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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Samsung Odyssey OLED G8 Review

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Samsung’s Odyssey OLED G8, originally teased at CES 2022, took its sweet time coming to store shelves – and it was worth the wait. The monitor doesn’t entirely avoid OLED’s shortcomings, such as modest HDR brightness, but image quality excels and Samsung offers unique features that push the OLED G8 ahead of its competitors.

Samsung Odyssey OLED G8 – Photos

Samsung Odyssey OLED G8 – Design

The Samsung Odyssey OLED G8 makes a great first impression with sleek, athletic design and top-notch build quality. It has a solid metal rear panel that feels durable and luxurious. It’s a nice departure in a premium monitor market otherwise filled with stagnant, disappointing plastic shells.

Functionality isn't sacrificed for aesthetics, either. The OLED G8 opts for a mild 1800R curvature, which is less pronounced than the 1000R curvature found on Samsung's larger G9 Neo and many competing gaming ultrawides. An aggressive curve can feel more immersive in simulation games and shooters but distorts the image in strategy games, action-RPGs, and day-to-day productivity. The OLED G8’s moderate curve strikes a balance that’s ideal for gamers who enjoy a variety of genres.

Samsung includes an excellent monitor stand that keeps the large display planted yet occupies minimal desktop real estate. The base of the stand is flat, further reducing its impact on your desktop. The stand offers ergonomic adjustment for height and tilt, and includes a bracket to support 100mm x 100mm VESA stands, monitor arms, and wall mounts. Overall adjustment is a bit limited compared to other monitors, since there’s no swivel and only 120mm of height adjustment, but I didn’t find this to be an issue in my use.

The OLED G8 checks all the boxes: it's sturdy, attractive, and functional. Competitors should be worried if this monitor represents the company’s design direction for future monitors. Even brands known for quality, like Alienware and Asus, will need to step up their game.

Samsung Odyssey OLED G8 – Connectivity & Features

Samsung offers unorthodox connectivity that's sure to stir controversy. Gamers won't find a single full-sized DisplayPort or HDMI port on the monitor. It’s instead equipped with one Mini DisplayPort, one Micro-HDMI 2.1, and a pair of USB-C inputs. This is a bit annoying, as standard DisplayPort or HDMI cables won't work without an adapter. My review sample did not come with the proper cable but, from what I’ve read, other reviewers received a DisplayPort to Mini-DisplayPort cable. A DisplayPort to Mini-DisplayPort adapter or cable will run around $10, while HDMI 2.1 to Micro-HDMI 2.1 cables are usually $15.

The USB-C ports deliver up to 65 watts of USB Power Delivery to charge a connected laptop or tablet. That’s handy for anyone who owns a gaming desktop alongside a smaller laptop for day-to-day use. However, unlike most competitors that offer this feature, the OLED G8 doesn’t have downstream USB-A ports and won’t function as a USB hub. That feels like a missed opportunity.

The OLED G8 is a “smart gaming monitor” that runs Samsung’s Tizen operating system and provides features identical to a Samsung smart TV. It includes built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and offers apps for numerous services including Netflix, Hulu, Microsoft Xbox Cloud Gaming, and Nvidia GeForce Now. It’s technically possible to stream movies, and even play games, without a PC.

This adds complexity, however. New owners will need roughly five minutes, and an active Internet connection, to set up and enable all monitor features. The menu system is controlled by a convenient remote, which is bundled and ready for use out of the box, or a joystick on the rear that also serves as the power button. The power button is a bit difficult to reach, so try not to lose the remote.

Fortunately, these problems come with perks. The OLED G8’s menu system is more versatile and intuitive than a typical monitor on-screen menu. Text is large and easy to read, as well, so there’s no need to awkwardly lean forward when making adjustments. Monitor customization is healthy with adjustment for color temperature, color saturation and hue, and gamma, among other options.

Samsung also bundles speakers, an unusual extra not found in most alternatives. They provide an acceptable experience with reasonable volume and clear sound, but a lack of bass lends to a tinny, hollow presentation. The speakers are no substitute for a good set of desktop speakers but they’ll do in a pinch.

