Dell U3818DW Curved Monitor Review

When LG released the first curved ultra-wide monitors back in 2014, they were squarely aimed at the general-use category. With no frame of reference, it was difficult to predict who would embrace the new format. While the products were initially met with skepticism, gamers quickly discovered the advantages of a single 21:9 curved screen over multiple flat panels with their annoying separation lines. 32” and 34” sizes meant a usable and beneficial wraparound effect without image distortion.

The largest such displays now come in a 38” configuration with a 37.5” viewable area. We’ve already looked at LG’s 38UC99 and Acer’s XR382CQK. Both are clearly intended for gamers with FreeSync and a 75Hz refresh rate.

Today, we’re checking out Dell’s U3818DW. While it's based on a similar AH-IPS panel part from LG Display, it trades gaming features for a factory-certified calibration, 10-bit color, and professional-level accuracy. It also sports 3840x1600-pixel resolution, tank-like build quality, and up-to-date connectivity with HDMI 2.0 and USB 3.1 Type C. Let’s take a look.

Specifications

While the U3818DW’s calibration data sheet qualifies it for use by professionals, the native color gamut is sRGB like its gaming counterparts. To that, it adds 10-bit color depth and the latest HDMI 2.0 inputs with HDCP 2.2. You also get USB 3.1 Type C for easier integration with laptops and other devices.

The panel is an AH-IPS part from LG Display with a 2300mm-radius curve. Pixel density is in the Windows sweet spot at 111ppi. Coupled with a whole lot of screen area, that should make any dpi-scaling unnecessary. Color accuracy is certified to less than 2dE in the sRGB colorspace. Also included is a uniformity compensation feature, although we’ll tell you up front that it’s not needed. Our sample did very well during testing.

Like every monitor in Dell’s UltraSharp line, the U3818DW is built to a higher standard than most. The panel is ruggedly constructed and looks like it will stand up to serious and long-term use. If you need professional-grade accuracy and functionality but haven’t considered a curved screen before now, this might be your new display. It’s clearly meant for something other than gaming.

Packaging, Physical Layout & Accessories

Dell continues to provide unique packaging for its monitors. The U3818DW comes in a clamshell-style carton made from double-corrugate. Inside are cleverly shaped cardboard pieces that protect every part with only small bits of foam. It’s extremely sturdy and unlikely to be damaged during shipment. The upright and base bolt together without tools. The assembly is then snapped onto the panel for a clean, uncluttered look.

Included cables are of exceptional quality. They have a smooth finish with thick insulation and are coiled to avoid kinks. You get an IEC cord for the internal power supply in addition to HDMI, DisplayPort, USB 3.0, and USB 3.1 Type C. A CD contains documentation and all necessary drivers.

Product 360

Dell calls the U3818DW’s bezel InfinityEdge, which suggests a borderless design. The frame is flush-mounted and quite thin at only 10mm at the top and sides, and 15mm at the bottom. It isn’t quite invisible though, but you’ll barely notice it when an image is present. The anti-glare layer serves its purpose well without introducing softness or grain.

Controls are found at the bottom right and consist of tiny buttons. They click with a premium feel and become intuitive after a short time. Small icons appear on the screen to denote their functions. The 2300mm-radius curve is just right for the 38” size providing a proper wraparound effect without any image distortion. There is a lot of real estate to work with, though you’ll need to devote a fair amount of desk space for this very large display. But then, it has a smaller footprint than two or three flat panels.

The side profile is chunky, though panel thickness is just 2.2” when measured at the center. On the left are two USB ports with two more found underneath. Two upstream ports are also included, which means the U3818DW can service two computers. KVM controls in the OSD assign the USB ports to each of three video inputs.

The back shows Dell’s minimalist approach to design with a smooth gray finish broken only by a small logo on the upright. Grills at the top and bottom vent heat effectively while 9W speakers fire out the lower edge. They have noticeably better fidelity than most and can play at decent volumes without audible distortion. A small hole in the upright serves for cable management.

The stand is rock-solid and includes a full suite of adjustments. You get 35° back tilt and 5° front plus 30° swivel to either side and just under 5” of height range. Obviously, there is no portrait mode. If you wish to use a monitor arm or other bracket, the upright unsnaps to reveal a 100mm VESA mount.

