There's no doubt we love hi-res gaming at both the QHD and Ultra HD levels. Our review of the XB280HK Ultra HD was very favorable and we enjoyed the super-sharp picture and G-Sync technology of that monitor. And connecting the XB270HU IPS display to our gaming system right after that makes it easy to compare the two monitors back-to-back.
First off, it's hard to see a difference in clarity between the two. The pixel density is 157ppi for the 28-inch Ultra HD screen versus 109ppi for the 27-inch QHD. At a viewing distance of around 30 inches, image sharpness looks pretty much the same to us. But the extra speed afforded by the XB270HU's high refresh rate does improve smoothness. Coupled with G-Sync, it's about as close to perfection as we've seen to date. Since the XB280HK is limited to 60Hz, there's only so much you can do by adding more graphics processing power. Eventually you hit the limit as we did.
We also prefer the look of the IPS panel in its AHVA variant. The off-axis image quality is markedly better than a typical IPS monitor and vastly improved over even the best TN panel. When gaming on a single screen the divide is not as great, but multi-display setups certainly benefit from the newer tech.
In addition, we're highly impressed with the XB270HU's color accuracy and gamma tracking. While these two metrics may appeal more to the nit-picking videophiles among us, an accurate image makes playing more fun no matter who you are. Most gaming monitors aren't designed with ultimate accuracy in mind but it seems the newest models have gained ground over their predecessors in that department.
We also like the XB270HU's high contrast. It won't quite compete with a true AMVA panel but how many of those have G-Sync and 144Hz? Right now that number is zero. Acer has also included motion blur-reduction in the XB270HU. While there is enough light available to offset the 71 percent reduction in output, the compromises include a max refresh of 120Hz and the disabling of G-Sync.
If you're still debating between G-Sync and FreeSync, here's what we've observed so far. G-Sync has the advantage when the action drops below 40fps for sure. At that point, frame-doubling takes over so there is no tearing even when stutter becomes a problem. FreeSync is supposed to switch to V-Sync mode at that point but in some instances, we've seen that this does not happen. Then you get tearing and stuttering, which makes gameplay much more frustrating.
However, if you can keep the refresh rate above 40Hz, there is no difference. Concerning the fact that overdrive is currently disabled in some FreeSync applications we can only maintain that in the vast majority of games, it is not a limitation. Even right above the zone, when frame rates are in the low forties, we can't see ghosting. And when playing at a comfortable 60fps or above, motion is super-smooth and tear-free.
The bottom line is right now you can go with either tech and come out happy. But if you want IPS in the mix, the Acer XB270HU is one of the only options. We will be looking at Asus' new MG279Q FreeSync monitor shortly but if you're already an Nvidia user, it doesn't get much better than this. For its superb performance, speed and image quality, we're giving it our Tom's Editor Recommended Award.
MORE: Best Computer MonitorsMORE: Display Calibration 101: Step-By-Step With Datacolor's Sypder4Elite
MORE: Display Calibration 201: The Science Behind Tuning Your Monitor
MORE: All Monitor ArticlesMORE: Displays on the Forums