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Alienware’s 32-inch 4K QD-OLED gaming monitor is total overkill, but in a good way

Once again, Dell delivers a massive screen that gamers will lust after.

Photo by Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

To say I loved Alienware's previous flagship gaming monitor, the 34-inch ultrawide QD-OLED, would be an understatement. It was one of the best screens I'd ever seen, with incredible contrast, bold colors and a fast refresh rate. So it came as a surprise that Alienware's follow-up models didn't go bigger (as Samsung did with its massive 55-inch Odyssey Ark). Instead, it went smaller with a 32-inch 4K QD-OLED and a 27-inch 1440p model. The goal this year was to appease more-demanding gamers, which meant avoiding the race towards enormous screens (which also has contenders like LG's recent 49-inch Ultragear) and delivering faster refresh rates for smoother gameplay.

Alienware's $1,299 32-inch QD-OLED monitor, which I've been testing for a few months, is notable for being one of the first 4K screens of its size to offer a 240Hz refresh rate. The 27-inch model is even speedier — it hits an eye-bleeding 360Hz. To the average consumer, those numbers probably don't mean much. But for gamers, higher refresh rates means the ability to effectively see higher framerates and experience smoother gameplay. It could also lead to competitive advantages: You might spot an opponent in Apex Legends a fraction of a second faster, or have an easier time sniping someone over long distances in Overwatch 2.

Alienware’s 32-inch 4K QD-OLED is the pinnacle of gaming monitors, featuring rich colors, deep black levels and impressive contrast. Gameplay also looks silky smooth thanks to its class-leading 240Hz refresh rate.

Pros
  • Excellent QD-OLED screen with deep black levels and rich colors
  • Incredibly fast 240Hz refresh rate
  • Solid 1,000 nit peak brightness
  • Dolby Vision and HDR support
  • Tons of port options for PCs and consoles
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Design may be too geeky for some
$1,299 at Dell

I'll admit, I was a bit disappointed to see Dell go smaller with its QD-OLED displays this year, but the company's logic makes sense. Most gamers prefer sticking with 1440p and 4K screens, instead of jumping to slightly unwieldy ultrawide aspect ratios (which also aren't always supported in games). It'll also be cheaper for Alienware to produce these monitors in more-common proportions. Competitive players tend to prefer smaller screens so they can have a full view of their gameplay, whereas they may have to turn their heads a bit to take in all the action on an ultrawide screen.

Alienware's 32-inch 4K QD-OLED (model number AW3225QF) shares the same sci-fi aesthetic as the company's previous ultrawide. There aren't any sharp corners across its two-tone black and white case, and it looks like a movie prop that you'd find in an '80s space opera. Its dual-leg base is fittingly sturdy for a screen this size (more so than monitors that only rely on a single central leg), but its overall shape and rear LEDs also give off Pixar vibes. I could almost see this monitor hopping around my office when I close the door, just like Buzz Lightyear.

While I love Alienware's retro look, it's admittedly not as refined as Apple's Studio Display, which is a glorious work of brushed metal art. Then again, that screen is only 27 inches, costs $1,599 and doesn't support high refresh rates for gaming, so the Alienware is a far better value. Dell also gives you all the ports you'd need: A DisplayPort connection with 240Hz support; HDMI 2.1 for 4K/120Hz console gaming; HDMI eArc/Arc to connect to soundbars and receivers; USB-C 3.2 with power charging; three USB-A 3.2 downstream ports; and a USB-B upstream connection to your PC.

The Alienware's QD-OLED panel has all of the benefits of OLED — inky dark blacks and high contrast — along with the power of Quantum Dots, allowing for richer colors and potentially greater brightness. The most striking thing about the 32-inch monitor is that games and movies look like they're practically painted on. It's like a direct digital feed to your eyeballs. An anti-reflective coating keeps distracting ambient light out of sight, while its ability to cover 99 percent of the DCI-P3 gamut makes colors appear rich and vibrant.

Alienware 32 4K QD-OLED gaming monitor playing Halo Infinite
Alienware 32 4K QD-OLED gaming monitor playing Halo Infinite

There's also support for Dolby Vision and VESA DisplayHDR True Black 400, both of which mean you can expect deep black levels in games and movies, while very bright elements in the same scene are well-balanced. The monitor supports 1,000 nits of peak brightness, which is enough to make your eyes tear up while staring at the sun in Halo Infinite (Pro-tip: don't do this in real life). Most LCD-based 4K TVs are far brighter, but those are better-suited to living rooms where you're sitting far away, rather than a screen that's just a foot or two away from your eyes.

As a gaming monitor, the 32-inch Alienware QD-OLED excelled at everything I threw at it. Halo Infinite, Cyberpunk 2077 and Helldivers 2 all looked incredible, with eye-searingly bright highlights and bold-yet-realistic colors. During some sessions, it almost felt like I was truly seeing those games for the first time. I noticed details in my Halo character's armor I completely missed on other displays, and the neon glow of Cyberpunk's Night City almost leaped off the screen. Mostly, though, I just felt completely immersed in whatever I was playing. It was as if the edges of the monitor bled away and their digital worlds were being directly injected into my eyeballs. Or maybe I've just been playing too much Helldivers 2.

Alienware 32 4K QD-OLED gaming monitor playing Halo Infinite
Alienware 32 4K QD-OLED gaming monitor playing Halo Infinite (Photo by Devindra Hardawar/Engadget)

I knew from the start that I wouldn't be reaching 240 fps in 4K with most titles (even while running on an RTX 4080 Super and Ryzen 7900X), but the 32-inch Alienware still delivered smooth gameplay in Halo Infinite while I hovered around 130 fps. (You can also thank NVIDIA's G-SYNC tech for that, since it locks in the refresh rate to avoid screen tearing and lag issues.) 4K gaming becomes more palatable when you're upscaling titles using NVIDIA's DLSS or AMD's FSR technology, but even then it's still tough to crack 150 fps or more. I had to play most games in 1440p to go beyond 200 fps. (For fast-paced shooters and racing games, I'd much rather have a higher refresh rate than a minuscule 4K fidelity bump.)

While super-fast 4K gaming is a bit unrealistic at the moment, it may become more feasible as GPUs get beefier and upscaling tech becomes even more efficient. The Alienware 32-inch QD-OLED is ready for that future. The real question for gamers today, though, is if it's worth shelling out $1,299 just to be primed for what's to come. It's still a fantastic display, and looks great while watching films and putzing around the web. Text looked crisp and clear, and that crazy high refresh rate makes scrolling through websites silky smooth. As with most monitors though, it's worth waiting a bit to see how it depreciates. The excellent 34-inch Alienware QD-OLED ultrawide also launched at $1,299 two years ago, but now you can nab it for $900.

Alienware 32 4K QD-OLED gaming monitor playing Halo Infinite
Alienware 32 4K QD-OLED gaming monitor playing Halo Infinite (Photo by Devindra Hardawar/Engadget)

Like Alienware’s QD-OLED ultrawide before it, the company’s 32-inch 4K gaming monitor is a marvel, with excellent brightness, contrast and rich color depth. It’s so immersive that at times it feels more like a virtual window than a mere screen. It’s also completely overkill for most games. But for the few that can justify the price, it’ll be a worthwhile gaming investment for years to come.