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Dell Alienware AW3420DW Monitor Review

Tested using Methodology v1.1
Reviewed Mar 02, 2020 at 09:27 am
Dell Alienware AW3420DW Picture
Test Methodology v1.1
7.5
Mixed Usage
7.7
Office
8.0
Gaming
7.2
Multimedia
7.3
Media Creation
5.5
HDR Gaming
Size 34"
Resolution 3440x1440
Max Refresh Rate
120 Hz
LCD Type
IPS
Variable Refresh Rate
G-Sync

The Dell Alienware AW3420DW is an impressive ultrawide gaming monitor with a stylish design and native G-SYNC support. It has a curved 34 inch screen to provide incredible immersion when gaming, and its 1440p resolution is great for productivity. However, there are some downsides to its IPS panel, mainly with its low contrast ratio and sub-par black uniformity. As expected of most gaming monitors, it has a high refresh rate, low response time, and low input lag, but its list of extra features is rather short.

Our Verdict

7.5 Mixed Usage

The Alienware AW3420DW is a good monitor for most uses. Its large 21:9 screen provides an immersive gaming experience, and it allows you to have multiple windows opened at the same time for better multitasking. It's decent for media consumption as well, but the monitor's low contrast ratio isn't suitable for dark room viewing, and it doesn't support HDR. While the monitor has a decent out-of-the-box color accuracy, it may need a calibration for any professional photo or video editing.

See our Mixed Usage recommendations
7.7 Office

The Alienware AW3420DW is a good office monitor. Multitasking is easy due to the large 34 inch screen real estate, and the 1440p resolution keeps text sharp and legible. Viewing angles are decent if you need to share your work with colleagues, though its mediocre reflection handling and peak brightness may struggle a bit in very bright rooms. Its ergonomics are decent, allowing you to adjust the monitor easily, but it can't rotate into portrait mode.

See our Office recommendations
8.0 Gaming

The Alienware AW3420DW is an impressive gaming monitor. Gaming feels smooth and responsive thanks to its fast response time, low input lag, and G-SYNC support. Its large 21:9 screen gives great immersion in RPGs or atmospheric games, but it doesn't support HDR. In addition, it's not recommended for dark room gaming, as it has a rather poor contrast ratio and sub-par black uniformity.

See our Gaming recommendations
7.2 Multimedia

The Alienware AW3420DW is a decent monitor for media consumption. Its 21:9 aspect ratio is great for watching movies, as most modern movies can fill up the whole screen with no presence of black bars. With a 1440p resolution, images are delivered with great detail, but the monitor's low contrast ratio and sub-par black uniformity makes it hard to recommend for dark room viewing, as blacks tend to look like gray when viewed in the dark.

See our Multimedia recommendations
7.3 Media Creation

The Alienware AW3420DW is decent for media creation. Its resolution and size allow you to work with multiple windows opened simultaneously, and it has excellent gray uniformity and gradient performance. However, if you need to share your work, its viewing angles are only decent, and the monitor's peak brightness may be an issue in very bright rooms.

See our Media Creation recommendations
5.5 HDR Gaming

The Alienware AW3420DW is disappointing for gaming in HDR. Although this monitor has a fast response time, low input lag, and G-SYNC support to make it a great gaming monitor, it doesn't support any HDR format. Furthermore, it can't produce dark or saturated colors due to its low contrast ratio.

See our HDR Gaming recommendations
  • 7.5 Mixed Usage
  • 7.7 Office
  • 8.0 Gaming
  • 7.2 Multimedia
  • 7.3 Media Creation
  • 5.5 HDR Gaming
Pros
  • Excellent build quality.
  • Excellent gray uniformity.
  • Outstanding input lag.
Cons
  • Poor contrast ratio.
  • No HDR support.
  • Sub-par black uniformity.

Check Price

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style
Curved Yes
Curve Radius 1900R
Weight (without stand)
14.8 lbs (6.7 kg)
Weight (with stand)
23.8 lbs (10.8 kg)

The Alienware AW3420DW has a gamer-centric, modern design. It's mostly made out of plastic and it has RGB lighting on the back, the stand, and at the bottom of the screen. The screen is curved and the bezels are thin on all sides. The stand has wide-set feet and supports the monitor well.

