So Alienware is making some big moves in the gaming industry over the past couple of years. Dell seems to have really embraced the gaming market! We’ve seen new awesome-looking M series laptops, we even reviewed one of their Auroura towers a couple of years ago. And now we’ve got something even more special. It’s their new super high refresh rate 360Hz gaming monitor, the AW2523HF. And by now you’ve probably guessed it, but we’re going to be talking about it today in this video.

The Alienware AW2523HF stands at 56cm in width which is the screen including very thin bezels, 24cm in depth, which is pretty much the base plate and 39cm in height, with the stand at its lowest position. It does increase to around 56cm if you use the full height of the stand. There is tilt, swivel and rotation movement if you want a vertical aspect ratio for the screen. The stand though is pretty chunky I must say. It’s far from these sleek slimline stands fashioned on the productivity monitors, and even something like the AOC gaming range with the skinny legs that we’ve seen in the past. The stem is fat, covered in a gun metal grey type plastic though Alienware call it their Dark Side Of The Moon colour scheme, and has the Alienware branding down the side. There is a cable management hole so you can feed your cables through the stand to keep them looking neat and hidden on the desk. The base plate is flat, covered with some kind of plastic housing to give it that gun metal finish again and feels pretty weighty. The monitor barely moved when nudging it around which is a great sign for build quality. The base plate measures at 23cm wide and just under 30cm in depth, so not the smallest of surface areas for your desk.

The rear of the monitor is a bit of a chunk as well. No slimline design here. But it’s not too much of an issue if you’re going to be keeping it on the stand. If you’re wall mounting though, be prepared for it to stick out a bit. The back again has some Alienware branding, as well as the model number that looks like something you’d find on an Area 51 hanger door. It’s all pretty tasteful though. There’s no garish RGB here or anything in your face and ugly. It’s all grey, with some glossy bits on the back that you’ll never see anyway. There is the Alienware logo across the front of the monitor at the bottom which is nice to see. It’s one of those things that’s nice because it makes it a bit of a show-off piece for your friends when they come round like “ooohhh you got an Alienware monitor. You must be posh!”. The bezels surrounding the screen are nice and small. Well under a centimetre in width which is nice to see. Overall it’s a tasteful-looking 25-inch monitor.

The screen has been dubbed a ‘fast IPS’ panel, which I suppose is true in a way. It’s IPS which means that colour reproduction can look nice and rich, and it can hit an extremely decent refresh rate of 360Hz, which is its main selling point. It has a max resolution of 1920×1080, which in this day and age is pretty low for a PC gaming monitor, but more than enough for those of you wanting to play your typical eSports titles. It has a refresh rate of 360Hz which is where the ‘fast’ tag comes in for Dell’s panel. You must though use the screen with a DisplayPort 1.4 cable to have any chance of hitting that refresh rate. Now did I hit 360Hz? No chance. I use an 3070 Founders in my gaming rig, and even when playing some Cult Of The Lamb or Valorant turned down to the lowest possible graphics quality presets, I was still only hitting around the 200 mark. More on that in a moment though as we have to talk about game compatibility. The Alienware panel can peak at around 250Hz when used with an HDMI cable which is perfect for console gamers, and there’s even a games console mode you can turn on in the menu too.

It supports HDMI 2.0, and if you’re wondering why there’s no HDMI 2.1, it doesn’t need it. It’s a 1080p monitor so you’ll be gaining all the benefits of a higher refresh rate anyway from PCs or even consoles. To be honest with you though, this almost feels like the type of monitor that’s heavily aimed at the eSports market. It doesn’t feel like it’s for your PC enthusiast, who wants to run something like Red Dead Redemption 2 at its maximum settings. It’s for running the lowest of resolutions, to gain as much FPS as possible thanks to its 360Hz refresh rate and low 0.5ms grey-to-grey pixel response times, so you can gain the smoothest, most lag-free experience when popping headshots in Valorant or CS:GO. Speaking of Valorant, I set my resolution to the lowest graphics settings presets and at 1920×1080 and I was getting around 250-260 frames per second at the top end, but dropping down to around 180 at the lower end during intense action-packed moments. So unfortunately nowhere near the 360Hz capability of the monitor. So take it as you will. It felt like a much smoother experience coming from my 165Hz 1440p MSI monitor for sure. I mean there is a noticeable difference. Moving onto something a little more demanding, I had a few rounds on Apex Legends, and while yes, being able to play at higher refresh rates made the game feel a lot smoother to play, I still had to reduce my graphics quality to the lowest I possibly could to hit the higher refresh rates. From what research I’ve done, it’s not technically a 360Hz compatible title, it’ll cap out way before that. But even still, I struggled on my system even reach that hard cap, and I had everything turned down to the absolute minimum. Playing Overwatch was a similar story too. though as it’s a popular eSports title and absolutely confirmed compatibility with 360Hz refresh rates, my PC just wasn’t up to scratch. Again, I turned everything down to its bare minimum graphical settings, and yes while it performed a lot smoother than my 165Hz MSI monitor, I wasn’t hitting anywhere near the 360Hz this monitor is capable of.

