Alienware AW3423DW QD-OLED review: the gaming display to beat
April 7, 2022

Alienware AW3423DW QD-OLED review: the gaming display to beat

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Excessive-end TVs and gaming displays have been on a collision course for the previous few years. The TV business has pursued the best-looking image, whereas displays have opted for the quickest show tech. The crash that blends the 2 worlds collectively might need lastly occurred with Alienware’s newest curved gaming monitor, which has a QD-OLED display. It’s the primary machine (of a number of extra to come back in 2022) to point out what Samsung’s new QD-OLED show expertise is able to — for PC customers, particularly.

The AW3423DW, because it’s formally (and clumsily) referred to as, is now accessible for $1,299.99, beating Samsung and Sony’s forthcoming QD-OLED TVs to market. Really, whereas it’s technically accessible, the soonest delivery date for new buyers of this QD-OLED is currently late June. So, these TVs would possibly discover their manner into loads of properties by the point individuals lastly get their palms on this monitor.

However these will nonetheless be TVs, and this is a monitor. Whereas this isn’t the primary OLED focused towards PC players, the AW3423DW is the sort of monitor that I’ve been ready years for. I don’t wish to have a tall TV on my desk, even when it is likely one of the “smaller” 42-inch LG C2 OLED TVs which might be releasing this spring. The AW3423DW appears like a gaming monitor, with its immersive 1800R curve and 21:9 ultrawide (3440 x 1440) design. And, with a show able to 175Hz refresh fee, it acts like one however has much better image high quality — and brightness — due to QD-OLED. At $1,299, Alienware’s pricing appears proper on the cash, coming in for lower than next-gen TVs with many (however not all) of the identical perks.

There’s lots using on QD-OLED panels on condition that Samsung Show claims they boast some key enhancements over commonplace OLED. They promise a brighter picture whereas nonetheless sustaining the wonderful management over brightness that’s been a trademark of OLED shows. What does that imply virtually? The flexibility to be extra correct with brightness means QD-OLEDS can theoretically produce colours extra precisely than conventional OLED shows. So, the reds and greens of nature which may look just a little extra muted on different shows will really feel vibrant and extra actual on a QD-OLED. It comes all the way down to the quantum dot layer (that’s the “QD” within the identify), which converts blue gentle into pink and inexperienced when wanted, with out the necessity for coloration filters sometimes utilized in commonplace OLED panels. Colour filters are likely to diffuse or dim the image in some cases, particularly when considered at an angle. That’s not a problem right here.

The AW3423DW delivers on the guarantees of QD-OLED with a vivid image (like, give-you-a-headache vivid), unbelievably good viewing angles, and lovely colours. Leaping into the dense, inexperienced forests on Shadow of the Tomb Raider regarded wonderful. The primary style of what the expertise is able to is a scrumptious one, and I prefer it much more as a result of it’s in a smaller design made for PC players.

As a gamer, I used to be persistently impressed with the HDR efficiency, too. OLEDs can battle with HDR efficiency in brighter areas. The plume of an explosion gained’t be fairly as detailed in HDR on an OLED show versus LED. But, with a strong PC rig connected, video games look fabulous on the AW3423DW. Explosions popped. I examined out the entire video games that I hoped would look nice right here, like Future 2, No Man’s Sky, Deathloop, and Cyberpunk 2077. Because of that 1800R curve, virtually any recreation that places the participant in a world with a grand quantity of scale appears phenomenal — particularly contemplating that I’m trying on the AW3423DW from about one foot away. I’ve used curved gaming displays earlier than, however this QD-OLED panel’s mixture of curve and vividness had been the lacking elements that pulled me additional into my video games. It’d sound cliche, however I really feel like I’m actually seeing video games as their makers supposed.

Alienware AW3423DW QD-OLED gaming monitor

Future 2 is the sport that the AW3423DW is marketed alongside, and for good purpose. It appears sensible displayed on it.

However not each recreation performs properly with the 21:9 side ratio. Sadly for me, that presently contains Elden Ring, which registers the native 3440 x 1440 decision in its settings however nonetheless slaps black bars on the display to restrict it to 16:9. There’s a downloaded instrument referred to as “Flawless Ultrawide” that may drive ultrawide, however you apparently run the danger of getting caught by Elden Ring’s anti-cheat system by utilizing it.

Nonetheless, Elden Ring appears incredible on the AW3423DW. I used to be within the Academy of Raya Lucaria part of the sport after I first obtained the monitor for testing, and I used to be impressed with how radiant the impact of utilizing glintstone sorcery seems on the QD-OLED. On my IPS panel at house, the identical impact appears extra muted and decidedly much less cool. Glintstone sorcery ought to look highly effective and unwieldy, and it lastly does on this show.

Alienware AW3423DW QD-OLED gaming monitor

Video games and actually every thing else look simply pretty much as good at extra excessive viewing angles as they do straight on.

