AW3821DW (Nov 2020) with GSync Ultimate

Sycraft

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Is there anything wrong with using HDR mode all the time for monitor longevity?
Nope. If you always ran it at max brightness then yes, it would start to age the backlight sooner, but you'd also burn your eyes out :). If you just run it in HDR mode and set the desktop brightness as per normal it is no different than running in SDR mode. Only downsides are:

1) You can't do 144Hz, or at least not without a tradeoff. Doing 144Hz 8-bit RGB means using dithering. Doing 144Hz 10-bit 422 means chroma subsampling. You have to do 120Hz 10-bit RGB if you don't want any of that. Not that the last 24fps are a big deal, I would guess it would be totally unnoticeable, even if you had a game you could run that fast.

2) You have to use the local dimming, you can't turn it off. Now I personally don't find that to be an issue, I end up basically leaving my monitor in Mode 0 all the time for SDR and HDR content. But you can't turn it off if you want a static backlight.

3) Have to adjust brightness in Windows. Not a huge deal, but a little annoying.

4) There may be some games that get pissey with it. FF14 running in borderless Windows mode seems to go to dogshit performance wise with lots of FPS stuttering when running in HDR mode. I haven't messed with it since I normally leave my monitor on SDR mode as I like the increased saturation. But you may have some things that have issues.


But if you find it works well for you there's nothing at all wrong with it and indeed that is how MS would intend you do it. The idea is that you always run HDR monitors with HDR signaling, and then the OS deals with it.
 

Mystique

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Thanks for the reply! I tried it; didnt find much of a difference in some games, but maybe I'll try more later.

I'm still trying to figure out if 8 bit 144 hz is better than 10 bit 120 hz lol... I don't think I notice those 24 hz tbh, maybe I should stick with just that. Is that what most of you all do?
 

Sycraft

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Thanks for the reply! I tried it; didnt find much of a difference in some games, but maybe I'll try more later.

I'm still trying to figure out if 8 bit 144 hz is better than 10 bit 120 hz lol... I don't think I notice those 24 hz tbh, maybe I should stick with just that. Is that what most of you all do?
I mean a lot of games can't even get it to 120Hz, much less above it :). So there wouldn't be anything to notice unless you can actually render above 120fps. Even then I doubt it. FPS increases get harder and harder to see the higher they are. You can see that in tests between 120fps and 240fps monitors online where people CAN tell a difference, but it takes them some work, whereas 60fps to 120fps is immediately apparent. So I wouldn't fuss over that last 24fps.

Personally I leave mine in 8-bit 144Hz mode normally because I like the increased color saturation in games and I'm not playing anything that is HDR right now. I've fired up HDR stuff to test, but none of what I'm currently playing is HDR. Since I'm not doing HDR, and since I've never seen any solid evidence of any games using 10-bit output to produce smoother gradients in SDR (they can do that, if they want, I've just never seen evidence that any do) I figure I'll take the extra FPS because why not? I have a 3090 so I actually do get games over 120fps sometimes. But if I start playing an HDR game, ya I'll drop to 120fps and I'm sure I won't notice a difference.

I hope they add DSC to the display with an update later because it would be nice to just leave everything maxed and not worry about it. In theory it is possible, the Gsync module, which is what does the processing on incoming signals, is an FPGA meaning it can be reprogrammed via firmware update. That said I'm certainly not counting on them actually doing it.
 

RESTfulADI

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Is there a way to reduce HDR backlight strength, similar to a TV? It's too much for me at night in a dark room.
 

Mystique

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I have been doing the same with mine basically; 144 Hz 8 since I can't tell the difference personally that much and don't mind the saturation.

Had to look up DSC (well, didn't have it ! was curious :) ). That'll be another variable to add to the mix if they do happen to make that possible. Then you start further this into more complicated circular debate of "do you notice the difference" between 120 hz 10bit vs 144 hz 8 bit vs having DSC 144hz/10bit?
 

RESTfulADI

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Frametime is a much more meaningful metric than framerate. 60 to 120 is a massive 8.33ms improvement, 120 to 144 is only 1.39ms. 120 also has the benefit of being divisible by 30 for YouTube and other Web video content.
 

Sycraft

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Is there a way to reduce HDR backlight strength, similar to a TV? It's too much for me at night in a dark room.
Sadly, no. This is the "correct" answer per the spec. HDR content is mastered for absolute levels. So rather than a designer saying "this should be 50% bright" they say "this should be 200nits bright". Good idea in theory, but ya some of us may want to turn it down. This monitor doesn't offer that, much like some TVs (my TV also doesn't allow it). Only answer is to switch to SDR mode :(.
 
