Acer Predator XB321HK 32″ 4K G-SYNC Monitor Review
After using the 27-inch XB271HK for countless hours of gaming enjoyment, and then using this larger monitor, a few things quickly came into focus. First and foremost is that the XB321HK is basically a bigger and better version of its smaller cousin. While this monitor may have a slightly larger dot-pitch than the XB271HK, the pixels are still small and there is a bloody lot of them. Combine that with a near perfect out of the box colour pallet, flawless gamma, fantastic viewing angles, and the end result is amazing. Having said that, this is still a 60 frames per second monitor.
In our opinion, the sixty frames per second issue is not that problematic since gaming on a 32-inch monitor at 4K resolution is an incredible experience. Not only will gamers quickly be sucked into the gameplay faster than ever before, but little details that they might have missed on lower resolution monitors will come to light. These minor details add a level of immersion that – if the game engine is good enough – makes for a wholly enjoyable and new experience. Even games that have been completed numerous times will seem fresh and revitalized. Also, thanks to NVIDIA’s G-Sync technology, concerns about having enough video card horsepower are not as big a deal as they once were. You however may obviously feel differently though.
To be honest, if anyone is trying to choose between the XB271HK (or any 27-inch 4K monitor) and the XB321HK, there really is no hard choice to be made…this is the monitor that everyone really wants. Yes, you will be paying a lot more for the XB321HK than smaller displays, but as the old saying goes ‘buy once, cry once’. Put another way, the extra expense of opting for this monitor is more than made up for in increased gaming enjoyment. This goes double for those who prefer older games whose UI may not scale all that well at 4K, where the extra couple of inches can make the difference between being able to read the small text and wondering what the hell the blurry line worth of pixels is supposed to say.
Now with all that said, we recognize that this monitor is certainly not going to be right for all gaming enthusiasts. While our personal preference is for resolution over frame rate, some will consider the exact opposite to be true. This is where the Acer XB321HK stumbles, and it is why comparing this monitor to the Acer Predator X34 is rather difficult. There is no hard and fast rule, potential buyers will have to decide for themselves what they prize most: speed or clarity.
Even though both are G-Sync enabled monitors, and this does reduce the need for video card horsepower, refresh rate can still play a critical role in gaming enjoyment. In this area, the Acer X34 is still The King. Thanks to its lower resolution, actually hitting 60 frames per second is a lot easier than it is with this XB321HK 4K monitor, and even at 100FPS the X34 requires slightly less video card horsepower to drive: 495 million pixels per second vs. 497 million. This makes the X34 a much better choice for those who favour first-person shooter games, or even just prefer the fluid gameplay that comes with running at 100Hz.
It is hard to ignore the added clarity that the incredibly pixel density of the XB321HK brings to the table. Even with anti-aliasing turned down, the XB321HK routinely produces images that are far superior to the X34. Furthermore, not every game can even work in 21:9 format, whereas basically every game supports the 16:9 image ratio. This combination will make the XB321HK damn near perfect for gamers more interested in static clarity over motion clarity. This is why buyers will need to seriously consider what their personal preference truly is. However, no matter which way they decide to go, owners of either monitor will not be disappointed as both are fantastic for gaming.
Before we move on though, there is one issue we need to discuss. Basically, the fact that this monitor is not be right for everyone and every scenario is a bit disappointing. The XB321HK could easily have been the dominant Predator model if only Acer had not been so short sighted. All Acer had to do to make this monitor much more future proof than it is add DisplayPort 1.3 compliance and include a panel overclocking section. DP 1.3 compatible video cards are right on the horizon, and if Acer had been more forward thinking this monitor would have had the potential to be the best option for all consumers. They did not, and therefore the choice is not as clear cut as it should have been. However, the XB321HK is still an excellent monitor and has reaffirmed our love of 4K monitors.