Ever since Nvidia introduced they had been opening up their G-Sync certification course of to incorporate a cut-down model of their variable refresh fee tech for AMD FreeSync screens originally of the 12 months, it’s left correct, full-fat G-Sync gaming monitors akin to Alienware’s AW2518H in a barely precarious place. After all, when G-Sync screens typically price a lot greater than their FreeSync competitors, why would you shell out the additional money when you may get an virtually equivalent expertise for lots much less?
It’s a bit extra difficult than that, after all. For starters, Nvidia have solely deemed 15 out of over 400 FreeSync screens to be worthy of their official G-Sync Compatible standing after conducting their very own inside checks on them, however technically any FreeSync monitor can now make the most of Nvidia’s cut-down G-Sync tech when you’ve enabled it in your Nvidia management panel. The expertise won’t be notably nice, all informed (it varies from monitor to observe), however the reality stays that ye olde G-Sync shows now should work lots tougher to justify their larger price. Fortunately, the Alienware AW2518H makes a fairly robust case for itself with its very good picture high quality and whopping 240Hz refresh fee.
Before we start, although, right here’s a fast reminder of what G-Sync monitor really does, and the way it differs from one which’s merely G-Sync Compatible. At its coronary heart, G-Sync is Nvidia’s variable refresh fee tech, which routinely matches your monitor’s refresh fee to the variety of frames being spat out by your graphics card. This helps to eradicate display screen tearing (what occurs when your display screen can’t sustain along with your GPU), and it additionally helps scale back different visible defects akin to stuttering, flickering and ghosting. Essentially, it’s about serving to your games look their very best and delivering the smoothest doable expertise.
Nvidia’s accredited G-Sync Compatible screens can do that as effectively, albeit in a barely smaller refresh fee vary than full-fat G-Sync screens. Whereas correct G-Sync screens supply this sort of know-how proper down from 1fps, the baseline for G-Sync Compatible screens tends to be a lot larger – round 30-48fps, relying on the mannequin and its authentic AMD FreeSync vary.
Full-fat G-Sync screens additionally supply low enter lag over DisplayPort, which helps to maintain any delay between your mouse and keyboard actions to a minimal, in addition to one thing referred to as Ultra Low Motion Blur, which helps to make all the pieces look that a lot sharper even if you’re whizzing round at excessive body charges akin to 240fps. These additional bits aren’t obtainable on G-Sync Compatible screens, so there’s nonetheless some advantage in going for a full-fat G-Sync display screen in order for you absolutely the bestest greatest speeds and most responsive expertise doable when taking part in games.
And as full-fat G-Sync screens go, the Alienware AW2518H is likely one of the most fully-featured gaming screens round – and that’s mainly due to its top-dollar refresh fee of 240Hz. That’s as excessive because it will get on gaming screens in the meanwhile, however this, coupled with its barely bigger 25in 1920×1080 TN panel, does come at a price.
Priced at £500 / $500 at time of writing, the AW2518H is kind of a bit costlier than my present best gaming monitor G-Sync favorite, the Acer Predator XB241H. This monitor solely has a most refresh fee of 144Hz (or 180Hz when ‘overclocked’ in its onboard menu system), however prices a way more palatable £400 within the UK and simply $350 within the US, which places fairly the additional premium that additional 60Hz provided by the Alienware.
There’s additionally the truth that you will want a fairly highly effective graphics card to make full use of that additional 60Hz with a view to make it price the additional £100 / $150 over the 180Hz Acer – notably in case your gaming library is basically populated by huge, graphics-heavy blockbusters. But if less-demanding fast-paced shooters are extra your factor, akin to Apelegs, Fortnite and Doom and the like, then I reckon you must nonetheless be capable of get into the 200fps area with the suitable settings.
