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Alienware 500Hz gaming monitor review: for the pros only

Overwatch 2 running on the Alienware 500Hz gaming monitor.
Alienware AW2524H
MSRP $830.00
“The Alienware AW2524H isn't for everyone, but it still delivers on what it sets out to do.”
  • Extremely fast refresh rate
  • Great motion clarity
  • Nvidia Reflex analyzer built into the display
  • Handy headphone stand
  • Sturdy, low-profile base
  • Very expensive
  • Limited adjustments
  • Lacking image quality

No one needs a 500Hz gaming monitor, but by that logic, no one needs any of the displays on our list of the best gaming monitors. Alienware’s 500Hz gaming monitor, the AW2524H, is a display that’s easy to stick your nose up at as something that’s unnecessary for most gamers, and to an extent that’s true. But it also delivers in a niche that no other monitor has capitalized on.

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Most gamers play a wide variety of games, and for them, the Alienware AW2524H doesn’t make sense. There’s a group that’s grinding away hundreds of hours in competitive titles like Valorant, League of Legends, and Counter-Strike Global Offensive, though, and for that bunch, the Alienware AW2524H delivers exceptional motion clarity. This is a monitor built for the explicit purpose of being the most competitive display on the market, and it succeeds on that front — but not for anyone else.

Alienware 500Hz gaming monitor (AW2524H) specs

  Alienware 500Hz gaming monitor (AW2524H)
Screen size 24.5 inches
Panel type Fast IPS
Resolution 1920 x 1080
Peak brightness 400 nits
HDR DisplayHDR 400
Local dimming No
Contrast ratio 1,000:1
Response time 0.5ms (GtG)
Refresh rate 480Hz (native), 500Hz (overclocked)
Curve N/A
Speakers N/A
Inputs 2x HDMI 2.1, 1x DisplayPort 1.4
Ports 4x USB 3.1 Gen 1 (one with Nvidia Reflex, one with 2A charging), 1x headphone out, 1x audio line out
Adjustments 4.4 inches height adjustment
List price $830

Simple design, packed with features

Headphone stand on the Alienware 500Hz gaming monitor.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Although the refresh rate is the main draw of the Alienware AW2524H, it’s not a one-trick pony. Alienware packed in a few critical features to justify the display’s higher-than-average price tag, and they elevate the monitor beyond just a fast esports display.

First is the headphone stand. It’s a small addition, but it’s still very useful. You can pop out the plastic headphone stand on the side of the display and rest your cans on it, and while you’re playing, pop it back into the display so it’s not distracting.

The more impressive addition is the Nvidia Reflex analyzer, though. This is an Nvidia G-Sync display, which means it comes with an adaptive refresh rate as well as the Reflex analyzer built-in. You can plug your mouse or keyboard into a USB port at the bottom of the display and get a readout of your total latency.

Combined with GeForce Experience (and, of course, an Nvidia graphics card), you can see your total system latency, display latency, and mouse latency. You can find this latency out with some monitoring hardware, but with the Alienware AW2524H, it’s all built into the display. All you need to do is connect your mouse to the monitor, turn on the analyzer in the settings, and get a grip on your system latency.

G-Sync logo on the Alienware 500Hz gaming monitor.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

I don’t want the design to go unnoticed, either. Although there isn’t much to write home about visually, similar to the Alienware 34 QD-OLED, the base of the monitor is excellent. It’s a hexagonal base that doesn’t take up much room, so you have plenty of space to position your keyboard and mouse. The stand is great, too. It’s height adjustable, as you’d expect, but Alienware includes markers so you can always get it in the perfect position.

The stand isn’t perfect, however. It doesn’t include tilt, pivot, or swivel adjustments. In this case, that’s more of a pro than a con — you don’t have to worry about your display being tilted by a degree or two while you’re playing. But if you want to adjust the monitor beyond height, you’ll need a monitor arm.

We need to talk about 500Hz

OSD on the Alienware 500Hz gaming monitor.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

The standout feature of the Alienware AW2524H is its 500Hz refresh rate. It’s a big number, but it’s a number that needs a lot of context. As I dug into in my review of the Alienware x17 R2, which came packed with a 480Hz screen, that high a refresh rate isn’t as impressive in practice as it sounds on paper.

Higher refresh rates always deliver diminishing returns. You would assume, for example, that the midpoint between a 30Hz refresh rate and 60Hz refresh is 45Hz, but it’s not. If you do the math to calculate the time between each refresh of the screen, the midpoint is actually 40Hz. As the refresh rate climbs, the time between each refresh gets smaller, and therefore the benefit of a higher refresh rate goes down.

Let’s put that into practice. At 500Hz, you’re getting a new image every 2 milliseconds (take 1,000 and divide it by the refresh rate). A 360Hz monitor sounds much slower on paper, but it’s delivering a new image every 2.7ms (millisecond). Even with such a massive leap in refresh rate, you’re only getting a fraction of a millisecond of an advantage.

Faster is faster, even if most gamers won’t benefit from it.

