Alienware has long been the industry standard for the most gamer–looking hardware imaginable. It certainly embraced the alien look and feel with a ton of black angled plastics, wrapped in a ton of RGB lighting. But last year, Alienware moved to change all that with the introduction of the Area 51m gaming laptop which sported a sleek new design language called Legend. I and many critics raved at the new, sleeker design which looks like it’s straight out of an alien medical lab.
And now, the all-new Alienware AW3420DW is a stunning example of the new design language. It’s a gorgeous curved 1440p, 120Hz refresh monitor with a very wide 21:9 aspect ratio that just consumes your entire field of view.
But at over $2000, can this monitor justify its wallet tearing price?
Alienware 34 Curved Gaming Monitor Review
Here’s a quick overview of the specs for the new Alienware 34 monitor.
|Screen size||34.1 inch|
|Resolution||3440 x 1440 at 120Hz (native) in 21:9 aspect|
|Panel||Fast IPS Nano Color Color Gamut (typical): DCI- P3 98% coverageColor Depth: 16.78 Million colors|
|Adaptive Sync||Nvidia G-Sync|
|Connections||1 x HDMI (ver 1.4)1 x DP (ver 1.2)1 x USB 3.0 upstream port (Rear)2 x USB 3.0 Downstream port (Rear)2 x USB 3.0 Downstream port with 1 x power charging(Front bottom)1 x Headphone-out jack (Front Bottom)1 x Audio Line-out jack( Rear)|
|Dimensions (WxDxH) – with stand||32.04 in x 10.77 in x 22.10 in|
It has everything you would need in a modern gaming monitor except for HDR(High Dynamic Range) which is essentially standard on most living room televisions that are half the price.
The Alienware 34 is undeniably one of the most elegantly designed monitors ever made. Alienware’s new Legendary design language works spectacularly well and I can’t get enough of how gorgeous this monitor is. The monitor comes in the Lunar White colour that’s contrasted by a few black elements that give it an utterly premium look and feel.
The stand is a sturdy white pillar with a black centre which has an LED ring that lights up when powered on. Its angled feet form a triangular footprint that’s almost a foot deep and a foot and a half wide. The good thing is that a full-size keyboard can sit comfortably in between the feet, redeeming lost desk space. I also appreciate the cable-pass through hole in the stand for clean cable management.
The actual behemoth panel attaches with relative ease to the stand with no screws needed. I was initially concerned it could easily fall off but my fears were unfounded. The mount is solid as a tank and is VESA so you can mount the Alienware 34 to a wall or use a third party stand.
The only other things on the back of the panel are the LED Alienware logo, OSD controls. A removable panel cleverly hides all the connection ports so that the back of the Alienware 34 remains clean. A simple slide will dislodge the panel and give you access. Underneath the bottom edge is another set of USB ports, an LED strip for more lighting and the LED power button.
The LED lighting is very tastefully done with all the elements in sync. These can be adjusted using the menu system. While I know that having them mostly on the rear is to light up the wall behind the monitor, I hate that I don’t get to enjoy the light show.
But the front of the Alienware 34 is where you’ll spend most of your time anyway. At 34 inches, it’s huge but the 1900R curve is gentle on the eyes. It’s shallow enough that you will need to turn your head to see content on either end of the screen. The curve will distort your desktop apps to look curved especially towards the centre of the screen. However, it isn’t ugly or distracting.
Despite its massive size, the large 34-inch panel is surprisingly nimble; positioning it is a breeze. You can raise or lower it with a gentle but firm push. It can also swivel 20 degrees left and right and about 15 degrees up or down. In case you need it to, it can also be tilted off-axis by an angle of 5 degrees but not 90 degrees like flat monitors.
Screen is great but I expected spectacular
Now let’s talk about the panel itself. It’s a Fast IPS Nano Color display with 3440 x 1440 resolution stretched to a super-wide 21:9 aspect ratio. At DCI- P3 98% coverage and 134.5% sRGB colour gamut, colour accuracy is rated higher than most monitors. On paper, that’s a fabulous foundation but there’s more to hardware than just specs.
