Samsung Odyssey G7 Review – IGNOctober 20, 2020
Design and Features
If you’ve seen any of Samsung’s monitors from the past few years, the Odyssey G7 will look familiar. Its bezel is nearly frameless, with just a bit of plastic protruding out from the panel, and its two-legged stand boasts height, tilt, and swivel adjustments, with LED lighting at the pivot point. Unlike other Samsung monitors, it also has a bit of lighting along the bottom bezel, giving it just a bit more of a gamer aesthetic. It doesn’t have as many color options as typical RGB gear, and it won’t sync with the lights in your PC, but it has enough available colors that you can probably get it to match, with a few cool effects for that extra bit of flair (like breathing or rainbow). The Odyssey G7 looks good, though the stand is very deep, so make sure you have enough room on your desk – the 32” model requires about a foot of space from the edge.
Part of this is due to the monitor’s size and weight: this sucker is 14.3 pounds with the stand, and it doesn’t even have the power supply built into the monitor. Instead, you’ll have to find a place to put the huge brick in the middle of the power cable. It also has one of the deepest curves we’ve ever seen in a monitor at 1000R, which Samsung says matches the curvature of the human eye. Whether you enjoy a curve that deep is personal preference – I’m not aware of anyone that wanted more curve, with most people preferring little to no curve – but it’s there. All this is to say: the Odyssey G7 is not a svelte, minimalist monitor.
But that’s okay, because this thing has pretty beastly specs. The VA panel combines deep blacks with vivid colors, especially with the addition of Samsung’s quantum dot tech. It’s DisplayHDR 600 capable, which is actually decent as far as monitors go, and has a maximum frame rate of 240Hz for crazy smooth motion. (It quotes response time at 1ms GtG, but this is largely meaningless, as manufacturers tend to fudge these numbers with a host of misleading techniques). The 2560×1440 resolution offers a nice boost over the typical 1080p resolution of monitors this fast, though at 32 inches, it’s not very sharp. In fact, On some shades of color, I find you can even see the space in between the pixels, causing a faint screen door effect – something I’ve noticed on other Samsung monitors, though it’s not as bad on the Odyssey G7. If you prefer a super-dense pixel layout for desktop work, the 27-inch 1440p version may be more your speed at $650. Still, for pure gaming, a slightly less sharp picture is probably a worthy sacrifice for a screen this big and this smooth.
The rest of its specs are pretty typical, with FreeSync and G-Sync compatibility for tear-free gaming, built-in speakers for convenient (but tinny) sound, and rear IO sporting 1 HDMI 2.0 port, two DisplayPort 1.4 ports, two USB ports, and a headphone jack. It’s a bit of a bummer that both HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort 1.4 will soon be outdated, particularly when you’re spending $750 and want the monitor to last a long time.
To see if the Odyssey G7 lives up to these manufacturer-touted specs, I tested the monitor’s color performance using an X-Rite i1Display Pro with DisplayCal, as well as examining a number of Lagom’s LCD test patterns by eye. Out of the box, our Odyssey G7 covered all of the sRGB color space and 88.2% of the DCI-P3 color space – which is the minimum value Samsung lists in its specs. That’s quite good, and will easily make for eye-popping colors in the Custom mode the monitor comes tuned to. However, it does mean colors may be a bit oversaturated, due to the way Windows handles wide color gamuts. Most people will probably enjoy the more vivid colors anyway, and it’s a quirk common with every wide gamut display out there, so it’s not a knock against the monitor – though if you’re doing any color-sensitive work, you’ll want to calibrate the monitor or flip into sRGB mode. Color accuracy in sRGB mode was very good out of the box, with an average delta E value of 1.68 – a delta E value under 3 is generally considered excellent, with the differences between the displayed color and the intended color difficult to see without scrutiny. Over 3 is easier to discern, while under 1 is imperceptible. The maximum delta E we saw in sRGB mode was 3.44. Gamma measured fairly close to the 2.2 target, though I felt like the sharpness was turned up a bit too high out of the box – taking it down a notch made graphics look more natural.
The monitor’s black and white levels were on point in Lagom’s test patterns, with the darkest and brightest squares being just barely indistinguishable from reference black and white, respectively. Since it uses a VA panel, black levels are deeper than you’d find on IPS displays, so it’s a good monitor for playing games at night in a dark room – though it did fall a bit short of its promised contrast ratio, with our model measuring 2033:1 instead of the Samsung’s quoted 2500:1. The Odyssey G7 does have local dimming, but it’s edge-lit and only contains 7 zones, meaning you won’t see it dim as very often – and when it does, the zones are extremely obvious thanks to the blooming up and down the screen. It’s nice when your game completely fades to black, but otherwise is nothing to write home about, and some may find it more distracting than it’s worth. You can always turn it off in the options if you don’t like it.
