Unique features often mean a high price, so sit down. Ready? The Alienware AW2721D has an MSRP of $1,099, though it frequently sells for $824.99. Surprisingly, the 240hz gaming monitor’s image quality supports the burden set by its price.
Alienware AW2721D Review
Alienware AW2721D Review – Design and Features
Alienware’s Legend design language, announced in 2019, does the AW2721D many favors. It combines expanses of sleek, curved, monochromatic materials with bursts of RGB color. The result looks tailor-made for Commander Shepard’s personal gaming rig. I prefer this monitor’s cohesive, bold look to the “add ALL the things” design of recent monitors from Acer’s Predator and Asus’ Strix line.Looks are subjective, of course; your opinion might differ. The AW2721D’s build quality, however, isn’t up for debate. This monitor has a massive, hefty, ergonomic stand with built-in RGB lighting. It keeps the monitor planted and offers excellent, easy-to-use adjustments for height, tilt, swivel, and pivot. The display panel feels just as sturdy and lacks the worrying creaks and cracks common to less expensive options. Not even Samsung’s Odyssey curved gaming monitors, which look and feel great, measure up.While the stand looks great and feels solid, it’s not perfect. It’s much deeper than a typical monitor, measuring about nine inches from the rear of the stand to the front of the screen. That places the monitor a bit too close on many desks. It’s not a problem if you play non-competitive game, but you could miss a sniper lurking at the edge of your field of view.
Dell, which owns Alienware, backs the monitor with a three-year warranty that has two perks. Premium Panel Exchange promises a free panel replacement during the warranty period “even if only one bright pixel is found.” Advanced Exchange Service promises a replacement, if deemed necessary after a call to Dell technical support, will be shipped on the next business day.
This warranty is a plus. Most expensive gaming monitors have just a single year of warranty coverage; Samsung and LG are bad about this, offering just one year even on monitors that sell for more than $1,000.
Alienware AW2721D Review – Features and OSD Menu
The Alienware AW2721D has a long list of features, including a 240Hz refresh rate, G-Sync Ultimate certification, VESA DisplayHDR 600, an IPS Nano Color panel, a “true one millisecond” response time, local backlight dimming, a customizable dark stabilizer, and RGB lighting that can be controlled through AlienFX software.
Features are great, but they can make a monitor confusing to use. I complained about this with the otherwise excellent Acer Predator XB253Q GW. Luckily, the AW2721D’s menu does its best to keep settings under control. There’s fewer if-then, then-that gotchas, and the menu puts game options front and center. Navigating the menus is easy, as well, thanks to the joystick-based controls.
Annoyingly, the AW2721D offers limited image customization. RGB color can be adjusted slightly in Custom Color mode, but that’s about it. There’s no precisely mapped gamma or color temperature presets. This makes the monitor less suitable for professional work despite its impressive specifications. It’s odd given that Dell advertises the monitor’s “professional color gamut” on its website.
One of the AW2721D’s best features is Smart HDR. The AW2721D will automatically detect an HDR signal and turn on HDR without opening the monitor’s settings. This is an advantage over many HDR monitors, as HDR often must be activated manually, or is detected unreliably.
The AW2721D’s display features are paired with a wide range of connectivity. This includes two HDMI 2.0 ports, one DisplayPort 1.4, and four USB-A 3.2 ports driven by a USB-B 3.2 Upstream port that connects to your PC. This lets the AW2721D serve as a USB hub, though it does lack USB-C ports. There’s also an audio jack for audio pass-through in case you use wired headphones with a short cord.
Alienware AW2721D Review – Everyday Performance
Alienware’s AW2721D is a great display for day-to-day use. The monitor’s color accuracy falls short of true professional displays, like BenQ’s PD2720U, but is strong overall. This monitor is a fine choice for professionals who don’t work in print or film, such as streamers, YouTubers, or game developers.
This is the brightest monitor I’ve ever tested, beating the Alienware AW3821DW, which just claimed that title a month ago. The AW2721D is 15 to 25 percent brighter than other HDR gaming monitors I’ve reviewed like Acer’s Predator XB253Q GW and Samsung’s Odyssey G9. That’s good news if your gaming den is on the sunward side of Mercury.
The AW2721D is advertised as having an anti-glare coating, but I think it’s better described as semi-gloss, as the silhouettes of reflected objects are easy to make out.
I measured a contrast ratio at 1050:1, which is typical for a monitor with a premium IPS panel. The monitor does a good job of avoiding the worst of the “IPS glow” common to monitors of this type, but it can’t come close to displaying a deep, inky black. This can be a problem if you use the AW2721D in a dark room or frequently view dark images, such as photos taken at night.
It’s worth recognizing the fundamental strength of a 27-inch, 1440p display. It’s a popular option for good reason. The 2,560 x 1,440 resolution hits a pixel density of 109 pixels per inch, nearly 35 percent better than a 1080p display. It’s a big, sharp display that works as well in Excel as it does in Hitman 3.
