Alienware AW2518H 240Hz G-Sync Monitor Review

Despite many reader comments to the contrary, users are still buying FHD monitors. 1920x1080 resolution dominates the enterprise desktop and it seems that gamers looking for every possible competitive speed advantage are embracing them too. We’ve already looked at panels from Acer, Asus, and AOC, that not only sport that relatively low resolution, they employ TN technology as well. Why would anyone still want a monitor like this? It’s all about that speed.

All the aforementioned products are based on the same part from AU Optronics. It’s a 25” (24.5” viewable) TN panel with FHD resolution and a native refresh rate of 240Hz. Acer and Asus have included Nvidia’s G-Sync module while AOC has opted to go with FreeSync. We’ll be looking at a ViewSonic display very soon that possesses the same specs and is also FreeSync-based. Today though, we’re checking out our first monitor from Dell’s Alienware brand: the AW2518H. Let’s take a look.

Specifications

These 25” panels are not the first to run at 240Hz but they are the first to support that refresh rate without overclock, and they can run in ULMB mode up to 144Hz. Previous displays could only manage 120Hz, which is easy to exceed at FHD resolution. Bit depth is 6-bits with Frame Rate Conversion added to bring the bandwidth to 8-bits. If you’re concerned about banding artifacts, don’t be. The video processing is so good that if you do see it, it’s likely the fault of the content, not the monitor.

Like its counterparts from the other major brands, the AW2518H is all about responsiveness and smooth motion. With a suitably stout video card, you can easily top 200 FPS in even the most demanding titles. While a QHD or UHD monitor offers greater pixel density, those lovely details don’t matter when your opponents can out-frag you. Competition is the main design goal here.

Dell has not been a major player in the gaming display market before now. And it’s appropriate that it has leveraged the Alienware brand to bring a highly capable monitor to bear. We’ve loved playing games on the other similar screens we’ve reviewed. Let’s see how the AW2518H stacks up.

Packaging, Physical Layout & Accessories

The AW2518H comes in a box similar to a television, which is unusual for something so small. Rather than a clamshell or top-opening carton, you remove four plastic plugs and lift the entire thing off its base. The pieces are completely encased in spongy foam, which should render it nearly impervious to shipping damage. Once open, simply snap the panel onto the already-assembled base and upright.

A separate box within the carton contains a snap-on input panel cover and a printed quick-start guide, plus cables for USB 3.0 and DisplayPort, along with an IEC cord for the internal power supply. A CD supplies drivers and the user manual.

Product 360

Regardless of category, every monitor manufacturer’s products have their own distinct style. Gaming displays are a shining example of this. Where Asus is going for cosplay fans with molded textures and wild shapes, Alienware is more subtle, yet the intent is clear. The AW2518H means business, and we don’t mean spreadsheets or word processing. The chassis is made up of flat sections and angles. There isn’t a curve in sight anywhere.

The bezel is super narrow at just 5mm at the top and sides and 14mm at the bottom. That’s about as close to frameless as we’ve seen yet. Seriously, you’ll barely notice it when an image is present. It’s flush-mounted behind the 3H-hardness anti-glare layer, which provides ample light rejection and a clear, grain-free picture. The control buttons are located bottom-right and click with a premium feel. The keys are tiny versions of the three-pointed star seen in much of Alienware’s marketing. We’d prefer a joystick, as always, but this system works just fine.

The base is solid metal and very slender, yet solid, without any slop or wobble. The upright is thick and made up of the same angles found everywhere else. The panel slides up and down smoothly over a 4.1” range. Tilt is 25° back and 5° forward, but swivel is minimal, just 20° to either side. It’s restricted by the large size of the upright and the mounting method used. You also get a 90° portrait mode.

No gaming monitor would be complete without some sort of lighting feature, and Alienware’s version is subtle yet effective. It consists of three light bars arranged in a star pattern on back and a small alien symbol in the upper right corner. The OSD has options for color. You can pick from among 20 primary hues or have it change automatically. It’s just the thing to complement a computer case outfitted with LED lighting.

The input panel is tucked up underneath and can be hidden with the included snap-on cover. The AW2518H incorporates Nvidia’s latest G-Sync module, which adds an HDMI input to the requisite DisplayPort. You also get one upstream and four downstream USB 3.0 ports. Two of them are on the bottom edge of the panel along with a headphone output. There are no built-in speakers.

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  • dark_lord69
    hummm...
    a 60" 4K tv or a 25" monitor for the same price...

    WOW...
    I just don't understand monitor pricing anymore.
    To me... That is such a ripoff, I feel sorry for the people that waist their money.

