Alienware AW3821DW Review: Smooth, Curved, Slick Ultrawide

Top-of-the-line 38-inch ultrawide

Alienware AW3821DW
(Image: © Dell)

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There are few gamers who would not prefer a larger monitor. A bigger screen makes the game’s environment more realistic and engaging. Adding the ultrawide aspect ratio and curvature just heightens the effect. As much fun as a 34 or 35-inch display is, a 38-incher is even more fun. You can sit 3 feet away, fill your peripheral vision and not have to turn your head to see all the action.

There is also no doubt that as a new jumbo screen category, prices are at the premium level. But Alienware’s AW3821DW is currently about $300 cheaper (opens in new tab) than the other 38-inch display we reviewed, Acer’s Predator X38 (opens in new tab).

(Image credit: Dell)

To save $300 on any monitor, one usually must make a few sacrifices. The obvious difference between the two, on paper anyway, is the refresh rate. The Acer offers 175 Hz over the Alienware’s 144 Hz. In our tests, that proved to be a wash. While the Acer draws the screen 1ms faster, the total lag score is the same.

The X38 offers better contrast but other aspects of image quality are the same. Both screens are colorful and accurate with large gamuts and beautiful images. Both are bright, saturated and sharp. The contrast equation might be an issue for some, but the question of how much contrast is worth an extra $300 must be answered by the potential buyer.

Certainly, the Alienware AW3821DW is a beautiful monitor with excellent build quality and decent ergonomics. Its styling and RGB effects are top shelf. There’s no doubt it will provide many years of entertainment and it works well for productivity too.

The $300 answer is this: if price is no object, the Acer X38 is a little better. If you’d rather save $300, the AW3821DW will completely satisfy. It’s a really nice monitor, and we have no problem recommending it for those seeking an immersive jumbo screen experience.

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.

  • coloradoblah
    About 600 too expensive still
    Reply
  • Metteec
    Overall, thank you for a well-detailed review. I think another important point to mention is the warranty. The Alienware includes Dell's 3-year advanced replacement, meaning Dell will send you a replacement before receiving your broken screen. With so many comparisons to the Acer X38p, having a 2-year standard warranty, I think that Tom's should mention the support differential. Another important factor not evaluated is the noise. The AW3821DW is whisper quiet. The X38p has a noticeable fan noise that I can hear with headphones on if no sound is playing. The sound was driving me crazy.

    I have owned the X38p (returned) and now I own the AW3821DW and can confirm the AW3821DW's HDR is mostly trash, but the color accuracy, screen size, g-sync, brightness, and responsiveness make it one of the best monitors I have used. I was able to purchase for around $1,300 in the US with a 10% off coupon and their sale. I would not be surprised if you saw the monitor get to $1000 in six months.
    Reply
  • helper800
    coloradoblah said:
    About 600 too expensive still
    At this price range you mind as well grab a 48 inch LG CX when they inevitably go on sale. I just recently got the 55 inch LG CX at Costco for 1350. I wall mounted it and have it at a -16 degree angle above my other 2 monitors. I have not used it for any PC gaming yet as I am setting up a new desk as well but it looks great about 5.5 feet away and all I have to do is look up about +40 degrees or lean back in my chair. It primary purpose is not PC gaming, however, its for the consoles and watching content from my bed about 10 feet away.

    TLDR; why get this monitor for nearly the price of something so much better?
    Reply
  • coloradoblah
    helper800 said:
    At this price range you mind as well grab a 48 inch LG CX when they inevitably go on sale. I just recently got the 55 inch LG CX at Costco for 1350. I wall mounted it and have it at a -16 degree angle above my other 2 monitors. I have not used it for any PC gaming yet as I am setting up a new desk as well but it looks great about 5.5 feet away and all I have to do is look up about +40 degrees or lean back in my chair. It primary purpose is not PC gaming, however, its for the consoles and watching content from my bed about 10 feet away.

    TLDR; why get this monitor for nearly the price of something so much better?
    Yeah, im not a fan of non matte screens but the sheer size and contrast alone its a better buy
    Reply
  • helper800
    coloradoblah said:
    Yeah, im not a fan of non matte screens but the sheer size and contrast alone its a better buy
    It has a glossy finish but its bright enough to get rid of about 80% of glare. It was a big concern of mine but I am happy with the finish in the end. I have had some monitors with matte finishes that end up making the picture overall grainy looking which, in my opinion, is worse than glare.
    Reply
  • TacticalBeard
    Just grabbed this for 1100$ for Black Friday 2021.

    ive been using a 100hz 3440x1440 acer predator x34 since it’s been out 6 years now. Got lucky and grabbed it for a 700$ Open box steal back when they were new and everyone was sending them back because they had IPS glow in the corners.

    this has much faster nano IPS,144 refresh rate , slightly bigger at 38” but with the same pixel density being 3840x1600 21.45% more pixels the GPU needs to run but still keeping a 21:9 aspect ratio unlike the 49” Samsung G9 that’s it’s own uniqe aspect ratio that I doubt has much if any game support you

    It’s a solid improvement in IPS panel technology. I’ve never had an HDR screen so I’ll have to wait and see if I like this. even if it’s only HDR600 witch really seems to be the only real let down of this screen with pretty much every reviewer saying 1000HDR is when it starts to get good it makes me wonder why dell ddt push to make this premium display to have the last thing it needed to be perfect and left it with mediocre HDR . But for all I know 600HDR will blow me away when I first try it

    just need to figure out what I’m going to do with my x34 that’s still running perfectly fine
    Reply