Review: Alienware 34″ 21:9 curved gaming monitor

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Regular readers of techAU will know I’m a huge fan of 21:9 displays and the latest from Alienware is the AW3420DW. It’s a 34″ monster that offers a mighty 3440×1440 resolution and runs at 120Hz.

The display is targeted at gamers, but Dell have done a brilliant job of appealing to those of us who also want a display that’s great for productivity as well as none of us game 100% of the time. The design is particularly appealing with one of the nicest stand designs I’ve seen in a long time.

The price tag is certainly in the premium category, but for the features on offer, you could justify that. After using it for the past couple fo weeks, it’s time to breakdown the monitor in a full review.

DESIGN

Curves in all the right places

From the time you unbox this display, you’ll notice just how big it is. For those coming from a single display setup, it’ll be a significant upgrade to your screen real estate. It’ll also be a decent upgrade in terms of footprint on your desk, so make sure you have the space for it.

Those upgrading from dual-monitor setups will appreciate just how clean your desk can become when moving to a single 21:9 display.

The display itself curves on the 1900R standard which is a subtle curve, but it means the edges of that wide display actually envelop your view, making it feel very natural to use. The edges of the display are surrounded by a tiny, like barely there bezel and its also black which helps border the image on screen, making the colours really pop.

One of my favourite aspects of the design is the design of the stand. Not only does it look great and support the large monitor well, it includes dual cable management. The first set of cables are the display, power and USB cables that can all be routed through the stand to keep things tidy. There’s also a gap underneath the stand that is for the cables to your peripherals to run. This is great for your keyboard and mouse if you use wired versions, as well as any cables like charging your phone, GoPro or similar devices.

PERFORMANCE

How do it perform ?

This display features some impressive performance specs and after using it, those specs absolutely translate to a great gaming experience.

Featuring a fast 120Hz refresh rate, its fairly hard to tell the difference between this and a 144Hz display (I have one next to it). With support for NVIDIA G-SYNC gaming is smooth and there’s no hint of tearing, regardless of how fast you turn around and change the viewport. For games like PUBG where lightning reflexes are required to get the chicken dinner, this item on the spec sheet certainly pays dividends.

For those unfamiliar with the technology, G-SYNC synchronizes the GPU and monitor to minimise distortions like screen tearing and artifacts on screen.

With a fast response time, motion blur is basically non existent. Pixels change and respond rapidly to the changes in output from the GPU.

Initially I had the display connected via HDMI and was only getting 50Hz, but a quick switch to Display Port and the full 120Hz was immediately available.

FEATURES

Stand out features of this display.

When it comes to features, the Alienware AW3420DW has plenty of them.

Lets start with the display itself. This is build on a new Alienware design language, known as ‘Legend’. This is now being spread across the Alienware monitor lineup and personally I think they’re heading in a great direction. Mixing a bolder, sculpted exterior that meets the practical demands of holding a display this size. The stand is simple, minimal and smartly curves from the vertical, to the horizontal, almost as if it was crafted out of single piece of plastic. I love the way the silver layers over the top of the black underbody, almost like the bark of a tree protecting its inner core.

This monitor actually exceeds the sRGB color spectrum, offering 98% DCI-P3 (or around 134.5% sRGB) color coverage, so gaming looks fantastic, but if you’re doing any kind of colour grading, this monitor is amazing. If you choose to watch movies, you’ll also have a fantastic experience, so really the IPS display is a great all-round performer.

AlienFX customizable lighting will delight those who love their RGB. This allows you to customise the ambient lighting from the stand which includes the Alienware logo. The continuous light strip on the stand, the downlight, and the power button set as four customizable zones with full RGB values. You get to choose a different configuration to suit your personality for different game profiles, or allow it to react to in-game action (compatible game required) to add to the experience.

While I don’t love the OSD in general, I do give Alienware credit for including a enhanced game features, like a FPS counter, timer, display alignment feature, and preset and customizable game modes for the best pre-calibrated settings or user profile customization.

ISSUES

Not everything’s perfect

There are no deal breakers here, but there are a couple of opportunities to make this monitor more appealing. The on-screen display is controlled using one of those joysticks on the back of the screen. I have never thought these are intuitive to use, on any display and again on this display, moving through menus and options is clumsy. While not every monitor makes sense as a touchscreen, interacting with the OSD would certainly be a lot easier with a touch option.

My other complaint is really the price. While I understand there are way to justify it, the problem I have with any monitor at this price point, is that such a small fraction of gamers can afford it. Certainly gamers that are just starting out would love a display like this, but after stretching their budget for the best PC, its unlikely they have this price in mind for a display. It’s ok to have an aspiration product in your lineup, but I’d love to see these features offered at around the A$1,000 price point.. making it a default choice for anyone considering multiple displays to save money.

PRICE & AVAILABILITY

How much and when can you get one ?

Here’s the thing about a display this great. It comes at a cost and if you want, you should start saving now.

The RRP on the Alienware AW3420DW is a premium A$2,299.00. Thankfully if you want to buy yourself a great Christmas present, you can get 30% off until the 12th December (be fast). This drops the price down to just A$1,609.30 which includes delivery.

You can obviously buy 2 displays cheaper than that, but the elegance of a single display and the performance on offer here could be enough to justify the price tag.

The Alienware 34 Curved Gaming Monitor is available now at Dell Australia here.

OVERALL

Final thoughts

Alienware have assembled a great combination of design. features and performance. Personally I value design a lot and this display is one of the best I’ve used in recent years. As for its day-to-day functionality, it makes for a fantastic productivity display thanks to its high resolution.

When you get to use the monitor for its primary intentions, gaming, its a phenomenal performer. Thanks to a low latency, high refresh rate and G-Sync support there’s few monitors that match what’s on offer here.

I really like this display, to the point where I want to buy it. When it comes time to return a review unit, its a really great sign of the product when I don’t want it to leave.

Sure the display is pricey, but if you can find a way to reach the purchase price, you’ll be insanely happy you did (and make a few people jealous in the process).

9.1
Review: Alienware 34 Curved Gaming Monitor
The Good
  • Great quality image
  • Fast
  • Ambient lighting
  • Design
The Bad
  • Expensive
  • Design
    9.8
  • Features
    8.5
  • Performance
    9.5
  • Value
    8.5
Categories
GeneralHardware

Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis.
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