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Acer Predator XB271HK 27" 4K Monitor Review

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,421
Location
Montreal
What a great time it is to be looking for a gaming monitor. With high refresh rates, G-SYNC, FreeSync, 4K, curved panels and so many more technologies coming to the forefront, PC displays are in something of a renaissance period and potential buyers are benefiting from a bounty of choices. Granted, products with the most advanced features built into their frames are anything but inexpensive but some are beginning to trickle down into lower price points. Believe it or not, the Acer Predator XB271HK we’re taking a look at today personifies this shift towards slightly more mainstream price / performance expectations since it costs well under $900 USD yet incorporates specifications that were exclusively available on $1000+ alternatives only a few months ago.

Acer has been on a roll lately with a veritably army of monitors all focused with laser like intensity on different portions of the gaming monitor marketplace. For well-heeled consumers the awesome X34 is sure to satisfy, for those who want the absolute fastest curved monitor on the block the Z35 is there and for the more typical gamers the X270HU was there.

However, Acer is not one to sit on their laurels and instead is one of the few monitor manufacturers actively pushing the boundaries. In this instance it means EOL’ing a not all that old product and replacing it with not one but two models: the $750 XB271HU, and the $875 XB271HK. Yes it may sound confusing and some serious research will be required before hitting that “buy now” button but the differences between these models is relatively straightforward.


Of these two the ‘HK model is the much more interesting version. The XB270HU and XB271HU 27” models boast a resolution of 2560x1440, an 8-bit IPS panel, G-SYNC compatibility, an extremely high refresh rate and a gamut of other features. Meanwhile, for a premium of about $125 the XB271HK steps that up level; it still has a diagonal size of 27” and G-SYNC support but that’s where the similarities stop. Acer has equipped it with a beautiful 10-bit UHD 3840x2160 panel that may have a lower refresh rate of 60Hz due to DisplayPort bandwidth limitations but the focus here is truly on the image quality.

On the surface of things, packing 8.29 million pixels into such small screen may seem counter-intuitive, but this one change allows this monitor to boast a whopping 200 pixels per inch, and a dot pitch that is bordering on surreal. Specifically, instead of a .23mm dot pitch or even .20mm, this new Predator ravages the 1440P competition with .1268mm dot pitch.

In addition to all of this the anti-glare coating has been revamped and is not quite as aggressive as the XB270’s. The AG coating can still be noticeable and negatively impact color and image quality, but seemingly not to the same extent as its predecessors. In other words, the XB271HK it has been built from the ground up with one goal in mind: to offer the sharpest, highest quality video image that a PC gamer could ever hope to see. Think of it being targeted towards professionals who also love gaming rather than professional gamers who want the absolute highest refresh rate possible.


These changes are easily the largest, but are certainly not the most noticeable since until you turn on the XB271HK you would never even know those differences even existed. Instead, the most noticeable deviation from previous designs is the chassis which houses this super-resolution IPS panel. As you can see the XB271HK looks very similar to the Z35 – albeit smaller. It has the same aggressive aesthetics, same aggressively styled base with same the reddish orange accents, and even the same down-firing LEDs. However, unlike the Z35 the XB271HU uses a rather thin bezel that makes it tailor made for multi-monitor configurations.


Even though the XB271HK’s new ‘Predator’ aesthetics have been toned down when compared to the Z35, some people still may find it too aggressive. We on the other hand feel this new look perfectly sums up the gaming industry and have zero issues with such fan service. After all, this monitor is meant for gaming enthusiasts, and as such being ‘loud and proud’ is not a detriment. With that being said we strongly recommend seeing a XB271HK in person before buying one as pictures do not do it justice.


Now while the looks of the XB271HK’s stand and chassis have drastically changed from the previous XB270 the abilities have not. Rather, Acer has simply improved upon that foundation. In the stand’s case the new model’s is much, much more stable as the wide feet make tipping it damn difficult.

Backstopping this increased stability is the same wide range of abilities the previous generation offered users. As with the 270, the XB271HK offers an impressive 40° of tilt (+5° to -35°), 5.91 inches of height adjustment, excellent swivel and even portrait mode capabilities. In other words, it is everything anyone could want from their new monitor’s stand.


