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Acer Predator XB1 XB321HK 4k UHD 32 inch IPS G-Sync Gaming Monitor Review (27 inch – XB271HK)

by on May 30, 2016
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Overview

It may not be exactly cheap as far as gaming monitors go, but the Acer XB321HK is one massive piece of 4K PC display technology which has been built with gaming in mind almost across the board in all of its core specs. Featuring a mostly simple and sleek design, the XB1 also has touches of flashiness built into its chassis and particularly into its support stand for a clearly gamer-oriented feel that a lot of users should like.

However, what really makes or breaks a gaming 4K monitor isn’t its external appearance. Instead, the specs on hand are the key and in these areas the XB1 does remarkably well by most standards and offers up enough connectivity, display quality and high caliber performance to please even many hardcore 4K PC gaming fans with the result. Add in G-Sync technology and the sheer immersion of the 32 inch display in the XB1 and its few flaws don’t seem too bad at all, even if this monitor definitely falls on the more expensive side of the price spectrum.

The Good

For starters, we genuinely love the outward design of the XB321HK. It looks great all around and comes with a wonderfully thin frame for such a large UHD monitor. The lower right hand side of the monitor features a power button and several easy to use menu control buttons and the XB1’s bezel is also nicely thin. It’s unobtrusive, maximizes display space and the matte black color of the bezel and most of the body also serves to keep design distraction to a minimum when the XB1 is being used. Furthermore, the adjustable supporting arm of the XB321HK not only looks cool with its red feet, it’s also quite flexible, allowing for assorted adjustments for height and tilt. In addition to this, we liked the extra touch of rubber pads along the bottom of the feet for greater stability and a lack of desktop scratches if you move the monitor around for any reason.

Connectivity in the XB1 could be better but it’s also satisfying enough to be called one of its positive features. There are enough HDMI and DisplayPort 1.2 ports to cover all the essentials for effective 4K gaming at different frame rates and the USB connectivity in this monitor is better than what we’ve seen in some competing 4K displays on sale today.

Most importantly however, the display performance in 4K resolution on the XB1 is what we most appreciate. This monitor delivers a superb level of visual performance in all major metrics, with rich vibrant colors, crisp clarity and great contrast. Furthermore, the use of IPS (in-plane-switching) panel technology results in great brightness and excellent wide viewing angles. What’s more, if a user isn’t happy with out-of-the-box display performance, picture adjustments are easy and highly accessible through the XB1’s menu and function keys. With these, one can activate things like Game Mode for gaming or refresh rate overclocking as well. There are also filters for blue light removal, dark boosting and even an aim assist function that overlays crosshair icons in the middle of the screen during shooting games.

Finally, the XB1 monitor comes with NVIDIA’S G-Sync technology integrated into it and this alone gives it a real boost for gaming performance. With G-Sync, gamers whose PCs use NVIDIA GPU technology can synchronize refresh rate between monitor and graphics card for a much smoother, tear and stutter-free performance that makes 4K or HD gaming into an experience that flows much better than it does without this technology. With its G-Sync integration, the XB1 4K monitor lets you enjoy full 4K gaming at up to 60Hz with far less problems than you’d have in a competing monitor without this GP-monitor synchronization feature.

Check the Price of the Acer Predator XB321HK 4k Gaming IPS Monitor on Amazon:

4.5 - 17 Reviews

The Bad

For starters, though we aren’t dissatisfied with the connectivity options in the Acer XB321HK, they definitely could have been tweaked for improvement in a couple of key ways. First among these would have been the inclusion of at least one HDMI 2.0 port for even friendlier 4K graphics support. HDMI 1.4 manages only 30fps between PC and monitor and while this works remarkably well on the XB1 thanks to its quality and sometimes thanks to its G-Sync support, gamers who want [email protected] are stuck with using the single DisplayPort 1.2 connection this monitor offers up. This leads us to our second connectivity complaint. Namely that the XB1 could have also included a greater number of these two ports, with at least one more HDMI port and a second DP1.2 port as well.

Going beyond this, there are a couple of display issues at work in the XB1 that are worth noting. First, with IPS panel technology, while viewing angles and color accuracy are definite winners, backlight bleed in the screen can be annoying, especially along the edges of some units, where it most often manifests to some degree. This in turn affects contrast and creates black levels that are nowhere near as perfect as those we’ve seen in many 4K monitors with VA panels or TN display technology to a slightly lesser degree.

Two further things are also briefly worth noting in this section. First of all, keep in mind that the G-Sync capacity of the XB1 works only with NVIDIA GPU’s such as the Nvidia GTX 1080. So if you have one of their excellent 4K-capable graphics cards installed in your PC, great, the XB1 is one excellent choice for your hardcore 4K and HD PC gaming needs. However if AMD GPU technology is more your style and reflects the AMD GPU in your PC, then G-Sync won’t work and you’re better off with a FreeSync monitor. Secondly, the XB1 is definitely on the expensive side for a 4K PC monitor. IPS displays tend to cost more and a 32 inch 4K model certainly won’t be cheap by any standards but even with these factors considered, the XB321HK is more expensive than we like even if it delivers what is superb quality for the most part.

Final Thoughts

Overall, we love the XB321HK from Acer. Excellent brightness, great color vibrancy and some spectacular display space combine to create a nearly perfect 4K PC gaming monitor, especially for users of NVIDIA Graphics processing cards. We wish it cost less but it’s not likely to disappoint on performance.

