Dell U3415W Ultrawide Monitor Review: A Web Developer’s Perspective

  • Ultrawide monitors are worth the investment.
  • The 3440 x 1440 resolution is a perfect balance of screen real estate and easily viewable text.
  • This monitor has made my job far more enjoyable.
  • Ultrawide > 4K or Dual Monitors.

I’ve been a web developer for over ten years and do a lot of coding in front of my computer screen. For much of this time I used a single 24” Samsung T240HD monitor with a 1920 x 1200 resolution. In 2016, I finally decided to upgrade my monitor. After a brief and forgettable experience with a 4K monitor, I now revere the ultrawide format. Dell sent me their 34” U3415W ultrawide monitor and after thoroughly testing it, it is a most wonderful display.

dell u3415w review

How I Use My Monitor

My job requires having multiple windows open including several internet browser windows, Adobe Dreamweaver and Photoshop, Microsoft Outlook, Word, Excel and many file explorer windows. On the T240HD, Dreamweaver typically took up about 70%-80% of the screen and Outlook was barely visible on the very left side on the screen (mostly covered up by Dreamweaver). All my other windows were stacked on top of each other under Dreamweaver. Yes, it worked but it wasn’t efficient for multitasking or comparing two or more items side by side.

dell u3415w ultrawide review

Unboxing the Beast

As soon as I started unboxing the Dell U3415W, I knew I was in for a treat. The box it’s packaged in is by far the nicest I have seen included with a tech product. All the components are in separate padded compartments and Dell also includes instructions (complete with pictures) on the box which walk you through connecting the stand to the display while using the box to protect the display. Very intuitive.

dell u3415w ultrawide monitor review

Included were all the cables you need to setup the monitor: power, HDMI, DisplayPort (Mini-DisplayPort to DisplayPort) and USB 3.0 upstream. Also included is a cover to hide the cables where they plug into the ports on back of the monitor as well as a driver disk and manual. I’ve included some key specs below, for complete specs see the Dell’s webpage for the U3415W.

Key specs:

  • 34” IPS Panel Display with 3440 x 1440 Resolution
  • 60 Hz Refresh Rate
  • Inputs: HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort 1.2, Mini DisplayPort
  • 3 Year Warranty

dell u3415w monitor review

dell u3415w ports

dell u3415w usb ports

First Impressions

After disconnecting my trusty T240HD, I put the U3415W on my desk. My first thought was “wow, where’d all my desk space go!” I have a 60” long desk and the ultrawide took up over half, but as I would soon find out, it would be more than worth it! I turned on my computer and took a second to soak in the Windows desktop in beautiful 21:9. The taskbar stretches on forever and my existing shortcut icons which took up most of the space on the T240HD didn’t even use half of the newly available space.

I fired up Dreamweaver and resized the window to a large, comfortable size where I could see my file panel on the left with my code in the middle. As a coder, I could immediately appreciate the additional 240 pixels of height in the code view and after configuring Dreamweaver to my heart’s content while going out of my way to use as much space as I wanted, I was still only using slightly over 1/3 of my new monitor’s screen real estate.

dell u3415w ultrawide monitor review

Outlook was next, I moved the window to the left side of the monitor and instead of only seeing the border of the window, I could now view the entire program including my folders and inbox items. I still had room on top of Outlook for additional programs! I opened some file explorer windows and positioned them over on the top left side of the screen so I could browse and transfer files as needed. Now I can stack two, three or even four all on the left side of the screen in addition to Outlook! Simply amazing.

I started working on a website and hit the preview button to open Firefox so I could see my progress, it opened in the center of the screen and I positioned the window to occupy the right side of the screen. I couldn’t help but smile! Here I am working on a website and now I can merely look over to the right to see my changes in real time. No more looking down at the taskbar, finding the browser button, clicking it, locating the window that I am using to preview changes, opening it to see I need to change something and then shrinking it back down to go back into Dreamweaver.

I cannot overstate how amazing and efficient my workflow is now. I can also open reference material or documentation in a browser window on the left while I am working in the middle and previewing on the right. The possibilities are endless!

Ultrawide vs 4K

Prior to the U3415W, I tried the Asus PB287Q which is a 28” 4K monitor with a TN panel and couldn’t stand it! When I first plugged it in, it didn’t seem like much of an upgrade as I didn’t notice all that much more screen real estate, certainly not what all the 4K fans raved on and on about. After some investigating, I noticed that Windows 8.1 had automatically set my display scaling to 150%.

I adjusted it back 100% and couldn’t believe how small my taskbar icons had become! I opened Dreamweaver and was happy with how little room the program took up on my new display but I couldn’t read any of the code. I opened Outlook and couldn’t read any emails. This is with 20/20 vision by the way.

Then I realized why Windows automatically bumped up the scaling. The native 4K resolution of 3820 x 2160 is just too small for comfortable viewing. After adjusting the scaling to 125% which seemed like an acceptable balance between readability and increased screen real estate, I still had to increase the zoom level in my browser and Microsoft office programs. I also had to make the program font in Dreamweaver larger and at the time there were scaling issues with Dreamweaver on high DPI monitors which made certain panels inaccessible and that was unacceptable to me.

If you are using a 28” or smaller 4K monitor as a secondary display for viewing raw 4K video, I could see it being useful, but I was looking for a single monitor solution for all my productivity needs and even with further tweaking, I realized the 4K model wouldn’t deliver.

Ultrawide vs Dual Monitors

A few years prior to the upgrade, I briefly used a dual monitor setup and still prefer a single ultrawide. The monitor I used in addition to my T240HD was a 22” Samsung SyncMaster. However, the inconsistencies in screen resolution and the fact that the physical dimensions of the displays made them impossible to be aligned properly were too distracting for me and I went back to a single monitor.

I know many people swear by dual displays and I’m sure that if you have two of the same model monitor, it makes for a better experience but I’ve always preferred a single screen. It looks cleaner on your desk, uses less cables and there aren’t any bezels.

Conclusion

After upgrading from my T240HD to the Dell U3415W ultrawide monitor I quickly wondered how I ever managed to get anything done without it! The 3440 x 1440 resolution makes text easy to read while still providing plenty of screen real estate.

Dell’s ultrawide leaves nothing to be desired, it’s a quality product that I believe will serve me for many years and I fully advocate spending a few hundred dollars more for a monitor that will most certainly make you happy. Productivity minded users such as programmers, video editors and photographers will certainly enjoy an ultrawide monitor as will gamers and media users. Once you go 21:9, you don’t go back.

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