Dell U3818DW Curved Monitor Review

Brightness & Contrast

To read about our monitor tests in depth, please check out Display Testing Explained: How We Test Monitors and TVs.Brightness and Contrast testing are covered on page two.

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Uncalibrated – Maximum Backlight Level

The U3818DW is the third 38” curved ultra-wide we’ve tested after LG’s 38UC99 and Acer’s XR382CQK, both of which are more suitable for gaming. To cover the jumbo pro-screen category, we’ve included Acer’s BM320, BenQ’s PD3200U, and AOC’s U3277PWQU.

Dell claims 350cd/m2 output for the U3818DW, but we could only coax 290.5526 from the Standard mode. It may be possible to increase the white level by raising the contrast control, but it’s already too high. We observed clipping in test patterns at its default 75% setting. This isn’t a big deal, but it means you’ll see less light when using uniformity compensation. We’ll show you its effects below.

With a black level of .3103cd/m2, contrast clocks in at an average-for-the-category 937:1. While pro monitors are almost always based on IPS parts, which deliver 1100:1 at best, AOC has ventured into new territory with the MVA panel used in the U3277PWQU. That monitor delivers excellent color accuracy and more than double the contrast of the next best screen.

Uncalibrated – Minimum Backlight Level

Throttling the backlight to its zero setting delivers around 32nits brightness. That’s a little dim for our taste but it may work for some users; it depends on the room environment. If you want a more palatable 50cd/m2, select 14% for the brightness setting. The upside here, besides consistent contrast over the entire output range, is that the control is very fine, making it easy to set a precise white level. Each click represents no more than 2cd/m2.

After Calibration to 200cd/m2

To repair a red-clip issue, we had to lower the contrast slider to 67% from its 75% default setting. This results in excellent grayscale and gamma tracking but reduces sequential contrast by about 30%. Since the U3818DW is first and foremost a professional display, we prioritized color accuracy over dynamic range during our calibration. You’ll have to decide if the gain is worthwhile. In Standard mode, color is fairly accurate and contrast is higher. It will depend on your particular application. If you use this monitor in a video post-production setting, it may not easily match other screens that have higher contrast.

We’re also showing the effects of uniformity compensation, which you’ll see later in the review is unnecessary. Output is reduced by 36% and contrast by 35%. Our sample showed superb uniformity without assistance, so we don’t see a need for it.

ANSI Contrast Ratio

ANSI contrast measures in lock-step with our sequential result. This indicates a high-quality panel made to a controlled standard. All the numbers we’ve seen so far are excellent except for black levels, which are higher than the other displays. Since the Acer and LG curved panels score better, we can only deduce that Dell has made a choice in the U3818DW’s design as a compromise for some other purpose.

MORE: Best Gaming Monitors

MORE: Best Professional Monitors

MORE: How We Test Monitors

MORE: How To Choose A Monitor

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25 comments
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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
    2381310 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
    194916 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
    67821 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
    2131435 said:
    194916 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-$ync is almost scam like. Freesync is good enough and NVidia could enable it on their cards but they are big jerks.
  • gaborbarla
    Curved screen are pretty much necessary over 27". The pixels need to face more towards you than they do on a flat screen for uniformity. So for those that wonder if curved is a good idea, I think it is actually necessary. Overall the curve will try to point every pixel more or less 90 degrees towards your eyes, on a flat 38" screen the edges of the screens will be like 30-45 degrees from your eyes creating a really uncomfortable experience. This actually should increase colour uniformity from the viewers standpoint compared to a flat screen.
  • JonDol
    194916 said:
    2131435 said:
    194916 said:
    37.5” = Yea! IPS = Yea! --> NOO, VA please ! 10-bit color = Yea! 3840x1600-pixel resolution – Yea! --> NOO, at least 4K please ! USB 3.1 Type C = Yea! HDMI 2.0 = Still no 2.1? 21:9 = Lame! --> AGREE ! Curved = Why?! Why do folks want their screen squished in the middle and the ISO graphics distorted? No FreeSync = God Dam it!
    DP 1.2 --> NOO, DP 1.4 please ! AdaptativeSync: the one that works with the fastest GC so G-Sync atm, please !
    But G-$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://
    1675488 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
    1800653 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
    2131435 said:
    194916 said:
    2131435 said:
    194916 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
    215623 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???
  • toddybody
    "REALIST9,
    4K, 144Hz, GSYNC is coming in 2018...
    https://wccftech.com/g-sync-hdr-monitors-available-q2-2017/

    Break open your piggy bank though..."

    They're indeed coming...but I think they mentioned larger screen size as a requirement.

    I'm currently on a 27" 1440p G-Sync, from a 28" 2160p G-Sync Display prior...and I really dont miss the resolution loss at that size.

    30"+, HDR Certified, 100Hz+, 2160p (16:9), G-Sync.... is what I'm most excited for.
  • Solandri
    194916 said:
    2381310 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.

    The curve is an engineering feature that marketing is trying to spin as a visual feature. Take a sheet of paper and try to stand it on its end while holding it perfectly straight near the bottom corners. It'll flop over. Now curve the paper slightly. it'll stand up straight.

    A curved monitor can be designed to be thinner and weigh less, while still being structurally rigid (at least in the direction counteracting gravity).
  • AndyWiryaPeaceful
    Nick Fury won't have to turn his head anymore
  • AndyWiryaPeaceful
    and idiots at Apple are still confused why their Mini Displayport 27" Display & Thunderbolt Display had poor sales number before they were finally discontinued.