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Dell Alienware AW3821DW Monitor Review

Tested using Methodology v1.2
Reviewed Feb 03, 2021 at 10:21 am
Latest change: Writing modified Feb 14, 2023 at 12:46 pm
Dell Alienware AW3821DW Picture
7.7
Mixed Usage
7.9
Office
8.0
Gaming
7.3
Media Consumption
7.8
Media Creation
7.0
HDR

The Dell Alienware AW3821DW is a good overall monitor. It's Dell's only 38-inch option in their Alienware lineup, and it has a high 3840x1600 resolution to deliver an immersive gaming experience. It has native G-SYNC support and a 144Hz refresh rate. Despite the lack of a Black Frame Insertion feature, motion looks smooth thanks to its quick response time, and input lag is incredibly low. Sadly, it has an IPS panel with a low contrast ratio that makes blacks look gray. It has an edge-lit local dimming feature, but it performs terribly, as it fails to improve the contrast and can't be disabled when viewing HDR content. It's also limited to a 120Hz refresh rate with a 10-bit signal over a DisplayPort connection. On the plus side, it's very well-built, but its ergonomics are mediocre, which is a bit expected for such a large screen.

Our Verdict

7.7 Mixed Usage

The Dell AW3821DW is very good for most uses. It has a 144Hz refresh rate and native G-SYNC support. Its response time is excellent and input lag is extremely low for gaming. It's good for productivity thanks to its 38-inch ultrawide screen and high resolution, allowing you to open multiple windows side-by-side. Even though it displays a wide color gamut for HDR content, it has a low contrast ratio and a terrible local dimming feature that you can't disable in HDR.

Pros
  • High 3840x1600 resolution.
  • 144Hz native refresh rate and native G-SYNC support.
  • Excellent response time.
  • Large screen delivers immersive gaming experience.
Cons
  • Reflection handling is just okay.
  • Low contrast ratio.
  • Terrible local dimming feature that can't be disabled when in HDR.
7.9 Office

The Dell AW3821DW is very good for office use. It has a large screen with a high resolution, allowing you to open multiple windows side-by-side and see text clearly. Its ergonomics are mediocre, but that's somewhat expected for a curved screen of this size. It gets bright, but it only has okay reflection handling, so it may be best to avoid using it in a well-lit room.

Pros
  • Large 38-inch screen.
  • High 3840x1600 resolution.
  • Impressive SDR peak brightness.
Cons
  • Reflection handling is just okay.
  • Mediocre ergonomics.
8.0 Gaming

The Dell AW3821DW is great for gaming. It has a high 144Hz refresh rate with native G-SYNC support. It has a very quick response time that results in smooth motion, and the input lag is incredibly low. Sadly, it's not good for dark room gaming due to its mediocre black uniformity and low contrast ratio that makes blacks appear gray.

Pros
  • 144Hz native refresh rate and native G-SYNC support.
  • Incredibly low input lag.
  • Excellent response time.
  • Large screen delivers immersive gaming experience.
Cons
  • No Black Frame Insertion feature.
  • Low contrast ratio.
7.3 Media Consumption

The Dell AW3821DW is very good for consuming multimedia content. It has a large ultrawide screen with a high resolution that helps deliver crisp images. It has fairly wide viewing angles if you want to share your screen with a friend, but its ergonomics are mediocre. However, blacks look gray when viewed in the dark due to its low contrast ratio.

Pros
  • Large 38-inch screen.
  • High 3840x1600 resolution.
  • Fairly wide viewing angles.
Cons
  • Reflection handling is just okay.
  • Low contrast ratio.
7.8 Media Creation

The Dell AW3821DW is great for content creators. It has a big 38-inch screen that offers enough space to open multiple windows side-by-side, and the high resolution delivers crisp images. Its ergonomics are mediocre, as you can't rotate it into portrait mode. Sadly, its low contrast ratio makes blacks look gray when viewed in the dark.

