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Alienware 27 Gaming Monitor (AW2721D) Review

Once in a while, a gaming monitor comes along that truly does it all. Until now, the holder of that title in the 27-inch 1440p category had been the stellar $649 Razer Raptor 27, but this year the $769.99 Alienware 27 Gaming Monitor (AW2721D) seizes the crown. Featuring a sturdy, highly ergonomic stand lined with on-brand LED light strips, the Alienware 27 is a marvel of design and construction quality while also pumping out beautiful onscreen action. Whether you are watching a movie or playing a multiplayer title in HDR, the display looks great inside and out, showing almost no compromises apart from its steepish price. The Alienware 27 will be a luxury item for some, but that doesn’t prevent it from easily earning an Editors’ Choice award as one of the best gaming monitors on shelves (and hopefully on your desk) today.


Taking Tips from Tic Tacs

If you’ve been paying attention to the news over the past few years, you might have heard the Pentagon has been detecting all-white, perfectly smooth “Tic Tac-shaped” objects zipping around our skies. For a minute, you might be forgiven for thinking those might just be a shipment of Alienware monitors falling out of a plane somewhere.

With a 27-inch display running at 2,560 by 1,440 pixels, the AW2721D features a design straight out of the company’s more recent playbook, mimicking said unidentified craft with an almost wholly white shell, save for a few bands of customizable LED arrays strewn around the monitor’s underside, running the height of the stand, and behind the quintessential Alienware logo in the top right corner.

(Photo: Chris Stobing)

The monitor sits on a black and white stand that ends in a Y-shaped base. The base lets the screen slide up and down by just over five inches, tilt forward and back (from -5 to 21 degrees), and swivel left and right (from -20 to 20 degrees). The monitor also pivots 90 degrees between landscape and portrait mode if that’s your thing, though we can’t think of a reason to spend this much for a secondary monitor used for programming.

Alienware AW2721D front view(Photo: Chris Stobing)

Each of the lights lining the monitor’s casing is customizable, either from the snappy and responsive onscreen display (OSD) menu (it’s controlled by a four-way joystick on the back), or via the Alienware Command Center software suite, if the display’s connected to your PC via USB. Unfortunately, neither the OSD menu nor the Command Center offers a ton of customization beyond that, forgoing deeper color customization and calibration tools in favor of a long list of preset gaming profiles.

Alienware AW2721D right angle(Photo: Chris Stobing)

Most of the ports are centered in the back of the monitor, facing down. These include two HDMI 2.0 ports, a DisplayPort 1.4b input, an upstream USB port, two downstream USB 3.0 Type-A ports, a 3.5mm headphone jack for audio throughput via HDMI, and the connector for the AC power cable.

Alienware AW2721D ports(Photo: Chris Stobing)

Getting the necessary cords into those ports is another matter, though. Everything needs to be routed through two hooks found near the base of the monitor, and while that’s a good lesson in cable management for people like me who almost never do it, I shouldn’t have to in order to get everything plugged in.

Alienware AW2721D cable hooks(Photo: Chris Stobing)


Testing the Alienware AW2721D: Not the Fastest, But One of the Prettiest

The 1440p display is built on a Fast IPS panel with a native refresh rate of 240Hz. It features support for VESA DisplayHDR 600, as well as Nvidia’s top-grade G-Sync Ultimate (to prevent screen tearing when used with compatible GPUs).

We test monitors with a Datacolor SpyderX Elite colorimeter, a Murideo SIX-G signal generator, and Portrait Displays’ CalMAN 5 software. Here is what we saw…

In the Standard picture mode with an SDR signal, the Alienware 27 showed a peak brightness of 545 nits (candelas per square meter) and a black level of 0.34 nit, working out to a contrast ratio of 1,602:1, well above its rated 1,000:1. These numbers didn’t change significantly in other picture modes such as FPS, Racing Mode, or Cinema. (See more about how we test monitors.)

In the HDR picture mode with an HDR signal, the AW2721D managed a peak brightness of 621 nits and a black level of 0.19 nit, yielding a contrast ratio of 3,268:1.

