The Dell Alienware AW2521HF is an overall good monitor with impressive gaming performance. It has identical features as its bigger sibling, the Dell Alienware AW2720HF, just in a more compact 25 inch screen size. It has a 1080p resolution, but due to its smaller screen, it results in higher pixel density and a sharper looking picture. Its IPS panel has wide viewing angles and great reflection handling, and it can get bright enough to combat glare in bright rooms. However, dark room performance is a bit disappointing, as it has a mediocre contrast ratio and there's visible backlight bleed. It has exceptional motion handling thanks to its fast response time and 240Hz refresh rate, and it also has a low input lag as well as FreeSync support. The smaller screen size might not be the best for productivity tasks, but its great performance should keep most gamers happy nonetheless.
The Alienware AW2521HF is a good monitor for most uses. The 1080p resolution is decent for its 25 inch screen, but the smaller screen size also makes it less ideal for multitaskers, as there's less room to have multiple windows open at the same time. Response time and input lag are outstanding, and color accuracy is good, although its coverage of the Adobe RGB color space may not be wide enough for content creators. It's suitable for use in an average to brightly-lit room, but dark room performance is disappointing, as there's visible backlight bleed and the low contrast ratio makes blacks look gray.
The Alienware AW2521HF is a good office monitor. It's well-suited for average to brightly-lit environments, as it has a great peak brightness and great reflection handling, and its IPS panel provides excellent viewing angles, so you can share your work easily with coworkers. The stand allows for a good number of adjustments, however, the resolution and size of the monitor make it more difficult to multitask. On the upside, it has a flicker-free backlight, which helps to reduce eye strain during those long work days.
The Alienware AW2521HF is an impressive gaming monitor. It has exceptional motion handling and low input lag, whether you play at its maximum 240Hz refresh rate or 60Hz. It has wide viewing angles, which is great for co-op gaming, and it performs well in bright rooms, as it can fight glare easily and it has great reflection handling. However, dark room gaming is less ideal due to some visible backlight bleed and a mediocre contrast ratio.
The Alienware AW2521HF is a decent monitor for media consumption. The 25 inch screen and 1080p resolution are decent, however, it's not as good for watching in the dark due to its low contrast ratio and sub-par black uniformity. It does perform well in bright rooms, though, and it has wide viewing angles, allowing you to share content with others. Ergonomics are good, so you can adjust it to your optimal viewing position, and its fast response time and 240Hz refresh rate result in exceptionally smooth motion handling. That said, the lack of HDR support is rather disappointing.
The Alienware AW2521HF is a decent monitor for media creation. The main downside is the smaller screen and the 1080p resolution, and although its coverage of the Adobe RGB color space is good, it may be a bit too low for some. It has great viewing angles, so the image remains accurate from the side, and the stand allows for a good amount of adjustments, including rotation to portrait mode. Gray uniformity is excellent, but there's some backlight bleed and the contrast ratio is low, which is expected of most IPS monitors.
The Dell Alienware AW2521HF has a modern, gamer-centric design that's nearly identical to that of the Alienware AW2720HF, except that the back is black and it has a smaller screen. There are RGB lighting zones on the back of the monitor and the stand, and the bezels are thin on three sides, with the bottom being slightly thicker.
The Alienware AW2521HF has an excellent build quality. Even though it's entirely made of plastic, it feels sturdy, there are no obvious gaps in its construction, and wobble is minimal.
Very good ergonomics, the stand allows for good height adjustment and it can rotate to portrait mode in either direction. However, the swivel range is fairly narrow. The back of the monitor looks clean and modern. There are RGB lighting zones on the back and on the stand, which can be controlled using the AlienFX software. There's a small cutout near the bottom of the stand that serves as cable management.
The plastic stand supports the monitor well and there's very little wobble. The V-shaped stand is deep, but the feet are fairly thin, leaving a bit of usable desk space in between.
The monitor's controls are located on the back-right side of the monitor. It includes four buttons and a joystick to navigate the monitor's on-screen menu.
As expected, the Alienware AW2521HF's IPS panel has a mediocre contrast ratio, resulting in blacks that look like gray.
The Alienware AW2521HF doesn't have a local dimming feature. The video above is provided for reference only.
The Alienware AW2521HF has an impressive SDR peak brightness. Visibility shouldn't be an issue in most well-lit rooms and the brightness is remarkably consistent when displaying different content.
This monitor doesn't support HDR.
The Alienware AW2521HF has great horizontal viewing angles, making it a good choice for co-op gaming or for sharing content.
Decent vertical viewing angles. At normal viewing distances, the image should look accurate, but the top and bottom of the screen can look a bit washed out if you sit extremely close to the screen.
Excellent gray uniformity. The sides are darker, but thankfully, there's very little dirty screen effect and uniformity is a lot better in dark scenes.
The Alienware AW2521HF has sub-par black uniformity. There's backlight bleed at the top and bottom edges of the screen, although this is significantly better than the Alienware AW2720HF and could also be due to panel variance.
