Reviews

Dell Alienware AW2725DF

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Introduction

It’s been around a year since the first 27″ OLED monitors were released to market, and we reviewed at the time a couple of the first to appear in the form of the LG 27GR95QE and the Asus ROG Swift PG27AQDM. Many others have followed since from other manufacturers including Acer, MSI, Corsair, KTC and Cooler Master for instance, and although there’s been some differences in features and performance they’ve all had one thing in common. They’ve all been built around LG.Display’s first generation WOLED panel which had a 2560 x 1440 resolution and a 240Hz refresh rate. With the underlying panel the same, a lot of the performance characteristics were the same – like the fairly grainy matte AG screen coating, the colour gamut of the panel, and the refresh rate for example.

2024 marks the first time then that we’ve seen an alternative OLED panel option being released, as Samsung Display have now started to produce their own 27″ 1440p panel in their 3rd gen QD-OLED line-up. This means a different screen coating, different colour gamut, different HDR performance and image quality characteristics as it’s a completely different panel that’s now available. Their new panel also bumps the refresh rate up to 360Hz, a 50% increase in the wide range of existing 240Hz models available today. That’s actually the fastest OLED refresh rate we’ve tested to date too!

The first monitor released to market that uses this new Samsung QD-OLED panel is the Dell Alienware AW2725DF which is what we have with us now for review. Its 360Hz refresh rate is supported by adaptive-sync for variable refresh rates (VRR), and it’s got a familiar design and feature set from the company’s Alienware monitor range.

Is the performance better than the 27″ WOLED panel? Does the increased refresh rate make a difference? Is this the new king of 27″ OLED monitors? We’ll aim to answer these questions throughout this review.

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Key Specs and Features

  • 27″ size (exact 26.7″), flat screen, 16:9 aspect ratio
  • 2560 x 1440 resolution
  • Samsung Display QD-OLED technology panel (gen 3)
  • 360Hz refresh rate
  • Adaptive-sync for VRR, including AMD ‘FreeSync Premium Pro’ and VESA ‘AdaptiveSync’ certifications
  • 0.03ms G2G rated response time
  • 250 nits brightness (SDR), 1000 nits peak brightness (HDR)
  • VESA DisplayHDR 400 True Black certification
  • 2x DisplayPort 1.4 and 1x HDMI 2.0* video interfaces
  • 3x USB data ports (1 quick access), 1x USB-C data port (quick access)
  • Fully adjustable stand with tilt, height, swivel and rotate adjustments

* Note that Dell list the HDMI port as 2.1, but it does not have the new FRL bandwidth of this newer connection, only the older TMDS speeds from 2.0

Note: the screen was tested using the latest M2B102 firmware, which actually came installed on our unit already.

Design and Features

The AW2725DF has a fairly minimalist design, with an overall black aesthetic. We should make a point here that this 27″ model has a flat panel, unlike their larger 32″ AW3225QF which has a fairly subtle 1700R curvature (review of that coming soon too!) There’s a thin black edge measuring ~11.5mm along the sides, ~9.5mm along the top and ~15mm along the bottom edge. A light grey ‘Alienware’ logo is written on the front of the bezel as shown above.

The back of the screen is encased in a matte black plastic. The edges are very thin, but there’s a large chunky central section where all the monitor electronics are housed. There’s some fairly modest RGB lighting on the back with the Alien logo and a large “27”, and these can be customised or turned off via the OSD menu.

The quick release stand is encased in a fairly chunky matte black plastic as well, and connects in to a fairly small plastic base. This means the screen doesn’t take up much space on your desk surface, and may be useful if you need to move keyboards around beneath it for gaming. It seems large and stable enough to support the 27″ screen at least.

The screen has a full range of tilt, height, swivel and rotate ergonomic adjustments. They’re all a little stiff to move, but smooth enough in movement. There is a reasonable amount of wobble to the screen as you move it around or reposition it though, it’s not as stable on the stand as it perhaps could be.

The AW2725DF has an active cooling fan inside to keep the panel and components cool. We didn’t really notice this in action above our normal system fans, but if you press your ear up against the screen you can hear it a little. Maybe a concern for those with super-quiet or silent systems.

The screen has a fairly limited range of modern connectivity options. There are 2x DisplayPort 1.4 connections which is fine to power the 1440p @ 360Hz from a PC. Dell advertise an HDMI 2.1 port, but then go on to say that it’s TMDS bandwidth which is the bandwidth from the older HDMI 2.0 generation. We’ll talk about the games console support later on, but we would not consider this a real HDMI 2.1 port at all – it’s an HDMI 2.0 in disguise. We’re not fans of that marketing approach to be honest as we discussed in depth in our article here.

There are also 3x USB data ports (1 easy access on the bottom of the screen) and 1x USB-C (data and limited BC1.2 power-charging only) which is located on the bottom of the screen for easy access. It might have been good to feature a real HDMI 2.1 port (or ports) here to allow PC connectivity up to 360Hz, or to support more games console features. The omission of USB type-C with DP Alt mode and a high power delivery is also a shame, and may be a disappointment to some people. PiP and PbP are supported here, but there’s no KVM function on this model.

It felt like Dell missed a trick here really as although it’s a new, high spec panel being used, they seem to have scrimped a bit on features and connections which is usually an area they focus on a lot. Popular existing 27″ OLED models like the Asus ROG Swift PG27AQDM don’t have many connections/features either, but this was a chance to set the screen ahead based on its feature-set as well we thought.

The OSD is controlled through a single joystick toggle on the bottom of the screen. This provides quick, snappy and intuitive access around the menu and works well. There’s not a huge number of settings to play with in the menu, but it does the job well enough.

Brightness and Contrast

In SDR mode the screen operates with uniform brightness at all settings, and without any dimming caused by the ABL. There’s no setting to enable or disable this behaviour, it’s just how the screen has been configured to operate. At the full 100% brightness setting the screen can reach ~268 nits luminance which should be adequate for most users and slightly out-performs the listed spec of 250 nits. This isn’t as bright as LCD screens can reach, especially those with Mini LED backlights, so if you’re using the screen in a very bright room then this could be more limiting. OLED panels aren’t generally well suited to those very bright room conditions anyway, and 268 nits maximum is on par with other modern OLED monitors. The screen could reach down to ~20 nits minimum which gives you a good adjustment range for darker room conditions if you need.

We have provided some recommended brightness settings to achieve other popular luminance levels, and you can see that at all settings the screen retains a uniform brightness, regardless of the content on the screen and the APL. One odd exception was that we noticed that the brightness did fluctuate a bit if you have the OSD menu open, although that shouldn’t be of any relevance in normal use.

Black Depth, Shadow Detail and Contrast

Obviously one of the key benefits of this OLED panel is the fact it can generate true blacks and a basically infinite contrast ratio. Each pixel can be fully turned off individually, resulting in basically an infinite contrast ratio. There’s no need for backlight local dimming here like there is on LCD’s and the black depth and contrast ratio can surpass all LCD panel technologies including VA panels by a long way. In darker room conditions blacks look inky and deep, and you get excellent local contrast between different areas of an image with no blooming or halos.

