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Acer Predator XB271HK 27-inch UHD G-Sync Monitor Review

Gamers seeking Ultra HD resolution have few choices but an excellent new G-Sync monitor has just appeared from Acer, the XB271HK sporting a 27-inch AHVA screen. We’re checking it out in our lab today.

Our Verdict

The XB271HK requires a $200 premium over the XB280HK but in the bargain you get a fantastic AHVA panel with superior image quality and viewing angles. We think it’s worth the extra money and should be on every well-funded gamer’s short list.

For

  • Well-saturated color
  • , out-of-box accuracy
  • G-Sync
  • Ultra HD resolution
  • good viewing angles
  • build quality

Against

  • Expensive

Introduction

There are plenty of enthusiasts looking to make the jump to an Ultra HD display. But it’s important for gamers to consider their entire system when considering this upgrade. We’ve managed to test quite a few 3840x2160 displays over the past two years and many of them look fantastic but are not necessarily the best choice for your weekly fragfest.

Besides the obvious need for graphics speed, adaptive refresh is fast becoming a must-have when choosing a gaming display. Until G-Sync and FreeSync came along, tearing (or the extra input lag that comes with V-Sync) was just something that was accepted. Higher refresh rates mitigated the problem somewhat but didn’t solve it entirely.

Thanks to adaptive refresh monitors, we now have a way to ensure smooth motion in games where the framerate is constantly changing. G-Sync was the first technology to appear and it’s still going strong despite a roughly $200 price premium due to its proprietary licensing requirements.

So gamers who have the budget for a GeForce GTX Titan X or AMD Radeon Fury X can put an Ultra HD monitor on their short list. We’ve looked at one G-Sync example previously, Acer’s XB280HK. But that screen is based on a TN panel, not everyone’s favorite tech. So Acer has answered with a 27-inch AHVA (IPS-type) display, namely the Predator XB271HK.

Specifications

A few years ago, gaming monitors began distancing themselves from workaday screens with features like high refresh rates, backlight strobing and adaptive refresh. Users’ wishlists were then reduced to a single desire, an IPS panel. TN has long been favored for its low cost and high speed but the image quality suffers a bit off-axis, especially as screen sizes go up.

At 27 inches and larger, you’re best served by an IPS or AMVA panel with its superior viewing angles. The XB271HK checks that box with a superb AHVA part made by AU Optronics. You’ll recall from a few past reviews that AHVA is not the same as AMVA. AHVA stands for Advanced Hyper Viewing Angle and it delivers on that promise. You’ll see in our photos on page seven that very little quality is lost even at 45 degrees off-center. Otherwise, it shares every other IPS attribute.

The backlight uses constant current at all brightness levels to achieve flicker-free performance without pulse-width modulation. The panel also features a true native 10-bit color depth. Of course you’ll need a 10-bit signal to take full advantage of this, but even with an 8-bit video source, banding should be a non-issue unless the content is significantly compressed.

And of course there’s the G-Sync module, which in this case is a new version that adds an HDMI input. That doesn’t mean you can use G-Sync over HDMI though; DisplayPort is still the interface of choice. But you can feed the XB271HK a 3840x2160 signal through HDMI at speeds up to 30Hz.

On paper it seems like a significant upgrade to its TN-based predecessor. We’re anxious to delve deeper, so let’s take a look.

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  • chumly
    Bummer about the response times. The other Predators, the x34, z35, and the smaller 16:9 XB270 variants were all on point (less than 15ms absolute input lag).

    The world is still not ready for 4k (but getting closer). 2 more years, 2 more years.
    Reply
  • chumly
    actually now that I'm comparing tom's review to another review on the same monitor, the response time numbers are not adding up. lag of 16 - 32ms, is one to two frames of lag at 60Hz, according to TFT central, they call this class 2; class 1 (less than 16ms) being optimal for gaming. They have this same exact monitor with only 4ms between signal process and pixel post (much much faster). What's up? Your response time numbers seem to be a lot higher than they should be.
    Reply
  • jasonelmore
    Newegg recently had this model for $679. Pretty good deal for a 4k gysnc
    Reply
  • picture_perfect
    We think motion quality is more important than resolution. When you move up to 75Hz and beyond, things like motion blur fade into the background. Those kinds of artifacts no longer distract from gameplay. With adaptive refresh, tearing is a thing of the past at any resolution, but we’d still rather have those high framerates. So do those extra pixels make up for this? We’d have to say no at this point.

    YES. This is an opinion gamers need to know before buying a 4K monitor and one that has been missing from your previous reviews. KUDOS for finally dishing out some common sense. These resolutions are too high.
    Reply
  • eklipz330
    18177986 said:
    Bummer about the response times. The other Predators, the x34, z35, and the smaller 16:9 XB270 variants were all on point (less than 15ms absolute input lag).

    The world is still not ready for 4k (but getting closer). 2 more years, 2 more years.
    that prediction falls in line with mine... but for me, that means it's an excellent time to buy a "stop gap" monitor now.

    3440x1440, 120hz, OLED HDR 34" monitors with low latency to be a thing in 2-3 years. but until we have the hardware to drive that resolution, it makes no sense to wait. i think a 35" 2560x1080 144hz VA panel is amazing right now (for gaming).
    Reply
  • Sam Hain
    For me (and this is just my opinion and gaming needs), I cannot justify 4K 60Hz, regardless of price-point, monitor size, response times, manufacturer, etc. at the moment...

    Perhaps 4K w/GSync, hitting 100Hz and we have a winner... But of course, then comes that killer price tag.
    Reply
  • ubercake
    I had this monitor for a day and returned it because of the backlight bleed. It was equivalent of the poor viewing angles you see on a TN monitor because the bottom right corner was very bleached out unless you physically moved your head to center on the bottom right corner.

    I then picked up a PG279Q which has less backlight bleed.

    I found both monitors to have great performance, but found the backlight bleed on both to be distracting.

    I really don't think either Asus or Acer is where they need to be when they charge $800 for a 1440p IPS monitor. These panels may perform well, but they are not great IPS panels from a backlight bleed standpoint. They should be priced around $500 because of the low-end IPS panels. You know what I mean if you've used a good IPS panel.

    Hopefully, they'll stop ripping people off one day.
    Reply
  • Sam Hain
    18179002 said:
    I had this monitor for a day and returned it because of the backlight bleed. It was equivalent of the poor viewing angles you see on a TN monitor because the bottom right corner was very bleached out unless you physically moved your head to center on the bottom right corner.

    I then picked up a PG279Q which has less backlight bleed.

    I found both monitors to have great performance, but found the backlight bleed on both to be distracting.

    I really don't think either Asus or Acer is where they need to be when they charge $800 for a 1440p IPS monitor. These panels may perform well, but they are not great IPS panels from a backlight bleed standpoint. They should be priced around $500 because of the low-end IPS panels. You know what I mean if you've used a good IPS panel.

    Hopefully, they'll stop ripping people off one day.
    In your XP, would Asus build-quality stand as being "better" or does another manufacturer in this realm of gaming-spec monitors stand out in your opinion? I'm not in the market yet... BUT am getting close. Thanks!

    Reply
  • AlistairAB
    At bestbuy.ca this monitor is $1288 after tax in Canada and the LG 27UD68 is $616. Swap freesync for gsync and save over 600 dollars and you get the same quality panel (or is the LG a higher quality one?) I wish I could spread the gospel of the LG monitor faster, as hardly any sites are mentioning the first inexpensive freesync 4k monitor has arrived, making the price points of all the older ones obsolete.
    Reply
  • Bezzell
    Gsync prices are out of control, as are their GPUs.
    Reply