Hands-on: Alienware’s 34-inch curved QD-OLED gaming monitor

QD-OLED display technology was one of the big new innovations that debuted at CES 2022, marking Samsung Display’s long-awaited attempt at big-screen OLEDs. LG Display finally has some competition and so far we know that Sony plans to release its first QD-OLED TV models soon. But the first product to actually ship with one of these QD-OLED displays isn’t a TV. It is a gaming monitor from Alienware.

Alienware’s 34-inch QD-OLED AW3423DW curved gaming monitor is the showcase for the tech for now, and it’s available starting today for $1,299.99† I had a few hours on my own with it and tested it out with some games and apps.

I have no judgment for you today. Instead, I’ve got some first impressions that I’ll cover in a full review later, as well as some answers to the first questions you may have about this exciting monitor.

With the AW3423DW plugged in, the first thing I did was admire its punchy, rich colors and inky blacks. This Alienware monitor has the signature features of an OLED, as I had hoped and expected. But of course QD-OLED technology works a little differently. While OLEDs have precise control over which parts of the panel are lit, and blacks are truly black, Samsung’s new technology tries to do all that, improving brightness and color reproduction by pushing blue light through a quantum dot layer.

I haven’t yet compared the AW3423DW side-by-side with other monitors in our office, but I’m curious if it can get brighter than LED panels. That could be telling, as LED displays are still known for being able to get brighter than OLEDs, and maintain that bright image in HDR modes. QD-OLED aims to close that brightness gap.

Alienware’s AW3423DW supports up to 1,000 nits at maximum brightness and is certified with VESA DisplayHDR True Black 400. Another notable feature of this monitor is Nvidia’s G-Sync Ultimate, which delivers “lifelike” HDR, lowest-latency gameplay, along with other features. G-Sync benefits, such as synchronizing the screen with the display speed of your Nvidia graphics card for the best visual performance.

The next thing I did was play some games. I was connected to an Asus ROG Strix Scar 17 gaming laptop via HDMI 2.0, so the monitor had a 100Hz refresh rate, but I tested Deathloop and it picked up the monitor’s 3,440 x 1,440 resolution without missing a beat. . It looked and played smoothly, and I found myself appreciating small details that I first noticed while gaming on this screen, because the colors and contrast are so much more accurate than the screen I use at home.

And what’s more, this model’s 1800R curve isn’t so twisty that I noticed a distorted, zoomed-in effect around the edges of the screen during the game. That was a big deal with Samsung’s Odyssey Neo G9, which my colleague Sean Hollister pitted against the LG C1 OLED in a direct review. On the other hand, this more subtle curve may not be compelling enough for some people.

Alienware AW3423DW QD-OLED Gaming Monitor

In addition to two HDMI 2.0 ports, Alienware’s AW3423DW also includes DisplayPort, with support for a refresh rate of up to 175 Hz. You also get a headphone jack, a line out for connecting speakers and several USB-A downstream ports for connecting accessories.

Alienware’s debut OLED was intended to be used by PCs, given its compatibility with all sorts of resolutions and aspect ratios, but it’s technically compatible with modern consoles like the PS5 and Xbox Series X too – with enough caveats.

Neither console supports a 21:9 aspect ratio, just 16:9, so the output resolution of the AW3423DW comes out at 2,560 x 1,440 on the Series X. In other words, you have vertical black bars on the sides of the image. Another issue with the Xbox is that Dell says these new consoles can’t run HDR at QHD resolution, so your image may not be as vibrant as you’d like. And since the PS5 doesn’t support QHD resolution, you’ll likely only see a 1080p image in a 16:9 aspect ratio. All this to say that console gamers should probably just buy a 4K OLED TV if they really want to appreciate those consoles. They are actually built for that kind of display.

Alienware’s warranty includes three years of coverage for OLED burn-in

But if you’re using a PC, there’s a lot about the AW3423DW that seems pretty good. It has the speed, beauty and accuracy of an OLED screen in a package tailored for PC users. Instead of a TV interface, it has a standard on-screen display interface with all the customizable settings you’d expect. In addition, it has some OLED specific ones, such as the ability to perform a pixel or panel refresh. These settings also allow you to adjust the backlighting of the robust monitor stand, which by the way supports a wide range of height adjustments, including tilt, swivel and tilt.

It can be a struggle to figure out whether you want this or an OLED TV for your gaming setup. One of the most appealing aspects of this $1,299 purchase is the Alienware AW3423DW’s fantastic warranty. Alienware’s warranty includes three years of coverage for OLED burn-in, which may be a concern for people considering buying an OLED. Burn-in has become less of an issue with televisions, but the concern with a computer monitor is justified as there are more static elements in an OS interface.

I’ve only just scratched the surface here and I’m looking forward to spending a lot more time with this monitor. I hope to have a full review on the site in the coming weeks.

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