    It's slightly better than the one that's $400 less.
    Slightly better isn't worth that much more.
  • cknobman
    G-Sync or not over $500 for a 1080p monitor this size is just overpriced.
  • ezrapetruik
    Ugly, overpriced , 1080 and that stand!! OMG what is this thing and would someone please kill it!!
  • eklipz330
    i usually say that if you don't like it, it's probably not for you

    but serious gamers have better options and casual gamers have better options. who is this for?
  • onemarcioferraz
    It's incredible.. a monitor that intends to be on par with the competition (still) coming with HDMI 1.4 ?
  • BulkZerker
    "who is this for?"
    "Casual gamers" or "console peasants" making the pilgrimage to being a member of the "PC gamer master race". Or nVidia/Intel fanboys who will pay any price for MLG level gaming.

    It's products like this that perpetuated the stereotype that PC gaming is expensive.

    Also nVidia, the way it's meant to be milked.
  • toddybody
    Monitor prices (respective to technical advancement) are ridiculous. Predator x34 is a great example of something that started and stayed expensive. Shows that not enough innovation or competition exists in the space. The 3820x1400 UltraWides should be around 600.00 by now, with the new 4K 144hz HDR Panels hitting around 1200.00. Unfortunately not the case.
  • gjbaker003
    Gamers looking for a 1080p panel are not looking in the $400-$500 price range. This product literally is for no one when there are 1080p 144hz panels for $200 or less. The specs make zero sense.
  • truerock
    I built my PC in 2012 to run 1080p at 60Hz on a 27 inch monitor.

    I am ready to upgrade to something like 4k at 240Hz on a 42" monitor. But, obviously I'm going to be waiting for a while. I never thought I would have to wait 8 to 10 years before I could get any kind of significant upgrade to my 2012 PC.
  • truerock
    I think perhaps one thing that is slowing monitor advancement is that most people prefer to watch video movies at 24Hz because they think 30Hz or 60Hz is "too realistic".
  • calibrator2010
    It's going to take awhile for PC monitors at true 4k, with G-Sync, and >60Hz refresh rates. ASUS will have the PG27UQ coming out in 2018 that is a true 4k monitor at 27 inches with G-Sync and 144Hz refresh rates. It's going to carry a hefty price tag though. Alas, unless a 4k TV sports a DisplayPort connection you are going to be limited to 60Hz at 4k and no G-Sync. There are no 4k TV's that have a DisplayPort connector. The GTX 1080 Ti has HDMI outputs but at only 60Hz at 4k. The monitor in this article for 1080p is a joke.
  • ddferrari
    Anonymous said:
    I built my PC in 2012 to run 1080p at 60Hz on a 27 inch monitor.

    I am ready to upgrade to something like 4k at 240Hz on a 42" monitor. But, obviously I'm going to be waiting for a while. I never thought I would have to wait 8 to 10 years before I could get any kind of significant upgrade to my 2012 PC.

    You don't have to wait. It's called 1440p, IPS, 120Hz. Looks awesome.
  • ddferrari
    Anonymous said:
    Gamers looking for a 1080p panel are not looking in the $400-$500 price range. This product literally is for no one when there are 1080p 144hz panels for $200 or less. The specs make zero sense.

    You mean YOU'RE not looking for a premium quality 240Hz monitor. Don't try to speak for everyone- it's foolish and arrogant. By the way, 240 > 144, so what's your point?
  • truerock
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    I built my PC in 2012 to run 1080p at 60Hz on a 27 inch monitor.

    I am ready to upgrade to something like 4k at 240Hz on a 42" monitor. But, obviously I'm going to be waiting for a while. I never thought I would have to wait 8 to 10 years before I could get any kind of significant upgrade to my 2012 PC.

    You don't have to wait. It's called 1440p, IPS, 120Hz. Looks awesome.


    I've thought about various incremental upgrades for my current PC. I agree that 1440p 120Hz would be an improvement - but, it's not enough. I want a significant improvement. I have avoided small improvements for the last 6 years and I'm not going to get away from that.

    42" 4k at 240Hz would be a significant and noticeable upgrade from 27" 60Hz 1080p.
  • matthew_258
    Pretty sure Asus has a 24in monitor for half the price with most of the features...i believe its like 5 years old...
  • ddferrari
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    I built my PC in 2012 to run 1080p at 60Hz on a 27 inch monitor.

    I am ready to upgrade to something like 4k at 240Hz on a 42" monitor. But, obviously I'm going to be waiting for a while. I never thought I would have to wait 8 to 10 years before I could get any kind of significant upgrade to my 2012 PC.

    You don't have to wait. It's called 1440p, IPS, 120Hz. Looks awesome.


    I've thought about various incremental upgrades for my current PC. I agree that 1440p 120Hz would be an improvement - but, it's not enough. I want a significant improvement. I have avoided small improvements for the last 6 years and I'm not going to get away from that.

    42" 4k at 240Hz would be a significant and noticeable upgrade from 27" 60Hz 1080p.

