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Alienware AW2721D Review

A stunning 240Hz monitor displaying classic Alienware design

Verdict

The Alienware AW2721D impresses in key areas: its 240Hz Nvidia G-Sync delivers smooth fast-paced gaming, its IPS panel offers solid image quality and its sci-fi design is robust. However, this monitor is expensive with underwhelming HDR.

Pros

  • Smooth 240Hz refresh rate
  • High-quality IPS panel
  • 1440p resolution is immersive
  • Robust, good-looking design

Cons

  • Middling HDR performance
  • Requires powerful PC hardware
  • Pricier than rivals

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £699.98
  • 27in diagonal, 2560 x 1440
  • Refresh rate: 240Hz
  • IPS panel
  • 3ms response time
  • Nvidia G-Sync Ultimate
  • Weight: 10.9kg

The Alienware AW2721D is a gaming display that tries to tick every box when it comes to high-quality action.

It features a 27in diagonal, a 2560 x 1440 resolution and Nvidia G-Sync Ultimate. This isn’t a cheap monitor however, and there’s never been this much competition in the world of gaming hardware. Can Alienware’s latest stand out from the crowd?

Price and availability

The Alienware AW2721D is currently available to purchase from the official Dell web store for £699.98 / $769.99 / €758 which is a drop from the original £885.59 / $1099.99 / €985.20 price.

The gaming monitor is currently out of stock on Amazon, although we’re not sure whether it’s simply running low on stock or will no longer be available via the online retailer.

Design and features – Impressive hardware for high-end gaming

  • The Alienware is good-looking and versatile, with RGB LEDs
  • 240Hz Nvidia G-Sync ensures smooth gaming
  • HDR options are middling

The Alienware’s 240Hz refresh rate is superb. It’s easily good enough to handle any single-player title and most competitive games, so it’s a top-notch option for fluid, fast gaming of any genre.

The addition of Nvidia G-Sync Ultimate eliminates tearing and stuttering, and this panel works with both Nvidia and AMD graphics cards. The only way to get a higher rate is to buy a 360Hz monitor, and only pro-level eSports players will require that relatively slim improvement.

That refresh rate is used on an IPS display with a 2560 x 1440 resolution – a great figure that delivers a more crisp and immersive experience than the average 1080p panel.

Alienware AW2721D 04

It’s a great start, but the resolution does mean you’ll need hefty graphics hardware for gaming: if you want to play single-player games at beyond 200fps and without compromising graphics quality, you’ll need an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 or RTX 3090. If you’re willing to drop graphics settings then an RTX 3070 is ideal, and a card such as that will also run eSports titles at 240fps consistently.

The 3ms response time is solid for gaming, although this is one area where I think the Alienware cedes ground in the eSports world – if you’re a serious player then you’ll want a 1ms panel. I recommend you don’t rely on the Alienware’s 2ms or 1ms overdrive modes, either: they sound great on paper, but they both introduce inverse ghosting, so too much visual fidelity is lost in the search for more speed. And, regardless, a 3ms rate is fine for mainstream eSports and ample for single-player titles.

The rest of the internal specification is reasonable, if sometimes underwhelming. The Alienware brags about its HDR performance, but it only adheres to DisplayHDR 600 and it uses edge-lit dimming with a relatively modest 32 zones. As such, it can only deliver unsubtle improvements. The AW2721D doesn’t have any motion blur reduction technology, and it can only use 10-bit colour at 144Hz or below. In addition, the HDMI port can’t be used at refresh rates beyond 144Hz.

Alienware AW2721D 05

These aren’t big issues: most games don’t use 10-bit colour and motion blur reduction is a divisive and relatively niche technology that doesn’t deliver significant improvements on panels that already have the speed delivered by 240Hz hardware. However, some people will find these omissions notable, depending on how they want to use this panel, especially for work as well as gaming.

In that vein, this panel doesn’t have a dedicated sRGB mode and it can’t handle the Adobe RGB gamut required for professional-grade creation, which means you should only consider this monitor for gaming purposes.

The AW2721D looks like a typical Alienware product: it’s big and bold, with a design that combines black and white matte plastic with RGB LEDs. The bezel is slim, and build quality is good, with hardly any wobbling or flex. It offers good adjustment, with 130mm of height movement, tilt and swivel options, portrait mode functionality and support for 100mm VESA mounts.

The monitor is easy to build and set up, with a stand that snaps in place and tool-free screws used for the base – although the 10.9kg weight puts this display on the hefty side.

Alienware AW2721D 09

A joystick is used to navigate the on-screen display, which I found to be fast and well organised.

Alienware’s monitor includes four USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports, with one providing fast charging – and two are handily positioned beneath the bottom bezel. There are no USB-C ports on this panel, though, and no headphone holder or speakers.

The Alienware’s closest rival is the Samsung Odyssey G7, which is another panel that combines a 1440p resolution and 240Hz refresh rate. That display also uses DisplayHDR 600, but the Samsung uses VA rather than IPS technology, and it has a curved design and a superb 1ms response time.

