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Acer Predator X38 175Hz Gaming Monitor Review: Bigger Really Is Better

A big, fast, curved performer

Acer Predator X38
Editor's Choice
(Image: © Acer)

To read about our monitor tests in-depth, please check out Display Testing Explained: How We Test PC Monitors. Brightness and Contrast testing is covered on page two.

Uncalibrated – Maximum Backlight Level

Our database contains ultrawide screens in every size. We picked displays ranging from 34-49 inches to compare the Predator X38’s performance. There’s the Acer Predator X35, Cooler Master GM34-CW, Gigabyte G34WQC and AOC CU34G2X. Finally, we have a mega-wide screen in the Viotek SUW49DA. All support HDR and refresh rates from 120-200 Hz.

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Acer Predator X38

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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Acer Predator X38

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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Acer Predator X38

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Brightness-wise, the X38 tops out at over 453 nits, matching its OSD setting of 450 almost perfectly. It’s nice to see a monitor with accurate settings values. If you want 200 nits, set the slider to 201. Only the X35 is brighter in SDR mode -- not surprising, since it can top 1,000 nits in HDR. Still, the X38 provides plenty of output for any work or play environment. And it can drop to a comfortable 50 nits for playing in the dark.

As the only IPS panel in the group, the X38 doesn’t excel comparatively in the black level test. It delivers IPS-typical performance, with a static contrast ratio just under 1,000:1. This can be increased to 2,171.6:1, however, by engaging the SDR Variable Backlight feature and setting it to Gaming response. The feature works effectively and does not obscure highlights or shadow detail.

After Calibration to 200 nits

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Acer Predator X38

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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Acer Predator X38

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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Acer Predator X38

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Black level and contrast results are much the same after calibration to 200 nits brightness (see our settings on page 1). The other monitors here provide much more native contrast and deeper blacks. Even with the SDR Variable Backlight option turned on, the X38 can’t quite keep up with these VA panels.

ANSI contrast is a solid-for-IPS 955.9:1. The X38 uses premium hardware and shows excellent quality control. A well-fitted grid polarizer ensures a sharp image and excellent screen uniformity. The only flaw is its core technology: IPS has some advantages over VA, but contrast is not one of them.

Christian Eberle
Christian Eberle is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He's a veteran reviewer of A/V equipment, specializing in monitors.
  • coloradoblah
    Maybe when its under 1000, 1700 is way too high, 1,000:1 contrast sucks
    Reply
  • cknobman
    LMAO Acer is smoking crack if they think this monitor is worth $1700!!

    Monitor pricing is just stupid these days. Maybe when crap does not sell prices will come back down to sane levels.
    Reply
  • coloradoblah
    cknobman said:
    LMAO Acer is smoking crack if they think this monitor is worth $1700!!

    Monitor pricing is just stupid these days. Maybe when crap does not sell prices will come back down to sane levels.
    Yeah you can get a few 34” ultrawides for around 300-400 now , obviously VA panels but is it really 4 times the cost ? The Gigabyte 34 ultrawide is actually pretty damn good for the cost, as long as you get one that has good QC.
    Reply
  • tharkis842
    Meh. For the price, might as well buy a nice gaming TV and run a custom res.
    Reply
  • brandxbeer
    tharkis842 said:
    Meh. For the price, might as well buy a nice gaming TV and run a custom res.
    I agree. Some die hards will disagree but tvs are the best option for casual pc gaming. A descent 4k tvs colour and hrd will blow a monitor away
    Reply
  • coloradoblah
    Yeah i think you can get a 120hz 4k oled for 1299, for this cost Asus should have a no light bleed, dead pixel guarantee
    Reply
  • waltc3
    Should have tested with a more mainstream GPU--because a 3090 & this monitor = well over $3,000. Also, I'm not sold on curved monitors at all. It's interesting that quite a few of these widescreen, < 4k monitor reviews of 34" and up do not list dot pitch (sometimes called pixel pitch)-- the number provides the distance between screen pixels, & the lower the better--under .20 is required for 32" 4K monitors, if you don't want to be able to see individual pixels from any distance. My 32" 4K BenQ EW-3270U has pixel pitch/dot pitch of .18 and no individual pixels are observable even 1" away from the screen.) One can only think it is because the dot pitch is less than ideal in these monitors which, given their larger size and lower resolutions (lower than 3840x2160), is understandable from a marketing standpoint, I suppose.

    Interesting that I see that Win10 supports a resolution of 3840X1620 on my BenQ--which I would think would also affect aspect ratios, were I to use it (tried it, knocks the 16:9 aspect way off.) Additionally, my BenQ supports something like 360 nits, max, but I can run HDR games set to 1000nits (No Man's Sky supports HDR 400, 600, 1000--you choose) and the HDR 1000 setting for the game looks by far the best. (I was pretty surprised by this, actually.) BG3 has the best HDR implementation in a game I've ever seen. (Game developers are finally beginning to get up to speed with HDR, finally--no more "washed out" fairly ugly appearances.)

    Best of all, the 32" 4K HDR 1000 BenQ sells for ~$440. It's a VA panel but as I don't need to view the monitor from anything except a straight-on position, broader viewing angles aren't required. BenQ also offers a newer version, the EW-3280U, which uses IPS instead of VA, for the exact same support--it's ~$700 (Which is close to what the 3270 cost before the 3280 was introduced.)

    *It's 60Hz, but that can be easily overcome by turning off vsync so that you can get hundreds of frames per second--without page tearing--which was another surprise with this monitor. All I can figure is that the anti-flicker tech in the monitor also controls page tearing, which I rarely if ever see even though my default driver setting (5700XT) is Vsync off.

    Highly recommended if you want a great HDR gaming monitor with plenty of size that won't break the bank:

    https://www.amazon.com/BenQ-EW3270U-inch-Monitor-FreeSync/dp/B078HWBGH5/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=benq+ew3270u&qid=1616432901&sr=8-1
    --Looks like they've sold out--getting more 3270's on April 13, the page says.

    (I seem to be pimping this monitor...;) All I can do is say that if I didn't really like it I'd not have two words to say about it...;))
    Reply
  • coloradoblah
    I dont mind the curve, makes it a bit easier to see especially on 21:9, HDR is a mess on windows currently and don’t even bother using it anymore.
    Reply
  • VinceV
    Any particular reason there aren't comparisons to the very similar LG and Alienware monitors? And no mention of the fact that neither port has the bandwidth to push these monitors to their limits.
    Reply
  • Blacksad999
    VinceV said:
    Any particular reason there aren't comparisons to the very similar LG and Alienware monitors? And no mention of the fact that neither port has the bandwidth to push these monitors to their limits.

    I was just coming here to ask the same question myself. lol It seems really odd to leave out the monitors which are direct competitors to this model from the comparison. IIRC, both Alienware and Acer get their panels from LG for the 38" models. Would have been nice to see a side by side breakdown of the strengths of each.
    Reply