Inputs are many and include two HDMI 2.0 and one DisplayPort 1.2, all with HDCP 2.2, two each of USB upstream and downstream, and a single USB Type C. You can assign the USB upstream ports to any one of the three video inputs.

MORE: Best Gaming Monitors

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MORE: How We Test Monitors

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  • Realist9
    I guess I give up on waiting for a 4k, 32" or greater G-sync monitor at >60hz.

    Even though the 1080 has been out 1.5 yrs and can handle it, the market must just be too small for manufacturers to make them. Bummer.
  • photonboy
    REALIST9,
    4K, 144Hz, GSYNC is coming in 2018...
    https://wccftech.com/g-sync-hdr-monitors-available-q2-2017/

    Break open your piggy bank though...
  • Lucky_SLS
    How does a curved screen benefit professional work? I thought it was just for the immersion. And this is 2300R instead of 1800R.
  • Tanquen
    37.5” = Yea!

    IPS = Yea!

    10-bit color = Yea!

    3840x1600-pixel resolution – Yea!

    USB 3.1 Type C = Yea!

    HDMI 2.0 = Still no 2.1?

    21:9 = Lame!

    Curved = Why?! Why do folks want their screen squished in the middle and the ISO graphics distorted?

    No FreeSync = God Dam it!
  • Tanquen
    Anonymous said:
    How does a curved screen benefit professional work? I thought it was just for the immersion. And this is 2300R instead of 1800R.


    It doesn’t. It’s a gimmick that they think will help sell displays. This has mostly come and gone from the TV space but the computer monitors always seem to be a year or more behind.
  • lar33mo
    This looks like a really nice monitor. In July 2017, I purchased a Dell UltraSharp 32" Ultra HD 4K Monitor with PremierColor - UP3216Q. I paid $1,399.99 for the monitor,
    ( reduced in price by $400.00 ), $25.00 shipping, and $90.49 in taxes, ( which I doubt that my home state of Connecticut will see a penny of.. ;-) ). I ordered the monitor from Dell online, on a Sunday, and it was delivered via FedEx the following Tuesday!! :-) I purchased the 32" after my Dell 30" monitor died after a number of years. Regarding this 38" monitor, I believe my 32" Dell Monitor was intended for the same market. The very solid construction appears to be present in both models. While I usually have two 30" monitors on my desk, ( the new 32" monitor fits fine with my HP ZR30w 30" monitor). I do wish however, that this 38" monitor was available when I bought the Dell UltraSharp 32". I would have had a more modern monitor for about $350.00 less, tax included. :-| Maybe next time. ;-)
  • Kungpaoshizzi
    Enough with this 27" monitor crap :|
    35"+ please!
  • Nintendork
    More like enough with the idiotic curve, IPS is sh*t with that pathetic contrast.

    All monitors should be VA 1080/1440/1600 16:10/4k 3000-5000:1
  • gio2vanni86
    I have a curved TV and monitor. I honestly love it. Don't see why theres hate on curved. It give the tv and monitor a feel that cant be described, but it honestly is a nice touch. I don't buy flat anymore, it doesnt please my appetite anymore. To me i feel like i went back to the stone-age when i look at a flat screen. This is just my opinion. Still waiting on those 144-240hz 4k HDR curved g-sync displays :)
  • metathias
    I've ended up deciding i actually like my 1800r curved monitor. At 38'' you can't even notice it at about 20 inch's from the screen.
  • JWoody
    Im fine with 60Hz, but the vurved just dosent do it for me, not that theres anything wrong with it, its just that i will continue to have dual displays no matter how large my main gets to be and it dosent seem to fit that kind of usage, otherwise love the monitore and i prefer IPS panels way better than T&N (Yuk, to old school, crap viewing angles, even worse contrast), contrast may be lower than MVA/PVA but the color accuracy tends to be higher at the cost of contrast i do like that the MVA/PVA has super high contrast but id rather have IPSes tradeoff in higher color accuracy and viewing angles, important for dual monitor usage. if this display had a flat-screen version id be more than happy to own it. Do they?
  • JonDol
    Anonymous said:

    37.5” = Yea!

    IPS = Yea! --> NOO, VA please !

    10-bit color = Yea!

    3840x1600-pixel resolution – Yea! --> NOO, at least 4K please !

    USB 3.1 Type C = Yea!

    HDMI 2.0 = Still no 2.1?

