odyssey ark lead

It’s not every day you get to game on a rotating 55-inch curved monitor, but I recently did just that in a swanky New York City suite while testing out Samsung’s new Odyssey Ark display. This beast of a gaming monitor is the first 55-inch 4K screen with a 165Hz refresh rate, which is a lot of fancy jargon to say that it’s designed to deliver a truly immersive picture without sacrificing the responsiveness that serious PC gamers crave.

However, all of that high-end tech comes at the expense of an exorbitant $3,499 price tag, making this a display built for hardcore enthusiasts who want the ultimate entertainment screen. But is it worth all that cash? Now that the Odyssey Ark is up for reserve, I spent some hands-on time with it to figure out just that.

How to reserve the Samsung Odyssey Ark display

If you’re interested in bringing this behemoth home, you can reserve the $3,499 Odyssey Ark from Samsung’s website starting Aug. 15. Reserving is free — you’re essentially putting your name and email down so that you’ll be notified once it’s time to buy one. You can also preorder the monitor if you want to put your money down and guarantee yourself one.

Reserving the Odyssey Ark gets you $100 off, while preordering gets you an extra $200 off. So if you’re dead set on getting one of these high-end displays for yourself, that combined $300 will take some of the sting off of its massive price tag. The Odyssey Ark is slated to go on sale in early September, both on Samsung’s website and at a handful of major retailers.

An ultra-immersive experience

samsung odyssey ark 4

When I first laid eyes on the Odyssey Ark sitting on a desk next to a gaming PC and Xbox Series X, I was taken aback by the sheer size of it — heck, my television isn’t even 55 inches. Still, the Ark manages to make all of that mass look elegant, with slim edges, narrow borders and, as gaming monitors are obligated to have, a pair of customizable LED strips accentuating the sleek rear panel.

I quickly realized that the Ark’s gargantuan size isn’t just for show either. Thanks to the combination of its sharp 4K resolution, smooth 165Hz refresh rate and immersive 1000R curvature, Samsung’s huge display wrapped around my peripheral vision to give me one of the most delightful PC gaming experiences I’ve had in a long time.

samsung odyssey ark 6

While I’ve blasted through Doom Eternal plenty of times at home, the frenetic first-person shooter took on a whole new life on the Odyssey Ark. I could see the game’s gruesome demons and brutal up-close kills in more detail than ever, all without losing split-second fluidity the game is known for. I had a similarly good time switching over to an Xbox Series X to play Dirt 5, enjoying the game’s rich colors and responsive racing as I struggled my way through an off-road competition. Samsung’s monitor comes equipped with four HDMI 2.1 ports, which means it’s equipped to take full advantage of the latest consoles and PC graphics cards when it comes to delivering the smoothest possible refresh rates.

A multitasking monster

samsung odyssey ark 3

Games looked great stretched across the Ark’s giant 55-inch screen, but you can also take advantage of that real estate for multitasking. Thanks to the monitor’s Multi View mode, you can display up to four different display sources at once, making it easy to do things like open up a YouTube walk-through while you play a game or stream some Netflix while chatting with your friends on Discord. Are you a competitive gamer who wants a smaller, more focused screen? You can use the Flex Move Screen feature to adjust the screen size as low as 27 inches — complete with multiple aspect ratio options — with an attractive ambient border surrounding any real estate you’re not using.

These features were all pretty easy to utilize, and while they may seem like party tricks, they also allow the Odyssey Ark to be a viable, more streamlined alternative to a traditional multi-monitor setup. I’ve already become an ultrawide monitor convert when it comes to multitasking, and the Ark essentially doubles the amount of screen space you’d get from one of those.

The Ark’s multitasking capabilities came to life even further when I rotated the display sideways and took advantage of one of its coolest features: Cockpit Mode. While plenty of monitors can be put in a vertical orientation, the Ark’s sheer size and curvature provide a uniquely immersive view that, well, kind of feels like being in a cockpit. You can stack up to three displays on top of one another while using Multi View here, enjoying the same multitasking perks but within a setup that takes up less horizontal space. This mode isn’t as ideal for games — Doom Eternal got pretty grainy in a small window, for example — but it still provided a clear view for Twitch streams and YouTube videos, and could be useful for folks who want a large vertical slate for things like coding and word processing

All the perks of a Samsung smart display, with some really useful controls

samsung odyssey ark 7

On top of its gorgeous picture quality and high-end gaming specs, the Odyssey Ark has many of the same perks you’ll enjoy on any current Samsung smart TV. That includes an intuitive Smart Hub that provides access to all of your essential streaming apps like Netflix, Hulu and Disney+ as well as the more recent Samsung Gaming Hub that allows you to stream games from services like Xbox Game Pass, Google Stadia and Amazon Luna. These are the same features I enjoyed using on Samsung’s Smart Monitor M8, and make the Ark’s $3,499 asking price a bit easier to swallow considering that you’re getting both a giant gaming monitor and a fully functioning smart TV.

Helping bring all of these features is the included Ark Dial, which is a large dial accompanied by a set of buttons that made it very easy to do things like navigate menus, adjust the screen size and open different apps. Most on-monitor controls are wonky as is, and I can’t even imagine trying to reach behind a 55-inch screen to make adjustments, so I’m very happy that the Ark includes such an intuitive control option. The Ark also includes Samsung’s more traditional Smart Remote (ideal if you have it set up as a TV), but I found myself opting for the dial throughout all of my brief testing time due to how easy to use it was.

The takeaway

samsung odyssey ark 2

The Samsung Odyssey Ark’s $3,499 price tag may be prohibitive for many folks, but when you break down what it actually gets you, it starts to sound somewhat reasonable. This massive gaming display is the size of a typical TV, complete with all of the high-end features necessary to allow it to play console and PC games at their best. Throw in its various multitasking modes — and plethora of built-in streaming and gaming apps — and you have a display that can replace both a dual-monitor setup and a television for certain users.

That said, $3,499 is still $3,499, and there are plenty of other great high-end monitor options out there if the Ark is beyond your budget. If you want a traditional ultrawide display, the $1,299 Alienware 34 QD-OLED is one of the best we’ve tested. There’s also Samsung’s own $2,299 Odyssey Neo G9 for those who want a massively wide 49-inch screen without the extra vertical real estate. Still, the Odyssey Ark could appeal to a hardcore niche of people who are willing to pay for the ultimate gaming monitor. We’re hoping to bring one home for a full review soon, so stay tuned.