Your ambient lighting may have some impact on perceived contrast ratio though due to the Quantum Dot coating and the lack of a polarizer. In brighter rooms, or where lights can shine on to the panel surface there is a fairly noticeable impact to contrast and black depth, more so than on competing WOLED panels which do use a polarizer. You get some raised blacks, where they can start to look more dark grey in appearance and the best viewing experience is in a darker room, although the same can be said really for any display panel. This phenomenon is explored and tested further in our article linked here:

The near black shadow detail was poor in the default ‘standard’ mode (tested below), and it was hard to pick out very dark grey shades in this test image with box 8 being the first that was easy to distinguish before calibration. This is something that can often be an issue on OLED panels, but normally it’s a bit better than this with box 5 commonly often being the first visible. This was a little better in the sRGB mode (again tested below) with box 5 being visible then. It was also better in HDR mode with box 3 being visible now.

In SDR mode you can improve this quite easily though using the ‘Dark Stabilizer’ setting which has levels from 0 (off) to 3 available. There didn’t seem to be any real visual change to black levels either when using this setting, so it thankfully doesn’t seem to raise blacks in any problematic way, and can be used if you need to tweak the near-black grey brightness. We found a setting of 2 when using the ‘standard’ mode worked nicely to bring out more shadow detail in darker content and darker games. This may vary depending on the preset mode you use and your individual screen, but use the linked test image above and tweak accordingly.

Horizontal scale = 5ms

Testing Methodology Explained (SDR)

Performance is measured and evaluated with a high degree of accuracy using a range of testing devices and software. The results are carefully selected to provide the most useful and relevant information that can help evaluate the display while filtering out the wide range of information and figures that will be unnecessary. For measurement, we use a UPRtek MK550T spectroradiometer which is particularly accurate for colour gamut and colour spectrum measurements. We also use an X-rite i1 Pro 2 Spectrophotometer and a X-rite i1 Display Pro Plus colorimeter for various measurements. Several other software packages are incorporated including Portrait Displays’ Calman color calibration software – available from Portrait.com.

We measure the screen at default settings (with all ICC profiles deactivated and factory settings used), and any other modes that are of interest such as sRGB emulation presets. We then calibrate and profile the screen before re-measuring the calibrated state.

The results presented can be interpreted as follows:

  • Gamma – we aim for 2.2 gamma which is the default for computer monitors in SDR mode. Testing of some modes might be based on a different gamma but we will state that in the commentary if applicable. A graph is provided tracking the 2.2 gamma across different grey shades and ideally the grey line representing the monitor measurements should be horizontal and flat at the 2.2 level, marked by the yellow line. Depending on where the gamma is too low or too high, it can have an impact on the image in certain ways. You can see our gamma explanation graph to help understand that more. Beneath the gamma graph we include the average overall gamma achieved along with the average for dark shades (0 black to 50 grey) and for lighter shades (50 grey to 100 white).

  • RGB Balance and colour temperature – the RGB balance graph shows the relative balance between red, green and blue primaries at each grey shade, from 0 (black) to 100 (white). Ideally all 3 lines should be flat at the 100% level which would represent a balanced 6500K average colour temperature for all grey shades. This is the target colour temperature for desktop monitors, popular colour spaces like sRGB and ‘Display DCI-P3’ and is also the temperature of daylight. It is the most common colour temperature for displays, also sometimes referred to as D65. Where the RGB lines deviate from this 100% flat level the image may become too warm or cool, or show a tint towards a certain colour visually. Beneath this RGB balance graph we provide the average correlated colour temperature for all grey shades measured, along with its percentage deviance from the 6500K target. We also provide the white point colour temperature and its deviance from 6500K, as this is particularly important when viewing lots of white background and office content.

  • Greyscale dE – this graph tracks the accuracy of each greyscale shade measured from 0 (black) to 100 (white). The accuracy of each grey shade will be impacted by the colour temperature and gamma of the display. The lower the dE the better, with differences of <1 being imperceptible (marked by the green line on the graph), and differences between 1 and 3 being small (below the yellow line). Anything over dE 3 needs correcting and causes more obvious differences in appearance relative to what should be shown. In the table beneath the graph we provide the average dE across all grey shades, as well as the white point dE (important when considering using the screen for lots of white background and office content), and the max greyscale dE as well.

  • Luminance, black depth and contrast ratio (static) – measuring the brightness, black depth and resulting contrast ratio of the mode being tested, whether that is at default settings or later after calibration and profiling. We aim for 120 cd/m2 luminance which is the recommended luminance for LCD/OLED desktop monitors in normal lighting conditions. Black depth should be as low as possible, and contrast ratio should be as high as possible.

  • Gamut coverage – we provide measurements of the screens colour gamut relative to various reference spaces including sRGB, DCI-P3, Adobe RGB and Rec.2020. Coverage is shown in absolute numbers as well as relative, which helps identify where the coverage extends beyond a given reference space. A CIE-1976 chromaticity diagram (which provides improved accuracy compared with older CIE-1931 methods) is included which provides a visual representation of the monitors colour gamut coverage triangle as compared with sRGB, and if appropriate also relative to a wide gamut reference space such as DCI-P3. The reference triangle will be marked on the CIE diagram as well.

  • dE colour accuracy – a wide range of colours are tested and the colour accuracy dE measured. We compare these produced colours to the sRGB reference space, and if applicable when measuring a wide gamut screen we also provide the accuracy relative to a specific wide gamut reference such as DCI-P3. An average dE and maximum dE is provided along with an overall screen rating. The lower the dE the better, with differences of <1 being imperceptible (marked by the green area on the graph), and differences between 1 and 3 being small (yellow areas). Anything over dE 3 needs correcting and causes more obvious differences in appearance relative to what should be shown. dE 2000 is used for improved accuracy and providing a better representation of what you would see as a user, compared with older dE methods like dE 1994, as it takes into account the human eye’s perceptual sensitivity to different colours. 

Default Setup

The screen comes out of the box in it’s ‘standard’ preset mode and operating in the panels full native colour space. Within the OSD menu there aren’t really any settings you can change for the picture, other than brightness and contrast when using this mode. The default gamma was good overall, with a 2.19 average measured. It dipped a bit low in the brighter grey shades which can result in a bit of lost detail in those shades. The greyscale RGB balance was reasonable, with the red channel being a bit too high, and the blue being a bit too low. This resulted in a 5% deviance for colour temp, being a bit too warm at 6193K average across the greyscale, and 5% too warm for white point at 6201K. The overall greyscale accuracy was good though with dE 1.9 average measured. A decent overall setup really.

