The Samsung Odyssey Ark delivers great image quality, a bold and immersive design and loads of features, so it does a great job of blurring the boundaries between monitors and TVs. It’s hugely expensive, though, and a proper TV will still do a better job in some areas.
- Huge size and immersive, adjustable design
- Superb mainstream image quality
- Lots of software options
- Loud, punchy speakers
- Some modes could be better
- Response time and colour could be slightly improved
- Some missing connectivity
- Outrageously expensive
- A huge 55in designThe Samsung Odyssey Ark boasts a 55in diagonal, 4K resolution and 1000R curve – so it provides immersive imagery in all situations and blurs the lines between gaming monitor and TV.
- A 165Hz refresh rate for butter-smooth gamingThe 165Hz refresh rate and the inclusion of AMD FreeSync Premium Pro makes big-name games look awesome, although esports fans will want to look elsewhere
- Loads of hardware and software adjustment optionsThe Ark twists round into an imposing portrait mode, it has loads of movement, and it can be configured with advanced picture-by-picture modes. It’s packed with smart TV features, too.
The Samsung Odyssey Ark is the biggest gaming monitor I’ve ever seen. At 55-inches, it’s the same size as many TVs, and the stunning specs don’t stop: it’s curved and has a 4K resolution.
This monster monitor tries to tick every gaming box, especially if you’re the kind of player who wants an immersive experience or someone who plays on the sofa. It’s also got plenty of entertainment features, in case you’d like a TV replacement.
At £2599 / $3499 / €2999, though, the Samsung Odyssey Ark isn’t exactly cheap – indeed, it’s pricier than virtually every other gaming monitor and in line with flagship TVs. Can this ground-breaking display earn a place in our best monitor list?
Design and Features
- The 55-inch diagonal, curved design and 4K resolution serve up a stunning, immersive gaming experience
- Samsung’s monitor has loads of hardware and software features that increase versatility – and great speakers
- It’s huge and heavy, though, and some of the features aren’t as good as they sound
There’s no getting away from the sheer size of the Ark – it towers over every other gaming display, and there’s no doubt that the 55-inch diagonal will take some getting used to.
Treat this screen like a normal PC display and you’ll be forever straining your neck – indeed, while Samsung recommends sitting at least 80cm back, at that distance you’ll still be moving your head.
Sit further away and the experience is better, so the Ark works well if you’re leaning back with keyboard and mouse – or across the room with a controller. Combine that with the 4K resolution and you’ve got a crisp experience unless you sit too close, and the 1000R curve improves immersion in all situations.
The Ark’s size, resolution and shape impress, but Samsung also realises that the 55in size won’t suit everyone. To that end, Samsung has offered plenty of versatility with the Ark’s software.
If you want to play racing games or other widescreen titles, for instance, you can convert this display to a 21:9 or 32:9 aspect ratio to give yourself a wider field of view. If you want to sit closer, you can make the display area smaller and adjust its position – ideal if you want the big-screen experience for single-player games but a more focused scenario for esports.
There’s Multi View mode, too, which beefs up conventional picture-by-picture options. When the display sits horizontally you can divide the screen into four quarters and show different stuff in each zone. Swing the panel into its vertical position – which Samsung calls Cockpit Mode – and you can deploy three stacked screens.
You can have a game on one screen, a web browser on another, Samsung’s TV+ channels on yet another, and then a mirrored smartphone or laptop display. YouTube is supported, too. If you want to game, watch streams and keep an eye on your comms simultaneously, it’s handy.
It’s surprisingly restrictive, though. Dividing the display into segments means lower resolutions: in horizontal mode, windows run at 1080p. In cockpit mode you’re restricted to 720 x 1,280 gaming and viewing, which isn’t particularly sharp. Games run at 120Hz rather than 165Hz here. And while Samsung is hoping to improve this situation, at the moment you can’t use apps like Netflix, Prime Video and Disney+ in Multi View mode – support is meagre. Multi View mode also only supports one HDMI input, so you can’t use a PC or laptop alongside a console unless you mirror a screen instead.
Outside of Multi View mode the situation is rosier. Samsung’s Smart TV functionality includes support for every app going, and you can use Xbox game streaming. There are handy menus for changing common settings, and the main on-screen display is comprehensive and easy to navigate.
Samsung has gone overboard on the navigation options, too: you get a joystick on the rear of the screen, a TV-style remote control and the Ark Dial, which includes a wheel for quick adjustments. The Ark also includes an impressive array of physical adjustment options: alongside Cockpit Mode you’ve got 270mm of height adjustment, tilt ability and VESA support.
Underneath all of this you’ll find a VA panel. It uses Samsung’s Quantum Mini LED backlighting, which means individual LEDs create the backlight – so the Ark benefits from 1,056 individual dimming zones. That means loads of complexity and nuance, although OLED screens remain better and Samsung’s smaller Odyssey Neo G8 has even more dimming zones.
The Ark runs at 165Hz and uses AMD FreeSync Premium Pro. That rate is only middling compared to the wider market and the 240Hz delivered by the Neo G8, but it’s fine for high-quality single-player titles and mainstream esports gaming. And, as ever, make sure you’ve got a graphics card that can handle 4K and 165Hz gameplay – an RTX 3080 Ti or better is ideal.
The final big feature can be found around the back: four speakers and two woofers. The speakers supply thumping bass, detailed mid-range tones and a crisp high-end. The audio is expansive, with clear directional changes, and these speakers are on par with high-end TVs and better than the speakers on most gaming screens.
