Dell Alienware AW3418DW

If you are in the market for an ultra-wide curved gaming monitor, you will soon realize that there aren’t that many options available, especially if you have a NVIDIA graphics card and don’t want to miss out on the adaptive sync technology G-Sync. The Dell Alienware AW3418DW is a 34” monitor that offers a resolution of 3440×1440 and a refresh rate of up to 120Hz. The monitor has been on the market for about 1 year, but it still remains one of the top choices for gaming.

Specs:

  • Panel type: IPS (LG LM340UW4-SSA1)
  • Panel curvature: 1900R
  • Backlight: W-LED
  • Coating: Anti-glare
  • Color depth: 8-bit
  • sRGB coverage: 99%
  • Resolution: 3440×1440 (UWQHD)
  • Aspect ratio: 21:9
  • Refresh rate: 100Hz (overclockable to 120Hz)
  • Static contrast ratio: 1000:1
  • Max. brightness: 300 cd/m²
  • Gaming features: G-Sync (30 – 120Hz), black stabilizer
  • Other features: stereo speakers, USB3 hub
  • Screen dimensions (w x h x d): ~82 x 36 x 12cm
  • Stand dimensions (w x h x d): ~57 x 45 x 32cm
  • Weight: 12kg (19kg with box)
  • MSRP: ~1400€

Box contents

The Dell AW3418DW comes in a gigantic box, which could easily hold 2 of these monitors. The extra padding ensures maximum protection during transportation. The box is easy to open, no tools required. In terms of accessories, there are 4 cables:

  • power cable
  • DisplayPort cable
  • mini DisplayPort cable
  • USB3 cable (for the USB hub)

The power supply is integrated into the monitor.

Design and appearance

This is not a small monitor by any means, and it isn’t lightweight either. It takes up quite some space on the desk. Ideally, the desk should be at least 70cm deep.

I like how this monitor looks with its thin bezel, gentle curve and simple design. It is one of the few G-Sync enabled monitors on the market that doesn’t look like a toy for gamers. The branding on the front is minimal: no logo or obtrusive font, just an inconspicuous grey on black “Alienware”.

Build quality

The Dell AW3418DW has a nice build quality, even though the display enclosure is made of plastic. The stand is excellent and enirely made of aluminium. It feels really sturdy and also keeps the monitor firm when I hammer into my keyboard.

The only minor complaint about the build quality concerns the top corners of the screen.

close-up of the upper left corner

Ergonomics

The monitor is fully adjustable: height, tilt and swivel. Thumbs up!

Connectivity

There are only two video inputs on this monitor: 1x HDMI and 1x DisplayPort. In addition there is a 4-port USB3.0 hub and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

On-screen menu

The menu system for adjusting the monitor settings is tidy and well designed. Navigation is easy with the physical buttons. Apart from the power button, there are 6 menu buttons , 4 of which can be customized. So you can for instance assign an input selection to a button, which allows to quickly switch between two computers.

navigation buttons

RGB ambilight (AlienFX Lighting)

Even though it is more of a gimmick, I really like how they implemented the RGB ambilight on this monitor. It is modest and yet gives a unique look. It is partitioned into 4 zones, each of which can be configured separately. Of course you can also disable the ambilight if you don’t want it.
A nice little extra is the sensor on the bottom of the screen, which allows you to turn the “downlights zone” on and off by briefly covering it with your hand.

Quality control

I didn’t spot any dead or stuck pixels, enclosed dust or other manufacturing defects on my unit.

Colors

As expected from an IPS panel, the colors out of the box look quite accurate and natural. Unfortunately though, there is no factory calibrated sRGB mode on board.
Since I do not have equipment to properly calibrate a monitor, I ended up following the recommendations given by TFTCentral, although with a different brightness setting:

  • Mode: custom color (R: 93, G: 94, B: 100)
  • Sharpness: 75% (default)
  • Brightness: 60% (TFTCentral recommends 37%, which is way too dark in my opinion)

Contrast and brightness

According to the manufacturer, this display offers a static contrast of 1000:1, which is common for this panel type. It is not a particularly good value, but sufficient for most use cases. If you want really low black levels (and hence a high contrast), you should probably look for a monitor with a VA type panel.
Brightness is rated at 300cd/m², which is pretty much average and typically sufficient.

