Acer Predator XB321HK 32" 4K G-SYNC Monitor Review
A few months ago, we took a long hard look at the Acer XB271HK and walked away very impressed with what it had to offer. However, as we noted in that review, the ultra-high pixel count combined with the relatively small screen size ended being a double-edged sword. While the ultra-crisp nature of the UHD panel did make for a very immersive experience and made for better legibility, it also caused a number of installation issues. Specifically, even Windows 10 does not handle scaling all that well at 4K resolution on a monitor that is smaller than 30 inches.
Unlike the XB271HK, the Acer Predator XB1 XB321HK that we are reviewing today has the potential to neatly sidestep most of these installation issues since it stretches those same 8.3 megapixels across thirty-two diagonal inches worth of screen real estate. This increase in panel size does decrease the dots per inch (DPI) down to 137.7, but this is a lot more manageable and closer to what Windows has been designed to handle.
While the DPI may indeed be lower than that of the XB271HK, the dot-pitch is still an impressive 0.1845mm. To put that into perspective, compared to say the Acer Predator X34 (3440 x 1440) which clocks in at 0.2316mm, the XB321HK’s panel is downright pixel dense. Another positive aspect of this new model is that despite featuring an IPS panel and is still manages a low 4ms gray-to-gray response time. The panel also features the same anti-glare coating found on the XB271HK, so at least on paper this monitor has a lot going for it.
Unlike the aforementioned Acer Predator X34, which features an ultra-wide design, the XB321HK is a 16:9 monitor. For some, 21:9 is simply too wide to provide a comfortable viewing angle, there are also compatibility issues with older games, and many people just don't have the desk space for a monitor that is almost three feet wide.
Regrettably, due to the exact same bandwidth limitations found on XB271HK, the new Acer Predator XB321HK is limited to 60Hz. This is unfortunate, as consumers will have to carefully consider which aspect they consider more important: refresh rate or resolution. This is because with an asking price of $1225, or a whopping $400 more than the smaller XB271HK, buyers will be giving up forty frames per second over the similarly priced Predator X34, which supports a high 100Hz refresh rate but at lower resolution.
On the plus side, the XB321HK is G-Sync enabled, and by utilizing NVIDIA's adaptive refresh rate technology gamers can expect smooth gameplay free of stuttering and tearing.
Much like its smaller sibling, the XB321HK’s overall aesthetics are bold, some might even say overly aggressive. This ‘Predator’ aesthetic means the same all-black styling with red accents, aggressive angles and generally killer looks that consumers will either instantly love or instantly hate.
The XB321HK has both HDMI 1.4 and DisplayPort 1.2 input connectivity, but in order to get sixty frames per second users will need to utilize the DisplayPort option, as HDMI is currently only capable of 24Hz at 4K resolution. This is perhaps a missed opportunity because if this monitor featured DisplayPort 1.3, Acer could have included overclocking abilities… even if no one could currently takes advantage of it. In either case, 60 frames per second at 4K is still very decent and is exactly what the XB271HK offered.
The real physical input buttons and on screen display (OSD) are impressive, and once again are basically the same as what come with the XB271HK and the Predator X34.
One area that is not a direct copy from the XB271HK is the stand. It may look similar, and have the wide footprint and great stability, but this new model's stand is actually a little bit less capable than its predecessor. To be precise, instead of 40° of tilt and a whopping 5.91 inches of height adjustment, the new XB321HK only has 30° (+5° to -25°) and only 4.72 inches of height adjustment. This minor variance certainly shouldn't change many buyers minds, nor should it make it particularly difficult to adjust this monitor to ones needs. For comparison sake, the XB321HK is also at a slight disadvantage compared to the Predator X34, which has 40° of tilt and 5.11 inches of height adjustment.
Overall, the Acer Predator XB321HK makes use of a gorgeous panel that offers incredible color fidelity, 1.08 billion colors, excellent viewing angles, and generally amazing dot-pitch. On paper, this combination of excellent panel, good enough refresh rate, and G-Sync technology makes the XB321HK potentially the stiffest competition that we have seen to date for Acer’s own Predator X34, especially among those who aren't too keen on having a curved display. However, this monitor will not only be competing against the X34, but also the noticeably cheaper XB271HK. Let's find out how it fares.
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