Alienware AW2721D 240Hz
27" Gaming Monitor

Expect to pay: $1,350 AUD

Some monitors are built for office work. Some for graphic artists. And then some are made for gamers. And the Alienware AW2721D is, without doubt, one of the best (and most affordable) gaming monitors around.

Why do I say this? Five points, really. Firstly, it has a super high-speed refresh rate of 240Hz (or 240 frames per second). Secondly, it sports an IPS screen with Adobe RGB colour range support, meaning not only will the colours barely shift as you change your angle to it, it can produce far more vibrant and rich colours than most other displays. Thirdly, it’s a G-sync monitor, giving low (or no) lag images without tearing (provided you have an nVidia graphics card). Fourthly, it’s a fully fledged HDR monitor, capable of giving spectacular (and occasionally eye watering) constrasts. Fifthly and finally, it’s one of the only high-speed gaming monitors around to have a zero dead or faulty pixel guarantee. That means if it doesn’t work perfectly out of the box, you can send it back and get a replacement. While most gaming monitors force you to trade between refresh rate, screen type (with most using faster, but inferior TN panels) and colour gamut, this really is the monitor for the person who wants it all.

So what does it play like? Well, while there’s no question as to the quality of the display, the answer to that question really depends upon the user, and how sensitive they are to motion and colour. If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t really notice the difference between 24, 30 and 60 frames per second (fps), then the jump to 120-240fps is unlikely to impress that much. If you’re sensitive to smooth motion, however, the feeling of the higher frame-rates is an absolute delight, and after a while you’ll find yourself wondering how on earth you managed to put up with the jerky, irritating motion of something running at 30 or even 60 fps. Similarly, if you’re sensitive to colour, the wide colour-gamut of the Alienware AW2721D will make most displays (excepting the top-tier monitors, OLED, and Q-Dot screens) looked washed out in comparison.

Even if you’re not particularly sensitive to these things, you’ll definitely notice the effect of HDR. This lets the monitor crank up the brightness of parts of the screen, with minimal impact on the rest of the image. Don’t let the internet, with its somewhat misleading guides about brightness ratings, fool you. At the distance from which you’ll be sitting, this monitor is more than capable of cranking up the brightness to the point that it’ll make your eyes water. This makes a noticeable, visceral improvement to already good looking games like Hitman, Doom, and Star Wars: Battlefront 2. With the latter, blaster bolts and light-sabers go from being merely brightly coloured, to actually glowing, transforming any battle into a truly spectacular pyrotechnic display. It’s not perfect, and a black screen will become noticeably brighter when HDR is engaged, but it’s such an overall improvement you’ll never want to go back.

While the overall image quality is far and away superior to just about any other monitor I’ve tried, it pays to be aware that it won’t magically improve the image quality by itself – these features require the games to support them. Not all games support running beyond 60fps, meaning you won’t see any improvement in smoothness in these titles. Also, some games actually take their timing from the frame rate (such as Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc), and running the game at 240fps will mean the game runs 4x as fast. For those games, you’ll have to go into Windows and manually lower the monitors refresh rate (also worth noting is that, if you want to use the full speed of the monitor, you will have to manually enable this via Windows as well). Also, not all games support HDR. Lastly, if you want to enjoy the rich vibrant colours this monitor has to offer, don’t enable HDR via Windows – for some obscure reason it forces the monitor to switch to the lesser sRGB colour gamut.

Having experienced the comfort of 240Hz, the thrill of HDR and the richness of Adobe RGB colours – things which truly make a difference, especially in fast-paced games like shooters or racing sims – there’s no way I’d be happy to settle for anything less. An absolute powerhouse of a monitor which viscerally adds to and improves the gaming experience, when all’s said and done, the Alienware AW2721D is without a shadow of any doubt the very best monitor I’ve had the pleasure to use. ■

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