display, especially if it’s 34″ or larger – though there are some good flat-screen models available too.

As far as the widescreen models are concerned, it’s just a matter of personal preference.

Key Takeaways

  • Screen curvature is expressed as radius in millimeters. So, 1000R means that if you were to form a circle out of several of these monitors, the radius of that circle would be 1000mm (1 meter), which is also the maximum viewing distance for optimal viewing experience.
  • Most common examples range from 800R (steep) to 3800R (subtle).
  • Curved monitors make more sense than curved TVs as they’re intended to be viewed by one person sitting directly in front of the screen.
  • On widescreen (16:9) monitors, curved screens aren’t particularly useful. On 32″+ monitors, a subtle screen curve can be beneficial, but if the curvature is too steep (1000R), it can introduce noticeable distortions (less obvious in games, more noticeable during regular desktop use).
  • Monitors intended for professional photo and video editing use IPS panels, which usually have a subtle screen curvature to avoid distortions.
  • On ultra-wide monitors, curved screens are preferred as they bring the edges of the screen closer to the viewer, thus improving the field of view and image depth.

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Rob Shafer

Rob is a software engineer with a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Denver. He now works full-time managing DisplayNinja while coding his own projects on the side.