Samsung Odyssey OLED G8 – Gaming Image Quality

Samsung’s Odyssey OLED G8 uses the company’s own QD-OLED display panel. It’s a technology many PC gamers are already familiar with, as the popular and competitively priced Alienware AW3423DWF also has a Samsung QD-OLED panel. Both monitors deliver equally excellent image quality in SDR games.

The OLED G8’s contrast ratio is the star of the show. It achieves a minimum luminance of zero nits at all levels of brightness which, in turn, provides an effectively infinite contrast ratio. Everything viewed on the display, from games to movies and photographs, offers an impressive sense of dimensionality. Vivid, vibrant games like Apex: Legends seem to leap out of the display, while darker games like Diablo IV provide truly abyssal and intimidating depth. It’s a particularly excellent choice for gamers who prefer to play in a pitch-black room, as the display’s per-pixel lighting will not show the uniformity issues of edge-lit LCD displays or the blooming issues of Mini-LED displays.

Vivid, vibrant games seem to leap out of the display.


Color performance is strong with support for 100 percent of sRGB, 98 percent of DCI-P3, and 80 percent of Rec.2020. This isn’t the best available on a modern gaming monitor: the RedMagic 4K Gaming Monitor is even better, hitting 100 percent of DCI-P3, 99 percent of AdobeRGB, and 83 percent of Rec.2020. Still, the OLED G8’s color gamut is more than enough to offer vivid color and will prove sufficient for most content creators. Color accuracy is strong, as well, ensuring lifelike and realistic results.

Superb contrast and excellent color performance combine to provide a truly stunning experience across a broad range of genres and art styles. The dark, detailed atmosphere of Diablo IV looks gorgeous on the OLED G8, as the monitor provides a sense of heft and atmosphere no LED or Mini-LED monitor can match. I also enjoyed the monitor in older games that lean heavily on confident art direction and colorful scenes, such as Final Fantasy XIV. 2D games look fantastic, too, as the monitor’s contrast better highlights subtle details of a game’s art direction.

The OLED G8 does have weaknesses. It’s not especially bright, reaching a maximum SDR brightness of 237 nits. That’s fine for typical use in a room with good light control, but sunlit windows or harsh overhead lights can overwhelm the display. Sharpness is modest, as well, as the monitor’s 3,440 x 1,440 resolution struggles with subpixel issues that can cause a jagged or off-color look around fine elements, including small fonts. These are issues present in other OLED monitors, though, and rarely obvious in SDR games.

Samsung Odyssey OLED G8 – HDR Image Quality

Brightness is a more serious concern in HDR. I measured a maximum sustained fullscreen brightness of 271 nits in HDR (when displaying an image that should reach 1,000 nits). The display’s maximum brightness increases when less of the display is lit, providing a peak brightness of 417 nits when displaying a white box that took up just 10 percent of the display. That’s decent for an OLED monitor but falls short of Mini-LED competitors like the RedMagic 4K Gaming Monitor, which exceeds 1,000 nits.

The monitor’s relative lack of brightness leads to a mixed experience in HDR. Dark scenes with bright highlights, such as the black-hole sequence from the film “Interstellar,” look excellent. The highlights pop and contrast against the pitch-black darkness of space. Crossing a snow-capped mountain in Forza Horizon 5 is less impressive, however, as the monitor’s fullscreen brightness doesn’t deliver much oomph over SDR. Lumiance can lack detail, leading to a more uniform and less detailed look to sunsets, god rays, and other bright scenes.

While HDR is sometimes mediocre, Samsung nails an aspect that most gaming monitors miss: SDR content in HDR mode. Using HDR on the Windows desktop is often a bad experience as SDR content can look dull and flat when viewed alongside HDR. This is minimized on the OLED G8, as it preserves more of the SDR color gamut and offers good luminance uniformity between SDR and HDR windows. Windows 11’s HDR is usable and enjoyable, even on the Windows desktop.

