Dell Alienware AW2521H Monitor Review

Tested using Methodology v1.1
Reviewed Dec 04, 2020 at 10:16 am
Dell Alienware AW2521H Picture
8.0
Mixed Usage
7.9
Office
8.6
Gaming
7.8
Multimedia
7.9
Media Creation
7.3
HDR Gaming
Size 25"
Resolution 1920x1080
Max Refresh Rate
360 Hz
Pixel Type
IPS
Variable Refresh Rate
G-SYNC

The Dell Alienware AW2521H is an excellent gaming monitor. It's one of the first few monitors released with an extremely high 360Hz refresh rate, which helps deliver an incredible response time with silky smooth motion. It also has an exceptionally low input lag and native G-SYNC variable refresh rate (VRR) support, but it doesn't support FreeSync. It's really well-built and offers great ergonomics, so you shouldn't have any difficulty placing it in an ideal viewing position. It has an IPS panel with wide viewing angles, but that comes at the cost of a low contrast ratio, so blacks appear closer to gray when viewed in the dark. The smaller screen and 1080p resolution may be too limiting for office use, but the lower resolution isn't too taxing on your graphics card when gaming.

Our Verdict

8.0 Mixed Usage

The Dell Alienware AW2521H is great overall. It's excellent for gaming thanks to its extremely high 360Hz refresh rate, G-SYNC support, exceptionally low input lag, and incredible response time. It's good for office use because it has great ergonomics and wide viewing angles, but the 1080p resolution may be too limiting for some. It has a decent HDR peak brightness, but it doesn't display a wide color gamut and has a low contrast ratio, so blacks appear gray.

Pros
  • Wide viewing angles.
  • 360Hz refresh rate.
  • Exceptionally low input lag.
  • Incredible response time.
Cons
  • Limiting resolution and size.
  • Low contrast ratio.
7.9 Office

The Dell Alienware AW2521H is good for office use. It has great ergonomics and wide viewing angles, making it easy to share your screen with others around you. It gets bright enough to combat glare in well-lit rooms, and it has good reflection handling. However, the 25 inch screen and 1080p resolution may be too limiting for multitasking.

Pros
  • Wide viewing angles.
  • Great ergonomics.
  • Performs well in bright environments.
Cons
  • Limiting resolution and size.
  • Text can appear a bit blurry.
8.6 Gaming

The Dell Alienware AW2521H is excellent for gaming. It has an extremely high 360Hz refresh rate with an incredible response time, resulting in smooth motion. Input lag is exceptionally low and it has native G-SYNC support. Its IPS panel has a low contrast ratio, so it's not ideal for dark-room gaming, but it has wide viewing angles if you want to share your screen with someone else.

Pros
  • 360Hz refresh rate.
  • Exceptionally low input lag.
  • Incredible response time.
  • Native G-SYNC support.
Cons
  • Low contrast ratio.
7.8 Multimedia

The Dell Alienware AW2521H is good for consuming media. It has wide viewing angles, so you can easily watch your favorite videos with a few friends. However, the 1080p resolution may be too low for some people. Also, it has a low contrast ratio, so blacks appear closer to gray when viewed in the dark.

Pros
  • Wide viewing angles.
  • Performs well in bright environments.
  • Exceptionally low input lag.
Cons
  • Limiting resolution and size.
  • Low contrast ratio.
7.9 Media Creation

The Dell Alienware AW2521H is very good for content creators. It has great ergonomics and wide viewing angles, making it easy to share your screen with a coworker or client. It performs well in bright rooms thanks to its impressive peak brightness and good reflection handling. However, the 1080p resolution and 25 inch screen isn't ideal if you work with multiple windows opened side-by-side.

Pros
  • Wide viewing angles.
  • Great ergonomics.
  • Exceptional gradient handling.
Cons
  • Limiting resolution and size.
  • Low contrast ratio.
7.3 HDR Gaming

The Dell Alienware AW2521H is decent for HDR gaming mainly due to its excellent gaming performance. It has a fast 360Hz refresh rate, an incredible response time, and exceptionally low input lag. It gets decently bright in HDR, but it has a low contrast ratio and fails to display a wide color gamut, so HDR content doesn't look all that different from SDR.