Pros
  • Large 38-inch screen.
  • High 3840x1600 resolution.
  • Incredibly low input lag.
Cons
  • Reflection handling is just okay.
  • Mediocre ergonomics.
7.0 HDR

The Dell AW3821DW is decent for HDR. It displays a wide range of colors in HDR and has decent HDR peak brightness, but it doesn't get bright enough to make all highlights stand out. While it has a local dimming feature, it performs terribly and doesn't improve the dark scene performance, meaning blacks look gray in the dark.

Pros
  • Wide color gamut.
Cons
  • Low contrast ratio.
  • Terrible local dimming feature that can't be disabled when in HDR.
  • Limited to 120Hz over 10-bit signal.
  • 7.7 Mixed Usage
  • 7.9 Office
  • 8.0 Gaming
  • 7.3 Media Consumption
  • 7.8 Media Creation
  • 7.0 HDR
  1. Updated Feb 14, 2023: Added text in the macOS Compatibility and Console Compatibility boxes and clarified text throughout as part of Test Bench 1.2.
  2. Updated Feb 10, 2023: Updated to Test Bench 1.2, resulting in changes to the results and scores with the Response Time and Input Lag. Added tests for Console Compatibility and macOS compatibility and made minor changes to other tests, which you can see in our Changelog.
  3. Updated Feb 03, 2021: Review published.
  4. Updated Jan 29, 2021: Early access published.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

We tested the Dell Alienware AW3821DW, which is only available in this size, meaning the results only apply to this monitor.

Model Size Panel Resolution  Refresh Rate VRR
AW3821DW 38" IPS 3840x1600 144Hz G-SYNC

Our unit was manufactured in November 2020, and you can see the label here.

Compared To Other Monitors

The Dell AW3821DW is a great gaming monitor with a large 38-inch screen and high resolution. It has native G-SYNC support, and motion looks smooth thanks to its excellent response time. However, it's on the pricey side, even for an ultrawide option, and there are 27-inch, 1440p options available with a higher refresh rate, like the Dell Alienware AW2721D.

See our recommendations for the best ultrawide monitors, the best monitor sizes for gaming, and the best 4k monitors.

LG 38WN95C-W

The LG 38WN95C-W and the Dell AW3821DW are each very good overall monitors. They're both 38 inch models with a 3840x1600 resolution and a 144Hz refresh rate. The LG is mainly designed for office use, but it's slightly better than the Dell for gaming because it has a quicker response time, resulting in clearer motion. It's also slightly better for HDR gaming because it gets much brighter in HDR. However, if you have an NVIDIA graphics card, the Dell may be a better choice for you because it has native G-SYNC support.

LG 38GN950-B

The LG 38GN950-B and the Dell Alienware AW3821DW are very similar overall. They're both 38 inch, 21:9 IPS monitors with a 3840 x 1600 resolution. The LG is a native FreeSync model with G-SYNC compatibility, while the Dell is a native G-SYNC model with FreeSync compatibility. The LG's refresh rate can be overclocked up to 160Hz, whereas the Dell is capped at 144Hz, and it has better response times than the Dell. The LG also has a better color gamut and higher peak brightness, resulting in a better HDR experience. The LG has wider viewing angles for sharing content or playing co-op games, but its ergonomics aren't as good as the Dell's because it doesn't swivel at all.

Dell Alienware AW3423DW

The Dell Alienware AW3423DW is better than the Dell Alienware AW3821DW overall, and if you want something for gaming, it's a better choice. The AW3423DW has better picture quality, a faster refresh rate, and better motion handling, making it a better choice for most uses. However, the AW3821DW does have native G-SYNC support, meaning you can use your NVIDIA graphics card to its full potential with this monitor.

Dell Alienware AW3423DWF

The Dell Alienware AW3423DWF is a different type of ultrawide gaming monitor compared to the Dell Alienware AW3821DW. It uses a QD-OLED panel that results in much better picture quality, particularly for dark room gaming, as it displays deeper blacks without any blooming. It also has better motion handling thanks to its near-instantaneous response time. While they each support VRR, the AW3423DWF is better for use with AMD graphics cards because it has native FreeSync support, and the AW3821DW has native G-SYNC support for use with NVIDIA graphics cards.

