High refresh rate monitors have been popular for years, and many people recommend 144Hz displays for gaming. More recently, we've seen 240Hz creep into the esports scene. CS:GO pros, in particular, have been moving away from the 144Hz TN panels that were an established staple and now opt for 24.5inch 240Hz monitors instead. Debates rage on regarding TN vs IPS displays and which is better suited for gaming. Until now, my budget had me weighing up the same argument. After buying a 240Hz monitor (the Alienware 25 AW2521HF Gaming Monitor), I'm seeing noticeable improvements in my aim and reflexes.
Having switched over from an Alienware AW3418DW—a 21:9, 3440x1440 panel that overclocks to 120Hz—I was concerned that transitioning back to 1080p would be disappointing. While ultrawides are great for productivity, and games look lovely in 21:9, it's difficult to maintain a consistent, high frame rate at this resolution. My main gripe that originally had me trading in my 240Hz VA panel for an ultrawide was how washed out the colours looked compared to my secondary IPS monitor. Bumping up the saturation helped, but having one ultrawide monitor that could do everything was just more convenient.
Playing Apex Legends on my ultrawide had its perks, but engaging in firefights usually resulted in dropped frames. In situations when you only have a few seconds to outperform your opponent, this can feel frustrating. Playing on lower graphical settings at 240Hz avoids this issue as my PC doesn't struggle to keep up. When I'm downed by an enemy, I can be certain that it's my fault. Games run smoother and feel more responsive which has seen me landing shots I wouldn't usually be able to pull off. In turn, this has boosted my confidence and has encouraged me to play more aggressively than before.
I've owned a couple of 240Hz panels in the past but the AW2521HF encompasses exactly what I've been looking for in a gaming monitor. Finally being able to enjoy the perks of an IPS display at 240Hz is a very nice upgrade, especially if you're a fan of shooters. I haven't experienced any ghosting or screen tearing, and this monitor works perfectly straight out of the box. The jump between 120Hz and 240Hz is noticeable, and while you can't enjoy high refresh rates in every game, it's useful in the ones that support it. I'm pleasantly surprised that playing at 1080p with lower settings still looks fantastic and doesn't feel like much of a downgrade compared to 1440p. More importantly, everything feels more responsive. Over just a short space of time I've seen my personal performance improve significantly, which makes me want to continue playing for long sessions. The main issue I now face is actually getting to bed on time.
If you feel like you need a little guidance when it comes to monitor shopping, check out our best gaming monitors for 2020 guide for advice on what's available right now.