Back at CES 2021 Alienware caused a lot of gamers’ jaws to drop when it pulled the wraps off the industry’s first OLED gaming monitor. OLED panels are known for their perfect blacks and high contrast, but cost and burn-in have mostly kept them out of the PC gaming space, until now. Given these panels’ high cost compared to the LCDs we currently use, we speculated back in January that the Alienware monitor would easily eclipse $2,000, but Alienware has put those fears to rest by announcing a surprisingly low $1,300 MSRP. Although that’s not chump change, it’s the first high-end gaming OLED that doesn’t have an outrageous price tag. We just have to hope nobody finds a way to mine crypto on an OLED panel in the near future. (You shut your mouth – Ed).
To refresh your memory, Alienware’s new monitor, the AW3423DW,uses Samsung’s all-new Quantum Dot OLED panel, making the Alienware the “world’s first OLED gaming monitor.” OLED has many advantages over LCD, chief among them richer colors, perfect blacks, faster response times and higher contrast. Samsung also claims its Quantum Dot technology enhances existing OLED technology, “by taking the impressive qualities of OLED (such as true blacks & infinite contrast ratio) and enhances color performance by directly converting blue light into the primary colors of red and green through a Quantum Dot pixel layer. This results in higher color uniformity, wider color coverage and increased brightness.”
The downside to OLED panels is burn-in. While this is not necessarily a problem on TVs that don’t display cable news chyrons or logos on a regular basis, desktop PCs regularly display a task bar and other menu elements for long periods of time. Alienware is offering a multi-year warranty on this panel, but gamers who are serious about buying one may want to consider various mitigation strategies, including hiding menu bars when they are not in-use and opting for dark themes. OLED panels turn pixels off when they are not in use, and a pixel that isn’t on can’t be contributing to a burn-in problem.
As we wrote previously, the panel comes with an 1800R curved panel, 175Hz maximum refresh rate, and G-Sync Ultimate support. HDR support is potentially a weak spot; with a brightness of just 250 nits. Peak panel brightness is 1000 nits, but OLEDs can’t maintain this level over the entire panel. VESA defines a separate “True Black” for OLEDs and the AW3423DW qualifies as DisplayHDR 400 True Black.
Like the previous LCD model, it offers a 3440 x 1440 resolution, and will come with DisplayPort 1.4a and HDMI 2.0 connections. While DP 2.0 support would be preferred, 1.4a is capable of handling the panel’s bandwidth requirements.
Alienware says the monitor will be available “this spring,” with some sites reporting that will mean March 29th. If you’ve been enjoying the benefits of OLED technology in your TV for awhile and have been wanting to upgrade your gaming setup, it could be the perfect accompaniment assuming you have a GPU that can run 1440p resolution at 175Hz or slightly less.