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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.

Our Verdict

There’s no doubt that an IPS monitor is preferable to a TN one when it comes to ultimate image quality and off-axis viewing. Acer has produced a screen to lust for in the XB270HU. With G-Sync, a stable 144Hz refresh rate, QHD resolution and a superb AHVA panel, it checks almost every box. Fast refresh Ultra HD screens aren’t here yet so until that happens, this is our favorite gaming screen for now. Highly recommended.

For

  • G-Sync
  • 144Hz
  • QHD resolution
  • IPS/AHVA panel
  • ULMB blur-reduction
  • accurate color, grayscale and gamma
  • excellent contrast
  • bright picture

Against

  • Blur-reduction is non-adjustable
  • expensive

Introduction

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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  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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!
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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".
    Reply
  • 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...
    Reply
  • cknobman
    $800 for an Acer?

    It may be a nice monitor but that is still a hard sell given it is an Acer.
    Reply
  • 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...
    Reply
  • ToineF
    if it was 1ms, I think it would be worth it.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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 :)
    Reply