Dell is known for some serious displays that are great for use in business and at home. I've reviewed a couple over the past few months, but Dell recently sent me something different for review, one of the newest curved gaming monitors.
Specifically, I received the Dell Curved 34 Gaming Monitor (S3422DWG) in my mailbox. This monitor reviewed some great praise when it was first revealed back in April. After putting it through my testing I really can see why.
With features like support for variable refresh rates, AMD FreeSync Premium, and a natural 1800 radius curve, it's a pleasure to use for gaming and beyond. But is this one of the best new Dell monitors you can buy for immersive gaming? Let me dive deeper into my experience so you can find out.
As I unboxed the Dell 34 Curved Gaming Monitor (3440x1440 resolution by the way,) I knew I was about to get lost in a journey of greatness for gaming. This one is different, both inside and out.
Since this monitor is designed for gaming, it comes in an all-black color, with some touches gamers are likely to appreciate. The first of those touches is the slim 3-sided bezel design, so you can see more of what's on your screen. Another touch is the pentagon-shaped base. The base has its own curves and nice angular cuts, and will definitely look different when sitting on your desk.
There are also three cool things here that set this monitor apart from others in Dell's lineup. The back of the monitor actually has vent slots, which that can disperse the heat evenly and prevent the monitor from getting too hot. There's also a shiny Dell logo, which changes colors from the angles you look at it, and a new downlight on the front.
The downlight creates ambient blue illumination for gaming in low-light environments, say at night. The shiny Dell logo isn't technically new, though, and can be found on Dell's other gaming monitors. I like this blue light, as it reminds me of what Samsung has done on the Odyssey gaming monitors, where the back has a subtle ring of light. The light slightly illuminated my desk at night for my midnight gaming sessions.
Of course, as with Dell monitors, you can tilt and pivot the monitor a bit to fit your setup. Dell did not provide me with specific measurements for this. My early reviewer's guide just mentions the "slim, tapered stand allows for height and tilt adjustments."
Setup is quick and easy, as with all Dell displays. You just need to snap the stand into the rear of the display and then screw in the base using your hands.
Ports & Buttons
As usual, a portion of my review focuses on the ports and the buttons. These will not disappoint you if you're hoping to buy this monitor. From left to right, you'll find two HDMI 2.0 ports and a DisplayPort. There are also two USB 3.0 downstream ports and a superspeed USB Type B upstream port. Under the front chin, meanwhile, you'll find a headphone jack, as well as two USB-A downstream ports. There's no USB-C here since this is a gaming monitor.
The ports under the front chin are nice, as it makes it easy to plug in a gaming accessory or have a cable-ready to charge your phone or tablet. The headphone jack also means you can play your games and get immersed without tying up ports on your laptop or desktop.
Just keep in mind there are no speakers on board this monitor. It's a letdown, as Dell is usually great with this. You can, though, transfer the sound out of your PC and to headphones using the jack on the front or the rear of the display, if you've connected to your PC via the main USB 3.0 upstream port.
For buttons, you'll find the monitor has joystick controls and three physical buttons below it. Clicking one of the monitor's three buttons gives you quick access to see the response time, the dark stabilizer, HDR, and mode settings. You also can toggle into the brightness, game mode, color profiles with these buttons too. It helps save some time using the joystick controller and having to navigate through the monitor's multiple menus.
Display and Curve
I previously touched on the importance of the curve on a display when I reviewed the Dell UltraSharp 38 Curved USB-C Hub Monitor. Basically, you need a sweet spot in the range from 1000R to 4000R. This Dell monitor sports a 1800R curved screen.
This curve is one of the most natural vs the 1000R you'll find in similar-sized monitors. This means you don't need to sit too far away from the screen for the best experience. It is very important for playing games where you need all of your peripheral vision.
I'll also mention all the specs that matter here before going further. This monitor has a 21:9 aspect ratio and comes in at the QHD resolution of 3440x1440 with a 144Hz refresh rate. It also sports a VA panel, which nets a 3000:1 contrast ratio and a 90% DCI-P3 color coverage. The monitor is also VESA DisplayHDR 400-certified. This allows you to see more detail and color than an SDR display. The display sports AMD FreeSync Premium Technology and has a 1ms response time.
The use of a VA panel here is nice. It strikes a nice color balance, and a good viewing angle, though it's smaller than IPS panels. What matters most, however, is the contrast ratio, which is important for gaming. I also like the WQHD resolution, as it offers 34% more screen pixels than QHD, as you'll find in other gaming monitors. You'll hear more about how this comes into play at the end of my review.
Oh, and if you're planning to use this display for next-gen gaming, then Dell has your back. It sports support for variable refresh rates (VRR.) This is one of the only curved monitors of this size that I know can do this. Combined with AMD Freesync, the technology means that you're not going to experience screen tears when gaming. Your connected PC or game console is able to sync with the refresh rate of the display. Usually, VRR support is only found in TVs.
Color accuracy and performance when gaming
I've saved the best for last. To truly test this monitor, I put it through a series of gaming tests. I played Forza Motorsport 7, Microsoft Flight Simulator, as well as Fortnite. In these games, accuracy, speed, and every detail is key. The Dell Curved 34 Gaming Monitor did not disappoint.
Thanks to the 3000:1 contrast ratio, and the 90% DCI-PC color coverage, everything looked vibrant and lively during in-game flights in Microsoft Flight Simulator. When flying over Central Park, the greens in the trees popped right out against my screen. Flying around sunset over JFK airport, the sunshine rays also created a cool rainbow against the cockpit window. The monitor definitely felt like a window to the virtual world.
I'll also mention the 21:9 aspect ratio, too, and the WQHD resolution. This lets me fit more of the game on my screen, giving me a better view of the surroundings. But that's not to mention the 1ms accuracy, and high refresh rate. From the gauges to the pace of the flight, everything felt like I was sitting in a real airplane when playing.
I enabled AMD Freesync Premium on the monitor via the menu (and in my Nvidia graphics card settings) and the experience was even better. Especially in racing games like Forza or Project Cars 2. As I raced my way around the track and lost a lap at Daytona due to running out of fuel, the leader of the race zipped right by me. Things kept their pace, I noticed no screen tear or screen lag, even when playing a match of Fortnite. That 144z refresh rate really pays off.
For all those features, there are some gaming-centric things that you'll find on this monitor which can help boost your gaming experience a bit. In the "Game" monitor menu, you're able to set your own profile in the settings (up to three) for different contrast, brightness settings, and color profiles, for various games. There are also preset modes for different types of games like FPS, MOBA/RTS, or RPGs. Each mode tweaks to contrast and brightness accordingly.
Other than that, the monitor has a Game Enhance Mode. With this mode, you can set a timer, prioritize frame rates, and align the display with your games. There's even a Response Time setting, where you can set between fast, super-fast, extreme, and MPRT.
And, if that's not enough, a dark stabilizer menu lets you manage the control of shadows. Dell really put gamers in control here, and it's great to see. Plus, the joystick controls make getting into all these settings a breeze.
A great gaming monitor
Dell did not provide pricing on this monitor just yet, but its availability is set for May 27. If you're considering buying this monitor by then, then it is worth it. There are indeed many alternatives (the AOC CU34G2X is one) but Dell is checking all the boxes for gamers with the Curved 34 Gaming Monitor (S3422DWG.)
You get features like AMD Freesync Premium, a VA Panel, WQHD resolution, 144Hz refresh rate, easy menu navigation, and a unique design. Not to forget, the level of control you have and the custom software in the monitor's menus. Only the lack of speakers keeps the monitor from being perfect.