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My sample has a slight tint issue as well: asked Dell to pick it up and the FedEx guy picks up a random amazon package from my porch, calling Dell for the past week to do another pickup or send a label but nothing so far....even written 3 emails to CS, if they don't I am opening a cc dispute and guess keeping the screen while Dell enjoys my case of red bulls 🤔
 
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Finally got the second label, back it goes...this is a beta product afaik, no excuse for lack of sRGB mode and even basic input switching.Uniformity leaves a bit to be desired too...
 
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thelead

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Finally got the second label, back it goes...this is a beta product afaik, no excuse for lack of sRGB mode and even basic input switching.Uniformity leaves a bit to be desired too...
I used to think like you. Nothing is perfect. This product is not worth the asking price. There is no doubt about it. But the same can be said for every other 'high end' consumer display/tv. They're all flawed. Your choices are:

Wait for your 'perfect' monitor (let's be honest, that will be decades away and by then your eyes might be shot lol) or just compromise and pick your poison.

For me, I want oled contrast with LED brightness (1000+ nits), color accuracy, high PPI at the right size 30-40" (225+), uniform panel, no dead/stuck pixels, high refresh (144hz+), and not pro-level priced (under 1.5k).

We'll be waiting for a very long time for my list to be completely checked off.
 
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I used to think like you. Nothing is perfect. This product is not worth the asking price. There is no doubt about it. But the same can be said for every other 'high end' consumer display/tv. They're all flawed. Your choices are:

Wait for your 'perfect' monitor (let's be honest, that will be decades away and by then your eyes might be shot lol) or just compromise and pick your poison.

For me, I want oled contrast with LED brightness (1000+ nits), color accuracy, high PPI at the right size 30-40" (225+), uniform panel, no dead/stuck pixels, high refresh (144hz+), and not pro-level priced (under 1.5k).

We'll be waiting for a very long time for my list to be completely checked off.
True but there is no way this is better than my Acer XR382 outside of the very particular use case of games that do HDR rt in Windows. Both have some uniformity issues and the Dell just looks way out of whack next to a properly calibrated sRGB screen like my NEC in all regular content unless you activate HDR mode and deal with brightness changing, even then the whitepoint is not completely right. If I am shelling over a 1000 bux on a monitor I am atleast not reaching for the button to cycle through active inputs...guess my poison is the Acer and going through a few more samples of that if needed.
 

Mystique

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After I installed that series of driver for my 1080 Ti, I started getting weird flickering... so I rolled back. Seems to be ok for now; really hoping it was a driving or GPU issue. The driver features do seem interesting though.
 
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TimothyB

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The Nvidia control panel offers a "digital vibrance" slider under "Adjust desktop color settings."

Anyone with an AW3821DW, does it help reducing the vibrance to 40% (default 50%)? Is it even remotely accurate or passable, or can this introduce different problems?

My girlfriend happens to have a new LG 27GN850. While the color ratings are not the same, dropping vibrance 10% seemed to bring it inline with its own built-in sRGB mode. That is based on a quick test looking at a desktop background that appeared oversaturated or too vibrant within large green portions.

Also, I learned the LG sRGB mode locks you out of almost all panel adjustments and options, even response settings, which may default to Fast. So if you were hoping Dell adds an sRGB mode like LG, there may be a catch to it. Posts for the 38GN950 seemed to confirmed this, and was a deal breaker to someone due to the locked Fast response setting in sRGB.

This whole sRGB issue has me considering cancelling my AW3821DW and ordering either a 38GN950 or 38WN95C-W, but neither are on sale right now. Color accuracy isn't critical for my job, for the moment, but I don't want to worry about this kind of workaround for daily work.
 
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The Nvidia control panel offers a "digital vibrance" slider under "Adjust desktop color settings."

Anyone with an AW3821DW, does it help reducing the vibrance to 40% (default 50%)? Is it even remotely accurate or passable, or can this introduce different problems?

My girlfriend happens to have a new LG 27GN850. While the color ratings are not the same, dropping vibrance 10% seemed to bring it inline with its own built-in sRGB mode. That is based on a quick test looking at a desktop background that appeared oversaturated or too vibrant within large green portions.

Also, I learned the LG sRGB mode locks you out of almost all panel adjustments and options, even response settings, which may default to Fast. So if you were hoping Dell adds an sRGB mode like LG, there may be a catch to it. Posts for the 38GN950 seemed to confirmed this, and was a deal breaker to someone due to the locked Fast response setting in sRGB.