The top left hand CIE diagram shows that the colour space of the monitor extends a long away beyond the sRGB colour space reference because of the Quantum Dot coating of the panel. In fact we measured a 142.1% relative coverage, with large over-coverage in green and especially red shades. The accuracy of sRGB colours (used for SDR content) was poor as you would expect from a very wide gamut screen like this, because of that over-saturation. The colours did look bright and vivid though, but not accurate if you want to work with sRGB content.

The bottom section shows that the colour space more closely matches the DCI-P3 reference, commonly used for HDR content, although it still extends a fair way beyond that reference too. The accuracy of DCI-P3 colours was better though and rated as “good”, with a dE average of 2.3 measured. There is also wide coverage of the Adobe RGB colour space (97.6%) commonly used for professional and photography work, if you wanted to work within a color-managed workflow in that gamut. You would need to be able to profile the screen yourself though to map the gamut back to Adobe RGB properly, as there is large over-coverage of that space by default too. We had an 82.4% coverage of the large Rec.2020 colour space as well here, which was typical for a QD-OLED panel.

Factory Calibration

The screen is provided with a factory calibration report in the box, confirming that it has been calibrated in the sRGB and DCI-P3 modes. These are available via the ‘Creator’ preset mode, which is actually the only one where you can choose these colour space emulations.

  • The sRGB mode has apparently been calibrated to an sRGB (close to 2.2) gamma, 6500K greyscale and dE < 2
  • The DCI-P3 mode has been calibrated to a 2.6 gamma (the target for that reference), 6500K colour temp and < 2 also

We will test both modes below.

sRGB Emulation Mode

The sRGB mode showed a very good overall setup, with gamma being the only area which was a bit off. There was an average 2.21 measured for gamma but you can see the line fluctuates across the greyscale, but overall it should still be adequate for most uses. Colour temp and white point were better than they had been in the default ‘standard’ mode with a good balance of the red, green and blue channels shown on the middle graph. It remained slightly too warm still at 6399K white point (2% out from our target) but not by anything that should be noticeable in practice. The greyscale accuracy was very good now, with an average dE 1.3 measured.

The ‘sRGB’ gamut Creator mode had a very good clamping of the native colour space back to sRGB as you can see from the left hand CIE diagram. We had a 99.8% absolute coverage, and only minor over-coverage at 102.6% measured. In this preset mode you still had access to the brightness and contrast controls which was excellent, so you can adjust the brightness to your preference. Gamma was also accessible, but there was no control over colour temp or RGB channels. Thankfully as we showed above, the colour temp and white point were very good anyway. In this sRGB mode we had very good colour accuracy now for sRGB colours, with a dE average of only 0.9. This was a good and very useable sRGB mode on the AW2725DF.

DCI-P3 Emulation Mode

Despite the solid sRGB mode performance, the performance in the DCI-P3 mode was off, at least relative to the targets defined on the calibration report. Gamma tracking to the intended 2.6 was good overall, apart from the dip near black which is likely down to measurement device limitations more than anything. You can also adjust the gamma in the OSD menu if you want to something other than 2.6. The problem seemed to be with the colour temp, being a bit too warm by 4% compared with the listed 6500K target on the calibration report. We measured a white point of 6251K. This resulted in a bad greyscale accuracy as well, with an overly green balance to grey shades and a dE 8.4 average measured.

You will note that in this mode the brightness control is turned down to 15%, resulting in a much darker image and a 45 nits luminance measured. This is because 48 nits is the target for white luminance in the DCI-P3 Display standard, although this target was not listed on the calibration report. You can change this setting though if you want to in this mode which is useful.

You can see that the clamping of the colour space back to DCI-P3 is very good here, cutting down on the over-coverage the default mode had shown. The colour accuracy was bad though with 5.1 dE average recorded, caused primarily by the inaccuracies with the colour temp and the greenish tint to grey shades.


At first we assumed there was something wrong or broken with the DCI-P3 mode, but actually what we believe has happened here is that the display has been factory calibrated to slightly different targets, and it might be the provided paper report that is wrong. Given that the screen was targeted to the low 48 nits luminance for DCI-P3, we wonder if actually maybe they have calibrated the screen to the 6300K colour temp associated with “DCI-P3 Theater” instead of the 6500K of “DCI-P3 Display”? The report suggests it should be 6500K, but the measured performance seems closer to 6300K.

We re-measured the display based on this assumption, and this improved the results as now it’s performing closer to its “intended” targets:

Assuming 6300K colour temp target instead

So this mode is now more “accurate” if indeed you wanted to target the specifications of the DCI-P3 Theater standard. We’re not sure which Dell were really targeting here, but for now we have to take the paper report on face value and would therefore say that the DCI-P3 mode is poorly configured and not very accurate.

Calibration

Calibration and profiling can produce good results if you have a suitable calibration device and software. We used the ‘Custom Color’ mode for this where you have access to the RGB levels. This was profiled to 2.2 gamma, 6500K colour temp and to the sRGB colour space. The screen was left in its native wide gamut mode, but this profile will be used in colour-aware applications (e.g. Photoshop) to map back to sRGB in this instance. Overall the calibrated results were very good as you’d hope. You can find our calibrated settings and ICC profile in our ICC profile database now.

We should note here that the AW2725DF does not feature hardware calibration, so you are reliant on ICC profiles and colour aware applications, as opposed to being able to hardware calibrate the screen itself.

General and Office Use

The AW2725DF is quite well suited for office work, although caution as ever is advised when it comes to using an OLED panel for lots of static content. The technology carries an inherent risk of image retention and burn-in, and so it’s certainly a screen more suited to dynamic content like gaming and video. Having said that, the panel does pretty well for some office use if you need it to.

The 2560 x 1440 resolution is pretty standard on a screen this size. It won’t provide the same sharpness as a 4K resolution (not currently available in 27″ OLED size) but should be perfectly comfortable and fine for most users. We liked the cleaner and clearer look to the panel thanks to the standard semi-glossy QD-OLED panel coating, with it looking sharper and less grainy than the 27″ WOLED models that have been released so far. It helps make the image pop a bit more as well, and it still has some pretty decent reflection handling, and we prefer this coating finish overall to WOLED at the moment and we believe a lot of people will. Do be mindful that there are more reflections than a matte coating, so you need to be careful with the positioning of the screen relative to lights and windows.

Video support

One side note on the resolution of this panel is that not all streaming PC video apps (e.g. Netflix) would support this resolution natively, operating often in only 1080p or 4K output. The screen does not support a “Virtual 4K” input over DisplayPort, so you can’t even trick the app in to thinking you’re running on a 4K resolution screen, so this means those streaming apps would run in a lower 1080p resolution from your PC. Even if it had supported Virtual 4K, that wouldn’t have been great anyway really, as Virtual 4K downscaled to 1440p in other uses looks bad.

Virtual 4K is supported over the HDMI input, but only if you enable ‘console mode’ from the OSD menu. So it’s perhaps more viable if you want to connect an external streaming device (e.g. Amazon Fire stick) and want that to be able to output in 4K resolution, that then gets downscaled to the panels 1440p. You could in theory connect your PC over HDMI as well if you really want to use these services from the PC app and force 4K content, but you’d be limited to 4K @ 60Hz maximum over that connection, and again you need to enable ‘console mode’.

