The Alienware AW2521HFL is another top-end 240Hz gaming monitor designed to look good while impressing its user with fantastic performance. It is more expensive by $120 compared to the AW2421HF, but there is virtually no difference other than the prettier white aesthetic. The Alienware AW2521HFL’s higher price tag puts it in a tight spot against its gunmetal sibling, so let’s check out if the two are comparable where it matters most.
Alienware AW2521HFL 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 AW2521HFL is almost perfectly identical to the Alienware AW2521HF except for its chassis’ color which looks better with its RGB lighting. This model has a matte white aesthetic called Lunar Light which we think is more attractive than the Dark Side of the Moon shade of its sibling. The display is bezel-free on three sides, but you will still see panel borders when the screen is in use.
Its only 25 inches, but the Alienware AW2521HFL is one of the biggest in its class due to its unique design. The stand has a wide reach and it needs almost ten inches of depth on top of your desk, so it can interfere with some peripherals such as stream decks and deep keyboards. It doesn’t weigh a lot at 15.81 lbs, but similar-sized screens usually hover around 10 lbs.
Build quality for the Alienware AW2521HFL is fantastic just like it is on its darker colored counterpart. The plastics used feel thick and robust and there is no wobble from the stand and its mechanism. It’s a well-polished product and there are no uneven seams, gaps, and sharp edges on every corner of the device.
We like the Alienware AW2521HFL’s OSD control layout which includes a responsive joystick among its hotkeys. The monitor has a bounty of settings which you will eventually tinker with, so having a tool to easily access them will become handy. We imagine this will get a lot of use by gamers who often change their lighting themes since the RGB system can be manipulated in the OSD as well.
The Alienware AW2521HFL has a distinct design that reflects its branding, but what further emphasizes that is its AlienFX RGB lighting. The full span of the stand’s pillar has an LED ring that glows in any color or preset you like from the OSD or from the AlienFX app. It’s bright enough to cast a bias lighting glow if the monitor sits close to a wall, but what we didn’t like it cannot sync with other RGB ecosystems.
The stand also offers full adjustability with its tilt, swivel, pivot, and height adjustments so getting a good view angle is always possible. It is easy to adjust but firm to hold the position you made, but it’s a bit too large for some setups in tight spaces. You can opt for VESA mounting, but that adds more cost while depriving you of the RGB LEDs on its spine.
The Alienware AW2521HFL doesn’t have the restrictions of G-Sync monitors, so it has a fully-equipped connectivity layout. The panel at the rear includes DisplayPort 1.2 and two HDMI 2.0 slots which can accommodate your gaming PC and up to two gaming consoles. You will also find 4 USB 3.0 slots for peripherals, along with a 3.5mm jack for audio output.
You will find the latter and two of the USB slots in a hub at the middle of the bottom bezel for easy access. It’s great that you don’t have to flip the monitor or blindly reach for the slots at the rear panel if in case you want to swap between your peripherals.
However, the Alienware AW2521HFL doesn’t have speakers which are handy if you want to sit back and relax or use the monitor for work from home applications. We always think its fair for gaming monitors to omit this feature since most of its intended users will prefer headsets anyway.
Display and Performance
The Alienware AW2521HFL boasts a 25-inch fast IPS panel with a 1920 x 1080 resolution, 240Hz maximum refresh rate, and a 1ms response time. The backlight goes up to 400 cd/m2, while the contrast ratio sits at a typical 1000:1 like most IPS panels. This model is labeled as a FreeSync Premium monitor, but it is not advertised as an HDR display even if it passes DisplayHDR 400 standards.
The full HD resolution fits great in the 25-inch screen since it doesn’t spread the pixels out too much. You might see some pixelation if you sit close enough, but it won’t be an issue most of the time. Its also easy to reach very framerates in 1080p, plus it doesn’t make small objects like text microscopic.
The Alienware AW2521HFL offers 99% sRGB and around 82% DCI-P3 coverage so the screen is pleasantly vibrant with a balanced level of saturation. Its measured accuracy has a 1.56 delta average which is excellent for a gaming monitor and considerably better than the AW2521HF’s result. Do take note that color accuracy scores always vary between every unit due to manufacturing tolerances, explaining the massive difference between the two identical models.
Calibrating the monitor will yield a very low deltaE average of only 0.54 which is very close to the result found on the Alienware AW2521HF. However, not all have access to a colorimeter, so we recommend using the custom color preset and tweaking the screen to your liking instead. The added cost of the gadget will make the total cost of your upgrade even higher, so it’s not worth it.
The backlight on the Alienware AW2521HFL can get searingly bright at 100% output, reaching as much as 448 cd/m2. The screen’s contrast reaches a good 1167:1 at 30% to 40% backlight power which enhances the grayscale and black luminance results of the screen. It can still look grayish at times, but that’s a well-known limitation with IPS technology.
Panel uniformity for the Alienware AW2521HFL sample is decent since the backlight deviances between the quadrants are within reasonable limits. The resulting changes in color temperature and accuracy on each of them are negligible, and only a colorimeter can detect them. Again, this can be affected by manufacturing tolerances, so there are worse and better units out in the market.
The best thing about the Alienware AW2521HFL is its strong performance in motion handling. The monitor offers excellent control over blurring and ghosting which makes it great for fast-paced competitive titles. This model also has three overdrive settings to further clean up its image output, but we recommend staying with the Fast level.
The Alienware AW2521HFL is a FreeSync Premium gaming monitor, but its also compatible with Nvidia’s G-Sync Compatible mode. Its certification is delayed at this time, but it is pretty much guaranteed since the Alienware AW2521HF is already listed by Nvidia. Input lag sits at 3ms, so there is no need to worry about delays or de-synced instances.
Thoughts on the Alienware AW2521HFL
The Alienware AW2521HFL is an excellent monitor overall with better imaging results over the dark gray-colored Alienware AW2521HF. It fares considerably better in color accuracy and brightness with minimal tweaking, but the calibrated results are identical. The monitor’s agile pixel response time and FreeSync/G-Sync compatibility make it a compelling choice for competitive gamers.
It also features a very attractive design, but we find it perplexing why it’s $120 more expensive than the black variant. However, Dell sometimes forgets to lower the price premium when it releases a new monitor, so you can expect a more palatable price tag as soon as supply normalizes. The Alienware AW2521HFL is a great buy if you want a high-end gaming experience, but we’d pick its gunmetal-colored alternate if the pricing remains higher.
- Great Color Coverage and Default Accuracy
- Attractive Design with RGB
- Excellent Motion Handling and Low Input Lag
- FreeSync/G-Sync Compatible
- Currently More Expensive than the Alienware AW2521HF
- Large Footprint
- No Speakers
-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.