Alienware AW3225QF OLED 4K gaming monitor review: Stunning speed, color and contrast

32-inch curved OLED panel with 4K resolution, 240 Hz, Adaptive-Sync, HDR10, Dolby Vision and wide gamut color

Alienware AW3225QF
Editor's Choice
(Image: © Tom's Hardware)

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Our HDR benchmarking uses Portrait Displays’ Calman software. To learn about our HDR testing, see our breakdown of how we test PC monitors.

The AW3225QF supports HDR10 signals with an automatic switch and six additional picture modes. It defaults to Desktop, but I found the best image and accuracy with DisplayHDR True Black option. I didn’t measure the Dolby Vision mode, but I confirmed its correct operation using content and disc-based test patterns.

HDR Brightness and Contrast

OLED panels don’t produce impressive brightness levels for HDR like Mini LED monitors but trust me, they look far better. The AW3225QF is on par with its competition for peak brightness and black levels. For indoor environments, 453 nits peak is more than enough output to create bright and impactful images. As I noted earlier in the SDR tests, the Philips 42M2N89 doesn’t shut off its pixel array completely, so it has a measurable black level. With over 20,000:1 contrast, the difference between it and the others is mostly subtle.

Grayscale, EOTF and Color

The AW3225QF’s True Black mode achieves visually perfect grayscale tracking and a decent EOTF curve. Luminance runs a tad dark up to the 45% level, but not enough that detail is obscured. You can compensate in most cases by adjusting the HDR black levels in the game’s menu. This is a minor error. I measured the Peak 1000 mode and found the same peak brightness but more severe crushing of shadow detail. I don’t recommend this mode for gaming.

In the HDR gamut tests, you can see a little over-saturation in general, but because it’s linear, you won’t see any masking of detail in mid-tone areas of the image. Like in SDR mode, the points go past the DCI-P3 triangle perimeter just a bit, but not enough to cause a visible problem. In the 2020 test, the AW3225QF meets or exceeds the targets until it runs out of color at around 90% for red and 80% for green. Blue comes up shy at 95%. This is typical performance for any wide-gamut monitor, but the AW3225QF covers more volume than most.

Test Takeaway: There is no better monitor for HDR content than an OLED. The AW3225QF delivers the same true blacks and high impact as any other OLED but goes a bit further with greater color volume and Dolby Vision support. The extra saturation can be seen in a side-by-side comparison. Given its other positive attributes, it’s hard to say anything other than that it’s the best HDR monitor I’ve yet reviewed.

MORE: Best Gaming Monitors

MORE: How We Test PC Monitors

MORE: How to Buy a PC Monitor

MORE: How to Choose the Best HDR Monitor

Christian Eberle
Contributing Editor

Christian Eberle is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He's a veteran reviewer of A/V equipment, specializing in monitors. Christian began his obsession with tech when he built his first PC in 1991, a 286 running DOS 3.0 at a blazing 12MHz. In 2006, he undertook training from the Imaging Science Foundation in video calibration and testing and thus started a passion for precise imaging that persists to this day. He is also a professional musician with a degree from the New England Conservatory as a classical bassoonist which he used to good effect as a performer with the West Point Army Band from 1987 to 2013. He enjoys watching movies and listening to high-end audio in his custom-built home theater and can be seen riding trails near his home on a race-ready ICE VTX recumbent trike. Christian enjoys the endless summer in Florida where he lives with his wife and Chihuahua and plays with orchestras around the state.

  • cknobman
    Nice monitor just way too expensive.
    Crazy there is a market for $1200+ 32' monitors.
  • AtonDude
    Not picking on the price per se, but this 'fun with specmanship' thing is SO blatantly funny. Peak 'effective' brightness limited to edges and spots but presented through marketing talking points as something so much more Grand - needs to stop - especially with the price-of-entry for these displays.
  • Dantte
    This is perfect and tics every box except I want this as a 32:9; kind of done with the multiple 16:9 monitors...
  • JTWrenn
    That price should really be in the cons. I get it's a great monitor and all but that price is crazy when you can buy a damn 65 inch oled tv at that price. I know it is apples and oranges....but you can still eat both of those fruits. It should be listed as a con, that is really expensive.