OLED Care

Dell don’t provide many options on the screen for OLED care oddly. There’s a pixel refresh and a panel refresh function which are used to “clean” and optimise the panel periodically. The user manual confirms the following:

  • Pixel Refresh – To reduce temporary image retention on the screen, you can manually activate this function after using the monitor for a couple of hours. Alternatively, the function is activated automatically when you have used the monitor for 4 hours. The process takes approximately 6 to 8 minutes to complete.
  • Panel Refresh – To prevent permanent image retention caused by static content when you use the monitor for 9000 hours, you can manually activate this function to refresh the pixels. Alternatively, the function is activated automatically when the accumulated usage time exceeds the factory default setting (9000 hours). The process takes approximately an hour to complete.

There’s no screen/pixel shift option, or logo dimming or anything like that offered here so we’d consider the OLED care features to be quite limited to be honest. We detected an occasional pixel shift in operation during use, so it looks like that is being used on the panel, it’s just not available for the user to turn off if they want to which is a shame. Dell do offer a standard 3-year warranty which includes burn-in protection so that should give you peace of mind hopefully. We would have liked to have seen a few more protection options included here though really.

Sub-pixel Layout and Text Rendering

Because of the somewhat unusual triangular shaped RGB sub-pixel layout, slight text fringing has been a challenge on older QD-OLED monitors. This has been improved with the Second Generation QD-OLED panels including others we’ve reviewed so far, and that improvement has carried through to these new third generation panels like that being used here on the AW2725DF.

These second/third gen panels have a slightly improved subpixel size and shape with more pixel fill, although still in the triangular RGB layout, but improving text rendering a bit as a result. We had been pleased with the results when we’d tested the earlier second gen panels like the Asus ROG Swift PG49WCD with a 49″ screen size and 5120 x 1440 resolution. It’s the same story here really given the similar pixel density. Comparing the screen side by side with a 27″ WOLED panel showed clearer, sharper and cleaner looking text on the QD-OLED panel and we feel this technology is definitely more suited right now to office and text work than the WOLED panels on the market. Hopefully LG.Display will make some improvements here with their changing pixel structure later this year. But for now, these gen2 and gen 3 QD-OLED panels have the edge.

We had seen further improvements to text rendering on the high pixel density QD-OLED panel of the 32″ 4K Asus ROG Swift PG32UCDM we reviewed recently, which basically eliminates any remaining issues. We think the text clarity on this AW2725DF should be fine for most people really.

Screen Brightness

The screens brightness should be adequate for most users, reaching up to around 268 nits maximum in SDR mode, and all without the need for ABL dimming to be used. This is great news as it ensures a consistent and stable brightness no matter the content you view, or no matter your window sizes. The screen can’t reach as bright as LCD panels for desktop use, but 268 nits is still decent, and unless you need to use the screen in a very bright room, it should be more than adequate. It also has a good lower adjustment range down to 20 nits if you need to use the screen in a darker room.

Spectral Distribution and Blue Light

The native panel spectral distribution is shown above at a calibrated 6500K white point, where the blue peak is at 453 nm. This means it is not part of the Eyesafe certified range of products where there is a supposed harmful range between 415 – 455nm. This also includes a 26.95% blue light ratio. There are no blue light modes or options provided on the screen at all.

Features

There’s limited additional features on this monitor for office and general uses. It’s handy to see a few USB ports and a USB-C data port, but we would have liked to have seen proper USB type-C connectivity with DP Alt mode for video, and a decent power delivery to handle single cable connections from compatible devices like laptops. That’s featured widely in the monitor market now, and it’s a shame it’s left off here. Having 1x USB A and 1x USB-C port on the bottom edge of the screen was a nice touch though for easy access.

There’s no KVM support, ambient light sensor, human motion sensor, audio output or integrated speakers available on this model, all of which are quite common again in the market today and could have been useful for these uses. PiP and PbP are supported if you want to handle multiple video inputs on the screen though. Leading 27″ OLED models that have been available previously like the Asus ROG Swift PG27AQDM don’t have many extra features either, but this was a chance for Dell to offer some extras to help separate it from the existing offerings.

Gaming

The AW2725DF is heavily focused on its gaming capabilities. The screen uses a QD-OLED panel which is well-known for its near-instant response times. As a result it does not need to use overdrive technology in the same way as a desktop LCD panel would, and there aren’t any controls for the response time or overdrive in the OSD menu as they’re not needed. Dell, like other OLED display manufacturers quote a very low 0.03ms G2G response time in their spec, and while true <1ms G2G should be expected from this technology this is a little unrealistic.

The fastest OLED panel released so far!

One of the headlines for the AW2725DF is the fact that its the World’s fastest refresh rate OLED monitor released so far! It has a 360Hz refresh rate, giving a 50% improvement over the wide range of 240Hz OLED monitors currently available, including all of the previous 27″ models you could buy. We will examine how this impacts motion clarity during use later, but it also allows for higher frame rate support and an overall lower end to end latency for gaming.

(at native resolution)Refresh Rate
Maximum Refresh Rate DisplayPort360Hz
Maximum Refresh Rate HDMI144Hz
VRR range48 – 360Hz (DisplayPort)
48 – 144Hz (HDMI)

The 360Hz refresh rate is only supported over the DisplayPort connections, since Dell have opted to only use older HDMI 2.0 bandwidth on the HDMI port – despite confusingly and misleadingly naming it “HDMI 2.1”. This means you can only get up to 144Hz refresh rate over HDMI, which is a shame as some people may have potentially wanted to use the HDMI connection from their modern graphics cards. With 2x DisplayPort connections available though that should be fine, even if you want to connect two systems to the screen. The HDMI port can then be used for external devices like a games console.

VRR capabilities and Certification
AMD FreeSync certification
AMD FreeSync Premium Pro
Native NVIDIA G-sync module
NVIDIA ‘G-sync Compatible’ certified
VESA ‘AdaptiveSync’ certification
HDMI-VRR (consoles via HDMI 2.1)

Powering the screen at 1440p @ 360Hz is obviously going to be a challenge for your system, and the screen supports adaptive-sync to handle variable refresh rates (VRR). It’s been certified under the AMD ‘FreeSync Premium Pro’ scheme, and recent VESA ‘AdaptiveSync’ scheme too.

NVIDIA DSR / DLDSR support

We also tested support for NVIDIA DSR / DLDSR which can sometimes work on monitors with DSC (Display Stream Compression), but not always. That could have been potentially useful here to upscale the input resolution up from 1440p to 4K to improve detail and clarity in games. We found that these technologies were not available on this screen when using the DisplayPort connection, even if you drop down to a lower refresh rate like 60Hz. There’s no option to disable DSC in the OSD menu either that could have made this available, albeit with more limited refresh rates.

