Alienware's first monitor has impressive gaming specs, but won't suit everyone's wallet
High refresh rate, low response time
Very good black levels
More expensive than the competition
No fine-tuning possible
Only 1920 x 1080
For years the Alienware brand has been synonymous with high-end but pricy pre-built gaming desktops and laptops, but over the last few months Dell - which bought Alienware in 2006 - has moved the brand towards the accessories market.
At IFA this year, we heard how Alienware plans to ‘own the room', with mice, keyboards and monitors in addition to desktops and laptops; the idea being that gamers will never have to use a non-extraterrestrial peripheral (presumably the company's marketing managers are working on some way to brand users with the Alienware logo, too).
The AW2518 was released this summer and is Alienware's first move into the display space. It features a blazingly-fast TN panel, with a frankly ludicrous 240Hz response speed; fantastic black level performance; and G-Sync or Freesync anti-tearing technology. However, resolution is limited and, like all Alienware products, the price is high.
Customers can buy two versions of the monitor: the AW2518F with Freesync, for AMD users, or the AW2518H with G-Sync: this was the version we were reviewing.
Aesthetics have always been an Alienware strong point, and even before the display is turned on, it is easy to appreciate the work that has gone into it. The matte black screen is surrounded by ultra-thin outer bezels, which lend themselves perfectly to a multi-monitor arrangement - if your wallet can support it. Total bezel width (outer and inner) is about 6mm.
Branding is subtle but distinctive. Faint grey letters pick out the company name across the bottom bezel and vertically down the side of the (pleasingly robust and adjustable) stand. The ubiquitous alien head is featured at the top of the stand and in one corner on the rear of the monitor, where it glows with a light that matches the three rear-facing LED strips.
The LED lights can be set to a single colour or cycle through multiple hues - although you'll rarely be aware of this, as they're on the rear of the display. It really depends on your setup, and how concerned you are with getting your monitor, mouse and keyboard to match.
The stand, connected to the display through a standard VESA mount, uses the traditional Alienware tripod design, and hides cable management at the bottom. The cables themselves, including DisplayPort and HDMI (no 2.0 here, but it's not necessary) plug into the base of the monitor and can be hidden by a detachable piece of plastic that is supplied with the product. The four USB 3.0 ports are sure to be a welcome addition for power users.
OSD buttons are located underneath the right-hand side of the screen. The menu is nowhere near as robust as that found on LG's UC3479G, but has everything that a mainstream gamer might want, including various screen modes (FPS, RTS, Comfort, etc); adjustable frame rates; and a Dark Stabiliser setting. There are some extraneous features, like an on-screen timer, and sadly it lacks any settings to truly optimise the display, like colour temperature and white balance, so fine-tuning isn't really possible.