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

Acer's XB270HU is one of the only IPS screens that can run at 144Hz. We'll see how the G-Sync monitor fares in our video performance and gaming tests.

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.

Specifications

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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55 comments
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  • 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
    1647867 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 :)
  • spagalicious
    1647867 said:
    if it was 1ms, I think it would be worth it.


    299576 said:
    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.


    I'd argue that a panel capable of a measured sub 5ms response really is indistinguishable from a panel that may offer 2ms advantages (ROG Swift). Gamers should be more concerned over the combined (response + signal processing) lag times, of which the XB270HU actually does better than the Swift. Of course, the ROG Swift and XB270HU both perform extremely well in this regard but the Swift simply cannot match the IQ of an IPS panel.
    http://www.tftcentral.co.uk/reviews/content/acer_xb270hu.htm#lag

    From TFTCentral:
    "TN Film models like the Asus ROG Swift PG278Q might have had slightly faster pixel transitions by a few ms, but their overshoot was at moderate levels. We actually preferred the artefact-free fluidity of the panel here and response times were low enough to be able to cope with the high frame rates offered."

    That said, I do think the price is a bit high but what other display can offer the same specifications?
  • envy14tpe
    1ms vs 5ms (Manufacturers listing) does matter in fps gaming. If you play games like Skyrim then I don't think you need 1ms, but if you play BF4 then you need that fast refresh rate. You will feel like reactions and shooting is really slow on a common IPS panel monitor. I know cuz I went from IPS to TN (2ms) and I can't go back for gaming. I wish the colors looked as good as my IPS but it isn't fast enough to keep up with fps gaming. That's why the combination of IPS and sub 4ms response time is so desirable. And when you pair it with 144Hz....icing on the cake. However, quality does matter, not just specs.
  • royalcrown
    IN YOUR FACE TN ZEALOUTS !! Now go cry me an under saturated, washed out river :P
  • royalcrown
    You can't play games in the dark ?! Maybe you have bad night vision, mine works fine.

    Quote:
    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".

    Quote:
    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".
  • royalcrown
    Okay, I hear this all the time and I really want you to explain this to me. How can you possibly see something and react in 144th of a second. Nerve impulses travel at around 220 MPH last I heard,

    Just looked it up and around 260 MPH or 119 M/S. It's going to take at least 1 frame just for your impulse to make it to your arm. That's after you see it and unconsciously react or consciously respond to the situation. Maybe I just am not understanding exactly HOW it makes a real difference. If you have any links or videos that prove otherwise,I would truly like to see them and I will freely admit I am wrong on this point.

    This twitch CSGO "I need 200 fps to play right" thinking reminds me of audiophile wishful thinking over oxygen free audio cable being better than regular cable.

    Quote:
    1ms vs 5ms (Manufacturers listing) does matter in fps gaming. If you play games like Skyrim then I don't think you need 1ms, but if you play BF4 then you need that fast refresh rate. You will feel like reactions and shooting is really slow on a common IPS panel monitor. I know cuz I went from IPS to TN (2ms) and I can't go back for gaming. I wish the colors looked as good as my IPS but it isn't fast enough to keep up with fps gaming. That's why the combination of IPS and sub 4ms response time is so desirable. And when you pair it with 144Hz....icing on the cake. However, quality does matter, not just specs.
  • pasow
    Quote:
    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".


    My IPS panels glow far less than any of the TN's I've ever owned. the last TN panel i owned glowed at off angles so badly you could see it at the top and bottom of the display even when sitting in its sweet spot. made using it at night difficult.
  • royalcrown
    I am serious about how does it matter when gaming ? I am actually looking at this monitor for the IPS and Gsync. I agree that 60 is too low, but I don't see how 144 hz is necessary. Why not 85 ?