Around back as mentioned you’ve got your Display Port 1.4, a couple of HDMI 2.0 inputs, a headphone port, a kettle plug input for power and a USB 3.2 Gen 1 hub that needs a cable to connect to your tower to power the two USB ports on the monitor. Underneath and in the middle you can find a joystick which is there to help you through the menus. And I must say, it’s pretty self-explanitory and Dell’s done a great job with their menu design. So starting off… press the joystick in once and you’re greeted with what I can only describe as a shortcut menu, which shows the most popular options like your brightness control, accessing the dark stabiliser, your AlienVision which overlays different graphical effects to aid with gaming and your input source. Press up in the joystick and you enter the full menu. Oh before we dive into that, the shortcut menu also shows you information on your display preset, if Smart HDR is on, the response time and the level the dark stabiliser is set at. So, diving into the full menu you’re first greeted with the Game menu. Here you can change your preset from custom to FPS to racing to RTS etcetera etcetera and you can also enable an on-screen frames counter. I kept my Response Time setting at Fast which looked alright in the UFO ghosting test as I actually witnessed zero ghosting, which was absolutely astonishing. Not that ghosting is a huge issue with my old monitor at 165Hz. It’s not noticeable in games. But to run the dedicated ghosting test like the UFO one and see literally zero ghosting? Remarkable.

Diving into a calibration test, I ran it twice. Once before any kind of colour calibration had been done, and once after I had calibrated the colour. For the most part, the testing was nigh-on identical. Dell claims the Alienware AW2523HF has a contrast ratio of 1000:1, which is pretty on par with my findings. The contrast ratio was slightly different, with a 1110:1 pre-calibration and a 990:1 post-calibration which I wouldn’t say affected anything to do with gameplay and colour accuracy scored a slightly better Delta-E of 2.73 from 2.66 after calibration. Testing its colour uniformity, there was a hot zone in the bottom left and right-hand corners, which fell in line with what I was getting from the edge-lit LED backlight from the IPS glow present in the monitor. Of course, this is the worst-case scenario, and the image was taken in a very dark room. This had no effect on my gaming or even productivity when using the monitor and was non-existent when using it in my day-to-day life. On here as well you can see that Dell has used an anti-glare coating on the screen, which is probably causing that lack of max brightness but it’s there to stop reflections from being too distracting from lights in your room. Its luminance uniformity was actually very good, I was impressed with the score here and finally, while Dell claimed the monitor covered 99% of the sRGB colour gamut, testing for this pre-calibration though saw a score of 94% and after a calibration. The AdobeRGB score came in at 78%, 78% of the P3 gamut and 73% of the NTSC colour gamut. All in all, not a bad score, but there are definitely better monitors out there for colour accuracy. There’s 400-nits of peak brightness which isn’t too bad. Not enough for HDR gaming by any stretch, though this is an option you can turn on, but more than enough to get you through a game of Valorant. It was a little disappointing in this area, unfortunately, and I am someone who does prefer a much punchier monitor when it comes to brightness, even if it means losing out on some colour accuracy.

I have an issue though with all of this though. While 360Hz refresh rates are nice in certain gaming scenarios, they’re not game-changing… yet. It seems like very few games are actually compatible with that type of refresh rate, and the very few that are seem to be aimed at hardcore aspiring eSports gamers like Rainbow Six: Siege, Fortnite, Valorant and Overwatch where graphical performance doesn’t matter as much as the milliseconds that’s linked to your FPS. Likewise, with game compatibility, the hardware needed to run a game at a consistent 360Hz is mental! Now I don’t think my PC is too bad at all. I’m rocking a Ryzen 7 3800X processor, 32GB RAM, a 3070 Founders Edition, and I would say it chews up most games I throw at it with decent frame rates and 1440p. Cyberpunk wasn’t much of an issue for me if you know what I mean. I just can’t help but think these fantastic super high-refresh monitors are just a tad too early for the market. How many people have brand new processors paired with 3090Tis in their system? I can guess not many. But while my time with the Alienware AW2523HF gaming monitor was great, and I loved this thing being on my desk and experiencing high-refresh gaming, I don’t think I’m going to be moving away from 1440p back to 1080p to take advantage of that. I’m too much of a casual gamer, and I prefer my games to look nice and shiny! But if you’re someone who has a beefy machine and religiously plays Valorant and Overwatch, I couldn’t think of a better monitor to go for right now. It’ll set you back ¬£400 here in the UK, or that’s at least what we paid for it anyway so really it’s probably one of the cheapest 360Hz monitors out there at the moment. Sure, 1080p is a bit old hat now for modern gaming, but of course who’s playing at 1440p or higher at 360Hz, no one. It’s stylish and looks nice and modern on the desk and most of all, being Alienware, it’ll make you feel a bit posh… maybe.