Alienware AW3423DW 34-inch QD-OLED Curved Gaming monitor Review

Every now and then, a Unicorn product appears that forever changes the product category it belongs to; Google search, the iPhone, TikTok, and Netflix are just a few. The new Alienware AW3423DW 34-inch QD-OLED Curved Gaming monitor is undoubtedly a Unicorn product that will forever change the PC gaming monitor landscape. It’s also, in my humble opinion, the best damn gaming monitor in the world.

When Alienware first announced that it was going to use a Quantum Dot Organic Light Emiting Diode aka QD-OLED panel in its next generation of ultrawide gaming monitors, I was more than a little excited but cautious. We all know OLED’s offer the best picture quality thanks to their self-lit pixels, perfect blacks that give infinite contrast, excellent color accuracy and near instant response time.

But OLED’s aren’t the brightest panels in the world so when some mad genius at Samsung Displays thought it would be a good idea to marry an OLED panel to a Quantum Dot film, they gave birth to the next generation of exceptional display tech. We’ll be seeing a few QD-OLED TV’s come out this year with Samsung and Sony leading that charge.

Alienware AW3423DW is the first (and only at the time of writing this) QD-OLED curved gaming monitor and after living, working and playing on one for the last several weeks, I am a true believer in the new tech. It’s not perfect but there’s so damn little to complain about that it might as well be. But a bit of context.

Dell wants you to fork out $2,299.00 here in Australia for the pleasure of riding this rainbow but with Dells frequent discounts, you can get for as $1600. That’s impressive considering what you get but I can’t pretend that you can also buy an LG C1 48-inch which is also an extremely capable gaming monitor and a TV too. There’s a lot to love about the Alienware AW3423DW but keen display nerds out there are asking, “what about burn-in”?

Alienware AW3423DW QD-OLED 34-inch QD-OLED Ultrawide Gaming monitor review

The first thing you’ll notice about the Alienware AW3423DW before you even turn it on is it’s striking physical design. It looks undeniably Alienware, taking the core tenets of previous models design and tweaking them just enough to look similar but distinct. In fact, looking at it head on, you’d be hard-pressed to tell it apart from Alienware’s older, IPS curved monitor. But turn it around and the differences are made clear.

The Alienware AW3423DW has contrasting black panels on the back where previous Alienware’s had all white. Additionally. the signature O-ring lighting that used to be on the stand has now moved to the center mounting point on the panel. The lighting is bright enough to illuminate any surface behind the monitor and is customizable via the OSD or Alienware Command Center. Also gone are the rear OSD controls which now live on the bottom bezel of the monitor — a much more sensible placement.

The beautiful stand assembles easily without needing any tools and has a surprisingly small footprint. It still offers adjustments for height, tilt and swivel but no rotation unless you use a VESA monitor arm. The top of the stand is also more rounded giving it an almost pebble-like look. Cables then run through the top of the stand and exit the at bottom of the back keeping everything nice and tidy.

Alienware hid the bountiful I/O ports behind a removable plastic panel that sits flush with the body for a clean look. There are four USB 2.0 ports that are powered by a USB Type-B connection to your computers. This turns the monitor into a giant USB hub to which you can connect all your peripherals and it’s fantastic if you use two computers like I do. For video inputs, the AW3423DW has Display Port 1.4 and two HDMI 2.0.

There’s also no USB Type-C video support which would have been great for laptop users. There’s also no KVM support to allow you to use two different devices with the monitor and save you from constantly swapping that Type-B connection. It’s definitely not a deal breaker but would have been really nice to have. There are also two more USB 2.0 ports and a 3.5mm audio jack next to the joystick which is fantastic for accessibility. I hate how so many gaming monitors hide their audio jack around the back which makes plugging in headphones a nightmare.

Looking at the front, the AW3423DW’s massive 34-inch panel boasts a subtle 1800R curvature that is just enough to immerse you without looking absolutely absurd like Samsung’s 1000R curve Odyssey G monitors. The top and side bezels are so small that they might as well be invisible while the bottom bezel is about an inch thick. At the bottom of this bezel is the main OSD joystick which is the perfect so you won’t have to fumble around trying to feel for them around the back. Navigating the menus is so easy and intuitive with everything labeled clearly and simply.

Panel and performance

HDR Games are fantastic on the Alienware AW3423DW

Finally, let’s talk about the star of the show — that beautiful, 34-inch, 3440x1440p, 175Hz, NVIDIA G-Sync Ultimate, QD-OLED panel with a peak brightness of 1000 nits. I think that sentence alone should be enough to induce multiple nerdgasms. But it gets better. Thanks to the OLED tech, the AW3432DW boasts infinite contrast and exceptional colour accuracy with 99.3% DCI-P3, 149% sRGB color coverage making it perfect for content creation and professional color work. Each monitor is factory calibrated and comes with a snazzy report. There’s even a special Creator mode color presets in the OSD menu where you can choose between DCI or sRGB color space.

The quantum dots further enhance color vibrancy and brightness enabling the true HDR and earns the Alienware monitor a VESA Display HDR True Black 400 certification. The interesting thing is that the AW3423DW actually has two HDR modes; the True Black 400 for the most contrasty picture and an HDR 1000 for the brightest possible highlights though only at a small percentage of the screen at a time. I noticed this specifically when playing open world games like Forza Horizon 5 and Red Dead Redemption 2 where looking up at the in-game sun was literally blinding in HDR 1000. Truly impressive stuff.