Prior to calibration, the Alienware AW2521HF has good color accuracy. There are minor inaccuracies with several colors as well as with shades of gray, and the color temperature is warm, giving the image a slightly reddish tint. Gamma doesn't follow the target curve all that well, as most scenes appear brighter than they should.
Color accuracy is outstanding after calibration. White balance, colors, and color temperature are almost perfect. Gamma follows the target curve for the most part, but dark scenes can appear a bit brighter than they should.
The Alienware AW2521HF's color gamut is excellent. It has near full coverage of the commonly used sRGB color space, and coverage of the Adobe RGB color space is good, although it may not be enough for content creators.
Excellent color volume. It can't display dark colors well due to its low native contrast ratio, very similar to the Dell Alienware AW2720HF.
This monitor doesn't support HDR.
This monitor doesn't support HDR.
The Alienware AW2521HF has impressive reflection handling. It should be fine for most well-lit rooms; however, direct light shining on the screen can be a bit distracting.
Decent text clarity. Text looks sharper with ClearType enabled (top photo), especially for diagonal lines like the ones on the 'R' and 'N.' The pixels look blurry due to the monitor's matte anti-reflective coating.
Great gradient performance. Banding is most visible when displaying shades of gray and there's also some banding in dark greens and dark reds.
The AW2521HF has native FreeSync support and is certified as G-SYNC compatible. FreeSync works over DisplayPort or HDMI, but G-SYNC only works through a DisplayPort connection. If you prefer something with a higher 360Hz refresh rate, then check out the Dell Alienware AW2521H.
We had some issues with FreeSync during testing, as the screen would black out at random when testing the VRR range using a demo as well as when testing in-game. However, the issue seems to have resolved itself the following day.
|Overdrive Setting||Response Time Chart||Response Time Tables||Motion Blur Photo|
The Alienware AW2521HF has an exceptional response time. The best overdrive setting is 'Fast', as it provides the best performance with no overshoot at all. The 'Super Fast' and 'Extreme' settings have significant overshoot, causing the appearance of artifacts.
|Overdrive Setting||Response Time Chart||Response Time Tables||Motion Blur Photo|
Response time is excellent when playing at 60Hz, much better than the Alienware AW2720HF and great for console gaming. The best overdrive setting is also 'Fast.'
This monitor doesn't have a backlight strobing feature, also known as BFI. If you want a monitor that has BFI, check out the BenQ ZOWIE XL2546K.
The Alienware AW2521HF has a flicker-free backlight, which can help reduce eye strain.
The Alienware AW2521HF's input lag is outstanding. It's slightly higher when playing at 60Hz, but it shouldn't be noticeable for most people.
Like the Dell Alienware AW2720HF, this monitor has a 1080p resolution. However, since it's on a smaller screen, it has a higher pixel density, making images and text look sharper and with less jagged lines. The downside is that the smaller screen is less ideal for productivity tasks. If you're looking for a bigger monitor with a 240Hz refresh rate, check out the LG 27GN750-B.
The monitor has a total of four USB 3.0 ports, including one that's powered, allowing you to charge your mobile devices even when the monitor is off.
The Dell Alienware AW2521H works well with recent MacBook Pros. The variable refresh rate feature works well both in-game and on the desktop. Windows go back to their original position when you wake your computer from sleep, but not when you close the lid.
The AW2521HF comes with a few extra features, including:
We tested the Dell Alienware AW2521HF, which is essentially a smaller variant of the Dell Alienware AW2720HF, as it has identical features and similar performance, except for its smaller screen size and black finish on the back.
If someone comes across a different type of panel or if their Alienware AW2521HF doesn't correspond to our review, let us know and we'll update the review. Note that some tests, such as the gray uniformity, may vary between individual units.
Our unit of the Alienware AW2521HF was manufactured in January 2020, and you can see the label here.
The Dell Alienware AW2521HF is an overall good monitor that has very impressive gaming performance. Compared to its bigger brother, the Dell Alienware AW2720HF, this monitor has a slightly higher contrast ratio, much better black uniformity, and it's more color accurate out of the box. You can also see our recommendations for the best gaming monitors, the best ultrawide gaming monitors, and the best 240Hz monitors.
The ASUS TUF Gaming VG259QM is better than the Dell Alienware AW2521HF. The ASUS has a higher refresh rate to provide a smoother gaming experience, a Black Frame Insertion feature, and supports HDR. On the other hand, the Dell has a better build quality, wider viewing angles, and more USB ports for charging.
The LG 27GN750-B and the Dell Alienware AW25212HF are similar monitors overall, but the Dell is slightly better for gaming. The Dell has a better response time both at its max refresh rate and at 60Hz, it handles reflections better, and its ergonomics are better. The LG is bigger and it supports HDR10, although content in that mode doesn't look much different from SDR.
The Dell Alienware AW2521H is better than the Dell Alienware AW2521HF. The AW2521H has a 360Hz refresh rate, it supports HDR, has significantly better gradient handling, and lower input lag. However, the AW2521HF has much better reflection handling and a wider horizontal viewing angle.
