Samsung Odyssey G8 OLED G80SD review


When it comes to extremely unusual displays for premium computers, Samsung has form. With the novel Samsung Odyssey G8 OLED G80SD, a 4K 240 Hz OLED panel, the company remains true to this dubious tradition. This case is puzzling.

If you’ll excuse the digression and just for the record, perhaps the most egregious offender in Samsung’s monitor catalog that’s been left out is the Neo G9, a 49-inch mini-LED monster that shipped with some seriously crappy software that’s been updated multiple times since then, but remains fundamentally broken. It’s strenuous to imagine what you would think of all this if you spent $2,000 on it.

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At the same time, Samsung also produced some really great displays, including the G9 OLED and the second Neo G9, a 57-inch 4K dual display. And yes, that’s a lot of G9. The Samsung brand of monitors is hopeless.

More broadly, it’s strenuous to know what to make of Samsung as a whole. On the one hand, it is a technological behemoth, spanning multiple segments, from cutting-edge chip manufacturing to OLED display panels and high-performance SSD drives. It is also one of the world’s leading manufacturers of smartphones, laptops and TVs.

Odyssey G8 OLED G80SD specifications

Samsung Odyssey G8 OLED G80SD

(Image source: Future)

Screen Size: 32-inch
Resolution: 3840×2160
Brightness: 250 nits full screen, 1000 nits max HDR
Color coverage: 99% DCI-P3
Response time: 0.03 ms
Refresh rate: 240 Hz
Characteristics: Samsung QD-OLED panel 3rd generation, Adaptive Sync, 1x DisplayPort 1.4, 2x HDMI 2.1, SmartTV, phase cooling
Price: $1299 | £1,099

He is unique in this respect and can do truly magical things. Meanwhile, it can’t sort out something as basic as monitor firmware on a very costly display. This is all quite strange. Anyone, with this in mind, how does the novel Samsung Odyssey G8 OLED G80SD fit on the spectrum of technological triumph or tragedy?

You’ve probably already guessed that this is somewhere on the wrong end of the scale. But hold that thought while we discuss basic speeds and feeds. Odyssey G8 OLED G80SD is Samsung’s answer to the growing 32-inch 4K OLED display sector.

We have already reviewed several such copies, including: Alienware 32 AW3225QF, Asus ROG Swift OLED PG32UCDM and MSI MPG321URX. All of them actually used Samsung QD-OLED panels. Alternatives based on LG’s competing WOLED panels are emerging, but it takes a little longer to bring them to market. In any case, the 4K OLED monitors we reviewed have very similar features. And we loved almost all of them.

After all, what’s not to like about blazing speedy, ultra-fast QD-OLED panel technology combined with crisp 4K pixel density? The first sign that Samsung’s approach to this class of monitors will be slightly different is the anti-reflective coating. Every other entity entering this market has opted for a glossy coating for maximum contrast. But Samsung decided to utilize a mat.

(Image source: Future)

This is surprising since this monitor is stuffed to the brim with SmartTV features and is aimed at gamers, and both tend to have a glossy coating. Of course, you can debate the benefits of gloss versus matte. Mat option would be appreciated. However, offering this display only with a matte coating is tough to accept.

However, it’s the aforementioned SmartTV functionality that really falls apart. SmartTV functionality and interface absolutely dominate this display. And this quite comprehensively ruins the whole thing from a PC user’s point of view.

The initial setup is a harbinger of the horror to come.

It all starts with the first launch of Samsung Odyssey G8 OLED G80SD. You can’t just turn it on and connect it to your computer. No, you have to go through at least some of the SmartTV setup first, including some pretty stupid prompts asking you to confirm that you’re connecting your computer to this Displayport interface.

This is obviously a one-time deal and if that was the only problem, it wouldn’t matter much. Instead, it’s a preview of horrors to come. The basic problem is that Samsung has configured this device to be affable to the average consumer and work like a TV. As a result, the monitor’s functionality is very deeply hidden in various submenus and is not compatible with PC standards.

(Image source: Future)

I’m absolutely not exaggerating when I say that it took over an hour before I could reliably select HDMI or Displayport without having to restart the display when connected to the computer. Once you display your computer’s desktop on this panel, there seem to be countless settings menus that can be accessed in a variety of counterintuitive ways.

There are actually three main settings menus. There’s a menu designed to be idiot-friendly, then there’s a more advanced menu, and finally a “Game Bar” menu, which contains various gaming-focused options and which in turn has its own “More Settings” submenu. As far as I know, the only way to reliably access the game bar is to press and hold the play/pause button on the included IR remote. Well of course.

SmartTV Gubins make you afraid to touch absolutely anything.

The only reason I know the game bar menu even exists is because it randomly appeared out of nowhere before disappearing almost immediately. I then went further down the rabbit hole looking for a way to get it back. It also took me a full 20 minutes to check if this monitor had any OLED care features (it does).

Anyway, as I write this, I’m seriously considering therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the anxiety I feel whenever I approach the OSD controls or remote control. Because they both want to throw you back into the SmartTV interface, and if you still can’t figure out how to get from SmartTV gubbin back to your computer desktop, it makes you afraid to touch anything.

Now you can dismiss all this as a steep learning curve, after which you will achieve the fantastic beauty of 4K OLED 240Hz. But that’s the point. Color calibration in both SDR and HDR is slightly off. At least that’s the case across the various picture modes in all the countless menus and submenus I could find.

The thing is, I’m not 100% sure I haven’t missed something. As I said, the menus are not up to par with PC monitor standards, resulting in a confusing mix of stultifying pseudo-simplicity and deeply hidden complexity. Oddly enough, SDR colors are enabled when a Mac is connected, suggesting a specific profile for Apple computers. But the computers in SDR mode are clearly over saturated and I just couldn’t fix it.

Meanwhile, HDR content looks great for the most part, but again the color balance is off and again I couldn’t fix it. Which is a shame, because I think this might be the most powerful example of a 4K QD-OLED monitor yet, perhaps thanks to what Samsung calls a energetic cooling system that includes “pulsating heat pipes.”

It is essentially a phase change heat pipe system built into the back of the panel. Samsung claims it is five times better than graphite sheets used by competing brands.

Oh, and there is a matte coating, not a glossy one. Honestly, it’s okay. This somewhat detracts from that deep, inky OLED contrast. However, this also helps alleviate the quantum dot-related grayness that these panels can suffer from in powerful ambient lithe. Put it this way, if this was the only problem, it wouldn’t be a deal breaker.

Buy if…

You want 4K OLED greatness from the source: This is Samsung’s own take on 4K QD-OLED technology, and it may be the most powerful yet.

Don’t buy if…

You value your common sense: The terrible and almost unavoidable SmartTV interface is simply inappropriate for a computer monitor.

This is a thought. Hidden somewhere in that crappy, pointless SmartTV interface is a fantastic monitor. But Samsung has completely lost sight of the customer with this monitor. Nobody wants to pay $1,300 for a 32-inch TV. This is a monitor and it only makes sense at this price as a monitor. Heck, even as a monitor it has issues with its price, considering MSI’s offering costs around $900 if you can get your hands on it.

However, Samsung configured it primarily to be used as a TV and made it maddeningly tough, and in some ways downright impossible, to get the most out of it on a PC. To sum up, it is absolutely impossible to recommend it.

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