Alienware AW3821DW Review: Smooth, Curved, Slick Ultrawide
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Top-of-the-line 38-inch ultrawide
(Image: © Dell)
Tom’s Hardware Verdict
The Alienware AW3821DW isn’t perfect, but right now, it’s the best value in 38-inch ultrawide gaming monitors. It delivers a solid gaming experience with a bright and saturated image that’s color-accurate. With premium styling and build quality, it’s sure to satisfy gamers looking for a jumbo display.
TODAY’S BEST DEALS
+ Bright and saturated image
+ Accurate color
+ Solid gaming performance
+ Good styling, build quality
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Bigger is better. We’ve all heard that phrase applied to a multitude of things, and it certainly holds true for gaming monitors. Today’s games create incredibly realistic worlds that reproduce everything in exquisite and meticulous detail. There is no better way to enjoy that detail than with a large monitor. We may all be wearing VR goggles someday, but until then, you either have a jumbo screen or want a jumbo screen.
We’ve reviewed plenty of the best gaming monitors in the 34 and 35-inch ultrawide category, and now a new category is emerging: the 38-inch ultrawide. We recently reviewed, for example, Acer’s Predator X38 and found it supremely engaging. But you’d rather try Alienware’s take on the 38-inch ultrawide, the Alienware AW3821DW ($1,425 as of writing) might be the one.
It’s an IPS screen with a 2300R curvature, a 144 Hz refresh rate, 3840 x 1600 resolution, plus 10-bit DCI-P3 color and VESA’s mid-tier HDR support certification (DisplayHDR 600). Wrapped in Alienware’s unique styling, it’s a package that looks as good as it performs.
If you’re looking for comparisons to the Acer Predator X38, we’ve included its test results in our charts. Functionally, it is identical to the AW3821DW except for its higher 175 Hz refresh rate. And at this writing, the Predator X38 sells for around $300 more. Has Alienware delivered a viable alternative? We’re about to see.
- Alienware AW3821DW at Dell for $899.99
Alienware AW3821DW Specs
Swipe to scroll horizontally
|Panel Type / Backlight||IPS / W-LED, edge array|
|Screen Size, Aspect Ratio & Curve||38 inches / 21:9|
|Row 2 – Cell 0||Curve radius: 2300mm|
|Max Resolution & Refresh Rate||3840×1600 @ 144 Hz|
|Row 4 – Cell 0||G-Sync Ultimate: 24-144 Hz|
|Native Color Depth & Gamut||10-bit / DCI-P3|
|Row 6 – Cell 0||DisplayHDR 600, HDR10|
|Response Time (GTG)||1ms|
|Max Brightness||SDR: 450 nits|
|Row 9 – Cell 0||HDR: 600 nits|
|Video Inputs||1x DisplayPort 1. 4|
|Row 13 – Cell 0||2x HDMI 2.0|
|Audio||2x 3.5mm output|
|USB 3.2||1x up, 4x down|
|Power Consumption||41.2w, brightness @ 200 nits|
|Panel Dimensions WxHxD w/base||35.2 x 17.5-22.5 x 11.6 inches (894 x 445-572 x 295mm)|
|Panel Thickness||5.1 inches (130mm)|
|Bezel Width||Top/sides: 0.4 inch (10mm)|
|Row 20 – Cell 0||Bottom: 0.6 inch (16mm)|
|Weight||26.7 pounds (12.1kg)|
The AW3821DW’s 3840 x 1600 pixels could be called WQHD plus or, perhaps, WUHD minus, but whatever the term, pixel density is relatively high at 111 pixels per inch (ppi_. That’s closer to a 27-inch 1440p (2560 x 1440), which is 109ppi. More importantly though, the AW3821DW’s pixel density is roughly equal to a 3440×1440, 34-inch panel. So, you get the same density in a larger screen.
The AW3821DW adds to its premium status with G-Sync Ultimate certification, working with Nvidia graphics cards from 24-144 Hz with HDR. It also proved to be FreeSync-compatible in our tests, though it has not been certified by AMD. You’ll have to use the DisplayPort 1.4 input to hit 144 Hz signals or use (unofficial) FreeSync. The HDMI 2.0 inputs support up to 85 Hz at full resolution and 120 Hz at 2560 x 1440.
HDR10 signals are accepted through either input with a peak brightness of over 600 nits. The AW3821DW also has a variable backlight feature that works by modulating the edge array in vertical zones. It isn’t as effective as a full-array (FALD) backlight but will improve contrast for both SDR and HDR content.
