alienware aw2521hf review

The main feature from the front, as usual, is the screen face.

‘IPS glow’ also featured, but appropriate room lighting took the edge off this. It’s a Freesync Premium screen at its core, but it’s also one of Nvidia’s fully certified G-Sync Compatible monitors as well, making it a great choice for AMD and Nvidia graphics card owners alike looking for smooth, tear-free gaming at high refresh rates. The video below shows the Lagom text test, a mixed desktop background, game scene and dark desktop background from a variety of viewing angles. Somewhat yellow compared to on models with a much more generous colour gamut, but less so than models that very strictly follow the sRGB gamut.

At 144Hz, above, the UFO appears narrower and more sharply focused, with better internal detailing. At lowest stand height, the bottom of the screen sits ~70mm (2.76 inches) above the desk and the top of the screen ~396mm (15.59 inches).

You should ensure the GPU driver is setup correctly to use FreeSync, so open ‘AMD Radeon Software’, click ‘Settings’ (cog icon towards top right) and click on ‘Display’. Pixel response behaviour was similar under the ‘Fast’ setting whether Adaptive-Sync was active or not both in this test and more broadly. As the frame rate dropped we noticed an increase in overshoot.

I thought Alienware should have good quality about their product, but this monitor like trash. Instead, our system considers things like how recent a review is and if the reviewer bought the item on Amazon.

Compared to its bigger brother, the Dell Alienware AW2720HF, this monitor has a slightly higher contrast ratio, much better black uniformity, and it's more color accurate out of the box.

The monitor delivered a very competent 240Hz performance, with only minor weaknesses as described earlier. But there wasn’t a strong coarse graininess nor a strong ‘smeary’ appearance, either. The refresh rate was put to excellent use overall; strong pixel responsiveness, very low input lag and no noticeable overshoot. The images below are pursuit photographs taken using the UFO Motion Test for ghosting, with the test running at its default speed of 960 pixels per second. The monitor can also be set to 120Hz – although not documented in this testing, results were very much comparable to 144Hz. The dark desktop background highlights ‘IPS glow’, which creates an obvious ‘bloom’ as viewing angles become steeper. In the image above you can see that the monitor is validated as ‘G-SYNC Compatible’ (or you could, if Nvidia Control Panel displayed the entire text instead of cutting it off). The strong consistency was also very evident when considering Lara’s glowing and all-too-perfect complexion. The screen surface has a bit of graininess to it when observing lighter shades, a very slightly ‘sandy’ look to it, if you like.

Earthy browns appeared with good neutrality – a little extra richness but not the sort of stronger red hue that a wider gamut would provide. Positives

It’s just the right size for this resolution, and it means the AW2521HFL is a lot more versatile as a result. Both feature a 240Hz refresh rate on an IPS panel, and they also perform similarly when it comes to contrast ratio, peak brightness, and response time. Nonetheless, we wouldn’t describe the atmosphere as poor in an appropriately well-lit room either. That said, the lack of HDR support is rather disappointing.

Using this method, we calculated 2.63ms (under 2/3rds of a frame at 240Hz) of input lag. The technology worked well and offered a very similar experience to AMD FreeSync. If you activate the ‘Frame Counter’ in the ‘Game Setting’ section of the OSD, this will display the refresh rate of the display and therefore indicate the frame rate if ‘FreeSync’ is active and the frame rate is within the variable refresh rate range of the display. And additional overdrive artifacts with parts of the UFO appearing displaced or ‘over-aliased’. Where possible, the monitor dynamically adjusts its refresh rate so that it matches the frame rate being outputted by the GPU.

Brighter elements stood out well against darker surroundings, complete with a bit of graininess from the screen surface but nothing extreme.

Note that there is always some disparity between how emissive objects (monitor) and non-emissive objects (printed sheet) appear. In contrast to models with G-SYNC modules, which feature variable overdrive that re-tunes things dynamically to a wide range of different refresh rates. The images below show the refresh rates available in the native Full HD resolution. Both Valorant and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive were better experiences though, with the 240Hz refresh rate really coming into effect. The sides are darker, but thankfully, there's very little dirty screen effect and uniformity is a lot better in dark scenes. The final point to note is that FreeSync only removes stuttering or juddering related to mismatches between frame rate and refresh rate. But some users don’t find such issues as noticeable and won’t benefit as much from FreeSync.

As with AMD FreeSync this technology worked very well, although there was a momentary stutter when it activated or deactivated.

