Samsung is practically synonymous with high-quality displays, but the company is only just now jumping into the realm of dedicated gaming monitors. It's made a great first impression with the CFG70, a 24-inch 1080p curved monitor with an inventive design and lots of useful features for gamers.
Between the display's uniquely flexible stand and highly intuitive navigation menus, adjusting the CFG70 is painlessly easy compared to the competition. And as one of the first gaming monitors to utilize quantum-dot technology, it makes games look rich and vibrant while still providing the fast response times that competitive players need. While you can get a quality 1080p monitor for much less than the CFG70's $349 asking price, you just might find some of this display's extras worth the cost.
Design and Lighting
Considering how many gaming monitors feature gaudy designs filled with aggressive red highlights, the Samsung CFG70's simplicity makes it a standout. There's nothing immediately arresting about the all-black monitor, which features a curved, 24-inch screen and rests on a large, circular base.
The base seems a bit superfluous; it would make sense for it to be that large if it offered wireless charging like some of Samsung's nongaming monitors do, but since it doesn't, it just feels like it takes up space for no reason. Fortunately, everything else about the CFG70's design makes this monitor a joy to use.
Instead of resting on a single upright hinge like most monitors do, the CFG70 employs a super-flexible dual-hinge design that looks like a robotic arm and makes the monitor extremely easy to adjust. You can tilt the display 2 degrees back or 17 degrees forward, raise or lower it a few inches up or down, and swivel it 15 degrees left or right, and it all feels incredibly intuitive. It's also very easy to pivot the CFG70 into portrait mode, should you want to use it to view your Twitch chat while you game on another display.
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The CFG70 features what Samsung calls "Arena Lightning," a small LED light beneath the screen that casts a cool, blue glow on the base beneath. You can program the light to breathe in and out, or have it pulsate in sync with your PC's audio. This led to a fairly epic light show during one of my hectic Heroes of the Storm battles.
It's a neat feature, but other monitors do it a bit better. Acer's Predator X34, for example, provides a bigger LED strip that offers a variety of colors and lighting effects, including the ability to ripple side to side.
Ports and Interface
The CFG70 has a fairly standard selection of basic ports that can support your PC, game console and streaming box of choice all at once. You've got two HDMI ports and a DisplayPort, as well as two 3.5mm audio jacks.
I've tested only a handful of monitors whose interface actually feels good to navigate, and I'm happy to report that the CFG70 is one of them. You'll do most of your menu browsing via a convenient rear-facing knob, which also doubles as a power button and volume switch.
Once you click the knob, you'll see clear options for switching inputs, toggling eye-saver mode, turning the display off and opening the main menu. Navigating the menu took almost zero adjustment on my part, as I simply moved the knob in the direction I wanted to go in. The main menu itself is clear and robust, allowing you to adjust things such as refresh rate, response time, brightness and contrast, as well as toggle FreeSync.
After finding your ideal settings, you can save them to one of three profiles. Better yet, you can instantly switch among those profiles using three physical buttons located beneath the right side of the screen. Every time you switch modes, a small on-screen overlay will appear that conveniently tells you the key stats of your active setting, such as refresh rate, response time, and whether FreeSync is on or off.
With a speedy, 144Hz refresh rate, the CFG70 proved immersive enough for single-player experiences, and crisp and responsive enough for competitive games. Samsung's monitor was at its most impressive while running Heroes of the Storm, a multiplayer online battle-arena game that often floods the screen with small characters.
The display's deep blues and reds made it easy to pick out which heroes and minions were on which team during a crowded battle, and I didn't feel any lag while furiously clicking out a bunch of attacks and movements. I primarily played the game on the RTS (real-time strategy) setting, which was rich enough to be eye-pleasing but clear enough to help me focus on the action.
That sweet spot between vibrancy and responsiveness carried over wonderfully to the old-school first-person shooting of Battlefield 1. I could see every fine detail of my soldier's clothes and weapons while running the game on Ultra settings, and firing my rifle felt instantaneous. The monitor's FPS setting seemed to emphasize brightness over color to help you find enemies, but that didn't stop me from stopping to admire the soothing purples of a distant sunset.
Few titles are as latency-dependent as fighting games, and I was happy to discover that the CFG70 worked wonderfully for Street Fighter V. I had no problem pulling off my more complex combos, and the monitor's default and high-brightness modes helped highlight the blues and purples of a Japanese castle in the background without being distracting.
While I had a great time playing games on the CFG70, I'm not sure how much of a difference the display's 1800R curvature made. On larger displays such as the ultrawide Acer Predator X34 and the 35-inch BenQ XR3501, the curve adds a noticeable layer of immersion. On a small, 24-inch screen, it feels like a nice — but inessential — bonus.
The CFG70 supports AMD FreeSync, which aims to eliminate screen tears and stutters for those gaming on AMD-powered machines by syncing the monitor directly to the graphics card. The feature seemed to work well in my testing; I sped through an off-road racecourse in Dirt 3 without a single tear in sight. However, given the CFG70's strong overall performance, I didn't notice a huge downgrade in smoothness when I turned FreeSync off.
Brightness and Color
The CFG70 is the first gaming monitor with quantum-dot technology, which promises a wider-than-average range of colors. That was evident in our lab tests. When evaluated on Custom mode with all settings set to default, Samsung's monitor produced a strong 151.5 percent of the sRGB color gamut, besting the BenQ XL2420G (100 percent), ViewSonic XG2401 (91.08) and our 107-percent average.
Samsung's monitor also proved fairly color-accurate, with a Delta-E score of 2.26 (closer to zero is better). That's below the scores of the BenQ (10.4) and ViewSonic (2.34) and better than our 3.6 average.
The CFG70 registered 266 nits of brightness on our light meter, topping the BenQ (173 nits) and our 247-nit average while trailing the ViewSonic (355 nits).
Special Features and Audio
The CFG70 features a pretty standard gamut of display modes made for specific genres. FPS mode amps up brightness and dulls colors to keep the focus on moving enemies, while RTS mode is darker and more saturated to help differentiate the multicolored characters in games like StarCraft II and Heroes of the Storm.
RPG mode has deep blacks and rich colors that make sense for games like The Witcher 3. There are also two nongame modes: sRGB, which could prove useful for artists, and Cinema, which is the most saturated of the bunch. Samsung's monitor also features settings such as Black Equalizer, which lets you lighten dark in-game areas without blowing the image out, and Eye Saver mode, which is designed to reduce visual strain.
The CFG70 is one of the few monitors I've used that lets you amp up the response time (you have a choice of Normal, Faster and Fastest). However, I struggled to notice a difference when flipping through the three settings while playing Battlefield 1, mostly because Samsung's monitor was very responsive out of the box.
The $349 CFG70 is an excellent gaming monitor debut from Samsung, offering impressive color and brightness, fast response times, FreeSync support and a host of useful display modes. Its LED lighting is a nice (if not fully baked) feature, and its uniquely flexible stand makes it much more pleasant to tinker with than many of its competitors.
However, you can save a lot of money if you can live without a curved screen and a fancy stand. The BenQ Zowie RL2455 offers fantastic picture quality and responsiveness for $199, and if FreeSync is a priority, you can get the similarly speedy ViewSonic XG2401 for $279. But if you want a gaming monitor that both looks and performs great, the CFG70 offers a lot for its higher price.