It seems that computer monitors are being asked to do more and more things these days. Gone are the times when a 60Hz screen with high resolution was considered good enough. Gamers need speed, professionals need accurate color, and business users need a display that does everything well and reliably.
Ultra HD in the computer world started out as just 3840x2160 pixels and nothing else. But since the advent of Ultra HD Blu-ray with extended color and HDR, there is now a need for more capable displays. Simply adding Adobe RGB color to a panel used to qualify it as a pro-grade screen; that is no more. Now content creators need DCI-P3 and are still clamoring for Rec.2020. And HDR is clearly now a thing. That’s where manufacturers are being truly tested.
The PE320QK strikes an excellent balance between performance and value. Obviously, HDR performance is about native contrast, and the more, the better. Dell’s UP2718Q will be a benchmark for some time to come thanks to its full-array backlight and 17,000:1 contrast in HDR mode. But it costs nearly $1500 at this writing. Users with smaller budgets will have to settle for edge backlighting, and that’s where this Acer shines. Though it uses an IPS panel, its HDR implementation is quite good, thanks to some fancy software programming in its dynamic contrast feature.
The other major decider is color accuracy. The PE320QK covers that base amply, like many other professional monitors. But its DCI-P3 performance is among the best we’ve seen so far. Not only does it top 90% coverage, it manages to track Rec.709 and DCI perfectly within a Rec.2020 container. Couple that with accurate grayscale and EOTF tracking in HDR mode, and you have an ideal tool for content creators working in the latest formats.
If the well-implemented features stopped there, this monitor would be a good choice. But Acer takes it a step further with FreeSync. Gaming at 3840x2160 pixels is still a difficult proposition, due to the 60Hz limit imposed by DisplayPort 1.2 and HDMI 1.4. Some newer screens are going beyond that and soon we expect to see new displays that can break the barrier. But by taking the FreeSync range down to 24Hz, Low Framerate Compensation comes into play. That’s unusual in the Ultra HD category, and it makes the PE320QK into a decent gaming monitor. We were surprised at its playability down to 30fps.
Most pro displays just do accuracy well and leave the other features to other categories. Acer has managed to pack a high level of value into the PE320QK with FreeSync and HDR that makes it well worth its premium price. For that reason, we’re giving it a thumbs-up.
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