Assembly and Accessories
The substantial base and upright come out of the box first and are mated with a captive bolt. Then you snap the huge panel in place. Note the electrical contacts, which provide juice for the LED lighting in the upright.
There is a 100mm VESA mount pattern on the panel for which fasteners are provided. Nice quality cables are included for power, HDMI, USB and two DisplayPort cables. You also get an input panel cover to tidy things up around back.
Image 1 of 4
(Image credit: Dell)(Image credit: Dell)(Image credit: Dell)(Image credit: Dell)
The AW3821DW is a very large monitor with a deep base and an upright that holds the panel firmly in place. You’ll need to devote plenty of space to accommodate its over 35-inch width and nearly 12-inch depth. Movements are smooth and sure with 20-degree swivel to each side, 5.1 inches of height and a -5/21-degree tilt adjustment.
On-screen display (OSD) controls are around the back right with four keys and a joystick for easy and intuitive navigation. The power button is also the power LED and protrudes slightly from the bottom right corner. At the top center is a room light sensor, which can vary the monitor’s brightness according to ambient light. We left this off during benchmark testing because it alters the results unpredictably.
Styling is distinctly Alienware-themed with a matte white finish on the back, upright and base. It isn’t reflective nor is it the brightest white. Features like the large “38” and “Alienware” markings are subtly molded into the panel and upright. The RGB lighting is mainly on the upright with a long ring that finishes a rearward taper. The OSD has many customization options for changing the color and effect of the RGB color. Aienware’s alien head graphic also adorns the panel with RGB matching that of the upright. The small LED bar on the bottom casts a soft glow upon the desktop. All surfaces that face you, including the screen, which has a relatively thin flush bezel, are matte black and non-reflective.
Tilting the panel all the way back reveals two USB ports and a 3.5mm headphone jack under the front-center of the screen lit by an LED bar. This is super-convenient for peripherals that you might hook up just for gameplay then put away for work. Two more USB downstream and one upstream port are on the input panel, which is tucked up in the extreme. We had to plug cables in by feel. You also get two HDMI 2.0 and one DisplayPort 1.4.
Pressing the AW3821DW’s joystick brings up a large and well-optioned OSD. There are eight sub-menus that control just about everything, including the RGB effects.
(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)
The Game sub-menu offers 12 picture modes in total, nine of which are fixed presets. The three Game modes are adjustable for six-color saturation and hue, along with independent overdrive settings.
Custom Color has RGB controls to adjust grayscale. Standard is the default mode and delivers reasonably accurate color with a slightly cool but acceptable grayscale. For HDR signals, all the modes are available, and you can calibrate in the Custom Color mode.
(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)
Game Enhance Mode includes a countdown timer and framerate counter, along with display alignment marks if you can fit more than one AW3821DW on your desk. There are no aiming points though, which is an unusual omission.
Response time is a three-level overdrive that’s effective at reducing blur. You can bump up to its middle settings without seeing ghosting. Meanwhile, dark stabilizer increases shadow detail visibility at the expense of black level. The AW3821DW doesn’t have great black levels to start with, so we suggest leaving this one alone.
(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)
Though the AW3821DW is an edge-lit monitor, it has a variable backlight control, which helps increase contrast. That variable backlight has three modes that vary in speed. Mode 0 makes the fastest transitions. Its effectiveness depends on the content you’re viewing, but the image can look a little better when turned on. It also substantially increased measured contrast in HDR mode; although, it wasn’t a necessity.
(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)
AlienFX Lighting refers to the RGB effects that you can find in four places on the monitor. Zone 1 is a small Alienware head in the back that’s raised from the surface. Zone 2 is on the stand. It’s the long ring on the back of the upright. Zone 3: is the small bar near the USB and headphone jacks. And Zone 4:, is the power button. The LEDs can breathe or remain steady, and you can choose one of 20 different colors for the four zones. You can customize the effects further with the AlienFX desktop app.
Alienware AW3821DW Calibration Settings
The AW3821DW is fairly accurate in its default Standard mode, but grayscale tracking could be better. For that, we switched to Custom Color mode to access the RGB sliders. The improvement was both measurable and visible with better saturation and punch after calibration. The RGB settings also work in HDR mode so we recommend using Custom Color for all signals.
The only thing missing here is an sRGB mode. All content is viewed using the monitor’s full native gamut which covers just over 90% of DCI-P3.
Here are our recommended calibration settings for the Alienware AW3821DW.