Design
Stand
Width
22.0" (56.0 cm)
Depth
10.4" (26.5 cm)

The stand supports the monitor well and there's almost no wobble at all. The feet are wide-set, so you can still use the space in front.

6.7
Design
Ergonomics
Height Adjustment
5.1" (13.0 cm)
Switch Portrait/Landscape No
Swivel Range -30° to 30°
Tilt Range -20° to 5°

The Alienware SW3420DW has decent ergonomics. It has a wide range for height, swivel, and tilt adjustments, but it can't rotate to portrait orientation.

Design
Back
Wall Mount VESA 100x100

The back of the monitor is covered with plain off-white plastic, and there's an Alienware logo that lights up at the top right corner. The stand also has an LED strip, and cable management is built-in. The stand has a quick release feature if you choose to VESA-mount it.

Design
Borders
Borders
0.3" (0.8 cm)

The bezels are thin on all sides and aren't distracting.

Design
Thickness
Thickness (with stand)
10.4" (26.5 cm)
Thickness (without stand)
4.6" (11.7 cm)

The monitor is fairly thick, mainly due to the curvature of the screen.

8.5
Design
Build Quality

Build quality is excellent. Even though the monitor is mostly plastic, it feels solid and sturdy. The stand supports the monitor well and there's very little wobble.

Picture Quality
5.4
Picture Quality
Contrast
Native Contrast
720 : 1
Contrast With Local Dimming
N/A

Like most IPS monitors, the Alienware AW3420DW has a poor contrast ratio, resulting in blacks looking like gray. Our measurements were done after calibration, and the calibration process caused a decrease in the overall brightness of the monitor, which also impacts its native contrast. Prior to calibration, it was measured at 800:1.

0
Picture Quality
Local Dimming
Local Dimming
No
Backlight
Edge

The Alienware AW3420DW doesn't have a local dimming feature; the video above is provided for reference only.

6.6
Picture Quality
SDR Peak Brightness
SDR Real Scene
226 cd/m²
SDR Peak 2% Window
245 cd/m²
SDR Peak 10% Window
247 cd/m²
SDR Peak 25% Window
247 cd/m²
SDR Peak 50% Window
247 cd/m²
SDR Peak 100% Window
247 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 2% Window
245 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 10% Window
247 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 25% Window
247 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 50% Window
247 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 100% Window
247 cd/m²
SDR ABL
0.001

SDR peak brightness is okay. There's no variation in brightness when displaying different content, and it should be bright enough for a well-lit room, but it may struggle a bit in direct sunlight.

Do note that the peak brightness was measured after calibration and with the backlight set to maximum. Before calibration, the monitor was able to achieve the advertised 350 nits in the 10% window. In other words, you can achieve higher peak brightness, but at the expense of color accuracy.

0
Picture Quality
HDR Peak Brightness
HDR Real Scene
N/A
HDR Peak 2% Window
N/A
HDR Peak 10% Window
N/A
HDR Peak 25% Window
N/A
HDR Peak 50% Window
N/A
HDR Peak 100% Window
N/A
HDR Sustained 2% Window
N/A
HDR Sustained 10% Window
N/A
HDR Sustained 25% Window
N/A
HDR Sustained 50% Window
N/A
HDR Sustained 100% Window
N/A
HDR ABL
N/A

This monitor doesn't support HDR.

6.9
Picture Quality
Horizontal Viewing Angle
Color Washout From Left
42 °
Color Washout From Right
40 °
Color Shift From Left
53 °
Color Shift From Right
54 °
Brightness Loss From Left
47 °
Brightness Loss From Right
46 °
Black Level Raise From Left
27 °
Black Level Raise From Right
18 °
Gamma Shift From Left
35 °
Gamma Shift From Right
28 °

The Alienware 3420DW has decent viewing angles. Images remain fairly accurate when viewed from the side, but black levels rise quickly when you move off-center. This is important if you like to share content or play co-op games.