    It's your choice of course, but I have to mention that going from 1080p to 1440p at 27" is significant. We're talking 2 million pixels vs. 3.7 million. It makes a big difference when you almost double the number of pixels. I'm speaking from experience. My last three monitors: 1920x1200; then 2560x1440; then 3440x1440.

    You're going to have to continue waiting for several more years (5-10) for a GPU capable of delivering 240 fps @ 4K on most titles. It will have to be four times as powerful as the current champ, the 1080 Ti. Since AMD and Nvidia release new lineups every ~two years, the cards will have to double in power (which they rarely do) for three cycles for this to happen. While the 1080 Ti is twice as fast as the 980 Ti, the increase from gen to gen has historically been more like a 30-50% increase. The process could take nearly a decade.

    Feel free to wait, but know that you're dream setup isn't even close to reality. Are you really going to use your 1080p 27" (which is already considered an undesirably low pixel density) for another 5-10 years? How about enjoying life now, rather than waiting for perfection while using outdated tech?
  • DerekA_C
    They are about to introduce a dual to quad chip GPU in 2018 Infinity fab is for sure going to be the first unless Nvidia has inside info on AMD which they probably do so they have the same tech meaning similar to CPU market dual and quad core GPU's are coming mark my words it is the only way to advance enough to push the tech without making Humongous PCB's. Not to mention the latency drop vs dual chip PCB or dual, tri, and quad cards, the farther apart the second, third and Fourth GPU is from the first creates massive issues and makes it unrealistic and unreliable and the cost is substantial. In reality when they release these multicore GPU's we are talking 2 to 4 times of true performance increase with proper drivers of course.
  • carlfredrik200
    I have this monitor and its great! paired with my 1080Ti it´s a gamers dream to play fast paced shooters or any game for that matter on. Build quality is really good and sturdy ,and i personally love the straight lines the nonplastic stand/feet and the colors are amazing for a 1080p TN panel.
    Haters are always going to hate on expensive hardware that they cant afford.
  • carlfredrik200
    Anonymous said:
    Ugly, overpriced , 1080 and that stand!! OMG what is this thing and would someone please kill it!!


    Anonymous said:
    Gamers looking for a 1080p panel are not looking in the $400-$500 price range. This product literally is for no one when there are 1080p 144hz panels for $200 or less. The specs make zero sense.


    Well i was ,and i bought it, specs are great for a 240Hz whats your point? 144Hz its not enough for my 1080Ti so my 144Hz had to go.
  • moldychip
    Anonymous said:
    hummm...
    a 60" 4K tv or a 25" monitor for the same price...

    WOW...
    I just don't understand monitor pricing anymore.
    To me... That is such a ripoff, I feel sorry for the people that waist their money.

    It's slightly better than the one that's $400 less.
    Slightly better isn't worth that much more.


    Just to give a bit of an explanation for this. What this monitor is for is the refresh rate, not the resolution. People who use mouse and keyboards and play fps games will want 144-240hz monitors. Why? Accuracy. When you use a console for fps you don't have very good accuracy. Companies implemented a program into fps games called aim assist for consoles. People who play pc however don't have that. Accuracy is everything in an fps game. Why would you want a monitor instead of a tv? Because monitors have real refresh rate rather than what tv's use as "simulated" refresh rates. "https://wetek.com/blog/view/115/why-fake-refresh-rate-either-blows-your-mind-or-your-nerves" . Tv's also have high ms response rates around 30ms while most monitors now range from 1-3ms. Lower is better. The higher the response rate, the more delay your input on your mouse has on screen. What's the difference between 60 and 144hz? A lot. Because of the higher refresh rate, turning faster creates less of a blur motion on the 144hz, due to this it feels smoother than before. It's like the old question of 30fps or 60fps on consoles. What's the difference between 144-240hz? A slight difference in smoothness. "https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQY8hSZ9xNE" Having a higher refresh rate with low response rate can give you an advantage in fps games. Should you buy a 144hz monitor over a 60hz for fps games? Definitely. Should you buy a 240hz over a 144? That's up to you. Now this monitor in particular has g-sync. Which is a program within the monitor to sync your gpu with the monitors refresh rate which prevents the screen tearing effect. If you have a nvidia graphics card, you'll want g-sync. If you have amd, you'd want the freesync version of this monitor. Freesync has a similar effect to g-sync but will down the monitors price by $100.

    If you read this, I hope you have a better understanding of monitor pricing. I could go more into detail but i'll leave it at that. Most people who want higher refresh rates go with 144hz monitors which still cost around $200-400 depending if you go with free-sync or g-sync, the monitor size and the response rate. Or if they don't feel the need for 240hz but want more resolution they'll go 2k with 144hz which cost around the same price as a 1080p 240hz or more.