Acer XG270HU 27-inch FreeSync Monitor Review

We’ve had G-Sync monitors for many months now, but AMD fans had to wait for FreeSync screens. Today we’re looking at Acer’s 27-inch QHD XG270HU.

When G-Sync was first announced, gamers were understandably excited about the prospect of eliminating annoying tearing artifacts from their favorite FPS titles. Before, only turning on v-sync could alleviate that issue. But the trade-offs were often slow-down, stutter and input lag as the video card buffered frames and waited for the monitor’s refresh cycle to catch up.

We’ve managed to get several G-Sync-capable displays reviewed, which is great for anyone with a modern GeForce board. But it was only recently that FreeSync-equipped monitors started showing up for sale. A couple of weeks ago we covered our first such product – BenQ’s XL2730Z. We found FreeSync to work just as advertised, and just as well as G-Sync. Now Radeon fans who have certain high-end Radeon cards can enjoy the tear-free gaming that comes with frame-rate matching and no additional input lag.

BenQ’s entry slots into the high end of the market at over $700. Acer’s XG270HU, which we're reviewing today, leaves out features like motion-blur reduction, USB ports and gaming modes to get the price down significantly. As of this writing, they’re selling on the street for around $500.

Specifications

As most of you know by now, FreeSync (known as Adaptive-Sync in the DisplayPort 1.2a standard) matches the display’s frame-rate to that of the video card’s output signal. Since the rate is constantly changing in games, every frame is drawn from top to bottom in a single refresh cycle, eliminating any tearing artifacts. The end result is supposed to look a lot like Nvidia's G-Sync technology, except that FreeSync is part of the DisplayPort spec and therefore requires no proprietary hardware to implement. In the case of the XG270HU, its frame rate range is 30-144Hz, which means you can benefit from FreeSync down to 30 FPS.

Aside from FreeSync, the XG270HU is a typical 27-inch gaming monitor. It sports QHD resolution through a 144Hz TN panel manufactured by AU Optronics. The backlight is a white-LED edge array and runs on constant current, which means it’s flicker-free. We’ve talked about the advantage of eliminating pulse-width modulation in past reviews. Even at a rate of over 20,000 cycles per second, some users can still perceive flicker. Using constant current eliminates that artifact for everyone.

Another feature we’re glad to see is a native 8-bit color depth. Older-generation gaming screens employed a 6-bit panel and frame rate conversion (FRC) to sync with the 8-bit signal coming from the computer. While the banding artifacts caused by this have largely been eliminated by good video processing, it’s still best to maintain the same bit-depth throughout the signal chain.

Much has been debated about IPS versus TN in the desktop monitor realm. Almost all gaming monitors still use TN parts, and that has put off some users. We’ve reviewed exactly two IPS monitors capable of running faster than 60Hz. But Acer has an example on its way to us now; the XB270HU is the first monitor from a mainstream brand to offer a 144Hz refresh rate in an IPS panel, and on top of that it’s QHD. We’re anxiously awaiting delivery of our test sample.

The XG we’re testing today sounds great on paper and it’s a decent value to boot. Hopefully Acer hasn’t cut corners on image quality in an effort to get FreeSync in users’ hands. Let’s take a look.

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  • eklipz330
    "In the case of the XG270HU, its frame rate range is 30-144Hz, which means you can benefit from FreeSync down to 30 FPS."

    my god that is wonderful
  • Other Comments
  • rdc85
    Look goods,

    hope they can make 144hz IPS "Freesync" monitor...
    24" preferred.. 27" just to big for me..
  • eklipz330
    "In the case of the XG270HU, its frame rate range is 30-144Hz, which means you can benefit from FreeSync down to 30 FPS."

    my god that is wonderful
  • ubercake
    Quote:
    "In the case of the XG270HU, its frame rate range is 30-144Hz, which means you can benefit from FreeSync down to 30 FPS."

    my god that is wonderful

    The first freesync monitor with such a range. This is great for competition!!!

