Some say that once you go curved, you can never go back. And, after living with the new Alienware 34-inch curved gaming monitor for the past three weeks, it’s definitely going to be difficult going back to my 27-inch flatscreen Acer Predator.
Dell just released an updated model (AW3420DW) of its flagship curved display, introducing improved specs over the 2017 display while bringing the design in-line with the gorgeous, matte-white aesthetic of its most recent devices.
Originally advertised at $1,500, this is one high-end proposition. But with its competitors’ prices hovering around the $1,000 mark, it’s not that unreasonable an ask.
Alienware 34-Inch Curved Gaming Monitor Technical Specifications
- 3440 X 1440 WQHD resolution (4.9 million pixels)
- IPS Nano Color technology – 98% DCI-P3 color coverage
- 2ms gray-to-gray pixel response time
- 120Hz refresh rate
- 1900R curve
- 21:9 (ultra-wide) aspect ratio
- 350 cd/m2 (typical) brightness
- 1000: 1 (typical) contrast ratio
- 1 x HDMI 1.4, 1 x DisplayPort 1.2, 1 x USB 3.0 upstream, 4 x USB 3.0 Downstream with 1 x power charging, 1 x Headphone-out, 1 x Audio Line-out
A Look Fit for a Sci-Fi Movie
Alienware devices have undergone a significant stylistic refresh in 2019, and the results are certainly for the better. Clean matte-white plastics, blocky fonts and laser-beam lighting effects make for a sleeker, contemporary aesthetic that’s beautiful to behold. This year’s revision of Alienware’s 34-inch curved screen picks up these new design cues perfectly.
The monitor’s stand and main chassis have been stunningly redesigned. The stand in-particular has a new wide-footed look with convenient cable routing that extends to the rear of the screen, allowing for meticulous cable management.
New lighting beams curve around the rear surface of the stand while also lighting up the power button, a down-firing LED panel and the ever-present Alienware head on the rear. Each of those is categorized as four separate configurable zones in the AlienFX options in the on-screen HUD or via the Alienware Command Center app. They can also be controlled automatically by compatible games, offering enhanced ambient lighting effects. It’s honestly a shame you almost never get to see the rear side of the display during typical use.
The fascia is decidedly more understated than it was in 2017. A relatively thin black bezel wraps around the screen with the unobtrusively imprinted “Alienware” on the lower edge to hint this is more than your average desktop.
The Screen Your Favorite AAA Games Deserve
Rest assured, Alienware’s 34-inch panel produces colors that really pop out at you, especially when viewing brighter, vibrant scenes in games like Forza Horizon 4. The 98% DCI-P3 color coverage also means video and photo-editing professionals can use this screen for work. Color temperatures are nice and neutral out of the box, but individual RGB settings allow for deeper calibration where necessary.
G-Sync support is present, keeping your screen nicely in tune with your Nvidia graphics card so you don’t experience screen tearing or judder. The refresh rate has been bumped up to 120Hz — a nice round figure beyond which the differences start to become negligible.
A zippy 2ms grey-to-grey pixel response time means moving objects and chaotic action scenes stay sharp and well-defined in motion, without any of the ghosting or motion blur associated with lesser panels.
There are tuning options aplenty in the on-screen menus, as well. Controlled via a small nub on the rear, the HUD offers access to gamer-centric features like custom picture presets, a frame rate counter, dark stabilizer and customizable shortcut keys that allow you quick access to your most-used options. Very handy, indeed.
That said, this panel is an excellent performer for gaming. And the 1900R curve only enhances the immersion, as the ultra-wide dimensions allow it to wrap around your face and fill your peripheral vision. Movies also look great on this display. (And with your face barely two feet away, the whole experience is surprisingly cinematic.)
Bright, but not HDR Bright
TV manufacturers have leaped head-first into the HDR era of display tech, but its adoption in the PC space is more tepid. While the Alienware 34-inch curved gaming monitor is decently bright at 350 nits average, it lacks HDR support.
This may come as a disappointment to some, but the sad fact is, if you consider HDR essential your options in the gaming monitor space are very limited. However, it’s worth considering the smoke and mirrors that come with most claims of HDR support.
For example, Alienware’s closest 34-inch curved competitor, the LG 34GK950F, does claim support for HDR. But with a marginally higher peak brightness of 400 nits and the same 1000:1 contrast ratio as the Alienware, it’s a far cry from the over 1000 nits that TVs use to produce eye-popping HDR.
If you want a large curved monitor with these capabilities, you’ll have to put your purchase on hold a while longer or consider one of the ultra-high-end 27-inch flat panels recently released.
Should You Buy the Alienware 34-Inch Curved Gaming Monitor?
Alienware’s latest big-screen curved monitor is an excellent performer that checks all the right boxes. It’s a high-resolution panel with vibrant color delivery, 120Hz G-Sync support, fast pixel response times and pin-sharp visuals in the thick of the action. Dell’s new Alienware aesthetic is also drop-dead gorgeous, making this arguably the best-looking monitor out there from a design standpoint.
If the price had held strong at the originally touted $1500 mark, this monitor would be a tougher sell. But with Dell currently listing it for $999, it makes an excellent upgrade to go with a powerful gaming PC. Just make sure you’re packing the right hardware — an RTX 2070/GTX 1080 or higher — to take full advantage of this enormous screen.
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Photos by Austin Nooe | Slickdeals