Alienware Gaming Monitor Review: Beautiful, But Too Pricey

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PC maker Alienware has officially entered the gaming accessories arena, and if we're judging solely on style, the company has made quite an entrance.

The Alienware AW2518H Gaming Monitor ($599) retains the signature style of Alienware's slick desktops and laptops, with sharp edges, silver panels and even the same LED backlights. However, while Alienware's debut display looks beautiful and performs even better in-game, its high asking price is a lot to swallow for 1080p gaming.

Design and Lighting

Most gaming monitors aren't meant to be the centerpiece of your setup, but then again, most gaming monitors aren't made by Alienware. This display looks strikingly premium, with a nearly bezel-free screen and the same silver, LED-backlit rear panel that you'll find on the company's laptops and desktops.

As with other Alienware products, you can set the monitor's three LED strips to glow a single color, or cycle through the entire rainbow. It's not incredibly practical — you won't see your lit-up rear panel while gaming — but if you insist on having your PC, display, keyboard and mouse all glow the same color, you can make that happen. I would have preferred the Alienware Gaming Monitor to have bottom-facing lights that illuminate your accessories, like the ones found on Acer's Predator X34.

The Alienware's LED lighting might not be all that useful, but the display's ergonomics certainly are. You can raise or lower the display about 5 inches up or down, swivel it roughly 45 degrees side to side, or even pivot it 90 degrees into portrait mode to use as a secondary monitor for doing work or monitoring Twitch chat. The whole thing rests on an attractively slim base.

Key Specs

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Screen Size and Resolution25 inches, 1920 x 1080
Refresh Rate240 Hz
Response Time1ms
Panel TypeTN
G-Sync SupportYes

Ports and Interface

Alienware's monitor covers all of your basic connection needs, with HDMI and DisplayPort 1.2 for connecting to your PC and three USB 3.0 ports in the back. If you want things to look extra seamless, there's an included panel that lets you cover up the rear.

What I appreciate even more, however, are the two additional USB 3.0 ports and the headphone jack sitting right at the bottom edge. This means you can plug your peripherals in without having to reach into the back of the display.  

The Alienware Gaming Monitor's on-screen interface is simple and fairly intuitive, largely thanks to the six physical navigation keys placed at the bottom edge. While I would have prefered a navigation nub like the ones featured on Asus' displays, I was still able to adjust brightness and switch among display modes with just a few easy button taps.

Gaming Performance

The Alienware Gaming Monitor made an excellent companion to just about anything I played on it, providing the rich colors and low latency I've come to expect from a Dell gaming display.

Few genres require a responsive display as much as fighting games do, and I'm happy to report that Alienware's monitor handled Tekken 7 like a dream. The Alienware Gaming Monitor allowed me to perform complex combos without a hint of input lag and added some serious pop to the bright orange volcano fires that surrounded me during battle.

Alienware's display was just as reliable for Heroes of the Storm, a multiplayer online battle-arena game in which scanning the battlefield and reacting quickly is key. I never felt any delay as I furiously clicked my mouse to move my hero around the arena, and the monitor's RTS mode, which saturates the colors, made it extra easy to distinguish between my team members and the enemy.

When I switched gears to the more cinematic action of Rise of the Tomb Raider, the monitor allowed me to see every brutal detail of Lara Croft's battle-weathered face. Tomb Raider was an especially good fit for the display's extra-rich RPG mode, which made the game's sunny skies and sandy canyons look especially bright and beautiful.

The Alienware Gaming Monitor features Nvidia's G-Sync technology, which syncs up your display with your graphics card to eliminate screen tears. G-Sync helped Tomb Raider perform extra smoothly as I jumped from cliff to cliff, though I didn't notice a major performance dip when I turned the feature off, and that's due to the muscle inside our GTX 1070-powered rig.

Brightness and Color

The Alienware Gaming Monitor proved to be just as impressive in our lab tests as it was during everyday gaming. The display exhibited an average brightness of 370 nits, topping the Dell 24 Gaming Monitor (284), the Asus' VG245H (252.6) and our 255-nit monitor average.

Alienware's monitor crushed our color tests, turning in a Delta E color-accuracy rating of 0.26 (closer to 0 is better) while reproducing 119 percent of the sRGB color gamut. That makes this display more accurate than both the Dell (1.88) and Asus (1.96) screens, while offering roughly the same gamut percentage as both monitors.

Despite its speedy real-world performance, the Alienware Gaming Monitor registered a fairly high latency of 16 milliseconds on our lag tester. That's a bit higher than our 13.6 average.

Modes and Extras

Fancy lighting aside, the Alienware Gaming Monitor comes with the typical smattering of features you'd expect from a gaming display. There are a slew of display presets for genres, such as shooting, role playing and strategy; a comfort view mode for reduced eye strain; and three "game" presets that you can customize to your heart's content.

Alienware's monitor can display your PC's frame rate atop the screen, as well as provide a timer overlay for folks playing strategy games. The only common overlay feature missing from this monitor is a crosshair option for shooting games, but I've never found that essential.

Bottom Line

The Alienware Gaming Monitor ($599) is one of the most beautiful 1080p displays I've ever used. It's also one of the most expensive. You get all of the bells and whistles of most Alienware machines — including a slick design, LED backlighting and G-Sync support — as well as an incredibly fast, 240-Hz refresh rate and gorgeous colors. But you're still paying an exorbitant price for 1080p.

Dell's own S2417DG is a better value, offering a higher-res 1440p screen, G-Sync and a similarly sleek build for as low as $429. If you just need a good 1080p monitor and don't care about fancy features, the $199 Asus VG245H is an excellent budget pick.

The Alienware Gaming Monitor is a gorgeous piece of hardware inside and out, but unless you're an Alienware devotee who absolutely insists on having your monitor match your PC, you can find better values for much less money.

Credit: Dell

Michael Andronico

Mike Andronico is Senior Writer at CNNUnderscored. He was formerly Managing Editor at Tom's Guide, where he wrote extensively on gaming, as well as running the show on the news front. When not at work, you can usually catch him playing Street Fighter, devouring Twitch streams and trying to convince people that Hawkeye is the best Avenger.