HP Omen 34c 165 Hz Gaming Monitor Review: Smooth Performance and Refined Style

It wasn’t long ago that curved ultra-wide gaming monitors were considered exotic. Users weren’t sure if the curve was good, bad, or indifferent. But now, the category is firmly established as something many gamers consider essential hardware. You can’t replicate their immersive quality with a flat panel unless you go big, say 42 inches.

Another firmly established category is QHD 165 Hz because it offers a great balance of price and performance. 3440×1440 resolution at 34 inches is 109ppi, which is dense enough for a sharp picture free of visible dot structure and a lighter load for the connected PC or console. Anything that increases frame rates is a good thing.

HP brings solid engineering and refined styling to the genre with the Omen 34c. It’s a high-contrast VA panel with 165 Hz, Adaptive-Sync, HDR400 and wide gamut color. The curve is 1500R, so it’s well suited for work and play. Let’s take a look.

HP Omen 34c Specs

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Panel Type / Backlight VA / W-LED, edge array
Screen Size / Aspect Ratio 34 inches / 21:9
Row 2 – Cell 0 Curve radius: 1500mm
Max Resolution and Refresh Rate 3440×1440 @ 165 Hz
Row 4 – Cell 0 FreeSync: 48-165 Hz
Row 5 – Cell 0 G-Sync Compatible
Native Color Depth and Gamut 8-bit / DCI-P3
Row 7 – Cell 0 HDR10, DisplayHDR 400
Response Time (GTG) 1ms
Brightness (mfr) 400 nits
Contrast (mfr) 3,000:1
Speakers 2x 3w
Video Inputs 1x DisplayPort 1.4
Row 13 – Cell 0 2x HDMI 2.0
Audio 3.5mm headphone output
USB 3.0 None
Power Consumption 35.8w, brightness @ 200 nits
Panel Dimensions WxHxD w/base 31.8 x 19-22.9 x 9.6 inches (808 x 483-582 x 244mm)
Panel Thickness 4.3 inches (108mm)
Bezel Width Top/sides: 0.4 inch (9mm)
Row 20 – Cell 0 Bottom: 0.9 inch (23mm)
Weight 23.4 pounds (10.6kg)
Warranty 1 year included
Row 23 – Cell 0 2 years $25, 3 years $45

Prices in this category have dropped quite a bit thanks to increased competition. The Omen 34c sells for $480 at this writing, which is at the upper end but still far less than similar monitors from just a year or two ago. The standard warranty is one year, less than the typical three years included with nearly every monitor currently available. But you can buy one additional year for $25 or two for $45.

The panel uses VA technology, which means higher contrast out of the gate. HP claims 3,000:1, and I verified that in my tests. HDR content gets a boost from dynamic field dimming to over 6,500:1. Wide gamut color is available, too, with 86% coverage of DCI-P3. That’s about average for today’s panels, but some newer models can cover more. I’ll tell you later about some interesting behavior I observed in the tests, but I can say that the Omen 34c includes an accurate out-of-box picture mode that does not require calibration. Peak output is high at over 450 nits for both SDR and HDR.

Gaming is enhanced by the 165 Hz refresh rate and a well-tuned overdrive. Also available is a backlight strobe with an adjustable pulse width that works instead of Adaptive-Sync. The Omen 34c is certified for FreeSync Premium Pro and runs G-Sync without issue (even though it has not been certified by Nvidia).

The Omen 34c has the tools required for competitive gaming, like aiming points, frame counter and countdown timers. And it has decent audio from a pair of integrated speakers. But USB ports and LED lighting are absent. HP’s typical solid build quality and refined styling are present and accounted for. Though the price is at the upper end of the category, the Omen 34c’s look and feel are commensurate with a premium display.

Assembly and Accessories

HP dispenses with crumbly foam packaging in favor of strategically folded cardboard and a few strips of rubbery material. The contents are well protected. The base and upright attach with a captive bolt and the panel snaps in place. A 100mm VESA mount is provided for aftermarket arms and brackets. A snap-on cover and cable clip help clean up the rear view. The power supply is internal, so you get an IEC cord and a DisplayPort cable.

Product 360

HP makes the most of the Omen 34c’s simple styling. Though there aren’t obvious gaming cues like molded textures or shapes, the look is unmistakably HP. The front bezel is 9mm wide around the top and sides, flush mounted, and 23mm wide at the bottom, with a small Omen logo in the center. The anti-glare layer prevents image-degrading reflections and doesn’t add any visible grain to the image.