You can use them over the HDMI connection but because that is limited to the older 18Gbps bandwidth from HDMI 2.0, the maximum refresh rate at 1440p is only 144Hz. You could then use DSR / DLDSR to upscale the resolution a bit, but it’s at the cost of refresh rate which is obviously not ideal.

QD-OLED panel benefits for gaming

The OLED panel provides super-deep blacks and a basically infinite contrast ratio which is of course excellent for gaming too. The per-pixel level dimming and high contrast ratio also make it well suited to HDR gaming, and we will measure HDR performance a bit later. The very wide viewing angles of this technology are also excellent and make the screen suitable for viewing from many different positions if you need. These wide viewing angles importantly include the freedom from things like the pale/white “IPS glow” that you get on darker content on that common LCD technology. There’s none of that here on the OLED panel.

Gaming extras and settings

Dell provide a few useful extras in the OSD menu including a ‘dark stabilizer’ setting (which works pretty nicely), frame rate counter, timer and display alignment control.


Our thanks to the following manufacturers for support in the build of our new test system:

AMD Ryzen 9 7950X | Buy AMD Ryzen 9 CPUs here on Amazon
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Response Times

As discussed in our detailed article about Response Time Testing – Pitfalls, Improvements and Updating Our Methodology we are using an improved and more accurate method for capturing G2G response times and overshoot, based on figures that are more reflective to what you see visually on the screen in real-World usage. Our article linked above talks through why this is better and how we arrived at this improved method in much more detail.

The above G2G response times are consistent at all refresh rates, including 360Hz, 240Hz, 120Hz and 60Hz and during VRR situations with changing frame rates. Thanks to the QD-OLED panel the response times are super-fast and near-instant, with an average of only 0.49ms G2G measured. The best case was an incredibly impressive 0.32ms and the overall response times were as expected from an OLED panel.

All transitions can keep up easily with the frame rate demands of 360Hz, and in fact this screen could comfortably keep up with >1000Hz if the panel could support it! Let’s hope OLED refresh rates are driven much higher in the coming years, as it’s a really well suited technology for that. We already know there are plans to produce panels up to 480Hz so even higher refresh rates are definitely coming! For now, 360Hz is a decent step up from the OLED panels that have come before. There is also no visible overshoot evident which is great news too, so overall there was nice and clean pixel transition times.

Motion Clarity – Pursuit Camera Photos

We captured some pursuit camera photos of the screen at a variety of refresh rates, designed to capture real-world perceived motion clarity. This gives you a good indication of how the screen looks in real use, beyond raw measurements.

Despite the amazing pixel response times you still get large amount of blur at 60Hz due to the sample-and-hold nature of the OLED screen, you can’t expect miracles just because it’s got fast response times. There are major and obvious benefits in motion clarity as you increase to 120Hz high refresh rate mode, and this brings it on par with 120Hz OLED screens such as the popular 42″ sized displays like the LG 42C2 and LG 42C3 TV’s, and the Asus ROG Swift PG42UQ.

Moving up to 240Hz offers another significant and noticeable improvement in motion clarity, and the moving image is now sharper and cleaner. Tracking of moving content is now much easier and clearer. 360Hz provides another improvement although it’s less drastic than when moving up from the lower refresh rates. Comparing this 360Hz OLED panel side by side with a 240Hz screen does show some decent improvements in overall image clarity and sharpness though, and it’s still noticeable in those situations. 240Hz was already very fast and clear on an OLED panel of course, so this higher refresh rate is more geared towards competitive gamers and those looking for small incremental gains. Tracking of finer details and text became a little clearer too with the increased frame rate and it did look sharper during motion. We should also note that this higher refresh rate allows support for higher frame rates in games, and reduced overall end-to-end system latency, so there are some benefits beyond just visual motion clarity improvements here too.

This really was excellent motion clarity and very impressive. There is no overshoot or any associated artefacts or trails at any refresh rate like you might get on LCD screens which was excellent.

We’ve also provided a comparison against the fastest LCD monitor we’ve tested to date, the Asus ROG Swift Pro PG248QP esports gaming monitor with a 540Hz TN Film panel. An OLED has an approximate 1.5 to 1 ratio of motion clarity to an LCD screen, and you can see that the 360Hz OLED panel is close to the 540Hz LCD overall (i.e. 360 x 1.5 = 540). The LCD does still have a small edge in these tests and visually, also evident when tracking very fine details across the screen and evident in the sharper dark outline on the UFO. But in practice and fast-moving scenes, both look quite similar overall in clarity.

You can take motion clarity a step further on the PG248QP as well using the ULMB 2 blur reduction mode, so if you’re after the absolute best motion clarity then that can still be found in the top end esports gaming LCD’s. For most people, the other benefits from the OLED panel (especially compared with a TN Film LCD) will outweigh the motion clarity differences, including a much better picture quality, brighter appearance, better blacks, HDR support etc. It just depends on your use-case of course.

Lag

Read our detailed article about input lag and the various measurement techniques which are used to evaluate this aspect of a display. The screens tested are split into two measurements which are based on our overall display lag tests and half the average G2G response time, as measured by our oscilloscope. The response time element, part of the lag you can see, is split from the overall display lag and shown on the graph as the green bar. From there, the signal processing (red bar) can be provided as a good estimation of the lag you would feel from the display. We also classify each display as follows:

Lag Classification (updated)

  • Class 1) Less than 4.17ms – the equivalent to 1 frame lag of a display at 240Hz refresh rate – should be fine for gamers, even at high levels
  • Class 2) A lag of 4.17 – 8.33ms – the equivalent of one to two frames at a 240Hz refresh rate – moderate lag but should be fine for many gamers. Caution advised for serious gaming
  • Class 3) A lag of more than 8.33ms – the equivalent of more than 2 frames at a refresh rate of 240Hz, or 1 frame at 120Hz – Some noticeable lag in daily usage, not suitable for high end gaming

There is an extremely low lag on the AW2725DF measured at 0.71 ms total display lag, and leaving us with only 0.59 ms of estimated signal processing lag. This is perfectly fine for competitive gaming and it’s good to see that things have been improved over the Dell Alienware AW3423DW which had a fairly high lag for a gaming display when we tested it (~4.94 ms signal processing lag). This is a bit higher but still pretty decent at 60Hz refresh rate, measured at 5.83ms total display lag but still decent.

Console Gaming

Console Gaming
Native panel resolution2560 x 1440 (1440p)
Maximum resolution and refresh rate supported4K @ 60Hz
1440p @ 120Hz
1080p @ 120Hz
Virtual 4K support
4K at 24Hz support
4K at 50Hz support
HDMI connection version2.0
HDMI connection bandwidth18 Gbps
HDMI-VRR
HDR10 support
Dolby Vision HDR support
Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM)
Ultra high speed HDMI 2.1 cable provided

The screen has a single HDMI port, which Dell quite misleadingly refer to as “HDMI 2.1” in their specs and within the OSD menu information. They go on to say that it supports “TMDS speeds”, which is actually the old speeds from the HDMI 2.0 generation (18Gbps bandwidth), with “FRL” being the newer speeds associated with HDMI 2.1. They do say that VRR is supported over this connection, which it is, but the crucial point really here is that it does not feature any of the higher bandwidth speeds from the newer HDMI 2.1 generation and we would therefore consider this to be misleading, even if officially it is allowed.

