All images: Kotaku / Alex Walker
The last time I had a couple of grand spare, it was tax time and I badly needed a new laptop. I do not have $2100 to blow on tech right now. But if I did, and given the fact that I’m only rocking two tiny 23″ screens at home, I’ve got a pretty good idea of what I’d get.
The Alienware AW3418DW is a bit of a monster, in every sense of the word. Currently retailing for $2099 through the official Dell site, the AW3418DW is basically the 1440p variant of the Alienware’s existing 34″ G-Sync curved widescreen monitor, which runs at a maximum res of 2560 x 1080 with a maximum refresh of 160hz – pretty bloody good for an IPS panel.
The 3418DW is no slacker either: you’re getting a 1440p IPS screen with G-Sync that runs at a base refresh rate of 100Hz and a maximum of 120Hz. That’s not as stratospheric as the 144Hz or 240Hz gaming monitors out there, but being having an IPS panel means the Alienware provides substantially better colour reproduction and image quality than the myriad of TN-based offerings.
As you’d expect for something this large, the AW3418DW arrives in a massive, TV-esque box. Setup is vastly less daunting than it seems though: after unclipping the plastic holds at the bottom, the entire box lifts off, unveiling how few parts are actually inside.
And when I say that, I mean that as a positive. It took me longer to plug my mice into the back of the monitor than it did to actually put the stand together. The entire stand plugs straight into the back of the panel: no screws required, no fiddling about. It’s the easiest monitor I’ve had to put together in a long time, and exactly the kind of hassle-free experience you’d want if you were dropping $2100 on a single piece of tech.
Given how easy installation is, it was surprising that there wasn’t a little more room at the back of the monitor. There’s a ridge just underneath the area where the power, DisplayPort, HDMI, USB, audio and other ports are located, which actually made it initially difficult to plug everything in.
But that was the biggest, and really only, pain setup wise.
As is the case with modern curved monitors, it’s relatively easy to identify information in your periphery thanks to the 1900R curve (about 100R more than the recent quantum dot Samsung monitors). The USB ports at the back are 3.0, gracefully, and out of the box the monitor covers 99% of the sRGB range, which helps for those working with the Adobe suite.
Weight wise, the whole unit stand included comes in just under 12kg (but ~7.3kg without the stand). The bezels are pretty minimal as well, and the inbuilt menu lets you control the RGB lighting at the back (although my setup at work, as seen in the first image, didn’t really do that justice).
The appeal of the AW3418DW, cost aside, is actually pretty straightforward. Gamers have been pleading for a large screen with a high refresh rate without having to compromise on poor viewing angles, bad blacks, average colour reproduction, and the other bells and whistles you want from widescreen gaming.
And for the most part, the AW3418DW lives up to that ideal. The 4ms gray-to-gray response time is perfectly acceptable for an IPS panel, and playing at the overclocked 120Hz rate is just as nice as the performance from my aging 23″ EIZO Foris monitor. (The EIZO Foris is only a VA-based panel, so the colours and angles aren’t as nice as the Alienware, but it’s also a hell of a lot smaller.)
Something worth calling out, although it’s not new to the AW3418DW, is the design of the base. Dell likes to do with two stars that stick out diagonally from the base, rather than the three-pronged setup of the ASUS monitors or the circular stand/hinge setup of the older Samsung quantum dot offerings. It’s good. It offers plenty of stability and made rearranging my desk a lot easier, although ideally you’ll be replacing one of your existing monitors with this beast.
Another common design feature is the in-built menu, which is accessed via the bottom right of the screen. Five buttons let you flick through various settings, including a range of presets, response time settings, dark stabiliser levels, the level of overclocking (from 100Hz to 120Hz), the RGB AlienFX lighting, brightness/contrast levels, basic audio settings, and other OSD customisations.
Pretty minimalist, as far as components go.
The only real kicker – and something anyone looking to upgrade their PC this year will probably be considering – is the lack of HDR support. That’s really the only one major thing that the AW3418DW doesn’t do, which is understandable given that the larger-size, HDR-ready panels have only gone into production over the last couple of years. Sure, you could buy a large 4K screen today with HDR support, but you sure as hell wouldn’t have a high refresh rate for gaming.
Personally: I’d take the higher refresh rate over HDR support. A monitor like this will still be used for PC gaming and PC productivity primarily, and the lack of HDR support there will be noticed less. You’ll spot it in movies and TV more, and particularly if you like to have a console plugged into the monitor at the same time (something streamers might want to take note of).
But at this point I’m really just searching for gripes. Once calibrated, it’s a solid all-round ultrawide monitor that handles gaming just as admirably as juggling multiple Chrome/Firefox tabs with Photoshop and Premiere on the side. The only kicker is the price – but then again, if you’re paying $2100 for a monitor, I’d be comparing all other options against the AW3418DW.
Those with money to burn or a burning curiosity can check out more on the official Dell Australia site. If a 1440p screen is too much and you’d rather a 2560 x 1080p model, the 160Hz AW3418HW is there too.