Swipe to scroll horizontally
|Picture Mode||Custom Color|
|Brightness 200 nits||43|
|Brightness 120 nits||22|
|Brightness 100 nits||16|
|Brightness 80 nits||11|
|Brightness 50 nits||4 (min. 44 nits)|
|Color Temp User||Red 100, Green 99, Blue 92|
Gaming and Hands-on
Our first impression of the AW3821DW is that it is very colorful with a nicely saturated image that’s bright and sharp. It also filled the peripheral vision at a 2-3-foot viewing distance with no head turning required. We observed this when reviewing the Acer X38 as well. The 2300R curve and 38-inch size is ideal for an immersive view, no matter the content.
Working in Windows was no different than using a flat screen. The curve is gentle, so there was no image distortion to cause distraction. It was easy to have two or three documents open at once, and there’s enough height to view a full page in a word processor. Web browsing on the AW3821DW doesn’t require as much scrolling as a 34-inch ultrawide screen does.
Turning to Tomb Raider, we enjoyed reasonable contrast when using the Variable Backlight, but it didn’t have a lot of impact. We could see slightly darker blacks and slightly brighter highlights, but the Predator X38’s backlight is more dramatic, as it modulates the backlight more aggressively. Still, using the AW3821DW’s Variable Backlight improved image quality slightly, since the AW3821DW’s native contrast is a bit below average.
Color looked fantastic in this game. Even though the monitor’s color gamut is oversaturated for SDR content, accuracy kept Tomb Raider from looking overblown. Earth tones had a nice warmth, while metal retained just the right coldness. The greens of the jungle looked vibrant and natural.
Trying out the different overdrive settings proved that the middle option was best. The fastest choice caused quite a bit of ghosting, (which, interestingly, did not show up in Blur Busters test patterns). Definitely stick with the middle setting. G-Sync Ultimate worked without issue at 144 Hz when run on a GeForce RTX 3090 graphics card, and we also tested the monitor with a Radeon RX 5700 XT respectively. Framerates stayed at 144 frames per second (fps) on both platforms.
Turning on HDR in Windows made the picture a little brighter but not so much that we couldn’t leave it on for workday tasks. It didn’t make as great a difference in black levels though. Overall contrast looked a little better, but the improvement is more in the highlights than the shadow areas.
Loading up an HDR copy of Call of Duty: WWII, showed a better image, mainly in the brighter zones. Highlights popped nicely with things like glinting sunlight looking particularly strong. But shadow detail, though easy to see, was more a dark gray than black. The Variable Backlight feature is more aggressive at making highlights stronger than it is at making shadows darker. Unlike the best HDR monitors, shifting to HDR mode didn’t bring a dramatic improvement to the image, but it did improve somewhat. We’d give the Acer X38 the edge in HDR quality.
Alienware AW3821DW: Price Comparison
Features and Specifications
Next Page Brightness & Contrast
Christian Eberle is a Contributing Editor for Tom’s Hardware US. He’s a veteran reviewer of A/V equipment, specializing in monitors.
Dell Alienware AW3821DW Review 2023: All You Must Know
If you’re after a 38″ ultrawide gaming monitor, the Dell Alienware AW3821DW is the only model that offers both a native G-SYNC module and DisplayHDR 600 certification, yet it is competitively priced. Here’s what you need to know about it and its alternatives.
Based on a Nano IPS panel, the Dell Alienware AW3821DW monitor delivers vibrant colors, covering over 95% of the DCI-P3 color space.
Its gamut is equivalent to ~131% sRGB, which provides rich and saturated colors with improved shade variety, especially with reds and greens.
Alas, Dell/Alienware didn’t include an sRGB emulation mode that could restrict the panel’s wide color gamut to ~100% sRGB for an accurate color representation of sRGB content (most games and web content).
This means that most of the content you see will be over-saturated. Some users might prefer this extra color vibrancy, but it’s not the intended look by creators.
Alternatively, if you have an AMD graphics card, you can clamp the gamut via the Radeon software by enabling ‘Custom Color.’ For NVIDIA users, there’s a third-party tool called novideo_srgb that does the same (and more).
Apart from that, the colors are vibrant, precise, and consistent across the entire screen and at all times thanks to the wide 178° viewing angles of the IPS technology.
Moving on, thanks to the monitor’s high 3840×1600 resolution, details and text are crystal-clear and you get plenty of screen space.
On the 37.5″ viewable screen, you get a pixel density of ~110 PPI (pixels per inch), which many consider to be the sweet spot as you don’t have to use any scaling yet you get a lot of screen real estate and a crisp picture.