This whole sRGB issue has me considering cancelling my AW3821DW and ordering either a 38GN950 or 38WN95C-W, but neither are on sale right now. Color accuracy isn't critical for my job, for the moment, but I don't want to worry about this kind of workaround for daily work.
This is a half baked product, sRGB aside do you want to reach at the back of your monitor to cycle active inputs every time? $120 24" screens can cycle active inputs...
 

TimothyB

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This is a half baked product, sRGB aside do you want to reach at the back of your monitor to cycle active inputs every time? $120 24" screens can cycle active inputs...

Can’t say I regularly switch inputs for my needs to ever have this function on my check list. Though, it does bring into question how premium product can skip out on basics that even cheap monitors have, as you mentioned.

Though, has an auto switch function ever accidentally switched input when you didn’t desire it? Like say you have two devices already on but one some how keeps triggering a switch? Still, even if such a feature can be unpredictable, a simple off option would fix it for those that don’t need it.

I think I’ll order the 38WN95 today, get it by Wednesday, and try it out while the Dell order is on back order. I can the probably test it’s sRGB emulation mode against any workarounds in the wide gamut mode, giving me an idea what the Dell AW experience might be like.

It will cost me more, but I do like having USB-C, picture by picture, and design. I won’t miss the GN950 RGB ring as I already have three Philips HUE Play lights I sync with games
 

thelead

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This is a half baked product, sRGB aside do you want to reach at the back of your monitor to cycle active inputs every time? $120 24" screens can cycle active inputs...
I bet a majority of people don't have multiple sources connected to gsync panels though. Also, it's just 2-3 extra clicks in the menu to switch inputs. It sounds like you need a productivity monitor. This monitor should be better, but again, all 'high-end' consumer monitors should be offering more for the cost.
 

Sycraft

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I bet a majority of people don't have multiple sources connected to gsync panels though. Also, it's just 2-3 extra clicks in the menu to switch inputs. It sounds like you need a productivity monitor. This monitor should be better, but again, all 'high-end' consumer monitors should be offering more for the cost.
Ya right or not, the design on this thing is for gaming and the features are skewed towards that. The inputs strike me as a thing along those lines, because for gaming monitors, how often do you switch inputs? In my case, basically never, the only time I've ever switched is when my desktop motherboard died and I wired up my laptop while I waited for a new one. Gaming aside, at home or work I always disable auto-switching of inputs because I don't want to suddenly hop to a different screen because a device got woke up from sleep or the like. Like on my TV, the receiver does not auto switch when an input goes live, or dead, it only switches when explicitly told to by the remote.

So I can see why they chose to leave it off as a feature. That said, if such a thing is a deal breaker then I would for sure get another monitor.

If you don't need auto switching but do want faster manual switching, and of the bottom 3 buttons can be reprogrammed in the menu to directly switch to an input, so you can have them so you push one button and it goes directly to the input specified.
 

TimothyB

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Unbelievable, Best Buy had the 38WN95C-W in stock for a week or more, though, I decide to take 20 minutes to call Best Buy about a 10% coupon that never worked and expired on 12/13, long shot, but could really help. They confirmed some coupons were faulty and that they can make it up. The representative said if I have an existing purchase or make a purchase now, he could refund the 10% difference immediatly. I go to my cart, where it was just in stock, now out of stock. Argh :/

So plan B is sending me a new coupon that will appear in 1-3 days.
 

Sycraft

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Unbelievable, Best Buy had the 38WN95C-W in stock for a week or more, though, I decide to take 20 minutes to call Best Buy about a 10% coupon that never worked and expired on 12/13, long shot, but could really help. They confirmed some coupons were faulty and that they can make it up. The representative said if I have an existing purchase or make a purchase now, he could refund the 10% difference immediatly. I go to my cart, where it was just in stock, now out of stock. Argh :/

So plan B is sending me a new coupon that will appear in 1-3 days.
Ugh. The COVID buying frenzy has made things a real pain.
 

TimothyB

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Ugh. The COVID buying frenzy has made things a real pain.

It just reappeared in stock while attempting to add it to cart over and over and was able to purchase it. A technique learned from hunting RTX 3080, lol. So now I'm calling back to get the 10% refund.

1450 isn't too bad for the 38WN95C when compared to sale prices on the AW38 and 38GN (Plus $95 back in rewards later). Might consider the 4 Year Geek Squad Protection for $169 to not deal with manufacturer warranties. Seems low compared to the cost warranty cost on similar priced TVs.
 
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Sycraft

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It just reappeared in stock while attempting to add it to cart over and over and was able to purchase it. A technique learned from hunting RTX 3080, lol. So now I'm calling back to get the 10% refund.

