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Grayscale, Gamma & Color
Making any change to the Z301CT’s image controls will put you in the User picture mode. You can save your settings to a memory slot when you’re done, but the other presets, like sRGB, are all fixed. The monitor doesn’t offer great out-of-box performance, so you’ll want to try our recommended values at minimum.
Our grayscale and gamma tests are described in detail here.
As delivered, the Z301CT has an average grayscale error of 4.41dE. That’s enough to be visible and our charts support that. You’ll see a slight blue tint from 20% onward, although the error isn’t huge. sRGB measures almost the same so you’ll want to engage the User color temp and make a few tweaks.
After a few back-and-forth tries, we arrived at a compromise with the RGB sliders. You only get a single-point adjustment which affects the brighter steps more than the darker ones. We usually adjust with an 80% pattern, but in this case we had to tweak other steps until all the errors were below 3dE. Our final average was 1.75dE, which isn’t bad, but not as good as some other displays. In the end, we were satisfied with the picture quality if not bowled over by its accuracy.
It wasn’t long ago that a 4.41dE default and 1.75dE calibrated measurement would have meant a mid-pack result. But the latest monitors are much better than their predecessors. While we don’t consider the Z301CT’s numbers to be a deal-breaker, there are more accurate screens available. But since most gamers are shopping for speed and features, this is unlikely to sway a purchase decision.
When you see gamma tracking that stays tight until it dips sharply at 90%, it is most likely due to an incorrectly set contrast control. And that is the case here. If you leave it unchanged, a lot of highlight detail will be clipped. In our tests, we could see it in both patterns and actual content. At minimum, we recommend dropping the slider to 42 to regain lost detail. Further changes to the RGB sliders will result in excellent tracking with no loss of information and color that tracks properly at all saturation and luminance levels.
Our adjustments produce good gamma tracking with a small range of values and reasonably close adherence to the 2.2 power standard. It’s important to get this right not only for the effect it has on perceived contrast, but on color gamut accuracy at levels below the maximum. And since the Z301CT’s native gamut is slightly over-saturated, we want to get as many points on target as possible. You’ll see our color results below.
Color Gamut & Luminance
For details on our color gamut testing and volume calculations, please click here.
In its default state, the Z301CT shows over-saturated primaries with reasonably good tracking and luminance levels that are too high. Coupled with the default contrast setting, this results in un-natural color with missing detail. To get that information back, our adjustments detailed above bring gamma back in line. We attempted to tweak luminance further with the 6-axis sliders but didn’t see enough benefit to warrant the adjustments. It amounted to a small difference in the average error level, but it convinced us to leave the sliders at their defaults. The final two charts show the improvements possible with changes to just the contrast and RGB controls. We’ve gained quite a bit of accuracy with very little adjustment.
We’ve taken the color error from 4.78dE to a low 1.68dE. To see similar gains from your Z301CT, use our settings detailed on page three. The sRGB preset won’t do much for accuracy with its average color error of 4.83dE and fixed 300cd/m2 output level. User is definitely the right choice.
Thanks to over-saturated primaries, the Z301CT covers 108.65% of the sRGB gamut volume. For gaming, this provides a little extra punch to the image. If you need greater accuracy for proofing, a custom profile will reign in that extra color nicely. You can always reduce saturation to the correct level, but if it’s too low from the start you can’t add it back in.
MORE: Best Gaming Monitors
MORE: How We Test Monitors
MORE: How To Choose A Monitor
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Christian Eberle is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He's a veteran reviewer of A/V equipment, specializing in monitors. Christian began his obsession with tech when he built his first PC in 1991, a 286 running DOS 3.0 at a blazing 12MHz. In 2006, he undertook training from the Imaging Science Foundation in video calibration and testing and thus started a passion for precise imaging that persists to this day. He is also a professional musician with a degree from the New England Conservatory as a classical bassoonist which he used to good effect as a performer with the West Point Army Band from 1987 to 2013. He enjoys watching movies and listening to high-end audio in his custom-built home theater and can be seen riding trails near his home on a race-ready ICE VTX recumbent trike. Christian enjoys the endless summer in Florida where he lives with his wife and Chihuahua and plays with orchestras around the state.
WTF, 1080 res and $800.Reply
Eye-tracking and G-Sync be danged, too expensive.
-$150 eye tracking
Still about $100 too expensive.
All I have to do is look at the fancy base legs on these to know they're overpriced.Reply
2560x1080 is the perfect resolution for most people who aren't gaming on absolute top-end hardware. My GTX 1060 runs absolutely everything at it just fine, with some room even for supersampling. I would certainly imagine that higher ultrawide resolutions would require real compromises with mainstream hardware.Reply
Considering the price of the monitor, I would hardly consider it mainstream.Reply
$200 Gsync tax. No thx :(Reply
Approximately eight plus years ago. I bought a Gateway 30 inch monitor. In those days it was hard to find a popular brand that made monitors that large. In my opinion it has taken a number of years for more companies to add 30" monitors to their inventories. It has been comparatively easy to purchase 24" and 27" monitors for years. As those sizes have become more popular, the prices have dropped consistently.Reply
In the past month, I purchased a Dell UP3216Q, directly from Dell for $1399.00,
( down from $1700.00 ) before tax and shipping. That model is a 32" monitor with
maximum resolution of 3840x2160 at 60hz. Aside from the Gateway 30", I have purchased a Dell 30" monitor, ( which died after about 4+ years ), and an HP 30" monitor ( which is along side my 32" as I write this ). I am certainly not wealthy, and don't play a lot of FPS games, ( I prefer real world simulations like Steel Beast Pro Armored vehicle/combined arms ). I have always enjoyed working, and playing, using my large monitors.
Lastly, I have to wonder at the calculations folks have used in this forum. Regarding the price of monitors like the Acer Predator Z301C. They have mentioned things like base price, plus the estimated cost of including various features. That is all well and good, but I don't think they have factored in a couple of intangibles. Companies maximizing their profit margin on any item. Also, the consumer base for large monitors is still rather small. People like Day Traders that use monitors in their businesses, and gamers. Are at this time, the only people that are willing to purchase anything that costs more than the current offerings of 24" and 27" monitors. So.., the scarcer an item is, the more it's going to cost. This has always been true of niche products.
Stopped reading when 1080p showed up...Reply
Show me a curved 34" 3440x1440p, IPS, G-sync, 100 fps monitor that isn't plagued with defects like the Predator X34, or has cheesy styling like the Asus p348q, and I'll take it. Oh, And I want it for a $1000.Reply
So glad to see a manufacturer stepping away from the 4k fad. My friend and I couldn't tell a difference on a 32" monitor at normal gaming distance, so why make monitors with that level of resolution other than marketing? 4K stinks for gaming on any rig without $1200+ in graphics cards. 2560x1080 is GREAT. I only wish it were 2560 x 1200.Reply