Moving along to the color results, the Alienware 27 covered 100% of the sRGB gamut and also hit some high marks in DCI-P3 at 97% coverage, making it a strong pick for gamers and content-lovers alike (more on movie and television performance in a minute).

The AdobeRGB gamut returns were surprisingly high at 89% coverage, which is more than most gaming panels, but still slightly under what a professional content creator should look for in their next monitor.

Alienware AW2721D light bleed(Photo: Chris Stobing)

Finally, we turned on the monitor in total darkness to get a sense of how bad the light bleed around the edges would be. Fortunately, it wasn’t as noticeable as on many IPS monitors, with just a bit of bloom poking out from the two bottom corners where the monitor housing meets the display.


Now, on to the media and gaming benchmarks. This is an area where display technologies like Fast IPS really come into their own, dominating not just in latency tests as a TN or VA panel might, but also putting out incredible color in most circumstances, nearly rivaling that of the best OLED monitors available today.

In HDR, our 4K Costa Rica test footage (output at 1440p to match the monitor’s native resolution) was simply jaw-dropping. Now, I’ve seen this test video dozens if not hundreds of times to date, and a few of those were on Fast IPS displays, but none of them has looked as good as the Alienware 27.

Alienware AW2721D HDR performance(Photo: Chris Stobing)

Things weren’t too bad in SDR either, shown below…

Alienware AW2721D Red SDR(Photo: Chris Stobing)

If you have the option, keep your HDR on as often as possible, but if heat is a concern or you’re just trying to give your retinas a rest, SDR is still plenty color-rich to keep your eyes engaged.

With such impressive results in our video testing, expectations were high once we got into the game runs. The Final Fantasy XV Windows benchmark looked great in SDR, and the Alienware 27 even managed to pull off great results with Windows 10’s half-baked HDR implementation laid on top.

As for traditional input lag (the amount of time between when a monitor receives a signal and the screen updates), we test that with an HDFury 4K Diva HDMI matrix. With a 60Hz test signal, the Alienware 27 showed an input-lag measure of 3.6 milliseconds. This is only about half as quick as some of the fastest 1440p monitors we’ve tested, such as the Razer Raptor 27, but it is still plenty fast for most of the extreme esports gaming you might do.

Alienware AW2721D gaming performance(Photo: Chris Stobing)

Speaking of which, with G-Sync Ultimate on board, my time in multiplayer game testing was filled with crispy headshots and a scoreboard-leading win against my opponents in a round of Valorant. After playing on this monitor, I never want to use anything but a Fast IPS display with games like this. Many players of Valorant, especially aspiring esports pros, will say that 1440p resolution is overkill for their game, and they’re mostly right. However, if you’re one of the millions who like to play multiplayer games and don’t happen to mind if they look good at the same time (what a concept!), the Alienware 27 will get both jobs done with aplomb.


There’s no denying that the sticker price of the Alienware 27 Gaming Monitor might scare off some prospective buyers who just want a solid esports option in this size and resolution tier. If you’re on the hunt for a reasonably priced IPS gaming monitor from Alienware that’s one step down the resolution ladder, the 1080p and 240Hz Alienware AW2521HFL comes in at $399, while slower 1440p alternatives like the 165Hz MSI Optix MAG274QRF-QD can be had for the same money.

But if cost isn’t an issue and you want a gaming monitor that will give your content all-new life for years to come, the Alienware 27 Gaming Monitor defines the upper echelon of what gaming monitors do best today. This display does everything the HP Omen X 27 tried to do, but does it a whole lot better for just a slight bump in price. If you’re choosing between the two, the Alienware is the clear winner, and that story repeats itself again and again no matter which 1440p contender we put the Alienware 27 up against.

Fast IPS technology has finally come into its own after a shaky start, bridging the gap between monitors that look great and monitors that go fast. It’s the best of both worlds, and the many elegant design and engineering decisions found in the AW2721D helps take that tech right over the top.

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