7.0
Picture Quality
Vertical Viewing Angle
Color Washout From Below
33 °
Color Washout From Above
31 °
Color Shift From Below
38 °
Color Shift From Above
34 °
Brightness Loss From Below
36 °
Brightness Loss From Above
34 °
Black Level Raise From Below
70 °
Black Level Raise From Above
70 °
Gamma Shift From Below
37 °
Gamma Shift From Above
34 °

Vertical viewing angles are decent. Images should remain accurate at the top and bottom of the screen even if you sit up close.

8.9
Picture Quality
Gray Uniformity
50% Std. Dev.
2.615 %
50% DSE
0.094 %
5% Std. Dev.
0.305 %
5% DSE
0.035 %

The Alienware AW3420DW has excellent gray uniformity. The top left corner and the right side of the screen are darker, but there's virtually no sign of dirty screen effect. In near-dark scenes, the uniformity is near perfect.

5.9
Picture Quality
Black Uniformity
Native Std. Dev.
2.079 %
Std. Dev. w/ L.D.
N/A

Black uniformity is sub-par, which is typical of most IPS monitors. There's backlight bleed at all corners of the screen, as well as some clouding and vertical smearing throughout the screen.

6.7
Picture Quality
Pre Calibration
Picture Mode
Standard
Luminance
211 cd/m²
Luminance Settings
80
Contrast Setting
75
RGB Controls
100-100-100
Gamma Setting
No Gamma Setting
Color Temperature
5949 K
White Balance dE
3.49
Color dE
3.83
Gamma
2.16

Out of the box, the Alienware 3420DW has an acceptable color accuracy. There are inaccuracies with several colors and with shades of gray; however, gamma follows the target curve well, so most scenes appear at the correct brightness. The color temperature is slightly warmer than our target of 6500K.

9.7
Picture Quality
Post Calibration
Picture Mode
Custom Color
Luminance
100 cd/m²
Luminance Settings
35
Contrast Setting
79
RGB Controls
81-84-94
Gamma Setting
No Gamma Setting
Color Temperature
6519 K
White Balance dE
0.46
Color dE
0.40
Gamma
2.17

After calibration, color accuracy is outstanding. There's still some inaccuracy with the color blue, but it shouldn't be noticeable for most people.

You can download our ICC profile calibration here. This is provided for reference only and should not be used, as the calibration values vary per individual unit even for the same model due to manufacturing tolerances.

9.2
Picture Quality
SDR Color Gamut
sRGB xy
99.4 %
Adobe RGB xy
85.5 %
sRGB Picture Mode
Custom Color
Adobe RGB Picture Mode
Custom Color

The Alienware AW3420DW has an exceptional SDR color gamut. It covers nearly all of the sRGB color space used in most content, and it has excellent coverage of the Adobe RGB color space, which is great for professional photo editing.

9.4
Picture Quality
SDR Color Volume
sRGB In ICtCp
97.6 %
Adobe RGB In ICtCp
90.4 %
sRGB Picture Mode
Custom Color
Adobe RGB Picture Mode
Custom Color

SDR color volume is outstanding, but it can't display dark, saturated colors due to the monitor's low contrast ratio.

0
Picture Quality
HDR Color Gamut
Wide Color Gamut
N/A
DCI P3 xy
N/A
Rec. 2020 xy
N/A
DCI P3 Picture Mode
No HDR
Rec. 2020 Picture Mode
No HDR

This monitor doesn't support HDR.

0
Picture Quality
HDR Color Volume
DCI-P3 In ICtCp
N/A
Rec. 2020 In ICtCp
N/A
DCI P3 Picture Mode
No HDR
Rec. 2020 Picture Mode
No HDR

This monitor doesn't support HDR.

10
Picture Quality
Image Retention
IR After 0 Min Recovery
0.00 %
IR After 2 Min Recovery
0.00 %
IR After 4 Min Recovery
0.00 %
IR After 6 Min Recovery
0.00 %
IR After 8 Min Recovery
0.00 %
IR After 10 Min Recovery
0.00 %

The Alienware AW3420DW has no risk of temporary image retention or permanent burn-in.