Samsung Odyssey G9

The Samsung Odyssey G9 and the Dell AW3821DW are two great gaming monitors, but with different features. The Dell has an IPS panel with wide viewing angles, making it easier to share your screen for co-op gaming. It also has native G-SYNC support and a quicker response time at its max refresh rate. The Samsung has a VA panel with a better contrast ratio, so it can display deeper blacks. It has a higher 240Hz refresh rate and native FreeSync support. Also, it has a much wider 49-inch screen and 5120x1440 resolution, making it a better choice for atmospheric gaming. Choosing one over the other really comes down to personal gaming preferences.

LG 38GL950G-B

The LG 38GL950G-B and the Dell Alienware AW3821DW are two very good monitors. The LG is a bit better for gaming as its 144Hz refresh rate can be overclocked to 175Hz. The LG's response time is also much quicker, resulting in smoother motion. On the other hand, the Dell feels better-built and offers better ergonomics, including swivel adjustments, making it easier to place in an ideal viewing position.

Gigabyte M27Q

The Gigabyte M27Q and the Dell Alienware AW3821DW are both great gaming monitors, but they're also quite different. The Gigabyte is a 27 inch model with a 16:9 aspect ratio, while the Dell is a 38 inch ultrawide with a 21:9 aspect ratio. The Gigabyte provides smoother gameplay because it has a higher refresh rate and a quicker response time. However, the Dell is a good choice if you want better immersion. It also gets brighter to deliver a better HDR experience.

Dell U3818DW

The Dell Alienware AW3821DW is better overall than the Dell U3818DW, mainly because it has a lot more gaming features. The AW3821DW has a native 144Hz refresh rate and it has G-SYNC support, while the AW3818DW is limited to 60Hz and doesn't have VRR support. The AW3821DW's much quicker response time results in smooth motion, and it supports HDR. However, the AW3818DW is designed as a productivity monitor and has a few more office-oriented features such as Picture-in-Picture/Picture-by-Picture modes as well as a USB-C input that supports DisplayPort Alt Mode.

Dell UltraSharp U4021QW

The Dell Alienware AW3821DW and the Dell UltraSharp U4021QW are both great for their intended purposes, with different advantages and disadvantages. They're both ultrawide monitors from Dell, but the Alienware is intended for gaming while the UltraSharp is meant for productivity. The Alienware has a high refresh rate, faster response times, and VRR support, while the UltraSharp offers a higher resolution, exceptional text clarity, and wider viewing angles.

Dell Alienware AW2721D

The Dell Alienware AW2721D is a bit better for gaming than the Dell Alienware AW3821DW, mainly because the AW2721D has a higher 240Hz refresh rate. The AW2721D also has a quicker response time, even at 60Hz, which results in smoother motion, and it has better ergonomics as you can rotate it into portrait mode. However, the AW3821DW delivers a more immersive gaming experience thanks to its larger 38 inch screen, and it has a higher 3840x1600 resolution that delivers crisp images.

Dell Alienware AW3420DW

The Dell Alienware AW3821DW and the Dell Alienware AW3420DW are two ultrawide gaming monitors with G-SYNC support. They have similar gaming performance with a quick response time and low input lag, but the AW3821DW has a higher 144Hz refresh rate. The AW3821DW also supports HDR, has a larger 38 inch screen compared to the AW3420DW's 34 inches, and it's a better choice for use in bright rooms as it gets bright enough to combat glare. However, the AW3420DW offers better ergonomics because it has a wider swivel range, making it easier to place in an ideal viewing position.

LG 34GP83A-B

The LG 34GP83A-B and the Dell Alienware AW3821DW are very similar overall. The LG has slightly better gaming performance because it has a higher refresh rate and better response times. However, the Dell delivers a better HDR experience due to its wider color gamut and higher peak brightness. The biggest difference between them is that the LG is compatible with FreeSync and G-SYNC, while the Dell is a native G-SYNC monitor with FreeSync compatibility. The Dell has a bigger screen and a higher resolution, but it comes out to roughly the same pixel density as the LG.