Pros
  • 360Hz refresh rate.
  • Incredible response time.
  • Decent HDR peak brightness.
Cons
  • Low contrast ratio.
  • Can't display wide color gamut.
  • No local dimming.
  • 8.0 Mixed Usage
  • 7.9 Office
  • 8.6 Gaming
  • 7.8 Multimedia
  • 7.9 Media Creation
  • 7.3 HDR Gaming

Video

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style
Curved No
Curve Radius Not Curved
Weight (without stand)
9.9 lbs (4.5 kg)
Weight (with stand)
17.0 lbs (7.7 kg)

The Dell AW2521H looks exactly like the Dell Alienware AW2521HF. It has a black body with thin bezels on three sides and a thicker bottom bezel. It has a gamer-oriented design with RGB lighting on the back.

Design
Stand
Width
18.3" (46.5 cm)
Depth
10.3" (26.1 cm)

This monitor has a wide V-shaped stand that takes up a good amount of space. Luckily, there's still room between the legs to place stuff. It supports the screen well and there's minimal wobble.

8.0
Design
Ergonomics
Height Adjustment
5.1" (13.0 cm)
Switch Portrait/Landscape Yes, Both Ways
Swivel Range -20° to 20°
Tilt Range -20° to 5°

The Dell AW2521H has great ergonomics. Its swivel range is a bit narrow, but you can switch it into portrait mode in either direction.

Design
Back
Wall Mount VESA 100x100

The back of this monitor has a gamer-oriented design with RGB lighting on the stand and the Alienware logo at the top right. There's a hole in the stand for cable management and there's a quick-release button to remove the stand.

Design
Borders
Borders
0.3" (0.6 cm)

The bezels are thin and aren't distracting, great for a multi-monitor setup.

Design
Thickness
Thickness (with stand)
8.9" (22.6 cm)
Thickness (without stand)
3.3" (8.4 cm)

The screen itself is fairly thick, and it gets much thicker with the stand attached.

8.5
Design
Build Quality

The Dell Alienware AW2521H has an excellent build quality. It's made entirely out of plastic, and it feels solid throughout. It's well-built, it doesn't wobble, and there aren't any obvious loose parts.

Picture Quality
6.5
Picture Quality
Contrast
Native Contrast
1336 : 1
Contrast With Local Dimming
N/A

The Dell AW2521H has an okay contrast ratio, and it's actually better than most IPS panels. However, blacks still appear closer to gray when viewed in the dark, and this may vary between units.

0
Picture Quality
Local Dimming
Local Dimming
No
Backlight
Edge

The Dell AW2521H doesn't have a local dimming feature. The video above is provided for reference only.

8.3
Picture Quality
SDR Peak Brightness
SDR Real Scene
440 cd/m²
SDR Peak 2% Window
435 cd/m²
SDR Peak 10% Window
436 cd/m²
SDR Peak 25% Window
436 cd/m²
SDR Peak 50% Window
437 cd/m²
SDR Peak 100% Window
437 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 2% Window
434 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 10% Window
436 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 25% Window
436 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 50% Window
437 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 100% Window
437 cd/m²
SDR ABL
0.000

The Dell AW2521H has impressive peak brightness. It easily gets bright enough to combat glare, and it maintains its brightness very consistent across different content. We measured peak brightness after calibration in the 'Custom Color' Picture Mode with Brightness set to max.

7.1
Picture Quality
HDR Peak Brightness
HDR Real Scene
457 cd/m²
HDR Peak 2% Window
464 cd/m²
HDR Peak 10% Window
466 cd/m²
HDR Peak 25% Window
466 cd/m²
HDR Peak 50% Window
467 cd/m²
HDR Peak 100% Window
466 cd/m²
HDR Sustained 2% Window
464 cd/m²
HDR Sustained 10% Window
466 cd/m²
HDR Sustained 25% Window
466 cd/m²
HDR Sustained 50% Window
466 cd/m²
HDR Sustained 100% Window
466 cd/m²
HDR ABL
0.000

The Dell AW2521H has decent HDR peak brightness. It gets bright enough to make some highlights stand out in HDR games, but it may not be enough for a satisfying HDR movie experience. Like with its SDR brightness, it's very consistent across different content. We measured peak brightness in the 'Custom Color' Picture Mode, and the Brightness setting automatically locks to '100' when in HDR.

8.0
Picture Quality
Horizontal Viewing Angle
Color Washout From Left
35 °
Color Washout From Right
37 °
Color Shift From Left
47 °
Color Shift From Right
50 °
Brightness Loss From Left
38 °
Brightness Loss From Right
41 °
Black Level Raise From Left
70 °
Black Level Raise From Right
70 °
Gamma Shift From Left
58 °
Gamma Shift From Right
59 °

The Dell AW2521H has a great horizontal viewing angle, which is expected from an IPS panel. The image remains accurate when viewing from the side, so it's ideal for co-op gaming.

