September 13 2019

Alienware AW3418DW 34.1” 3440 x 1440 Gaming Monitor Review


Key features

Panel type: IPS
Screen size: 34.1” (86.6 cm)
Width: 22.1” (56.1 cm)
Depth: 12.5” (31.8 cm)
Weight: 16.8 lbs/7.6 kg (without stand); 25.6 lbs/11.6 kg (with stand)
Curve radius: 1900R
Resolution: 3440 x 1440
Refresh rate: 100Hz (overclockable to 120Hz)
Response time: 4ms
Inputs: HDMI x1, DisplayPort x1, USB-A x2, USB-B x2
Price: $849

Pros & Cons

  • Large, crisp display
  • Overclockable
  • NVIDIA G-Sync support
  • Great viewing angle
  • So-so contrast and color accuracy
  • Expensive, especially compared to similar monitors
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21:9 gaming monitors are rapidly growing in popularity, and as manufacturers respond to the growing demand, prices are steadily coming down. Why, then, does the Alienware AW3418DW cost so dang much relative to its closest competitors? Stay tuned for the (un)surprising answer.

In a nutshell, the AW3418DW ranks on the lower end of the mid-tier gaming monitor spectrum. It’s a decent display, especially if you intend to use it for more than just gaming. It does have some significant drawbacks, though, so make sure you can live with them—and that the monitor otherwise meets your most important needs—before purchasing.

Alienware AW3418DW Specifications

Alienware is a divisive name among gamers. Most of us seem to either love or hate the company’s products, with few gamers remaining ambivalent. One of the most common criticisms that gets lobbed at the company is that their products simply aren’t worth what they charge for them.

Alienware AW3418DW front

At least to us, it was obvious just from looking at the specifications above that the AW3418DW gaming monitor warranted such criticism to some extent. At one point in time, it sold for as much as $1,499, and that was simply an indefensible price tag. We think its current price of $849 is still too high for what you’re getting, but it’s at least in the right ballpark.

Alienware AW3418DW Gaming Performance

Right out of the gate, we’d like to say that the AW3418DW isn’t a bad monitor, even if its name is mildly annoying to type. It’s a decent $600-ish monitor. . . that can be yours for just $849. (More on the discrepancy between price and performance below, in the “Pricing and Alternatives” section.)

The AW3418DW probably shouldn’t be marketed as a gaming monitor. It’s more of a multipurpose display that’s decent for gaming, working, or media, but not excellent for any of those activities. Its 100Hz refresh rate and 4ms response time are perfectly respectable, they’re just not as good as the monitor’s price tag might suggest.

The refresh rate can be overclocked to 120Hz, and it’s a fairly simple process to do so. (Be aware that whether or not this monitor is supposed to already be overclocked out of the box is unclear to us—some sources claim that it is, while others say it’s not.)

Alienware AW3418DW world of warcraft

One of our biggest beefs with this monitor is its subpar contrast ratio. Alienware reports it to be 1000:1, which is quite average, but some independent review sites claim to have done their own testing and determined that it’s closer to 975:1 or 950:1. If true, those are definitely sub-par numbers for a gaming monitor, and they might explain its so-so performance in both very dark and very bright games.

On a more positive note, the screen itself displays clear, crisp images, even if the colors in those images aren’t especially vibrant or distinct. On-screen motion is smooth and screen tearing is generally nonexistent, if you have an NVIDIA GPU and elect to turn G-Sync on.

If you have an AMD GPU or don’t have G-Sync turned on, you may get a lot of artifact in some games. Given some of this monitor’s significant drawbacks, the fact that it has G-Sync is one of its strongest selling points, so take advantage of it if you can.

This is an IPS (in-plane switching) monitor, which is a modestly positive selling point. Curved monitors of this size and resolution tend to use VA (vertical alignment) panels, which generally have poor viewing angles and excellent contrast ratios, but receive average marks otherwise.

Alienware AW3418DW front and back

IPS panels are widely regarded as ideal for gamers, because they’re pretty good at most things and can be comfortably viewed from almost any angle, although they can rarely compete with VA panels when it comes to contrast ratios. Unless a killer contrast ratio is super important to you, an IPS panel is probably the better way to go for gaming, in a slim majority of cases.

The AW3418DW comes with built-in input lag reduction technology, which is a nice bonus that does actually seem to make a difference. I don’t know about you, but I’m hyper-sensitive to input lag, so I’ll always appreciate not having to mess around with it in individual games or on monitors that don’t save that setting when they’re turned off. (Why is that a thing, by the way?)

This isn’t the worst gaming monitor out there, not by a long shot. It’s just not especially close to the top of the list, either.

Alienware AW3418DW Design

The first thing I noticed about the AW3418DW is that it’s got a nice, heavy-duty stand. Its three sturdy contact points ensure that you’d have to try pretty hard to knock the monitor over or to damage the stand itself. In a world of 25-pound (or heavier) monitors that inexplicably ship with flimsy little plastic legs, a comparatively hefty stand deserves recognition.

Dell Alienware AW3418DW in Game Studio

The AW3418DW is also VESA mount compatible, but be aware that you’ll need a 100 x 100mm mounting bracket—the larger and more common “universal” VESA mounts won’t fit. This monitor has a sleek, space-age aesthetic to it (it’s even got four zones of customizable RGB lights), so if that matters to you, it might be one reason to choose this monitor over another.