If you happen to’re purely gaming, you could not have to make any changes to the colour profile, however the out-of-the-box distinction and brightness settings weren’t appropriate for easier use circumstances, like utilizing productiveness apps — specifically Gmail, Slack, or Google Docs. Out of video games and on the earth of textual content, the off-whites and grays didn’t have the colour separation that they need to. All the things simply sort of blended collectively. Whereas the out-of-the-box pre-calibrated settings had been nice for video games, I needed to create a brand new calibration profile for easy productiveness duties. It’s an annoying further step — switching between calibration profiles relying on the duties — but it surely positively felt value it when taking part in video games.

HDTVtest has an interesting video about one other potential pitfall of QD-OLED (or not less than this one) for productiveness duties. In line with their evaluation, it produces a coloration fringing impact that may be seen whereas typing in a phrase processor or finishing an identical activity. However that flaw wasn’t distractingly noticeable throughout my testing.

Again to the subject of display settings, I used to be lower than impressed with the on-screen UI of the AW3423DW and its bottom-mounted joystick that’s used to maneuver in regards to the interface. It’s usually complicated to navigate, and it appears misplaced on a high-end monitor. My biggest moments of disappointment with this monitor had been after I was attempting to outsmart the interface, which generally makes it more durable than essential to make easy changes.

Alienware AW3423DW QD-OLED gaming monitor

The LEDs across the monitor might be personalized inside the UI.

Alienware AW3423DW QD-OLED gaming monitor

The monitor’s kludgy on-screen show is managed by way of a small joystick.

The AW3423DW isn’t the one OLED that may ship wonderful image high quality, vivid colours, and true blacks. You’ll be able to nonetheless use an OLED TV as a gaming monitor. And, in case you’re somebody who watches a variety of films and TV exhibits and enjoys console gaming, getting one thing like LG’s 42-inch C2 would possibly truly be the higher purchase. That’s primarily as a result of it has a 16:9 side ratio, permitting trendy gaming gadgets, be it a PC, a Change, or the Xbox Collection X or PS5, to completely fill out the display, along with having HDMI 2.1 and 4K 120Hz help for consoles and PC. Plus, LG claims that its newest OLEDs are brighter than ever, however we haven’t been capable of take a look at them but ourselves.

On the AW3423DW, Microsoft’s Xbox Collection X or Sony’s PS5 consoles are restricted to displaying in 16:9 (whats up, massive black vertical bars on the perimeters of the image). And whereas Microsoft’s console can not less than render at QHD (2560 x 1440) decision at 120Hz refresh fee, the PS5 can solely do a measly 1080p at 120Hz on this $1,300 display. (You’ll first have to activate Efficiency Mode inside the PS5’s recreation preset settings.) Evidently, it’s not a lot enjoyable to play video games like that.

Whereas this monitor was constructed to benefit from all of the bells and whistles that Home windows has to supply, it might probably, after all, show a nice-looking image on macOS computer systems. Although, it’s very a lot a “outcomes might fluctuate” sort of expertise. With my 2019 Intel-based MacBook Professional related (by way of a Thunderbolt 3 dock by means of DisplayPort), the AW3423DW displayed at native decision, with the choice to spice up the refresh fee as much as 120Hz (175Hz wasn’t an choice). On the 60Hz and 100Hz choices, Excessive Dynamic Vary was accessible as an choice when the Alienware was in its HDR Peak 1000 mode, however the image wasn’t noticeably altered by the setting.

Issues had been totally different as soon as I related a more moderen 2021 MacBook Professional with the M1 Professional chip — and never essentially in all good methods. Whereas the AW3423DW might go as much as 175Hz with this laptop computer related, and it might help variable refresh fee (1Hz-175Hz), enabling HDR was by no means an choice. All mentioned, the outcomes might differ in case you use, say, a Thunderbolt 4 dock, or a USB-C to DisplayPort for a direct connection to the monitor. However in my testing, I wasn’t capable of take full benefit of the AW3223DW’s options in macOS.

Alienware AW3423DW QD-OLED gaming monitor

The stand presents peak, tilt, slant, and swivel changes.

Alienware AW3423DW QD-OLED gaming monitor

The moire seen on the show isn’t seen in individual.

The AW3423DW has the slight benefit in relation to brightness. Customary OLED TVs, like the LG C1 we reviewed last year, can generally seem dim due to an Computerized Static Brightness Limiter, a mechanism that’s in place to forestall pixels from overheating. In our assessment, Sean Hollister mentioned the OLED panel bought so dim throughout his non-gaming use that it precipitated eyestrain. Effectively, after utilizing this QD-OLED, I can safely say that this isn’t a problem right here. However that doesn’t imply these auto-dimming methods aren’t current; they only aren’t as noticeable.

