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Acer Predator X34 G-SYNC Monitor Review

AkG

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Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,274
So here we are with another gaming monitor review and this time the focus is on one of today’s most easily recognizable displays: Acer’s Predator X34. This is a truly stunning monitor that has moved the bar forward by including elements like a dramatically curved IPS panel, a high refresh rate and G-SYNC. It hasn’t done so in a particularly affordable way but for gamers who have a top-end system, Acer may have a perfect fit.

Not that long ago we took a long hard look at Acer’s XR341CK and walked away impressed with what it had to offer consumers. Its combination of FreeSync, gorgeous IPS display, 34-inches of curved real-estate, and an overdriven panel with a refresh rate of 75Hz (instead of 60Hz) was rather impressive to say the least. For all intents and purposes, the Predator X34 we are reviewing here today is the same product even though it has a few more tricks up its sleeve; namely a higher refresh rate and G-SYNC instead of AMD’s FreeSync.



The Predator X34 – or what was originally called the ‘XR341CKA’- does up the ante in the refresh rate department and adds in a few additional features bit it does also highlight the “true” cost of NVIDIA’s G-SYNC technology. It commands an approximate $250 premium over the similar FreeSync-equipped model, though that gap has been narrowed by sales and rebates.

We should also mention this is not a native 100Hz monitor but rather utilizes a 60Hz panel that needs to be "overclocked" to 100Hz via its OSD. This doesn't affect the warranty but our sample came at running at 60Hz accordingly to Windows and it was only after applying the manual OSD overclock that its full 30Hz to 100Hz G-SYNC range was accessible.

Another debate revolves around the actual usefulness of these curved 34” gaming monitors. On one hand they do offer a modicum of enhanced immersion but the curvature also introduces some visual artifacts in certain situations. In addition, that curve always comes in at a high price point and odd aspect ratio for some gaming genres.


Beyond these key differences Acer has kept to the same winning design they used on the XR341CK. This means that at design level the two models are basically identical and have the same strengths and weaknesses as laid out in our previous review…. even if Acer does not consider the XR341CK to be a ‘Predator’ model per se.



In simplistic terms this means the X34 is a drop dead gorgeous looking monitor with acres of screen real-estate, that thanks to its 21:9 and 3800R curved form-factor does not require a desk as wide as Mack truck. Beyond this, things do quickly come down to love it /hate it binary responses and will be up to you the consumer to decide which camp you fall into.


For example, the chrome stand that proudly holds up the X34 is a great centerpiece which is just as attractive as the X34 Predator itself. Unfortunately, these good looks come at the expense of usability. Much like the XR341CK – which uses the same stand it completely lacks a swivel abilities/ On the positive side it does offer 130mm of height adjustment and whopping 40 degrees of tilt from -5° to 35°!


Also just like the XR341CK, the X34 makes use of a gentle curve to its panel which looks great and increases immersion in some games. However as with all of these types of monitors, in certain genres the curve can add visual artifacts to menus and distort key elements of a game’s interface. On the positive side the amount of curvature is not as significant as it is on a monitor like the BenQ XR2501 so the various issues have been somewhat mitigated.


One area where the X34 is noticeably lacking versus its FreeSync-equipped sibling is with its input selection options. Basically because of the G-SYNC module consumers are limited to a single DisplayPort and one HDMI input. On the positive side the X34 still does have the USB 3.0 hub consisting of a single USB 3.0 Type B In port and multiple USB 3.0 Type-A ports.


Acer’s X34 also includes multiple physical buttons for navigating the On Screen Display - just like the XR341CK. In testing, these buttons may not be the most responsive we have ever seen but they do get the job done and do so with a lot less stress than trying to use one joystick button is – or god help you trying to use touch-less sensor buttons.

As you can see this new model certainly has a lot going for it, but with an asking price of nearly $1300 it really will come down to its gaming abilities that will either allow the X34 to excel, or conversely make the less expensive XR341CK seem like an even better deal than it already was.
 
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AkG

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Messages
5,274
Menu Layout & Observations

Menu Layout & Observations


<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/Acer_X34/menu_1.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

The On Screen Display (OSD) which accompanies this monitor is virtually identical to the one that comes with XR341CK; albeit with a few minor points of variance. This is a good thing as unlike the earlier XB270HU which had an OSD simplified to the point of near uselessness, the X34's OSD perfectly executes that delicate act of balancing ease of use and advanced features.

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.

