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Samsung brings 240 Hz refresh rates to 4K monitors


Samsung Odyssey Neo G8

Samsung

4K has saturated the TV market, but the sharpest mainstream display resolution is not as common in PC monitors, due to price and limitations. PC gamers specifically opt for PC monitors because they can generally hit higher refresh rates than TVs, which are typically at 60 Hz or 120 Hz, making fast-paced gaming action look smoother. But refresh rates higher than 144 Hz usually require sticking to QHD resolution or lower. Samsung’s introduction today of a 4K monitor that can hit 240 Hz changes that.

Samsung told me it will announce the price and release date for the monitor, part of the brand’s announcements for CES 2022, “later this year.” If it arrives in 2022, it should be the fastest 4K monitor on the market—assuming another brand doesn’t announce a similar screen (who knows what else we’ll hear about at CES; the tech show doesn’t even officially start until Wednesday).

4K at 240 Hz

The Odyssey Neo G8 has a 1 ms GTG response time and is able to refresh 8,294,400 pixels 240 times per second. When asked, Samsung didn’t specify if the monitor uses compression to do so, but it apparently does because its port selection is comprised of two HDMI 2.1 and one DisplayPort 1.4.

On its own, HDMI 2.1 can only hit 120 Hz at 4K resolution, but by using VESA’s Display Stream Compression (DSC), it should be able to reach 240 Hz, as explained by Tom’s Hardware. Similarly, DisplayPort 1.4a runs 4K content at up to 120 Hz natively, but with DSC, a supporting 4K display could surpass that. There are numerous 4K monitors that already use DSC to run 4K at 144 Hz, but 240 Hz is unprecedented.

Monitors that use DSC claim there’s no reduction in image quality. In fact, VESA says its compression technique is visually lossless. Most folks shouldn’t be able to tell the difference, but occasional artifacts will inevitably pop up.

Another option could have been DisplayPort 2.0 With 80 Gbps of bandwidth, DisplayPort 2.0 would allow for 4K at 240 Hz without any compression. As of now, we don’t know of any confirmed DisplayPort 2.0 monitors, but that could change, potentially during CES. In January 2021, VESA told me that DisplayPort 2.0 products should arrive in the second half of 2022.

Of course, to use a DisplayPort 2.0 we’d also need to see the announcement of graphics cards with DisplayPort 2.0. Neither Nvidia nor AMD have officially confirmed any such cards, but patches to AMD’s Linux graphics driver spotted by Phoronix this summer suggest support from AMD may be on its way.

Regardless, in order to push 4K at 240 fps, you’d not only need the necessary port, but a very powerful graphics card. Note that hitting such frame rates with graphics-intensive AAA games is still out of the out of the question.

Should your graphics card and monitor fail to sync up, the Odyssey Neo G8 also supports G-Sync to fight screen tearing and stuttering with Nvidia graphics cards, and FreeSync Premium Pro does the same with AMD graphics cards. The “Premium Pro” addendum means it also works with HDR and low framerate compensation.

Teaching a new dog old tricks

A light on the monitor's backsid can match colors on screen.
Enlarge / A light on the monitor’s backsid can match colors on screen.

If the Odyssey Neo G8 doesn’t look all that new to you, it’s because it was designed to look like the Odyssey Neo G9 49″, the lineup’s flagship announced last July, and the Odyssey G9 49″, which was one of three monitors to introduce a 1000R curve when Samsung announced it at CES last year.

The $2,500 Odyssey Neo G9.
Enlarge / The $2,500 Odyssey Neo G9.

Samsung

The monitors all have a 1000R curvature (the steepest one you can find in PC monitors today), a white back with spaceship-like carvings, and a bright light, called CoreSync, that lights up based on the colors on display.

Samsung told me that the Odyssey Neo G8 is a VA panel using a Mini LED backlight. It can hit up to 2,000 nits of brightness and should offer deeper contrast than a standard LED monitor, since you can pack more LEDs into the screen.

Although it’s still a couple steps away from OLED, these factors all make the monitor look like a strong candidate for HDR gaming and movie watching. Samsung didn’t mention any VESA HDR certifications, despite the monitor claiming to surpass the brightness requirement (1,400 nits) of the highest tier (DisplayHDR 1400).



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