    I also like the fact these freesync monitors are not limited to a single DP input.

    Now I feel like I have a choice again. AMD corrected their FCAT issues I had been complaining about for years and now freesync? I may head back to team red with the next gen. This is good stuff. How are the drivers lately?
  • wtfxxxgp
    Very sexy monitor. That IPS version is also supposed to be QHD... That's going to be pricey for sure, but at least it's the start of good things to come
  • wtfxxxgp
    Quote:
    Look goods,

    hope they can make 144hz IPS "Freesync" monitor...
    24" preferred.. 27" just to big for me..


    Seriously? 27" 1440p is the SWEET SPOT.
  • UncleVesper
    Quote:
    "In the case of the XG270HU, its frame rate range is 30-144Hz, which means you can benefit from FreeSync down to 30 FPS."

    my god that is wonderful


    It figures Tom's Hardware does not actually do a full review of their products. The FreeSync range they just took for granted in what they were told. According to GURU3D, they experienced tearing this monitor < 40 FPS, so the minimum range is NOT 30 but 40 HZ.

    http://www.guru3d.com/articles_pages/amd_freesync_review_with_the_acer_xb270hu_monitor,12.html
  • UncleVesper
    Link cut off, this was the conclusion: "We did noticed on the ACER screen that at low sub 35 FPS screen tearing was back, which was disappointing. From what we learned, the ACER dynamic range starts at 40Hz, and thus so will FreeSync. If you cannot achieve such a framerate then you need to tweak image quality in such a manner that it stays above the minimum dynamic range. But FreeSync at 40+ FPS is as good as it is at 60 FPS, that is a fact."
  • Wisecracker
    Anonymous said:
    "In the case of the XG270HU, its frame rate range is 30-144Hz, which means you can benefit from FreeSync down to 30 FPS."

    my god that is wonderful


    Yup.

    The first OEMs to seriously target entry-level and 'mainstream' 30Hz+ at a respectable size and resolution are sitting on gold mines. Hopefully, it will happen sooner rather than later.

    If Intel gets behind it, it's a done deal. Being the big dog with DX12 on the immediate horizon, and with their investment made into integrated graphics, it is a natural extension to bring DP to great, inexpensive motherboards.

    I'd love to see some gaming reviews at the lower-end. Let us see the experience with a $130 APU.
  • singemagique
    Quote:
    Very sexy monitor. That IPS version is also supposed to be QHD... That's going to be pricey for sure, but at least it's the start of good things to come


    Yep, the XB270HU is 1440p, IPS, 144hz, 4ms, GSync. I picked up two last month from Amazon at $738. They are excellent panels and the best monitors I have used outside of professional monitors.
  • quilciri
    Why, oh why, oh why doesn't it have a VESA mount? You were so close to the perfect monitor, Acer.
  • Xenophage
    The Asus MG279Q looks better by far. Going on sale at Newegg on Monday.
  • Eggz
    How long do you think it will be until Nvidia supports the standard Adaptive Sync from VESA? They'll have to eventually, right? If not, that'll be great for AMD and Intel.
  • Wisecracker
    Quote:
    It figures Tom's Hardware does not actually do a full review of their products. The FreeSync range they just took for granted in what they were told. According to GURU3D, they experienced tearing this monitor < 40 FPS, so the minimum range is NOT 30 but 40 HZ.

    In your haste to slam Toms (and AMD FreeSync) you missed this little nugget from Guru3D ....

    " ...Our tested sample is a 40-144Hz in case this of Acer..."

    Ooops.
  • UncleVesper
    Quote:
    Quote:
    It figures Tom's Hardware does not actually do a full review of their products. The FreeSync range they just took for granted in what they were told. According to GURU3D, they experienced tearing this monitor < 40 FPS, so the minimum range is NOT 30 but 40 HZ.

    In your haste to slam Toms (and AMD FreeSync) you missed this little nugget from Guru3D ....

    " ...Our tested sample is a 40-144Hz in case this of Acer..."

    Ooops.



