I’ve waited a long time for a gaming monitor like the Alienware AW3423DW to hit the market. For several years now, even the very best PC displays have left me wanting with their dozens of IPS and VA panels, when all I wanted was an LG OLED in a size suitable for my desk. Now, after spending a little over a month with this ultra-wide QD-OLED display, I’m happy to report that the future of gaming monitors looks bright, very light†
Before I get into what makes the QD-OLED panel in the AW3423DW such a gamer changer, let’s take a moment to talk about its design and other general features. Assembling the monitor is a tool-less and fairly straightforward affair, requiring you to combine its large boomerang-esque feet with its surprisingly heavy stand before placing it on the screen.
While it was easy to assemble, moving the AW3423DW from the box to my desk was a bit more difficult. The 10kg weight doesn’t sound like a big deal, but the 34-inch ultra-wide panel itself is 7kg, meaning it can feel clunky. This isn’t a problem once you get it where you want it, but it’s well worth keeping this in mind and taking extra care when moving the monitor around.
As for cables, the Alienware AW3423DW offers a good amount of connectivity. If you flip the monitor over, you’ll find four USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A ports, in addition to one DisplayPort 1.4 and two HDMI 2.0 inputs. It’s a minor complaint, but I wish Alienware had chosen to offer two DisplayPort connections instead, as HDMI 2.0 cannot run the panel at its native resolution and refresh rate. Alternatively, HDMI 2.1 could solve this problem, but would undoubtedly drive up the price of the display further.
|Alienware AW3423DW||Samsung Odyssey Neo G9||Asus ROG PG32UQX||LG C2|
|Mini LED VA
|Mini LED IPS
|WRGB OLED (42 inch)|
|Response time||0.1 ms||1ms||4ms||0.1 ms|
|HDR||ScreenHDR True Black 400||HDR10||DisplayHDR 1400||Dobly Vision
|Recommended retail price||$1,300||$2,500||$3,700||$1,400|
After plugging everything in, I excitedly booted up my gaming PC, turned on the monitor, and sat there with bated breath. And when I booted into Windows, I grinned as the QD-OLED display seemingly revived the colors of my desktop background, with beautiful vibrancy and sharp contrasts that are simply out of reach of other display technologies.
For those unfamiliar with QD-OLED, it describes a display that uses a quantum dot (QD) layer to enhance the organic LEDs (OLED). In a nutshell, by combining these two technologies, you inherit all the advantages of OLED, such as illumination per pixel and a theoretically infinite contrast ratio, while eliminating two of its biggest drawbacks: low peak brightness and burn-in. Instead of diluting colors with a white sub-pixel like you find on OLED TVs, QD-OLEDs instead use the quantum dot layer to convert blue light into the desired colors.
None of this was lost on me as I stared at Doom Eternal’s HDR hellscapes. The Alienware AW3423DW painted the ruby blood, bodies, and entrails of my demon enemies in shades I never knew were possible on a gaming monitor. The rest of the game’s color palette was also positive and has never looked better in my eyes.
This is partly due to the AW3423DW’s stunningly wide color gamut, which covers 99.3% of the DCI-P3 color space, and the DisplayHDR True Black 400 certification. But it’s not until you play something with pitch-black shadows like Resident Evil Village or Shadow of the Tomb Raider that you realize how transformative the screen’s contrast ratio is for games.
Gone are the faded grays we’ve become accustomed to on IPS and (to some degree) VA panels, and instead is pitch black. As much as this adds to the atmosphere of a horror game, it also lets the 1000 nits peak brightness shine, as strong contrasts amplify the perceived brightness of highlights such as flames, flares, and the sun.
Suffice it to say that just watching games in both SDR and HDR on the Alienware AW3423DW is amazing in every sense of the word. That said, I haven’t even touched on how great it feels to play with a 0.1ms response time, or how the 1,800R curved 21:9 panel made open-world games like The Witcher 3 or Red Dead Redemption so much bigger and more immersive. I honestly can’t recommend anything other than the AW3423DW for anyone interested in HDR gaming on PC.
While I wish I could unabashedly continue to sing the praises of the AW3423DW’s screen, it does have some flaws. Even in 2022, support for ultra-wide resolutions isn’t a given, with games like Elden Ring only supporting 16:9 options, resulting in large black bars next to the image. This doesn’t bother me too much, as someone who watches a fair amount of 4:3 content, but it’s definitely something to keep in mind.
What bothers me, however, is how severely the AW3423DW’s contrast ratio suffers when used in a brightly lit room. The anti-reflective coating helps keep annoying reflections at bay, but this comes at the cost of diluting the screen’s colors. This is especially noticeable with dark tones or blacks, which become more faded and gray when light shines directly on the screen. To be clear, it still looks great, but it looks a lot more impressive in a light-driven room (like all HDR content).
Finally, let’s talk about the price. The Alienware AW3423DW is an expensive gaming monitor at $1,300 USD, but you might be surprised to learn that it actually offers a shockingly good price. Looking at its competitors, it’s significantly cheaper than the Samsung Odyssey Neo G9 and Asus ROG PG32UQX, beating even the 42-inch LG C2 by a brutal $100. This is all the more surprising given that this is the first and only QD-OLED screen on the market.
Honestly, the last time I enjoyed playing and tinkering with a screen so much was when I upgraded my home setup with an LG CX OLED last year. There really isn’t anything quite like it and I can’t wait for the technology to make its way to a cheaper, more standard 16:9 form factor. If you’re looking for the best gaming monitor for HDR gaming, look no further than the Alienware A3423DW.