Alienware AW5520QF 55-Inch OLED Gaming Monitor Review: Better Than a TV

The first OLED gaming monitor is here, and it has unprecedented image quality.

Alienware AW5520QF
Editor's Choice
(Image: © Alienware)

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Are large-screen gaming monitors worth clamoring over? On one hand, the proliferation of large-screen TVs into the gaming world is real. More players are turning to 4K TVs and away from desktop computer monitors. There’s just no substitute for square inches. But when you do this, you give up fast refresh rates, low input lag and adaptive sync.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The AW5520QF has one thing over every computer display we’ve reviewed: image quality. Its contrast and color are far better than any LCD panel available. But these things are not without cost, and we don’t mean the dollar sign.

The most obvious issue is brightness. Where the top HDR-enabled LCDs are hitting 1,000 nits or more, the AW5520QF manages just 400 nits. The only way to get its best image quality, you’ll need to use it in a darker room. There’s also the question of gaming technology. While it delivers great motion processing and low input lag from its 120Hz refresh rate, it doesn’t support FreeSync 2. That isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker, but it really should be included in a $4,000 monitor.

There’s also no sRGB gamut option. While many are satisfied applying as much color as possible to their games and videos, color purists will prefer a more accurate presentation. Alienware has removed that choice. Another thing missing are gamma presets. Although you can calibrate the AW5520QF (see our recommended settings) to a high standard, the lack of gamma options is puzzling. And while we’re at it, $4,000 should buy better audio. The built-in speakers are okay but an external soundbar, like the HP Omen X 65 Emperium includes, would be more appropriate at this price.

It’s worth nothing that at the time of publication, the monitor was on sale for $2,850, but that’s still more than twice that of OLED TVs of similar size. Plus, at that price it still costs more than a TV and leaves out a tuner and streaming interface. Keep in mind, you can now find LG OLED TVs with G-Sync Compatibility.

Still, the AW5520QF undeniably offers the best-looking images we’ve ever seen. Playing games on an OLED is an entirely different experience. We couldn’t tear ourselves away from this monitor, and that is perhaps the best indicator of all. If you can afford one of these, you really should treat yourself; you won’t regret it.

MORE: Best Gaming Monitors

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Christian Eberle
Contributing Editor

Christian Eberle is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He's a veteran reviewer of A/V equipment, specializing in monitors. Christian began his obsession with tech when he built his first PC in 1991, a 286 running DOS 3.0 at a blazing 12MHz. In 2006, he undertook training from the Imaging Science Foundation in video calibration and testing and thus started a passion for precise imaging that persists to this day. He is also a professional musician with a degree from the New England Conservatory as a classical bassoonist which he used to good effect as a performer with the West Point Army Band from 1987 to 2013. He enjoys watching movies and listening to high-end audio in his custom-built home theater and can be seen riding trails near his home on a race-ready ICE VTX recumbent trike. Christian enjoys the endless summer in Florida where he lives with his wife and Chihuahua and plays with orchestras around the state.

  • remosito
    you should have done a side to side review with a LG C9.....
  • sstanic
    yes, you really should have done a comparison with LG C9....
  • nitrium
    Is this a "monitor"? It's more like 55" TV that has Freesync. "Monitor" is the wrong word imo - "Gaming TV" is more accurate. Also OLED has terrible burn-in, so it can't be used as a regular monitor for extended periods without damaging it with ghosting. I guess if you use it solely for gaming and TV? Oh right, it's a "gaming TV".
  • AlistairAB
    As I read this, I am using my gsync compatible LG OLED TV that I bought for $1360 USD from Bestbuy. Same 120hz at 1440p, and supposedly at 4k coming next year. So the Alienware is completely pointless at its price point.
  • mac_angel
    yea, pretty much as others say, I'd be curious to see how this measures up with LG OLED, as well as the Samsung 8000 Series and up. Samsung was first with VRR (Freesync). Pay that kind of premium over these other TVs does not seem worth it by far, but I also haven't found any proper reviews directed at gaming, or specifically PC gaming. After the past few weeks of researching, I am hoping to pick up three Samsung 55" RU8000 TVs for my computer.
    FYI to anyone reading. If you have a good smart phone, there are pretty decent TV calibration apps you can get for your smart phone that use the camera. As good as professional equipment? No. Better than doing it by sight? Big Yes. Especially for the money.
  • tharkis842
    Use my C8 for gaming/pc all the time, no burn in issues. But no-one wants to hear that. This "monitor" really makes no sense though.
  • jacoro1
    nitrium said:
    Is this a "monitor"? It's more like 55" TV that has Freesync. "Monitor" is the wrong word imo - "Gaming TV" is more accurate. Also OLED has terrible burn-in, so it can't be used as a regular monitor for extended periods without damaging it with ghosting. I guess if you use it solely for gaming and TV? Oh right, it's a "gaming TV".
    The potential for burn in on these sets has been exaggerated. I and many others have been using OLED as a primary PC monitor for extended periods for years without any burn in issues. I even disabled the static brightness limiter in the service menu on my C9, which is meant to help prevent image retention but can be irritating for PC use. Image retention on these sets is generally rare and temporary, with a few exceptions. The LG sets have automatic maintenance routines that run on a schedule to level out wear, and I suspect this Alienware display does as well. Just do common sense things like not running it in torch mode 24/7 on a static image, and maybe have a screen saver turn on after a period of inactivity.

    The price on this Alienware is a bit much though. The C9 has gsync support now and can use it in HDR with double the brightness for $1400