Also on the positive side, the new XB271 offers not only DisplayPort but also HDMI input options. Though consumers need to understand that if they wish to use the HDMI port the UHD resolution dictates a 24 HZ refresh rate. Unfortunately, contrary to Internet rumors, this model cannot be overclocked like the X34 or Z35. There is simply not enough bandwidth in the DisplayPort 1.2 standard for 75Hz at this resolution. Thankfully Acer has carried over the physical buttons of the XB270 so actually adjusting the screen will be as easy as it always has been.
 
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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Joined
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Messages
13,421
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Montreal
Menu Layout & Observations

Menu Layout & Observations


<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/Acer_Z35/menu1.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

The On Screen Display (OSD) which accompanies this monitor is virtually identical to the one that comes with the Predator X34 and we have absolutely no problems with this. The X34’s OSD was one of the best Acer On Screen Displays we have seen and using it across the entire Predator lineup makes perfect sense to us. As such, a lot of what you see here below will simply be a rehash of previous monitor reviews.

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/Acer_Z35/menu2.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

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 other monitors the included profiles are left blank, ready to accept user-generated presets.

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/Acer_Z35/menu3.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

The Acer XB271HK comes with end-user adjustable ‘overdrive’ (OD) settings. What OD does is basically push more voltage to the liquid crystals which forces them to change from one state to another faster. In theory panel overdrive is a 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 when this feature is abused.

The default overdrive (not to be confused with Acer’s “Over Clock” on some of their other monitors) 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 60. The ‘Extreme’ is just that and can cause noticeable color shifting. Unlike other Predator models, for most consumers the default setting is actually the setting they will want to use, but more on that later.

If you do need to delve deeper in to the XB271HK'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 $900 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.

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/XB271HK/menu_1.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

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 earlier Acer On Screen Displays.

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/XB271HK/menu_2.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

The next area is the 'Color' section which deals with actually adjusting the color profile of this monitor. Here you will find basic gamma correction, color temperature, 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/XB271HK/menu_3.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/XB271HK/menu_4.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. Unfortunately, as there simply is not bandwidth headroom left for overclocking the panel, Acer has dropped the ‘Over Clock’ setting from this OSD.

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/XB271HK/menu_5.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

The last is the Information section and it basically tells you the mode, resolution, and serial number of your particular XB271HK. For the most part this section can be safely ignored.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Joined
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Messages
13,421
Location
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Panel Uniformity / Panel Performance

Panel Uniformity / Panel Performance


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

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


Panel Uniformity


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.


We must admit to being slightly disappointed by the XB271HK’s lack of uniformity. While a variation of 17% is not terrible, it certainly is not the best we have seen in this size range.


Panel Performance


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) and 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.



Even though this monitor is ‘only’ capable of 60Hz the amount of blurring is actually quite minimal. So much so, that most consumers would be hard pressed to tell the difference between this 60Hz Acer Predator XB271HK and the 144Hz Acer Predator XB270HU. Put another way this monitor is rather impressive given the refresh limitations it has to work with. Obviously this ‘60Hz’ panel does have some untapped potential and it is the DisplayPort 1.2 standard that is holding it back from higher refresh rates.


Also noteworthy is unlike most of the Predator lineup the OverDrive feature of the XB271HK actually serves a useful purpose! When turned off this panel does exhibit noticeable pre-ghosting and ghosting. Worse still consumers need not be a pixel peeper to see it, instead to the naked eye the little race car and its driver seemed to stutter across the screen. By simply leaving the OverDrive setting in its default ‘normal’ position the pre-ghosting is eliminated at the car does become much clearer and crisper. Users will still see some ghosting from time to time, but not enough to be overly worrisome.

Sadly, increasing the OverDrive to its ‘extreme’ setting does nothing to increase image clarity and instead worsens it. Not only does image clarity degrade to the naked eye but so does color fidelity. As such, people can consider the ‘normal’ setting alongside G-SYNC to be as close to optimal as this monitor is capable of providing.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Joined
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Messages
13,421
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Montreal
Panel Backlight Bleed / Gamma Performance

Panel Backlight Bleed


An LCD or LCD LED based monitor relies upon either one or multiple sources of light to illuminate the Liquid Crystals so as to create an image that consumers can see. In a perfect world all the light would either go through the open Crystals or be reflected back into the interior of the display via the closed crystals. Due to manufacturing process most monitors exhibit light leakage around the edges of the monitor. This issue is called Backlight bleed and can drastically lower the contrast near these effected areas. This causes colors to have a ‘washed out’ appearance with blacks appearing to be more gray that black. Optimally a monitor should have zero bleeding, but if the amount is judged to be minor enough we will consider it to be adequate.

