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Alienware AW3420DW review

The best Ultrawide monitor gets better

Alienware AW3420DW
(Image: © Future)

Our Verdict

The Alienware AW3420DW is definitely a monitor to keep your eye on if you're looking for nothing but the best. But, the high price tag will probably convince many people to look elsewhere.

For

  • Beautiful image quality
  • Excellent design
  • Low response time

Against

  • Very expensive
  • Needs more ports

The Alienware AW3420DW is a sign that Ultrawide monitors are starting to hit the mainstream. Its predecessor, the Alienware AW3418DW was one of the best monitors we've ever reviewed, staying in our top picks for a very long time. However, the Alienware AW3420DW is better in pretty much every way. 

This monitor keeps the 34-inch display size, along with the 21:9 3,440 x 1,440 resolution, but brings with it attractive RGB lighting and easy-to-use menus that will let anyone take advantage of it.

However, this gaming monitor does cost $1,499 (about £1,160, AU$2,200), which is a pretty massive bump over the last generation, which would 'only' set you back $999 / £1,014 / AU$2,198. There are some slight improvements generation over generation, but it's probably not worth upgrading if you already have the 2017 model. 

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Design

This probably won't be surprising to anyone that knows Alienware, but the AW3420DW is a lovely monitor. It is designed according to Alienware's new Legend design language, much like the recent Alienware Area-51m and 15m laptops, as well as the beautiful Aurora R9 desktop.

So, to that effect, on the back of the monitor stand, there's a very futuristic-looking oval-shaped RGB light ring, along with an RGB alien head on the back of the display. There's something to be said about putting lighting effects on the back of a monitor, it's not like you'll ever really look at it, but it does create a unique array of lights on the wall behind it. 

On the right-hand side of the monitor, you'll find all the buttons. There's a little stick that'll let you open the full settings menu, along with three other buttons around the back that will either open up some quick settings or let you interact with the main menu. 

Through this menu you can control the RGB lighting around back, but it's not super intuitive. Luckily, you can also control this lighting through the Alienware Control Center software, provided you connect the monitor to your PC via USB. 

Ports are protected by a little shield that's easy enough to slide in and out of place. You'll find power, HDMI and DisplayPort on the right-hand side of the stand, and on the opposite end two USB-A ports, along with a special USB port to connect the monitor to your PC for lighting control – it also enables the rest of the USB ports on the monitor. 

On the bottom of the monitor, you'll find some quick-access USB-A ports and a headphone jack. This little area is illuminated, too, which makes it super easy to plug something in, even in a dark room. 

We love the fact that there are so many USB ports here, there can never be enough as far as we're concerned. However, with a monitor in this price range, being limited to two display inputs is kind of a red flag. We would have loved to see a second DisplayPort at the very least, and maybe even a USB-C connection. 

Finally, there are the bezels. They're not so thick that it's a problem, and Alienware has definitely done some great work to make them less noticeable, but they're definitely there. Alienware has gone through great lengths to up its design game over the last few years, we just wish it would narrow down the bezels here. Alienware is owned by Dell, and if it can virtually eliminate bezels on its premium laptops, why do its premium gaming monitors have such thick bezels?

Alienware AW3420DW

(Image credit: Future)

Performance

The Alienware AW3420DW looks fantastic, and there's no way around that. No matter what kind of content we have on the screen, whether work or play, this monitor simply excels. 

Playing the Two Colonels expansion for Metro Exodus, we're blown away by the simultaneous handling of both bright fire effects and the awesome black levels. And, in a game that's the completely opposite in terms of tone and color palate, Bee Simulator looked amazing, with all its bright colors and fluid movement. No matter what game we pull up on this monitor, it looks amazing. 

And, it's fluid as well. Not only does this monitor have a 120Hz refresh rate, but its refresh rate is down to 2ms, which means even in the most fast-paced online games, you won't be held back by a sluggish monitor. You can have amazing picture quality and fast performance – you'll just have to deal with a high price tag. 

The Alienware AW3420DW is also a G-Sync Panel, which is important at such a high resolution. In Metro Exodus, however, we're getting around 50 fps, but thanks to G-Sync it feels like it's a native framerate. G-Sync, if you have a compatible Nvidia graphics card, is basically like cheating and we love it. 

This monitor will also be a major boon if you're looking to get some work done when you're not gaming. The Ultrawide resolution means we're able to fit two large browser windows and Slack without ever having to alt-tab. It's a huge time saver, and at this point we recommend an Ultrawide monitor to pretty much anyone that has to get work done at their computer. 

This is an incredibly powerful monitor, with excellent picture quality – even if the ludicrous price tag kind of puts a damper on it. But, if you want the best and you don't care about price, the Alienware AW3420DW makes a pretty convincing case for itself.  

Alienware AW3420DW

(Image credit: Future)

Final Verdict

The Alienware AW3420DW is one of the best gaming monitors out there, thanks to its high resolution, unbelievable color accuracy and excellent design. However, most people will end up doing a spit take the second they look at the price. The $1,499 (about £1,160, AU$2,200) price tag is something you'd expect to see on a decent 4K TV, let alone a gaming monitor without any of the extra capabilities modern TV sets offer. 

But, if all you want out of your expensive screen is a fast, beautiful and wide display, the Alienware AW3420DW might be just what you're looking for.