I recently reviewed the 3D Vision glasses offered by Nvidia. Nvidia has been pushing gamers hard to adopt the technology, especially with their new 400 series graphics cards. While you can use the 3D Vision glasses with lower end Nvidia cards as well, the technology really shines on higher end systems and Nvidia is showing it everywhere they show their new graphics cards.

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Damn I make the glasses look good!

While the 3D Vision glasses have been available for over a year now, Nvidia has waited until now to really market them. Was this because of all the hype over Avatar in 3D? Perhaps they wanted to give developers more time to work make sure their games would work with the glasses. Both would be very viable reasons for Nvidia to have held off on heavily marketing their product until now, but I believe the real answer lies in the monitors. The monitors define your 3D experience as much as anything else does, and until recently they were the one thing that really held 3D Vision back.

In order to use 3D Vision you must have a monitor that is capable of refreshing at 120Hz. Since most monitors today only refresh at 60Hz, it means that most people will have to buy a new monitor in order to enjoy the beauty that is 3D Vision. The first generation of 3D monitors, or monitors that were capable of refreshing at 120Hz, had some pretty serious issues. There was a very noticeable ghosting problem with many of the displays. Some had issues where the top and bottom of the screen were out of sync with the rest of the display. Few people were really wowed by the experience of these monitors. Fortunately, manufacturers have learned some hard lessons and have started to release the second generation of 120Hz monitors that fix many of these issues. So, if you’re interested in 3D vision,  the question is which monitor should you buy?

Not to worry, we here at Ten Ton Hammer decided that we had to help you make an informed choice. When I say we decided we had to help you, what I really mean is that I couldn't make up my mind which to buy, so I bought them both (stupid I know). I then lied to my wife and told her that I bought them for a review I was writing. Well, now I have to write the review so I can tell myself I only half lied about the purchase. My stupidity is your gain (as long as you agree not to tell her).

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Acer no frills but functional

I compared the two 23.6 HD-ready displays, the Acer GD235HZ and the Alienware OptX AW2310 that Nvidia says will work with their 3D Vision glasses. These are both second generation monitors and are currently the largest monitors you can get that support 3D Vision. If you are looking at adopting 3D Vision in the near future, these are the top two monitors you should look at.

Let's start with a look at what each manufacturer says about their monitor.


Acer GD235HZ

Alienware OptX AW2310


23.6" wide-screen

23.6" wide-screen

Max Resolution



Max Refresh Rate



Contrast Ratio



Viewing Angles




300 cd/m2

400 cd/m2

Response Time

2ms gray to gray

3ms gray to gray



DVI, HDMI, 4 USB Ports


No speakers



Fixed non adjustable

Fully adjustable


3 year parts and labor

3 year Advanced Exchange




By simply looking at the numbers, you would think that Acer wins hands down. It's $100 cheaper, has a better response time and matches up amazingly well to the Alienware monitor. I never trust what manufacturers say; many times the formulas they use are not the same results you get in real world applications. That's why I had to buy both to see for myself which monitor was the king of 3D Vision.

There are many different tests out there to tell you which monitor out performs another. I don't find any of these as useful as what my eyes tell me. So for this comparison I played WoW, Dragon Age, Left 4 Dead, and LOTRO on both monitors in both 3D and 2D. I also ran the Lagom LCD monitor test which is a great free visual test to help you see subtle differences between monitors.

Design & Looks

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Alienware has all the bells and whistles

While both monitors look almost identical on paper, the monitors appear nothing alike in person. Alienware continues their classy, sexy look with the OptX AW2310. The monitor includes a four port USB hub and an audio connector, which is especially useful to plug the IR emitter into the display instead of having to run a cable to the computer itself. Touch-sensitive buttons on the right side of the frame control the menu system and the classic Alienware logo is located on both the front and back of the display. In their wisdom Alienware has included a fully adjustable stand with the OptX, which makes positioning the monitor at just the right angle for 3D a breeze. The key to really great 3D is being absolutely centered with the monitor. If you are off to the side, above or below the display, the picture will distort and show you two images. So of course an adjustable stand is a huge bonus when working with 3D.

