The gaming monitor market has exploded in recent years. 4K, HDR, Ultrawide, Curved, 240Hz, and even Virtual Reality head mounted displays. With so many different options, you need to really think about what games you play, and what experience you’re going for.
Dell have always been at the forefront of the market for colour accurate, photo editing monitors. With their Alienware division focusing on PC gaming, they’ve been able to release some sleek looking displays for the gaming market too.
Their latest release is the AW2518HF, a 25” gaming monitor with the futuristic Alienware design they’re known for, with a 240Hz refresh rate and AMD FreeSync technology. We’ve looked at a 240Hz panel before and found it to be a perfect for CS:GO and Quake competitive gamers looking for the smoothest experience.The design and aesthetics that Alienware are known for shine the most here. The bezel free design of the top and sides are beautiful, and a matte finish on the screen eliminates reflections. USB 3.0 ports and headphone jack pass throughs are welcome.
Going through the display adjustment settings we see some cool little touches like an on screen overlay to show your current FPS (unfortunately this is only accurate with FreeSync enabled), and an on screen timer which speed runners may find useful to keep an eye on how they’re going. Something I found a little strange was the fact that Brightness and Contrast seemed to default at 75/100 instead of the usual 50 setting found on most other displays. Bringing it down to 50/100 made it look dull. Nothing drastic but a little peculiar given what we are used to. Left at 75, it was in line with other monitors setting of 50.
There were several colour presets for specific game types including FPS, RTS and RPG presets along with Warm and Cool colour modes. The Standard preset had great colours out of the box but a Custom mode allows adjustment of your RGB balance if you needed to.
Onto the most important test for gamers, motion clarity and response. There were 3 settings under the option Response Time: Standard, Fast, Super fast. Representation of motion artifacts each setting can create can be seen in the UFO motion test photographs below.
The idea of response time adjustment or “Overdrive” is to accelerate the ability of a pixel to change colour. Standard had the least artifacts but visibly looks like it changes slower, resulting in ghosting or smeering of the image in comparison to the faster modes. However, the faster modes look significantly worse, the inverse ghosting (also known as corona artifacts) leave a bright reverse image of the frame before the current image. These artifacts are the result of the overdrive compensation canceling out the ghosting/smeering, resulting in the corona effect being seen instead. Super fast is the worst looking of the bunch with coronas contaminated by the surrounding colours.
For gamers, setting the response time to the fastest possible usually has benefits that outweigh the negatives. But the Super Fast setting artifacts way too much. I personally couldn’t play beyond the standard setting without the coronas annoying me, but for those who feel the response time is a little slow, the Fast setting is an ok compromise.
If you were to choose a 240Hz monitor purely based on the refresh rate alone, there are cheaper monitors with arguably better looking overdrive settings. But for aesthetic design, the Alienware might be the best looking of them all. Being a FreeSync monitor, you won’t get the most out of this unless you are running an AMD graphics card. Their G-Sync model (AW2518H) is $500 AUD more expensive, so if you run a GeForce graphics card but don’t care for G-Sync, the AW2518HF is still a relevant pick.
The Alienware AW2518HF Gaming Monitor is available for $699 AUD RRP. Buy Now: Alienware Australia Website (A review sample was provided by Alienware Australia)