LG 34GP950G-B

The LG 34GP950G-B is slightly better than the Dell Alienware AW3821DW. The LG has a slightly faster refresh rate and a much faster response time, with significantly less overshoot. The Dell, on the other hand, has better ergonomics, it feels better-built, and it has better connectivity, with an additional HDMI port and two extra USB ports.

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Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style
Curved
Yes
Curve Radius
2300R

The Dell AW3821DW looks like most monitors in Dell's Alienware lineup with a gamer-oriented design. It has a white body with black accents throughout, and there's RGB lighting on the stand. It's mostly made out of solid plastic and feels very well-built. It also has a subtle curve to make it easier to see the edges of the screen.

8.5
Design
Build Quality

The Dell AW3821DW has excellent build quality. It's capped entirely with solid plastic, and each component feels well-made. The panels fit well together, and there aren't any obvious gaps in construction. The entire monitor feels heavy and sturdy, and the stand supports it very well.

7.5
Design
Ergonomics
Height Adjustment
5.1" (13.0 cm)
Tilt Range
-21° to 5°
Rotate Portrait/Landscape
No
Swivel Range
-20° to 20°
Wall Mount
VESA 100x100

The Dell AW3821DW's ergonomics are good. It allows for some adjustments, but since it's a large screen, you can't place it in portrait mode. Still, the screen rotates a bit, so you can make sure it's leveled.

The back looks like most Alienware models, with a white back panel and black accents. It also has RGB lighting on the stand and on the branding on the back panel. There's cable management through the stand.

Design
Stand
Base Width
23.6" (60.0 cm)
Base Depth
11.8" (30.0 cm)
Thickness (With Display)
11.2" (28.5 cm)
Weight (With Display)
25.4 lbs (11.5 kg)

The stand supports the screen very well, especially for a monitor of this size. There isn't much wobble, and you can slightly rotate the screen to make sure it's leveled. Also, the wide-set feet allow you to place things in front.

Design
Display
Size
38"
Housing Width
35.2" (89.5 cm)
Housing Height
15.6" (39.5 cm)
Thickness (Without Stand)
5.1" (13.0 cm)
Weight (Without Stand)
17.6 lbs (8.0 kg)
Borders Size (Bezels)
0.4" (1.1 cm)
Design
Controls

There are five controls, including a joystick, on the right backside of the monitor to navigate the on-screen display.

Design
In The Box
Power Supply
Internal

  • DisplayPort cable
  • DisplayPort to Mini DisplayPort cable
  • HDMI cable
  • USB-A to USB-B upstream cable
  • Power cable
  • User guides

Picture Quality
5.8
Picture Quality
Contrast
Native Contrast
883 : 1
Contrast With Local Dimming
870 : 1

The Dell AW3821DW has a disappointing native contrast ratio. Blacks appear gray when viewed in the dark, which is expected from an IPS panel. It's lower than the advertised 1000:1 contrast, but this may vary between units. It has a local dimming feature, but it actually makes the contrast worse in our test patterns because all the lighting zones remain on.

2.5
Picture Quality
Local Dimming
Local Dimming
Yes
Backlight
Edge

The Dell AW3821DW has a terrible edge-lit local dimming feature. It's enabled automatically with HDR content, and you can't disable it. It doesn't help improve the already-low contrast ratio, and blacks still appear gray when viewed in the dark. It raises the black level and doesn't crush any bright highlights. There are only a handful of vertical lighting zones, so an entire zone lights up when there's a small light source, which can get distracting in dark scenes. The local dimming also causes uniformity issues, especially when only a few zones are lit. The zones are on when there are subtitles, which may be distracting in dark scenes, but it's not as visible with most content. Fast-moving objects transition between zones quickly, but it's noticeable when each zone turns on, and motion looks jarring. Although the zones turn on quickly, they're slow to turn off.

