Calibration, Gaming, Pricing, Conclusions
Calibration of a monitor is something that very few gamers do but it can drastically improve the experience of using a new display in Windows. (Keep in mind that calibrations do NOT stay in place while gaming, so calibrations only apply to Windows environments.) The Acer XR341CK is actually decently calibrated out of the box, with a slight over-saturation on the yellow and green.
This is a report from dispcalGUI that shows the status of the monitor before our calibration process. They grey levels are solid, though you can definitely see the saturation in yellow and greens I mentioned above. Note that we put the monitor into its "sRGB" preset – an easy step that most users should take to get their new panels close to solid calibration levels.
After a 4 hour calibration process with our Spyder 4 colorimeter the color levels are nearly perfect and the 3440×1440 screen would be suitable for any professional and creative working environment.
This diagram shows the result in the typical XxY fashion – the color triangle represents the before-calibration result while the dashed line represents the final result.
Calibration Profile Download
The Windows color profile management interface is a bit of a mess, with the need to select and enable a profile in multiple layers of the interface. The best guide for loading and enabling a profile can be found over at TFTCentral. We used the following tools to generate our own calibration profile:
- Datacolor Spyder 4
- ArgyllCMS (calibration software suite)
- dispcalGUI (Graphical interface for Argyll CMS)
- HCFR (for additional verification and output graphs)
Our calibration profile was created using the lowest calibration speed in a dimly lit room. Here are the required settings if you wish to use our profile:
- User mode
- Brightness: 31
- Red: 50 (default)
- Green: 50 (default)
- Blue: 49
- Profile download: (HERE)
The above profile was created specifically for a color temperature target of 6500K at a luminance of 120 cd/m2 (nit). Gamma 2.2. Remember that the only way to get a correct calibration on your specific panel is by using a colorimeter on that very panel. The above settings and profile will only get *your* display to a perfect calibration if it has the exact same properties as our test sample. A perfect match is unlikely, but this should get you far closer to calibrated than just running with defaults.
Obviously with support for AMD FreeSync, the Acer XR341CK is targeting the enthusiast PC gamer that wants the best display experience that exists in today's market. This isn't a 4K screen, but I actually think that will be seen as an advantage for many gamers.
The resolution of 3440×1440 creates an image of 4.9M pixels. A 4K resolution results in 8.29M pixels. Thus, a 4K resolution monitor would require a GPU to work on approximately 70% more pixels to get the same frame rate as the 3440×1440 monitor. That requires quite a bit more GPU horsepower, and likely pushes most users into the multi-GPU picture. It is much more likely that with whatever current GPU setup you have, you will have a better gaming experience with the Acer XR341CK or similar screen. Compared to a 2560×1440 monitor, this display has a 33% higher pixel count, so you will definitely see a performance hit on existing hardware.
Star Wars Battlefront at 3440×1440 – Click to Enlarge
Now, with the numbers discussion out of the way, what does it feel like to game on a 3440×1440 34-in screen? It's awesome. I had this panel in the office during the Star Wars Battlefront public beta and I can tell you that the feeling you get from an UltraWide screen, and definitely with a curved one, is very different than anything else in terms of single screen experiences. In many ways you are getting the benefits of Eyefinity with an UltraWide panel without the headaches of configuration in software, having bezels intersect your view, or extreme fish-eye effect on the far edges of the screen. All games should see benefits from the 3440×1440 resolution and I do think that for most people, this is the perfect resolution to balance productivity and cutting-edge gaming! (Some games might have issues outputting to 3440×1440, but newer titles should have support for it.)
The 75 Hz maximum refresh on the Acer XR341CK means that you can utilize the FreeSync capability for variable refresh rates (no tearing and no judder!) inside a fairly sizeable window: 32 FPS to 75 FPS. That is a range of 43 FPS/Hz and should allow users to configure games to stay within that window.
For now, GeForce user are left out in the cold as we are still waiting for the release of the G-Sync enabled variant of this panel. That model claims to support refresh rates as high as 100 Hz, but we'll wait until we have one in-studio for testing.
Pricing and Availability
The Acer XR341CK currently sells on Amazon.com for $1,039. That's a steep investment for any user but as I mentioned at the beginning of the review, monitors tend to last longer than any other component of a PC. Also, keep in mind that the panel is the final step in what you see and experience for gaming and productivity so it can't hurt to invest in one that is high quality and produces impressive gaming experiences unlike you have seen before.
The more 21:9 monitors I use, the more I believe that most of our readers would be more happy with this aspect ratio than any other on the market. You need to have sufficient desk space for a 34-in wide display, but if you have it, an UltraWide monitor might be the perfect match for gamers looking to change things up. The Acer XR341CK is one of the best iterations of this aspect ratio I have ever used as well, combining a curved IPS screen with amazing color reproduction and viewing angles, a 3440×1440 resolution and AMD's FreeSync variable refresh rate technology. If you are a user of NVIDIA GeForce GPUs you will have to wait for another model. For AMD users, full steam ahead.
For AMD users that want FreeSync and the best tech in 21:9 displays