The Alienware AW3423DW is by far the best ultra wide monitor you can get right now, it’s well priced for the features it offers, and overall it’s one of the best monitors you can get on the market right now.
The big advantage of this Alienware display is the use of QD-OLED technology. This means we get proper, true HDR performance thanks to OLED’s self-illuminating pixel structure and the resultant zero-level deep blacks. This QD-OLED panel can reach up to 1000 nits of brightness for small items and looks just fine when displaying HDR content. Combined with an extremely fast response time (thanks to the inherent OLED technology) and a high refresh rate of 175Hz, there is no better HDR gaming monitor on the market right now.
It’s also a very capable SDR gaming monitor, and despite being OLED-equipped, it doesn’t have some of the flaws we’ve seen with other OLED displays. In particular, the screen’s full brightness of 240 nits is usable in most rooms (though not impressive), and there are no annoying features like automatic brightness limiters enabled when using SDR mode. Dell is also easing concerns about OLED displays’ tendency to burn in with a three-year warranty.
There are some drawbacks that limit the AW3423DW’s ability to consume content. The triangle-RGB pixel structure isn’t great for text clarity and can cause fringing on some content, which can be noticeable depending on your sensitivity, I’ve seen this in person and heard mixed results from others. And despite the burn-in guarantee, there is still a risk of burn-in, which is exacerbated when using the display for static images such as spreadsheets or other productivity applications. We only recommend this monitor if you intend to use it primarily for gaming or other content consumption such as watching movies.
Other issues include the display’s coating and layer composition, which can reflect a lot of ambient light. To get the full benefit of this display, I would recommend using it in a dark room. It is also actively cooled, and you can hear it while the fan is running. However, despite these shortcomings, you won’t find a better ultra-wide monitor or a better HDR gaming monitor for $1300.
What else is there?
Alienware’s main alternative is something like the LG 34GN850 if you want an ultra-wide one that’s good for productivity in addition to gaming, but $900 it doesn’t seem worth it compared to the far superior Alienware. At this price range, we’d definitely like to spend the extra $400 to get proper HDR support, even if that means sacrificing some usability, although that will depend on the amount of gaming and performance you’re doing.
Another option worth mentioning is the Samsung Odyssey Neo G9, a 49-inch 5120 x 1440 240Hz ultra-wide display with 2000-zone mini-LED backlighting for true HDR functionality. While sometimes a good product, there are a few quality control issues that remain unresolved (such as scan lines) and it’s quite expensive to 1800 USD.
Budget ultrawide: Gigabyte M34WQ
Not everyone has $1,300 to spend on a monitor, so if HDR isn’t your thing and you just want a regular ultra-wide monitor at an affordable price, we recommend the Gigabyte M34WQ. It’s a little unusual to have a flat 34-inch, 3440 x 1440 144Hz IPS display, but what it offers for just $500 is an excellent balance of performance in the various areas we test and look for. Response time is good, color reproduction is good, and there are no major downsides like the dark level blur you get with most budget ultrawide VAs.
That’s not to say there aren’t cons: the contrast ratio is very weak compared to its VA rivals, and response times aren’t as fast as premium ultra-wide gaming IPSs. But the versatility of its IPS panel and the overall balance of performance is what draws me to this product over others on the market.