<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/Acer_X34/menu_2.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
</div>

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 – the ‘L’ and ‘C’ in LCD – which forces them to change from one state to another faster.

<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/Acer_X34/menu_od.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
</div>

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. Put another way, there is no such thing as a free lunch.

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. 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 100Hz. More on that later.

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/Acer_X34/menu_3.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

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.

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/Acer_X34/menu_4.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

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.

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/Acer_X34/menu_5.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

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.

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/Acer_X34/menu_6.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

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 60Hz all the way to 100Hz in 5Hz if you so wish. Our X34 came with this setting at the panel’s native 60Hz. The one issue with this however is that overclocking can only be done when using the DisplayPort connector and not the HDMI due to bandwidth limitations. If you use HDMI you are limited to 60Hz.

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 X34. For the most part this section can be safely ignored.
 
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AkG

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5,274
Image Quality (Uniformity / Panel & Gamma Performance)

Image Quality


<i>Calibrated Settings</i>
Please remember that the settings below have been calibrated for our specific environment and your viewing conditions may differ from ours.

<b>Mode Used</b>: "User Mode"
<b>Notes</b>:
- All tests done at default settings at 120 cd/m2.
- Unless otherwise noted, the tests were carried out via DisplayPort or HDMI


Panel Uniformity


<i>In a perfect world a screen’s brightness output would be equal throughout the entire panel. This is not a perfect world, but the lower the variation the less chances you will notice overly bright or dark sections on the screen. For the consumer LCD marketplace a variance of 10% is our gold standard but anything below 15% can be considered excellent as we doubt anyone will notice a -7.5 to +7.5 variation. A variation above 15% but below 24% can be considered adequate, but anything above this does not meet our basic minimum standards. </i>

<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/Acer_X34/uni.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
</div>

Considering how downright massive this monitor is a panel variance of 13% is not all that bad, in fact it is above average. Above average or not the reason for most of this variance is because of the panel’s curvature. It may be gentle compared to some but it still is enough that creating the same brightness level across the entire screen really is difficult.


Panel Performance


<i>In a perfect world a screen’s real world response rate would be so high that motion blur, ‘ghosting’, ‘reverse-ghosting’ would be a thing of the past. No matter how fast the action on screen all images would be represented in pristine condition similar in quality to a static image. This is not a perfect world, but the less amounts of blurring which occurs the less chances you will notice the issue in real world scenarios. While the panels response rate (ms) <i>and</i> and frame rate (Hz) can give a fairly rough idea of how much blurring to expect it is not the end all and be all.

To this end we have taken PRAD’s Pixel Persistence Analyzer ‘Streaky Pictures’ program and using a high speed camera captured exactly how much and what kind of motion blur you can expect from a given monitor.</i>

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/Acer_X34/blurr.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

As expected the combination of 100Hz and G-SYNC is a superior combination to the XR341CK’s 75Hz + FreeSync combo. However, while high speed cameras will pick up a difference between the two, the human eye likely won't be able to distinguish one from the other. The only exception to this is operation below each screen's respective adaptive sync range. While AMD has done an admirable job in rectifying their limitations here, G-SYNC is still arguably superior and continues to provide the best option for blur and judder-free motion.


Gamma Performance


<i>Gamma correction is one of the hardest terms to explain. However, for our purposes the gamma correction of any electronics device is how bright or dark an image will be displayed on a screen.

All PC devices now use 2.20 gamma as the default. Any variance from this will result in an image being either underexposed which will create black crush and underexposed shadow detail or washed out with too little black level detail (aka being over-exposed).

While 2.20 is the gold standard, a minor deviation of 0.10 will in all likelihood never be noticed by anyone other than professional photographers. Higher levels of deflection however will be noticed by just about everyone. </i>

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/Acer_X34/gamma.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

At 2.22 this monitor may be <i>slightly</i> worse than the XR341CK but it is still close enough to perfection that most users won't care. The only people who will be disappointed with this minor level of deviation are professionals whose livelihood depends on producing perfect, accurate images - and those professionals will own a colorimeter and use it before they ever bother with 'factory' settings. All in all, this may be down to some panel to panel variance rather than any limitation of the X34.
 
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AkG

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Colour Saturation Levels / Default RGB Levels

Colour Saturation Levels


<i>While there are numerous colors the human eye can’t “see”, the human color space confined to three primary colors and combinations thereof. To make things easier for manufactures (and not waste resources displaying colors we can’t see) a color space was mathematically described and while various models do exist, the CIE RGB color space is the de facto standard.