7.1
Picture Quality
Vertical Viewing Angle
Color Washout From Below
28 °
Color Washout From Above
29 °
Color Shift From Below
69 °
Color Shift From Above
67 °
Brightness Loss From Below
32 °
Brightness Loss From Above
33 °
Black Level Raise From Below
49 °
Black Level Raise From Above
70 °
Gamma Shift From Below
28 °
Gamma Shift From Above
30 °

The Dell AW2521H has a decent vertical viewing angle. However, you may notice a loss in image accuracy if you mount it above eye-level.

8.7
Picture Quality
Gray Uniformity
50% Std. Dev.
3.466 %
50% DSE
0.103 %
5% Std. Dev.
0.413 %
5% DSE
0.059 %

The gray uniformity is excellent, but this may vary between units. The edges are a bit darker, but there's minimal dirty screen effect in the center. Uniformity is much better in near-dark scenes.

5.4
Picture Quality
Black Uniformity
Native Std. Dev.
2.390 %
Std. Dev. w/ L.D.
N/A

The Dell AW2521H has poor black uniformity, but this may vary between units. There's severe backlight bleed in the corners and clouding throughout. This can get distracting in dark scenes.

9.1
Picture Quality
Pre Calibration
Picture Mode
Custom Color
Luminance
212 cd/m²
Luminance Settings
75
Contrast Setting
75
RGB Controls
100-100-100
Gamma Setting
No Gamma Setting
Color Temperature
6790 K
White Balance dE
1.56
Color dE
1.02
Gamma
2.21

The Dell Alienware AW2521H has outstanding out-of-the-box accuracy, but this may vary between units. There are hardly any inaccuracies with white balance and most colors. Gamma follows the target curve well, but some scenes may be too dark. The color temperature is on the cold side, giving the image a blueish tint.

9.7
Picture Quality
Post Calibration
Picture Mode
Custom Color
Luminance
101 cd/m²
Luminance Settings
29
Contrast Setting
75
RGB Controls
100-96-93
Gamma Setting
No Gamma Setting
Color Temperature
6498 K
White Balance dE
0.46
Color dE
0.47
Gamma
2.18

The accuracy after calibration is exceptional. Any remaining inaccuracies can't be spotted without the aid of a colorimeter, and the color temperature is almost spot-on with our 6500K target. The gamma is a bit worse than before calibration, as some scenes are over-brightened, but most people won't notice a difference.

You can download our ICC profile calibration here. This is provided for reference only and should not be used, as the calibration values vary per individual unit even for the same model due to manufacturing tolerances.

8.6
Picture Quality
SDR Color Gamut
sRGB xy
98.8 %
Adobe RGB xy
73.0 %
sRGB Picture Mode
Custom Color
Adobe RGB Picture Mode
Custom Color

The Dell Alienware AW2521H has an excellent SDR color gamut, almost exactly like the Dell Alienware AW2521HF. It has perfect coverage of the sRGB color space used in most content and decent coverage of the Adobe RGB color space used in photo editing.

8.7
Picture Quality
SDR Color Volume
sRGB In ICtCp
96.8 %
Adobe RGB In ICtCp
78.0 %
sRGB Picture Mode
Custom Color
Adobe RGB Picture Mode
Custom Color

This monitor has an excellent color volume. It displays bright colors well but struggles with dark colors due to its low contrast ratio.

6.9
Picture Quality
HDR Color Gamut
Wide Color Gamut
No
DCI P3 xy
79.8 %
Rec. 2020 xy
58.2 %
DCI P3 Picture Mode
Custom Color
Rec. 2020 Picture Mode
Custom Color

The Dell AW2521H has an okay HDR color gamut, but it's not considered a wide color gamut for HDR content. It has good coverage of the commonly-used DCI P3 color space, but very limited coverage of the wider Rec. 2020.

Due to the way we measure the DCI P3 coverage, our measurement is likely lower than most other reviewers. We measure it by sending a Rec. 2020 signal, but unlike most reviewers, we limit the colors to the DCI P3 primaries. This results in a lower but arguably more accurate measurement.

6.7
Picture Quality
HDR Color Volume
DCI-P3 In ICtCp
77.5 %
Rec. 2020 In ICtCp
55.9 %
DCI P3 Picture Mode
Custom Color
Rec. 2020 Picture Mode
Custom Color

The HDR color volume is okay. It's mainly limited by the monitor's low contrast ratio and lack of a wide color gamut.

