Acer Predator XB321HK 32″ 4K G-SYNC Monitor Review
Multimedia and Real World Performance
When it comes to multimedia scenarios, most users will likely enjoy what the Acer XB321HK has to offer, but the overall experience will vary greatly from person to person and even video to video. Because the XB321HK is basically a XB271HK on steroids, all of the strengths and weaknesses of that smaller Acer monitor are accentuated and blown up to larger than life size. On paper, this monitor seemingly should be a match made in videophile heaven: accurate and vivid colours, razor sharp details, and a 16:9 movie-friendly format. Sadly, there is one major catch that keeps this section of the review from being one paragraph long.
The catch is something that will leave users a tad frustrated from time to time, and it is that native 4K content is still very rare so there is a lack of opportunity to be able to fully experience the XB321HK’s abilities. As much as the XB321HK can create jaw-dropping visuals that are impossible to look away from, due to the widespread availability of poor quality content it also has the potential to create downright ugly images that will leave you wondering precisely why you just spent $1300.
Basically, the old term “Garbage In, Garbage Out” is highly applicable to this monitor, and we strongly recommend using software interpolation to upscale media rather than relying upon the monitor’s algorithms. Even then, this monitor’s high resolution will still highlight and even accentuate every single flaw in the original content. Worse yet, as it is a large 32-inch monitor, it is much easier to actually see flaws that could have otherwise gone unnoticed. Thankfully, with high bitrate 1080P content this is nearly a non-issue, but as soon as consumers step down to 720P image quality starts to suffer. Needless to say that at 480P even the best encoded content looks rather abhorrent. So feed it a steady diet of high quality content and you and your XB321HK will be happy campers.
To be honest though, this is pretty much par for the course for all good 4K monitors, and as such the above results were fully expected. What did catch us off guard was how good this monitor is in more mundane scenarios and tasks. First and foremost, even just setting up this monitor is eons easier than the XB271HK. While we did still increase the DPI scaling to 150% in Windows, the out of the box settings were still easily useable. So much so that many may not even feel the need to increase the size of icons and text. We have older eyes, so we did do some adjustments, but we did not feel the urgent need to rush to the Control Panel to change settings ASAP either.
Next, unlike with smaller displays, 32-inches is roomy enough to comfortably have two windows opened in side-by-side mode. While each window is going to smaller and more cramped than if they are displayed on the ultra-wide X34, owners will find that using half screen mode is a rather straight forward affair. This alone makes the 4K resolution a lot more usable than it is on the XB271HK. It is also worth noting some people may actually prefer this monitor to the X34 for day-to-day tasks, as it is taller than the X34 and if your daily tasks require as much vertical real-estate as possible the loss of some horizontal space is more than worth it. We suspect that anyone currently using a 30-inch 1600P monitor they will simply fall in love with the XB321HK. The old school 30-inch 2560×1600 monitors were great, but this Acer 4K model does everything they can do, but it does it much better!