To determine the amount – if – any backlight bleed a given samples exhibits we have placed the monitor in a completely dark room, and using a Nikon D810 w/ 24-70 f2.8E VR lens have taken a series of pictures of the monitor. In between each shot the ISO is raised by one stop until a picture is captured that shows the amount of bleed occurring.

Due to variances in lumen output from one model to another we have chosen a setting of 250cd/m for the brightness setting instead of a percentage output. This amount of light is brighter than most consumers will be comfortable using, and yet any modern monitor is capable of producing this amount of light. As such it represents a good, but still realistic, worst case scenario.




As you can see the left side (its left) of the monitor shows an all but imperceptible amount of bleeding along the edges and corners. The top right has an extremely minor amount of bleed and the lower right has a moderate amount. To the naked eye the only bleed appears to come from the bottom right corner but it is extremely limited. To put this amount in perspective we had to raise the ISO from base setting of 64 all the way to 4,000 to obtain an image that was anything but ‘black’ – as the light leaking from the screen was that minor.


Gamma Performance


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.




The XB271HK may have a gamma ratio that is slightly inferior to our XB270 sample, but this amount is still within tolerances. By the same token, given the asking price of the XB271HK we would have preferred it to come factory calibrated to a perfect level and remove such variability.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Messages
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Montreal
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/XB271HK/cie.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

Thanks to the 10-bit IPS panel that Acer is using, the new XB271HK is an entirely different beast when compared its ancestor the XB270HU. Simply put this new monitor is capable of producing an ultra wide range of colors to near perfection. Brilliant stuff.


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/XB271HK/rgb.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

Overall this level of variance is within tolerances for the average consumer but if you take color fidelity seriously you will want to either invest in a colorimeter or have it professional calibrated.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,421
Location
Montreal
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/XB271HK/view.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

Thanks to its <i>straight</i> and not <i>curved</i> IPS based panel the viewing angles of this monitor are bloody impressive. Some of this is due to the fact that IPS simply has amazingly wide viewing angles, but some of it is because the dot-pitch is so extreme. The latter allows this monitor keep contrast and color fidelity longer than most IPS displays of similar size. Needless to say, when compared to the rest of the Predator models we have looked at, the XB271HK is the pick of the litter in this respect.


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/XB271HK/contrast.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

This monitor’s contrast ability is easily the best we have seen from any Acer Predator model to date, and that is indeed saying something.


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/XB271HK/power.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

The reason the calibrated power consumption is higher than expected is two-fold. Firstly this is a 4K display and that does require more robust internal processing power. This however only accounts for a minor portion of the increased power consumption. The real reason power levels are higher than even the X34 is because consumers will have to leave the brightness setting at 43% to achieve optimal results. In either case, the XB271HK may not be a power hog, but certainly is no power miser like most 27-inch W-LED backlit monitors.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
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Messages
13,421
Location
Montreal
Gaming Performance

Gaming Performance


<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/XB271HK/g1.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

Considering how impressed we have been with Acer Predator monitors in the past there were some high expectations for this new addition and for the most part the XB271HK delivers. So much so that in some ways it can be considered the best all round choice of the Predator lineup. Unlike the larger Predator monitors like the X34 and Z35, the XB271 uses a <i>flat</I> screen which makes it infinitely more versatile This in conjunction with the 200 pixels per inch resolution makes even older games look razor sharp, provided they actually support 4K.

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/XB271HK/g2.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

While a 4K resolution is certainly more demanding than the usual 1440P resolution, this monitor has a much more manageable a 16:9 form-factor and as such consumers won’t have to worry about modifying .ini files or dealing with the occasional gremlin that sometimes accompanies 21:9 monitors. Instead the XB271HK can be considered a true ‘plug and play’ solution. With that being said, the true benefits of that 4K resolution stretched across just 27” of space are debatable at best since there just isn’t enough screen real estate to actually see the difference between it and a proper 1440P design.

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/XB271HK/g3.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

This is however secondary to the other reason that we consider the XB271 to be the premier archetype for the entire Predator line: the form-factor. Unlike the Z35 or X34 models that are meant to be standalone models that do <i>not</i> play well with others of their kind, the XB271’s combination of thin bezel and reasonable footprint means that serious gaming enthusiasts can use three of these monitors for true surround gaming. Such a setup would indeed require a significant investment in video cards, but in return would provide a customizable mega-monitor with the perfect amount of curvature. Also unlike the X34 or Z35, such an investment in monitors and video cards could be done over time so as to make the total bill a lot easier to handle.