10
Picture Quality
Image Retention
IR After 0 Min Recovery
0.00 %
IR After 2 Min Recovery
0.00 %
IR After 4 Min Recovery
0.00 %
IR After 6 Min Recovery
0.00 %
IR After 8 Min Recovery
0.00 %
IR After 10 Min Recovery
0.00 %

There are no signs of image retention after displaying a high-contrast static image, but this may vary between units.

9.6
Picture Quality
Gradient
Color Depth
10 Bit

The gradient handling is exceptional. There's minimal banding throughout and you shouldn't notice any banding with real content. It's advertised to have an 8-bit panel, but we can achieve 10-bit in the EDID of the monitor, so it may be 8-bit with FRC, but we don't know for sure. The max refresh rate with a 10-bit source over a DisplayPort connection is 300Hz, and 144Hz over an HDMI connection.

9.6
Picture Quality
Color Bleed
Pixel Row Error
0.000 %
Pixel Column Error
0.073 %

There's some very minor color bleed when displaying vertical bands of color, but this shouldn't be noticeable with real content.

7.5
Picture Quality
Reflections
Screen Finish
Matte
Total Reflections
5.8 %
Indirect Reflections
4.0 %
Calculated Direct Reflections
1.8 %

The Dell AW2521H's reflection handling is good, but it's not as good as the Dell Alienware AW2521HF. It still performs well in most well-lit environments; however, it may be best to avoid placing it opposite a window.

7.0
Picture Quality
Text Clarity
Sub-Pixel Layout
RGB

The text clarity is decent. Enabling ClearType (top photo) helps improve the appearance of diagonal lines, as seen on the R, N, G, and S, but makes straight lines less bold, as seen on the T and I.

Motion
9.7
Motion
Response Time @ Max Refresh Rate
Best Overdrive Setting
Fast
Rise / Fall Time
3.0 ms
Total Response Time
6.6 ms
Overshoot Error
0.0 %
Dark Rise / Fall Time
3.7 ms
Dark Total Response Time
8.0 ms
Dark Overshoot Error
0.0 %

Overdrive Setting Response Time Chart Response Time Tables Motion Blur Photo
Fast Chart Table Photo
Super-Fast Chart Table Photo
Extreme Chart Table Photo

The Dell Alienware AW2521H has an incredible response time at its max refresh rate of 360Hz. Motion looks exceptionally smooth and you shouldn't notice any motion artifacts. The recommended overdrive setting is 'Fast' as the other settings have too much overshoot.

9.1
Motion
Response Time @ 60Hz
Best Overdrive Setting
Fast
Rise / Fall Time
4.0 ms
Total Response Time
11 ms
Overshoot Error
2.1 %
Dark Rise / Fall Time
4.5 ms
Dark Total Response Time
11.1 ms
Dark Overshoot Error
1.4 %

Overdrive Setting Response Time Chart Response Time Tables Motion Blur Photo
Fast Chart Table Photo
Super-fast Chart Table Photo
Extreme Chart Table Photo

The response time at 60Hz is outstanding, and once again, you shouldn't notice any motion artifacts with fast-moving content. The recommended overdrive setting is 'Fast'; it has a bit of overshoot in lighter transitions, but it's significantly less than the other settings.

10
Motion
Image Flicker
Flicker-Free Yes
PWM Dimming Frequency
0 Hz

The Dell AW2521H has a flicker-free backlight, which helps reduce eye strain.

5.8
Motion
Black Frame Insertion (BFI)
Black Frame Insertion (BFI)
Yes
BFI Maximum Frequency
240 Hz
BFI Minimum Frequency
144 Hz

This monitor has a Black Frame Insertion to help reduce motion blur. However, it has a narrow flicker range, and you can't use it with VRR enabled.

9.7
Motion
Refresh Rate
Native
360 Hz
Max Refresh Rate
360 Hz
Variable Refresh Rate
Yes
FreeSync
No
G-SYNC
Yes (Native)
VRR Maximum
360 Hz
VRR Minimum
< 20 Hz
VRR Supported Connectors DisplayPort, HDMI

The Dell Alienware AW2521H has an incredible refresh rate. Along with the ASUS ROG Swift 360Hz PG259QN, it's one of the few monitors with a 360Hz refresh rate. You can reach a maximum of 360Hz over a DisplayPort connection, and 240Hz over an HDMI connection. It has native G-SYNC support, but FreeSync doesn't work on it all, and the screen flashes.

Inputs
9.7
Inputs
Input Lag
Native Resolution
1.7 ms
Native Resolution @ 60Hz
8.4 ms
Variable Refresh Rate
2.0 ms
Variable Refresh Rate @ 60Hz
9.3 ms
10 Bit HDR
N/A
Black Frame Insertion (BFI)