One approach of checking what your present graphics card is able to before you purchase is to strive utilizing a body fee counter. Steam and plenty of different platforms have one built-in someplace of their settings menus, so so long as you turn off V-Sync, which caps your monitor’s refresh fee at no matter its most is, that ought to be capable of inform you to see how excessive you possibly can push it. If you’re not getting above 180fps, then I’d say there’s not likely a lot have to spend all that more money on the AW2518H over the Acer. You might argue that choosing a 240Hz monitor gives you extra leeway sooner or later if you subsequent come to improve your graphics card, however this very a lot is dependent upon the place your PC currents sits on the previous improve cycle.
The AW2518H could be much more tempting if its total picture high quality was considerably higher than the Acer, however my calibration checks confirmed they had been just about on equal footing right here. That’s largely as a result of one other a part of the G-Sync certification course of includes having each panel being accredited by Nvidia themselves to allow them to assure the identical high quality expertise throughout each single G-Sync display screen.
Indeed, similar to the Acer, my X-Rite i1 DisplayPro calibrator confirmed the AW2418H was able to masking 95.7% of the usual sRGB color gamut just about straight out of the field on its Standard picture preset, which is fairly rattling excessive contemplating it solely has a TN panel. These sorts of panels are typically higher identified for his or her quick response occasions than their color accuracy, however the AW2518H – just like the Acer – is likely one of the few exceptions to the rule.
There are loads of different game-specific picture presets to select from as effectively, akin to FPS, RTS, RPG in addition to three customisable game modes, however quite a lot of these look fairly wonky within the previous color division. If you need the very best image high quality, follow Standard.
I used to be additionally happy to see the AW2518H’s black ranges had been a good 0.37cd/m2 (the nearer to 0.00cd/m2, the higher), placing it as soon as once more just about on par with the Acer’s 0.34cd/m2, and that it had a excessive peak brightness of round 405cd/m2, providing you with only a fraction extra leeway than the Acer’s 385cd/m2 peak brightness in the event you occur to be sitting in a very shiny room or proper subsequent to a sunlit window. Not that I’d advocate protecting it at that sort of depth for lengthy gaming durations, as you’ll virtually definitely pressure your eyes watching one thing that shiny for hours on finish.
The solely space the place the Acer had the higher hand was its distinction ratio. Whereas I measured a superbly acceptable 917:1 for the AW2518H, Acer’s XB241H managed 1117:1. I imply, I doubt you’ll actually be capable of see a lot of a distinction in observe, nevertheless it nonetheless makes the Acer higher worth for cash in my eyes in the event you’re so fussed about having a 240Hz refresh fee.
That mentioned, the AW2518H does include a barely wider vary of ports than the Acer, which can be sufficient to swing it again in its favour relying on what number of gadgets you’re planning to plug into it. You’ll nonetheless solely discover single HDMI and DisplayPort inputs right here, plus the same old headphone jack and audio line out, however you do get a four-port USB Three hub (one among which additionally has energy charging capabilities), permitting you to plug all of your peripherals into the monitor as a substitute of your PC, akin to your mouse, keyboard and USB headset.
There’s no denying the AW2518H is a really wonderful gaming monitor, however except you’ve already received the PC to make the most of its 240Hz refresh fee (or are planning an imminent improve), then it’s possible you’ll as effectively save your self some money and get the equally excellent-looking Acer Predator XB241H as a substitute.
After all, the Acer’s most refresh fee of 180Hz remains to be fairly rattling excessive, all issues thought of, and its barely smaller 24in display screen may even make all the pieces look only a contact sharper than the 25in Alienware due to its ever so barely larger pixel density. The AW2518H remains to be an excellent shout in order for you a G-Sync monitor with a USB hub and are planning on upgrading your graphics card quickly to utilize that additional 60Hz, however these after the very best worth for cash full-fat G-Sync expertise will do exactly as effectively with our best gaming monitor champ, the £400 / $350 Acer Predator XB241H – and in the event you actually don’t care about G-Sync in any respect, then you possibly can spend even much less cash and get the good 144Hz AOC G2460PF, which is simply £210 / $200.