Acer Predator XB271HK 27" 4K Monitor Review
What a great time it is to be looking for a gaming monitor. With high refresh rates, G-SYNC, FreeSync, 4K, curved panels and so many more technologies coming to the forefront, PC displays are in something of a renaissance period and potential buyers are benefiting from a bounty of choices. Granted, products with the most advanced features built into their frames are anything but inexpensive but some are beginning to trickle down into lower price points. Believe it or not, the Acer Predator XB271HK we’re taking a look at today personifies this shift towards slightly more mainstream price / performance expectations since it costs well under $900 USD yet incorporates specifications that were exclusively available on $1000+ alternatives only a few months ago.
Acer has been on a roll lately with a veritably army of monitors all focused with laser like intensity on different portions of the gaming monitor marketplace. For well-heeled consumers the awesome X34 is sure to satisfy, for those who want the absolute fastest curved monitor on the block the Z35 is there and for the more typical gamers the X270HU was there.
However, Acer is not one to sit on their laurels and instead is one of the few monitor manufacturers actively pushing the boundaries. In this instance it means EOL’ing a not all that old product and replacing it with not one but two models: the $750 XB271HU, and the $875 XB271HK. Yes it may sound confusing and some serious research will be required before hitting that “buy now” button but the differences between these models is relatively straightforward.
Of these two the ‘HK model is the much more interesting version. The XB270HU and XB271HU 27” models boast a resolution of 2560x1440, an 8-bit IPS panel, G-SYNC compatibility, an extremely high refresh rate and a gamut of other features. Meanwhile, for a premium of about $125 the XB271HK steps that up level; it still has a diagonal size of 27” and G-SYNC support but that’s where the similarities stop. Acer has equipped it with a beautiful 10-bit UHD 3840x2160 panel that may have a lower refresh rate of 60Hz due to DisplayPort bandwidth limitations but the focus here is truly on the image quality.
On the surface of things, packing 8.29 million pixels into such small screen may seem counter-intuitive, but this one change allows this monitor to boast a whopping 200 pixels per inch, and a dot pitch that is bordering on surreal. Specifically, instead of a .23mm dot pitch or even .20mm, this new Predator ravages the 1440P competition with .1268mm dot pitch.
In addition to all of this the anti-glare coating has been revamped and is not quite as aggressive as the XB270’s. The AG coating can still be noticeable and negatively impact color and image quality, but seemingly not to the same extent as its predecessors. In other words, the XB271HK it has been built from the ground up with one goal in mind: to offer the sharpest, highest quality video image that a PC gamer could ever hope to see. Think of it being targeted towards professionals who also love gaming rather than professional gamers who want the absolute highest refresh rate possible.
These changes are easily the largest, but are certainly not the most noticeable since until you turn on the XB271HK you would never even know those differences even existed. Instead, the most noticeable deviation from previous designs is the chassis which houses this super-resolution IPS panel. As you can see the XB271HK looks very similar to the Z35 – albeit smaller. It has the same aggressive aesthetics, same aggressively styled base with same the reddish orange accents, and even the same down-firing LEDs. However, unlike the Z35 the XB271HU uses a rather thin bezel that makes it tailor made for multi-monitor configurations.
Even though the XB271HK’s new ‘Predator’ aesthetics have been toned down when compared to the Z35, some people still may find it too aggressive. We on the other hand feel this new look perfectly sums up the gaming industry and have zero issues with such fan service. After all, this monitor is meant for gaming enthusiasts, and as such being ‘loud and proud’ is not a detriment. With that being said we strongly recommend seeing a XB271HK in person before buying one as pictures do not do it justice.
Now while the looks of the XB271HK’s stand and chassis have drastically changed from the previous XB270 the abilities have not. Rather, Acer has simply improved upon that foundation. In the stand’s case the new model’s is much, much more stable as the wide feet make tipping it damn difficult.
Backstopping this increased stability is the same wide range of abilities the previous generation offered users. As with the 270, the XB271HK offers an impressive 40° of tilt (+5° to -35°), 5.91 inches of height adjustment, excellent swivel and even portrait mode capabilities. In other words, it is everything anyone could want from their new monitor’s stand.
Also on the positive side, the new XB271 offers not only DisplayPort but also HDMI input options. Though consumers need to understand that if they wish to use the HDMI port the UHD resolution dictates a 24 HZ refresh rate. Unfortunately, contrary to Internet rumors, this model cannot be overclocked like the X34 or Z35. There is simply not enough bandwidth in the DisplayPort 1.2 standard for 75Hz at this resolution. Thankfully Acer has carried over the physical buttons of the XB270 so actually adjusting the screen will be as easy as it always has been.
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