Gaming Impressions, Pricing, and Final Thoughts
Gaming Impressions (Ryan's Note):
I think it's important to go into a bit of detail on the gaming impressions using the Acer XB270HU display. Even though we have been talking about our experiences of using G-Sync panels since late in 2013 when they were first shown, it's vital to validate and check to see if the experience holds up – maybe some things have gotten better and maybe some things have gotten worse.
With that being said, using the XB270HU has been impressive and as we sometimes talk about here at PC Perspective: you don't know how good you had it 'til its gone. IPS and equivalent screens are clearly (no pun intended) better for productivity as well as gaming than TN screens, when all else is equal. In the past, TN screens have been utilized because of their lower cost as well as the lower / faster response times. It wasn't until very recently that an IPS screen could ever hope of reaching the 144 Hz mark, but here we are: the XB270HU from Acer does just that. With a rated response time of 4ms, compared to the ASUS ROG Swift's response time of 1ms, the XB270HU is slower but still falls below the 7ms required to meet the 144 Hz refresh times of the displays maximum refresh rate.
In my time spent with the review sample of this monitor, gaming on it was a joy. Just as we have seen with previous G-Sync monitors, the variable refresh rate capability means that you see no tearing on the screen (usually associated with VSync disabled) and get none of the stutter or jutter (associated with VSync enabled) that you might have become accustomed to in the past. Instead the animations are smooth inside the frame rate ranges of <20-144 FPS and gaming through any number of titles is an improved experience over standard displays.
I spent some time with Battlefield 4, Bioshock Infinite, Grand Theft Auto V and even Project Cars and I can vouch for the G-Sync technology working perfectly in all of those titles. For a game like GTAV, which can get quite heavy on the GPU, a system using a GTX 960 was able to play at higher image quality settings than would otherwise be recommended – in those scenarios where the average FPS would drop dramatically, the XB270HU keeps the animation smooth and tear free, without flicker. Project Cars is very similar: a game that is demanding on modern GPUs that can allow both mid-range and enthusiast class graphics cards to meet their potential. First person shooters are also perfect use-cases for G-Sync where tearing and stutter can mean the difference between being the sniper or becoming the sniped. BF4 played great and even with a GTX 980 at the helm and the top image quality settings, the game was again very smooth.
The one drawback to using G-Sync remains the lock-in at the top refresh rate of the panel, in the case of the XB270HU that is 144 Hz. While AMD's FreeSync technology allows you to selectively enable or disable VSync once your in-game frame rate goes above the maximum refresh rate of the panel, NVIDIA's G-Sync does not, forcing the user into a VSync enabled state. NVIDIA believes that the lack of screen tearing overrides the user's desire for the lowest possible frame latency (which is compromised with VSync enabled) but we are still holding out hope that NVIDIA addresses this in an upcoming driver. Of course with a 144 Hz refresh rate maximum those VSync latencies are going to be significantly harder to detect than with other G-Sync monitors that are limited to 60 Hz, for example.
Overall, the Acer XB270HU with its 144 Hz refresh rate and G-Sync integration on an IPS panel, easily produces one of the best visual experiences for gaming as well as for productivity. You'll have to be an NVIDIA GeForce GPU user to take advantage of the variable refresh technology and also be willing to shell out the extra coin for it, but both Allyn and I agree that you just can't beat the XB270HU today.
- IPS panel paired with G-Sync is everything we hoped it would be.
- No external power brick needed.
- Glossy bezel and pedestal reflect screen image and are easily scratched.
- ULMB support capped at 100 Hz.
- No 3D Vision Support.
Pricing and Availability
- $800 (Amazon)
The XB270HU ships with a three year limited warranty.
The Acer XB270HU has a $50 premium over the ASUS ROG Swift, which has fallen to $750. G-Sync panels still run at a ~$100-$150 premium over an equivalent standard or FreeSync panel, but until we see AMD work through its growing pains (crossfire support, ghosting issues in many initial release panels), that premium will likely remain worth it for those who want a more mature and feature complete product.
The Acer XB270HU was long overdue in terms of an IPS G-Sync display – something many gamers have been waiting for since G-Sync was announced. While the longer pixel response time precludes 3D Vision support, this panel is still capable of an impressive 144Hz maximum refresh rate at full 1440P resolution. There were no surprises in our testing, and this new display corrected many of the gripes we had with the ASUS ROG Swift. I was so impressed with this display that I bought one for myself. My only real gripe is that such a great piece of glass is packaged in that easily marred glossy bezel and stand.
I may not be crazy about the bezel, but where the rubber meets the road, the image quality and performance of the Acer XB270HU is unmatched.