Dell U3818DW Curved Monitor Review

When LG released the first curved ultra-wide monitors back in 2014, they were squarely aimed at the general-use category. With no frame of reference, it was difficult to predict who would embrace the new format. While the products were initially met with skepticism, gamers quickly discovered the advantages of a single 21:9 curved screen over multiple flat panels with their annoying separation lines. 32” and 34” sizes meant a usable and beneficial wraparound effect without image distortion.

The largest such displays now come in a 38” configuration with a 37.5” viewable area. We’ve already looked at LG’s 38UC99 and Acer’s XR382CQK. Both are clearly intended for gamers with FreeSync and a 75Hz refresh rate.

Today, we’re checking out Dell’s U3818DW. While it's based on a similar AH-IPS panel part from LG Display, it trades gaming features for a factory-certified calibration, 10-bit color, and professional-level accuracy. It also sports 3840x1600-pixel resolution, tank-like build quality, and up-to-date connectivity with HDMI 2.0 and USB 3.1 Type C. Let’s take a look.

Specifications

While the U3818DW’s calibration data sheet qualifies it for use by professionals, the native color gamut is sRGB like its gaming counterparts. To that, it adds 10-bit color depth and the latest HDMI 2.0 inputs with HDCP 2.2. You also get USB 3.1 Type C for easier integration with laptops and other devices.

The panel is an AH-IPS part from LG Display with a 2300mm-radius curve. Pixel density is in the Windows sweet spot at 111ppi. Coupled with a whole lot of screen area, that should make any dpi-scaling unnecessary. Color accuracy is certified to less than 2dE in the sRGB colorspace. Also included is a uniformity compensation feature, although we’ll tell you up front that it’s not needed. Our sample did very well during testing.

Like every monitor in Dell’s UltraSharp line, the U3818DW is built to a higher standard than most. The panel is ruggedly constructed and looks like it will stand up to serious and long-term use. If you need professional-grade accuracy and functionality but haven’t considered a curved screen before now, this might be your new display. It’s clearly meant for something other than gaming.

Packaging, Physical Layout & Accessories

Dell continues to provide unique packaging for its monitors. The U3818DW comes in a clamshell-style carton made from double-corrugate. Inside are cleverly shaped cardboard pieces that protect every part with only small bits of foam. It’s extremely sturdy and unlikely to be damaged during shipment. The upright and base bolt together without tools. The assembly is then snapped onto the panel for a clean, uncluttered look.

Included cables are of exceptional quality. They have a smooth finish with thick insulation and are coiled to avoid kinks. You get an IEC cord for the internal power supply in addition to HDMI, DisplayPort, USB 3.0, and USB 3.1 Type C. A CD contains documentation and all necessary drivers.

Product 360

Dell calls the U3818DW’s bezel InfinityEdge, which suggests a borderless design. The frame is flush-mounted and quite thin at only 10mm at the top and sides, and 15mm at the bottom. It isn’t quite invisible though, but you’ll barely notice it when an image is present. The anti-glare layer serves its purpose well without introducing softness or grain.

Controls are found at the bottom right and consist of tiny buttons. They click with a premium feel and become intuitive after a short time. Small icons appear on the screen to denote their functions. The 2300mm-radius curve is just right for the 38” size providing a proper wraparound effect without any image distortion. There is a lot of real estate to work with, though you’ll need to devote a fair amount of desk space for this very large display. But then, it has a smaller footprint than two or three flat panels.

The side profile is chunky, though panel thickness is just 2.2” when measured at the center. On the left are two USB ports with two more found underneath. Two upstream ports are also included, which means the U3818DW can service two computers. KVM controls in the OSD assign the USB ports to each of three video inputs.

The back shows Dell’s minimalist approach to design with a smooth gray finish broken only by a small logo on the upright. Grills at the top and bottom vent heat effectively while 9W speakers fire out the lower edge. They have noticeably better fidelity than most and can play at decent volumes without audible distortion. A small hole in the upright serves for cable management.

The stand is rock-solid and includes a full suite of adjustments. You get 35° back tilt and 5° front plus 30° swivel to either side and just under 5” of height range. Obviously, there is no portrait mode. If you wish to use a monitor arm or other bracket, the upright unsnaps to reveal a 100mm VESA mount.

Inputs are many and include two HDMI 2.0 and one DisplayPort 1.2, all with HDCP 2.2, two each of USB upstream and downstream, and a single USB Type C. You can assign the USB upstream ports to any one of the three video inputs.

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