Tech

Alienware AW2725DF review: OLED’s refresh rate cranked up to 360Hz

Alienware AW2725DFImage: Matt Smith

At a glance

Expert’s Rating

Pros

Top-tier motion clarityExcellent image quality in SDRGreat color performance and accuracy360Hz refresh rate doesn’t increase the price

Cons

Sharpness fails to impress in Windows desktop appsHDR is attractive, but full-screen brightness remains lowNo USB-C input

Our Verdict

The Alienware AW2725DF further refines OLED’s already excellent motion clarity with a 360Hz refresh rate, and does so without increasing the price.

Price When Reviewed

$899

Best Prices Today: Alienware AW2725DF

RetailerPriceDell$899.99View DealPrice comparison from over 24,000 stores worldwideProductPricePrice comparison from Backmarket

2023 was the year that OLED monitors went mainstream. While still expensive, a buffet of new choices in popular display sizes made it possible for many who crave OLED to dive in. With that accomplished, Alienware’s AW2725DF turns its attention to a new task: perfecting motion clarity.

Further reading: See our roundups of the best monitors and best gaming monitors to learn about competing products.

What are the Alienware AW2725DF’s specs and features?

The Alienware AW2725DF is in many ways similar to prior 27-inch OLED monitors that hit store shelves in 2023. It has a 27-inch QD-OLED display panel with a resolution of 2560×1440, and the monitor boasts VESA Display True Black 400 certification.

Display size: 27-inch widescreenNative resolution: 2560×1440Panel type: QD-OLEDRefresh rate: 360HzAdaptive sync: AMD FreeSync Premium Pro, VRRHDR: VESA DisplayHDR True Black 400Ports: 1x HDMI 2.1, 2x DisplayPort 1.4, 1x USB-B upstream, 3x USB-A downstream, 1x USB-C downstreamVESA mount: 100x100mmSpeakers: NonePrice: $899

But there’s one specification that stands out from the crowd, and that’s the refresh rate. The AW2725DF boasts a maximum refresh rate of 360Hz, a significant upgrade over the 240Hz refresh rate found across most 27-inch OLED monitors in 2023.

Surprisingly, this doesn’t bump the price, and the AW2725DF’s $899 MSRP is actually $100 less than the $999 MSRP typical of most 27-inch OLED monitors from major brands (though many have received discounts since).

How is the Alienware AW2725DF’s design?

Matt Smith

The Alienware AW2725DF looks like an Alienware monitor. That means attractive plastics paired with LED accents and varying materials that provide an upscale, sci-fi look. This particular monitor arrived with the black colorway, which is somewhat more subtle than the white colorway Alienware sometimes offers, but still looks great. It also benefits from OLED’s ultra-thin design, which lets the monitor achieve slim bezels on all sides and a thin profile around back.

The standard LED accents can be adjusted through the monitor’s menu or coordinate with Dell’s AlienFX software, which can control lighting on multiple compatible devices simultaneously. I’m not generally a fan of LED accents, but they look nice on the AW2725DF, and they’re easy to turn off should they wear out their welcome.

An ergonomic stand is included and adjusts for height, tilt, and swivel. It also pivots 90 degrees for use in portrait orientation, if desired. The stand is sturdy and keeps the monitor planted. It also has a small hexagonal base, which is important when placing the monitor on a small desk.

Cable management is included in the form of a cable guide through the neck of the stand and small plastic guides on the back of the monitor. A 100x100mm VESA mount is available, too, for use with third-party monitor stands and arms.

How is the Alienware AW2725DF’s connectivity and menu?

Matt Smith

Connectivity isn’t a priority for the Alienware AW2725DF, but it provides an acceptable range of inputs for a high-refresh gaming monitor.

Video connectivity includes two DIsplayPort 1.4 ports and a single HDMI 2.1. DisplayPort is required to enjoy the monitor at 1440p resolution and its maximum refresh rate of 360Hz. The HDMI port can only achieve 1440p at 144Hz. To be fair, this is less of an issue than it might seem. The HDMI port is provided for game consoles and home theater devices, which typically output a refresh rate of 60Hz to 120Hz.

The monitor also offers several USB-A downstream ports and a single USB-C downstream port. It is not, however, a USB-C hub, as the USB ports are instead driven by a USB-B upstream connection. I would like to see USB-C upstream alongside USB-B, given the AW2725DF’s price. Alienware is right to think the monitor is best paired with a desktop, and few desktops have a USB-C video output. Still, it would be nice to have the option to dock a laptop or tablet over USB-C, too.

Matt Smith

Alienware’s menu system is accessed through a joystick located on the display’s lower lip. It’s fast, responsive, and intuitive, as menu options are appropriately oriented so that up is always up and down is always down (some monitors still get this wrong).