Specs

• Screen Size: 32 inches
• 27 inch version - XB271HK
• Screen Mode: 4K UHD
• Response Time: 4 ms
• Aspect Ratio: 16:9
• Backlight Technology: LED
• Panel Technology: In-plane Switching (IPS) Technology
• Tilt Angle: -5° to 25°
• Maximum Resolution: 3840 x 2160
• Standard Refresh Rate: 60 Hz
• Color Support: 1.07 Billion Colors
• Contrast Ratio: 1100:1
• Brightness: 350 cd/m²
• Tearing Prevention Technology: G-sync
• Ports: 1 x HDMI 1.4, 1 x DisplayPort 1.2, USB Hub, 4x USB 3.0
• Speakers: Yes
• Height: 17.1″
• Width: 29.1″
• Depth: 2.4″
• Height with Stand: 22.91″
• Width with Stand: 29.05″
• Depth with Stand: 12.20″
• Weight (Approximate): 17.64 lb
• Weight with Stand (Approximate): 24.91 lb

Highlights

G-Sync from NVIDIA
NVIDIA G-Sync technology absolutely makes a difference in the quality of 4K and HD gameplay performance in any monitor that’s hooked up to a NVIDIA GPU. In the case of the Predator XB1, we definitely noticed this effect on all counts, with excellent 4K game performance at up to 60fps in lower-end 4K games with lower detail levels (Higher detail in intensive gaming is hard due to limitations in the GPU, not the monitor) and also noted the effect at Full HD gaming in the monitor’s maximum refresh rate of 60Hz, allowing for a maximum possible frame rate of 60fps as well. Even with gaming via HDMI 1.4 connectivity, allowing for 4K graphics at only 30fps, those 30 frames per second flow smoothly and with no notable tear or stutter. This is definitely due to a large contribution from G-Sync. It’s one of the features which makes this monitor a serious candidate purchase for any 4K gamer.

Display Size and other gamer-friendly display features
Aside from G-Sync the Predator XB1 is 4K gamer friendly in the majority of its other key display and internal specs. First among these is the simple fact that a 32 inch screen delivers a much more immersive experience than a 24 inch, 27 inch or 28 inch display. Those extra inches really count and the extremely narrow bezel of the XB1 enhances the impression of large display space even more. In addition to this spec, the Predator XB1 offers up a great 4 ms response time, superb pixel pitch, fine connectivity and some excellent brightness for beautiful rendering of game graphics at any detail level. The contrast could be better but this is a minor issue thanks to the excellent maximum brightness in the XB1.

Check the Price of the Acer Predator XB321HK 4k Gaming IPS Monitor on Amazon:

4.5 - 17 Reviews

Visual Specs

Visually, the Acer Predator XB1 monitor offers some very powerful specs in most regards and the effect they produce on color and detail rich modern games –especially those with 4K graphics—is a definite winner.

First of all, the maximum brightness of 350 cd/m2 (350 nits) in the XB1 makes for some stunning vibrancy in how the tones of daylight scenes, explosions or colorful in-game artifacts are rendered. Secondly, this very high brightness capacity goes a long way towards making up for the native contrast of less than 1000:1 that this monitor delivers in practice. As we’d said above, as an IPS display, the Predator XB1 does suffer from some light bleed issues along its edges in particular and while this can be annoying when viewing a completely or mostly dark scene on the display, it’s barely notable during gameplay or video and photo viewing in which only parts of the screen space are darkened. Furthermore, the IPS display does offer the benefit of excellent viewing angles, with decent color and contrast performance out to 178 degrees.

Additionally, Acer is claiming 10-bit color support in the XB1 and at the price it sells for, we’re hoping there’s no trickery involved. Whether the monitor fully and truly delivers the 1.07 billion color values of 10-bit color support that it promises, we can say that its sRGB coverage is excellent at nearly 100% and that color gradation on the screen between different highly similar values is silky smooth. In basic terms, the overall color vibrancy with color-rich gaming and other content in the XB1 looks superb.

Connectivity

As we’d covered above, the XB1 offers up a total of one HDMI 1.4 port, two USB 3.0 ports along its right side and at the back, underneath the back hardware hump, comes with two additional USB 3.0 ports, a 3.5mm audio jack and its single DisplayPort 1.2 port. This is also where the HDMI 1.4 port is located.

Pricing

The Acer Predator XB321HK 4K UHD IPS monitor is currently selling for $1,192.99 on Amazon.com. Like we said, not cheap for a 4K gaming PC monitor. The 27 inch version - XB271HK is selling for $779.00.

Check the Price of the Acer Predator XB321HK 4k Gaming IPS Monitor on Amazon:

4.5 - 17 Reviews

Not so Great

To summarize the minor defects of the Predator XB1 briefly, we’re not quite happy with the lack of additional HDMI or DisplayPort 1.2 ports, we don’t like the light bleed produced by this monitor’s IPS panel and we think the lack of swivel support in the support stand is annoying. The XB1 is also really expensive as a gaming display, with many larger 4K TVs from name brands offering better prices and more features.

Positives

• Superb color rendering
• Great design
• Includes G-Sync
• Very bright panel
• Connectivity essentials all present
• Great display space at 32 inches

Negatives

• No swivel adjustment
• Could use more HDI or DP 1.2 ports
• Contrast is a bit weak
• expensive enough to justify simply buying a 4K TV

Editor Rating
 
Features
A

 
Quality
A

 
User Friendliness
A

 
Connectivity
A+

 
Price
B+

Total Score
A-

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Bottom Line
 

Despite its minor flaws, the Acer Predator XB321HK is one excellent and well-designed 4K gamer's monitor that almost anyone will be pleased with. We particularly like its massive display space and the inclusion of G-Sync. However, this 4K PC monitor is expensive and a smaller 2015 or 2016 4K TV might even be a better alternative if you’re going to spend this much for a gaming display.

Check the Price of the Acer Predator XB321HK 4k Gaming IPS Monitor on Amazon:

4.5 - 17 Reviews

 
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