You need to activate ‘console mode’ in the menu for the HDMI input to get full access to the screen’s capabilities for modern games consoles including the support for ‘virtual 4K’ resolution support, which allows you importantly to input a 4K resolution from the device. This is critical for an Xbox Series X, as HDR mode only operates at 4K. With this setting enabled you to run at 4K 60Hz but because of the older speeds from this connection that Dell have used, it cannot support 4K 120Hz. You can instead drop down to 1440p at 120Hz, or 1080p at 120Hz if you want to for some games and prioritise frame rates. In those instances though you cannot use HDR at lower resolutions.

HDR

Featuring a QD-OLED panel, the AW2725DF is well equipped to handle HDR content with its per-pixel level dimming allowing for true blacks, a basically infinite contrast ratio and the avoidance of all blooming and halos. In these regards it can easily surpass any Mini LED backlit LCD monitor. However, it cannot reach the same luminance levels as Mini LED screens, and carries a “peak brightness” spec of 1000 nits, which will then also lower as the content on your screen changes and the APL increases which is normal on this technology. This is one key area where Mini LED screens can look brighter and deliver a more impressive HDR experience.

Being a QD-OLED panel it does also suffer from a reduced perceived black depth and contrast due to the lack of a polarizer and the Quantum Dot layer, which is evident in brighter lit rooms. For HDR content viewing you’d ideally want to be using the screen in a darker room if you can, to maximise the HDR impact and reduce this issue.

HDR Technical Capabilities
VESA DisplayHDR certification level‘DisplayHDR 400 True Black’
Multiple HDR formats supportedHDR10 only on their 27″ model
Local dimming Per pixel level dimming
High number of local dimming zones ~3.69 million
Increased peak white luminance 1060 nits achieved
Reaching advertised peak white luminance1000 nits advertised
Increased dynamic range (contrast) max ~Infinite
Increased “local” HDR contrast ratio max ~Infinite
Wide colour gamut >90% DCI-P3 99.4% absolute
113.3% relative
10-bit colour depth support 10-bit supported

HDR Testing Methodology Explained

Performance is measured and evaluated with a high degree of accuracy using a range of testing devices and software. The results are carefully selected to provide the most useful and relevant information that can help evaluate the display while filtering out the wide range of information and figures that will be unnecessary. For measurement, we use a UPRtek MK550T spectroradiometer which is particularly accurate for colour gamut and colour spectrum measurements. We also use an X-rite i1 Pro 2 Spectrophotometer and a X-rite i1 Display Pro Plus colorimeter for various measurements. Several other software packages are incorporated including Portrait Displays’ Calman color calibration software – available from Portrait.com.

We measure the screen at default settings (with all ICC profiles deactivated and factory settings used). The results presented can be interpreted as follows:

HDR accuracy section

  • Greyscale dE – this graph tracks the accuracy of each greyscale shade measured from 0 (black) to 100 (white). The accuracy of each grey shade will be impacted by the colour temperature and gamma of the display. The lower the dE the better, with differences of <1 being imperceptible (marked by the green line on the graph), and differences between 1 and 3 being small (below the yellow line). Anything over dE 3 needs correcting and causes more obvious differences in appearance relative to what should be shown. In the table beneath the graph we provide the average dE across all grey shades, as well as the white point dE (important when considering using the screen for lots of white background and office content), and the max greyscale dE as well.

  • RGB Balance and colour temperature – the RGB balance graph shows the relative balance between red, green and blue primaries at each grey shade, from 0 (black) to 100 (white). Ideally all 3 lines should be flat at the 100% level which would represent a balanced 6500k average colour temperature for all grey shades. This is the target colour temperature for desktop monitors, popular colour spaces like sRGB and ‘Display DCI-P3’ and is also the temperature of daylight. It is the most common colour temperature for displays, also sometimes referred to as D65. Where the RGB lines deviate from this 100% flat level the image may become too warm or cool. Beneath this RGB balance graph we provide the average correlated colour temperature for all grey shades measured, along with its percentage deviance from the 6500k target. We also provide the white point colour temperature and its deviance from 6500k, as this is particularly important when viewing lots of white background and office content.

  • ST 2084 EOTF (PQ) tracking – this graph tracks the PQ curve in HDR mode, akin to gamma measurements in SDR. The yellow line represents the ideal PQ curve, while the grey line plots the monitors measured performance.

  • Luminance, black depth and contrast ratio (top right hand table) – measuring the brightness, black depth and resulting contrast ratio of the mode being tested. The luminance figure captured here is from a standard 10% APL window area measurement, although further luminance measurements are included in a separate section to capture “peak brightness” and the luminance at other APL areas. This section also measures the black depth on the screen and the resulting contrast ratio.

    For HDR, any local dimming is left enabled, and so we measure the black depth adjacent to a white test image and calculate the “local contrast ratio” from there. We also measure the black depth towards the edges of the screen, away from the white test area in order to calculate the “maximum full frame contrast ratio” across the whole panel. These figures will often be different on LCD screens with local dimming, as this dimming can be more effective for dark areas further away from light areas.

HDR Brightness section

  • The peak luminance of a white test pattern is measured at different APL (Average Picture Level) areas, ranging from a small 1% window which represents small image highlights, right up to a 100% APL which is a full white screen. This tells you how high the luminance of white is on the screen, with this typically getting lower as the APL increases in size. Comparisons are also provided against other screens where relevant.

HDR colours section

  • Gamut coverage (2D) – we provide measurements of the screens colour gamut for HDR relative to the very wide Rec.2020 colour space. Coverage is shown in absolute numbers as well as relative, which helps identify where the coverage extends beyond a given reference space. A CIE-1976 chromaticity diagram (which provides improved accuracy compared with older CIE-1931 methods) is included which provides a visual representation of the monitors 2D colour gamut coverage triangle as compared with Rec.2020. The higher the coverage, the better.

  • dE colour accuracy – a wide range of Rec.2020 colours are tested and the colour accuracy dE measured. An average dE and maximum dE is provided along with an overall screen rating. These numbers are calculated based on the colour tone and hue, and ignore any luminance error. The lower the dE the better, with differences of <1 being imperceptible (marked by the green area on the graph), and differences between 1 and 3 being small (yellow areas). Anything over dE 3 needs correcting and causes more obvious differences in appearance relative to what should be shown. dE 2000 is used for improved accuracy and providing a better representation of what you would see as a user, compared with older dE methods like dE 1994, as it takes into account the human eye’s perceptual sensitivity to different colours.