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/XB271HK/g4.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

The XB271HK is actually more than the sum of its parts when it comes to gaming. Yes it is ‘slower’ and ‘smaller’ than the X34 and Z35 but when you combine ultra-rich color pallet with razor sharp resolution and then pile in gaming features like GSYNC & ULMB most gamers will feel like they have died and gone to heaven.

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/XB271HK/g5.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

Unfortunately, before consumers rush out and purchase this model they need to be aware that that razor sharpness does come at some major caveats; caveats that may radically change their opinion of Acer’s relatively affordable Predator model. The first is rather obvious: video card horsepower. This model may ‘only’ offer 27-inches of diagonal real-estate but at this resolution you will need a video card capable of pushing 497.66 million pixels. Every. Second. To put this level of demand in perspective it is only a couple percent less than the larger Predator X34 demands. Needless to say if you are used to 1440P resolution demands, prepare to be shocked at how much more horsepower is truly needed to hit 60 frames per second at 4K - and remain there. Naturally G-SYNC does make staying at 60Hz a lot less necessary than it once was, but in order to get the full abilities of this monitor be prepared to pay megabucks.

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/XB271HK/g6.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

The other issue is that going from 144Hz at 1440P to 60Hz at 2160P may not seem like an upgrade for some consumers. It really will depend on the game genre and the individual user’s perception abilities. For most the extra clarity more than offsets the slower refresh rate, but some – especially those who need ultra quick FPS response times – will find 60Hz too slow for full video immersion. This issue will be most noticeable in fast twitch franchises such as Call of Duty or Battlefield, and be a lot less noticeable in RTS games. In between these two extremes is where most games fall. For example, we found that Crysis 3 was simply jaw dropping, even at ‘only’ 60Hz. Overall we consider the Acer XB271HK to be a fantastic video game monitor, but one that may fail to impress <i>all</i> gaming enthusiasts.

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/XB271HK/g7.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Joined
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Messages
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Location
Montreal
Movie Performance

Movie Performance


<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/XB271HK/m6.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

With its combination of excellent color pallet, razor sharpness and 16:9 form-factor we doubt most users will consider this monitor to be anything other than fantastic for watching movies. Movies will be stunning, images will pop, and overall the ability to suck viewers right in to the action is actually greater than the Z35 or X34.

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/XB271HK/m2.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

Now with that being said there will be times that this monitor will create images that are anything but jaw-dropping. In fact, it can and <i>will</i> make images that are downright ugly bordering on unwatchable if the source content is anything but 4K. This is because the XB271HK is a hard taskmaster that will amplify the source material and highlight any issues with it. In order order to actually use all 27” of the XB271’s screen real-estate consumers have to use software to upscale both the horizontal and vertical dimensions of non-native content since Acer hasn’t included a hardware upscaler. Thankfully the XB271HK does make use of a resolution that is <i>precisely</i> four times that of the most common format for movies – 1080P.

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/XB271HK/m1.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

Simply put, when watching movies you will need to use as high a bitrate as possible as each and every pixel will be blown up by a factor of four. Most of the time this will create stunning images, but even the best up-scaling algorithms still create some odd looking images from time to time. These oddities will break your immersion in a movie and leave you shaking your head at exactly what a ‘blob’ on the screen is supposed to be. This issue is further exacerbated with lower bitrate videos, and becomes extremely apparent when upscaling 480P videos regardless of bitrate. So much so that 720P is barely tolerable and DVD quality is anything but enjoyable without some heavy processing power. As such we do not recommend most software solutions and instead you will want to use something like MadVR and the power it offers.

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/XB271HK/m3.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

On the positive side, all images will at least look proportional as the image will not have to be unevenly scaled in the horizontal or vertical. This factor cannot be overlooked and is rather important when compared to the X34 and Z35 models - as all 21:9 monitors have to not only upscale an image but also <i>stretch</i> them to fill out the sides.