The control keys consist of four directionals and a select button arranged in a nav pad layout. It’s the perfect imitation of a joystick and is just as intuitive to use. Next to this is a power toggle. On the front is a fairly bright white power LED.

A large Omen logo is in the back, and you can see the diamond-shaped mount cover. The finish is otherwise smooth with a matte texture. The stand is substantial and holds everything solidly together. There is no trace of wobble or play in the adjustments. You get 5/20 degrees tilt and 3.9 inches of height. There is no swivel or portrait mode. Movements are super firm and smooth and befit a premium product. The panel’s maximum height is perfect for people who want to set it vertically with a center-screen eyepoint. This is ideal for gaming as it keeps the entire image in focus.

The input panel includes a single DisplayPort 1.4, two HDMI 2.0 ports, and a 3.5mm audio jack for headphones or powered speakers. Internal audio is of decent quality and comes from two three-watt speakers. There are no USB ports or LED lighting of any kind.

OSD Features

The Omen 34c’s OSD is summoned by pressing the select button in the center of the four directional keys around the back right corner. You can also go straight to the brightness slider, color modes, audio volume or input selection.

The OSD is well organized, with eight sub-menus. Signal and input information is always displayed at the bottom. Gaming lets you toggle Adaptive-Sync, adjust the overdrive, turn on aiming points, frame rate counter, timers or alignment marks, and activate multi-monitor alignment marks. MPRT is the backlight strobe, and it includes a pulse width adjustment. Higher settings decrease blur at the expense of brightness. There is a slight phasing artifact, but it is less obvious than what I usually see. The Omen 34c is one of the few monitors with a usable strobe. It works instead of Adaptive-Sync and does reduce blur more than the overdrive alone.

The user can create the aiming points with any combination of five different elements and multiple colors. It can be placed anywhere on the screen; it isn’t limited to the center only.

In the Image menu, you can adjust basic luminance parameters and engage a dynamic contrast for SDR content. The Omen 34c has plenty of contrast already, so it isn’t really necessary. Field dimming is an improving factor in HDR mode, where the feature is locked in the on position.

The Color menu has eight picture modes, all of which can be calibrated. Unfortunately, there are no gamma controls, and my tests revealed room for improvement. The default mode is Standard, and it is very accurate without calibration. HP has locked this mode into sRGB color for SDR content in an unusual move. This is the correct choice, but some users may want more color. You can find that in the Native mode, which uses the Omen 34c’s entire gamut for SDR. It is not without compromise, though. I’ll talk more about this in the color tests.

HP Omen 34c Calibration Settings

All the Omen 34c’s picture modes have independent settings for the RGB sliders which is nice. The default Standard mode doesn’t require calibration but can be improved slightly. It uses the sRGB color gamut for SDR content and the wide gamut for HDR. If you want wide gamut SDR, choose the Native mode. It does require calibration as it is very cool by default. It also has a lighter gamma with no correction available. HDR mode cannot be adjusted but is very accurate. My SDR settings for Standard and Native mode are below.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Picture Mode Standard / Native
Brightness 200 nits 55
Brightness 120 nits 22
Brightness 100 nits 13
Brightness 80 nits 6 (min. 67 nits)
Contrast 100
Color Temp User Standard – Red 246, Green 248, Blue 255
Row 7 – Cell 0 Native – Red 255, Green 243, Blue 206

Gaming and Hands-on

The Omen 34c quickly proved itself capable of everything I wanted to do. The curve is fairly benign, so work tasks look the same as on a flat screen. The extra width is helpful for comparing documents or editing photos with lots of toolbars open. Web browsing takes place at the center of the screen for the most part, but occasionally, I moved Chrome to one side to add information to a Word file.

The image is well suited for reading text with an ideal 109ppi pixel density. I backed off the sharpness control one click from the default to eliminate a slight ringing artifact. The curve neither enhances nor detracts from productivity. I didn’t notice it until I started watching videos and playing games.

HP has done well with the Omen 34c’s video processing, placing it in the top tier of monitors I’ve reviewed below 200 Hz. Overdrive is a big separator between displays of the same refresh rate as it directly impacts motion resolution. Too much, and you’ll see white trail artifacts behind moving objects. This not only reduces detail in the foreground, but the background descends into mush when you move the mouse quickly. The Omen 34c works best on setting 4 where there is almost no blur or visible artifacts.