HDR picture accuracy

Hardly any settings are available in the OSD menu once you’ve enabled HDR mode, except a few within the ‘Custom Color HDR’ mode. The screen has a few different HDR presets to use, available within the ‘display’ section of the menu. There’s modes for Desktop (the default), Movie, Game, Custom Color (which does allow some tweaking of settings a bit), ‘DisplayHDR True Black’ and ‘HDR Peak 1000’.

We tested the default ‘HDR Desktop’ mode which delivered the above results. The tracking of the PQ curve (right hand graph) is overall good, with only a minor drop below the target line where very dark greys are slightly darker than they should be. This performance varies very slightly between the other modes for Movie, Game and Custom Color but not by much at all. In fact the overall performance and measurements in all these areas remains basically the same in each of these modes, we’re not really sure what is supposed to be different. The only mode which delivers a meaningfully different performance is the ‘HDR Peak 1000’ mode, which we will test in a moment. The colour temp and white point are a little too warm by about 5%, with a 6197K white point measured, but overall greyscale accuracy is good with a dE 1.8 achieved.

Let’s switch to the ‘HDR Peak 1000’ mode which we expect to be the preference for most users anyway:

Here’s the same results but from the ‘HDR Peak 1000’ mode. You can see a slightly better colour temp and white point, being a small 2 – 3% out from our target now and a little closer to 6500K. This helps improve the greyscale a little further with a dE 1.3 now measured. There’s good accuracy in this mode.

HDR brightness

This is where there is an obvious performance difference. The Desktop, Movie, Game, Custom Color and HDR400 True Black modes all have a capped peak brightness, well below the panel spec of 1000 nits. We reached around 482 nits maximum in any of those modes which is not very good for a modern HDR monitor of course.

Thankfully the ‘HDR Peak 1000’ mode provides full access to the luminance capability of the panel, now reaching up to 1060 nits peak in our tests. This is definitely the optimal HDR mode to choose if you want a bright and impactful HDR experience.

New HDR Brightness Evaluation and Testing Overview

We have also included further HDR tests in this review based on our new testing methodology explained in our detailed article here. These tests are designed to more accurately and thoroughly capture the brightness performance of the display in HDR situations and go far beyond simple, and rather limited “peak white luminance” measurements that are typically provided in the industry. They will include:

  1. A scale and score based on perceived ‘brightness’ of the display instead of a raw ‘luminance’ measurement. This uses the XCR model and accounts for luminance and colourfulness. XCR and its importance is explained in a lot more detail in our article.
  2. The scores are now directly related to how you would perceive and feel the brightness of the display. Where a score is twice as high as another score, it means it should appear approximately twice as bright. You can’t treat luminance measurements in the same way as our article explains.
  3. We will include measurements and brightness scores for colours, not just for white. More important for real-world HDR experience and content.
  4. Evaluation of the performance and brightness of these colours as the APL changes, including for “peak brightness” capabilities at the smallest APL. This shows where colours remain bright as well as just white measurements, or where you can sometimes get washout issues, or colours which cannot reach as bright as you might expect.
  5. Colour volume measurements, going beyond simple 2D colour gamut performance and accounting for the brightness variable which is especially important in HDR. This will identify how colours perform at different brightness levels, and is far more telling than only having a gamut coverage figure.
  6. Comparisons between different displays and panel technologies where applicable
Dell Alienware AW2725DF<br>27″ QD-OLED
Asus ROG Swift PG34WCDM<br>34″ WOLED
KTC G27P6<br>27″ WOLED
Asus ROG Swift PG32UCDM<br>32″ QD-OLED

First up is a graph showing the peak brightness capability (relevant for the smallest 1% APL) where both the luminance and colour data have been converted to an XCR score. This represents the perceived brightness you would experience and feel with figures that can be compared with one another nicely. We’ve provided comparisons here against two WOLED based screens, the 34″ ultrawide Asus ROG Swift PG34WCDM which has one of the new generation of 1300 nits rated panels, and the KTC G27P6 which is one of many 27″ 1440p 240Hz WOLED models available, and represents a decent HDR brightness example from the models we’ve tested. That is a useful comparison here as we can then directly compare the new 27″ QD-OLED panel against the existing 27″ WOLED panels. For good measure we’ve also added in the other recently tested gen 3 QD-OLED panels, the 32″ 4K Asus ROG Swift PG32UCDM. You can see the results for that by clicking between the tabs above.

You can see here that the relative brightness balance between the different colours is good on the AW2725DF, showing that colour brightness remains high in these “peak brightness” situations. This is made possible by the fact that the QD-OLED panel used in this monitor can deliver high luminance for colours, and also that it has a wide colour gamut. The brightness is very similar to the recently tested Asus ROG Swift PG32UCDM (32″ 4K 240Hz QD-OLED panel), which is around 2% brighter for white, and on average 1% brighter for colours than the Dell. It’s very close between those two modern gen 3 QD-OLED panels.

To help put this in to perspective further, we can compare the results with one of the new 1300 nits spec generation of WOLED panels we’ve reviewed recently, used in the Asus ROG Swift PG34WCDM 34” ultrawide model. You can see that on the WOLED panel in the same “peak brightness” measurements, the brightness of white reaches a bit higher than the AW2725DF by 6%, but the colour brightness is not nearly as high, with the screen being more balanced towards white there. The Dell reaches on average 36% brighter for colours than the Asus PG34WCDM in these peak situations. This is because the WOLED panel cannot reach as high for colour luminance, and it also has a slightly smaller colour space than the AW2725DF. Both impact the overall brightness experience and XCR score, although it’s the luminance capability that has the most drastic impact. The technological reasons for this are explained a lot more in our article here.

The most interesting comparison is between the AW2725DF and one of the 27″ 240Hz WOLED panels available, here taken from the KTC G27P6. The Dell was 9% brighter for white, and and average of 33% brighter for colours at this small 1% APL for “peak brightness” consideration. It’s capable of reaching significantly brighter for colours in HDR, although we do also need to consider other APL as we are only talking about peak highlights here.

AW2725DF vs 27″ WOLED
AW2725DF vs 34″ WOLED

We can also plot the comparison on the graph above, showing the perceived peak brightness difference between the AW2725DF and the two different WOLED panels we’re comparing against. This is broken down to each measured colour. The peak brightness of colours on the AW2725DF can reach on average 36% brighter than the 34″ WOLED panel in these situations, and around 33% brighter than the 27″ WOLED panel. That is despite the white luminance measurements and marketing specs suggesting that the PG34WCDM would be brighter (1300 nits vs 1000 nits). This goes to show there’s a lot more to HDR brightness than just that single, limited spec.

Admittedly this is only considering 1% APL which is an extreme example for real-world use, but when so much attention is given at the moment to the “peak” measurement, and the peak for white, it’s interesting to consider what this same scenario looks like when you consider colours and their perceived brightness.

A more complete picture of overall screen brightness across different content, and with varying APL can be considered as well. We don’t want to only focus on the “peak” measurements, the larger APL are also important when considering overall real-world experience during HDR.