Image quality customization includes a long list of preset modes and a custom color mode that allows calibration for gain, hue, saturation, and offset. There’s also a Warm and Cool color temperature mode, but I couldn’t locate a gamma adjustment.

Alienware also provides various features for gaming including an on-screen timer and frame rate counter, crosshairs, and a “black equalizer,” which elevates the brightness of dark portions of the display to make shadowy foes easy to see. These features are typical for a gaming monitor, but they work well enough here.

Just one feature is absent: speakers. That’s common for a high-end gaming monitor, since many brands assume players will use a headset or a sound system with audio quality far beyond what a monitor can provide.

How is the Alienware AW2725DF’s SDR image quality?

Image quality is key for a high-end gaming monitor like the Alienware AW2725DF, and it delivers all those usual perks typical of QD-OLED monitors. It’s a colorful, vibrant monitor, though not especially bright.

Matt Smith

Speaking of which: Brightness is the first test, and here the AW2725DF performs identically to other previously tested OLED monitors, such as the AOC Agon Pro AG276QZD. The Alienware’s maximum SDR brightness of 245 nits will be fine in most situations but, alongside the semi-gloss display, could lead to issues in bright rooms.

I wouldn’t recommend the AW2725DF if you need a monitor for a desk in a room without much light control, like a living room or a corporate bullpen. If your room has even modest light control (like curtains or shades), though, you shouldn’t see an issue.

Matt Smith

Contrast is OLED’s traditional strength, and the AW2725DF delivers. It has an effectively infinite contrast ratio, as it’s capable of reaching a minimum brightness of zero nits in my tests. And, like other OLED monitors, it can do this on a per-pixel level (or something very close to it), which means small, bright objects contrast perfectly against dark backgrounds. The opposite is also true.

This is a key point that differentiates the AW2725DF from IPS LCD monitors that might be considered, like Alienware’s 500Hz AW2524HF, or a Mini-LED display like the Innocn 27M2V. Both of those monitors perform very well for the price, but shoppers who care about deep, inky black levels will prefer the AW2725DF.

Matt Smith

The AW2725DF also delivers a healthy color gamut that spans 98 percent of the DCI-P3 gamut and 94 percent of AdobeRGB. Those are great results, and they indicate that the monitor can handle nearly any color space a person shopping would reasonably throw at it. I don’t recommend the AW2725DF if you plan to color grade a Pixar film, but it’s otherwise superb for most photo editing and video editing tasks.

With that said, you can obtain similar or better performance from other displays, such as the Innocn 27M2V. The average color gamut performance found in new monitors has improved by leaps and bounds in recent years, so while the AW2725DF looks superb, its performance is merely what I expect to see from a high-end monitor in 2024.

Gamers specifically interested in high refresh rates should take a close look at how the AW2725DF compares to Alienware’s 500Hz monitor, the AW2524HF. It’s not a close competition. The AW2725DF wins, and looks far more vibrant and saturated than the AW2524HF.

Matt Smith

Color accuracy is also strong, which is good to see, as not all OLED monitors achieve similar results in this test. The AW2725DF’s color accuracy is in league with other high-end monitors that use different display technologies, including the Innocn 27M2V.

The Alienware did well in color temperature and gamma tests, achieving a default color temperature of 6300K (off a target of 6500K) and gamma curve of 2.2 (which is on-target). This helps the AW2725DF provide a balanced, realistic image. The monitor’s color temperature and gamma adjustment is minimal, however, so owners who want to significantly change the color temperature or gamma from these targets will likely need to use software calibration to achieve their desired results. This isn’t a problem for most people, though, and the AW2725DF looks great out of the box.

mentioned in this article

Innocn 27M2V

Innocn 27M2VRead our reviewPrice When Reviewed:$679.99Best Prices Today:$599.99 at Amazon | $749.99 at Innocn

Sharpness remains a downside. 1440p resolution is normally at least adequate on a 27-inch display, but QD-OLED monitors have a sub-pixel structure that tends to conflict with Windows text rendering. This results in a more jagged and pixelated look to small text which, in the worst situations, can cause small fonts to appear to blur or blend together. It’s generally good enough, but 1440p monitors with an IPS-LCD will look sharper, particularly on the Windows desktop and in desktop apps.

The Alienware AW2725DF’s overall image quality is excellent, though unsurprising. It achieves results in league with other OLED monitors of similar size, and its color performance is a bit above-average. It’s an ideal monitor for use in a room with good light control, or for enjoying games and movies with a dark presentation, as its superb contrast ratio delivers great detail in these situations.

How is the Alienware AW2725DF’s HDR image quality?

HDR is often a mixed bag on OLED monitors, and the AW2725DF isn’t an exception — though, in practice, it tends to perform well enough.

