Acer has both a 4K and a 1080p G-Sync monitor on the market and we finally get our hands on the lower resolution model. Does it offer a good enough experience to warrant purchasing?
NVIDIA's G-Sync technology and the monitors that integrate it continue to be one of hottest discussion topics surrounding PC technology and PC gaming. We at PC Perspective have dived into the world of variable refresh rate displays in great detail, discussing the technological reasons for it's existence, talking with co-creator Tom Petersen in studio, doing the first triple-panel Surround G-Sync testing as well as reviewing several different G-Sync monitor's available on the market. We were even the first to find the reason behind the reported flickering a 0 FPS on G-Sync monitors.
A lot of has happened in the world of displays in the year or more since NVIDIA first announced G-Sync technology including a proliferation of low cost 4K panels as well as discussion of FreeSync, AMD's standards-based alternative to G-Sync. We are still waiting for our first hands on time (other than a static demo) with monitors supporting FreeSync / AdaptiveSync and it is quite likely that will occur at CES this January. If it doesn't, AMD is going to have some serious explaining to do…
But today we are looking at the new Acer XB270H, a 1920×1080 27-in monitor with G-Sync support and a 144 Hz refresh rate; a unique combination. In fact, there is no other 27-in 144 Hz 1080p monitor on the market that we are aware of after a quick search of Newegg.com and Amazon.com. But does this monitor offer the same kind of experience as the ASUS ROG Swift PG278Q or even the Acer XB280HK 4K G-Sync panels?
While we dive into the specifics on the Acer XB270H monitor today, I will skip over most of the discussion about G-Sync, how it works and why we want it. In our ASUS PG278Q review I had a good, concise discussion on the technical background of NVIDIA G-Sync technology and how it improves gaming.
The idea of G-Sync is pretty easy to understand, though the implementation method can get a bit more hairy. G-Sync introduces a variable refresh rate to a monitor, allowing the display to refresh at wide range of rates rather than at fixed intervals. More importantly, rather than the monitor dictating what rate this refresh occurs at to the PC, the graphics now tells the monitor when to refresh in a properly configured G-Sync setup. This allows a monitor to match the refresh rate of the screen to the draw rate of the game being played (frames per second) and that simple change drastically improves the gaming experience for several reasons.
Let's take a look at what specifically the Acer XB270H brings to the table.
The most obvious feature to bring up is that once again we are reviewing a G-Sync monitor with a TN panel – in fact we have yet to see a G-Sync display with anything BUT a TN panel. Now I truly do believe that the quality of panels that NVIDIA's partners have been using in these recent monitor releases is much higher quality that you might have expected from previous experiences with TN screens, but eventually something has to give an a different option will be built. The XB270H is just not that.
Acer rates the panel at a 300 nit maximum brightness, a 1ms GTG response time and a 1000:1 contrast ratio that lines up with our testing. This monitor is physically built like just about every other 1080p 27-in monitor you'll find though the base and stand are actually above par as I'll show you on the following page.
I feel like I am saying this all the time, but the viewing angles for the TN screen on the Acer XB270H are better than what we would have expected. I am thinking it is time we up our expectations for the next round of displays coming out in 2015 – but that won't change my opinion here. Acer's XB270H does a great job of presenting accurate color at off angle viewing though within certain limits. For example, both left and right offsets show minimal degradation while the top and bottom angles are much more dramatic.
This is an example of looking at the TN screen from below – clearly you can see some dramatic color shifting is taking place. But, looking at your monitor from below is not likely to happen in a normal usage scenario and the only place where it MIGHT is when a user rotates the display into a portrait mode. I think these TN panels should be avoided if you are planning on using portrait mode as the top/bottom angles then become the much more important left/right viewing angles.