Viewing angles, like most VA panels, were not spectacular, which can be more annoying the larger your monitor is. On our 32-inch review unit, it was tough to get the top and bottom of the screen to look the same in Lagom’s viewing angle pattern, and the edges never quite lined up, despite the incredibly deep curve. Still, I didn’t find this noticeable in regular desktop work or gaming, so it probably won’t bug most people.
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To test response time, Lagom’s pattern shows an animated GIF that quickly switches a number of squares between two shades of grey. If the square flickers noticeably, the pixels aren’t responding fast enough, indicating a slow response time that could lead to ghosting. Thankfully, the Odyssey G7 performed fantastically well, with only the darkest transitions showing any hint of flickering, and even then, much less than most monitors I’ve reviewed (especially other VA panels). Blur Bluster’s UFO ghosting test backed this up, with only the smallest trail behind moving objects. Like Samsung’s other monitors, the Odyssey G7 doesn’t allow you to enable overdrive (known as “Response Time” in the OSD) when Adaptive Sync is turned on, so you need to decide whether you want tear-free gaming or the fastest response time possible. Honestly, motion blur was so minimal out of the box that I didn’t feel the need to enable Overdrive, and even when I did, it didn’t make a hugely noticeable difference – though its highest setting, MBR, uses backlight flicker to all but eliminate motion blur. This tends to introduce image doubling and other artifacts, but it was less noticeable on the G7 Odyssey than other monitors – though the response time is so good you probably don’t need it anyway.
Speaking of G-Sync and FreeSync, I found the adaptive refresh rate on this monitor successfully eliminated screen tearing using my Nvidia graphics card. However, many users have reported flickering with their Odyssey monitors when adaptive refresh is turned on. Some find that their monitor constantly flickers, even during desktop work, while others don’t have flickering at all (or don’t notice it). Many users, like me, are somewhere in the middle – I couldn’t get most games to show any flickering, except maybe in menus, though I did notice it on a select few (like Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare) in-game. Disabling adaptive refresh rate eliminates the flicker instantly, for me and all other users experiencing the problem – though everything else about it is difficult to pin down since it seems to vary from unit to unit. (Some report better results after changing the FreeSync range in CRU, while others have had success in borderless windowed mode or by making other tweaks.) I experienced the issue with both my Nvidia and AMD graphics cards, and Samsung declined to make any official, on-the-record comment about the issue.
It seems like it’s partially panel lottery, and partially user sensitivity. I found it hard to see in typical fast-paced gameplay, even when I’m looking for it, but again, that could just be how it manifests on this particular unit. Ultimately, I wouldn’t consider it a total deal breaker – especially since variable refresh rate is less crucial at framerates this high, when tearing is hard to see – but knowing how widespread the issue is and how many users it’s affecting does certainly dock some points from Samsung’s favor. Hopefully a future firmware or driver update fixes the problem, but until then, there is a bit of a gamble involved for FreeSync and G-Sync diehards.
Gaming at 32 inches is always a treat, and Samsung’s Odyssey G7 did not disappoint. At this size, the action is super in-your-face, filling up your field of view and making all other monitors seem paltry in comparison. I didn’t find the super deep curve particularly beneficial, nor did it bother me a ton – if I had the choice, I’d definitely choose a shallower 1800R curve, but I’m not that picky. Many other users will be, however, as I know plenty of people prefer flat monitors for 16:9 displays.
1440p also provides pretty weak pixel density at 32 inches, but I find most games are pretty forgiving in this respect, and the increase to 32 inches is well worth it if you can stomach the less sharp visuals in desktop work. (Especially since you can supersample your games for a sharper image, provided you have enough GPU horsepower).
That said, 1440p is more than enough if you want to get anywhere close to the super-high 240Hz refresh rates this monitor provides. I’ve reviewed a number of 240Hz panels and the difference from 144Hz is noticeable – in fast-paced games like Overwatch, those extra frames make the motion feel just a bit smoother, perfect for darting around the arena as you frantically blast your enemies. That said, the jump from 144Hz to 240Hz is much smaller than the jump from 60hz to 144Hz, so while it’s nice to have, it isn’t crucial to a good gaming experience. And thank goodness, because hitting 240 frames per second can be tough at ultra graphics settings – which is where FreeSync comes in handy, allowing you to get in the ballpark without worrying about maxing out your framerate in every game. (Though some games may have flickering issues on some units, per my note above). The fast response time keeps up with the 240Hz refresh rate superbly, and I didn’t notice any bad ghosting or other motion artifacts, which can be common on other slower VA panels.
Colors were vibrant and beautiful, and HDR – while likely not on par with the TV in your living room – is still worth using in games that support it, for those extra highlights and more accurate colors (since SDR will be a tad oversaturated on wide gamut displays like this). Shadow of the Tomb Raider is still one of my favorite examples of HDR done well, whether you’re in the colorful Peruvian jungle or watching light stream through a hole in the wall of a dark cave.