That’s problematic for the Alienware AW2524H. There are monitors like the Asus ROG Swift PG259QNR that cost less than half and deliver the same specs with a 360Hz refresh rate. On the other end, the Asus ROG PG27AQN delivers a 360Hz refresh rate at 1440p, and it’s around $200 more expensive than the Alienware AW2524H. When it comes time to spend your money, the advantage offered by the AW2524H is hard to justify for most people.

I don’t want to discredit the Alienware AW2524H completely, though. Even if the vast majority of gamers won’t be able to benefit from a 500Hz refresh rate, the fact remains that faster is faster, and any advantage is an advantage in a competitive setting. As I’ll dig into next, the Alienware AW2524H does look insanely smooth when playing games.

Buttery smooth gaming

Counter-Strike Global Offensive running on the Alienware 500Hz gaming monitor.

I ditched my normal suite of games that I would test on a display like the Sony InZone M9 and focused on competitive esports titles for the Alienware AW2524H. The first challenge was finding games that could even hit 500 frames per second (fps) to take advantage of the refresh rate, and I settled on Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Overwatch 2, Valorant, and Rainbow Six Siege. 

Across all four games, motion clarity was the name of the game. Alienware touts a 0.5ms response time, which combined with the 500Hz refresh rate, makes the monitor feel impossibly responsive. That’s assuming you can lock the games you’re playing at 500 fps, though. I was testing with an AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D and RTX 4090, which is the highest-end PC you can get today. Even at 1080p, lower-end rigs will struggle to drive the full refresh rate of the Alienware AW2524H.

It’s hard to quantify if the refresh rate gave me a competitive edge in the games I tested. I’m not a top-tier esports player, and even if I was, there’s always room for error. If anything, I can say the Alienware AW2524H made me more confident as a player. Part of that was knowing that 500Hz was giving as much of an advantage as possible. But the more important part was how smooth the gameplay was, giving me a clear, super-fast view of what was happening on screen.

Consider me a skeptical believer in a 500Hz gaming monitor.

The experience isn’t rife with visual artifacts, either. The panel itself is only 480Hz, and you have to overclock it to reach 500Hz (something only possible with the single DisplayPort connection). In addition, you need to turn to the Extreme response time for the lowest pixel response. To my surprise, I only noticed a small amount of ghosting with everything overclocked, and that’s a huge feat.

Consider me a skeptical believer. Although I still believe that a cheaper monitor can do most of what the Alienware AW2524H can, it’s undeniable that Alienware’s monitor provides a top-tier competitive experience. It’s not the monitor for everyone, but for the most competitive gamers, Alienware delivered.

Image quality suffers

SpyderX strapped onto the Alienware 500Hz gaming monitor.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

For $830, the Alienware AW2524H’s image quality could be better. It’s not bad, but if you want to play some cinematic games like The Last of Us Part One in between competitive sessions, a display like the LG UltraGear OLED 27 is a better fit.

My testing produced 100% of sRGB with the default preset, which is solid. However, the monitor only covered 86% of DCI-P3 and 79% of Adobe RGB. That’s not bad color coverage, but it’s below what I’d expect from a monitor that costs as much as the Alienware AW2524H.

Color accuracy is in a similar boat. I measured a color error of 2.1, which is worse than most IPS panels (they usually fall between 1 and 1.5 out of the box). Contrast landed where it should for an IPS panel, though, with the display topping out at 1,070:1.

Brightness is an interesting beast. The monitor produced a peak brightness of 435 nits, which is pretty good for an IPS panel. However, that brightness only comes in the last quarter of the brightness slider. Even at 75%, the display jumps down to 183 nits.

The Alienware AW2524H goes all-in on competitive gaming, and it succeeds, but image quality suffers.

When pushing your brightness up, the monitor displays a warning that increasing brightness will increase energy usage. It seems Alienware tucked the vast majority of the brightness at the tail-end of the slider, likely due to how much power the monitor requires when pushing the 500Hz refresh rate. The monitor can get bright, but in most cases, it’s a fairly dim display.

While monitors like the Samsung Odyssey Neo G8 balance competitive and cinematic gaming, the Alienware AW2524H goes all-in on competitive. It succeeds, but image quality suffers. Due to the 500Hz refresh rate, you’re getting image quality on par with cheaper IPS displays like the HP Omen 27c despite Alienware charging a premium rate.

Should you buy the Alienware AW2524H?

Alienware logo on the Alienware 500Hz gaming monitor.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

It’s hard to recommend the Alienware AW2524H if you’re on the fence about it. There are other displays that get close to it in competitive settings, such as the Asus ROG Swift PG259QNR, that cost a fraction of the price. However, that doesn’t mean the AW2524H is a bad gaming monitor.

For high-end competitive gamers (you know who you are), the Alienware AW2524H provides an experience worthy of a top-tier gaming PC, even if it struggles in other areas. It’s not the monitor for most gamers, but for the group that wants every advantage possible, there’s nothing better.

Jacob Roach
Lead Reporter, PC Hardware
Jacob Roach is the lead reporter for PC hardware at Digital Trends. In addition to covering the latest PC components, from…
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