In the below image, the dark triangle which isn’t highlighted is the sRGB color space while the overall CIE color space is displayed as the background colors. Meanwhile, the white triangle with highlighted color represents the results of what a given monitor can display. No monitor can display the entire CIE color spectrum but a good monitor should be able to display the sRGB spectrum of possible colors as this is usually used as the standard for image encoding.

A monitor which uses the “wide color gamut” moniker can display more than the sRGB spectrum and is considered primarily for professional use. If a monitor cannot cover off the entire sRGB triangle, the resulting image will appear “off” to an observer. The end result is a picture displayed on the panel which won’t be as rich, vibrant or as correct as it should be. </i>

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/Acer_X34/cie.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

As expected this monitor offers a color pallet that moves slightly beyond the typical RGB spectrum. Considering the X34 is mainly meant for gamers, some of these abilities will be lost on the intended consumer, but we are of the opinion that it is better to offer a higher level of color fidelity.


Default RGB Levels


<i>An LCD or LCD LED backlit panel relies on accurately blending Red, Green and Blue pixel clusters to create an overall image so closer to each of these colours is to a “perfect” 100 output, the better and more accurate the default colors will be.

In this case, we have a low tolerance for anything less than perfection since any color shift can be noticeable even to untrained eyes and will require a color correction be applied at the software level to overcome a monitor’s stock output. We do however consider a minor variation of only a few points per color to be acceptable. </i>

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/Acer_X34/rgb.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

Our sample X34 actually had <i>better</i> out of the box color profile than the XR341CK – and that really is saying something. Simply put, this level of color accuracy will be more than satisfactory to 99.9% of the gaming populace and only the most demanding and fastidious of consumers will have anything negative to say about it.
 
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AkG

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Viewing Angles / Contrast Ratio / Power Consumption

Viewing Angles


<i>Unlike CRT displays, the manner in which LCD panels create an image can result in one large weakness: the image can lose contrast when viewed off angle. While we do not recommend watching an LCD at anything besides perfectly straight on, the reality is this cannot always be done.

To help give you a glimpse of what a panel will look like when seen from either above the horizontal or vertical plane we have taken pictures at fairly extreme angles. </i>

<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/Acer_X34/view.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
</div>

As with the XR341CK before it, this is a test that no curved monitor will ever be great at. This class of monitors are meant for the user to sit <i>directly in front of</i> of the screen and take that into account if positioning may be a challenge for you. You will lose contrast, brightness, color clarity and generally end up with a poor looking image at anything besides straight on. With that being said, in a typical gaming position, expect to be wowed.


Maximum Contrast Ratio


<i> While manufactures love to throw around “maximum” contrast ratios in the millions, the fact of the matter is that to get these high numbers they have to use "dynamic contrast" which—at best—results in overly optimistic specs. With DC turned off, the number of shades between purest white and blackest black a given monitor can display is usually in the low hundreds rather than the thousands.

The higher the contrast ratio, the better the monitor will display shades of dark and light. For IPS monitors, anything below 450:1 is unacceptable, with 500:1 or above considered optimal. For TN anything above 120:1 will be considered “good enough” for most consumers.</i>

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/Acer_X34/contrast.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

As expected the contrast ratio of the X34 is everything we have come to expect from IPS monitors.


Power Consumption


<i>To obtain the maximum number we set the monitors brightness to 100% and the contrast to 100%. The Calibrated results are taken at 120 cd/m2 with the contrast set to the default level. </i>

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/Acer_X34/power.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

Considering X34 is extremely large, capable of 100HZ, <i>and</i> uses the G-SYNC module these power numbers are darn decent. A couple watts here or there really does not matter in the grand scheme of things, but if efficiency is a top priority for you, no 21:9 24-inch monitor will be right for your needs.
 
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AkG

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Gaming Performance

Gaming Performance


<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/Acer_X34/g3.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

Considering how well the Predator X34’s FreeSync-equipped sibling performed in games, we had extremely high expectations going into this review. It delivered and then some. While the curved screen has both lovers and detractors, there’s absolutely something to be said about how it can engage a user and suck them into the action.

There’s physically no difference between the X34 and XR341CK and other than their underlying adaptive synchronization technology, the panels themselves are the same (both from LG) so capabilities will be virtually identical. The only real differentiating factor with the X34 is its ability to overclock to 100Hz by utilizing the built-in OSD utility.

