Alienware 34″ QD-OLED Gaming Monitor Reviews Roundup
Alienware’s groundbreaking AW3423DW QD-OLED gaming monitor sent shockwaves through the gaming industry when it was announced at CES this year as the first OLED-based gaming monitor for desktop PC gamers. On paper, and in-person at the show, it seemed like the ultimate “godmode” gaming monitor, delivering every single feature a gamer could want while instantly making our current LCD monitors seem old fashioned in comparison. Though many people (including ourselves) speculated at the time that the Alienware monitor would surely come with a price tag high enough to cross it off most people’s shopping lists, the company surprised everyone in February by announcing its MSRP was only $1,299. Here in March, the monitor is finally shipping to customers, and reviews have begun appearing online too, so we figured we’d take a look to see if it actually delivers on its promise of being the ultimate monitor for PC gaming.
Starting off, Chris Strobing at our sister publication PCMag took a very detailed look at the AW3423DW, and declared it is in fact a great monitor overall. It’s first-gen status, however, is also apparent.
His bottom line reads, “The Alienware 34 QD-OLED is a fine start for this new panel technology, and it shows that with just a few more refinements to its configuration settings and performance peaks, QD-OLED could be the only display type we’re playing on five years from now.” His main gripes were although the monitor’s spec sheet lists its peak brightness as 1,000 nits, he was only able to get 677.8, which he admits is still twice as bright as Alienware’s 55″ OLED gaming monitor. Standard brightness (as opposed to peak) is rated at 250 nits, but Strobing found it could barely reach that in some of the preset “game modes,” as he was only able to measure 85.4 nits in Game Mode 1.
Generally speaking, the monitor’s presets were the biggest hurdle to both gaming and content consumption, as every time he selected a new one it required constant tuning to achieve the desired level of image quality and color representation. He was also put off by the fact that although the monitor supports a 175Hz refresh rate, that’s only possible with 8-bit color. At the normal 10-bit mode only 144Hz is supported. On the plus side, he noted it had exceptional color accuracy, making it a decent choice not just for gamers but content creators.
Our compatriots over at Tom’s Hardware were thoroughly impressed by it, however, as their review begins with, “the most impressive monitor I’ve ever seen.” Throughout the hyperbole-filled review, they emphasize that you just have to see it to believe it, and still images and reviews don’t do it justice. In fact, their main complaints are about its size and price, which honestly just comes with the territory given its intended use and feature set. They also bemoan its lack of HDMI 2.1 ports, as it limits the panel to a 100Hz refresh rate, but since there is DisplayPort as well that supports the full spec of the monitor, it’s mostly a moot point. It’s a glowing review, best summarized by this line in the conclusion, “I can’t stress enough how incredible games look on the Alienware 34.”
Cnet notes that the monitor “brings the pretty” but offers only middling praise for it while pointing out some flaws other outlets didn’t mention. Their primary beef is with the cabling system. Like most monitors, it’s underneath the panel, which makes attaching cables difficult. What makes the Alienware more difficult than most is the ridge along the bottom of the mounting area. One is nearly required to lay the monitor down flat on a table to see where the connectors are located. They also note its 1800R curvature make it difficult as a daily driver for people who work from home, as it’s difficult to mount a webcam on it. Still, they say these issues aren’t a “deal breaker” at all, since the excellent screen makes up for it.
Overall, the Alienware monitor seems to have delivered most of what it promised: a glorious Quantum Dot OLED panel, fast refresh rates, and great color reproduction. Most of the measurements reported for brightness seem inline with the spec sheet, and its color reproduction is top of the charts as well. Bonus feature like the customizable bias lighting and G-Sync Ultimate rating are kind of like cherries on top of what seems like a great package at a high-yet-not-unaffordable price tag. Of course, the panel is made by Samsung, which should have its own version of this monitor soon too, so it’ll be interesting to see the pricing of that particular display in comparison. Since some people have taken issue with Samsung’s Q/A in the past, that will also be a factor to consider too. Still, with next-gen GPUs and CPUs on the horizon, along with PCIe Gen 5 and DDR5 gaining adoption, it seems like there’s never been a better time to be a well-heeled PC gamer.