At 2022’s CES, Samsung stood tall—especially in portrait mode!—among display makers thanks to the Odyssey Ark, a beast of a monitor that drew more than its share of eyeballs. Positioned as the world’s first 55-inch, 4K curved gaming screen with a 165Hz refresh rate and a 1ms response time (Samsung loves its firsts), the $3,499.99-MSRP Ark was a sight to behold, but it dropped out of sight after that. Until today.
Samsung stopped by New York City ahead of its semi-annual Samsung Unpacked event and invited PCMag to get some hands-on time with what promises to be one of the hottest gaming monitors of the year. It’ll certainly be the tallest, once you rotate it. (More about that in a moment.)
Behold the Mighty Arc of the Ark
Curved monitors have grown in popularity in the gaming space. However, many models don’t hit the super-fast refresh rates that esports fans yearn for. And now that the next generation of home consoles is breaking through the 60-frame-per-second (fps) ceiling, addressing frame rates on gaming displays has never been more critical. The Odyssey Ark sets the bar high, with a peak 165Hz refresh rate, a remarkable target for a screen of this size. (Also, the 4K native resolution is true to the typical 3,840 by 2,160 pixels.)
Instead of an OLED display, Samsung opts for its proprietary Quantum Matrix Technology Mini LED technology, ensuring precise lighting expressions and detailed HDR control for superior picture quality. What Samsung calls a Neural Quantum Processor Ultra acts as the brain of the operation. An in-display image processor, it ostensibly enhances visual detail and helps in the upscaling of content to up to 4K resolution.
As for the connectivity, there’s a bunch for multiple device inputs. Four HDMI 2.1 ports are included, and the panel is backed by support for AMD FreeSync Premium, designed to eliminate choppiness, screen lag, and image tearing when used with a compliant Radeon GPU.
The 4K display’s 1,000mm curve is delicate, as big curved panels go. (The 1,000mm measure, also expressed in monitor lingo as “1000R,” is the radius measurement of a circle that would be created by a hypothetical ring of these monitors placed edge to edge. The lower the millimeter count, the tighter the curve is .) The panel offers a ton of screen real estate, and you’ll find that many of the bells and whistles you’d find in Samsung’s TVs—as well as its gaming monitors—are found here. That includes the Samsung Gaming Hub, the all-in-one streaming platform from which gamers can stream their favorite titles from popular streaming services like Xbox Game Pass and Nvidia GeForce Now, and less popular ones like Google Stadia.
If you’re used to a multi-display setup for productivity work or monitoring multiple windows at once, the Ark is equipped to handle all that on just one panel. Its big feature for facilitating this is Multi View, which allows multiple windows to be displayed at one time, and makes them easy to manipulate.
With Multi View, you can adjust, pull, and stretch each window size between 55 and 27 inches, change the window position at will, and even switch the window ratio between 16:9, 21:9, and 32:9. So, you might pull up your game in one window, a YouTube video in another, and your favorite PCMag review in still another, mixing and matching as you see fit.
You can control all of this window positioning via the Ark Dial, an included remote that handles all of the Odyssey’s menu management.
Handling windows and options with the Ark Dial was fun, much like using the scroll wheel of a mouse to parse the menus. And not to worry—if the rotating wheel is more desk space than you are willing to give up, the Samsung Universal Remote is also included. Whichever you use, it’s a lot more intuitive than your typical monitor’s cryptic edge buttons for onscreen display.
The Pivoting Panel: Turnaround Is Fair Play
Up close, the Odyssey Ark’s matte-black façade looked pristine, but it was the audio, backed by what Samsung calls “Sound Dome Technology,” that really blew us away. With one speaker in each corner of the screen and two woofers at the center, the resulting crescendo of sound is not for the faint of heart. But it delivers a true home theater experience, accentuated by the screen’s curve.
Speaking of that curve, how about it oriented 90 degrees off the usual? I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about Cockpit Mode, or portrait mode if you’d prefer. With just a slight twist of the monitor’s base, turning the monitor was a breeze, with just enough to let you know where to start and stop.
At roughly four feet tall, Cockpit Mode may seem intimidating or even unnecessary at first. But combined with the Dolby Atmos sound and the elegant curve of the screen, playing games like Microsoft Flight Simulator took on a whole new aspect. (In that one, we were able to see multiple views in stacked windows.) The same goes for Forza Horizon 5. With a few additional accessories, the Odyssey Ark could be a simulation game fan’s dream come true. (It’s definitely not bad for that in landscape, either!)
So, When Does the Ark Set Sail?
So, when can you get your hands on this beast? Soon. Pre-orders are live now, with an expected launch in early September. If you’re flush with bucks and ready to invest in one, you can reserve yours now and receive $100 off. Pre-orders will also receive a bonus offer of a $200 e-certificate for use on any other product at Samsung.com, excluding the Odyssey Ark.
Stay tuned in the coming weeks for our formal review of the Odyssey Ark as soon as PC Labs can get a loaner sample on hand for our tests. We’re looking forward to the Ark more than almost any gaming display this year.