We've reviewed many gaming monitors over the past couple of years and with only three exceptions, they've all been based on TN panels. While twisted-nematic parts provide fast response and keep the price down (relatively speaking), they still require some minor compromises that IPS does not.
With gamers begging for more choices in IPS monitors you'd think the industry would have more options, but so far there have only been a small handful of products introduced. And it's not as if in-plane switching is a brand new cutting edge technology. We've been covering it in our monitor reviews since the AOC I2757Fh and ViewSonic VX2770Smh came out over two years ago.
The main obstacle has been cost. After two years, the average price of a name-brand 27-inch QHD screen is still around $500. And with the ever-increasing performance of today's video cards, there's no need to settle for 1080p any longer. Gamers can easily drive a 2560x1440 screen to respectable frame rates with a $300 graphics board.
Today we're looking at our third gaming display from Acer, the XB270HU. Not only does it include a high-quality 27-inch IPS panel running at QHD resolution, it also provides a 144Hz refresh rate and Nvidia G-Sync technology. At around $800 it doesn't break any price barriers and on paper, this monitor looks pretty good.
The panel is from AU Optronics and was first made available in 2014. It's specifically designed to run at 144Hz so it doesn't require overclocking. As we learned from our previous fast-refresh IPS monitor reviews (Overlord Tempest X270OC and Monoprice G-Pro 120Hz IPS), running a panel beyond 60Hz can sometimes introduce instability and not every sample will work at maximum speed. The XB270HU is factory-supported to 144Hz and our sample ran at that rate happily all day long.
We were impressed with the quality of Acer's other gaming monitors, the XG270HU FreeSync and XB280HK Ultra HD. But they were both TN screens and though they're excellent examples of the technology, the IPS-based XB270HU takes the image quality up a notch. The principle reason is the particular flavor used here -- AHVA.
It's important not to confuse AHVA (Advanced Hyper Viewing Angle) with AMVA (Advanced Multi-Domain Vertical Alignment), which is a completely different panel type. If you want to read more about it, see our review of the BenQ BL3200PT monitor. AHVA is IPS for sure, but offers better off-axis image quality. And that claim is backed by our photos, which you can see on the Viewing Angles, Uniformity, Response, Lag And Gaming page of this review.
Other performance parameters remain the same as with any other good IPS panel -- good contrast, accurate grayscale, flat gamma tracking and in this instance, an sRGB color gamut. The XB270HU also offers G-Sync and ULMB motion-blur reduction. The latter feature is on/off only; there is no adjustable pulse-width. Fortunately the panel is bright enough to make ULMB usable in darker environments.
There's no doubt that this is a premium product but with IPS, QHD resolution, 144Hz and G-Sync it sure has a lot to offer. Does it translate into viable performance? Let's take a look.
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