Acer Predator X34 G-SYNC Monitor Review
Considering how well the Predator X34’s FreeSync-equipped sibling performed in games, we had extremely high expectations going into this review. It delivered and then some. While the curved screen has both lovers and detractors, there’s absolutely something to be said about how it can engage a user and suck them into the action.
There’s physically no difference between the X34 and XR341CK and other than their underlying adaptive synchronization technology, the panels themselves are the same (both from LG) so capabilities will be virtually identical. The only real differentiating factor with the X34 is its ability to overclock to 100Hz by utilizing the built-in OSD utility.
Does that overclocking to 100Hz add anything to the X34 versus the XR341CK’s 75Hz? For most gamers the extended G-SYNC range won’t make any visual difference since they won’t be able to distinguish a blur and judder free 100Hz picture from one operating at 75Hz. However, that extra 25Hz of overhead could very well enhance reaction times for users who need lightning-quick, hesitation-free inputs.
Make no mistake about it; this Predator monitor is damn good at what it was built to do. It may be because we just recently came off using a Dell 27” G-SYNC monitor that relied upon a mediocre TN panel to get the job done or perhaps due to the fact that we also had a BenQ XR3501 that failed to impress but the X34 is obviously a cut above. Its combination of extremely crisp, highly precise colors, blur free gaming, and 34 inches of immersion goodness was like a breath of fresh air. For the first time in a long time we can say without a shadow of doubt that our standards upon which future monitors will be judged have been raised. It is that good.
Now there is a down side to having all this performance at your fingertips. In fact, there are a couple of downsides. The first is pretty straightforward: the 3440×1440 resolution demands an epic amount of GPU horsepower to insure it remains within its G-SYNC operating range of 30Hz to 100Hz. Yes, sure it can work wonders even if you have a mid-range video card but the last thing a gamer would want is to spend $1300 on a monitor and then have to lower the detail settings in their favorite games. That sort of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it?
Another thing that’s missing is simple vertical space, or at least the perception thereof. Even though FPS and racing games are portrayed in stunning detail and immersive gameplay, RTS and even MOBA titles tend to suffer. The gaming canvas feels constrained and in-game menus feel like they take up far too much space. As a matter of fact, even first person shooters tend to feel severely “cramped”. It can be highly frustrating even though the actual number of pixels displayed over the screen’s height isn’t any different from a standard 2560×1440 monitor. It may only be a matter of perception but it does count.
That price also leads us to the next point about the Predator X34: with AMD’s latest FreeSync improvements addressing previous out-of-range shortcomings, that $300 premium doesn’t really add all that much more in the way of capabilities. Granted, G-SYNC is still slightly superior of FreeSync in terms of motion clarity and overall onscreen appearance and the X34 does have that extra 25Hz of refresh rate but do those factors amount to a tangibly better gaming experience? No.
For NVIDIA users, the Acer X34 is currently one of the best curved options available for gaming. However, that curve does offer some noteworthy limitations as well. There are many users who would likely be better served by a more typical, lower priced, higher refresh rate, 2560×1440 144Hz IPS G-SYNC display.