The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you’ll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.
Massdrop is one of my favorite tech companies. While the core business is great for finding unique tech products and getting a good deal on them in the process, the ever-expanding range of “Massdrop-made” tech is excellent. Massdrop continues to deliver products that satisfy the needs of its customers with a reasonable price tag.
If you’re unaware, Massdrop allows you to vote on products you want to buy. The more people confirm they’ll buy something, the cheaper it gets. In addition to running “drops,” Massdrop also sells its own products, which aim to be high-quality, high-value alternatives to branded staples.
Perhaps the most popular of the Massdrop-made products is the Vast ultrawide monitor ($550). This monitor balances everything I want an in a display, and does so without breaking the bank. In this Massdrop Vast review, I’ll show why, despite its shortcomings, it’s worth every penny.
Overview of the Massdrop Vast
The Vast is a curved 35-inch 4K ultrawide gaming monitor with a refresh rate of up to 100Hz. If you’re unaware, ultrawide monitors use an aspect ratio of 21:9 as opposed to the more traditional 16:9. That’s the same aspect ratio as most movies, and ultrawides were originally intended for that purpose: watching movies without black borders. However, the extra screen estate in your peripheral vision helps for gaming and productivity, and the Vast captures that essence perfectly.
It’s a 4K monitor, but it doesn’t have quite as many pixels as a 4K monitor with a 16:9 aspect ratio. Using the same corner-to-corner measuring method, ultrawides are wider, but shorter than their 16:9 counterparts. Because of that, the Vast has a resolution of 3,440 x 1,440 pixels instead of the 3,840 x 2,160 pixels seen on most UHD panels.
Setting up the Massdrop Vast
The Massdrop Vast is simple to set up. All you have to do is set the monitor on its face and screw in the the stand to the VESA mount. The spring-actuated height adjustment of the stand — where a spring in the stand helps move the display up and down — will fight against gravity, though, and it kicked me like a horse while setting up and moving the display.
The stand is something of a marvel for what you’re paying. While there’s no swivel, the stand allows 4.3 inches of spring-actuated height adjustment, 20 degrees of tilt, and a full 90 degrees of pivot. Despite its massive size, the Vast can be turned sideways for use as a second monitor or just to dig deeper into Reddit.
As far as connecting the monitor, there aren’t many options, but that’s only relevant for those looking for multiple displays. You have the option of three HDMI ports (one v2.0 and two v1.4) and a DisplayPort v1.2 port. Massdrop doesn’t have the version types printed by the ports, so you’ll need to consult the manual to ensure you’re getting the full refresh rate out of your connection.
There’s a button on the back right corner of the monitor for powering it on and accessing the menu. Put bluntly, Massdrop’s server navigation is horrible. “Down” changes the picture mode, “up” sets a crosshair in the center of the screen, “left” shows you your inputs, and, finally, “right” gives you the full menu.
While that’s easy to figure out, trying to change settings is anything but. Clicking the button will shut off the monitor, and you better believe I turned it off more than once while trying to change settings. You have to press “right” to confirm setting changes, which is very counterintuitive.
Groaning aside, the Vast is still pretty simple to set up, even if configuration goes against the grain. It’s unlikely you’ll need to dig in the settings too much, but it’s a good idea to learn the system so you don’t have to deal with the headache of constantly turning off your display.
How “going wide” can help with productivity
The selling point of the Vast is the curved, UHD display. I’m a junkie for ultrawide monitors — you can read my guide on the best ultrawide monitors to see that in action — so the Vast scratches an itch that few other displays can. The 35 inches of screen estate is perfect for having two browser windows open at a time or multi-tasking with maximum efficiency.
For my purposes as a writer, the 21:9 aspect ratio works particularly well. While researching a piece, I can use half the display to have my findings open while the other half holds my notes or research documents. The Vast makes you feel spoiled when it comes to productivity. Moving to my laptop with a 16:9 aspect ratio, the screen feels cramped as Word or Google Docs resize to fit my text on screen and webpages reduce to a near mobile size.
Other productivity tasks, such as photo and video editing, are perfectly suited for an ultrawide display, too. As a hobby photographer, the Vast provides the extra screen size to see all of my settings, presets and photos in Lightroom and provide an overview of the timeline in Premiere. While not the best display for content creation — more on that later — the size is undeniable.