Note that such high resolution is quite demanding to drive, so check some benchmarks of your CPU/GPU at 3840×1600 to see if you’ll get a satisfactory frame rate in your favorite games.
The ultrawide resolution also provides you with a more immersive gaming experience as you get a wider field of view (in supported games). 21:9 movies (2.35:1 or 2.39:1 to be precise) will also look great, without black borders at the top and bottom of the screen.
16:9 videos and unsupported games will have black bars at the sides of the screen, though. Alternatively, you can stretch or crop/zoom the image to fill the screen.
For reference, a 38″ ultrawide display is almost as tall as a regular 32″ monitor (30″ exactly) but ~20% wider.
The Dell AW3821DW has a strong 450-nit peak brightness, which gets a boost up to 600-nits when watching HDR (High Dynamic Range) content for more vivid and punchy highlights.
Additionally, there are 32 dimming zones that can dim parts of the image that need to be dark without greatly affecting parts of the screen that should remain bright.
This can make HDR content appear significantly more immersive, but since there are only 32 zones across the entire 38″ screen and since the native contrast ratio is mediocre at 1,000:1, only some HDR scenes with bright and dark objects far apart will look notably better.
In other words, you’re not getting the ‘true’ HDR viewing experience. Some HDR content will look much better, some will look worse, and some will be just okay.
Another thing to keep in mind about IPS panel monitors is IPS glow. It’s characterized as a visible ‘glow’ around the corners of the screen. It’s mostly noticeable when watching really dark scenes in a dark room with high brightness setting.
The amount of IPS glow varies across different units of monitors, just like other defects, such as backlight bleeding, dead/stuck pixels, etc. , but in most cases, it’s tolerable or negligible.
What drawbacks the Dell Alienware AW3821DW has regarding image quality, it makes up for when it comes to performance.
To start with, the monitor has imperceptibly low input lag at just ~4ms, while its 1ms GtG pixel response time speed is quick enough to eliminate ghosting behind fast-moving objects across the entire refresh rate range, without adding any noticeable overshoot.
There are three response time overdrive modes: Fast, Super Fast, and Extreme. We recommend sticking with the ‘Fast’ option, as the other two modes add too much inverse ghosting.
The monitor has a native G-SYNC module, which prevents screen tearing and stuttering up to 144FPS by providing you with a variable refresh rate (VRR) if you have a compatible graphics card (GTX 650 Ti Boost or newer).
As it uses one of the newer G-SYNC modules, variable refresh rate is also supported when using AMD graphics cards.
The Dell Alienware AW3821DW is branded as ‘G-SYNC Ultimate’, but unlike the initial several monitors with this certification, it doesn’t offer as good HDR image quality since it lacks full-array local dimming (FALD).
The G-SYNC Ultimate certification here simply implies that the monitor has a native G-SYNC module and ‘lifelike HDR.’
The first G-SYNC Ultimate certification requirements were much more demanding, including a 1,000-nit peak brightness and FALD, like the 384-zone or 512-zone FALD implementations of the ASUS PG27UQ and the Acer X35, respectively.
These two displays offer a much better (or ‘true’) HDR viewing experience, but they’re also more expensive due to the FALD solutions.
The OSD (On-Screen Display) menu of the Dell AW3821DW is well-organized and easy to work with thanks to the directional joystick placed at the rear of the monitor.
Below the joystick, you’ll find four additional hotkeys, three of which can be assigned to different shortcuts, while the power button is placed beneath the bottom bezel of the screen.
Noteworthy features include various picture presets, such as Standard, FPS, MOBA/RTS, RPG, Sports, three customizable Game profiles, and ComfortView (applies a low-blue light filter).
The backlight of the monitor is flicker-free as it doesn’t use PWM (Pulse-Width Modulation) to regulate brightness meaning that those sensitive to flickering won’t get headaches after prolonged use.
Under Game Enhance Mode, you’ll find a customizable on-screen timer, a refresh rate tracker, and Display Alignment for easier alignment of multiple windows.
Dark Stabilizer alters the gamma curvature for better visibility in dark scenes, while Variable Backlight adjusts the speed and effectiveness of the local dimming zones (Mode 0 for gameplay, Mode 1 for mixed-use, Mode 2 for desktop use, and ‘Off’).
Note that you can’t disable local dimming with HDR content, which is a shame since with some content, the local dimming solution can be more distracting than useful.
There’s also an ambient light sensor that will dynamically change the monitor’s brightness according to ambient lighting once enabled.