8.4
Picture Quality
Gradient
Color Depth
8 Bit

Gradient performance is very good. There's some banding when displaying dark green, dark gray, and dark blue.

10
Picture Quality
Color Bleed
Pixel Row Error
0.000 %
Pixel Column Error
0.000 %

There's no color bleed at all on this monitor.

6.4
Picture Quality
Reflections
Screen Finish
Matte
Total Reflections
7.1 %
Indirect Reflections
3.5 %
Calculated Direct Reflections
3.6 %

The Alienware AW3420DW has mediocre reflection handling. It has a matte coating that diffuses light across the screen, though you may still need to raise the brightness if you're in a very bright room.

7.5
Picture Quality
Text Clarity
Sub-Pixel Layout
RGB

Text clarity on this monitor is good. With Cleartype enabled (top photo), diagonal lines appear much better, but vertical lines look thinner, such as on the T and I.

Motion
8.7
Motion
Response Time @ Max Refresh Rate
Best Overdrive Setting
Fast
Rise / Fall Time
2.9 ms
Total Response Time
11.4 ms
Overshoot Error
11.0 %
Dark Rise / Fall Time
3.1 ms
Dark Total Response Time
11.0 ms
Dark Overshoot Error
13.2 %

Mode Response Time Chart Motion Blur Photo Response Time Table
Fast Chart Photo Table
Super Fast Chart Photo Table
Extreme Chart Photo Table

The Alienware AW3420DW has an excellent response time when playing at maximum refresh rate. Most monitors' overdrive level can be adjusted and we recommend the 'Fast' setting, which provides the best performance with the least amount of overshoot. You may still see some artifacts, but it's significantly better than the 'Super Fast' and 'Extreme' settings, which caused visible inverse ghosting.

8.3
Motion
Response Time @ 60Hz
Best Overdrive Setting
Fast
Rise / Fall Time
3.3 ms
Total Response Time
15.9 ms
Overshoot Error
7.3 %
Dark Rise / Fall Time
3.6 ms
Dark Total Response Time
15.5 ms
Dark Overshoot Error
7.8 %

Mode Response Time Chart Motion Blur Photo Response Time Table
Fast Chart Photo Table
Super Fast Chart Photo Table
Extreme Chart Photo Table

Response time when playing at 60Hz is great, just slightly slower than at maximum refresh rate, though most people won't be able to notice it. Again, the 'Fast' setting gives the best performance with minimal overshoot.

10
Motion
Image Flicker
Flicker-Free Yes
PWM Dimming Frequency
0 Hz

The Alienware AW3420DW has a flicker-free backlight to help reduce eye strain.

0
Motion
Black Frame Insertion (BFI)
Black Frame Insertion (BFI)
No BFI
BFI Maximum Frequency
N/A
BFI Minimum Frequency
N/A

This monitor doesn't have a black frame insertion feature.

8.7
Motion
Refresh Rate
Native
120 Hz
Max Refresh Rate
120 Hz
Variable Refresh Rate
Yes
FreeSync
Compatible (Tested)
G-SYNC
Yes (Native)
VRR Maximum
120 Hz
VRR Minimum
< 20 Hz
VRR Supported Connectors DisplayPort

The Alienware AW3420DW supports G-SYNC natively. The VRR range is outstanding and it only works through the DisplayPort connection. Unusually, it also supports Adaptive Sync, allowing for a variable refresh rate when connected to a FreeSync source, but only over DisplayPort.

Inputs
9.4
Inputs
Input Lag
Native Resolution
5.2 ms
Native Resolution @ 60Hz
13.1 ms
Variable Refresh Rate
5.2 ms
Variable Refresh Rate @ 60Hz
13.0 ms
10 Bit HDR
N/A
Black Frame Insertion (BFI)
N/A

Input lag is superb. It's slightly higher when playing at 60Hz or when G-SYNC is enabled, but it shouldn't be noticeable for most people.

8.7
Inputs
Resolution And Size
Native Resolution 3440 x 1440
Aspect Ratio 21:9
Megapixels 5.0 MP
Pixel Density
109 PPI
Screen Diagonal 34.1 inches
Screen Area 415 sq inches

The Alienware AW3420DW has an excellent resolution and size. Its 21:9 aspect ratio is great for an immersive gaming experience and it's large enough to multitask comfortably.