    21:9 = Lame! --> AGREE !

    Curved = Why?! Why do folks want their screen squished in the middle and the ISO graphics distorted?

    No FreeSync = God Dam it!


    DP 1.2 --> NOO, DP 1.4 please !

    AdaptativeSync: the one that works with the fastest GC so G-Sync atm, please !
  • shrapnel_indie
    Anonymous said:
    REALIST9,
    4K, 144Hz, GSYNC is coming in 2018...
    https://wccftech.com/g-sync-hdr-monitors-available-q2-2017/

    Break open your piggy bank though...


    Are you sure that is the article you wish to use to back up your claim? It's from Jan 2017 AND claims Q2 of 2017. Q2 of 2017 has came and gone. We're in the middle of Q4 of 2017... and the two models listed there don't show up anywhere.
  • Tanquen
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:

    37.5” = Yea!

    IPS = Yea! --> NOO, VA please !

    10-bit color = Yea!

    3840x1600-pixel resolution – Yea! --> NOO, at least 4K please !

    USB 3.1 Type C = Yea!

    HDMI 2.0 = Still no 2.1?

    21:9 = Lame! --> AGREE !

    Curved = Why?! Why do folks want their screen squished in the middle and the ISO graphics distorted?

    No FreeSync = God Dam it!


    DP 1.2 --> NOO, DP 1.4 please !

    AdaptativeSync: the one that works with the fastest GC so G-Sync atm, please !



    But G-$ync is almost scam like. Freesync is good enough and NVidia could enable it on their cards but they are big jerks.
  • gaborbarla
    Curved screen are pretty much necessary over 27". The pixels need to face more towards you than they do on a flat screen for uniformity. So for those that wonder if curved is a good idea, I think it is actually necessary. Overall the curve will try to point every pixel more or less 90 degrees towards your eyes, on a flat 38" screen the edges of the screens will be like 30-45 degrees from your eyes creating a really uncomfortable experience. This actually should increase colour uniformity from the viewers standpoint compared to a flat screen.
  • JonDol
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:

    37.5” = Yea!

    IPS = Yea! --> NOO, VA please !

    10-bit color = Yea!

    3840x1600-pixel resolution – Yea! --> NOO, at least 4K please !

    USB 3.1 Type C = Yea!

    HDMI 2.0 = Still no 2.1?

    21:9 = Lame! --> AGREE !

    Curved = Why?! Why do folks want their screen squished in the middle and the ISO graphics distorted?

    No FreeSync = God Dam it!


    DP 1.2 --> NOO, DP 1.4 please !

    AdaptativeSync: the one that works with the fastest GC so G-Sync atm, please !



    But G-$ync is almost scam like. Freesync is good enough and NVidia could enable it on their cards but they are big jerks.


    I'm aware that FS could also be enabled on Nvidia if it decides so but it has no reason to do it atm since it not only holds the crown for the fastest GC but also for the more efficient ones and all the world excepting the US is more interested in the performance/watt than the brute performance (I just gave you an insight of the hit both AMD and Intel will take when the ARM multicore platforms will spread). And if FS is good enough for you it isn't good enough for me for the two reasons mentioned earlier.
  • ddferrari
    http://
    Anonymous said:
    I guess I give up on waiting for a 4k, 32" or greater G-sync monitor at >60hz.

    Even though the 1080 has been out 1.5 yrs and can handle it, the market must just be too small for manufacturers to make them. Bummer.

    The GTX 1080 isn't considered adequate for 4K. Even the 1080 Ti isn't a slam dunk according to most gamers (although it's not far off). The 1080 averages less than 40 fps in games like Witcher 3, GTA V and FC Primal. It completely fails at Crysis 3 in 4K. Sure- you could drop all your settings to medium or low, but then why bother with 4K?

    https://images.nvidia.com/geforce-com/international/images/nvidia-geforce-gtx-1080/nvidia-geforce-gtx-1080-3840x2160-performance.png
  • ddferrari
    Anonymous said:
    Im fine with 60Hz, but the vurved just dosent do it for me, not that theres anything wrong with it, its just that i will continue to have dual displays no matter how large my main gets to be and it dosent seem to fit that kind of usage, otherwise love the monitore and i prefer IPS panels way better than T&N (Yuk, to old school, crap viewing angles, even worse contrast), contrast may be lower than MVA/PVA but the color accuracy tends to be higher at the cost of contrast i do like that the MVA/PVA has super high contrast but id rather have IPSes tradeoff in higher color accuracy and viewing angles, important for dual monitor usage. if this display had a flat-screen version id be more than happy to own it. Do they?

