Brightness And Contrast
To read about our monitor tests in-depth, please check out Display Testing Explained: How We Test Monitors and TVs. Brightness and Contrast testing is covered on page two.
Uncalibrated – Maximum Backlight Level
Today's group includes curved gaming monitors with both IPS and VA technology. We've also included the nearly-perfect Asus PB238Q, which isn't specifically aimed at gamers but works extremely well for the task. Also present is the BenQ XR3501, Asus PG279Q, Acer XR341CK and the HP Envy 34c.
There is plenty of brightness from every screen in the group but the displays with ULMB need some extra power to compensate for the output loss when it's engaged. The Z35 and PG279Q both have that quality.
It's pretty easy to tell which panels are VA just by looking at the numbers. Black levels are far lower than IPS or TN are capable of. This is why they have such high contrast and why their images have greater depth.
Even though the Z35 and XR3501 use the same panel part, Acer has coaxed quite a bit more contrast from the Predator. The addition of G-Sync and 200Hz already sets it apart; fantastic contrast is just icing on the cake.
Uncalibrated – Minimum Backlight Level
All of the displays work well in a darkened room. The Z35 is almost exactly at our preferred 50cd/m2 output level. Its ambient light feature can act as sort of a bias light if you want to close down your pupils a bit when playing with the lights off. For the most immersive effect however, we suggest turning everything off so the image floats in front of you.
These are some seriously low black levels. If you're watching a movie with black bars for example, they just blend into the bezel rather than glowing around your content. Of course with a 21:9 aspect ratio, bars can be easily eliminated.
Contrast drops by a negligible six-percent when the backlight is bottomed out. For a monitor with such a wide dynamic range this is very consistent performance.
After Calibration To 200cd/m2
Here we're showing the effects of ULMB. Light output is cut by nearly 50 percent. If you reduce the pulse width for greater blur reduction, the Z35 gets even darker. Fortunately there's sufficient benefit at the highest setting. And you can up the brightness to its maximum to return the output level to 200cd/m2. But the best part is seen in the two charts below.
ULMB usually has little effect on black levels, which means contrast is reduced. That is not the case here. Acer has implemented the option very well. You can see that the minimum output number is reduced by roughly the same percentage as the maximum. The result is...
...nearly identical contrast! This is the first ULMB-equipped monitor we've tested that maintains a consistent contrast level in both modes. Though we expect most users to opt for G-Sync and its higher refresh rates, the Z35's blur reduction does a fantastic job of cleaning up motion detail. We found some situations where we preferred it over G-Sync in fact. Page seven has more on that subject.
ANSI Contrast Ratio
The ANSI result is strong at only six percent less than the sequential value. The AU Optronics part used here is of very high quality despite its less-than-bleeding-edge resolution. We think the contrast quality coupled with the Z35's other features trump its lower pixel count.