Professional monitor technology typically progresses more slowly than other genres. While gaming screens continue to add things like adaptive refresh and ever-faster operation, video and graphics editors need displays that adhere to established standards and deliver accurate images with reliable performance.
Lately though, Ultra HD has become a thing. We’ve been seeing 3840x2160 resolution for several years now, but that isn’t enough to support the latest content creation. Monitors need to have extended color and HDR to be considered ready for professional use. The world is still waiting for true Rec.2020 color, but many screens now support the DCI-P3 color spec, which adds significant saturation to Rec.709 and sRGB. Adobe RGB? That’s so yesterday.
Pros also need tools that can handle High Dynamic Range, most commonly seen in the HDR10 format. Nearly all Hollywood movies are now released in Ultra HD Blu-ray, and major streaming providers are supporting it too. Not only do users want to watch HDR content on their computers, video editors need a factory-calibrated display on which to create it.
And so, enter the Acer PE320QK. It’s a high-contrast IPS screen boasting a 31.5” viewable area, thin bezel design, and support for HDR10 plus DCI-P3 color. Oh, and you get FreeSync too. Let’s take a look.
We’ve already reviewed a few monitors with HDR support, and our benchmark is still Dell’s UP2718Q zone-dimming display. LCD’s inherently low contrast makes it a poor choice for HDR unless it’s enhanced with a full-array backlight like Dell’s 384-zone model. Unfortunately, this feature comes with more than a little added cost. To keep prices within reason, manufacturers are turning to the latest IPS panels and improvements in dynamic contrast software algorithms. These new parts up the static contrast number to around 1400:1, which is an improvement over the 1000:1 seen in their predecessors.
The PE320QK has such a panel and supports HDR10 without issue. It also sports a native color gamut that covers nearly all the DCI-P3 standard. That, coupled with 3840x2160 resolution, makes it a great candidate for Ultra HD mastering duties. Acer includes factory calibrations for DCI, sRGB, and Rec.709, and our sample matches the included data sheet in accuracy. The package is complete with premium build quality and functional styling. You even get FreeSync from 24-60Hz, which means Low Framerate Compensation is supported. While priced above most business-class UHD monitors, it isn’t expensive considering its specs and performance.
Packaging, Physical Layout & Accessories
The PE320QK is securely packaged in a large carton with rigid foam that completely encloses the contents. The panel and upright are already bolted together, and the base attaches with a captive bolt. A calibration data sheet comes with each sample, along with cables for HDMI, DisplayPort, and USB-C. The power supply is internal, so an IEC cord is provided.
The most significant accessory is the high-quality hood, which comes in three pieces that bolt in place. It’s made from rigid plastic with light-absorbing material bonded to the inner surfaces. We’ve seen a few displays that come with hoods, but this is the best one yet. Once installed on the panel, it becomes part of the chassis. Clearly, a lot of thought went into its design and manufacture.
You can see the hood’s two side pieces in the first photo. They bolt to threaded fittings molded into the panel and are extremely rigid and secure. The top snaps on in three parts and includes a small door through which a color meter can be hung. One can use any or all of the pieces, or leave it off if the room lighting is low enough.
The image is billed as zero-frame but there is an 8mm bezel which is visible when the power’s on. The anti-glare layer is mounted flush so the frame disappears when there’s no image. The front view is unbroken by logos or buttons. A blue power LED is visible, but it can be turned off in the OSD.
Menu navigation is accomplished with a tiny joystick found around back of the lower-right corner. It’s supported by three buttons plus the power toggle. Pressing any key pops icons up on the screen to denote different functions. It’s a simple, elegant, and intuitive system.
The PE320QK’s chunky styling makes for a fairly thick panel at 2.5”, but slimness is not a design goal in this category. Adding the hood increases depth to around 5.5” total. The left side has two USB ports supporting version 3.0. The stand includes firm and precise adjustments for swivel (45° to either side), tilt (20° back, 5° forward), and height (4.2” range). You also get a 90° portrait mode.
In back, you’ll find a 100mm VESA mount once the upright’s four bolts are removed. Ventilation is generous, and the grilles are shared by two four-watt speakers. They play to reasonable volumes and lack bass like most built-in devices. Audio quality is much better through the 3.5mm output found on the bottom jack panel.
Inputs are all digital and include a single DisplayPort 1.2, two HDMI 2.0 ports, a USB-C upstream, and two USB 3.0 downstream connectors. Next to the power cord plug is a switch that shuts off all the juice if you want to save the 0.5 watt drawn in standby mode.
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