OSD Setup & Calibration
The menu system is unique to the AW2518H but has a few elements borrowed from Alienware’s Dell parent company. It includes everything a competitive gamer could want.
Nearly everything you need is in the first menu, appropriately titled “Game.” First up are 11 picture modes, including Custom Color, which is the only way to access the RGB sliders. Of note are the Game 1, 2, and 3 presets. Selecting one of them opens up a six-axis color management system and a Dark Stabilizer control that affects shadow detail (low-end gamma). If you want to avoid a lot of tweaking, just select Custom Color and set brightness to taste. It offers the best out-of-box accuracy, though more performance can be gained with calibration.
Game Enhance mode is similar to Asus’ GamePlus feature except that no aiming reticles are offered. You get a countdown timer, an FPS indicator, and a display alignment graphic for multi-screen setups. When G-Sync is turned off and the refresh rate is set to 144Hz or less, ULMB is enabled. There is a variable pulse-width slider that reduces motion blur and brightness in equal measure as you turn it lower. Dark Stabilizer is available here if you want to use it in the remaining picture modes.
The second menu contains just the brightness and contrast sliders. The former can be set independently for G-Sync, ULMB, and Normal modes. Following that is an input selector.
AlienFX Lighting refers to the light display found on the back of the AW2518H. The three bars and alien logo can light up in one of 20 colors or cycle through the spectrum automatically. It’s a bit less distracting than some other gaming monitors since it illuminates the wall behind rather than the desktop.
Audio controls are limited to a volume slider for the headphone output. OSD options include language, multi-level transparency and a timeout of up to 60 seconds.
Four of the bezel keys can be programmed to monitor functions like picture mode, Game Enhance, Dark Stabilizer, or Luminance. If those don’t suffice, you can choose Input Selector or Volume.
The final menu has signal info, power saving, and a factory reset that returns all settings to their defaults. This is the only place to find out if you’re in G-Sync, ULMB, or Normal mode. When you press any of the control keys, another info box appears at the top of the screen to indicate the picture mode, overdrive setting, and Dark Stabilizer value.
Like any Dell monitor, the best performance is found when calibrating the Custom Color mode. There, you can adjust a set of RGB sliders to achieve good white balance and accurate color saturation. The gaming modes offer color saturation sliders, but these should be used sparingly. While it’s possible to make the picture more vivid, you will likely lose detail in the process.
The only hurdle we encountered related to gamma. After some trial-and-error, we reasoned that Alienware intended the AW2518H to track BT.1886 rather than the 2.2 power function. We had to lower the contrast slider to avoid clipping highlights, but it required some compromise to keep grayscale in check. We’ll provide greater detail on page four. Here are our recommended settings for Custom Color in the G-Sync mode.
|Alienware AW2518H Calibration Settings|
|Picture Mode||Custom Color|
|Color Temp User||Red 98, Green 100, Blue 97|
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