Alienware AW3418DW Review: Curved Gaming Monitor Bliss

With the AW3418DW curved monitor, Alienware has proved that it can make peripherals that are every bit as striking as its futuristic-looking PCs. This immersive $1,149 display boasts a gorgeous 34-inch, 3440 x 1440 screen and Nvidia G-Sync capabilities within an eye-catching, LED-laden chassis that channels Alienware's latest desktops and laptops.

The Alienware 34 Curved Gaming Monitor's impressive color, brightness and gaming performance make it well worth buying. However, it has some very some strong competition in the premium curved monitor arena that you should consider before making the plunge.

Design and Lighting

The Alienware AW3418DW is built specifically to grab your attention. This bold ultrawide display sports the same sleek design aesthetic as Alienware's desktops and laptops, with a sharply angled base and thin LED lighting strips along the monitor's rear panel, stand and underside.

Just like on an Alienware computer, you can customize these zones to glow any color you like. However, the only zone you can actually see is the down-facing light on the underside, which adds a nice but fairly subtle glow to your desk space.

Unless you game in the dark or simply need your Alienware monitor to perfectly match your Alienware PC, there's not much use to the rear-facing lights. I'm a much bigger fan of the lighting on Acer's Predator X34, which features a much more pronounced set of down-facing lights that you can customize to glow in a variety of different patterns.

Regarding ergonomics, the AW3418DW can be tilted 5 degrees forward or 25 degrees backward, swiveled 40 degrees side to side, or raised up or down about 5 inches, all of which is fairly standard for a gaming display. You can't rotate the display into a vertical portrait mode, but that's not a feature I'd expect from an ultrawide curved monitor.

Ports and Interface

Alienware's curved display has a fairly standard selection of inputs. In the back, you'll find HDMI and DisplayPort for connecting to your PC, as well as two USB 3.0 Type A ports and a USB 3.0 Type B port for accessories.

The rear ports are a bit hard to reach -- especially since you can't rotate the display vertically. Fortunately, there are an additional two USB 3.0 ports as well as a headphone jack located on the bottom bezel for easily connecting your accessories.

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The AW3418DW features six physical navigation buttons, which make navigating its myriad menus pretty easy. You've got dedicated buttons for things such as switching game modes, overclocking the display and adjusting brightness on the fly. And you can customize them to activate different shortcuts. From the monitor's main menu, you can toggle everything from LED light settings to display inputs fairly easily.

Gaming Performance

Playing Injustice 2 on Alienware's curved display was an absolute delight. Everything from the blues and reds of Supergirl's suit to the purple tendrils of Brainiac's ship was bursting with color, and the ultrawide resolution made it extra-easy to spot the tiniest details of every arena. Most important, there wasn't any noticeable input lag to keep me from performing complex combo strings.

Experiencing Destiny 2 on the AW3418DW was straight-up revelatory. The monitor's 178-degree field of view allowed me to easily spot every enemy in my periphery, and its fast response times made shooting feel instant and satisfying.

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The game's orange explosions and purple energy blasts looked incredibly rich.  I often caught myself stopping to marvel at every tiny detail, from the raindrops that hit the ground to the intricate patterns of my teammate's battle-damaged armor. The monitor's high refresh rate meant that I rarely experienced screen tearing, although things did look extra-smooth with G-Sync enabled.

Experiencing Destiny 2 on the AW3418DW was straight-up revelatory. The monitor's 178-degree field of view allowed me to easily spot every enemy in my periphery.

Even when I wasn't gaming, having access to Alienware's massively wide display proved invaluable. The 34-inch wide monitor allowed me to split the screen between various work tasks without the need for multiple displays, and everything from basic text to YouTube videos looked crisp.

Brightness, Color and Latency

Alienware's curved monitor turned in a strong 270 nits of brightness on our light meter, topping the Acer Predator X34 (261 nits) and our 255-nit average, while coming up short of BenQ's XR3501 (304 nits).