Bright flashes like muzzle flash or explosions from Solar ignitions in Destiny 2 would often be so bright I’d have to look away for a second or two. It really isn’t hyperbole when Dell says “you can expect incredibly realistic visuals for unforgettably immersive gaming experiences

The Alienware AW3423DW has a gentle 1800R curve

And while I don’t have the fancy Spider color measurement tools, my experience reviewing several different types of monitors I can tell that this monitor hits its advertised numbers. You can see Rtings.com for detailed performance numbers. In fact, it’s so bright that you can’t use it in HDR mode for web browsing and productivity work because the white backgrounds are just so uncomfortably bright. I also noticed the AW3423DW wildly changing overall brightness in HDR when moving from one application with a white background to another with a darker background. That’s thanks to the Automatic brightness limiter trying to keep power consumption in check.

It’s quite noticeable but I’ve seen the exact same issue when using LG OLED TV’s as a monitor. You can mitigate this by simply avoiding HDR 1000 mode when doing productivity work Not a deal breaker but certainly noticeable though I must admit, after several months I adjusted to it by generally having multiple windows open so that the monitor would average out. And, I can’t lie — the AW3423DW is just excellent for multitasking and creativity work thanks to its expansive real estate. Spreading multiple windows out for work is an absolute joy.

Game like never before

When it comes to gaming, the AW3423DW excels as you can imagine. Besides all the aforementioned benefits of the QD-OLED panel, the AW3423DW has a respectable 175Hz refresh rate with 0.1ms response time and NVIDIA G-Sync Ultimate. The UWQHD resolution of 3440 x 1440p isn’t as demanding as 4K to drive so any decent rig will have no problem driving this monitor. I was fortunate enough to have a review machine with an RTX 3080Ti that easily ran games well over 100fps at the highest settings possible.

Destiny 2 was easily hitting 160-170 frames and I never experienced any tearing or stuttering. Even with a much slower PlayStation 4 Pro, Ghost of Tsushima ran smoothly and looked amazing in glorious HDR albeit with large black bars on either side. One thing to note is that consoles don’t support ultrawide resolutions so you’ll have to live with black bars on either side.

With the right games, HDR games look amazing on the AW3423DW. Destiny 2 looks absolutely phenomenal with it’s varied vistas from Savathun’s throne world to the haunting Dreaming City. The beautifully realized and untamed North America of Red Dead Redemption 2 dazzles with lush color and detail. The deserts of Assassins Creed Origins looked harsh and blistering hot with the sun blinding you thanks to the 1000 nits of brightness.

The Alienware AW3423DW is perfect for dark, contrasty games like Trek to Yomi

Every game I played on the AW3423DW looked absolutely fantastic and thanks to that high refresh and response, were also buttery smooth. This is the way PC games are meant to be played. Nvidia GPU owners will be very thankful for the G-SYNC Ultimate support but I doubt AMD owners will have anything to complain about.

Panel Burn-in

And now of course, the elephant in the room, the boogeyman all OLED owners fear — Burn-in. It’s been a long standing issue that OLED displays are susceptible to image retention when a particularly bright image, such as a HUD in games, remains imprinted in the panel. To be clear, modern OLED’s are far less susceptible to this sort of thing these days but it’s still a real risk, more so with computer use where certain elements like task bars remain on screen constantly.

In the case of the AW3423DW, I never experienced even the slightest bit of retention even after several incidents where I left the monitor on a bright Windows Login screen through the nights. Alienware is so confident in their new panel that they even offer 3-year service coverage to give you peace of mind. Additionally, the AW3423DW has two unique features built in to prevent burn-in; Pixel-shift and pixel-refresh.

The back of the Alienware AW3423DW is just as gorgeous as ever

Pixel shift, as the name suggests, shifts all of the screens pixels in a direction every few minutes to prevent any one pixel burning in. Pixel refresh is a longer, more thorough process that can take up to 10min though you can choose to have it run the next time the monitor goes into stand-by.

To be safe though, I wouldn’t recommend running the monitor in HDR 1000 mode non-stop; instead only activating it when you need it. Ultimately, only a much longer term of use than this review period provided can determine how well the panel holds up. but I am fully confident that Alienware has this one nailed down pat.

Verdict

I cannot overstate how good the Alienware AW3423DW QD-OLED gaming monitor is. Even more impressive is that this is the company’s first attempt with the new display tech and I can only imagine how much better subsequent models will be. There’s literally nothing to fault this monitor on from a PC gaming and productivity perspective.

Console players will not get the best experience because of the lack of HDMI 2.1, let alone console support for 21:9 aspect ratio. The only thing that could make this monitor even better is possibly a KVM switch. As I send this monitor back to Alienware, I am left dejected. How could any non-QD-OLED gaming monitor compete? Sure, we are seeing more Mini-LED monitors coming to market but while those get absurdly bright, they can’t match the responsiveness and contrast of OLED.

Alienware has set the bar so high I honestly don’t know where they can go from here. The AW3423DW is the epitome of everything Alienware stands for and this is a monitor that all monitors will be trying to beat.

Alienware AW3423DW 34-inch QD-OLED Curved Gaming monitor Review
LIKES
QD-OLED is phenomenal
Exceptional SDR & HDR Gaming
Excellent color accuracy
Gorgeous design and build
Wealth of inputs and outputs
Great OSD Controls
DISLIKES
No KVM Switch
Not great for consoles
10
Alienware at its utter best

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Kizito Katawongahttp://www.medium.com/@katawonga
Kizzy is our Tech Editor. He's a total nerd with design sensibilities who's always on the hunt for the latest, greatest and sexiest tech that enhances our work and play. When he's not testing the latest gadgets or trying to listen to his three whirlwind daughters, Kizzy likes to sink deep into a good story-driven single player game.

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