Other settings include the standard image adjustment tools (brightness, contrast, input source selection, etc. ), but some advanced features are missing.
There are no gamma, sharpness, or hue/saturation settings – and there are only three color temperature modes (Warm, Cool, and Custom). You also won’t find Picture in Picture or Picture by Picture.
The RGB lighting settings, on the other hand, are plentiful.
The Alienware logo and LEDs across the back of the monitor’s stand can be customized to glow in various colors and patterns. You can customize these settings in the OSD menu or via the Alienware Command Center desktop application.
While the RGB lighting customization is generous, LEDs aren’t strong enough to reflect off of the wall for atmospheric lighting – and you can’t sync it to on-screen video or audio.
Design & Connectivity
The Dell Alienware AW3821DW boasts premium build quality and a versatile stand with up to 130mm height adjustment, -5°/21° tilt, +/- 20° swivel, and 100x100mm VESA mount compatibility.
Further, the screen has a matte anti-glare screen coating that prevents reflections, while the subtle 2300R curvature adds to the immersion.
Connectivity options include DisplayPort 1.4, two HDMI 2.0 ports, a headphone jack, an audio line-out port for external speakers, and a quad-USB 3.0 hub.
Note that HDMI 2.0 is limited to 85Hz at 3840×1600.
For 10-bit color depth at 3840×1600 over DisplayPort 1.4, you’ll need to use chroma subsampling at 144Hz or lower the refresh rate to 120Hz.
Unlike the other 38″ ultrawide gaming monitors based on the same panel with G-SYNC, the Dell Alienware AW3821DW doesn’t offer a factory-overclocked refresh rate, though you could try overclocking it manually.
The G-SYNC module also has a cooling fan, which depending on the unit and your personal sensitivity, can be somewhat noisy.
Price & Similar Monitors
The Dell Alienware AW3821DW goes for ~$1200, which makes it the most affordable and the best 38″ ultrawide gaming monitor available!
There are two more 38″ G-SYNC models, the Acer X38P and the LG 38GL950G. They have an sRGB mode, and feature a factory-overclocked 175Hz refresh rate but have a weaker DisplayHDR 400 certification.
There’s also the LG 38GN950 with AMD FreeSync and DisplayHDR 600 that goes for ~$1,500, as well as the Thunderbolt 3 variant, the LG 38WN95C, going for ~$1,200 on sale. These two models have fewer dimming zones though (12).
We recommend checking out the Dell AW3423DWF at this price range.
It has a QD-OLED panel with an infinite contrast ratio, a higher peak brightness, a wider color gamut and no backlight bleeding or similar artifacts. On top of that, it supports VRR up to 165Hz and has instantaneous pixel response time, resulting in much better HDR image quality and gaming performance.
In case you don’t care for HDR or OLED technology, we recommend the AW3821DW for gaming and the LG 38WN95C if you have a laptop with Thunderbolt 3/USB-C.
The Dell Alienware AW3821DW offers an immersive and responsive SDR gaming experience.
Thanks to its low input lag, quick response time, high refresh rate and G-SYNC, you can enjoy smooth gameplay without any visual artifacts, while the vibrant colors, big screen with high resolution and strong peak brightness take the picture quality to the next level.
While it can’t be factory-overclocked like the other G-SYNC models, we find that 144Hz is plenty at 3840×1600, and the difference between 144Hz and ~170Hz would be hardly noticeable anyway.
However, if you don’t mind having a smaller display, the Dell AW3423DWF offers a much better HDR image quality and performance for the same price.
|Panel Type||Nano IPS|
|Aspect Ratio||21:9 (UltraWide)|
|Refresh Rate||120Hz – 10-bit color depth
144Hz – 8-bit color depth or 4:2:2 chroma
|Response Time||1ms (GtG)|
*Supports FreeSync over DP
|Ports||DisplayPort 1.4, 2x HDMI 2.0|
|Other Ports||Headphone Jack, 4x USB 3. 0,
|Brightness (HDR)||600 cd/m²|
|Contrast Ratio||1000:1 (static)|
|Colors||1.07 billion (8-bit + FRC)
|Local Dimming||32-zone (edge-lit)|
- Big screen with a high resolution
- Vibrant and accurate colors
- Quick response time speed
- G-SYNC up to 144Hz
- Plenty of additional gaming features
- Ergonomic stand, USB ports
- DisplayHDR 600
- IPS glow and low contrast ratio, as expected from this panel technology
- No sRGB mode
- Missing some OSD features, such as PiP/PbP and gamma settings
- G-SYNC module fan might be noisy to some users running extra-quiet builds
Test and Review: Alienware AW3821DW – Immersive Large Gaming Display
The Alienware AW3821DW promises top-notch gaming immersion with a 38-inch 21:9 aspect ratio nano IPS panel, but there’s no compromise on speed either: it supports 144 refresh rates Hz and G-Sync Ultimate. Let’s see how the display will show itself in practice.