Does that overclocking to 100Hz add anything to the X34 versus the XR341CK’s 75Hz? For most gamers the extended G-SYNC range won’t make any visual difference since they won’t be able to distinguish a blur and judder free 100Hz picture from one operating at 75Hz. However, that extra 25Hz of overhead could very well enhance reaction times for users who need lightning-quick, hesitation-free inputs.

<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/Acer_X34/g7.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
</div>

Make no mistake about it; this Predator monitor is damn good at what it was built to do. It may be because we just recently came off using a Dell 27” G-SYNC monitor that relied upon a mediocre TN panel to get the job done or perhaps due to the fact that we also had a BenQ XR3501 that failed to impress but the X34 is obviously a cut above. Its combination of extremely crisp, highly precise colors, blur free gaming, <i>and</i> 34 inches of immersion goodness was like a breath of fresh air. For the first time in a long time we can say without a shadow of doubt that our standards upon which future monitors will be judged have been raised. It is that good.

<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/Acer_X34/g6.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
</div>

Now there is a down side to having all this performance at your fingertips. In fact, there are a couple of downsides. The first is pretty straightforward: the 3440x1440 resolution demands an epic amount of GPU horsepower to insure it remains within its G-SYNC operating range of 30Hz to 100Hz. Yes, sure it can work wonders even if you have a mid-range video card but the last thing a gamer would want is to spend $1300 on a monitor and then have to lower the detail settings in their favorite games. That sort of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it?

Another thing that’s missing is simple vertical space, or at least the perception thereof. Even though FPS and racing games are portrayed in stunning detail and immersive gameplay, RTS and even MOBA titles tend to suffer. The gaming canvas feels constrained and in-game menus feel like they take up far too much space. As a matter of fact, even first person shooters tend to feel severely “cramped”. It can be highly frustrating even though the actual number of pixels displayed over the screen's height isn't any different from a standard 2560x1440 monitor. It may only be a matter of perception but it does count.

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/Acer_X34/g2.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

That price also leads us to the next point about the Predator X34: with AMD’s latest FreeSync improvements addressing previous out-of-range shortcomings, that $300 premium doesn’t really add all that much more in the way of capabilities. Granted, G-SYNC is still slightly superior of FreeSync in terms of motion clarity and overall onscreen appearance and the X34 does have that extra 25Hz of refresh rate but do those factors amount to a tangibly better gaming experience? No.

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/Acer_X34/g1.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

For NVIDIA users, the Acer X34 is currently one of the best curved options available for gaming. However, that curve does offer some noteworthy limitations as well. There are many users who would likely be better served by a more typical, lower priced, higher refresh rate, 2560x1440 144Hz IPS G-SYNC display.

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/Acer_X34/g5.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>
 
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AkG

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Movie Performance

Movie Performance


<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/Acer_X34/m8.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

Since the X34 uses a relatively modest 3800R curve and we recently witnessed what 2000R curved monitors bring to the table we already knew there would be very little to recommend it for movie watching. This is first and foremost an unabashed gaming tool. Hence, while it does set a new standard upon which monitors are judged in gaming scenarios, it can’t compete with the BenQ XR3501 in movies. It is however still capable of delivering some awe-inspiring experiences.

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/Acer_X34/m4.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

Now with that being said, only coming in second place to what is easily the best movie and multimedia monitor available today is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, if we had not used the XR3501 very recently – and it was still fresh in our minds – the X34 would have been the one to beat. That selfsame combination of excellent color fidelity with decent panel uniformity is a winning combination. It is just that movies do not play to this monitor’s strong suit.

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/Acer_X34/m7.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

To be perfectly candid the noticeably less expensive Acer XR341CK provides just as good a level of immersion in movies as the X34. This is because G-SYNC and the higher refresh rate are simply not important. 60Hz is overkill for movies and if we planned on watching a lot of television or movies on this monitor we would certainly turn off the panel overdrive and let it go back to its normal 60Hz. Put another way, the 100Hz and G-SYNC module are the two main reasons for the X34’s existence and having them as non-issues really does hurt this monitor’s value in this scenario.

<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/Acer_X34/m2.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
</div>

The X34 also suffers from the same issues as all 21:9 monitors: poor scaling. As all movie aficionados already know, the number of movies transferred to Blu-ray in anything besides 16:9 can be counted on one’s thumbs. Instead everything is 1080P or 1920x1080 pixels. This means that in order to actually use all 34” of screen real-estate consumers have to use software to upscale both the horizontal and vertical dimensions. This does make for some odd looking images from time to time and will break your immersion in a movie faster than someone yelling ‘fire’ in a theatre.