Brightness is the issue. The AW2725DF is VESA DisplayHDR 400 True Black certified and includes a peak brightness mode that claims up to 1,000 nits of brightness. However, these figures can only be achieved when small portions of the display are brightly lit. Using an HDR test clip that should exceed 1,000 nits, I saw a sustained brightness of 313 nits when 10 percent of the display was lit, which was reduced to 207 nits with 100 percent of the display lit.

Still, the brightness of small, sharp highlights is subjectively impressive, and the result is helped greatly by the monitor’s contrast ratio and broad color gamut. I was impressed by the AW2725DF’s image quality while viewing the “Gargantua” scene from Interstellar. The bright accretion disk around the black hole skews towards a sheer, bright nothingness in SDR and on poor HDR displays, but the AW2725DF preserved good detail.

The AW2725DF’s brightness limitation is more evident when viewing a very bright scene, such as a snow-capped mountain in Forza Horizon 5, or a landing strip lit by bright noon sunlight in Microsoft Flight Simulator. The AW2725DF can look dull and dusty compared to a Mini-LED display, although you might not notice this if you don’t have a Mini-LED display on hand to compare it with.

I tend to recommend Mini-LED displays over OLED if HDR is your top priority, and the AW2725DF doesn’t change my position. Still, it will usually look attractive in HDR content, and especially in games. It will also deliver a massive improvement over any IPS LCD or VA LCD display that lacks a Mini-LED backlight.

How is the Alienware AW2725DF’s motion performance?

Matt Smith

Now we come to the AW2725DF’s headline feature: the 360Hz refresh rate. The AW2725DF is a beautiful display, but its performance is similar to other OLED competitors, so the refresh rate is the true reason to purchase it over its alternatives (a few just announced-monitors from Samsung and LG also provide a 360Hz refresh rate, or higher, but I’ve not yet had chance to see them).

And the AW2725DF’s motion clarity unquestionably delivers the benefit I would expect to see. A 240Hz OLED monitor is already extremely crisp in motion, and upping the refresh rate to 360Hz further refines the image. Even the smallest details remain visible in fast-moving objects. Character names and individual ticks in hitpoint bars remain visible in League of Legends and DOTA 2, while games like Final Fantasy XIV preserve even the finest texture details while moving the camera rapidly from left to right.

A 240Hz OLED monitor is already extremely crisp in motion, and upping the refresh rate to 360Hz further refines the image.

Objectively, I know it’s not perfect. But it feels close. I find it hard to imagine even the most skeptical gamer finding a flaw with the motion clarity of this monitor.

The AW2725DF also compares favorably to other monitors with a 360Hz refresh rate. Most such monitors have an IPS display panel with a higher pixel response time (often between 0.5 and 1 millisecond, gray-to-gray). The AW2725DF, like other OLED monitors, quotes a pixel response time of just 0.03 milliseconds. Because of this, the AW2725DF looks a bit sharper in motion than 360Hz IPS displays.

mentioned in this article

Alienware AW2524HF

Alienware AW2524HFRead our reviewPrice When Reviewed:$649.99Best Prices Today:$649.99 at Dell

What about the 500Hz Alienware AW2524HF? I no longer had it on hand for a direct comparison, but I felt the AW2725DF’s motion clarity was close to, if not on par with, the AW2524HF. I’d still recommend the Alienware AW2524HF for the most competitive players, as its size and resolution is better suited for that scene. But the AW2725DF’s motion clarity is hugely impressive, and its size and resolution make it a better fit for players who enjoy a variety of genres.

Is the Alienware AW2725DF worth it?

The Alienware AW2725DF is an excellent OLED gaming monitor and a great purchase for anyone looking to buy a 27-inch OLED widescreen. It scores well across nearly all metrics including color gamut, color accuracy, and contrast, and also delivers top-notch motion clarity in fast-paced games. I would’ve liked to see a bit more connectivity and a few more options in the monitor’s menu system, but these are minor issues that most owners will find easy to live with. The monitor’s reasonable $899 MSRP, which is similar to the MSRP of competitors with a 240Hz refresh rate, adds icing to an already sweet cake.

Best Prices Today: Alienware AW2725DF

RetailerPriceDell$899.99View DealPrice comparison from over 24,000 stores worldwideProductPricePrice comparison from Backmarket

Matthew S. Smith is a freelance technology journalist with 15 years of experience reviewing consumer electronics. In addition to PCWorld, his work can be found on Wired, Ars Technica, Digital Trends, Reviewed, IGN, and Lifewire. Matthew also covers AI and the metaverse for IEEE Spectrum and runs Computer Gaming Yesterday, a YouTube channel devoted to PC gaming history.

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