Adaptive-Sync worked perfectly on both AMD and Nvidia platforms. I did nearly all my gaming tests using a GeForce RTX 4090-equipped PC. This let me max the frame rate so I could use the backlight strobe. The Omen 34c has one of the few good implementations of this feature. Most monitors show significant phasing when it’s on but here, it wasn’t an issue. Motion resolution was even better, and brightness was only reduced around 15% on the widest pulse width setting. It is a viable alternative to Adaptive-Sync if you can keep the frame rate above 150fps.

The image in both SDR and HDR modes was excellent. I noted slightly light gamma in my color tests, and I could see some desaturation here and there, but it was far from a deal-breaker. The detail was clear in all parts of the picture, both bright and dark. The wide gamut came to bear for HDR content and the dynamic contrast feature, which takes contrast to over 6,500:1. The Omen 34c is one of the better edge-backlight HDR monitors I’ve reviewed.

Takeaway: The Omen 34c’s slight curvature makes it ideal for work and play. It isn’t a factor for productivity, and it brings a little more immersion to gaming. The image is superb, with vivid color and sharp detail. Pixel density is high enough for a clear picture but low enough for high frame rates with a wider variety of graphics cards. Video processing is among the best, with a super clean overdrive and a usable backlight strobe option.

MORE: Best Gaming Monitors

MORE: How We Test PC Monitors

MORE: How to Buy a PC Monitor

MORE: How to Choose the Best HDR Monitor

The Omen 34c’s comparison charts pit it against other 34-inch ultra-wide VA screens. Two of them are Mini LED, the ViewSonic XG341C-2K and Philips 34M2C7600. Closer in price are the Monoprice 38035-2, AOC CU34G3S and ASRock PG34WQ.

Pixel Response and Input Lag

Click here to read up on our pixel response and input lag testing procedures.

The ViewSonic runs at 200 Hz, so it has a quicker input lag score than the others, but its panel response is no better than the 165 Hz screens. In fact, the Omen 34c is a tick quicker than the average 165 Hz monitor. That gives it visibly better motion resolution. When you engage the overdrive, blur is lowered even further. And its backlight strobe is one of the few that works without significant phasing artifacts. HP has done well with video processing here.

Test Takeaway: There are many 165 Hz QHD screens available, and most perform within a small window. In other words, differences in response and feel are small. The Omen 34c is one of the better examples, with 1ms faster panel response and lower than average input lag. Coupled with excellent overdrive and backlight strobe options, it delivers a better-than-average feel for gamers of all skill levels.

Viewing Angles

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

Most VA panels perform poorly in this test, but the Omen 34c is better than most. There is a slight red shift at 45 degrees to the side, but light output is only about 30% lower. Gamma stays consistent, so detail is well-rendered when viewing off-axis. The top view is more typical of VA panels with less light, less detail and a blue tint.

Screen Uniformity

To learn how we measure screen uniformity, click here.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

My Omen 34c sample was consistent across the screen when showing a black field pattern, but I could see a slight glow in the upper left corner when the room was completely dark. I could not spot this issue in actual content. Color patterns were unblemished. The Omen 34c is slightly below average compared to other VA-based ultra-wide curved monitors.

MORE: Best Gaming Monitors

MORE: How We Test PC Monitors

MORE: How to Buy a PC Monitor

MORE: How to Choose the Best HDR Monitor

To read about our monitor tests in-depth, please check out Display Testing Explained: How We Test PC Monitors. We cover brightness and contrast testing on page two.

Uncalibrated – Maximum Backlight Level

Most edge backlight VA monitors aren’t super bright, but the Omen 34c manages to top 450 nits in SDR mode. It’s rated for DisplayHDR 400, so that tracks. The black level is mid-pack in the group with contrast just over 3,100:1, which is respectable performance. The top two screens have multi-zone Mini LED backlights, but for this test, all dimming was turned off to put the panels on a level playing field.

After Calibration to 200 nits

Calibration cost the Omen 34c a few points in the contrast test, but at 2,800.4:1, it’s still well ahead of any IPS screen. The Mini LED Philips and ViewSonic screens fare well here, with 4,000:1 achieved without the dimming engaged. But they also cost a good deal more. Among the affordable screens, the differences are barely visible.