Samsung Odyssey OLED G8 – Motion Performance

Samsung’s Odyssey OLED G8 has a maximum refresh rate of 175Hz and officially supports AMD FreeSync Premium Pro (G-Sync is not officially reported but observed to function). A 175Hz refresh rate falls short of the quickest monitors, like Alienware’s 500Hz AW2524H, but competitive with direct alternatives like the Alienware AW3423DWF, which has a refresh rate of 165Hz. The enhanced refresh rate and support for adaptive sync combine to offer a responsive and smooth gaming experience with ugly screen tearing.

The OLED G8 also benefits from a quoted pixel response time of just 0.03 milliseconds. A low pixel response time means that pixels can quickly switch to the appropriate color when new frames appear on the display. That, in turn, reduces motion blur. The OLED G8 has a 175Hz refresh rate, but its motion clarity is more similar to a 240Hz monitor with an IPS LCD panel, such as the RedMagic 4K Gaming Monitor. Scrolling test images from League of Legends and DOTA 2 show significant detail. Character silhouettes are easy to make out, terrain is easy to parse, and character names are legible.

OLED monitors that provide a higher refresh rate, such as the Corsair Xeneon 27QHD240, look better still, but the gap is not as large as I expected. I found the OLED G8 looked incredible in motion, and it should prove more than adequate for everyone short of esports professionals.

Samsung Odyssey OLED G8 – Day-to-Day Use

The Samsung Odyssey OLED G8 is an outstanding monitor for day-to-day productivity and dodges the issues that sometimes sour OLED and Mini-LED monitors.

Samsung does limit the brightness of the monitor depending on the content displayed but, like recent iterations of the Alienware AW3423DWF, this behavior is subtle and usually hard to notice. The wild swings in brightness that plagued Alienware’s origins OLED ultrawide, the AW3423DW, aren’t present here.

The monitor’s excellent color performance is good news for videographers, photographers, and digital artists. Content looks vivid, yet accurate, and the wide color gamut can properly display an excellent range of color. Further customization through the monitor’s menu system can further tune the display to match your needs.

The monitor’s excellent color performance is good news for videographers, photographers, and digital artists.


Sharpness is the monitor’s most serious limitation in day-to-day use. Samsung’s QD-OLED panel doesn’t use the RGB subpixel layout that Windows expects, which can lead to problems when viewing fine fonts or high-resolution images. Details can appear more pixelated than expected and the space between small characters can display a color, such as yellow or blue, that shouldn’t be present.

The monitor’s subtle curve, attractive design, small stand, and bundled remote only reinforce its ease-of-use. Though sold as a “smart gaming monitor,” I think the Odyssey OLED G8 is better understood as a do-it-all display equally suited to gaming, home office productivity, content creation, and even streaming entertainment. Gamers who work from home should put the OLED G8 at the top of their list.

Samsung Odyssey OLED G8 – The Competition

Samsung’s most direct competitor is the Alienware AW3424DWF. Both monitors use a Samsung QD-OLED panel and offer virtually identical image quality. The OLED G8’s design is a bit more attractive, however, and Samsung offers versatile smart TV features. The Alienware is a bit less expensive at $1,000, while the OLED G8 is $1,100. I recommend the Samsung for most people, but gamers who don’t care for Samsung’s smart features might opt for the Alienwrae.

There’s no shortage of competitors with IPS LCD or Mini-LED displays but, frankly, none of them come close to the OLED G8. Mini-LED alternatives, like the Philips Evnia 7000 and Viewsonic XG341C-2K, are brighter in HDR but have obvious issues with blooming and don’t handle SDR content well when Windows 11’s HDR is in use. Alternatives that use an old-fashioned IPS panel with an edge lit LED backlight, like the LG UltraGear 34GP950G-B, are effectively obsolete, as they fall far short in contrast, color performance, and HDR.

Verdict

The Samsung Odyssey OLED G8 is a masterful OLED monitor that delivers all the strengths I’ve come to expect from the technology and minimizes its weaknesses. HDR performance remains so-so, but SDR content looks spectacular, and the monitor’s attractive, durable design feels well worth the price. The OLED G8 exceeds even Alienware’s AW3423DWF and is an obvious pick for anyone looking to buy a 34-inch ultrawide monitor.

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