    Why would you prefer having bezels splitting your picture in half instead one seamless picture? That just breaks the immersion completely for me when gaming. Plus, don't most people using dual monitors have them "towed-in" at a slight angle anyway- mimicking a curve? Just curious.
  • Tanquen
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:

    37.5” = Yea!

    IPS = Yea! --> NOO, VA please !

    10-bit color = Yea!

    3840x1600-pixel resolution – Yea! --> NOO, at least 4K please !

    USB 3.1 Type C = Yea!

    HDMI 2.0 = Still no 2.1?

    21:9 = Lame! --> AGREE !

    Curved = Why?! Why do folks want their screen squished in the middle and the ISO graphics distorted?

    No FreeSync = God Dam it!


    DP 1.2 --> NOO, DP 1.4 please !

    AdaptativeSync: the one that works with the fastest GC so G-Sync atm, please !



    But G-$ync is almost scam like. Freesync is good enough and NVidia could enable it on their cards but they are big jerks.


    I'm aware that FS could also be enabled on Nvidia if it decides so but it has no reason to do it atm since it not only holds the crown for the fastest GC but also for the more efficient ones and all the world excepting the US is more interested in the performance/watt than the brute performance (I just gave you an insight of the hit both AMD and Intel will take when the ARM multicore platforms will spread). And if FS is good enough for you it isn't good enough for me for the two reasons mentioned earlier.


    It is good enough for everyone. It's been tested and most can't tell and they both do the same thing. That is why NVidia has not enabled it, which would cost them nothing to enable on their cards. How else are they going to force monitor makers to add G$ync and not Freesync? How else are they going to force people to use Gsync and not Freesync?
    It would not exist if NVidia did not have a (at the moment) much larger market share.

    If NVidia did not force people to use it no one would. There are already more Freesync displays and it’s not looking any better for G$ync with gaming consoles and TVs supporting Freesync next year.

    You are paying for Display Port and HDMI ports on your cards and NVidia is disabling a feature of protocols on those ports to try and force you to buy their much more expensive hardware and displays for a very small difference (if any) in performance. Why support that? Why buy the more expensive Nvidia card when my AMD card is fast enough, supports Freesync, can use Freesync with a cheaper display and I’ll be able to use it with my new OLED TV next year?
  • Tanquen
    Anonymous said:
    Curved screen are pretty much necessary over 27". The pixels need to face more towards you than they do on a flat screen for uniformity. So for those that wonder if curved is a good idea, I think it is actually necessary. Overall the curve will try to point every pixel more or less 90 degrees towards your eyes, on a flat 38" screen the edges of the screens will be like 30-45 degrees from your eyes creating a really uncomfortable experience. This actually should increase colour uniformity from the viewers standpoint compared to a flat screen.


    That depends greatly on the quality of the screen and LCDs are not going to get worse at off angle color and brightness. Even when they do have these issues it’s not the guy setting directly in front of the screen less than a few feet away that will normally see it. Even then it will be so slight. Any curved screen is only going to bring the pixels at the sides ever so slightly closer.

    For millions of years the brain has developed to deal with an isometric view of the world. That is what just about everything you watch on a display is developed or filmed in. When I look at a picture or a display it’s perfectly square, it’s not tall in the middle and short on the sides. There is nothing to correct. If you curve the display you are just squishing it a little in the middle and adding distortion to the sides of the original image as it was filmed or rendered in games.

    Curved TVs and Monitors only exist because the manufactures can curve the screen and they hoped they could sell it at a premium or get folks to buy a new TV when they did not need one. It’s already mostly gone from the TV space and will be from monitors as well. They do cost a little more to make and ship and no one really wants them after seeing the extra distortion and glare in curved screens.

    If you were viewing a film shot in 360° video then maybe it would be cool to have an IMAX like wraparound screen that is somehow perfectly 2ft or whatever from your head all the way around. Even then, it would be more accurate to have a hexagon of flat screens around you that matched the number of cameras used.

    Shouldn’t they be curved vertically also???