We tested the local dimming, which is called Variable Backlight, in 'Mode 1' because it has the quickest zone transitions and gets the brightest. 'Mode 0' results in a better contrast ratio and deeper blacks, but the zone transitions are more noticeable. On the other hand, 'Mode 2' looks similar to 'Mode 1', except the black level is raised even more. You can see the differences between each mode below:

8.4
Picture Quality
SDR Brightness
Real Scene
479 cd/m²
Peak 2% Window
483 cd/m²
Peak 10% Window
492 cd/m²
Peak 25% Window
494 cd/m²
Peak 50% Window
495 cd/m²
Peak 100% Window
495 cd/m²
Sustained 2% Window
483 cd/m²
Sustained 10% Window
492 cd/m²
Sustained 25% Window
493 cd/m²
Sustained 50% Window
495 cd/m²
Sustained 100% Window
495 cd/m²
ABL
0.001
Minimum Brightness
35 cd/m²

The Dell AW3821DW has impressive SDR peak brightness. It gets bright enough to combat glare in most well-lit environments. It also maintains its brightness consistent across different content; small highlights are a bit dimmer, but most people won't notice any difference.

We tested the SDR peak brightness after calibration in the 'Custom Color' Picture Mode with Variable Backlight set to 'Mode 1'.

7.3
Picture Quality
HDR Brightness
VESA DisplayHDR Certification
DisplayHDR 600
Real Scene
496 cd/m²
Peak 2% Window
591 cd/m²
Peak 10% Window
660 cd/m²
Peak 25% Window
663 cd/m²
Peak 50% Window
549 cd/m²
Peak 100% Window
481 cd/m²
Sustained 2% Window
476 cd/m²
Sustained 10% Window
528 cd/m²
Sustained 25% Window
536 cd/m²
Sustained 50% Window
535 cd/m²
Sustained 100% Window
468 cd/m²
ABL
0.010

The Dell AW3821DW has decent HDR peak brightness. It gets bright enough to make small highlights stand out in HDR content. However, it quickly loses its brightness the longer a bright object stays on the screen, and the screen is dimmer when large areas are lit. Also, the EOTF has a sharp cut-off at the peak brightness, meaning details in bright scenes are lost.

These results are in the 'Gamer 1' Picture Mode with Smart HDR enabled and Variable Backlight set to 'Mode 1'.

7.0
Picture Quality
Horizontal Viewing Angle
Color Washout From Left
41°
Color Washout From Right
41°
Color Shift From Left
54°
Color Shift From Right
55°
Brightness Loss From Left
46°
Brightness Loss From Right
47°
Black Level Raise From Left
25°
Black Level Raise From Right
22°
Gamma Shift From Left
36°
Gamma Shift From Right
32°

The Dell AW3821DW has a decent horizontal wide viewing angle, which is normal for an IPS panel. Colors remain accurate when viewing from the side, but you may notice that blacks look even grayer.

7.0
Picture Quality
Vertical Viewing Angle
Color Washout From Below
34°
Color Washout From Above
30°
Color Shift From Below
40°
Color Shift From Above
32°
Brightness Loss From Below
37°
Brightness Loss From Above
32°
Black Level Raise From Below
70°
Black Level Raise From Above
70°
Gamma Shift From Below
39°
Gamma Shift From Above
32°

The Dell AW3821DW's vertical viewing angle is decent. The image remains fairly accurate even if you mount it above eye-level.

8.2
Picture Quality
Gray Uniformity
50% Std. Dev.
2.402%
50% DSE
0.137%

The Dell AW3821DW has great gray uniformity. The top and bottom edges of the screen are only slightly darker, and there's minimal dirty screen effect in the center.

6.3
Picture Quality
Black Uniformity
Native Std. Dev.
1.105%
Std. Dev. w/ L.D.
5.372%

Black uniformity is mediocre, but this may vary between units. Without local dimming, the entire screen looks gray, but there isn't that much clouding or backlight bleed throughout. However, the local dimming feature actually makes uniformity worse because there's more blooming around the center cross as the zones light up.

