We’ve seen enough curved ultra-wide monitors now to conclude that they represent a true category and are not just a passing fad. Gamers have embraced them as a viable alternative to expensive multi-screen setups that require a lot of desk space and a stack of pricey video cards. And don’t forget that annoying line between panels. Even with today’s super thin bezels, you can’t unsee those vertical bands.
Today we’re checking out Acer’s latest XR382CQK 38” ultra-wide. Its resolution of 3840x1600 makes it attractive to those wanting something more than QHD, but who don’t want to be tied down to UHD’s 60Hz limitation. While that’s inevitably going to change, there are monitors out there right now that can put more pixels in front of the viewer and deliver higher refresh rates. This screen offers FreeSync and 75Hz, along with premium build quality.
When shopping for curved monitors, there are more choices than you might think at first glance. Diagonal screen sizes range from 32-38”, and resolutions start at 2560x1080 and go up to what we’re seeing here today: 3840x1600. That puts the pixel count almost exactly halfway between QHD and UHD, so you’ll need a little more power under the hood to move the extra dots, but you won’t quite need to break the bank on a bleeding edge graphics board.
The XR382CQK sports a gentle 2300mm curve radius, which offers a nice wrap-around effect without image distortion. Thanks to its tremendous width, you can sit at a comfortable distance and completely fill your peripheral vision. Doing anything on this monitor is a completely different experience than what we’re used to with flat 16:9 monitors. And that extra size sets it apart from other curved ultra-wides.
This isn’t our first review of this screen size. A few months ago, we covered LG’s 38UC99, which offers nearly the same specs. In fact, the core panel part is the same, but Acer boasts a slightly larger FreeSync range: down to 48Hz rather than LG’s 52Hz. Pricing is relatively close between the two, so it now comes down to our tests to determine the winner. Let’s take a look.
Packaging, Physical Layout & Accessories
The XR382CQK approaches the size of a small HDTV, and due to its curve, comes in a huge carton with lots of internal foam to protect the panel. It’s fully assembled, though users wanting to employ an aftermarket mounting solution can unbolt the upright if they wish. An adapter is provided for this purpose. Most of us will simply lift the monitor out and plug it in. To that end, Acer has provided a large external power supply along with two DisplayPort cables and USB-C.
At a tick shy of 3' wide, the XR382CQK requires a fair amount of desktop space. The stand, however, has a relatively small footprint. It’s made from solid aluminum with a satin finish. It extends up into a useful handle, which makes moving the monitor much easier and safer. It features full adjustment, with 5" of height, 30° swivel in each direction, 35° backward tilt, and 5° forward. Like all ultra-wide displays, there is no portrait mode.
The front screen layer is a 3H-hardness plastic with excellent anti-glare properties. It has no apparent impact on clarity, which is solid from side to side. A soft glow comes from LEDs mounted on the bottom bezel. You can specify the color and brightness or have them change with video processing mode. When FreeSync is active, they can light up your desktop in red. If you prefer less subtlety, they can be made to flash or pulse.
Controls are found around the back-right side and consist of a joystick and three buttons, plus the power key. Two of the buttons are user-programmable. The joystick is super handy and clicks with a premium feel. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be whipping through the OSD like a pro; or someone that has reviewed hundreds of monitors.
The top and side views show the XR382CQK’s 2300R curve. It’s subtle compared to some, but just enough to create an immersive effect without image distortion. The side profile is understandably thick, and we miss having USB ports here. There are four available, but they’re on the back facing to the rear. To activate the hub, you’ll need to have a USB-C port on your computer to use with the included cable.
The monitor sports two 7W speakers that are DTS-tuned. They offer a little more volume and depth than most, though you’ll still be best served with a good pair of headphones or an external system. The headphone jack is found on the bottom-facing input panel.
Speaking of which, it is well-stocked with DisplayPort in and out, USB-C, and two HDMI 2.0 inputs. One has MHL 2.1, and both are HDCP 2.2 compliant. This makes it ready to use with Ultra HD sources like streaming boxes and Blu-ray players. The XR382CQK does not support HDR at this time.
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