1450 isn't too bad for the 38WN95C when compared to sale prices on the AW38 and 38GN (Plus $95 back in rewards later). Might consider the 4 Year Geek Squad Protection for $169 to not deal with manufacturer warranties. Seems low compared to the cost warranty cost on similar priced TVs.
Ya same basic price as the Alienware (Dell seems to have permanently dropped the price now). I was looking at one but I wanted a Gsync module and the faster local dimming the Alienware brought. Over all for normal use I imagine any of the screens that use the same panel are about the same so it comes down to which minor differences you like best.
 

TimothyB

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Ya same basic price as the Alienware (Dell seems to have permanently dropped the price now). I was looking at one but I wanted a Gsync module and the faster local dimming the Alienware brought. Over all for normal use I imagine any of the screens that use the same panel are about the same so it comes down to which minor differences you like best.
So there is a difference to local dimming on the Alienware? Is that hardware difference or tied to the 3 total HDR software modes it has over LG’s single mode?

This will be my first VRR screen and high refresh rate screen. I probably could of lived longer with my 38UC99, which is 75hz FreeSync, if they had only made it G-sync compatible for a small range to cover dips below 60, but it’s not certified and still has screen tearing when testing.
 

Sycraft

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So there is a difference to local dimming on the Alienware? Is that hardware difference or tied to the 3 total HDR software modes it has over LG’s single mode?
That seems to be the case. Now I haven't seen them side by side but my understanding is that the LG's mode is like Mode 2 or even less reactive. Basically it favors slow changes to the backlight and having more backlight on to keep the screen more uniform. Means you don't get noticeable changes in zones, which you certainly can get with Dell's Mode 0, but it also means it isn't as good overall for getting more contrast. I personally find the higher speed, more aggressive, mode to be the best choice. Ya you do sometimes see a zone flick on, but it means that it really does dim the backlight down when it can and gives you a good deal more contrast.
 

killabunny

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Just purchased this lovely piece of hardware. Like some of you here, I am missing an sRGB emulator in the OSD. Seeing as there is not one right now (unknown if there'll ever be one in the future), is there a workaround to achieve a decent sRGB reproduction when HDR is off?
 

Mystique

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Wish I could try the new nvidia driver more, as it has some different modes which, but since I have a 1080 Ti; the display flickers with it. (known issue) I think that's the aim of those features; if you have a RTX you should maybe check it out?
 

Sycraft

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Everyone here using factory settings for brightness, contrast, etc?
Contrast ya leave that at 75%. For some damn reason that is the neutral setting. No I don't know why ><. For brightness I go for 18% which is about 115nits which is what I like.
 

doox00

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There a place I should be watching for coupons/discounts on one of these screens? Or just watch Dell's website for a sale?
 

lexo1000

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Just received my unit. All seems fine until now except that the screen flickers a bit when moving the mouse cursor on the desktop with HDR activated in Windows 10. Does anyone experience this?
 
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Mystique

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Using a 1080 Ti with new drivers? I am on 457.xx because 460.xx has flickering with my GPU.
 

lexo1000

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Using a 1080 Ti with new drivers? I am on 457.xx because 460.xx has flickering with my GPU.
Yes 460.97 and RTX3090. I will revert back to 457 and see if it fixed my problem thanks.

Edit : Problem persist with 457 drivers. Flickers appear generally when moving cursor on white background (mainly internet. Im using Chrome). That is really disturbing and I hope Dell will fix the problem.
 
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Mystique

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Definitely shouldn't be happening. You could try installing the AW3821DW driver, or changing the refresh rate to 120 Hz and see if it keeps happening, or why. In any case, hopefully Dell makes it right!
 
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Just purchased this lovely piece of hardware. Like some of you here, I am missing an sRGB emulator in the OSD. Seeing as there is not one right now (unknown if there'll ever be one in the future), is there a workaround to achieve a decent sRGB reproduction when HDR is off?
Unlikely unless Dell releases new FW with sRGB emulation, didn't see any signs of that so returned it. May even be a limitation of the GSync module.
 

lexo1000

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Definitely shouldn't be happening. You could try installing the AW3821DW driver, or changing the refresh rate to 120 Hz and see if it keeps happening, or why. In any case, hopefully Dell makes it right!
The only driver I found is a simple exe package with ICC profile inside.
 
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Well I just submitted my return to Dell. For context, I meant for the Alienware to replace the LG 38GL950 I had owned for the past year. The fan noise on the LG was something I never got used to even after a year. While the Alienware is dead silent, the unit I got was disappointing in other areas:

Most importantly, the color and luminance uniformity on my Alienware is pretty poor. I've owned 5 ultrawides now (2x 34" and 3x 38") and expect some minor uniformity imperfections just due to the size of the panel, but the Alienware was by far the worst I've owned.

