Display technology had a lot of inertia for years. Picking between TN, VA, and IPS panels came down to whether you wanted ultra-responsive motion, inky blacks and uniformity, or great viewing angles and colour reproduction. This year, however, OLED and mini LED technology has finally hit the PC monitor space, and that’s why we got our hands on the Philips Evnia 34M2C7600MV mini LED monitor to see how it does in gaming compared to everything else out there.
Coming in at 34 inches in an ultra-wide ratio of 21:9 with WQHD resolution of 3440x1440, the Evnia is a chonker. It’s a struggle to get the boxed monitor in your house because, unlike many flat 16:9 monitors, the Evnia has a 1500R curve to it and is very weighty due to the fact that it packs in so many mini LEDs behind the screen and comes with full array local dimming.
In the box
Upon opening the box, you’ll find a plethora of accessories so that, unlike other monitors, you’re not left out in the cold if you need a certain cable that isn’t included. In the box, you’ll get an HDMI cable, USB C-C, USB C-A, DP, and USB A-B cables all included. The monitor has two HDMI ports, 3.5mm audio out, four standard USB ports with two capable of lightning fast charging, a DisplayPort, a USB for passthrough, and a USB C port that allows you to connect the latest laptops quickly and easily.
The Philips Evnia comes pre-calibrated from the factory, which is fantastic news for those with a keen eye for accuracy in their displays. Colour oversaturation or crushed blacks won’t be a problem here, then, and you’re provided with a printout of your post-calibrated screen measurements. All of the colours come in at around or below a delta E of 2. For those not in the know, that’s the point where humans can perceive the difference in colour saturations over reference. The take-away? The Philips Evnia comes with picture perfect accuracy out of the box.
The stand is sturdy but heavy. You simply screw the feet to the part to the back of the monitor with an in-built finger screw, and then you slick it into the back of the monitor. In its final form, the Evnia has quite a large footprint on your desk. The screen sits 6-8 inches ahead of the rear part of the stand that touches the wall behind your desk, so measure up beforehand and make sure you have the space to use it. The stand is adjustable for height, tilt, and pan too, so you can get things just right.
The Philips Evnia comes with a sizable power brick that certainly cuts down on how slick your setup can be, but given the sheer technology packed into the monitor, it’s understandable. That technology is HDR 1400 certification and full-array local dimming, which, combined with mini LED technology, means that sleek isn’t something the Evnia does well. It’s around two inches thick in the rear to accommodate all of those dimming zones, and it has approximately an inch of plastic bezel at the bottom of the front of the display.
The whole monitor, feet included, has an industrial ash grey/silver colour theme going on and its whole philosophy screams function over form. This isn’t necessarily a criticism, but those placing a premium on looks are best served elsewhere.
Once it’s all set up, the ultra-wide curve fills your peripheral vision and will convert anyone who hasn’t used a monitor with this aspect ratio before. And at 34 inches, going back to a flat 16:9 ratio monitor feels like you’re viewing a piece of art on the wall as opposed to actually being immersed in whatever you’re playing. Being a lookout in the crow’s nest in Sea of Thieves, for example, suddenly becomes ultra immersive because the Evnia’s ultra wide curve wraps around your peripheral vision, taking up your entire real-world field of view. Gazing out at the horizon and looking for enemy ships suddenly seems so real, and once you’ve tried 21:9, you won’t go back.
Philips Ambiglow - gimmick or must-have feature?
From speaker audio to image modes and more, you’ll find all the usual premium menu functions in the user interface. This includes Ambiglow, one of the Philips features that many clammer for. There are over ten lights built into the back of the Evnia, and you can control their colour, brightness and mode all from the menu. Most users, however, will likely opt for the video sync mode, which changes the colour of the Ambiglow to match what’s happening on-screen. Be it a YouTube video or video game, the lights will all cast a hue of what is on screen; in a desert landscape in Uncharted? A coyote brown hue will display on your wall.
While it might sound great on paper, the real-world result is a bit of a letdown. Don’t get me wrong, Ambiglow is amazing for what it is and is certainly no gimmick. The issue is that in the video sync mode, the lights lag behind what’s on-screen by a second or two, meaning there can be a jarring switch from vastly different colours as you sewing your camera around in a game. This also occurs when simply browsing websites, too.
It’s not all bad news, however. The Evnia sticks out from the wall by around a foot, and most monitors with RGB lighting on the back would only cast a dim shade of colour onto the wall at this range. The Evnia’s Ambiglow is extremely impressive in this regard because when set to its “brightest” mode, it provides an intense glow that can overcome all kinds of ambient light.
Ambiglow, then, is certain to please those looking for ambient lighting that actually works well, but it’s a shame that the feature is let down by a bit of lag when switching colours based on what’s on-screen. However, I’d still take this feature over most other gaming monitors with ostensible RGB lighting - the Evnia is the real deal.
Mini LED versus OLED
2023 is the year OLED technology is really becoming mainstream; it’s now available in monitor sizes and at a competitive price. This leaves the Evnia in a strange place. It’s mini LED technology is cutting edge, but it’s still based on the LED tech we’ve used for over a decade now, just shrunk down. While the VA panel used by the Evnia is one of the cleanest we’ve used - with hardly any smearing, especially at 165hz - it’s still VA. So, while viewing angles are improved, OLED certainly is the elephant in the room when it comes to monitor technology.
OLED gives amazing viewing angles, excellent colour saturation and vibrancy, and perfect blacks. But it also raises the very real concern of burn-in, especially when used as a monitor, as we’ve become accustomed to leaving our PCs on and on the static desktop since we packed CRTs into our cramped rooms.
The Evnia fights back against OLED with 1152 full array local dimming zones, and the mini LEDs provide even better and more accurate control over these. Moving the mouse cursor on a full black screen shows the most minute blooming I’ve ever seen in a FALD VA display - so much so that it’s non-existent in actual content.
Playing Sea of Thieves, for example, exemplifies how good the HDR and local dimming features are on this monitor. The sun is eye-scorchingly bright on sunny days, with the ocean waves rendered in gorgeous and accurate colours. At night, where you’d expect to see blooming, the lanterns of my ship against the pitch dark sky didn’t exhibit any blooming whatsoever - something I’ve never seen on a FALD display. This even goes for menus and areas you’d expect to see a bright halo around an object on a dark background.
The Evnia is HDR 1400 rated and that label is not just for show. It delivers impactful HDR with no perceptual blooming, and when you consider that because it uses mini LEDs, there’s no risk of burn-in compared to OLED displays and it's hard to fault the image quality of the monitor. It’s not going to match OLED in terms of picture quality - nothing can - but it’s an impressively clean VA panel that handles motion excellently, and it should be a real consideration for those that don’t want to baby their display or have anxiety every time they step away.
The Philips Evnia 34M2C7600MV is a fantastic monitor for gamers. It’s decked out with all the latest technology like mini LEDs and a crazy number of full array local dimming zones. But it’s not just the fun and flashy stuff where it shines - the Evnia has all the latest ports that allow you to connect everything short of a toaster. The Ambiglow feature also adds tremendous value for those that like ambient RGB lighting in their room, even if its delivery isn't always perfect. Short of OLED, you can’t get anything better than this, and if you’re reluctant to spend a huge amount on an OLED that risks burn-in, then this is one of the best monitors money can buy right now.