6.0
Picture Quality
Color Accuracy (Pre-Calibration)
Picture Mode
Standard
sRGB Gamut Area xy
133.0%
White Balance dE (Avg.)
3.91
Color Temperature (Avg.)
7,374 K
Gamma (Avg.)
2.24
Color dE (Avg.)
3.52
Contrast Setting
75
RGB Settings
100-100-100
Gamma Setting
No Gamma Setting
Brightness Setting
50
Measured Brightness
222 cd/m²
Brightness Locked
No

The accuracy is mediocre. Most colors and white balance are a bit inaccurate, and because it lacks an sRGB picture mode, colors are oversaturated in the sRGB color space. Gamma follows the target curve fairly well, but most scenes are a bit darker than they should be. Sadly, the color temperature is colder than the 65000K target, giving the image a blue tint.

9.8
Picture Quality
Color Accuracy (Post-Calibration)
Picture Mode
Custom Color
sRGB Gamut Area xy
99.9%
White Balance dE (Avg.)
0.57
Color Temperature (Avg.)
6,453 K
Gamma (Avg.)
2.17
Color dE (Avg.)
0.31
Contrast Setting
75
RGB Settings
100-91-84
Gamma Setting
No Gamma Setting
Brightness Setting
18
Measured Brightness
99 cd/m²
ICC Profile
Download

The Dell AW3821DW's accuracy after calibration is remarkable. Any remaining color inaccuracies can't be spotted by the human eye, and the color temperature is extremely close to the 6500K target. Gamma still follows the target well, except some really dark and really bright scenes are over-brightened now.

9.5
Picture Quality
SDR Color Gamut
sRGB Coverage xy
99.7%
sRGB Picture Mode
Custom Color
Adobe RGB Coverage xy
86.6%
Adobe RGB Picture Mode
Custom Color

The SDR color gamut is outstanding. It has perfect coverage of the sRGB color space used in most content, and photo editors will be pleased with the excellent Adobe RGB coverage.

9.7
Picture Quality
SDR Color Volume
sRGB In ICtCp
98.2%
sRGB Picture Mode
Custom Color
Adobe RGB In ICtCp
91.1%
Adobe RGB Picture Mode
Custom Color

The Dell AW3821DW has a remarkable SDR color volume. It displays bright colors well thanks to its high peak brightness. However, it struggles with dark colors due to the low contrast ratio.

8.8
Picture Quality
HDR Color Gamut
Wide Color Gamut
Yes
DCI-P3 Coverage xy
95.6%
DCI-P3 Picture Mode
Gamer 1
Rec. 2020 Coverage xy
70.4%
Rec. 2020 Picture Mode
Gamer 1

The Dell AW3821DW has an excellent HDR color gamut. It has incredible coverage of the common DCI-P3 color space but struggles with the wider Rec. 2020 color space.

8.7
Picture Quality
HDR Color Volume
DCI-P3 In ICtCp
87.9%
DCI-P3 Picture Mode
Gamer 1
Rec. 2020 In ICtCp
73.7%
Rec. 2020 Picture Mode
Gamer 1

The Dell AW3821DW's HDR color volume is great. It displays most colors at a wide range of luminance levels. However, it struggles with really dark and really bright colors due to the low contrast and only decent HDR peak brightness.

6.5
Picture Quality
Reflections
Screen Finish
Matte
Total Reflections
6.8%
Indirect Reflections
3.2%
Calculated Direct Reflections
3.6%

The Dell AW3821DW has okay reflection handling. It performs well in most dim or fairly-lit rooms, but the reflections may become too distracting if there's a direct light source on it.

7.5
Picture Quality
Text Clarity
Pixel Type
IPS
Subpixel Layout
RGB

The text clarity is good. Enabling ClearType (top photo) improves the appearance of diagonal lines, like on R, N, G, and S, but straight lines aren't as bold, as seen on the letters T and I.

9.8
Picture Quality
Gradient
Color Depth
10 Bit

The Dell AW3821DW's gradient handling is exceptional. You won't notice any signs of banding in real content.

