Acer Predator X34 G-SYNC Monitor Review
So here we are with another gaming monitor review and this time the focus is on one of today’s most easily recognizable displays: Acer’s Predator X34. This is a truly stunning monitor that has moved the bar forward by including elements like a dramatically curved IPS panel, a high refresh rate and G-SYNC. It hasn’t done so in a particularly affordable way but for gamers who have a top-end system, Acer may have a perfect fit.
Not that long ago we took a long hard look at Acer’s XR341CK and walked away impressed with what it had to offer consumers. Its combination of FreeSync, gorgeous IPS display, 34-inches of curved real-estate, and an overdriven panel with a refresh rate of 75Hz (instead of 60Hz) was rather impressive to say the least. For all intents and purposes, the Predator X34 we are reviewing here today is the same product even though it has a few more tricks up its sleeve; namely a higher refresh rate and G-SYNC instead of AMD’s FreeSync.
The Predator X34 – or what was originally called the ‘XR341CKA’- does up the ante in the refresh rate department and adds in a few additional features bit it does also highlight the “true” cost of NVIDIA’s G-SYNC technology. It commands an approximate $250 premium over the similar FreeSync-equipped model, though that gap has been narrowed by sales and rebates.
We should also mention this is not a native 100Hz monitor but rather utilizes a 60Hz panel that needs to be "overclocked" to 100Hz via its OSD. This doesn't affect the warranty but our sample came at running at 60Hz accordingly to Windows and it was only after applying the manual OSD overclock that its full 30Hz to 100Hz G-SYNC range was accessible.
Another debate revolves around the actual usefulness of these curved 34” gaming monitors. On one hand they do offer a modicum of enhanced immersion but the curvature also introduces some visual artifacts in certain situations. In addition, that curve always comes in at a high price point and odd aspect ratio for some gaming genres.
Beyond these key differences Acer has kept to the same winning design they used on the XR341CK. This means that at design level the two models are basically identical and have the same strengths and weaknesses as laid out in our previous review…. even if Acer does not consider the XR341CK to be a ‘Predator’ model per se.
In simplistic terms this means the X34 is a drop dead gorgeous looking monitor with acres of screen real-estate, that thanks to its 21:9 and 3800R curved form-factor does not require a desk as wide as Mack truck. Beyond this, things do quickly come down to love it /hate it binary responses and will be up to you the consumer to decide which camp you fall into.
For example, the chrome stand that proudly holds up the X34 is a great centerpiece which is just as attractive as the X34 Predator itself. Unfortunately, these good looks come at the expense of usability. Much like the XR341CK – which uses the same stand it completely lacks a swivel abilities/ On the positive side it does offer 130mm of height adjustment and whopping 40 degrees of tilt from -5° to 35°!
Also just like the XR341CK, the X34 makes use of a gentle curve to its panel which looks great and increases immersion in some games. However 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. On the positive side the amount of curvature is not as significant as it is on a monitor like the BenQ XR2501 so the various issues have been somewhat mitigated.
One area where the X34 is noticeably lacking versus its FreeSync-equipped sibling is with its input selection options. Basically because of the G-SYNC module consumers are limited to a single DisplayPort and one HDMI input. On the positive side the X34 still does have the USB 3.0 hub consisting of a single USB 3.0 Type B In port and multiple USB 3.0 Type-A ports.
Acer’s X34 also includes multiple physical buttons for navigating the On Screen Display - just like the XR341CK. In testing, these buttons may not be the most responsive we have ever seen but they do get the job done and do so with a lot less stress than trying to use one joystick button is – or god help you trying to use touch-less sensor buttons.
As you can see this new model certainly has a lot going for it, but with an asking price of nearly $1300 it really will come down to its gaming abilities that will either allow the X34 to excel, or conversely make the less expensive XR341CK seem like an even better deal than it already was.
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