Cable management is easy and (most of) the cables are well-hidden, but the 3.5mm audio jacks are terribly placed—they’re on the bottom of the monitor’s front edge, meaning those cords are going to be all over your keyboard or desk like Davey Jones’s face tentacles. The menu buttons are awkwardly shaped and not especially easy to manipulate; like the rest of the monitor, they emphasize form over function.

Design-wise, the AW3418DW is a mixed bag, just as it is from a performance perspective.

Alienware AW3418DW Pricing & Alternatives

I’m typing this article on a Samsung CF791 that I paid $700 for. It has a 100Hz refresh rate and a 4ms response time, just like the (non-overclocked) AW3418DW. But the Samsung has a vastly superior contrast ratio (3000:1 vs. 1000:1), better color accuracy, a slightly better peak brightness (300 cd/m2 vs. 284 cd/m2), an extra HDMI port, and decent built-in speakers (the Alienware has none).

If you’re planning on connecting more than one device to your monitor, though, you might need to separately purchase a quality HDMI switch.

Samsung CF791 sRBG

The Samsung CF791 is far from the only ultrawide monitor that outperforms the AW3418DW in almost every way (including price), so what gives? Why does Alienware think this monitor is worth $150 more than a truckload of other monitors that are significantly better? The only answer that seems to make sense is: because it’s got an Alienware sticker on it.

There’s (usually) nothing wrong with brand loyalty, so if you just really dig Alienware for whatever reason, then, by all means, pick up the AW3418DW. We want to reiterate that it’s not a bad monitor, just an overpriced one.

If you’re looking to get more overall performance in this price range, consider the Acer Predator Z35P, which is slightly bigger than the AW3418DW (and $100 cheaper). It’s a VA panel, so you can expect a significantly better contrast ratio, too.

If you’re after the most affordable 34” ultrawide monitor you can find, check out the LG 34WK650-W or the Viotek GN34CW ($296.99 and $399.99, respectively), both of which are amazing gaming monitors for what they cost. The LG is only 2560 x 1080, but the Viotek is 3440 x 1440, and there’s a huge variety of colors and screen sizes to choose from in the latter case.

LG 34WK650-W Monitor stand

Finally, the Dell UltraSharp U3415W deserves a shoutout for being an absolutely stellar multipurpose monitor. For $599.99, you get full 3440 x 1440 resolution, a 5ms response time, and enhanced multi-monitor functionality. (The refresh rate is only 60Hz though, so there’s that.) Check out our guide on the best curved monitors for more alternatives.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Alienware monitors good?

Whether or not you consider Alienware monitors to be good depends largely on whether you care more about the hardware inside or the decoration outside. Alienware and Apple have something in common: they both make products that are (sometimes exorbitantly) overpriced given what’s inside them, but that nonetheless appeal to a lot of people for other reasons.

Setting price aside for a moment, Alienware tend to range from decent to great gaming monitors, if we’re only evaluating them from a performance perspective. As a general trend, flashy looks seem to be emphasized more heavily than hardware in many Alienware products. Style is a valid thing to care about, though, so if that’s a consciously held priority for you, don’t let our preferences stop you.

What is G-Sync technology?

Essentially, NVIDIA G-Sync technology makes your monitor and GPU work more smoothly together. Normally, monitors refresh at a set rate—for example, every 16ms for 60Hz displays. However, the rate at which your GPU draws frames varies based on how much stress it’s under.

With a G-Sync monitor, the two devices are “linked,” and the monitor doesn’t refresh until the GPU tells it to. The end result is a (theoretically) perfectly synchronized frame rate. You can watch a cool video that demonstrates how this works here:

What’s the difference between G-Sync and Freesync?

Functionally, there’s no difference between G-Sync and Freesync. They do the same thing (reduce or eliminate screen tearing), they’re just different names for NVIDIA’s and AMD’s versions of the technology, respectively. Note that they’re not cross-compatible—if you have an NVIDIA GPU, you’ll need a G-Sync monitor if you want to use that feature, and AMD GPU owners will need to shop for Freesync displays.

Final Verdict

Despite our numerous complaints about the Alienware AW3418DW, we do recommend it, just not without reservations. It’s potentially a great display if you’re very sure of your own priorities and know what you’re getting into.

Performance: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Despite its marketing, the AW3418DW isn’t really a gaming monitor. It’s a good multipurpose monitor that happens to be decent for gaming. The below-average contrast ratio is especially hard to overlook, but the fact that it’s G-Sync compatible is nice.

Design: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Alienware has never really made a secret of the fact that it wants its products to look cool, and for the most part, they do. We just have a hard time praising a cool design if it interferes with the product’s function, and in that sense, the AW3418DW has a few moderate design flaws.

Price: ⭐⭐⭐

You don’t have to look very hard to find gaming monitors with significantly better specs that cost $100–$200 less, so we feel obligated to impose a serious penalty in this category. If you really want this monitor, we suggest waiting for a sale or maybe picking up a refurbished one.

Overall: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Some people just want their gaming gear to look rad and don’t mind too much if its price to performance ratio isn’t the greatest. If that’s you, the AW3418DW very well could be a great gift to yourself. But if you want the best possible performance for your money, we recommend that you keep looking.


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Tim White