Inputs
Inputs
Inputs
Total Inputs
DisplayPort 1 (DP 1.2)
Mini DisplayPort No
HDMI 1 (HDMI 1.4)
DVI No
VGA No
DisplayPort Out No
USB 2 (USB 3.0)
USB C No
Analog Audio Out 3.5mm 1
Microphone In 3.5mm No
Digital Optical Audio Out No
Analog Audio Out RCA No
Power Supply Internal

The monitor has a 3.5mm audio line out port and you can control the volume using the monitor's on-screen display (OSD).

Features
Features
Additional Features
RGB Illumination
Controllable
Speakers
No
HDR10 No
Multiple Input Display
No

The Alienware AW3420DW has a few extra features, including:

  • LED bias lighting: RGB lighting on the back of the monitor, the stand, and below the monitor. It can be customized through the AlienFX software, and also through the monitor's OSD, though the latter has limited customization options.
  • Frame rate counter: Displays an overlay of current frame rate.
  • Display Alignment: Helps with alignment in a multi-monitor setup.

Features
On-Screen Display (OSD)
Features
Controls

There are controls on the back of the monitor, which includes a joystick and four buttons.

Features
In The Box

  • DisplayPort cable
  • DisplayPort to Mini-DisplayPort cable
  • USB to USB-B upstream cable
  • Power cable
  • User guide

Differences Between Sizes and Variants

We tested the Dell Alienware AW3420DW and it's only available in this size and resolution. There's a smaller 27 inch monitor with the same outer design, the Dell Alienware AW2720HF, but it has a 27 inch screen with a 16:9 aspect ratio, a 1080p resolution, a 240Hz refresh rate, and FreeSync support.

If someone comes across a different type of panel or if their Alienware AW3420DW doesn't correspond to our review, let us know and we'll update the review. Note that some tests, such as the gray uniformity, may vary between individual units.

Our unit of the Alienware AW3420DW was manufactured in October 2019, and you can see the label here.

Compared to other monitors

The Dell Alienware AW3420DW is a large monitor with a 21:9 aspect ratio, which is becoming increasingly popular among gamers. Its overall build quality is better than most monitors in this category, but its performance doesn't really stand out. Additionally, it doesn't have as many extra features as other gaming monitors like the Gigabyte Aorus FI27Q.

You can also see our recommendations for the best gaming monitors, the best ultrawide gaming monitors, and the best 144Hz monitors.

LG 34GK950F-B
SEE PRICE
B&H

The LG 34GK950F-B is better than the Dell Alienware AW3420DW in most uses. The LG has a higher refresh rate, a significantly higher peak brightness, as well as much better viewing angles. Also, it has better out-of-the-box color accuracy and gradient performance, but the Dell has a much better black uniformity and better gray uniformity.

ASUS TUF VG27AQ
SEE PRICE
Newegg.com

The ASUS TUF VG27AQ is significantly better than the Dell Alienware AW3420DW. The ASUS has a much higher refresh rate, much better contrast ratio, and it can get a lot brighter. Viewing angles and ergonomics are also much better on the ASUS; however, the Dell has a better build quality, a larger screen, and better text clarity.

Nixeus EDG 34
SEE PRICE
Newegg.com

The Dell Alienware AW3420DW is better than the Nixeus EDG 34. Build quality and ergonomics are much better on the Dell, and its IPS panel has much better viewing angles. The Dell also has a faster response time and better color accuracy; however, the Nixeus has a significantly higher peak brightness and better contrast ratio.

Acer Predator X27
SEE PRICE
B&H

The Acer Predator X27 is much better than the Dell Alienware AW3420DW in most uses. Although the Acer has a smaller screen and a 16:9 aspect ratio, it has a much sharper 4k resolution, a higher refresh rate, and it supports HDR. The Acer also has significantly better viewing angles and peak brightness, but the Dell has a better build quality, much better color accuracy, as well as a lower input lag.