38-inch monitors are still quite rare, unlike 34-inch monitors. Although 49-inch models attract the attention of many gamers, since they have already moved to the second generation, and immersion with such a diagonal is as deep as possible. But they are quite expensive, so Alienware AW3821DW can be called a good alternative. The monitor is noticeably larger than the 34-inch models, which improves immersion, but there is also more height space, which is already useful for work scenarios. The curvature of the panel also has a positive effect on immersion, although the radius of 2.300 mm is relatively large for a modern gaming model.
Alienware AW3821DW offers other interesting features besides the large diagonal. In particular, you should pay attention to the panel. Alienware, a subsidiary of Dell, chose a nano-IPS panel made by LG. The DCI-P3 color gamut is 95% closed, but we will check this statement in practice. The maximum refresh rate is 144Hz, G-Sync-Ultimate and DisplayHDR 600 are supported.
As you would expect from an Alienware product, the 38-inch monitor has a stylish design and backlight.
Alienware AW3821DW Monitor sells from 250.000 ₽. Compared to 34-inch models, the overpayment is very significant.
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|Retail price:||from 250.000 ₽|
|Look up Table:||10 Bit|
|Resolution:||3. 840 x 1.600 pixels|
|Brightness:||Max. 450 cd/m²|
|Pixel response time:||1 ms|
|Refresh rate:||144 Hz|
|Viewing angles:|| Horizontal: 178°
|Interfaces:|| 1x DisplayPort
5x USB 3.0 (1up, 5 down)
|Dimensions (W x H x D):||894.9 x 399.4 x 130.1 mm|
|Ergonomics:|| Panel height: 130 mm
Panel tilt: -5° – 21°
Swivel: -20° – 20°
|Optional:||4-zone RGB backlight, G-Sync Ultimate, DisplayHDR 600|
Housing and workmanship
A year ago we tested the Alienware AW2720HF monitor. Externally, the AW3821DW can be called the “big brother”, which is hardly a disadvantage, since Alienware consistently implements a stylish design for its displays. Which is different from gaming competitors.
The chassis is mostly white with a soft-touch finish, as is the case with the manufacturer’s notebooks. From the front, the white coloration is only visible on the stand, as the 38-inch panel has an edge-to-edge coverage. The bezels seem to be very narrow, but in fact the width of the dead zone is about 9mm. Nothing prevents you from installing two or three of these monitors together. Apart from the price, of course.
The curved panel is clearly visible on the side. Alienware opted for a fairly large radius of curvature of 2,300mm by today’s standards. By comparison, the recently tested AOC Agon PD27 has a radius of 1,000 mm, a choice based on the curvature of the human pupil. And in direct comparison, the AW3821DW seems almost flat. Although in some work scenarios this has its advantages.
The stand is not small, but externally it integrates very well into the overall concept. Alienware’s smooth shapes and white surfaces are unlike most gaming monitors on the market. As a rule, other manufacturers choose more aggressive designs. The stand does its job reliably, but the suspension could be stiffer. The panel vibrates at the slightest impact, yet the lever arms are affected.
The Alienware AW3821DW looks even better on the back than it does on the front. In addition, Alienware has integrated beautiful RGB lighting into the stand. So that the appearance of the 38-inch monitor does not break the cables, they are hidden behind a cover.
The workmanship is excellent, as is the quality of the material.
Alienware has hidden the interface panel behind a cover that slides easily. Behind it are almost all modern interfaces. Namely, two inputs HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort 1.4. In terms of USB ports, there are four USB 3.2 Gen1 ports for connecting 5Gb/s devices.
But Alienware has chosen a very interesting solution for USB. Two ports are located on the main panel under the cover, two more are placed on the bottom end, they can be easily reached. Moreover, power is supplied to these ports even when the monitor is off, which allows you to charge smartphones and tablets.
<>Test and Review: Alienware AW3821DW – Large Immersive Gaming Display
Review Alienware AW3821DW | Trusted Reviews
The Alienware AW3821DW Gaming Monitor looks great, offers a wide range of features, and delivers the vibrant, vivid images that make games popular. But the lack of high contrast means it doesn’t display much depth and doesn’t perform very well in HDR. So you’ll find more nuance and realism elsewhere.