The Omen 34c holds its own in the ANSI test with just under 3,000:1. It indicates good screen uniformity and build quality that this score is so close to the static result. This is excellent performance.

Test Takeaway: VA as a category offers excellent native contrast that’s around triple that of IPS. The Omen 34c is a prime example of consistent performance before and after calibration. The intra-image ANSI result is also an example of its consistency. The image has plenty of depth and impact with good blacks, solid detail and bright highlights. It is also visibly brighter than the average VA ultra-wide monitor.

MORE: Best Gaming Monitors

MORE: How We Test PC Monitors

MORE: How to Buy a PC Monitor

MORE: How to Choose the Best HDR Monitor

The Omen 34c is one of the only wide gamut monitors I’ve encountered that locks the user into the sRGB standard for SDR signals. Most similar screens use their full native gamuts, which are far larger, for SDR content. While this is not technically correct, it appeals to most users because the image is more colorful. However, HP gives you the choice to turn on that extra color.

Grayscale and Gamma Tracking

Our grayscale and gamma tests use Calman calibration software from Portrait Displays. We describe our grayscale and gamma tests in detail here.

Beginning with the default Standard picture mode, the Omen 34c has excellent grayscale tracking that is free of visible errors. It does not need to be calibrated. Gamma is a tad light, but that is a minor issue.

If you want to use the wide gamut for SDR content, Native provides that. It also makes grayscale much cooler and, therefore, does require calibration. Luckily, all the Omen 34c’s picture modes’ grayscale tracking is independently adjustable.

After tweaking the RGB sliders in Standard mode, grayscale is nearly perfect, but the gamma is still a bit light. Gamma presets would be nice, but they are absent. In practice, this is only a minor problem.

I was able to fix the grayscale errors in Native mode, but gamma is lighter than Standard. I could see the difference as the image looked flat by comparison. It is more colorful, but some dimensionality is lost. Again, gamma presets could help with this.

Comparisons

I’ve charted the Omen 34c’s grayscale and gamma results for both Standard and Native modes. Out of the box, Native is quite far off the mark with a very cool tone. Once calibrated, both Standard and Native have excellent grayscale tracking.

In the gamma test, the range of values is about the same for both modes, but Native is further from the 2.2 spec with an actual value of 2.05. Most of the errors are in the darker parts of the image, which means shadow detail, while visible, is more gray than black. This makes the image look a bit flat.

Color Gamut Accuracy

Our color gamut and volume testing use Portrait Displays’ Calman software. For details on our color gamut testing and volume calculations, click here.

I was surprised to see the Omen 34c’s default color chart tracking sRGB. It’s a rare monitor that doesn’t use its wide gamut for SDR. Accuracy is top-notch, with a slight under-saturation in the 60 and 80% red targets and a hue error in magenta. These errors are not visible to the naked eye.

The default chart for Native mode shows some significant problems. Only blue and yellow track their hues correctly, while most red points are under-saturated. With such a cool grayscale, the image doesn’t look much more saturated, even though the gamut coverage is greater.

Calibrating the Standard mode doesn’t make much visual difference; it was already spot-on. But the final 1.15dE value is impressive.

Once Native mode is calibrated, the hue targets are all in line, but there is still a bit of under-saturation in red, magenta and blue. The visual improvement is significant with an average of 2.78dE. Calibration makes Native mode more colorful, but it’s still a bit flat thanks to the light gamma.

Comparisons

If accuracy is your goal, the Omen 34c’s Standard mode is the right choice. Its color performance puts it at the head of the pack. Native is still in a good range despite its last-place ranking. There are no significant color issues with any of the monitors here.

The Omen 34c has a little less DCI-P3 coverage than all but the ASRock. It’s on the underside of average and like most wide-gamut screens, green is the deficient color. sRGB coverage is solid, with only red falling a tad short of 100%.

Test Takeaway: If you want the most colorful picture, the Omen 34c’s Native mode delivers but requires calibration. In the default Standard mode, you don’t need to adjust, and gamma is better. After some back and forth in my hands-on sessions, I picked Standard for its more accurate gamma. Though it is slightly less colorful, it has more dimension and texture. Remember that this just SDR I’m talking about here. HDR brings the Omen 34c’s full color potential to bear.