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/XB271HK/m4.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

It is also worth mentioning that while the out of box default color profile is more than adequate it does stray more to a warm color pallet than a neutral one. The XB271HK was better than the XB270 in this regard, but if you do care about seeing a movie the way it was meant to be viewed you will probably want to modify the stock colors. Also, somewhat negating this improvement was the slightly narrower pre-calibration color gamut. Once again the differences are minor but blacks may seem a touch washed out before you modify a few key settings.

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/XB271HK/m5.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

Even with these issues taken into account the Acer Predator XB271HK is an amazing monitor that outclasses the older XB270 in movie scenarios.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Messages
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Montreal
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 43% (which resulted in a 120.3 cd/m2)
- All other settings left to default levels

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/XB271HK/man_rgb.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/XB271HK/man_gamma.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

Put simply the combination of an excellent – if somewhat limited – On Screen Display with decent – if not outstanding – physical buttons is a winning one. All we really needed to do was turn down the brightness a bit since we used the monitor in a darker environment.

Once this is simple task is accomplished it will all come down to personal tastes and how persnickety a consumer is. For most the default color profile will be more than good enough, if somewhat warm. Though with that said, we do recommend investing in an inexpensive colorimeter as this will ensure that you do not <i>overcompensate</i> and end up with even worse color profile than the default values allow.

The same holds true of the default gamma setting, as the default of 2.23 is decent but some will feel that blacks are a touch washed out. Here however consumers will have to opt for off-screen correction as the built in gamma correction is best described as poor at best. Luckily, even the most inexpensive colorimeters will also correct gamma levels while correcting the color profile – making such an investment even easier to justify. Now with that being said having to invest an addition hundred dollars after spending $900 for a monitor may rub some people the wrong way. As such we recommend looking at a XB271HK in action before pulling the trigger on one.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Conclusion; One of the Best Just Got Better

Conclusion


Going into this review, we had some unreasonably high expectations. Previous Acer Predator gaming monitors which graced our lab never let us down and each brought something new and unique to the table. Be it the crazy fast 200Hz Z35, massive X34, the pioneering XB270HU or even the affordable FreeSync-equipped XR341CK (which isn’t technically part of the Predator range), there’s always been something to like about what Acer has brought to the table. The XB271HK carries on this tradition and epitomizes features the Predator lineup has introduced during its lifetime. It actually happens to be one of the best gaming monitors we’ve reviewed in the last two years.

As we said in the introduction, whereas many other gaming monitors have some severe limitations for many other disciplines, the Predator XB271HK is a monitor for people who care about gaming alongside other tasks. On one hand its G-SYNC compatibility, Ultra Low Motion Blur technology and various other features are obviously targeted towards gamers who want buttery smooth onscreen motion without any of the judder and screen tearing normally associated with lesser monitors. Meanwhile, the 10-bit IPS panel, 4K resolution and 6-axis color correction will perfectly satisfy the needs of folks who want the ultimate in visual fidelity. Both aspects work hand in hand to create a superlative visual experience regardless of the task at hand.

The way someone will approach this monitor from a gaming perspective largely depends on their personal preferences. For most the combination of G-SYNC and a refresh rate of “just” 60Hz will be a perfect combination since adaptive synchronization technologies can make even lower framerates look deceptively fluid. On the other hand users who care about the absolute quicker response times will still gravitate the towards faster 75Hz, 144Hz and 200Hz panels on Acer’s other Predator models.

Just don’t fault Acer for adapting this refresh rate since the DisplayPort 1.2 interface just can’t handle the bandwidth necessary for anything above 60Hz at 4K. With that said it’s high time someone launched a 34” 4K G-SYNC monitor instead of the slightly gimmicky ultra-wide panels we’ve been seeing so much of lately.

For anyone not interested in curved 34” or 35” monsters this monitor pretty much has everything you could want: performance, looks, and price. That last point will be critical to many users’ decision making process as when the difference in price between the XB271HK model and the 34-in 3440x1440 Predator X34 is taken into consideration there is a very good argument to be made in this monitor’s favor. That extra $500 could easily be re-invested in more GPU horsepower.

In the end the Acer XB271HK certainly won’t impress every single user out there, but we foresee this model being awfully damn popular with a wide swath of potential buyers. Everyone from enthusiasts looking for a dual purpose game/work monitor, to hardcore gamers who don’t need faster refresh rates, will appreciate what Acer has brought to the table with their newest Predator model.

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/XB271HK/dam_good.jpg" border="0" alt="" /> <img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/XB271HK/di.png" border="0" alt="" /></div>
 
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