The Dell Alienware AW2521HF and the BenQ ZOWIE XL2546K are both 25 inch, 1080p, 240Hz gaming monitors but with different panel types. The Dell uses an IPS panel, while the BenQ has a TN panel. Motion handling is about the same, but the Dell has slightly better response times. It also has wider viewing angles, and it gets brighter to combat glare. The BenQ has a Black Frame Insertion feature, but it isn't usable simultaneously with VRR, and the flickering might bother some people.
The ViewSonic AW2521HF and the ViewSonic XG2431 are both impressive gaming monitors. They each have a 240Hz refresh rate with native FreeSync support. The Dell has slightly better motion handling, and the Dell is slightly better for bright rooms because it gets a bit brighter and has better reflection handling. However, the ViewSonic has a backlight strobing feature that the Dell doesn't have. Also, unlike the Dell, the ViewSonic supports HDR, though it doesn't add much.
The AOC 24G2 and the Dell Alienware AW2521HF are both 1080p gaming monitors, although the Dell has a slightly bigger 25" screen versus the AOC's 24". The Dell delivers a better gaming experience because it has a much higher refresh rate of 240Hz and faster response times. It also has wider viewing angles for sharing content, a USB hub with four USB 3.0 inputs, and it gets brighter to fight glare.
When comparing the Dell Alienware AW2521HF with its bigger sibling, the Dell Alienware AW2720HF, these two monitors are nearly identical except for screen size and a different color on the back of the monitor. In terms of performance, the AW2521HF is a bit better, as it has a slightly higher contrast ratio, it gets brighter, and it has much better black uniformity, although the latter may be due to panel variance. Out-of-the-box color accuracy, viewing angles, and response time at 60Hz are also better on the AW2521HF; however, the AW2720HF exhibits less color bleed and its bigger screen is better for productivity tasks.
The ASUS ROG Swift 360Hz PG259QN is a bit better than the Dell Alienware AW2521HF. The ASUS has a higher refresh rate, better color accuracy out of the box, and better gradient handling. The Dell Alienware has wider viewing angles, and although its response time is slightly slower, there's significantly less overshoot.
The Dell Alienware AW2721D is better overall than the Dell Alienware AW2521HF, although they have different sizes and resolutions. The AW2721D is slightly bigger at 27 inches with a 1440p resolution, while the AW2521HF is a 25 inch 1080p monitor. The AW2521HF has a slightly better response time with less overshoot and much better reflection handling, but the AW2721D supports HDR, gets brighter, and has a wider color gamut.
The Dell Alienware AW2521HF and the Gigabyte M27Q are both great gaming monitors, but they're also very different. The Dell has a smaller 25 inch screen and a 1080p resolution, while the Gigabyte has a 27 inch screen with a 1440p resolution. The Dell has a higher refresh rate and better response time, but the difference might not be noticeable to casual gamers. The Gigabyte has more features, like HDR support, USB-C input, a Picture-in-Picture mode, and a built-in KVM switch.
The ASUS TUF Gaming VG258QM and the Dell Alienware AW2521HF perform quite similarly overall, but they use different panel types. While they're both great gaming monitors, the Dell has a bit of an edge. Its IPS panel provides wider viewing angles, so the image stays accurate from the side. It also has faster response times at both its max refresh rate and 60Hz, while the ASUS performs significantly worse at 60Hz than it does at its max refresh rate. One downside is that the Dell doesn't support HDR, but the ASUS doesn't deliver a great HDR experience anyway, so it shouldn't be the deciding factor.
Overall, the Dell Alienware AW2521HF is a much better monitor than the HP OMEN X 25f. Although they both have the same screen size and resolution, the Dell's IPS panel provides much better viewing angles and color accuracy than the TN panel on the HP. The Dell also has better gray uniformity and ergonomics, but the HP has a faster response time, resulting in less blur trail in fast-moving scenes.
Despite having different outer design, the Dell Alienware AW2521HF and the Acer Nitro XV273 Xbmiiprzx are very much alike in terms of performance. Both feature a 240Hz refresh rate on an IPS panel, and they also perform similarly when it comes to contrast ratio, peak brightness, and response time. The main difference is that the Acer supports HDR, has a far more color-accurate sRGB mode, and it has a black frame insertion feature to reduce motion blur. On the other hand, the Dell has a better build quality and it has better reflection handling.
The Dell Alienware AW2521HF and the ViewSonic Elite XG270 have a lot in common, as both monitors feature a 1080p IPS panel with a 240Hz refresh rate. The main difference is that the ViewSonic supports HDR, has a black frame insertion feature that can help improve motion clarity, and it has a bigger 27 inch screen. However, the Dell has a better build quality, a significantly better black uniformity, and its response time is faster, resulting in less motion blur.
The Dell Alienware AW2521HF is much better than the Samsung T55, mainly due to its 240Hz refresh rate. It has an exceptional response time, both at its max refresh rate and at 60Hz. The Dell also has wider viewing angles, a lower input lag, better ergonomics, and it gets brighter. On the other hand, the Samsung has a better contrast ratio because of its VA panel and it also displays a wider color gamut.