With a high-quality IPS panel and FreeSync, it seems that Acer has once again created a gaming monitor to lust for. We raved about the XB270HU with its 144Hz IPS/QHD panel and superb image. Now those with a large display budget just might consider going for the curve.
There's no question that curvature is just what 21:9 aspect screens need. If you're going to put such a wide display two to three feet in front of the user, it's natural that the sides should bend in slightly. Not only does it increase the suspension of disbelief in games, it makes things easier when working with multiple windows in productivity applications. After reviewing both flat and curved ultra-wide displays, we definitely prefer the curve. It just makes more sense.
Acer has pulled out all the stops by using the same excellent panel as in the Dell U3415W. If you recall, that monitor posted the best out-of-box numbers we'd ever seen, which we chalked up to its factory calibration. Acer doesn't include the datasheet in the box but it's obvious this panel part is super-accurate. Our test results show the XR341CK competes favorably with most high-end professional monitors.
The addition of FreeSync and a slightly higher 75Hz refresh rate puts the icing on the cake as far as we're concerned. And don't forget the built-in aiming reticules, fps counter and four settings memories. About the only thing the XR341CK doesn't have is ULMB.
Blur-reduction is something that has yet to make its way into a FreeSync screen. We don't consider it a loss though because even though G-Sync monitors have it, you can't use both features at the same time. Ultimately, frame-rate matching is about optimizing the experience between 30 and 60Hz. Once you go faster, tearing is much harder to see and has less impact on image quality.
Without getting too in-depth about the differences between G-Sync and FreeSync it's important to remember that FreeSync is an open and license-free standard that any manufacturer can implement in its products. That is why we're seeing differences in refresh rates from the various models. And it's the reason FreeSync screens cost around $200 less than their G-Sync counterparts.
Regardless of that debate, we like the XR341CK. Its image quality is among the best, the FreeSync implementation works without issue and we enjoy the curve. For its high performance, build quality and the fact that it's just fun to use, we're giving it our Tom's Editor Recommended Award.