Acer Predator XR341CK FreeSync Monitor Review
Menu Layout & Observations
Even though this monitor sports an OSD which is very similar to the Acer XB270HU, its capabilities have been expanded quite drastically. Instead of being simplified to the point of near uselessness the XR341CK’s OSD perfectly executes that delicate act of balancing ease of use and advanced features.
As with all Acer monitor’s, when you first press the menu button you are not greeted with the full OSD and instead a small shortcut menu filled with some of the more common adjustments gamers will want access to while others are easily ignored. For example the included ‘Game Mode’ is not that noteworthy as unlike most gaming monitors the included ‘gaming’ profiles are left blank and it is up to you the consumer to make your own. What is next to it however is interesting. As with many gaming orientated monitors the Acer XR3401CK 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 – that forces them to change from one state to another faster.
In theory this a great idea as it reduces the response time of the monitor and allows even a cheaper panel to act like a more expensive panel… or in this case make an IPS panel act more like a TN panel. The downside is that inverse ghosting (pre-images in front of the actual image) and degradation of color quality. Put another way “there is no such thing as a free lunch”. The default for this model is ‘normal’ and in testing was able to boost performance without noticeable loss in color quality, whereas ‘extreme’ is just that – extremely ugly with not only pre-ghosting occurring enough to be noticeable but color shifting also being readily apparent. In other words, for most consumers the default setting is good enough but if you take color fidelity seriously you may want to turn this setting to Off.
If you do need to delve deeper in to the XR341CK’s settings the shortcut menu also includes the standard option of entering the full OSD – or what Acer calls the ‘Function Menu’. This section is a bit limiting when you compare it to what’s offered on other $1000 monitors like Dell’s UltraSharp line. With that being said, there really isn’t any reason to critique here since the Predator is targeted towards gamers and that segment doesn’t need some of the advanced power saving and image quality modifications that are required by the professional market.
There are five main sections here that run the gamut from dealing with color 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 super sharpness.
The Black Level 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 is best not messed with unless you have a very specific need for boosting or decrease blue levels.
Super Sharpness is interesting since it is basically hardware-level interpolation which takes a lower resolution image and ‘fills in’ the missing pixels. In testing it was fairly decent at this job but certain driver-based algorithms from AMD and NVIDIA tend achieve better results.
The next area is the ‘Color’ section and deals with actually adjusting color profile of this monitor. Here you will find basic gamma correction, color temperature (warm, cool, normal, bluelight, User – we recommend using User), as well as 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 color 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 color profile that was bordering on 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 orientated factory profiles, and even turn on Aim Point, which puts a crosshair on your screen similar to what 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 Picture In Picture, adjust USB charging settings, or other highly specific tasks this is the section for you.
The last is the Information section and it basically tells you the mode, resolution, and serial number of your particular XR341CK. For the most part this section can be safely ignored.