By now, everyone who regularly visits the Gear section of PowerUp! knows that I am a huge sucker for big, beautiful, color-accurate ultrawide gaming monitors. Not only that, but MSI has previously impressed me with a Quantum Dot monitor that comfortably sits at my top spot for a 4K gaming monitor. So it’s somewhat surprising to me that I’ve been struggling to endorse the MSI MPG Artymis 343CQR.
Retailing for $999, it sits on the higher tier of mid-range ultrawides and the question I had going into this review is whether its worth it. That money gets you an ultrawide 34-inch Curved VA panel with 165Hz refresh, 1ms response time with HDR, 8-bit wide color gamut and all the essential gaming features.
However, after living with one for the past few weeks and playing a ton of different games plus some content creation work, I confess I am not as enamored with the value proposition of the Artymis 343CQR. After using MSI’s own do-it-all Optix MPG321QRF-QD and Alienware’s exceptional QD-OLED Ultrawide, this monitor just feels like something from a by-gone era. Let’s get into it.
MSI MPG Artymis 343CQR Review
The Artymis 343CQR is subtle in it’s design choices and looking at it from the front wouldn’t tell you it’s a gaming monitor. The large and curved 34-inch panel is the think that quickly brings us back to reality. On the back is a MSI Mystic light strip and Dragon logo which are more for aesthetic than ambient lighting for your setup. The only other color on the back comes from a bright, cherry red joystick nub which is used for navigating the OSD menu.
The stand looks sharp and aggressive thanks to its angled metallic legs that taper off to the front. The legs to take up a good chunk of space but you can always put your accessories or IKEA desk plants in between them. The stand is sturdy and offers the usual range of height, swivel and tilt adjustment and I didn’t get any monitor wobble from my typing. There’s a cubbyhole for cable management at the base of the stand as well.
Those cables will plug into the many I/O ports on the back of the Artymis 343CQR. There’s a DisplayPort, two HDMI 2.0 and a USB Type-C which is great for laptop connections. The lack of HDMI 2.1 can be forgiven due to consoles lack of support of 21:9 aspect ratio. The Artymis has also has two USB 3.2 Type-A ports powered by a Type-B upstream. Given its size, I’d have liked extra USB ports on the bottom or side for ease of access and a KVM switch so I can use the same peripherals between my PC and MacBook.
Panel and performance
The Artymis 343CQR uses a 34-inch Curved VA panel which is great for fast paced gaming thanks to it’s high 165Hz refresh and 1ms response time. Running the UFO Test, the Artymis 343CQR showed a little bit of ghosting which was unexpected for 165Hz refresh. However, I never experienced any ghosting while playing games at even higher framerates than the native.
Using a supplied MSI Trident X with an RTX 3080Ti, games like Wolfenstein Youngblood and Doom Eternal easily exceeded the maximum refresh and yet the monitor handled motion with clarity and smoothness. The Artymis 343CQR supports AMD FreeSync Premium which worked just fine with the NVIDIA card nonetheless.
Colors on Artymis 343CQR are saturated, punchy and vibrant which looks great in games. However, outside of games, it’s not great and I had to play around with the different presets to dial in something that looked more realistic and accurate. The situation is particularly worse when in HDR mode where white balance is off giving whites a brownish tint.
The OSD doesn’t offer any tools to adjust the HDR picture which is a bummer. However, things are better in SDR mode with controls for contrast and color balance as well as several presets for both gaming genres and professional work. I found the sRGB mode to work best for color accuracy though still not 100%.
Additionally, because the Artymis 343CQR uses an edge lit backlight, there really isn’t much in the way of local dimming to do proper HDR but while playing certain games, the HDR did have a positive impact on the visuals. Assassins Creed Origins dark interiors lit by candles and lamps was a clear example where HDR helped. The contrast in SDR is much better though with deeper blacks and whiter whites so avoid using HDR for non-gaming purposes. Again, after using the QD panel on the MSI Optix MPG321QRF-QD or the Alienware QD-OLED, this one really pales in comparison.
The 3440 x 1440 resolution is perfect for high resolution, high frame rate, immersive gaming. It’s a lot easier than 4K for most graphics cards to handle at high settings with good frame rates and my favorite way to play. With the RTX 3080 Ti, I was easily hitting getting over 100fps in vast majority of games at the highest settings which made everything look and feel wonderful. The panel’s 1000R curve is noticeable but not aggressive and seeing all corners of the display is easy which is important for seeing your HUD in games. The only downside to having a 21:9 aspect ultrawide is the pillar-boxing when you attach a games console.
I find this really immersion breaking but you can still absolutely do it. Games will run at a maximum of 2560 x 1440p at 120Hz which the Xbox Series X|S can output but for the PlayStation 5, the Artymis 343CQR automatically down samples the 4K input to 2K so you can still play games at fake 4K resolution. Alternatively, you could just use the Picture-in-Picture or Picture-by-Picture modes and split the display between two outputs in a 4:3 aspect ration. That can handy for a number of use cases.
Outside of gaming, the large screen estate is also perfect for multitasking with plenty of space for several full or half size windows in your different apps of choice. The pin sharp resolution means text is always clear and using things like Adobe Premier allows you to easily see your whole video timeline. Ultrawides are just so much better for more things.
Should you buy it?
At this point in 2022, I’d say no. The MSI MPG Artymis 343CQR is a good ultrawide that has since been outpaced by newer monitors that have come out this year. The Alienware QD-OLED has radically redefined our expectations of a high-end ultrawide gaming monitor and this older offering from MSI just can’t match. It’s fine by it’s own right but it doesn’t exist in a vacuum.
At $1000, you can get much better value for your money with something like the Gigabyte G34WQC or the Prismplus XQ340 Pro which cost several hundreds less. I’m excited to see how MSI is going to refresh its monitor line very soon in answer to the competition; hopefully we’ll see a QD-OLED ultrawide with HDMI 2.1 and a KVM switch. Until then, save your money.