Acer Predator XR341CK FreeSync Monitor Review
AMD’s FreeSync technology is in the process of making some serious inroads among monitor vendors due to its ease-of-implementation and affordability factor. Indeed we’ve looked at a few monitors with this technology thus far and have been consistently impressed with their capabilities. However, the one thing holding FreeSync back from true legitimacy among gamers was it integration into everything but leading-edge monitors. That’s going to change in a big way with the Acer Predator XR341CK.
So what makes this monitor so different from current crop of FreeSync offerings? Pretty much everything. It has a massive 34” 21:9 curved IPS panel, a FreeSync range of 30Hz to 75Hz and a host of other features that allow Acer to place this among their other flagship monitors. Obviously this pushes FreeSync firmly into the enthusiast market, a segment that was underserved by AMD’s technology not that long ago. More importantly, while the XR341CK can be considered one of the highest end monitors currently available, it is still a good $250 less than Acer’s ever slightly more capable Predator-series G-SYNC alternative.
While the Predator XR341CK is certainly premier gamer-focused monitor, it is by no means unique in its field. There’s been a trend towards 21:9 curved panels as of late and while their benefits tend to be debatable (more on this later), many manufacturers are marketing them as the next big thing for gamers. For example, the LG 34UC87 boasts literally the same specifications as Acer’s FreeSync flagship but it doesn’t include gamer-centric features like adaptive synchronization, a 75Hz refresh rate, 4ms grey to grey response times or panel overdrive.
Other competitors can be found on the non-curved side of the fence as well, and those you will end up paying substantially less for. Some good examples of this are the ASUS MG279Q and BenQ XL2730Z, both of which offer 2560x1440 resolutions, FreeSync and a refresh rate of 144Hz but retail for just $750. Yes, you pay a pretty penny for the 34” 21:9 curved screens but they do look quite spectacular.
Visually, the XR341CK has a sleek design that’s focused upon minimizing its impact upon your environment but also playing up its gamer-focused roots. Make no mistake about it though; at 34” wide this thing is absolutely huge and will take up a good amount of space on your desk. It also has underglow LEDs (which can be turned off) along the panel's bottom edge.
The gracious curve is what will likely either sell or turn people off of Acer’s offering. On one hand it looks great and increases immersion in some games but as with all of these types of monitors, in certain genres the curve can add visual artifacts to menus and distort key elements of a game’s interface.
From an aesthetics point of view this monitor does hit most of the high notes. Its combination of moderately thin black bezel, aggressive angular lines, and a silver stand certainly makes it rather distinctive looking.
Unfortunately balancing out these rather stunning good looks is the fact that the stand is a touch sub-par despite its design qualities. It only offers tilt and height adjustment with no landscape mode or swivel capabilities baked in. On the positive side it does offer five inches of height adjustment and whopping 40 degrees of tilt from -5° to 35°!
The list of ports is rather good, particularly when compared to G-SYNC monitors. In grand total you will get a full sized HDMI port, a mini-DispalPort, a DisplayPort IN, and a DisplayPort Out (for daisy chaining), a USB 3.0 hub consisting of one USB 3.0 Type B In port and four USB 3.0 Type-A ports.
Also noteworthy is an honest to god MHL port. A Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL) port means that you can connect this monitor to a portable device for screen mirroring. Rounding out the features is a Kensington lock and the power input port for the external power brick.
It is also great to see that this 21:9 monitor comes with multiple physical buttons rather than the finicky touch-sensitive interface seen on some other gaming panels.
With the exception of the lackluster stand’s abilities, all these items are very good and certainly help justify this monitor's online asking price of $1039 but are not really what anyone would classify as standout features. Basically they all fall within the usual spectrum of features found on 21:9 monitors, and that stand will really be a large negative.
When taken at face value the Acer Predator XR341CK looks like an extremely capable monitor that will deftly avoid the restricting 40Hz refresh rate limit of earlier FreeSync monitors and thus offer smooth gameplay within a much wider and adaptable range. Add in the IPS panel, curved screen and massive dimensions and this could just be the flagship display AMD users have been waiting for.
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