    edit: haha typed old instead of oled. Awesome typo, massively changed the meaning haha.
  • dwd999
    cknobman said:
    Nice monitor just way too expensive.
    Crazy there is a market for $1200+ 32' monitors.
    Be thankful that OLED prices are coming down. Its 40 percent of what LG's former OLED 32 inch monitor cost and about half of what I paid for their 27 inch model a couple of years ago. And now the refresh rates are 4 times higher. If you ever choose to use an OLED monitor with its true black background for an extended period of time you will understand why there's a market for $1200+ monitors.
  • 8086
    HDR10 should be a con. You may as well not even have or use the HDR on such a monitor as it's practically worthless. HDR400 or better please!
  • UnforcedERROR
    8086 said:
    HDR10 should be a con. You may as well not even have or use the HDR on such a monitor as it's practically worthless. HDR400 or better please!
    HDR10 is primarily a video format. HDR400 isn't even a format, it's a brightness specification, and the absolute lowest in that range as well. You got the concepts reversed, HDR400 is largely meaningless compared to HDR10, which has actual applications.
  • oofdragon
    Just dumb, períod. 4k is 40+ inch resolution, $1200 is 40+ inch price. Just buy a TV, way better experience from a bigger screen l, better image quality and fair price for what you are paying
  • Dantte
    oofdragon said:
    Just dumb, períod. 4k is 40+ inch resolution, $1200 is 40+ inch price. Just buy a TV, way better experience from a bigger screen l, better image quality and fair price for what you are paying
    40" maybe for a TV that you are sitting 8ft from, but when youre 2-3ft from the monitor, the 4K is extremely beneficial.

    The pixel pitch of a 4k at 32" is 0.18mm. Industry (AV) accepted standard for minimum distance is 10ft for every 1mm of pitch, or in this case you would never want to be closer than 1.8ft from the screen or you could start seeing the individual pixels. Optimum is 2x that, or 3.6ft, this is sweet spot for a monitor of that size and resolution, and just happens to be how far most people sit away from their screens.

    Compare that to the next resolution down, 1440p, and were talking 0.27mm, or minimum seating distance of 2.7ft which is roughly where most people are with there monitors. So 1440p is right on the edge, and the sweet spot is 5.4ft, which is much further away than most people view a monitor and is also beyond the "high detail" seating distance for a 32" monitor. This is why 1440p at 27" is generally referred to as perfect, and 1080p at 24" is right there too.

    No, the standards dont change whe. new tech comes out, been this way for 2 decades, or thats how long ive been doing this. Its only been recently that the tech has caugh up with the human anatomy (eye).
  • HyperMatrix
    Admin said:
    Alienware’s AW3225QF ups the ante for QD-OLED desktop monitors with a 32-inch curved 4K panel that runs at 240 Hz with Adaptive-Sync, HDR10, Dolby Vision and wide gamut color.

    Alienware AW3225QF OLED 4K gaming monitor review: Stunning speed, color and contrast : Read more
    Hate to be like this, but for this monitor I have to be. This monitor is a completely broken POS. Was listed as the worst of the 4K 240Hz QD OLED monitors by Hardware Unboxed. And has many fundamental flaws, resulting in a sub-par image compared to even Alienware’s previous 3440x1440 QD OLED.

    This monitor is garbage. And this glowing review leads me to believe the reviewer is…and I’m trying to be nice as I can here…but completely inexperienced when it comes to OLED/HDR and image adjustment.

    This monitor should only be used in HDR1000 mode for gaming but reviewer says to use HDR 400. The monitor doesn’t allow color and contrast adjustments in HDR 1000 mode. It won’t let you use DLDSR or integer scaling because it won’t allow you to turn off DSC, which the ASUS and now MSI models do, and the Gigabyte model will soon. Also side note…if you have a TV hooked up to your PC, just having this monitor plugged in, not even on or being used, disables DLDSR on your TV as well.

    Comparing the image on this to my AW3423DW is a night and day difference. The monitor suffers from raised blacks and less punchy image compared to its predecessor which is why I sent it back after a few weeks.

    The OSD functionality is greatly limited with many features that existed on the AW3423DW now disabled. Such as the dark boost feature which won’t work in HDR anymore. The on screen crosshairs only give you 1 option and it’s not even a crosshairs. All the other monitors do a much better job.

    The monitor is pure crap. And I’m frustrated over this terrible review of a terrible product. That you couldn’t find any cons is a reflection of your experience with what to look for and that. This was an advertisement. Not a review. Sorry not sorry. Worst 4K 240Hz QD OLED ever released.

    p.s. link to a Reddit article documenting all the issues with the monitor. There have been a few firmware updates since then but none that resolved the main issues with the display.