Acer XB270HU 27-Inch IPS 144Hz G-Sync Monitor Review

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There's no doubt we love hi-res gaming at both the QHD and Ultra HD levels. Our review of the XB280HK Ultra HD was very favorable and we enjoyed the super-sharp picture and G-Sync technology of that monitor. And connecting the XB270HU IPS display to our gaming system right after that makes it easy to compare the two monitors back-to-back.

First off, it's hard to see a difference in clarity between the two. The pixel density is 157ppi for the 28-inch Ultra HD screen versus 109ppi for the 27-inch QHD. At a viewing distance of around 30 inches, image sharpness looks pretty much the same to us. But the extra speed afforded by the XB270HU's high refresh rate does improve smoothness. Coupled with G-Sync, it's about as close to perfection as we've seen to date. Since the XB280HK is limited to 60Hz, there's only so much you can do by adding more graphics processing power. Eventually you hit the limit as we did.

We also prefer the look of the IPS panel in its AHVA variant. The off-axis image quality is markedly better than a typical IPS monitor and vastly improved over even the best TN panel. When gaming on a single screen the divide is not as great, but multi-display setups certainly benefit from the newer tech.

In addition, we're highly impressed with the XB270HU's color accuracy and gamma tracking. While these two metrics may appeal more to the nit-picking videophiles among us, an accurate image makes playing more fun no matter who you are. Most gaming monitors aren't designed with ultimate accuracy in mind but it seems the newest models have gained ground over their predecessors in that department.

We also like the XB270HU's high contrast. It won't quite compete with a true AMVA panel but how many of those have G-Sync and 144Hz? Right now that number is zero. Acer has also included motion blur-reduction in the XB270HU. While there is enough light available to offset the 71 percent reduction in output, the compromises include a max refresh of 120Hz and the disabling of G-Sync.

If you're still debating between G-Sync and FreeSync, here's what we've observed so far. G-Sync has the advantage when the action drops below 40fps for sure. At that point, frame-doubling takes over so there is no tearing even when stutter becomes a problem. FreeSync is supposed to switch to V-Sync mode at that point but in some instances, we've seen that this does not happen. Then you get tearing and stuttering, which makes gameplay much more frustrating.

Read: AMD FreeSync Versus Nvidia G-Sync: Readers Choose

However, if you can keep the refresh rate above 40Hz, there is no difference. Concerning the fact that overdrive is currently disabled in some FreeSync applications we can only maintain that in the vast majority of games, it is not a limitation. Even right above the zone, when frame rates are in the low forties, we can't see ghosting. And when playing at a comfortable 60fps or above, motion is super-smooth and tear-free.

The bottom line is right now you can go with either tech and come out happy. But if you want IPS in the mix, the Acer XB270HU is one of the only options. We will be looking at Asus' new MG279Q FreeSync monitor shortly but if you're already an Nvidia user, it doesn't get much better than this. For its superb performance, speed and image quality, we're giving it our Tom's Editor Recommended Award.

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Christian Eberle is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware, covering Monitors and TVs.

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Christian Eberle
Contributing Editor

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.

  • Bartendalot
    I was nervous after hearing all the QC issues but either they fixed whatever issues people were reporting And I got a perfect one out of the box on the first try (was ready to RMA once or twice because I really wanted this monitor to work as advertised).

    Have others been getting XB270HU out of the box with no dead pixels or noticible light bleed?

    Yes... It was expensive but this is hands down, the best monitor I've ever owned.
  • Bartendalot
    "*either they fixed the QC issues or I got lucky"

    Is what I meant to say. First comments get me a little overenthused sometimes!
  • envy14tpe
    When Acer announced this and after I saw the tftcentral review I had my heart set on this. But then as people started to get them I heard about the issues. The QC issues seem way above average. Unless there is proof of a real fix I'm staying away from this monitor. Sad. Cuz it has/had so much potential. The specs are what us fps gamers want.
  • razvanc
    I'd like more reviews to inform people about IPS glow. IPS panels are gerat for image and viewing angles but become completely useless in the dark. To me, they look like the first generation of LCDs with no ambient light. So, people who play games or who watch movies in the dark should stay away. TN panels don't have this issue. And this is why I don't really understand Tom's for recommending IPS for gaming with such conviction. It should come with an asterisk at the end saying: "If you don't play in the dark".
  • spagalicious
    Great review, and an even better panel. I have seen some photos of some pretty questionable panels as far as backlight bleed and 'IPS Glow' go. Purchased this panel near the end of July and at 45% (a bit too high even) brightness, there is no noticable backlight bleed or orange glow present. I like to think they've probably improved their process in manufacturing these panels over the last 6 months, but I could be wrong.

    Not to mention Acer is pretty good about the RMA process and replacement panels. Favorable to ASUS's "Under ten dead pixels is normal and not covered under warranty" policy...
  • cknobman
    $800 for an Acer?

    It may be a nice monitor but that is still a hard sell given it is an Acer.
  • ubercake
    I feel like I need to do a side-by-side with my PG278Q. The contrast on this Acer is amazing for an IPS in that price range I did love my Acer HN274H from the pre-G-sync days...
  • ToineF
    if it was 1ms, I think it would be worth it.
  • ubercake
    16450327 said:
    if it was 1ms, I think it would be worth it.

    I was thinking the same thing but the difference between that and the ROG Swift is only 2ms black to white. This is more where the rubber meets the road.
  • Eggz
    Wuuuut?! Where did the days go where we used to have to drop a lot of money on our favorite set of monitor compromises? I really want to see this in person to feel whether it's as good as it seems :)