MORE: Best Gaming Monitors

MORE: How We Test PC Monitors

MORE: How to Buy a PC Monitor

MORE: How to Choose the Best HDR Monitor

Our HDR benchmarking uses Portrait Displays’ Calman software. To learn about our HDR testing, see our breakdown of how we test PC monitors.

The Omen 34c supports HDR10 content with a DisplayHDR 400 rating. The switch is automatic, and all picture adjustments are grayed out. You get a tad more light output and dynamic contrast is on, so the Omen 34c is one of the better edge-backlight HDR monitors I’ve seen.

HDR Brightness and Contrast

With 470 nits peak and over 6,500:1 contrast, the Omen 34c’s HDR image pops nicely. Highlights are bright and blacks are deep and detailed. Only the Mini LED screens and the ASRock can deliver more contrast. The ASRock is also edge-lit, but its dimming feature is more aggressive. HP has done a good job of maximizing HDR quality without resorting to costlier technologies.

Grayscale, EOTF and Color

The Omen 34c aced my HDR grayscale and EOTF test. Grayscale tracking is visually perfect, with no errors of consequence and solid EOTF tracking. The 10% step is slightly dark, but in content, detail is still visible in the deepest shadows. The tone-map transition is at 65%, which is correct for the measured black and white levels. When EOTF tracking is this good, it means you’ll see all the detail present in all areas of the image.

The Omen 34c swings for the fences with its HDR color saturation. Most points are a bit over, which preserves detail and adds vibrance. HDR clearly looks more colorful than SDR, which is as it should be. Hue points track close to their targets, which is also a good thing. In the 2020 test, the over-saturation continues until the display runs out of color at 75 to 80%. This helps the Omen 34c look more colorful for HDR content mastered in all possible gamuts.

Test Takeaway: With dynamic contrast and plenty of color, the Omen 34c delivers very good HDR quality. It isn’t quite up to what Mini LED is capable of, but it is better than most edge-lit panels I’ve reviewed. Though it costs a bit more than its closest competition, it delivers a visibly better and more impactful image.

MORE: Best Gaming Monitors

MORE: How We Test PC Monitors

MORE: How to Buy a PC Monitor

MORE: How to Choose the Best HDR Monitor

When curved monitors first appeared, they were exotic and expensive items. But clearly, users have taken to them because now, they aren’t much costlier than similarly sized flat screens. With so many sizes and curve radii to choose from, gamers can create a more personal experience for themselves with extra immersion and a nod to productivity.

Gaming monitors have also evolved in speed and there are many choices there as well. High resolution is always desired, but one must consider the support hardware. Ultra HD is great but comes at a cost, not only for the display, but for the graphics card required to drive it at usable frame rates.

A monitor that wraps all those things into a single product, and sells for a reasonable price, is bound to appeal to many buyers. A 34-inch ultra-wide screen with WQHD resolution and 165 Hz sounds like the just-right ticket to happiness.

HP Omen 34c

(Image credit: HP)

HP’s Omen 34c is one of many such gaming monitors, but it offers better video processing than most. It also sports excellent build quality and refined styling. While some may enjoy monitors that look like a science fiction film and create light shows, others prefer displays that place function ahead of form. The Omen 34c is firmly in that category.

Under its simple skin is some of the best video processing I’ve seen for less than $500. The Omen 34c has a precisely tuned overdrive that ups motion resolution without visible artifacts. And it has a truly usable backlight strobe. Low input lag gives it a premium feel when playing that suggests a more expensive monitor.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

The image is excellent in most respects. I’m glad to see HP staying true to the sRGB color gamut for SDR and making the out-of-box mode so accurate. But some users will want to use the wide gamut and there is some room for improvement there. Light gamma is the culprit and there are no additional presets to provide options.

In the end, I had many positive reactions to the Omen 34c. Gaming on it is a lot of fun and productivity is a natural and low-stress activity. It will stand proud on any desktop with high-end build quality and styling. Though a little more costly than its closest competition, it has better-than-average video processing and HDR quality. From that perspective, it is well-priced. If you are looking to go ultra-wide, the HP Omen 34c is worth checking out.

MORE: Best Gaming Monitors

MORE: How We Test PC Monitors

MORE: How to Buy a PC Monitor

MORE: How to Choose the Best HDR Monitor

This post was originally published on this site