AW2725DF (27″ QD-OLED)
PG34WCDM (34″ WOLED)
G27P6 (27″ WOLED)
AW2725DF vs 34″ WOLED
AW2725DF vs 27″ WOLED

You can see here that the colour brightness performance of the AW2725DF is much stronger than the two WOLED panels when the APL is smaller than 25%. The PG34WCDM’s WOLED panel reaches its colour brightness cap and cannot reach any higher for smaller APL even though white continues to increase – allowing for the higher white luminance spec of the panel.

The increased white luminance is only achieved through the use of a “white boost” from the white sub-pixel used on that panel technology. The AW2725F’s QD-OLED panel on the other hand continues to increase colour brightness as the APL gets smaller, and doesn’t need (or even have) the white boost. The result is that for the brightest highlights and the situations where the screen is reaching its brightest performance in HDR content, the colours on the AW2725F’s QD-OLED panel can look noticeably brighter and more vivid. HDR is more impactful, colourful and enjoyable.

This is one of the big benefits of QD-OLED technology compared with competing WOLED panels, and is completely overlooked if you only focus on “peak brightness” specs provided by manufacturers – which only focus actually on the luminance of white.

Colour Volume

Colour volume calculated at 10% APL

We have also measured the colour volume, which considers the normal colour gamut (range of colours) that are available across the full brightness range. This was measured at an industry standard 10% APL, which is a reasonable reflection of real-world HDR content, rather than focusing on the “peak” (1% APL) here.

Because colour luminance is strong on the AW2725DF, its bright and vivid colours are achieved across the full luminance range, resulting in an excellent colour volume. This reaches up to 75.7% of the BT.2020 colour volume.

The WOLED panel on the other hand had a fairly similar colour gamut (~74% Rec.2020 on the PG34WCDM vs ~82% on the AW2725DF) if we only consider the traditional 2D / SDR measurement. However, it cannot deliver this across the full brightness range as we’ve talked about above. After a certain point, the colours cannot be increased in luminance any further and any additional luminance boost is achieved only through the white boost from the panel’s white sub-pixel. This leads to some washout of the image at higher luminance levels, but also “volumetric collapse”. This results in an overall 45.1% BT.2020 colour volume, much less than the QD-OLED panel can produce. This again helps to capture the real-world performance where brighter HDR highlights and smaller APLs can look more colourful and vivid on the AW2725DF than they do on the PG34WCDM.

HDR colour accuracy

The accuracy of HDR colours relative to the wide Rec.2020 colour space remains consistent really in all modes, but if we focus in on the optimal ‘HDR Peak 1000’ mode we can see that the average dE is as low as 1.3 when ignoring the few primary shades which the monitors colour space can’t reach. This is a very good result and should offer a nice accurate HDR performance.

Conclusion

It’s great to see a step-change in the 27″ OLED monitor market this year. Although this size has only been around for about a year, it feels like longer as the market has been saturated with a lot of different vendors producing their own versions of the same 240Hz LG.Display WOLED panel, and it’s nice to see a real alternative option being launched now. The Dell Alienware AW2725DF is the first to use the new Samsung QD-OLED panel, and while we do think there’s some decent improvements and advantages to this new panel, we couldn’t help feel that Dell maybe missed a trick in making this screen the absolute best it could be.

From a performance point of view, the increased 360Hz refresh rate did bring some small but noticeable improvements to motion clarity in gaming, giving you sharper and clearer images and reducing blurring even further. It also allows for higher frame rates and lower end-to-end latency which for competitive gaming will be important. Response times were excellent as ever from this technology and input lag was nice and low, so for PC gaming it’s a step above the older 27″ OLED panels. Despite Dell’s misleading advertisement of “HDMI 2.1″, the console support was a bit lacking with only older HDMI 2.0 bandwidth available. You can get 4K 60Hz still which is useful, and critical to allow proper HDR compatibility, but this could have really offered 4K 120Hz. We might not have been quite as bothered about this being unavailable, given it is the same situation on most (maybe all?) 27” monitors in the market. But it’s the fact Dell labelled the connection as HDMI 2.1 and then tried to hide behind a technicality that’s more annoying, and makes you feel like you’re now missing something that you thought you would have.

Default setup was good overall, and the factory calibrated sRGB emulation mode provided a reliable, flexible and accurate performance too. DCI-P3 mode seemed to be incorrectly configured, at least relative to the provided calibration report, although for a gaming screen there’s probably little reason to use that mode anyway. The text clarity is decent here, better than gen 1 QD-OLED panels, and side by side definitely looks clearer and sharper than the 27″ WOLED panels so that’s a win currently for this new QD-OLED offering. We also prefer the semi-glossy coating here which provides a clearer and cleaner image, although you need to be more mindful of your lighting and its positioning to avoid reflections or raised blacks which can be problematic on QD-OLED technology. We do prefer this coating overall though than the fairly grainy appearance of the current WOLED panels.

The avoidance of ABL for SDR content was very welcome and HDR performance was very strong as well. It had a nice accurate setup, good colours and the QD-OLED panel offered bright and vivid colours and a strong colour volume which was impressive. HDR is another area where this new QD-OLED panel can out-perform the existing WOLED panels and can look brighter and more colourful. The OLED panel also offers the usual amazing blacks (in the right lighting conditions), contrast and dimming capabilities too.

When we said we felt like Dell maybe missed a trick here, it relates to the added features and extras they’ve provided on the screen. Obviously it’s a gamer-focused screen and so perhaps they deliberately left these off to avoid it being positioned as an all-rounder, or being widely used for static and general uses. Perhaps they did it to help keep the retail cost down, which will at least make it more affordable. But when features like USB type-C, KVM support, audio output, speakers, motion sensors, proper HDMI 2.1 ports, low blue light modes and even more OLED care settings are so widespread nowadays, and will be available on some of their future competition, it feels like they scrimped a bit. Whether or not you will want to need any of these features is obviously down to personal use cases, but it just felt a bit….lacking.

Overall though, this is still our favourite 27″ OLED monitor that we’ve tested to date and the new king of this segment. The refresh rate, text clarity, screen coating and HDR performance all put it above the wide range of 27″ WOLED models we think. If you want any of the missing feature, then other models will be around in the future using the same panel (and so having those same performance characteristics) but with different extras.

Where to Buy

The Dell Alienware AW2725DF is available only from Dell.com direct at the moment, priced at $899.99 USD, or £779.00 GBP in the UK. Later on we expect it to be available from other retailers too.

ProsCons
Improved motion clarity and gaming performance from increased 360Hz refresh rate – the fastest OLED panel available!Lacking in additional features and extras
Accurate, bright and colourful HDR performanceMisleading “HDMI 2.1” port labelling, and somewhat limited console support
Cleaner and clearer screen coating and better text rendering than the 27″ WOLED modelsInaccurate DCI-P3 calibrated mode – mentioned since it was specifically supposed to be factory calibrated


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