Motion
8.3
Motion
Refresh Rate
Native Refresh Rate
144 Hz
Max Refresh Rate
144 Hz
Max Refresh Rate Over DP
144 Hz
Max Refresh Rate Over HDMI
85 Hz
Max Refresh Rate Over DP @ 10-bit
120 Hz
Max Refresh Rate Over HDMI @ 10-Bit
60 Hz

You can reach this monitor's max refresh rate only with 8-bit signals over a DisplayPort connection. Due to bandwidth limitations, the max refresh rate is limited when sending a 10-bit signal, like in HDR.

Motion
Variable Refresh Rate (VRR)
FreeSync
Compatible (Tested)
G-SYNC
Yes (Native)
VRR Maximum
144 Hz
VRR Minimum
< 20 Hz
VRR Supported Connectors
DisplayPort, HDMI
Variable Refresh Rate
Yes

The Dell AW3821DW has native G-SYNC support, letting you take full advantage of your NVIDIA graphics card with both HDMI and DisplayPort connections. It's also FreeSync compatible, but only over a DisplayPort connection.

8.1
Motion
Response Time @ Max Refresh Rate
Recommended Overdrive Setting
Fast
Rise / Fall Time
2.8 ms
Total Response Time
10.8 ms
Overshoot Error
13.7%
Worst 3 Rise / Fall Time
3.4 ms
Worst 3 Total Response Time
14.5 ms
Worst 3 Overshoot Error
31.4%

Overdrive SettingResponse Time ChartResponse Time TablesMotion Blur Photo
FastChartTablePhoto
Super FastChartTablePhoto
ExtremeChartTablePhoto

The response time at its max refresh rate of 144Hz is great, and motion looks extremely smooth. The recommended overdrive setting is 'Fast' because it has the fastest total response time and the least amount of overshoot. There's visible ghosting with the 'Super Fast' and 'Extreme' settings. If you want a monitor with a better response time, check out the LG 38GN950-B.

7.9
Motion
Response Time @ 120Hz
Recommended Overdrive Setting
Fast
Rise / Fall Time
2.9 ms
Total Response Time
11.8 ms
Overshoot Error
13.0%
Worst 3 Rise / Fall Time
3.7 ms
Worst 3 Total Response Time
16.1 ms
Worst 3 Overshoot Error
30.0%

Overdrive SettingResponse Time ChartResponse Time TablesMotion Blur Photo
FastChartTablePhoto
Super FastChartTablePhoto
ExtremeChartTablePhoto

The response time at 120Hz is very good. Although the overall response time is slower than at its max refresh rate, motion looks smooth and the recommended overdrive setting is still 'Fast'.

7.5
Motion
Response Time @ 60Hz
Recommended Overdrive Setting
Fast
Rise / Fall Time
3.9 ms
Total Response Time
16 ms
Overshoot Error
4.8%
Worst 3 Rise / Fall Time
5.6 ms
Worst 3 Total Response Time
22.7 ms
Worst 3 Overshoot Error
13.0%

Overdrive SettingResponse Time ChartResponse Time TablesMotion Blur Photo
FastChartTablePhoto
Super FastChartTablePhoto
ExtremeChartTablePhoto

The Dell AW3821DW has a good response time at 60Hz. Motion remains smooth, and there's less overshoot than at a higher refresh rate. Once again, the recommended overdrive setting is 'Fast', so you don't have to worry about changing the setting if the frame rate of your game drops. There's significant overshoot and ghosting with the other settings.

Motion
Backlight Strobing (BFI)
Backlight Strobing (BFI)
No BFI
Maximum Frequency
N/A
Minimum Frequency
N/A
Longest Pulse Width Brightness
N/A
Shortest Pulse Width Brightness
N/A
Pulse Width Control
No BFI
Pulse Phase Control
No BFI
Pulse Amplitude Control
No BFI
VRR At The Same Time
No BFI

The Dell AW3821DW doesn't have a Black Frame Insertion feature to clear up motion blur.

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

The Dell AW3821DW has a flicker-free backlight, which helps reduce eye strain.

