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Acer Predator XB321HK 32-inch Ultra HD G-Sync Monitor Review

Today we’re looking at Acer’s latest flagship gaming monitor, the Predator XB321HK. Sporting a 32-inch IPS screen, G-Sync and premium build quality; it looks like just the thing for a cost-no-object gaming rig.

Our Verdict

The Acer Predator XB321HK isn’t cheap but we think it’s worth every penny. It’s a flagship display that earns every bit of its title. Ultra HD gaming is still a challenge just because of the massive number of pixels that have to be moved. You’ll need an equally expensive system to realize its full potential, but if you have the means you won’t find better image quality anywhere.

For

  • G-Sync
  • Ultra HD
  • 32-inch IPS screen
  • Clarity
  • Vivid and accurate color
  • Styling & build quality

Against

  • No swivel or portrait adjustment
  • no DisplayPort 1.3

Introduction

There’s no question that the top consideration on a monitor buyer's priority lists is price. Regardless of how much technology you want packed into your next purchase, value is always king. While that fact is apparent to anyone who reads through a few Internet forums, it hasn’t stopped every major manufacturer from creating and marketing a line of flagship products.

We’ve spent a fair amount of time working with different displays from Acer, and the company has produced some significant models including the very first Ultra HD panel with G-Sync, the XB280HK. We reviewed that screen last year and found it deserving of our Editor Recommended Award. It appears it will soon be replaced by the XB281HK from the Predator line. That series of products is where we’ll be focusing our attention today.

Recently we checked out the XB271HK which offers IPS, G-Sync and Ultra HD resolution in a 27-inch format. Now it’s time to see what makes Acer’s top-of-the-line gaming display tick. In our lab today we have the 32-inch Ultra HD XB321HK, also sporting an IPS panel and Nvidia G-Sync adaptive refresh technology.

Specifications

Even though TN panels offer good value and speed, users (and we) still prefer the superior viewing angles and more consistent quality of IPS displays. When resolutions reach 3840x2160 and screen sizes top 28 inches, it’s pretty much a requirement. Fortunately we haven’t seen a company attempt a TN product bigger than that.

The Predator XB321HK uses a panel from AU Optronics that delivers a full 32-inch diagonal viewing area. You may remember earlier UHD screens were actually 31.5 inches employing Sharp IGZO, Samsung and LG panels. This part also has a native 10-bit color depth along with an sRGB color gamut. Contrast levels at first glance appear to be on par with other IPS monitors of similar size and resolution.

The backlight is a white LED using constant-current for flicker-free operation. The G-Sync module is the same one that's used in the XB271HK. It's a second-generation part that adds HDMI to the input panel. It can handle 3840x2160 pixels at up to 30Hz but you’ll still have to use DisplayPort for adaptive refresh and the full 60Hz framerate. Claimed panel response is four milliseconds, and for those who plan to skip ahead to the lag tests, the XB321HK has fairly low latency when compared to other Ultra HD gaming displays.

The package is rounded out by the Predator line’s distinct styling and solid build quality. After unpacking it and powering up, our initial notes were filled with comments about its stunning image. Colors are bright and saturated; just what you’d expect from a premium-priced flagship product. Is the jumbo Predator worth its high cost? Let’s take a look.

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  • pjc6281
    So for 1100-1200 you get 60hz. That is a bit alarming.
    Reply
  • Bartendalot
    The nite about 4K@60hz being obsolete soon is a valid one and makes the purchase price even more difficult to swallow.

    I'd argue that my 1440p@144hz is a more future-proof investment.
    Reply
  • Yaisuah
    I have this monitor and think its great and almost worth the money, but I want to point out that nobody on the internet seems to realize there's a perfect resolution between 1440 and 4k that looks great and runs great and I think it would be considered 3k. Try adding 2880 x 1620 to your resolutions and see how it looks on any 4k monitor. I run windows and most less intensive games at this resolution and constantly get 60fps with a 970(around 30fps at 4k). You also don't have to mess with windows scaling on a 32in monitor. After seeing how great 3k looks and runs, I really don't know why everyone immediately jumped to 4k.
    Reply
  • cknobman
    Nvidia G-Sync = high price
    Reply
  • mellis
    I am still going to wait before getting a 4K monitor, since there is still not a practical solution for 4K gaming. In a couple of more years hopefully 4K monitors will be cheap and midrange GPUs will be able to support gaming on them. I think trying to invest in 4K gaming now is a wait of money. Sticking with 1080p for now.
    Reply
  • truerock
    A 4K@120Hz G-Sync video monitor based PC rig under $4,000 is probably 2 to 3 years away.
    Reply
  • RedJaron
    18346905 said:
    I have this monitor and think its great and almost worth the money, but I want to point out that nobody on the internet seems to realize there's a perfect resolution between 1440 and 4k that looks great and runs great and I think it would be considered 3k. Try adding 2880 x 1620 to your resolutions and see how it looks on any 4k monitor. I run windows and most less intensive games at this resolution and constantly get 60fps with a 970(around 30fps at 4k). You also don't have to mess with windows scaling on a 32in monitor. After seeing how great 3k looks and runs, I really don't know why everyone immediately jumped to 4k.
    I would hazard a few guesses. First would be that 2880x1620 is so close to 2560x1440 that no manufacturer wants to complicate product lines like that.

    Second, 2160 is the least common multiple of both 720 and 1080, meaning it's the lowest resolution that's a perfect integer scalar of both. So with proper upscaling, a 720 or 1080 source picture can be displayed reasonably well on a 4K display. These panels are made for TVs as well as computer monitors, and the majority of TV signal ( at least in the US ) is still in either 720p or 1080p. Upscaling 1080 to 1620 is the same as upscaling 720 to 1080 ( they're both a factor of 150% ). Upscaling by non-integer factors means you need a lot of pixel interpolation and anti-aliasing. To me, this looks very fuzzy ( I bought a 720p TV over a 1080 TV years ago because playing 720p PS3 games and 720p cable TV on a 1080p display looked horrible to me ). So it may be the powers that be decided on the 4K resolution so that people could adopt the new panels and still get decent picture quality with the older video sources ( at least until, or if, they get upgraded ). If so, I can agree with that.
    Reply
  • michalt
    I have one and have not regretted my purchase for a second. I tend to keep monitors for a long time (my Dell 30 inch displays have been with me for a decade). When looked at over that time period, it's not that expensive for something I'll be staring at all day every day.
    Reply
  • photonboy
    It would be nice to offer a GLOBAL FPS LOCK to stay in asynchronous mode at all times regardless how high the FPS gets.
    Reply
  • photonboy
    Update: AMD has this, not sure where it is for NVidia or if the GLOBAL FPS LOCK is easy to do.
    Reply