- Accurate, vibrant colors
- Robust and beautiful design
- Excellent resolution and width
- Good selection of features
- Striking contrast
- Hidden in HDR
Display: 38″ large display with 3840 x 1600 resolution
Refresh rate: 144Hz for smooth dynamic action
Response TimeFast 1ms response time ensures minimal latency
The Alienware AW3821DW is the largest and most expensive monitor sold by Dell’s high-end gaming brand, and it puts a lot of pressure on this display’s broad shoulders.
This panel fights back with a powerful specification. A 38-inch widescreen panel with a huge 3840 x 1600 resolution is paired with attractive Alienware design and Nvidia G-Sync support.
Price and availability
The Alienware AW3821DW is not cheap. In the UK you will have to shell out £1299 and in the US it will set you back $1425. In Europe, it costs 1399 euros.
If you need such equipment in a smaller design, Alienware also makes the AW3420DW. It’s another 21:9 panelwith a slightly lower 3440 x 1440 resolution, and it costs £900 / $1,139 / €999 – not cheap, but more manageable than the 38-inch model reviewed here.
Alienware’s most significant competitor at the moment is the LG UltraGear 38GN950. Both 38-inch displays have most of the key specs, but LG is surprisingly more expensive than Alienware at £1,498 / $1,799 / €1,799.
- Beautiful, durable and impressive appearance
- Wide range of settings and functions
- Size, resolution and curve are captivating and well balanced.
The AW3821DW combines a 38-inch diagonal with a 21:9 aspect ratio and 3840 x 1600 resolution. It’s the perfect starting point for immersive gaming: the same horizontal pixel count as a 4K panel means plenty of room to play. . I also like this vertical number: it’s more pixels than the currently popular 32:9 widescreens., and more than 1080p and 1440p displays. This means games won’t feel cramped, which is a common mistake on other widescreen devices.
You only need to look at 32:9 panels if you play racing games where the extra width is useful and you’ll only get a sharper picture with a 4K monitor.
The only other big downside to Alienware’s resolution is the need for a powerful graphics card like the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 or AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT, and something more powerful wouldn’t hurt. This display is not as demanding as a 4K panel or the largest 32:9 aspect ratio displaysbut it’s not far off.
Alienware has a curve in the 2300R that’s subtle – sometimes hard to see at all. This is the same radius as the LG and allows you to see sides and corners better. However, by modern standards, this is a small radius, and screens with designs from 1000R to 1800R are arguably more immersive.
Base panel is an IPS display with 10-bit color and 1ms response time. It supports Nvidia G-Sync Ultimate at 144Hz and is AMD FreeSync over DisplayPort compatible.
You will only be able to use 10-bit color if you reduce the refresh rate of this display to 120Hz or lower, but it doesn’t matter much – the difference is not noticeable in games, so it works at 8-bit and 144Hz – the best option. If you’re using HDMI, this display tops out at 85Hz unless you lower the resolution.
Also be aware that sub-4K vertical resolution and reliance on HDMI 2.0 rather than HDMI 2.1 means Alienware is not suitable for use with next generation consoles such as PS5 and Xbox Series X.
However, once I put this big beast next to my gaming PC, it really looked the part. It’s made from beautiful black and white plastic, and there are customizable RGB LEDs on the back of the stand, in the logo, and under the bottom bezel. Build quality is excellent, with no movement and little to no wobble, but keep in mind that the AW3821DW isn’t small or light: its 11.5kg weight is significant and it’s 300mm deep, so you’ll need a lot of desk space.
Under the front panel you’ll find two USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports and two more on the back. One port provides fast charging capability, and there’s also a USB upstream port so you can connect to a PC and run peripherals through the display. Alienware has a cable management cavity in the stand, a pair of audio jacks and an on-screen display with a wide range of options and quick and easy navigation, as well as a quick and responsive joystick on the back.
Alienware relies on a snap-in stand mechanism and one tool-less screw in the base, making it very easy to assemble. It also offers 130mm height adjustment, extensive swivel and tilt, and a 100mm VESA mount. That’s about the same amount of customization you’d get from any widescreen.
This well-built monitor is easy to live with – aside from its large size – though there are a few missing features. A USB-C port would be nice here, but there are no speakers.
