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21:9 Monitors – are they worth it?

Monitors with a 16:9 ratio are standard, but they're not the only option
Last Updated on January 24, 2024
21:09 Monitors
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As most of the mainstream PC monitor displays on the market today have the same aspect ratio, the majority of buyers are unaware of the 21:9 format. This is slowly beginning to change as people are becoming increasingly interested in panel quality, refresh rates, and display technologies. 

However, if you are unaware of the rising popularity of ultrawide, you may be missing out on a game-changer when it comes to playing online games as well as using a PC in general. So what are 21:9 monitors? Well, 21:9, or “Ultrawide” as it is occasionally called, is a wider aspect ratio than 16:9, which is the current average. 

Have you ever noticed that when watching a movie, black bars run across the top and bottom of the screen? This is because the bulk of feature films are shot in a wide aspect ratio of 21:9 or more.

Apart from possessing a larger aspect ratio, what practical advantages does 21:9 offer? Should you consider upgrading to the Ultrawide world yourself? In this quick comparison to 16:9, you’ll be able to see what 21:9 displays can give you. 

21:9 Monitors – Overview

Ultrawide monitors have a higher horizontal resolution than standard panels. If a 16:9 monitor has a 1920 x 1080 resolution, 21:9 monitors would have a 2560 x 1080 resolution. Meanwhile, a 2K/WQHD display has a resolution of 2560 x 1440, which is equivalent to 3440 x 1440 on a similar 21:9 screen. 

Both resolutions feature much more horizontally dispersed pixels. While you can go even further if you wanted and have a 5K monitor with 21:9 resolution, this is not a practical option for the average person.

Which Looks The Best For Gaming: 21:9 Or 16:9?

Ultrawide monitors have been gaining popularity for a few years. As a result, an increasing number of games now have native compatibility for the 21:9 aspect ratio. This enhances the quantity of visible content and (overall) improves the aesthetic appeal of the game. 

Games with a high visual fidelity seem much more stunning. And if we stick to visuals, games with native 21:9 support undoubtedly look better. However, what about competitive gaming? To be honest, it may be a bittersweet experience, depending on the game. 

Due to the increase in horizontal pixels, 21:9 can be advantageous for well-optimized games. However, a significant number of competitive games do not support the 21:9 aspect ratio, which means that some games will display black bars on the sides.

Additionally, keep in mind that driving 21:9 screens may be more challenging than running 16:9 displays, as they need a slight increase in GPU processing power. As a result, if you have a low-end GPU, you may notice a decrease in fps. If your graphics card is capable of driving these screens though, you may gain a substantial competitive gaming edge.

Regrettably, these displays are somewhat pricey due to the technology being pretty new – so they are more expensive than equivalent 16:9 monitors. And in general, we’d say that a higher refresh rate 16:9 monitor is a better value for competitive gaming, depending on the game. Still, 21:9 is certainly more enjoyable for single-player games. 

21:9 Benefits

21:9 is not just perfect for visual enhancement in video games. They are especially advantageous for productivity tasks due to the additional horizontal space available. 

Depending on the size and quality of your monitor, you can open two or more full-size windows for greater multitasking. Additionally, the greater screen space benefits video editing by providing more workspace.

Apart from that, films have an incredible visual quality when watched on these screens. Fortunately, we don’t have to deal with those annoying black bars here, as the entire picture is shot in widescreen. The film takes up the full screen, providing a far more enjoyable viewing experience.

While 21:9 isn’t in general an issue for films, television shows are usually shot in a 16:9 aspect ratio, which means you’ll see the black bars on the side again.


21:9 is ideal for those who love single-player games and binge-watching flicks, and 21:9 looks to be a significantly superior ratio versus 16:9. However, there are a few drawbacks to consider. Your favorite game may be incompatible with Ultrawide, putting you at a disadvantage. On the other hand, if the games you chose are supported then you’re in for a treat.

Andrew is one of three co-founders of BGFG, the parent company of PC Guide. A keen gamer and PC enthusiast, Andrew dabbles in a bit of writing sometimes - when he gets the chance to!