IPS glow

Glow is a characteristic of IPS panels, and this monitor is no exception. The glow changes depending on the viewing angle and is more intense when you look at the monitor from the right side. When you sit in front the of the monitor, the glow is most noticable in the bottom left corner as a slight yellow tint. In daylight, it is not visible at all and even in a dimly lit room I only notice it on a dark background.

IPS glow from ~2m away as seen in a dark room
IPS glow from seating position (~60cm away) in a dark room, exposure roughly matches what the eye would see
IPS glow comparison with a Dell U2414H, slightly overexposed

Backlight bleeding / uniformity

This monitor controls backlight bleeding very well: there is virtually none, maybe just a tiny bit at the bottom edge. Backlight uniformity is good for a panel of this size. On a homogeneous grey background, you can spot areas that are a bit darker and others that are brighter. However, it is not noticable under normal use. One thing that is worth mentioning though is that the top edge is a bit darker. It looks like a shadow effect on window titlebars.

overexposed photo, basically no backlight bleeding

Coating

The coating is a light anti-glare. Therefore, reflections can occur and impede the viewing experience. When you look from the side, the coating looks almost like a glossy panel.

the mild anti-reflective coating from the side

I would have prefered a matte coating that eliminates distracting reflections more effectively. This is one of my main complaints about the AW3418DW.

subpixel layout and coating

Refresh rate, response time and input lag

The Dell AW3418DW offers a native refresh rate of 100Hz and can be overclocked to 120Hz. I haven’t tested the 120Hz since I don’t need it and there are reports of users who complaint about stability issues with overclocking.
The pixel response times are very decent as tested by TFTCentral. I didn’t do any measurements, but my subjective impression supports their finding.
The input lag is excellent and one of the lowest on any monitor to date as measured by TFTCentral.

NVIDIA G-Sync

One of the biggest selling points of this monitor is the built-in G-Sync module. Roughtly speaking, it allows to synchronize the refresh rate of the monitor with the pace at which the graphics card produces new frames. This eliminates tearing while retaining a very low lag. G-Sync works in the range between 30 and 100Hz (up to 120Hz with overclocking).
Note that this features only works with NVIDIA graphics cards! AMD Radeon users should look for a monitor with FreeSync capabilities. Make sure to connect the monitor with a DisplayPort cable and enable G-Sync in the NVIDIA control panel. In addition, it is recommended that you also enable v-sync to ensure a tear-free image in case the graphics card pushes out more than 100 (or 120) frames per second.

Dark stabilizer

Another useful feature for gaming is the black stabilizer, which helps to retain contrast in very dark scenes.

Energy efficiency

At 60% brightness, I measured the power dissipation of this monitor at ~48 watt. This is reasonable for a monitor of this size, but isn’t particularly energy efficient.

Summary

Positive:

  • very good build quality, solid stand
  • nice design
  • good ergonomics
  • immersive viewing experience due to the wide aspect ratio and the curvature
  • excellent resolution
  • good colors out of the box
  • 100Hz refresh rate, overclockable to 120Hz
  • low input lag and decent pixel response times
  • G-Sync and black stabilizer
  • USB3 Hub

Neutral:

  • could be more energy efficient (gets quite warm in use)
  • good but not great contrast ratio

Negative:

  • the coating is anti-glare only, not matte
  • IPS glow, especially in the bottom left corner
  • brightness falloff at the top edge
  • no factory calibrated sRGB mode
  • only 1x DisplayPort connector
  • premium price tag (street price around 1000€)

The Dell Alienware AW3418DW is a truly stunning monitor that offers an immersive viewing experience. Due to the relatively high price – which is partially owed to the G-Sync module – I would only recommend the Dell AW3418DW to gamers with a NVIDIA graphics card, especially if you prefer color fidelity over high contrast.

Rating:  8/10    highly recommended!

Value:  5/10    (reviewed at 700€)

Link to Amazon.de.

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