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/Acer_X34/m3.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

Even with these issues taken into account, we still think this monitor makes for an above average movie watching experience, and while we would never recommend purchasing it specifically for HTPC duties, its IPS monitor and minor curvature would certainly do better than most monitors.

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/Acer_X34/m6.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>
 
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AkG

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Non-Colorimeter Tweaking and Results

Non-Colorimeter Tweaking and Results


<i>In a perfect world either every monitor would come factory calibrated to perfection or every single consumer would own a decent colorimeter. We don’t live in such a world and as such most consumers simply use the old Mark 1 Mod 0 eyeball to fix any imperfections with the stock colors of their new monitor.
In order to gauge how easy this is to do for a given monitor we have included a new set of tests. These tests will be carried out before any of our standard tests and will consist of us using a combination of the free online LCD Monitor Test Images (found here LCD monitor test images) and then if necessary the free Hex2Bit Monitor Calibration Wizard (found here Hex2Bit - Software by Mike Walters). The goal of these tests is to not only gauge how easy it is to accurately calibrate a given monitor using only the onboard monitor tools, but to see how closely we can come to what a Spyder3 Elite can do. </i>


To obtain these results we did the following

- used “User" mode
- adjusted the brightness to 46% (which resulted in a 120.9 cd/m2)
- All other settings left to default levels


<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/Acer_X34/man_gamma.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/Acer_X34/man_rgb.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

In this area the Acer Predator X34 is every bit as easy to work with as the XR341 was before it. That is to say it is pretty darn easy to adjust. Most of this ease of use boils down to the fact that the X34 uses real buttons and the out of the box color profile was pretty much spot on - only people who are either OCD or <I>require</i> perfection will even bother with adjusting the Red, Green, or Blue levels.

All most users will need to do is enter the On Screen Display and turn down the brightness level - as this monitor is simply set to high at the factory for most conditions. Once again this will take only mere seconds and with that taken care of consumers can then get on with the serious business of wasting hours via their favorite games.
 
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AkG

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Conclusion

Conclusion


The Predator X34 represents the absolute pinnacle of modern gaming monitor design. Its excellent IPS panel, immersion-enhancing curve, high refresh rate and G-SYNC technology all combine to create a must-have tool for gamers who don’t particularly care about budget. Then again, budget or not, these types of halo products are required as trail-blazers before their high level technology can trickle down into more accessible price points.

Regardless of how you look at the Predator X34 –either as an expensive novelty or as a true game changer- it is an impressive feat of engineering. The curved IPS display may not be an optimal solution for anyone who sits off-center from the screen but its color rendering, black level capabilities, contrast and general image quality are all spot-on right out of the box. You likely won’t even have to delve too deeply into the very capable OSD other than to potentially push the refresh rate to Acer’s advertised 100Hz.

That 100Hz rating actually represents something of a slippery slope though. Other than G-SYNC, it is the one distinguishing feature this $1300 monitor has over the significantly less expensive 75Hz FreeSync-equipped XR341CK but it doesn’t necessarily deliver a better gaming experience in every situation. Most users will likely find it difficult to distinguish the difference between 75Hz and 100Hz monitor equipped with adaptive sync technology. In addition, this 100Hz rating has been achieved via overclocking which -while covered by Acer’s warranty- does cause some longer term concerns. After all, if their supplier wanted the design to be driven to 100Hz on a regular basis they would have sold it to Acer as a 100Hz panel in the first place. Luckily the max refresh rate is completely user-controlled and can easily be set to lower registers without a drastic impact upon visual fidelity.

Consistently driving a 3440x1440 screen above the 75Hz mark introduces a different set of variables on the performance front since it requires a huge amount of GPU resources. With that being said, if you have the equipment to achieve such an impressive feat, expect to be wowed by what the Acer Predator X34 can display on its gorgeous screen.

As we’ve mentioned numerous times in this review there are certainly limitations to 21:9 curved displays but all of those can be effectively overlooked if you are searching for the immersive qualities these things can offer. It will really brings racing games to the next level, though there are serious drawbacks for any title with an extensive in-game menu system.

Despite its price, the inherent limitations of 21:9 screens and some minor concerns over the longevity of that overclocked panel, the Acer X34 delivers a superlative blur and judder free gaming experience with some of the best picture quality around. That’s certainly something to be happy about….provided you can afford the price of entry.

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