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The AW2523HF from Alienware offers affordable 360Hz gaming


Pros

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  • Excellent motion clarity

  • Bright, color accurate image

  • Attractive design

Cons

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  • Limited contrast ratio

  • Color could be more vivid

  • Laser-focused on PC gaming

The Alienware AW2523H is a top-notch competitive gaming monitor at an affordable price.

About the Alienware AW2523HF

Deconstructed Alienware AW2523HF monitor surrounded by four power cords and the base portion.

Credit: Reviewed / Timothy Renzi

The Alienware AW2523HF is an ideal monitor for gaming because of its fast refresh rates and affordable price.

Here are the specs of the monitor we tested:

  • Price: $450
  • Display Size: 24.5 inches
  • Resolution: 1920 x 1080 pixels
  • Refresh rate: 360Hz
  • Peak brightness: 400 nits (SDR rated), 381 nits (tested)
  • HDR support: None
  • Color depth: 8-bit + FRC
  • Color saturation: sRGB 99% (rated); sRGB 100% (tested), DCI-P3 83% (tested), AdobeRGB 78% (tested)
  • Contrast ratio: 1000:1 (rated), 1270:1 (tested)
  • Pixel response time (GtG): 0.5 milliseconds
  • Ports: 2x HDMI 2.0, 1x DisplayPort 1.4, 1x USB-B (upstream), 4x 3.2 Gen 1 USB-A (downstream), audio line-out, headphone-out
  • VRR Support: Adaptive Sync, AMD FreeSync Premium
  • Other features: 100mm x 100mm VESA mount, flip-out headset hanger

The Alienware AW2523HF’s specifications are similar to other 24.5-inch, 1080p, 360Hz IPS monitors available today. There’s just one notable difference: the monitor officially supports AMD FreeSync Premium Pro, but not Nvidia G-Sync—the opposite of many competitors. The lack of support for Nvidia G-Sync likely contributes to the monitor’s relatively low $450 MSRP, which is frequently discounted to $300.

What we like

Motion is ultra-crisp

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Different frame rates produced during a test performed on the Alienware AW2523HF gaming monitor.

Credit: Reviewed / Timothy Renzi

The 360Hz refresh rate on the Alienware allows for sharper details and reduced input lag.

The Alienware AW2523HF has a refresh rate of 360 Hz, which means the image can update 360 times each second. Each frame is displayed for 2.78 milliseconds, roughly a six-fold improvement over a 60 Hz monitor.

Scrolling through a sample image from League of Legends makes the AW2523HF ’s advantage obvious. Performing this test on a 60 Hz monitor reveals terrain that can look fuzzy, character silhouettes that can seem indistinct, and character names as well as health bars that are unreadable. On the Alienware, however, all of these details are easy to see.

The monitor's low frame times also reduce input lag. It's not something most people will immediately notice, but I’ve experienced blind comparisons between 60Hz and 360Hz monitors in the past. These comparisons, which took place in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, showed I was up to 50 percent more accurate on the 360Hz monitor when attempting to shoot enemies passing through a narrow gap.

To be clear, that sounds more impressive than it is. While my accuracy improved, it doesn’t mean I win 50% more often. And, of course, a 360 Hz monitor isn’t going to make you better at games that don’t require quick reflexes like Baldur's Gate 3 or Civilization VI.

The AW2523HF also lacks a couple features found on more expensive 360Hz monitors. It supports Adaptive Sync and AMD FreeSync Premium Pro but doesn’t have official Nvidia G-Sync support (though G-Sync did function in my testing). It also lacks Nvidia Reflex Analyzer, a feature that helps gamers determine the input lag and troubleshoot problems. However, alternatives that support Nvidia G-Sync and Reflex Analyzer are typically priced between $400 and $600—up to twice as much as the cost of the Alienware AW2523HF.

A bright, accurate image

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Preset monitor settings on the Alienware AW2523HF gaming computer.