Alienware's display reproduced a strong 127.2 percent of the sRGB color gamut, besting the Acer Predator X34 (98.9 percent) as well as the BenQ XR3501 (115 percent).

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The AW3410DW proved even more impressive in our color testing, with a Delta E of 0.2 (closer to 0 is better). That beats the Predator (1.77) and the BenQ (4.55) as well as our 3.2 gaming- monitor average.

Alienware's display reproduced a strong 127.2 percent of the sRGB color gamut, besting the Acer Predator X34 and BenQ XR3501.

On our lag tester, the Alienware monitor registered 12.9 milliseconds of latency. That's much better than the BenQ (23.3 ms) and about on a par with our 13 ms average, though a bit slower than the Acer (9.7 ms).

Modes and Features

The AW3418DW packs three game-specific display modes: an FPS mode that ups the brightness, an RTS mode that packs extra-saturated colors, and an RPG mode with deeper, more cinematic blacks.

On-screen overlay options include a frame-rate counter, a timer ideal for strategy games and a display alignment mode that makes it easier to line up the AW3418DW with your other monitors.

There are also three fully customizable presets, as well as a warm preset, a cool preset and a ComfortView option that reduces blue light.

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You can overclock the monitor's refresh rate from 100Hz to 120Hz, as well as toggle a Dark Stabilizer that brightens dark in-game areas without blowing out the whole image. There are also a handful of useful on-screen overlay options, including a frame-rate counter, a timer ideal for strategy games and a display alignment mode that makes it easier to line up the AW3418DW with your other monitors.                                                                                             

Bottom Line

The Alienware 34 Curved Monitor is one of the best premium ultrawide displays we've tested. Its colorful 34-inch, 3440 x 1440 screen is great for getting as immersed as possible in your favorite games, and its fast response times and G-Sync support keep things smooth throughout. Its gorgeous design certainly doesn't hurt -- particularly if you already have an Alienware PC to match it with.

However, the AW3418DW has some stiff competition from Acer's Predator X34. The Predator, which can be found for as low as $999, is still our favorite curved monitor, thanks to its superior lighting effects, loud built-in speakers and similarly strong performance. But if you prefer Alienware's design aesthetic and don't mind paying a premium, the AW3418DW is one of the most impressive ultrawide displays out there. 

Credit: Tom's Guide

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  • Matthew Langley
    Good review though surprised you still stick with the X34 since 100hz native & 120hz OC vs 60hz native & 100hz OC is a pretty big deal.
  • dave.rara66
    Agree with Matthew Langley. Also, the RGBs on the back of the monitor certainly do serve a purpose: If your system is against a wall/ in a corner, they light up the wall, making nice ambient lighting. If your desk is visible from the back, then you can see the lights directly, of course. Either way, they do work and are nice to have.

    This monitor's looks are much more appealing to the over-25 crowd, and it will almost certainly have better QC than the Acer (funny how everyone neglects to mention all the issues and the RECALL). Hasn't anyone noticed the seemingly endless supply of refurbs available? Dell's customer support and exchange policy destroys the competition as well. Finally, this monitor can be found for $999 regularly. The Acer/Asus models have nothing on the AW.

    Your link to Dell is wrong, this monitor is not $399.99
  • Ninjawithagun
    Technically speaking, the early defect issue with the initial release Acer X34 units was NOT a recall. Recalls are an official 'mandatory' recall of a product by the manufacturer due to a safety issue. The defect with the X34 did not qualify as such. Acer did offer the owner free repair, but at the expense of the owner having to pay S&H to send the monitor back to the factory. A lot of owners that chose to do regretted it when they received their monitor back physically damaged by disgruntled Acer workers. One of the reasons why I did not return my monitor. I kept it and it still has the backlight 'half off' issue on cold startup, but fixes itself by the time I boot up into Windows. I've had the monitor since day one of initial release (Sep 2015) and still love it. I just bought an AW3418DW (excellent condition - open box) from Best Buy through eBay (no sales tax thanks to it being considered an auction!) for only $899 (free S&H) and know I'll love that monitor even more ;-)