Inputs
8.9
Inputs
Input Lag
Native Resolution @ Max Hz
4.1 ms
Native Resolution @ 120Hz
4.7 ms
Native Resolution @ 60Hz
12.0 ms
Backlight Strobing (BFI)
N/A

The Dell AW3821DW has an incredibly low input lag for a responsive feel while gaming.

8.6
Inputs
Resolution And Size
Native Resolution
3840 x 1600
Aspect Ratio
21:9
Megapixels
6.1 MP
Pixel Density
111 PPI
Measured Screen Diagonal
37.5"
Screen Area
498 in²

The Dell Alienware AW3821DW has a very large 38-inch screen with a high 3840x1600 resolution. It has the same number of horizontal pixels as a 4k monitor, but there are fewer vertical pixels. There's enough screen real estate to open multiple windows at once.

7.0
Inputs
PS5 Compatibility
4k @ 120Hz
No
4k @ 60Hz
No
1440p @ 120Hz
Yes
1440p @ 60Hz
Yes
1080p @ 120Hz
Yes
1080p @ 60Hz
Yes
HDR
Yes
VRR
Yes

The Dell AW3821DW works well with the PS5 for 1440p and 1080p games. It automatically scales to a 16:9 aspect ratio, which means you don't have to change any settings, but you'll see black bars on the sides. Because it has native G-SYNC support, the VRR feature from the PS5 works.

5.8
Inputs
Xbox Series X|S Compatibility
4k @ 120Hz
No
4k @ 60Hz
No
1440p @ 120Hz
Yes
1440p @ 60Hz
Yes
1080p @ 120Hz
Yes
1080p @ 60Hz
Yes
HDR
No
VRR
Yes

The Dell AW3821DW has some limitations with the Xbox Series X. As it can't downscale a 4k signal, and because the Xbox only supports HDR with a 4k signal, it doesn't support HDR. Also, 1440p @ 60Hz only works by using the console's HDMI override, which also disables VRR. Because the Xbox doesn't support ultrawide gaming, you'll see black bars on the sides.

Inputs
Inputs Photos
Inputs
Video And Audio Ports
DisplayPort
1 (DP 1.4)
Mini DisplayPort
No
HDMI
2 (HDMI 2.0)
HDMI 2.1 Rated Speed
No HDMI 2.1
DVI
No
VGA
No
Daisy Chaining
No
3.5mm Audio Out
2
3.5mm Audio In
No
HDR10
Yes
3.5mm Microphone In
No
Inputs
USB
USB-A Ports
4
USB-A Rated Speed
5Gbps (USB 3.2 Gen 1)
USB-B Upstream Port
Yes
USB-C Ports
0
USB-C Upstream
No USB-C Ports
USB-C Rated Speed
No USB-C Ports
USB-C Power Delivery
No USB-C Ports
USB-C DisplayPort Alt Mode
No USB-C Ports
Thunderbolt
No

The four USB ports are USB 3.2, which has the same bandwidth as USB 3.0. It also has a USB-B port that you can connect to your PC as an upstream port, allowing you to connect your mouse and keyboard to the monitor.

Inputs
macOS Compatibility

The Dell AW3821DW works well with macOS, but there are some limitations, as you can't use VRR and HDR at the same time. Either you get VRR up to 100Hz, as seen here, or you have to send a fixed 60Hz or 85Hz signal with HDR enabled. Both VRR and HDR work without issue, but enabling VRR results in a dimmer image, so if you care about picture quality, it's better to have HDR enabled.

Features
Features
Additional Features
Speakers
No
RGB Illumination
Controllable
Multiple Input Display
No
KVM Switch
No

The Dell AW3821DW has a few extra features, some of which are listed below:

  • RGB Lighting: There's RGB lighting on the stand and on the Alienware branding on the back panel. You can control it through the AlienFX software, and there are a few options available through the on-screen display.
  • FPS Counter: Displays the current frame rate of your game.
  • Timer: Adds a timer on the screen.
  • Dark Stabilizer: Raises the gamma to make opponents more visible in shadows.
  • Display Alignment: Adds an overlay to help when aligning two or more monitors side-by-side.

Features
On-Screen Display (OSD)