Credit: Reviewed / Timothy Renzi

The AW2523HF has excellent color accuracy and sRGB gamut coverage right out of the box.

The Alienware AW2523HF's puts out a bright, color-accurate image straight out of the box even before calibration.

The monitor reaches a strong peak brightness of 381 nits. More expensive models can reach a higher maximum brightness (especially as this monitor lacks HDR support), but it is more than adequate for its purpose and compares well to similarly priced gaming monitors, which usually have a maximum brightness between 300 and 400 nits. The AW2523HF also has an effective anti-glare finish.

Color accuracy is excellent, and the monitor can cover the entire sRGB color gamut. That’s important to note because most SDR games target the sRGB color gamut rather than a broader, more vivid color gamut such as DCI-P3 or Rec.2020. The Alienware doesn’t support HDR, either (as is typical of similar 360Hz and above monitors), which makes the sRGB performance even more relevant.

There are limitations to the Alienware's image quality, which I'll describe later in this review, but it's a good match for fast, colorful action titles. It also has night vision, clear vision, and chroma vision modes, which are designed to alter what’s displayed on screen by boosting contrast and brightening dark areas of the display. An on-screen crosshair overlay is available, too, another common addition to gaming monitors in this price range.

The design is top-tier

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Black back panel on the Alienware AW2523HF gaming monitor.

Credit: Reviewed / Timothy Renzi

The AW2523HF has a nice understated look and solid build quality.

Alienware’s "Legend" design language remains the best in the monitor business. It's defined by curved surfaces, subtle use of accent materials, and a retro-futuristic font on the back of the monitor. Some competitors like Samsung and Asus have upped their design game lately, but I think they’re a bit overwrought compared to Alienware's nuanced, sculpted look.

Aesthetics are subjective, of course, so your mileage may vary. What's not subjective is the Alienware's build quality. The monitor is built from sturdy plastics that have a subtle, high-quality texture. Handling the monitor does not result in any unusual creaks or groans, and the panels never flex while adjusting or moving it.

I also like the stand. It has a small, compact base that takes up minimal space on your desk, leaving room for your gaming keyboard, mouse, and of course, a massive mouse pad. The stand provides significant ergonomic adjustment for height, swivel, tilt, and rotation. A 100mm x 100mm VESA mount is supported too, so the panel can be attached to any third-party monitor arm.

There are plenty of ports

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Assorted USB ports on left, right and bottom sides on the back of the monitor on the Alienware AW2523HF gaming monitor.

Credit: Reviewed / Timothy Renzi

There's a variety of connections, including a USB hub with two easily accessible ports, but USB-C is nowhere to be found.

The Alienware AW2523HF offers excellent USB-A connectivity. It has a four-port USB hub (with one port providing Battery Charging power delivery) driven by an upstream USB-B port. Two of the four USB ports are on the monitor's lower lip, making a wired mouse or keyboard easy to connect. A handy 3.5mm headphone jack joins them.

This is a notable advantage over most gaming monitors. 360Hz competitors typically offer only two USB ports, and they’re more difficult to access. The AW2523HF lacks USB-C ports, however.

The video connectivity is more mundane but adequate. It has two HDMI 2.0 ports and one DisplayPort 1.4. That's a total of three video inputs, which is the average for most gaming monitors. It's possible to connect two game consoles and a gaming PC simultaneously, or multiple PCs, but the AW2523HF lacks an integrated KVM for sharing peripherals across all connected devices.

What we don’t like

Dark, moody games lack contrast

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Video game character on semi-dark screen of the Alienware AW2523HF gaming monitor.

Credit: Reviewed / Timothy Renzi

The Alienware AW2523HF's contrast performance can cause dark scenes to look washed out.

The Alienware AW2523HF's image quality is good out of the box, but it has limitations that are still all-too-common for sub-$500 gaming monitors.