Video review

But being able to change the power LED colour to suit your mood is a nice little touch. This ate away at detail and lightened dark shades up in this region, but wasn’t extreme. All but the final pattern was distinct from the background, with the final pattern faintly visible although a bit fainter than it could be. It can’t compensate for other interruptions to smooth game play, for example network latency or insufficient system memory. The gamma is slightly below target, brightening up some shades just a little, but the overall image balance is very respectable.

You need to make sure ‘FreeSync’ is set to ‘On’ in the ‘Game’ section of the OSD. Our suggestions regarding use of VSync also apply, but you’re using Nvidia Control Panel rather than AMD Radeon Software to control this. It’s nicely built and very easy to put together. Although not nearly as pronounced or obvious as stepping up from 60Hz to 144Hz (or even 120Hz).

It was masked by a bit of graininess from the screen surface as well. You’d therefore select either the third or fourth option in the list, shown in the image below. Considering video content more broadly, including streamed and heavily compressed content, there was suitable masking of ‘compression artifacts’. We refer to these as ‘interlace pattern artifacts’ but some users refer to them as ‘inversion artifacts’ and others as ‘scan lines’.

Ensure the ‘Enable G-SYNC, G-SYNC Compatible’ checkbox and ‘Enable settings for the selected display model’ is checked as shown below. The segments are now quite distinct. Finally, note again that you can go to ‘Game Enhance Mode’ in the ‘Game’ section of the OSD to activate the ‘Frame Rate’ feature. The Lagom text appeared a blended grey throughout, with a slight red hue to the striping of the text. Low response time. Adaptive-Sync also worked well on both our AMD and Nvidia GPU to get rid of tearing and stuttering.

If a game ran at 34fps, for example, the refresh rate would be 68Hz to help keep tearing and stuttering at bay. All three rows of the test are analysed (dark, medium and light background) to show a range of pixel transitions.

FreeSync – the technology and activating it Reasonable contrast, in-line with expectation, strong gamma consistency and a pleasing luminance adjustment range The video review is designed to complement the written piece and is not nearly as comprehensive.

It's often not worth using the Overdrive setting anyway, since the difference in 1ms to 2ms is negligible. Even if such dips were very slight, without FreeSync active and VSync enabled they’d cause obvious stuttering.

The Alienware AW2521HF and white AW2521HFL is a decent choice for those after a small, 240Hz gaming monitor, but its IPS panel isn't as good as its larger. G Gain= 88% Most shades appeared very consistent indeed, with any slight deviation due more to uniformity than any viewing angle related weakness. This displays the current refresh rate of the monitor and will reflect the frame rate if it’s within the main variable refresh rate window (e.g.

We made various changes to the ‘Custom Color’ preset for our ‘Test Settings’.

The UFOs move across the screen from left to right at a frame rate matching the refresh rate of the display. Colour reproduction These show some extra transitions being performed with a black and a white background and our preferred ‘Fast’ setting, at 240Hz. This, coupled with the inclusion of a flipped version of the shade sheet, allows both accuracy and colour consistency to be visually assessed.
It’s not a particularly straightforward recommendation, but if you’re after a screen you can use for both work and play, the AW2521HFL is a decent choice. The stand allows for a good number of adjustments, however, the resolution and size of the monitor make it more difficult to multitask. And not blended enough (‘blocky’ or banded) lower down due to low perceived gamma.

It was free from the sort of shifts in perceived gamma that can significantly mask dark detail in some regions of the screen whilst revealing too much detail elsewhere.

This requires that the frame rate comfortably exceeds the refresh rate, not just peaks slightly above it. But they were still closer to the ‘vibrant’ vs. ‘washed out’ end of the spectrum in our view. A smooth, matte black finish covers the product, with a tiny bezel measuring just 0.5cm across and 2cm at the bottom.
Press OK, then turn the monitor off then on again so that it re-establishes connection – the technology should now be active.

237fps) instead, avoiding any VSync latency penalty at frame rates near the ceiling of operation or tearing from frame rates rising above the refresh rate. This isn’t a strong stuttering and isn’t something you’ll generally notice or find bothersome unless you’re frequently passing the boundary. But this is due more to uniformity on our sample than viewing angle behaviour. Gamboge (23) verged too much on a mustard yellow without a suitably warm golden hue, too.

Bracketed numbers in our analysis refer to shades on the printed sheet or right side of the screen if they’re ordered consecutively from top left to bottom right. Even on this title where there are lots of ‘high contrast’ transitions, with bright objects against much darker backgrounds, there was nothing that really caught the eye as a clear weakness.


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