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Acer Predator XB321HK 32″ 4K G-SYNC Monitor Review

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Menu Layout & Observations

 

Much like the physical layout and design, the On Screen Display (OSD) which accompanies this monitor a near clone of the XB271HK, albeit sized-up. Considering the XB321HK’s OSD is a near ringer for the X34 , this certainly makes the entire Predator line very cohesive on the OSD front. What this means is if you are familiar with the OSD that accompanies other Acer Predator model’s you will also be familiar with this monitor’s OSD.

We have almost zero issues using one OSD template for the entire Predator lineup as it is one of the best Acer has created to date. With that said, the On Screen Display the XB321HK uses is pretty much the barebones version of the Predator OSD. As such, some consumers may find it a touch lacking in comparison to the X34, particularly as certain overclocking-related features have been removed. Considering this model comes with an asking price that is very similar to the X34 any reduction in features has to be considered a negative.

The reason for this reduction is pretty simple, Acer has opted for DisplayPort 1.2 components and have not built in any future-proofing into this model. While yes there is basically no DP1.3 capable video cards available right now, that is going to change in the near future. As such, Acer could have easily included a customized version of X34’s panel overclocking abilities and given consumers a good reason to upgrade their video card as well as their monitor. This lack of future-proofing is extremely shortsighted and smacks of planned obsolesce. After all, all Acer would have to do is slap this feature on to the XB321HK’s chassis and call it a new and improved XB322HK and expect consumers to spend $1300 again.

Counteracting this extremely jaded view of what Acer has – or has not – done is the fact that this would have made Acer further bin these already expensive panels, and only use the ones capable of being overclocked to say 75Hz. This would have made an already expensive monitor that much more expensive for a feature no one can use right now, and arguably few will use in the future. In either case, users will find zero surprises with OSD, and all the features that have been included are top-notch and are well executed. Now let’s take a quick spin through this OSD for those not familiar with it.

As with many gaming-oriented monitors, the Acer XB321HK comes with end-user adjustable ‘overdrive’ (OD) settings. What OD does is basically push more voltage to the liquid crystals – the ‘L’ and ‘C’ in LCD – which forces them to change from one state to another faster. In theory, panel overdrive is a great idea as it reduces the panel’s response time. The downside is that inverse ghosting (pre-images in front of the actual image) and degradation of color quality are very much apparent when this feature is abused.

Just as with the XB271HK, the default overdrive (not to be confused with Acer’s “Over Clock”) setting for this model is Normal, and in testing it was able to boost performance without too many issues at the native refresh rate of 60Hz. The ‘Extreme’ setting is just that, and can cause noticeable colour shifting. Interestingly enough, unlike the XB271HK, most consumers will want to change the default setting from Normal to Off as this may produce slightly better image fidelity. If you do need to delve deeper into the XB321HK’s settings, the shortcut menu also includes the standard option of entering the full OSD – or what Acer calls the ‘Function Menu’.

There are five main sections here that run the gamut from dealing with colour and picture customization, to configuring the panel itself, to even modifying the OSD. The topmost one is called ‘Picture’, and as the name suggests it deals with adjusting the picture displayed on the monitor. Here you will find the usual suspects such as brightness, contrast settings, and selecting from the factory created profiles. There’s also the ability to control black levels, blue light, and even change the adaptive contrast settings.

The Black Level ‘Dark Boost’ setting is fairly self-evident, it changes the black depth within the panel’s contrast range. Blue light modifies how much blue is output by the monitor’s LEDs, and it is best to not mess with unless you have a very specific need for boosting or decrease blue levels.

The next area is the ‘Color’ section which deals with actually adjusting the colour profile of this monitor. Here you will find basic gamma correction, colour temperature, as well as the sRGB mode which basically cuts the wide color gamut down to sRGB levels. Also included is 6-axis hue and saturation adjustment abilities that make fine tuning the colour pallet a lot easier than it would normally be. That is because in addition to the typical red, green, and blue you can also individually adjust the yellow, magenta, and cyan levels. Since our panel came with an out-of-the-box colour profile that was nearly perfect this was not truly needed, but it was still a welcome addition nonetheless.

The third section allows for modification of the OSD, and can be used to adjust the language, timeout setting, and transparency level. In addition to these standard fares, you can also select one of three game oriented factory profiles, and even turn on Aim Point, which puts a crosshair on your screen similar to what the ASUS RoG monitors offer.

The fourth section deals with monitor hardware settings that do not really fit into one of the other categories. Basically, if you want to adjust the latency mode, turn on/off DTS, or other highly specific tasks, this is the section for you. The last is the Information section and it tells you the mode, resolution, and serial number of your particular XB321HK. For the most part, this section can be safely ignored.

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