Competitor LG shares many of these qualities. This monitor is also an IPS display with the same resolution, curve, and 1ms response time, and it has the same problems switching between 10-bit and 8-bit color. LG natively supports AMD FreeSync, but is also Nvidia G-Sync certified.
The LG display is lighter than the Alienware but offers fewer customization options than the Alienware and has no USB ports.
- It is smooth and crisp when rendering popular games.
- Reasonable color accuracy in SDR modes
- Mediocre contrast and lack of HDR capability means this display lacks depth.
The Alienware AW3821DW delivers smooth, crisp gaming with a 144Hz refresh rate that’s good enough for single-player games and popular esports titles. You’ll only need a 240Hz or 360Hz display if you’re serious about high-level competition and those monitors are lower resolution.
The synchronized 144Hz refresh rate ensures smooth gaming in the biggest games, and the response time is impressive, and you can deploy fast overload mode without suffering from ghosting. Display input lag is also less than 10ms, which is excellent.
I used the Alienware performance colorimeter out of the box and it showed good color accuracy. Its Delta E of 1.93 is excellent, and its 6851K color temperature is cold but not capricious enough to cause problems. AW3821DW displayed 99.5% of the sRGB gamut at a staggering 131.6% volume and displayed HDR capable DCI-P3 gamut at 92.8% and 93.2%.
This mapping is homogeneous. In most segments of the screen, its backlight deviated by less than 5%, which is great for a widescreen monitor. In the upper left corner, the backlight has decreased by 16%, but this is the only sector where the display had problems, and this is not a big deal.
The default brightness level of 225 nits is fine, but combined with a black point of 0.26 nits, it’s too much. The resulting contrast ratio of 865:1 is mediocre for an IPS panel, which means the Alienware lacks nuance. Blacks in particular are weak and often appear gray.
SDR’s peak brightness level is just under 500 nits, but contrast didn’t improve at that level – and similarly things were left a bit washed out and unimpressive when the brightness was dropped to more reasonable everyday levels.
Alienware is also not a particularly good HDR option, despite its VESA DisplayHDR 600 certification. Black levels drop by a reasonable amount in HDR mode and brightness improves to around 700 nits, but Alienware only has a few edge-lit dimming zones. You can see the improvement in HDR content on this display – it’s certainly sharper – but it’s never subtle and rarely looks uniform.
Also don’t rely on FPS, RTS, RPG and Sport modes. None of them improved the contrast ratio beyond the original screen result, and they all degraded the Delta E panels. This display also cannot work with the Adobe RGB color space – it is only capable of a mediocre level of 80.1% coverage.
LG’s rival screen also sticks to the VESA DisplayHDR 600 color gamut and also disappoints in HDR content, so neither panel stands out in that regard. However, LG beats Alienware in key areas of SDR: it displays better contrast and more accurate colors.
The Alienware AW3821DW looks fantastic, is durable and versatile, and offers more features than its LG competitor. And when it comes to gaming, it certainly comes in handy – the size and resolution are captivating, it’s smooth and crisp, and the images come out bright and sharp.
However, it doesn’t have the depth needed to really make games look better, and it’s not the best HDR option. The more expensive LG is better here, although this display suffers from a relative lack of features.
If you’re after a beautiful widescreen gaming screen with vibrant colors and plenty of features, then Alienware is worth it, but there are better alternatives if you’re looking for more depth and realism in your images. Check out our list of the best gaming monitors for more options.
Is it worth buying?
You need a beautiful, bright and versatile display
The Alienware AW3821DW combines a bright image with a wealth of features. The 144Hz refresh rate is suitable for both single player and multiplayer.
You want realistic colors, great depth and great HDR performance
While the AW3821DW is a great gaming monitor, its color accuracy isn’t good enough to be used as a creative-oriented panel. You’re also better off looking elsewhere if you want top-notch HDR performance.
The Alienware AW3821DW Gaming Monitor looks great, offers a wide range of features, and delivers the vibrant, vivid images that make gaming popular. But the lack of high contrast means it doesn’t display much depth and doesn’t perform very well in HDR. So you’ll find more nuance and realism elsewhere.
What is the warranty for this monitor?
Alienware is backed by a three-year warranty, one year longer than the competing LG display.
How much movement does Alienware offer?
Alienware comes with 130mm height adjustment, 40 degree swivel and 26 degree tilt, which is perfectly normal for this class of display.
Date of first revision
849.9 x 293.5 x 449.7 mm
3840 x 1600
2x HDMI and DisplayPort
Test Data Trusted Reviews
White visual color temperature
Accuracy Delta Color (Delta E)