The Alienware AW2521HF offers awe-inspiring gaming performance courtesy of its 240Hz IPS panel which is extra responsive while having great color quality. The monitor features the brand’s distinct Alienware treatment which packs a lot of firepower for our favorite hobby. The Alienware AW2521HF has a reasonable price tag which is surprising for the brand, so let’s check out what it can do.
Alienware AW2521HF Specifications
- Screen Size: 25 Inches
- Resolution: 1920 x 1080 Full HD
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Panel Technology: In-Plane Switching (IPS)
- Refresh Rate: 240Hz
- Response Time: 1ms
- Contrast Ratio: 1000:1 (Static)
- Brightness: 400 cd/m2
- Built-in Speakers: No
- Stand: Height – Yes
- Stand: Tilt – Yes
- Stand: Swivel – Yes
- Stand: Pivot – Yes
- VESA Compatibility: Yes
- Connectivity: DisplayPort 1.2 x 1, HDMI 2.0 x 2, USB 3.0 x 4, 3.5mm Jack x 1
- Dimensions with Stand(WxHxD): 21.90” x 16.58” x 9.92”
- Weight: 15.81 lbs
Design and Features
The Alienware AW2521HF sports the new aesthetic of the brand, but it doesn’t go with the matte white shell of the AW2720HF. Instead, this model has a smooth gunmetal finish which keeps up with the brand’s premium lineage and reputation. The display is bezel-free on three sides, but you will still see thin panel borders when the display is in use.
The curves and flow of the Alienware AW2521HF’s make it a bit chunkier than similar monitors, so you have to consider your desk space before buying this model. The stand has a massive footprint for a 25-inch display, requiring up to ten inches of depth. The monitor doesn’t weigh a lot, but its almost as hefty as some 27-inch models we’ve handled in the past.
Build quality for the Alienware AW2521HF is, as expected from the brand, spectacular and pristine. The monitor doesn’t have cosmetic defects thanks to the smooth plastic panels and the precision of the manufacturing process. The device stands stable even if you pound on your desk, plus it doesn’t creak or choke when you try to adjust the screen.
The OSD control layout for the Alienware AW2521HF includes a joystick with four hotkeys, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to manipulate its features. It’s accessible on the right-hand side at the back if you are facing the display, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to reach over. It takes some practice, but at least it won’t be a struggle like with buttons that can easily be miss-pressed in the dark.
The stand with the Alienware AW2521HF offers full flexibility which allows you to tilt, swivel, pivot, and raise or lower the height of the screen. The base takes up a lot of space, but it provides superb flexibility to the monitor. You can opt for VESA mounts, but it is not necessary and you lose the RGB lighting as well.
The Alienware AW2521HF has an LED ring that runs along with the spine of the stand’s pillar. Its illumination is bright enough to cast a bias light for the display which helps in keeping your eyes comfortable during extended use. You can set this feature to your favored theme or color, but it needs the AlienFX app.
The Alienware AW2521HF is a FreeSync monitor as indicated by the F in the model name, unlike the awaited 360Hz AW2521H which is exclusive to G-Sync. This means that the connectivity layout doesn’t have restrictions, so you get a full range of options with this model. The panel at the rear includes DisplayPort 1.2, two HDMI 2.0 slots, and four USB 3.0 ports for peripherals.
There is also a 3.5mm jack for analog audio, but there are no speakers with this model. We wish the brand included an upgraded pair for the price which is quite steep, but built-ins are rarely missed since the intended audience will most likely have gaming headsets or speakers. However, built-in speakers are handy for some uses such as sitting back to relax while watching movies or for conference calls for work from home users.
Display and Performance
The Alienware AW2521HF sports a 25-inch IPS panel with a 1920 x 1080 resolution, 240Hz refresh rate, and 1ms response time. The backlight hits 400 cd/m2, while the contrast ratio is rated at 1000:1 like most IPS panels. This model is HDR 400-capable, but it can only offer minor improvements to the appearance of your compatible games and media.
The full HD resolution of the Alienware AW2521HF isn’t as impressive nowadays, but it is still the universal format for competitive gaming. Its easier to run games at high framerates with it so you can maximize the 240Hz refresh most of the time. Visibility is also excellent, so your eyes won’t have trouble reading walls of text and the like.
The Alienware AW2521HF covers 98% of the sRGB gamut which is sufficient for games even if it’s not the most vibrant we’ve seen in this category. The default color accuracy is decent with deltaE average sitting at 2.89, but it could still use some improvements. The Alienware AW2521HF has a warmer hue than most would like, so adjusting the temperature settings in the OSD is a must.
Calibrating the Alienware AW2521HF can produce a deltaE average of 0.55 which is excellent for a gaming monitor. You can even improve the color settings by simply tweaking the RGB controls of a monitor which will reduce the warmth of the screen and produce a more balanced image. Buying a colorimeter isn’t worth it for gaming, but editors and content creators will likely need it for this model.
The Alienware AW2521HF has a great contrast ratio that reaches 1190:1 at around 30% to 40% brightness. The screen is capable of better black luminance and saturation compared to other IPS panels, but it can still look grayish when viewing black images in a dark room. VA monitors perform better in this regard, but IPS has better color consistency and viewing angles in exchange for this limitation.
There is a bit of backlight bleeding on the edges of the Alienware AW2521HF’s screen which adds some light clouding in an all-black image. They aren’t noticeable when there are full-color pictures on display and there is no visible contrast loss on the affected quadrants. This aspect varies between every unit, so it’s possible to get one with worse or fewer symptoms.
The Alienware AW2521HF is extremely fast when it comes to pixel response times, so blur-free gaming is entirely possible. Setting its overdrive to its Fast setting is a perfect choice so you can enjoy every frame clearly. Be wary of using the overdrive’s higher levels of boost since they will induce noticeable overshoot which will ruin the monitor’s fantastic motion handling.
The Alienware AW2521HF is a FreeSync gaming monitor, but its also compatible with Nvidia’s G-Sync. This characteristic makes the monitor a practical choice since you don’t need to stick to one GPU brand for the rest of its lifespan. Input lag sits at 2.75ms, so there is no need to worry about delays or “de-synced” instances during competitive play.
Thoughts on the Alienware AW2521HF
The Alienware AW2521HF performs as advertised for competitive gaming where speed and precision are necessary. The monitor’s high refresh rate, fast pixel response time, and low input lag combine to give users a taste of pro-gamer-grade hardware that used to be rare in the consumer market. The IPS panel is capable of excellent image quality, but it requires calibration first which can be a dealbreaker for some users.
We like the design of the Alienware AW2521HF, but some of the parts are unnecessarily enlarged to give the monitor its character. We have no major complaints about this product, plus we think its pricing is more palatable and comparable to its competitors. The Alienware AW2521HF is a great choice for extreme gaming setups, but you have to know your way around its OSD to make the most out of it.
- Excellent Post Calibration Results
- Lightning Fast Pixel Response Time
- FreeSync/G-Sync Compatible
- Very Low Input Lag
- Attractive Design with RGB
- Larger than Some 25-Inch Models
- Factory Calibration Needs Improvement
- Panel Uniformity Issues
About the Author:
Paolo is a gaming veteran since the golden days of Doom and Warcraft and has been building gaming systems for family, friends, and colleagues since his junior high years. High-performance monitors are one of his fixations and he believes that it’s every citizen’s right to enjoy one. He has gone through several pieces of hardware in pursuit of every bit of performance gain, much to the dismay of his wallet. He now works with Monitornerds to scrutinize the latest gear to create reviews that accentuate the seldom explained aspects of a PC monitor.