Acer Predator Z35 35″ Gaming Monitor Review
Menu Layout & Observations
The On Screen Display (OSD) which accompanies this monitor is virtually identical to the one that comes with X34 and we have absolutely no problems with this. The X34’s OSD was one of the best we have seen and using it across the entire Predator lineup makes perfect sense to us.
As with all Acer monitors, 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 profiles are left blank, ready to accept user-generated presets. It would have been nice to see at least a few default profiles here to act as a jump-off point.
As with many gaming orientated monitors the Acer X34 comes with end-user adjustable ‘overdrive’ (OD) settings. What OD does is basically push more voltage to the liquid crystals, forcing them to change from one state to another faster. In theory panel overdrive 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.
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 144Hz. The ‘Extreme’ is just that; it not only introduces noticeable pre-ghosting but substantial color shift as well. 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. This is especially true if you plan on overclocking the panel to 200Hz. More on that later.
If you do need to delve deeper in to the X34’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 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 is best not messed with unless you have a very specific need for boosting or decrease blue levels.
What you may notice missing from this section though is ‘Super Sharpness’ found on the XR341CK. Obviously Acer felt that their custom hardware-level interpolation would not be optimal when used in conjunction with G-SYNC. To be blunt, we did not miss it and do not consider this to be a big a loss. On the positive side, the Adaptive Contrast option is now clearly labeled as such instead of ‘ACM’ as it was in the XR341CK’s On Screen Display.
The next area is the ‘Color’ section which 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 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 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 DTS, or other highly specific tasks this is the section for you. More importantly it is where you will find the ‘Over Clock’ setting which will allow you to adjust the panel refresh rate from 144Hz all the way to 200Hz.
Unfortunately, Acer has not given fine grain control over the overclocking, and even compared to the X34’s less than optimal 5Hz increments the Z35 looks down right ham-fisted. To be precise you can choose from 160Hz, 180Hz, and 200Hz. Conversely if you wish to under-clock your options are equally limited to 60Hz, 85Hz, 100Hz, 120Hz, and the native 144Hz. This is sub-optimal to say the least, but at least our Z35 came with this setting at the panel’s native 144Hz. Note that the Z35’s overclocking can only be done when using the DisplayPort connector and not the HDMI due to bandwidth limitations.
An interesting bonus here is the Ambient Light adjustment. This adjusts the color of the down firing LEDs that give a glow around the bottom of the monitor. If you don’t want to turn your expensive investment into the equivalent of a rice rocket you will probably want to navigate here and turn this annoyance off. In testing we found it hindered our immersion in games more than it helped. This however is a very subjective issue and you may feel differently – especially if you play Need For Speed or other high paced games.
The last is the Information section and it basically tells you the mode, resolution, and serial number of your particular Z35. For the most part this section can be safely ignored.