Alienware AW2721D Review – Gaming Performance
Of course, you don’t buy a monitor this expensive for Excel. Game performance is where this monitor should stand out and, given the price, it has a lot to prove.
The Alienware AW2721D’s good color performance, high pixel density, and stunning brightness become its greatest assets in games. This is an extraordinarily bright and punchy monitor. Colorful games like Rocket League and Dyson Sphere Program leap off the screen. The monitor’s wide color gamut prevents color banding in most situations, a problem that can be noticeable on monitors that don’t cover the entire sRGB gamut, like Acer’s Predator XB253Q GW.
These highlights mesh well with the 27-inch, 1440p display panel. While a 4K panel would certainly provide an even sharper look, 1440p looks outstanding on a monitor of this size. Images are sharp and aliasing is only an issue in games with many sharp angles and high-contrast borders that also have lackluster anti-aliasing. Also, because 1440p is much less demanding than 4K, you may be able to turn on higher detail settings without cratering the framerate.
Dark, shadowy scenes can challenge the AW2721D, however. The monitor’s contrast ratio is above average for an IPS display, but that’s influenced more by its brightness than remarkably deep black levels. Horror games suffer most from this, as will any game that takes place primarily at night. I noticed it most while making a few long-haul overnight deliveries in American Truck Simulator. The corners of my truck’s cabin reached a hazy hue of gray instead of a realistically deep black. Samsung’s Odyssey G7, which uses a VA panel and has a maximum contrast ratio roughly double the AW2721D, will perform better in dark games.
On the plus side, the AW2721D has great luminance uniformity and showed only small patches of brightness near the corners of its screen. Again using American Truck Simulator as an example, I’ve tested monitors that show obvious, distracting bright spots inside the truck’s cabin during midnight runs. It’s a common flaw that spoils your sense of immersion. Fortunately, the AW2721D significantly outperforms in this area.
The AW2721D is VESA DisplayHDR 600 certified, which means it claims a maximum luminance of 600 cd/m2 and has local backlight dimming. The local dimming feature is of limited use. The AW2721D is an edge-lit monitor with just a handful of dimming zones, so bright objects on dark scenes show significant blooming when backlight dimming is on. In fact, the local dimming feature is often more distracting than beneficial in games, which is likely why it’s turned off by default.
Still, I was pleased by the AW2721D’s HDR performance. Most HDR monitors are rather terrible at HDR, so Alienware has an edge here. The AW2721D is bright enough, and colorful enough, to make a noticeable difference in bright scenes. I noticed this most in Hitman 3, where the Alienware’s HDR performance leads to a more atmospheric look. It’s still no better than a budget HDR television, however.
Alienware AW2721D Review – Motion Clarity
Refresh rate is the Alienware AW2721D’s defining feature. There’s a lot of 27-inch 1440p monitors available, including many that can rival the AW2721D’s color performance. Very few, however, have both 1440p resolution and a 240Hz refresh rate. The 240Hz refresh rate is only available over the monitor’s DisplayPort connection. Its two HDMI connections are limited to 144Hz.
Unsurprisingly, the AW2721D’s high refresh rate and responsive IPS panel led to great results. Viewing the UFO test, which scrolls a cartoon UFO across the monitor at a high rate of speed, I saw great motion clarity at 240Hz, as well as at lower refresh rates. I appreciated the monitor’s clarity in Diablo 3, a fast and fluid game that hugely benefits from an improved refresh rate.
The AW2721D suffers no noticeable overshoot at default settings. Overshoot is a problem that occurs when a monitor’s pixels response too drastically to changes in an image, creating bright highlights around moving objects. Overshoot is tame at the Super Fast response time setting, too. Extreme, the highest setting, introduces noticeable overshoot around high-contrast objects. Given how fast this monitor responds at any setting, I don’t think there’s a reason to change from the default Fast setting.
While the AW2721D is a smooth, crisp display, I was a bit underwhelmed after testing the 24-inch Acer Predator XB253Q GW. This can be blamed on the AW2721D’s resolution. The Acer XB253Q is a 1080p monitor, so my Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti pumped out more frames. The AW2721D’s 1440p panel increases pixel count by about 50 percent relative to 1080p, so games ran at lower framerates. The lower the framerate, the less benefit received from the 240Hz panel.
Even powerful video cards sold at inflated prices on eBay, like Nvidia’s RTX 3080 and AMD’s RX 6800XT, can’t make full use of the AW2721D’s refresh rate at native resolution. This isn’t a flaw in the monitor, but it’s a problem given the high price Alienware charges for a cutting-edge refresh rate. If maximum motion clarity and responsiveness is your goal, you’d be better off with a 24.5-inch 360Hz display like the Asus ROG Swift PG259QN or Alienware AW2521H. Alternatively, you can save hundreds of dollars and still have better motion clarity by choosing a 24-inch monitor like the 280Hz Acer Predator XB253Q GW.