Samsung’s competitor is available in both 27in and 32in models, with the former matching the Alienware and the latter offering the same resolution across a larger physical display. The 27in model costs £549 or $699, while the 32in version sits at £628 or $799.

Image quality – A well-balanced panel for demanding gamers

  • Solid contrast and accurate colours ensure impressive imagery
  • Good uniformity, but underwhelming genre-specific modes
  • There is some HDR improvement, but it’s mediocre and clumsy

The deployment of 240Hz Nvidia G-Sync Ultimate is impressive, ensuring smooth visuals for fast games such as CS:GO, Fortnite and Call of Duty: Warzone. It delivers a significant leap over 144Hz panels too, ultimately providing a top-notch gaming experience – it’s fast, crisp and smooth.

The IPS panel offers good quality. Out of the box, its brightness level (of 235 nits) is ample for mainstream gaming and media – it can go far higher if you need more punch – and the black point of 0.23 nits is reasonable figure for an IPS display. Those results combine to deliver a contrast ratio of 1022:1. That’s another decent score for an IPS display, with the only way to get a significant improvement is to opt for a VA display such as the Samsung.

The Alienware’s Delta E of 2.03 hovers around the point where human eyes cannot detect deviations, and the excellent colour temperature of 6458K means white lights appear natural. The average gamma level of 2.23 is close to the 2.2 ideal, which means tones are rendered with subtle variation and good detail, rather than crushed colours. The Alienware also reached an impressive 99.8% of the sRGB gamut at 136% volume, which means colour should be presented accurately for games and digital art.

Alienware AW2721D 10

The contrast and gamma levels help the screen deliver decent depth and nuance in bright and dark areas, and colours are accurate and bold without becoming oversaturated. The Alienware also displays impressive uniformity: the backlight strength deviated by 17% in a small portion of the left-hand edge, but in most other segments the uniformity differed by less than 10%.

As usual, this display has options for FPS, MOBA/RTS and RPG games, but these modes aren’t worth using; they hamper Delta E and contrast while delivering little improvement. You’re better off using the default setting.

Switching to HDR mode saw the panel’s maximum brightness improve to 663 nits and its black point decline to 0.1 nits. That revised contrast ratio of 6630:1 is impressive and outpaces the DisplayHDR 600 protocol, and the Alienware rendered a solid 95.5% of the DCI-P3 colour gamut.

Alienware AW2721D 07

Those figures help the AW2721D deliver some improvement to HDR content: there’s more depth and a broader dynamic range. However, the poor edge-lit dimming system means the HDR performance is clumsy, with proper HDR displays offering loads more brightness and subtlety. It’s ultimately a middling outcome, but the Alienware is better with HDR than most gaming panels.

The rival Samsung Odyssey G7 delivered a contrast level of 2035:1 during my testing – almost twice as good as the Alienware, and no surprise from a VA display. The G7 was also better than the Alienware in HDR mode, delivering greater punch and depth. However, the Samsung panel had a poorer Delta E, which means colour accuracy isn’t quite as good.

Alienware AW2721D conclusion

The Alienware AW2721D is an excellent 27-inch Quad HD gaming monitor, packing all of the important eSports-grade features such as a high refresh rate, top-quality IPS panel and HDR support.

Its closest rival is the Samsung Odyssey G7, which sees a superior contrast and HDR performance at a cheaper price point. However, the Alienware monitor flaunts better colour accuracy, which means it’s arguably the better option for picture purists.

You should buy the Alienware AW2721D if…

  • You need a high-end mainstream gaming experience
    The Alienware serves up excellent features, from the 240Hz G-Sync to the 1440p resolution, and its 3ms response time is solid. The image quality levels are decent, with impressive colours and good IPS-level contrast. It delivers a great gaming experience in high-end single-player and competitive games.
  • You want to customise your gameplay with RGB LEDs
    The AW2721D is typical Alienware, which means bold design with plenty of lighting. True to form, there are RGB LEDs beneath the bezel, in the power button, in the stand and in the Alienware logo, so you can customise the lighting and match it to the rest of the hardware in your gaming den.
  • 1080p just won’t cut it for you any more
    1080p monitors are fine for gaming, especially if you want to achieve smooth frame rates at a high refresh rate, but 1440p is undeniably better: bigger, crisper and more absorbing. It’s a more immersive experience.

You shouldn’t buy the Alienware AW2721D if…

  • You don’t have the graphics hardware to handle this screen
    The Alienware delivers brilliant gaming performance, but driving a 1440p screen at 240Hz requires a hefty graphics card, a powerful processor and fast memory. It will vary depending on the games you plan to pay, but don’t buy this screen if you don’t have the hardware to keep up.
  • You want to experience the best of HDR
    This display does perform better with HDR content than most gaming panels, but the clunky edge-lit dimming and the middling DisplayHDR 600 support mean that there are still far better HDR options out there.
  • You want a subtle design for your home office
    Alienware products aren’t subtle. Even though the RGB LEDs can be deactivated on this display, it’s still a large, bold product with bright monochromatic design. If you want a subtle panel that will fit into an office environment, this isn’t it.

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