This monitor can show a small white window near or straight on Alienware’s declare of 1,000 nits of peak brightness. However increasing it to cowl extra of the display will trigger it to dim, as is often the case with OLEDs. This may be seen in each of the AW3423DW’s HDR modes: HDR Peak 1000 and DisplayHDR 400 True Black (although True Black usually appears much less vivid at default settings with much less of a dramatic shift in tone as you scale content material up and down in measurement). This dimming impact is particularly noticeable when you’ve got two home windows aspect by aspect in darkish mode and change one over to white, which causes the complete panel to take a noticeable step down in brightness.

If you wish to get within the weeds, check out the technical analysis from the YouTube channel HDTVtest that exhibits the AW3423DW dipping to a low of round 280 nits with white taking over the total display. Evaluate that to RTINGS’s review of the LG C1, which measured 125 nits of peak brightness with an identical take a look at. The QD-OLED’s features are minor however a step in the proper path — particularly in case you’re taking part in video games which have a variety of snow or highlights.

Alienware AW3423DW QD-OLED gaming monitor

The AW3423DW has two HDMI 2.0 ports and one DisplayPort.

One different attention-grabbing statement from HDTVtest is that you could be discover higher distinction and darker blacks with the AW3423DW (and maybe different QD-OLEDs in the event that they’re constructed the identical manner) in a dimly-lit room. The monitor’s display coating omits a light-reflecting polarizer, and thus, deep blacks can seem grey in case you’re utilizing it in a well-lit room. I didn’t discover an enormous distinction in day-to-day utilization at The Verge’s places of work. Blacks nonetheless regarded inky and deep in a well-lit room, however viewing the show at midnight makes every thing look even higher.

You could be contemplating Alienware’s QD-OLED monitor alongside another curved displays. Among the hottest fashions are Samsung’s 49-inch Odyssey G9 and the newer Odyssey Neo G9 curved gaming displays. The AW3423DW is a transparent winner for just a few causes however none extra convincing than its value, which is only a couple hundred {dollars} greater than the $1,000 Odyssey G9.

The Odyssey Neo G9, for all of its enhancements together with impressively vivid Mini LED backlighting, prices $2,000. It’d be an excellent various for individuals who need far more display actual property (together with an eye-searing 2,000 nits of peak brightness) if not for just a few show-stopping points that we encountered throughout our evaluations.

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The design of the monitor has Alienware’s common futuristic aesthetic, but it surely’s subdued sufficient to mix in on the workplace.

If you happen to’re a gamer, the 32:9 side ratio that Samsung used on each the Odyssey G9 and Odyssey Neo G9 might be an immersion-breaker. Even in video games which have ultrawide compatibility, we observed that there was often stretching across the edges of those displays. That’s much less of a knock in opposition to Samsung and extra on the restricted use circumstances of that ultra-ultrawide display measurement. Then, there are the larger points. In our Neo G9 review, we observed off-colored shadows in video games in addition to cases the place the monitor shows horizontal strains when the colours darken. That won’t occur with each unit, but it surely’s not a problem that you just’ll have with the AW3423DW.

OLEDs could be a little extra delicate to prolonged use versus LEDs, and there are a few options constructed into this monitor to safeguard the panel and lengthen its lifespan. One is a pixel-shifting method that occurs robotically, triggering each jiffy. It shifts the entire display’s pixels in a path, but it’s hardly noticeable. Then, there’s “pixel refresh,” a course of that takes about seven minutes to finish. The monitor will ask you to carry out it if it’s been on for 4 hours straight. If you happen to decline, it’ll carry out the function robotically the following time the monitor enters standby mode ought to your use exceed 4 hours. Lastly, the “panel refresh” function might be manually triggered (it’ll occur robotically after 1,500 hours of use) to fully refresh each pixel within the QD-OLED. It supposedly takes an hour to run by means of that course of.

Alienware QD-OLED

One other shot that exhibits how properly this QD-OLED panel nonetheless appears when considered from its edges.

Regardless of being a first-generation product, the AW3423DW doesn’t really feel like one. $1,300 would possibly sound like lots to pay for an ultrawide QHD monitor — and it’s some huge cash — however Alienware bought the value proper right here. What’s extra, it prices much less and appears higher than many 4K displays that I’ve seen. And it lives as much as Samsung Show’s guarantees by delivering a brighter image than we’ve seen earlier than in OLED TVs.

But, it is probably not the proper monitor for everybody. Its on-screen show and joystick controls are far much less intuitive to make use of than they need to be, and it might take a while to tweak the show’s settings to fit your non-gaming wants. It’s additionally missing in high-end HDMI 2.1 ports for sooner refresh charges over HDMI, and its 21:9 side ratio signifies that trendy consoles gained’t fill the entire display. Admittedly, these are all minor gripes if you understand what you’re stepping into.

For being the primary (and to this point the one) QD-OLED monitor available on the market, Alienware’s AW3423DW ought to fulfill lots of people. If solely it had been simpler to buy proper now.

Up to date 10:30AM ET, April seventh: After testing macOS efficiency with the AW3423DW, I added a few paragraphs noting our expertise utilizing two totally different MacBook Execs.

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