    The monitor Min refresh rate for freesync IS 40 HZ. The information posted here is wrong, and my slamming is warranted because I almost pulled the trigger on this monitor myself. Notice how there is no "Freesync testing" page? Because it was not tested by them.

    Another Source:

    http://www.tftcentral.co.uk/reviews/acer_xg270hu.htm
  • Shankovich
    Waiting for that IPS version and I'm sold. Can save me $200 for the 14nm cards next year when it'll be time for an upgrade. Thanks to Acer for actually using a proper FreeSync range. Annoying to see people hating on some of the other monitors for not having a low enough range, even though FreeSync is speced for down to 9 Hz (so it's up to the panel makers).

    Regardless, if you're going to plop +$500 or so on a monitor, you sure as hell better have a good enough rig to play near or above 60fps at its resolution.
  • Bondfc11
    Still TN, but it is a start - not for me since I love IPS, but a decent showing from Acer (although many people are complaining of screen issues with this monitor like the ROG Swift when that first came out).
  • toadhammer
    Quote:
    Why, oh why, oh why doesn't it have a VESA mount? You were so close to the perfect monitor, Acer.


    Yeah. A crappy stand, *and* no VESA alternative.
  • JackNaylorPE
    The Acer XB270HU G-Sync model was the 1st IPS I could recommend for gaming with 144 Hz, ULMB and G-Sync eliminating the lag and ghosting issues. I had high hopes for the expected Freesync version but was disappointed to learn that, like previous Freesync models tested as of the review date, Freesync is broken and can't be used with Display Port and the Overdrive feature. It should also be detailed that not all ports on the XG270HU support Freesync.

    How this could escape mention in a tech site review is kind of baffling and I agree with the above user in recommending the Asus MG279Q which is not so afflicted..... unfortunately the Asus is not quite a complete package as it has no blur reduction mode.

    http://www.tftcentral.co.uk/reviews/content/acer_xg270hu.htm#freesync

    Quote:
    From a monitor point of view the use of FreeSync creates a problem on the XG270HU at the moment, just as it had on the BenQ XL2730Z we tested recently. The issue is that the OD (overdrive) setting does nothing when you connect the screen over DisplayPort to a FreeSync system. This applies whether you are actually using FreeSync or not, you don't even need to have the option ticked in the graphics card settings for the problem to occur. As a result, the OD setting appears to be in the off state, and changing it to Normal or Extreme in the menu makes no difference to real-World response times or performance. As a result, response times are fairly slow at ~7.7ms G2G and there is a more noticeable blur to the moving image. See the more detailed response time tests in the previous sections for more information, but needless to say this is not the optimum OD (response time) setting on this screen. For some reason, the combination of FreeSync support and this display disables the OD function.

    This only happens when you are using a FreeSync enabled graphics card, FreeSync capable drivers and the DisplayPort interface. If you switch to DVI or any other interface (which don't support the FreeSync feature) even from the same graphics card/driver then OD behaves as it should again. If you use DisplayPort but revert to an older non-FreeSync enabled driver package then OD works as it should. If you use a non-FreeSync supporting AMD card, or a card from NVIDIA/Intel then OD functions as it should. It's only when all 3 things are combined that the problem seems to occur. Obviously if you eliminate one of them to make OD work properly, you lose the advantage of FreeSync dynamic refresh rate control.

    We know from our review of the BenQ XL2730Z, and our conversations with them about it that the issue is a known bug which apparently currently affects all FreeSync monitors. The AMD FreeSync command disturbs the response time function, causing it to switch off. It's something which will require an update from AMD to their driver behaviour, which they are currently working on. It will also require a firmware update for the screen itself to correct the problem. We know that AMD are working on their updated drivers, and we've asked Acer for comment on how they might handle firmware and screen updates.

