Review: Alienware 25 Gaming Monitor
After using the Alienware AW2521HF 240Hz gaming monitor for a few weeks I’m honestly dreading going back to gaming at 60Hz. Thanks to my experience with the excellent AW2521HF, the next monitor I buy for my PC I’ll be prioritising refresh rate, not resolution.
First off the monitor itself looks great. Especially when paired with an Alienware PC. But even standing alone on a desk it looks incredible. The 24.5-inch IPS matte panel is surrounded by extremely thin bezels, and sat on a really good looking stand. The stand definitely has that classic-gamer aesthetic, but not to the point where it’s too much. The back of the monitor stand has the – now staple – Alienware RGB ring around it, which can be changed to whatever colour you want from the monitor’s menu. There’s also a little Alienware logo in the corner that lights up with RGB which is very cool. The whole thing is heavy and extremely well built. The weight of the thing adds to that feeling of quality you get while using it or moving it around, but because it’s so heavy you won’t want to move it a lot if you can avoid it.
Unboxing and setting up the AW2521HF is super easy. The stand comes in two parts which are assembled by a single, attached screw. And the stand clips almost too easily into the back of the panel. Any cables you have running from your PC to the monitor can be fed through the back of the stand and into the panel, which is really nice for cable management. Speaking of cables, the back of the AW2521HF has pretty much every port you could ever need on it. It has a DisplayPort, 2 HDMI ports, USB 3.0 upstream port, 3 USB 3.0 downstream ports, a headphone jack, and an audio line-out. So yeah, a lot. The USB downstream ports are particularly nice, as it means you can plug your keyboard and mouse into the monitor rather than your PC.
Now the bit that’s really important, the actual monitor panel itself. It’s wonderful. The gaming experience is second to none. Let’s start with a little bit of background on high refresh rate monitors. First of all, they’re great. Especially if you’re into multiplayer, esports style PC gaming. Theoretically the faster your screen refreshes the faster it can show you what’s happening in the game you’re playing. This means if you’re on a 240Hz screen and your enemy is on a 60Hz screen you can react more quickly than them when they pop out from around the corner and kill them before they kill you. Pretty simple. If you’re on a high refresh rate screen you have a slight advantage. But the problem up until now is that most high refresh rate screens have used TN panels. And while TN panels can offer high refresh rates, they also can be let down by high response times, bad colours, and bad viewing angles. These are things that IPS panels eliminate. So it’s a good job the Alienware AW 2521HF uses an IPS panel then! Not only does it give you the massive benefit of a super high refresh rate, but it also has a quite frankly ridiculous fast response time of 1ms, and the colours and viewing angles are absolutely excellent. It also supports both free-sync and G-sync, so you won’t have to worry about screen tearing ever again. I promise you will enjoy your games more when they’re being projected into your eyeballs from this monitor.
And because it’s a high-quality IPS panel this monitor is good for more than just gaming. It’s a joy to consume and create content on. Watching YouTube and Netflix is great as the screen gets super bright (400 nits) and all the colours pop from the screen and look fantastic. And because, with a little bit of tweaking, the colours look so true to life the AW2521HF can be used for high-end video editing.
A lot of the nitty-gritty settings can be changed super easily using the AW2521HF’s control centre. You can switch the response rate from fast to extreme, you can bring up an overlay that measures your in-game frames per second, you can even change the aspect ration from 16:9 to 4:3 if you’re one of those super try hard Counter-Strike players that refuse to play it any other way.
So yeah, it’s a pretty special gaming monitor. But of course, there are a few cons to put up against the long list of pros. The first, most obvious one, is that if you want to get the most out of your 240Hz gaming monitor your games have to be running at 240 frames per second. Even on the most powerful gaming PC that is a massive ask. So unless you have an absolutely absurd £5,000+ monster of a computer you might have to turn a few graphical settings down here and there. For reference, I was running this monitor on an Alienware PC fitted with an Nvidia RTX 2070 Super, and in games like Valorant and Dota 2 to get a stable 240 fps some settings had to be turned down. The price is also a bit of a con. It is very expensive. And while I’m not saying it’s not worth the asking price of £331, that is an awful lot of money. And finally, I wish they’d thrown in HDR support on top of all the other amazing features as the cherry on top, but alas they have not. So yeah, there are a few little things that, at a push, can be put on a cons list, but none of them are anywhere near dealbreakers.
Going back to lower refresh rates after using this monitor isn’t a nice experience. Reviewing it has made me want one. Playing the games I love at a buttery smooth 240 fps and 240Hz is by far the best gaming experience I’ve had. And as this monitor enabled that for me there isn’t really much bad that I can say about it. So the gaming experience is excellent. Add to that the fact this monitor excels at literally everything else and the conclusion to this review should be quite obvious. If you have a PC that can push extremely high frame rates, and if you have the budget to spend £300+ on a gaming monitor I cannot recommend the Alienware AW2521HF any more highly.