On top of that, the panel just feels a touch slow, both in pixel transition but also in response time. This honestly could just be entirely in my head, but the LG 38GL just felt a touch faster and more immediate in gaming. Again, this might just be imagined.

Finally, the lack of auto input switching (I use this for work and play during covid) is annoying and just feels like a really silly cost-saving measure or engineering oversight.

I had already sold my 38GL950 to a friend, so I ended up getting the 38GN950 from Costco. Color and luminance uniformity on the GN are much better than the Alienware and it feels faster, but I do have to say that the Alienware actually had usable HDR that added to games. Cyberpunk with ray tracing and HDR on felt like the future of gaming graphics, even if it didn't come anywhere close to a good OLED TV. Unfortunately the HDR implementation on the LG 38GN950 is virtually unusable and washed out in comparison, but at least in this case that's balanced out by its other advantages.
 

TimothyB

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Well I just submitted my return to Dell. For context, I meant for the Alienware to replace the LG 38GL950 I had owned for the past year. The fan noise on the LG was something I never got used to even after a year. While the Alienware is dead silent, the unit I got was disappointing in other areas:

Most importantly, the color and luminance uniformity on my Alienware is pretty poor. I've owned 5 ultrawides now (2x 34" and 3x 38") and expect some minor uniformity imperfections just due to the size of the panel, but the Alienware was by far the worst I've owned.

On top of that, the panel just feels a touch slow, both in pixel transition but also in response time. This honestly could just be entirely in my head, but the LG 38GL just felt a touch faster and more immediate in gaming. Again, this might just be imagined.

Finally, the lack of auto input switching (I use this for work and play during covid) is annoying and just feels like a really silly cost-saving measure or engineering oversight.

I had already sold my 38GL950 to a friend, so I ended up getting the 38GN950 from Costco. Color and luminance uniformity on the GN are much better than the Alienware and it feels faster, but I do have to say that the Alienware actually had usable HDR that added to games. Cyberpunk with ray tracing and HDR on felt like the future of gaming graphics, even if it didn't come anywhere close to a good OLED TV. Unfortunately the HDR implementation on the LG 38GN950 is virtually unusable and washed out in comparison, but at least in this case that's balanced out by its other advantages.
Your comment on slow response time sounds like the same concern a reviewer had? Check at 7:40 time, is that what you might of been experiencing?

Great to hear HDR is implemented well on the AW, but sad to hear LG’s 38GN950 method doesn’t compare. I assume the 38WN95, I have one arriving today, will be similar to the GN’s HDR, but like you said, there are other improvements that make-up for this, plus the sRGB mode.

If I’m really happy with the LG, I’ll probably cancel my AW order.
 
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Your comment on slow response time sounds like the same concern a reviewer had? Check at 7:40 time, is that what you might of been experiencing?

Great to hear HDR is implemented well on the AW, but sad to hear LG’s 38GN950 method doesn’t compare. I assume the 38WN95, I have one arriving today, will be similar to the GN’s HDR, but like you said, there are other improvements that make-up for this, plus the sRGB mode.

If I’m really happy with the LG, I’ll probably cancel my AW order.

Yeah I think that's probably what I was experiencing with the Alienware. It didn't feel as slow as some non-gaming monitors I've used in the past (I used to use IPS displays meant for color critical work back before gaming IPS monitors were a thing), but there was a sense of immediacy that was lacking. TBH because the LG GN I have now doesn't have a hardware G Sync module installed I'm guessing it has a slightly higher input lag than the GL version, so who knows if it's all just placebo/confirmation bias in my head. I'm leaning towards the latter.

I'm not sure if it's the edge lighting zones of the LG GN or what, but they just wash out the picture by cranking up the brightness. I had to go into the config for Star Wars: Squadrons to permanently turn off HDR (there's no toggle in-game for some reason) because any dark areas on screen were so badly washed out, which makes no sense when you're playing a game set in space. The Alienware cranks up the brightness as well, but the much finer lighting zones are apparent to the point where I didn't notice anything but the awesome lighting combined with ray tracing while driving around in Cyberpunk at night. Again, it's not OLED quality (we have an LG OLED from a few years ago as our primary TV) but it's still usable and fun.
 

lexo1000

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I measured my screen with I1 Display Pro Plus. Pretty bad contrast (850:1) Also I have to choose Custom Color in the monitor settings as the "Game 1/2/3" RGB settings do nothing..

Edit : I remade some contrast measurements with Variable Backlight on:
Mode 0 : 989:1.
Mode 1 : 1006:1
Mode 2 : 834:1
 
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