Acer Predator Z35 35″ Gaming Monitor Review
Based on my recent experiences I must admit to having rather mixed feelings upon starting to test the Z35. On the one hand the X34 was simply phenomenal. So much so that I can easily state that it is the best curved 21:9 monitor for gaming available today provide you have an NVIDAI GPU. On the other had the Z35 is nothing like the X34 and in fact is more like the BenQ XR3501 – a monitor which proved to be less than optimal in a number of respects. It is for these reasons that I was cautiously optimistic about this monitor at satisfying its raison d’être.
After spending countless hours testing the Z35 in a wide variety of gaming scenarios I feel that there are a few key points that potential buyers need to be aware of, both on the positive and negative sides. First of all this monitor is noticeably better than the BenQ alternative. It is not even a close race. The combination of 2000R radius curve with a 200Hz fresh rate, G-SYNC, and ULMB is a winning one; or at least it is a winner with a few major caveats.
The first and most obvious is that 2560×1080 is a downright odd resolution. If you purchase the Z35 – or any 2560×1080 monitor for that matter– expect to spend time adjusting the Field of View in games, and even tweaking .ini files in order to get all games to play ‘nice’ with it. Talk about a royal pain in the ass, especially when some titles can’t even be coaxed into compatibility.
Thankfully, unlike BenQ and all the other 2560×1080 resolution monitors, Acer actually had a damn good reason for choosing this resolution. Instead of using it just to be ‘different’ it was done because 2560×1080 at 200Hz is the absolute most that can be pushed over a DP 1.2 cable. That is a hard limitation that would have required either a second input cable, which certainly would have been old school, or reducing the refresh rate. Neither option was optimal to say the least.
Since Acer obviously did not want the Z35 to simply be a slightly larger clone of the X34, the 200Hz refresh rate was no-negotiable. The end result is certainly buttery smooth images, but in many ways it actually leads to an experience that is inferior to the X34’s 100Hz.
The fact of the matter is very, very, very few people will be able to tell the difference between 100Hz and 200Hz; but most will instantly notice the difference between a 0.23mm mm dot-pitch and the massive 0.32mm that this rather large monitor comes saddled with. This massive dot pitch negatively impacts the Z35’s ability to create a truly immersive gaming experience.
Sadly, this is only the start of problems as the Z35 is further hindered by overly aggressive anti-glare coating. This coating all on its own adds a ‘grain’ appearance to images and when combined with the large DPI can make images look downright god-awful. Thankfully, in darkened rooms the anti-glare coating does become less noticeable and less annoying, but the dot pitch cannot be fixed by using it in a darkened room. Even high levels of anti-aliasing cannot hide it.
As I already mentioned, in order to actually get to 200Hz and consistently stay in that zone users will have to spend huge amounts of money on video card horsepower or lower detail levels. I personally use an MSI GTX 980 Ti Lightning that is heavily overclocked and it was not up to the task. Even if I had two of them I doubt I could have coaxed a consistently at 200Hz / FPS at even this reduced resolution without turning down the post processing effects. The end result for us mere mortals not willing to drop thousands on video cards is that we will have to either live with not being able to use the 200Hz refresh rate or sacrifices will be needed in other areas.
With all that said, if you can afford to properly harness this massive beast the gaming experience it offers is rather impressive. Just one that is arguably not as immersive as what the X34 has to offer. That to us is a bloody shame.