Outside of work, the Vast is perfect for media consumption. Gaming is great thanks to the 100Hz refresh rate and FreeSync support, and movies look fantastic without black borders. Even with those upsides, there are some concerns when using an ultrawide display.
The downsides of going wide
It comes down to platform and application support, but not all content is suitable for the 21:9 aspect ratio. YouTube, for example, will still attempt to display content in a 16:9 aspect ratio. So, instead of the black bars on top and bottom disappearing when watching an ultrawide YouTube video, you’ll have black bars all around the image.
These issues are not exclusive to the Vast, of course, but they are a consideration when going to checkout. The Vast is capable of providing an excellent media experience, but the support of certain platforms and applications has yet to catch up to the ultrawide crowd.
A true gaming monitor
For the price, the resolution, aspect ratio, and size of the Vast are more than enough. What makes this monitor special, though, is its refresh rate. The Vast operates at a 100Hz refresh rate, making it a great choice for gaming. Despite not reaching the high refresh rates of some 16:9 gaming monitors, the Vast still earned a place in our best gaming monitor guide.
If you’re unaware, refresh rate measures how often a display can refill its buffer. For gaming, a higher refresh rate is essential. If you have a game running at 120 frames per second but a display that only has a refresh rate of 60Hz, you’re effectively missing half of the frames that would display otherwise.
Higher refresh rates mean smoother and clearer motion during intense action. However, as the frame rate increases, so does the likelihood of screen tearing and stuttering. Thankfully, the Vast bypasses that issue with FreeSync integration.
It supports FreeSync from 49-100Hz. FreeSync is a variable refresh rate technology that allows the monitor to dynamically control the refresh rate based on the input its given. In the real world, that means no screen tearing, stuttering, or artifacts. While G-Sync is the arguably better variable refresh rate tech, FreeSync is a nice trade-off given the Vast’s low price tag.
Color and visual display
Massdrop uses a VA panel for the Vast, which it claims is the “best of both worlds.” While it’s true that the 100Hz refresh rate and 2-millisecond G2G response time trades blows with high-end TN panels, Massdrop’s claim that the Vast has “color performance that’s on par with first-rate IPS panels” simply isn’t true.
In short, the Vast isn’t color accurate at all. There’s way too much blue in the image, and even after calibration, it’s hard to get a professional-level result. Furthermore, the VA panel isn’t especially bright, though it should work well in environments that are fairly well lit.
It does cover 100% of the sRGB spectrum, but that’s not relevant considering the saturation on nearly all colors misses the mark. The Vast can be tweaked to provide better color accuracy, but you won’t get a high-end result. You’ll also have to contend with the infuriating menu to change any settings.
The contrast is good, though, especially for a VA panel. The Vast boasts contrast of 2,500:1 and it can ship with even better contrast out of the box.
For any content creation, the Vast is best reserved for enthusiasts. The color accuracy is totally off, and even after tweaking, it can’t contend with first-rate IPS panels. Don’t believe the marketing; the Massdrop Vast is a gaming monitor, so you shouldn’t try to mix that with any serious content creation.
Massdrop’s marketing doesn’t help the Vast. When it’s looked at as a content creation and gaming monitor, it simply doesn’t make the cut, no matter how inexpensive it is. However, as a value-focused gaming monitor that can be tweaked for decent color accuracy, the Vast is astounding. The value simply can’t be matched by any other ultrawide on the market.
If you’re in the market for a gaming ultrawide without emptying your wallet, the Vast is the first option you should look toward.
Buy the Massdrop Vast Curved Gaming Monitor for $549.99 on Massdrop
- [LLODO] Michigan state Dem pepper-sprayed, charged with DUI, resisting arrest, weapons possession: report
- [LLODO] Head of NYC’s posh Dalton School leaving at the end of 2021
- [LLODO] Chilling video captures moment a love triangle erupts in murder, revenge in NYC
- [LLODO] NYPD officers hit with Molotov cocktail and liquid chemical in face, police say
- [LLODO] California group files federal civil rights complaint over San Diego school district’s ‘racist’ teachings
- [LLODO] Podcast helped in hunt for 1996 killer of California student
- [LLODO] National weather forecast: Parts of Northeast could see more than a foot of snow
- [LLODO] Cuomo boasts he ‘invented’ NYS-scented hand sanitizer, faces no questions over scandals
- [LLODO] Teacher who decried NYC school’s ‘indoctrination’ put on remote work: ‘Feels like punishment’