While most ultra wide monitors on the market with Thunderbolt 3 go for well over a thousand dollars, Samsung offers an interesting option with a 34-inch curved display, Thunderbolt 3, and a more affordable price. The CJ791 doesn’t bring a 4K resolution to the table, but it does come in at $800 with a compelling overall package. Read on for our full review of this ultra wide Thunderbolt 3 monitor that works well with the MacBook Pro and other MacBooks.
While Apple’s upcoming Mac Pro and Pro Monitor are still mostly a mystery, there aren’t a lot of choices out there for Thunderbolt 3 monitors for MacBook Pro and MacBook users.
There’s the Apple endorsed LG UltraFine 27-inch 5K display sold at Apple Stores, but at $1,300 retail price, it’s expensive for a product from 2016. LG also makes a 4K 32-inch monitor which retails above $1,000 (reviewed), and there’s the LG 34-inch 5K2K monitor which normally goes for around $1,400-$1,500 (reviewed). With all these choices over $1,000, I was excited to test out Samsung’s CJ791 Thunderbolt 3 Ultra Wide 34-inch Curved Monitor that sells for $800 (MSRP $900).
Materials & Build
The Samsung CJ791 Ultra-Wide Monitor has a sharp look with a silver and white finish. The majority of the display is made up of a plastic body, but that doesn’t make it look or feel cheap. It has a slim quarter-inch (6.35mm) bezel on the top, left and right. The bottom of the display has an eighth-inch (3.175mm) bezel plus a silver chin that measures in at just over half an inch (13mm).
The monitor sits on a circular base that offers nice stability, and it’s easy to raise, lower, and adjust the tilt of the display. The back of the monitor features a glossy white finish and there’s a thoughtful cable organizer built into the stand’s arm.
Exposed on the back of the monitor are two traditional USB ports, 3.5mm headphone jack, and a 5-way power/toggle button. Behind a removable cover panel are the power input, two Thunderbolt 3 ports, HDMI, DisplayPort, and a service port.
Like other large monitors, this Samsung Ultra-Wide uses an external power brick, and it is relatively hefty, so you may need to get creative if you want to keep it out of sight.
The Samsung CJ791 is simple and fast to set up. The power cable and the Thunderbolt 3 cable will get you up and running with any modern MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, or MacBook.
As I mentioned earlier, I like the cable management that is built into the arm of the stand. However, I was a bit disappointed to find that the end of the power cable is too large to fit in it (the other end is fixed to the power brick). But it’s still nice to be able to keep the Thunderbolt cables and any USB cables hidden and organized.
Update: The base of the stand can actually be opened up to fit the power cable and other cords that wouldn’t otherwise slide through. Thanks, Daniel!
The upstream Thunderbolt 3 port for connecting your MacBook offers up to 85W charging, which is just 2W shy of the max 87W that Apple says its 15-inch MacBook Pro will accept. In real world use I don’t think anyone would notice the difference even when running a Mac hard. The second Thunderbolt 3 port is a downstream connection and can output 15W, nice for a fast iPhone or iPad charge in addition to being handy for TB3 peripherals.
It would have been nice to see the traditional USB-A ports be 3.0 instead of 2.0, but I suppose if you’re looking to optimize speeds, you’ll just use the TB3 port and supported drives and other accessories.
I found the integrated stereo speakers to sound decent. They’re definitely an improvement over what you’ll find in any of Apple’s notebooks, but most users will want to opt for dedicated speakers for better results.
As for the display, I really like the 34-inch size. I’ve used a few larger displays and have found the 38- to 40-inch and up monitors to be overwhelming, especially without them being curved. The ultra wide 34-inch canvas offers a very noticeable improvement in usable space over a 27-inch display. And with the 1500R curvature, I never felt like I had to crane my neck around to see what was on my display.
For my workflow, I comfortably fit two full screen browser windows, Tweetbot, Slack, and the Notes app on the 34-inch screen with my MacBook Pro running as a secondary display to the left.
For another example, you can fit three generously sized browser windows at once on the 34-inch display.
Samsung says that the 1500R curvature mimics the human eye and cites research from the Seoul National University Hospital that its curved displays reduce eyestrain compared to flat monitors.
I found the CJ791 to be quite comfortable to use, but then again I don’t experience any eyestrain when using my 15-inch MacBook Pro.
This monitor uses a 5-way toggle style button to control everything from brightness, color profiles, switching inputs and more. It’s a bit clumsy to use, but you can also set up custom color profiles on your Mac in System Preferences.
There are four preset Samsung Magic Brightness settings to choose from: Standard, Cinema, Dynamic Contrast, and High-Brightness, as well as an option to create a custom setting.
There’s also Picture-in-Picture and Picture-by-Picture modes, which could be useful for some use cases. Here’s how the two features work:
Picture-by-Picture (PBP) lets you display to two sources onscreen at their native resolution. Optimize your multi-tasking further with Picture-in-Picture (PIP), which lets you resize the second source to up to 25% of the screen and position it anywhere.
Another option with this monitor is the game mode which takes full advantage of the 100Hz refresh rate to reduce screen stutter.
Alright, the elephant in the room: resolution. In my time with this monitor I found that the 3440 x 1440 resolution didn’t bother me when I used it with my MacBook Pro in clamshell mode. However, when using it side-by-side with my Retina MacBook Pro, going back and forth between the two resolutions was a bit unsettling.
This will come down to personal preference and what type of work or play you do with your monitor. I could make this setup work for day-to-day use, but it would definitely be with my MacBook Pro in clamshell mode since I spend most of my on-screen time reading and writing.
Overall, the Samsung CJ791 offers a lot to like: Thunderbolt 3 with 85W power delivery, a great ultra-wide 34-inch curved display, a sharp design, a nice amount of ports, generous height and tilt adjustability, and thoughtful touches like the built-in cable management.
I think for most users whether or not this Samsung monitor is the right fit will come down the 3440 x 1440 resolution. If less than a 4K display isn’t a deal-breaker, you’re getting a lot of features here at $800. Two other important factors to consider is whether you’ll enjoy a curved display as well as a screen with a matte finish.
Samsung’s CJ791 Thunderbolt 3 Ultra Wide Screen Curved Monitor normally retails for $899, but can be found at the time of writing on Amazon for $800. Samsung does offer 0 percent 12 month financing for purchases through its own website.
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