As an LCD panel, contrast isn’t going to be anywhere near an OLED but it often shows with this particular panel. I noticed some black smearing and loss of some detail in really dark scenes, with an almost smudgy look in some videos — not to mention visible edge lighting. However, when gaming, I didn’t notice this at all; I wonder if Alienware tuned the monitor more for gaming than anything else?
Speaking of calibrating, tweaking the colour and contrast settings was abysmal. Changing the contrast to anything above other than the default 75% contrast or brightness results in colours losing accuracy. Perhaps it was just my review unit because a Reddit search didn’t yield any similar complaints.
But perhaps the biggest question mark with this panel is the glaring absence of HDR. It’s absolutely mind-boggling for a monitor of this price to ship without at least VESA Certified DisplayHDR 400. You get much cheaper TV’s with HDR now so a $2000 monitor should definitely have it. It truly blows my mind why Alienware chose to omit this feature in what is essentially their flagship monitor.
However, those niggles aside, the overall experience of using this panel is still a delight. Those 34 inches totally envelop you and are fabulous for multitasking. It’s productivity heaven to have two or three full-size app windows side by side. As I write this, I have a window open for writing, a browser with research, my email app syncing happily away and the Mandalorian playing in another window.
Once you game ultrawide, you can’t go back
Oh Lord help me but gaming on this monitor in glorious 1440p stretched across a 21:9 aspect ratio can only be described as heaven. If you have a suitably powered rig like the crazy Alienware Aurora R9 with an Nvidia RTX 2080 Super, the monitor comes alive. The curved screen just swallows your entire line of sight, making for an immersion that’s hard to keep a silly grin off your face.
The 1440p resolution ensures that everything looks crisp and sharp and despite my earlier complaints about calibration, games look stunning. So much so that I never found myself missing HDR except in darker games like Metro Exodus. But the highlight of the experience is the refresh rate. The 120Hz with G-Sync means your games will run buttery smooth and with good GPU, you can easily max that out in games like Fortnite, Apex Legends and Doom at the highest settings.
If there is any complaint here is that the sheer size of the screen means that your HUD elements will be sitting quite far apart. It’s a bit of a strain to move your eye away from the action to find your HUD elements. But if you are into HUD-less gaming, you will have such a great experience on a screen like this.
Need Ports? I gotchu fam
The Alienware 34 doesn’t skimp on connection options. For inputs, you’ve got an HDMI 1.4 and a faster DisplayPort 1.2 for 120Hz gaming. This meant I could connect a PC and my Xbox One X. Sadly, the Xbox wouldn’t recognize the Alienware 34’s Ultrawide aspect ratio — leaving horrible gigantic black pillars on either side of the picture.
You also have a wealth of USB 3.0 ports, five to be exact. What’s especially cool here is that one of the USB ports is an upstream which allows you to connect one cable from your PC or laptop which then the monitor into a USB hub. You can then connect all your other peripherals through the monitor freeing up precious ports on your PC. This is especially handy for laptop users who don’t have a ton of USB ports to connect stuff with.
One thing strangely missing from the Alienware 34 are speakers. And yes, i know monitor speakers are usually rubbish but at this price point, I expect to have everything and the kitchen sink on board. That said, you can still plug headphones into the monitor to pass through your sound.
Should you buy it?
The Alienware AW3420DW is undeniably one of the most gorgeous pieces of technology I’ve ever laid eyes on. The new Legend design works spectacularly well here and when you combine it with other Alienware hardware like the aforementioned Aurora R9, it makes for an Instagram dream desktop setup.
I love the amount of screen real estate it gives you; it’s perfect for multitasking whether you are editing video or working on large excel spreadsheets or gaming. Its got a great number of ways for you to connect peripherals and the fast refresh rate paired with G-Sync make gaming a joy.
The panel calibration could definitely be better considering the price of admission. Designers, photographers and other content creators can’t depend on what comes straight out of the box here. Additionally, the lack of HDR makes it really hard to recommend this monitor to anyone but diehard Alienware fans with very deep pockets.
The competition like the Acer Predator X34P and Asus ROG Strix 35in are all much cheaper than the Alienware and offer similar, if not better. Believe me, I love the Alienware 34 monitor but it is well out of the realm of financial sense for me and I suspect most gamers.
The Alienware AW3420DW 34-inch monitor was loaned to PowerUp! By Alienware Australia for the purpose of this review.