Samsung’s screen impresses, but it can be hard to handle too. It weighs 41.5kg, so building and manoeuvring this display is a two-person operation. It takes up a vast amount of space – it’s 1175mm wide and 379mm deep – so you’ll need a big desk. And while it has RGB LEDs around the back, they’re not bright enough to have an impact outside of darkened spaces.
Happily, Samsung has ensured that the Ark has impeccable build quality, and its minimal, black aesthetic makes it look sleek. You don’t have to mess around with cables at the rear, either: Samsung borrows its One Connect concept from its TVs. This box has four HDMI 2.1 connections, an Ethernet jack, an optical port and extra USB sockets. Everything attaches here, and the box uses one cable to send signals to the screen.
It’s an easier way to manage multiple devices, but it could be better: that Ethernet connection is not Gigabit, it uses Wi-Fi 5 rather than Wi-Fi 6, and the USB 2.0 ports are not particularly fast.
- Fantastic core image quality, including good SDR and HDR colours and brilliant contrast
- Solid refresh rate performance that’s well-suited to mainstream gaming
- Esports players will want to look elsewhere, though, and HDR could be a bit better
The Ark delivers brilliant image performance straight out of the box, with an incredible black point of 0.02 nits the highlight. The panel’s initial brightness level of 90 nits was low, but still enough to be viewed in a living room or a darkened bedroom. The resulting contrast ratio of 4500:1 is a superb figure and it helps the Ark render intense blacks alongside plenty of vibrancy elsewhere. That’s a far better result than any conventional IPS or VA screen.
With the display at half brightness the Ark sat at 302 nits and supplied a contrast ratio of 4441:1, and at its maximum SDR brightness level of 742 nits it maintained a top-notch contrast figure of 4637:1.
The Ark’s contrast performance improved to 5866:1 when I activated Game Mode. With colour performance remaining largely identical, this option is a no-brainer for anyone who wants to use this panel as their primary gaming screen.
The Ark pairs its great contrast ability with solid colours. The Delta E of 2.29 and colour temperature of 6,536K are easily good enough for media and gaming, and the Samsung does a decent job with key colour gamuts: it rendered the sRGB space with 99.5% coverage and 130.5% volume, and hit 91.6% and 92.4% in the DCI-P3 space. Those results aren’t perfect, but they’re ample for gaming and media in the SDR and HDR spaces. Only a flagship TV will be better at this size.
In HDR mode the Samsung delivered a peak brightness level of 1226 nits alongside a black point of 0.02cd/m2. Those figures combine for a contrast ratio of 61300:1. That’s a great result and it shows that the Quantum Mini LEDs work well. That said, flagship OLED TVs will be even better, and Samsung’s smaller Neo G8 is a little superior too.
The Samsung’s 165Hz refresh rate is a mid-range figure that’s fine for single-player gaming and casual esports. And, in real-world use, the Ark performs well: moving objects don’t quite have the sharpness of a 240Hz panel but they’re crisp, fast and smooth enough to sate most gamers.
While the Samsung doesn’t match its 1ms stated response time in tests, it’s easily responsive enough for mainstream esports. If you want the best combination of refresh rate and response time performance, use the Ark’s Faster response time mode.
There’s no doubt that the Ark has foibles. Its Multi View mode promises more than it can deliver, and its HDR and colour performance could be even better. Its sheer size means it’s going to be difficult to accommodate for many people. And, at £2599 / $3499 / €2999, it’s hugely expensive.
I’d argue that your money will be better spent elsewhere in certain situations. If you’re serious about racing or esports you’ll want a higher-resolution widescreen or a smaller panel with a faster refresh rate. On the TV side, at this price you’ll get better HDR performance, OLED technology and slimmer, sleeker designs – but you won’t get the refresh rate, adjustment options or curve.
In most of the important departments, though, the Ark is a big, blustering triumph. It’s huge, immersive and versatile. Its bold colours and deep contrast make games look superb, the speakers are powerful, and the Ark does a great job of combining gaming and TV features. If you want big-screen gaming or a TV replacement, the Ark does an exceptional job – for an eye-watering price.
Should you buy it?
You want the biggest, boldest and most versatile gaming screen around: The Samsung Odyssey Ark delivers unparalleled size alongside a broad range of features and great image quality. If you want a versatile, high-end display to replace a gaming monitor and TV, this is what you should get.
You’re a racer, an esports fan or not flush with cash: The 165Hz refresh rate is fine for everyday gaming, but esports players need something faster. Keen sim racers will want a proper widescreen. And the huge price and high-end spec means it’s overkill for lots of people.
Lots of companies have tried to build gaming displays that bridge the gap between TVs and consoles, but the Samsung Odyssey Ark is the most convincing product so far. It’s not cheap and it’s not perfect, but it’s an excellent and immersive high-end choice.
How we test
We use every monitor we test for at least a week. During that time, we’ll check it for ease of use and put it through its paces by using it for both everyday tasks and more specialist, colour-sensitive work.
We also check its colours and image quality with a colorimeter to test its coverage and the display’s quality.
We use as our main monitor for at least a week
We used a colorimeter to get benchmark results.
Used our own expert judgement for image quality
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As with all Samsung PC monitors, the Ark is covered by a two-year warranty.
Yes, it works with Alexa and Google Assistant.
The Ark is supplied in a box that’s 1362 x 317 x 922mm. It weighs 53.8kg on delivery.