    *edit* for gaming purposes, IDK about passive, like movie watching. I could see higher maybe then.
  • skit75
    Quote:
    Okay, I hear this all the time and I really want you to explain this to me. How can you possibly see something and react in 144th of a second. Nerve impulses travel at around 220 MPH last I heard, Just looked it up and around 260 MPH or 119 M/S. It's going to take at least 1 frame just for your impulse to make it to your arm. That's after you see it and unconsciously react or consciously respond to the situation. Maybe I just am not understanding exactly HOW it makes a real difference. If you have any links or videos that prove otherwise,I would truly like to see them and I will freely admit I am wrong on this point. This twitch CSGO "I need 200 fps to play right" thinking reminds me of audiophile wishful thinking over oxygen free audio cable being better than regular cable.
    Quote:
    1ms vs 5ms (Manufacturers listing) does matter in fps gaming. If you play games like Skyrim then I don't think you need 1ms, but if you play BF4 then you need that fast refresh rate. You will feel like reactions and shooting is really slow on a common IPS panel monitor. I know cuz I went from IPS to TN (2ms) and I can't go back for gaming. I wish the colors looked as good as my IPS but it isn't fast enough to keep up with fps gaming. That's why the combination of IPS and sub 4ms response time is so desirable. And when you pair it with 144Hz....icing on the cake. However, quality does matter, not just specs.


    It is the peace of mind knowing that at least it wasn't the monitor that got them fragged... The 60Hz meatshields are always left wondering what happened during KillCam.
  • royalcrown
    I appologize for being a bit "flamey" that's uncool of me. Maybe you haven't seen any good IPS panels, or ypu're more picky, but mine seems okay for night usage. Of course it might have to do with the screen coating. My stepson's Acer is a nice light matte and mine (Asus) is more of a darker grey tint.

    1906843 said:
    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".
  • royalcrown
    Are you serious ? I'd like to know more because I am not getting a monitor for 144hz (i do think 60 is too low however), or even 4K (that might be nice though once I see it..still 1920 x 1080).

    192459 said:
    Quote:
    Okay, I hear this all the time and I really want you to explain this to me. How can you possibly see something and react in 144th of a second. Nerve impulses travel at around 220 MPH last I heard, Just looked it up and around 260 MPH or 119 M/S. It's going to take at least 1 frame just for your impulse to make it to your arm. That's after you see it and unconsciously react or consciously respond to the situation. Maybe I just am not understanding exactly HOW it makes a real difference. If you have any links or videos that prove otherwise,I would truly like to see them and I will freely admit I am wrong on this point. This twitch CSGO "I need 200 fps to play right" thinking reminds me of audiophile wishful thinking over oxygen free audio cable being better than regular cable.
    Quote:
    1ms vs 5ms (Manufacturers listing) does matter in fps gaming. If you play games like Skyrim then I don't think you need 1ms, but if you play BF4 then you need that fast refresh rate. You will feel like reactions and shooting is really slow on a common IPS panel monitor. I know cuz I went from IPS to TN (2ms) and I can't go back for gaming. I wish the colors looked as good as my IPS but it isn't fast enough to keep up with fps gaming. That's why the combination of IPS and sub 4ms response time is so desirable. And when you pair it with 144Hz....icing on the cake. However, quality does matter, not just specs.
    It is the peace of mind knowing that at least it wasn't the monitor that got them fragged... The 60Hz meatshields are always left wondering what happened during KillCam.
  • picture_perfect
    [quoteHow can you possibly see something and react in 144th of a second.

    The faster you see what's on screen the faster you can react to it. You gain 26 milliseconds reaction time at 144 fps vs 30 fps. That's fps not hz.
  • xenol
    Keep in mind that response time is completely meaningless because there's no industry standard. Even if we were to believe Acer's 4ms GtG, we also have to keep in mind:

    1. This is still under the cycle time of 144Hz (6.94ms)
    2. Colors rarely go from one end of the spectrum to the other. And even then, it's only the sub channels that may do it and humans are less sensitive to color than pure luma.

    To put in perspective why response time is kind of meaningless, check out this post: http://www.overclock.net/t/1221711/what-does-response-time-2-ms-gray-to-gray-mean-in-specs#post_16578402 (note that a 14ms monitor somehow looks better than a 5ms monitor)

    Also to those who claim 144Hz is automagically superior, just because you receive more information doesn't mean it's meaningful to you. The few tests I've found where there were as blind as possible testing between 60Hz and 144Hz, there's no conclusive evidence to suggest that 144Hz is objectively superior. I mean, we can blame media for making us used to 24FPS (but you also have to understand that those are preprocessed to hell and back to smooth out the motion whereas games have no such thing).