Acer is taking a more practical approach to the hardware, the Acer GD235HZ looks like any other display, with a light-up power button, five buttons under the bezel, and a small orange stand to hold the monitor up. Acer gives up the 4 USB Ports and the adjustable stand in order to hit their low price point. While the USB Ports are understandable, Acer really should have provided an adjustable stand with this monitor. While gamers typically would like to have this feature on all monitors, it's very important when used with 3D Vision. While it was possible to get exactly center to use the monitor properly, it was a pain in the ass. I had to adjust the height of my chair, and use a book to get the screen at the correct angle.

Winner: Alienware

 Contrast/ Black & White Saturation

Both monitors did extremely well with their contrast ratio. Contrast Ratio is the difference between lights and darks and how colors are similar side by side. Both of these did as well as most top tier LCD monitors out to date. With no noticeable difference between them.

When it comes to black & white saturation it's a whole other story. Both monitors did very well when it came to showing black colors, with the Alienware slightly outperforming the Acer, although only in tests. In actual gameplay I could see no difference in black colors. The color white, was the Achilles heel of Acer though. There were several shades of white that the Acer just could not show. This showed in both the test, games, and even while browsing the internet. It was very apparent to the casual observer (my wife, I had to ask her opinion so she believed me that I had to review these) there was a problem with white. The Alienware monitor did very well with white, doing as well in tests and gameplay as any of my monitors.

Winner: Alienware

Response Time

Acer claims to have a 2ms response time, while Alienware claim to have a 3ms response time. In my tests both monitors scored exactly the same. There was absolutely no noticeable difference between them. Both showed absolutely no sign of ghosting with use of their 120Hz, and even when 3D was enabled I saw no more than a very rare instance or two that could be related to my hardware. Both monitors would give gamers that seek amazing response time and no ghosting a huge boost to gameplay.

Winner: Tie

Color & Picture Quality

This is the big one in my book. All the other categories are worthless if, when you sit back and look at the screen, you don't like what you see, or the image does not show the color it is suppose to. Both monitors provide one hell of a picture for an LCD display. You would not be disappointed with either monitor, I assure you. In fact, only when I was playing side by side, or making use of the Lagom test, was I able to tell any difference. With that said I have to say that the Alienware monitor when compared side by side did provide a better picture with truer colors. My personal belief is that this is due to the problem Acer has with the color white. The difference is not night and day, and both provide excellent color and picture quality.

Winner: Alienware


While it is obvious from the categories above that the Alienware OptX AW2310 is a superior display, it must be acknowledged that the Acer GD235HZ is $100 cheaper. Both monitors outperformed my expectations, and either monitor should meet almost any gamer’s expectations. So the question comes down to this: does the Alienware OptX AW2310 provide enough bang for the buck to warrant an extra $100?

I have to say yes for one reason alone--the warranty. That's right, after all the talk about refresh time, and contrast ratio, it really comes down to the warranty. The Acer GD235HZ comes with a 3 year parts and labor warranty. You have to mail the monitor in and wait for it to be repaired. You could find yourself without a monitor for quite some time. You also have to have more than 7 dead pixels in order to have the monitor repaired or exchanged for the pixels. Nothing pisses off a gamer more than to see that one dead pixel staring him in the face every time he sits at his computer.

By contrast the Alienware OptX AW2310 comes with a 3 year Advanced Exchange warranty. If you monitor needs repair they will send you a new one BEFORE you have to send in your damaged monitor. This assures you minimal down time without a monitor. What's better, Alienware considers 1 dead pixel enough to warrant a repair or exchange. That's right gamers, you will never see a dead pixel on your screen! You can not ask for more from a warranty.

So while both monitors are excellent buys, and those who are a really tight budget should still be very pleased with the Acer GD235HZ, if you can afford it, step up and get the Cadillac of 120Hz monitors. The Alienware OptX AW2310 is worth every penny, and will quickly become your new favorite monitor.

Last Updated: Mar 13, 2016