    Assuming that fixes the issue the performance when using a FreeSync system should be better than now, as you can move from OD Off to the better OD Normal setting. At the moment if you use the FreeSync function, or even just have a FreeSync enabled system in place, the response times are slower than they should be by a fair amount, and so you will experience a moderate amount of blur. To be fair they aren't really slow (7.7ms G2G measured) but they just aren't as fast as they could be and show some more noticeable blurring than OD normal. If you need to, you can always switch to DVI or another interface other than DisplayPort to benefit from the OD setting (but lose FreeSync).
  • soldier44
    Monitor looks great just needs to be over 30 inches and 4k.
  • somebodyspecial
    So I guess you guys just don't seem to mind ghosting etc?

    http://hexus.net/tech/reviews/monitors/82189-acer-xg270hu-freesync-monitor/?page=4
    "From our results it seems that the magnitude of the ghosting problem isn't as severe as observed on some other FreeSync panels"

    This means STILL THERE right? I mean, you can SEE it...LOL. Let me know when rev2 of these monitors fixes all the issues. Until then this isn't GSYNC.

    "In short we don't feel the ghosting on the Acer XG270HU is significant enough to impact the gaming experience."

    Well that is subjective though right? I want NONE...So rev2 or as they say:
    "That said, AMD could benefit from enforcing stricter standards on monitor vendors to ensure that panels with significant ghosting do not drag the value of the FreeSync package down."

    Until they FORCE components that fix the issues, I'll pass and wait for better or Gsync if none exists by the time I buy.

    On under 40fps:
    "However, the issue did creep into focus when tackling tougher games such as Assassin's Creed Unity, Crysis 3 and Metro Last Light."

    More:
    "The most significant issue pertains the noticeable transition between FreeSync and non-FreeSync zones, particularly if that's a frequent occurrence. In that instance gamers should consider lowering game settings to avoid dropping out of the FreeSync range and hope that AMD presents a driver fix for the issue in the near future. Nvidia's G-Sync deals with this specific issue by implementing a frame-duplication algorithm for low framerates. The Nvidia driver duplicates frames by varying magnitudes, two times for 19 to 38fps and three times for 14 to 18fps for example, to ensure the refresh rate of the panel stays around or above 40 and thus, cleverly, the gaming experience stays smooth."

    So NV has advantages I can't live without currently, though they still haven't put out the monitor I really want yet anyway (but that's my issue with the monitor not gsync performance issues). I also refuse to turn things down to hide issues here.

    Tomshardware seems to hate WAY too much on things that are proprietary, and covers for the issues of the crap that isn't. IE, OpenCL lovely, what's CUDA? compare them perf wise? You high? Why would we do that and let you know CUDA kills OpenCL? Freesync is lovely - oops, forgot to mention AMD needs to fix drivers, oh and that ghosting thing. jeez...

    Another more point, over the life of the unit, how much will the extra watts costs you to RATE MATCH with AMD vs. an NV Gsync solution if you hate turning things down like me? You can easily make up $100 on the high end of gaming cards in electricity currently with AMD vs. NV over say 3-5yrs of card ownership (god forbid you have kids gaming on it too). TCO means something. It's like arguing Xbox1/ps4 aren't much more than Shield TV, but reality is those $60 games blow up the cost of a console in short order and GRID can give higher quality especially as games evolve and NV upgrades servers repeatedly over time. Given the appropriate connection GRID could bury a console over time as consoles can't speed up to add more effects etc on AAA titles right? Whatever. The extra watts issue might go away with AMD's Fiji stuff but we're talking today.

    Also backing unclevesper's comment, the article at hexus states 40hz also hence the problem I mention at 40 above. So yeah, tomshardware found LACKING (a lot lately, reviewing shield without required connection speeds, this review etc). They mention issues in these games:
    "However, the issue did creep into focus when tackling tougher games such as Assassin's Creed Unity, Crysis 3 and Metro Last Light."

    Again, in those tougher games (and getting worse as games evolve) how much do the extra watts cost over time to keep you from having the issues Hexus etc found? How much crap will you turn down over time to keep there too like Hexus? As games get more taxing you'll end up doing it more frequently as more issue games pop up. meh...