    I mean, the average conscious reaction time for a visual cue by humans is allegedly 0.25 seconds. You could do better, if you were trained so that muscle memory takes over. And really, you can probably get that at 144Hz or 60Hz. I used to play StepMania and DDR at a paltry 30FPS and kick butt. Sure I prefer the 60 FPS versions now, but once muscle memory takes over, frame rate to a certain point is moot.
  • skit75
    Other fascinating millisecond milestones...:

    1.000692286 milliseconds — time taken for light to travel 300 km in a vacuum
    2 milliseconds to 5 milliseconds - typical response time in LCD computer monitors, especially high-end displays
    2.27 milliseconds — cycle time for A440 (pitch standard), the most commonly used pitch for tuning musical instruments
    3 milliseconds — a housefly's wing flap
    3.3 milliseconds — normal delay time between initiation and detonation of a C4 explosive charge
    4 milliseconds — typical average seek time for a 10,000 rpm hard disk
    5 milliseconds — a honey bee's wing flap
    5 milliseconds to 80 milliseconds — a hummingbird's wing flap
    8 milliseconds — 1/125 of a second, a standard camera shutter speed (125); fastest shifting time of a car's mechanical transmission
    10 milliseconds (10 ms) — a jiffy, cycle time for frequency 100 Hz
    16.67 milliseconds (1/60 second) — a third, cycle time for American 60 Hz AC electricity (mains grid)
    16.68 milliseconds (1/59.94 second) — the amount of time one field lasts in 29.97 fps interlaced video (commonly erroneously referred to as 30 fps)
    20 milliseconds — cycle time for European 50 Hz AC electricity
    31.25 milliseconds - a hundred twenty-eighth note at MM = 60
    33.367 milliseconds — the amount of time one frame lasts in 29.97 fps video (most common for NTSC-legacy formats)
    41.667 milliseconds — the amount of time one frame lasts in 24 fps video (most common cinematic frame rate)
    41.708 milliseconds — the amount of time one frame lasts in 23.976 fps video (cinematic frame rate for NTSC-legacy formats)
    50 milliseconds — the time interval between gear changes on a Lamborghini Aventador
    50 milliseconds — cycle time for the lowest audible tone, 20 Hz
    60 milliseconds — cycle time for European 16.7 Hz AC electrified railroad power grid
    60 milliseconds — the time interval between gear changes on a Ferrari 458 Spider
    62.5 milliseconds — a sixty-fourth note at MM = 60
    5 to 80 milliseconds — typical latency for a broadband internet connection (important for playing online games)
    100 milliseconds — the time interval between gear changes on a Ferrari FXX
    125 milliseconds — a thirty-second note at MM = 60
    134 milliseconds — time taken by light to travel around the Earth's equator
    150 milliseconds — recommended maximum time delay for telephone service
    185 milliseconds — the duration of a full rotation of the main rotor on Bell 205, 212 and 412 helicopters (normal rotor speed is 324 RPM)
    200 milliseconds — the time it takes the human brain to recognize emotion in facial expressions
    250 milliseconds — a sixteenth note at MM = 60
    300 to 400 milliseconds — the time for the human eye to blink
    400 milliseconds — time in which the fastest baseball pitches reach the strike zone
    430 to 500 milliseconds — common modern dance music tempos (120–140 BPM)
    495 milliseconds — an approximate average of the round trip time for communications via geosynchronous satellites
    500 milliseconds — an eighth note at MM = 60
    860 milliseconds — average human resting heart cycle time
  • spagalicious
    95237 said:
    Also to those who claim 144Hz is automagically superior, just because you receive more information doesn't mean it's meaningful to you. The few tests I've found where there were as blind as possible testing between 60Hz and 144Hz, there's no conclusive evidence to suggest that 144Hz is objectively superior. I mean, we can blame media for making us used to 24FPS (but you also have to understand that those are preprocessed to hell and back to smooth out the motion whereas games have no such thing).


    Over 75-80Hz improves both the image quality, motion, and fluidity of a game to a pretty large extent. Sit down and game with a 60Hz IPS panel for a few hours and switch to the XB270HU, the difference will be night and day. Why would technical review sites praise the benefits high refresh/144Hz if they did not believe the combination of low response/lag times and high refresh rates were superior to 60Hz 16.67ms panels?

    For blur, the benefits are easily demonstrated.
    http://testufo.com/#test=framerates