Contrast, or the lack of it, is the most notable problem. The monitor reached a maximum measured contrast ratio of 1270:1. That’s not bad for an affordable IPS gaming monitor but way behind the effectively infinite contrast ratio an OLED gaming monitor can achieve. Dark scenes tend to look flat and washed-out, and often lack detail in shadowy scenes.

The problem is significant in some games. Players who enjoy moody titles like Diablo IV or Resident Evil Village are likely to be disappointed, as dark portions of the image look hazy and shadow detail is crushed into undifferentiated shades. The lack of contrast is obvious in streaming content and movies, too, which tend towards a darker presentation than games. A dark film like The Batman, or the infamously dark episodes of A Game of Thrones, prove difficult to watch.

To be fair, the same problems exist with all price-competitive gaming monitors, but it’s good to know what you're getting into. The Alienware AW2523HF can’t hope to match the depth and immersion delivered by more expensive OLED and mini-LED alternatives (though it has them beat on refresh rate).

Colorful scenes can look dull

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The Alienware's color accuracy is good, but the monitor suffers a limited color gamut. It covers only 83% of the DCI-P3 color gamut and 78% of the Adobe RGB color gamut.

These results are comparable to similarly priced 360Hz monitors. However, the color gamut is much more narrow than alternatives with a lower refresh rate. The $340 NZXT Canvas 27Q, a 1440p 165Hz monitor, covers 97% of the DCI-P3 color gamut and 87% of Adobe RGB.

Competitive gamers won’t care about the difference, but players who care about image quality should take note. The Alienware's image appears pleasant on its own but, when directly compared to a monitor with a wider color gamut, it can look dull. This will be a drawback if you enjoy newer games that lean on the visuals, like Cyberpunk 2077 or Assassin's Creed Valhalla.

It’s great for games, but not much else

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The Alienware AW2523HF is a great monitor for competitive gamers, but it’s tightly focused on satisfying their needs. That leads to problems when the monitor is used for more practical tasks.

Among the most obvious is the monitor's size. This is a 24.5-inch 1080p monitor which, by the standards of most monitors sold in 2023, is rather small. The size and meager 1080p resolution can cause issues when using the monitor to edit spreadsheets, documents, and photos or videos. It’s difficult to view more than two applications at once, and a 360Hz monitor feels like overkill for a secondary display.

Should you buy the Alienware AW2523HF?

The Alienware AW2523HF gaming monitor on top of green and yellow surface in front of purple wall with display featuring interactive video game on screen.

Credit: Reviewed / Timothy Renzi

For the price, the Alienware AW2523HF delivers great performance—but mainly for gaming.

Yes, it is an obvious choice for competitive gaming

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The Alienware AW2523HF is similar to other 1080p monitors with 360Hz refresh rates. It performs comparably in terms of color accuracy, color gamut, and contrast. However, its design is a standout feature; the AW2523HF is more attractive and robust than its competitors. It also has a compact stand with ample ergonomic adjustments and a total of four USB-A ports, two of which are easy to access.

Pricing also works in Alienware’s favor. Though it carries a $450 MSRP, the AW2523HF often sells for as low as $300. That’s up to $250 less than competitors like the Acer Predator X25 bmiiprzx , BenQ Zowie XL2566K, and ViewSonic Elite XG251G.

That makes for an easy decision. Want a 360Hz gaming monitor? Buy the Alienware.

Product image of Alienware AW2523HF

Alienware AW2523HF

The Alienware AW2523HF is a 360Hz gaming monitor that lacks contrast, but offers a sleek design and crisp visuals at a decent price.

Meet the tester

Matthew S. Smith

Matthew S. Smith

Contributor

@Matt_on_tech

Matthew S. Smith is a veteran tech journalist and general-purpose PC hardware nerd. Formerly the Lead Editor of Reviews at Digital Trends, he has over a decade of experience covering PC hardware. Matt often flies the virtual skies in Microsoft Flight Simulator and is on a quest to grow the perfect heirloom tomato.

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