Release Date: 10/01/2017
I used to love Alienware as it was my first gaming laptop back in 2010, but now that it’s long gone and obsolete I went for their desktops and have since parted ways with that. Alienware makes slick-looking hardware, but their build quality and prices have been questionable over the last decade. I never thought I’d have them back in my gaming life with a monitor of all things. I wanted a 34″ ultrawide monitor with Gsync and Alienware just so happens to have the best on the market right now. I sacrificed HDR for Gsync as I felt it was a little more important for PC gaming.
When I received the box in the mail I didn’t realize you could park a car in it. Seriously, the thing barely fit into an SUV with the back seats folded down, and I was surprised to see most of it was foam to support this massively bulky and heavy monitor. Because of the Gsync chip and the vents on top, this monitor is the largest I have ever seen and it weighs nearly 30 lbs. After assembling this beast I plugged it in via DisplayPort (You can’t get a higher refresh rate without it) I immediately noticed the lighting zones which are freaking beautiful. Alienware has always been knowns for sleek lighting effects and there are zones on the bottom and rear of the panel. It looks fantastic, but I noticed that they aren’t bright enough on the back to really see unless you stare at them and the bottom one is more of a glow. It looks awesome, but you won’t really notice them if your monitor is up against a wall. The stand is designed for cable management and I loved this as you can hide your cables behind the monitor thanks to the nifty design. The 3 USB 3.0 ports came in real handy and expanded my USB slots and I didn’t have to run everything to the tower.
This monitor comes stock clocked at 100Hz and you have to go into the monitor settings and overclock it to 120 yourself. It’s as simple as an OSD setting on the monitor and changing it in your display control panel. There are some other settings in the OSD such as setting the lighting zones (which is pain here), displaying an FPS counter, various picture settings, response time, dark stabilization, and power saving. I didn’t really need to mess with anything as it comes very well calibrated out of the box.
Once I started gaming I noticed right away that Gsync was working. With Vsync turned off in games, you will notice how smooth turning the camera is and for games that can reach 120FPS it’s the silkiest gaming experience I have ever had. Of course for games these days you need a 2070 or higher to get anything FPS over 60 to notice the 120Hz kicking in, but the Gsync is well worth the price alone. With the monitor being curved the way it is it kind of sucks your visuals in and keeps you focused. After looking at a flat monitor again I noticed the difference right away and realized that curves aren’t just gimmicks.
While games look fantastic on this monitor there are some issues that are serious gripes, but not deal breakers. The rear IO panel is thin plastic and doesn’t slide on correctly I have never been able to make it flush with the monitor and the tabs started breaking off. I also absolutely despise Alienware’s software as they rarely ever update it and the AlienFX doesn’t work correctly. Every time I set a color scheme it resets when the monitor wakes or the PC restarts and the presets do not work and save your settings. I have to constantly go in and reset the colors so it’s too much effort and I just left it on color spectrum mode. I then later found out that the Monitor Control Center is heavily outdated and you actually need Alienware Command Center to probably set the lights correctly. Because of the Gsync chip the monitor gets really hot and there’s a lot of heat coming out of the top of the vent, this is what is supposed to happen of course, but you will notice a small room heat up a bit from it.
Overall, the Alienware AW3418DW is the best monitor I’ve ever laid eyes and there are so many reasons to spend the money on this thing. Sure, it’s a dream level price for a monitor, but it’s a dream level for a reason. Gsync alone is well worth the money and helps free up frames that your GPU doesn’t have to worry about. Great cable management, cool lighting, wide crisp display, 120hz refresh rate, 3 USB ports, and plenty of OSD options are nothing to sneeze at.