Physical Design, OSD, Overdrive Capability
If you read our review of the Acer XR341CK FreeSync monitor, much of the style and design for that display is carried over to the Acer Predator X34, here.
Displays with that magical 21:9 aspect ratio are considered UltraWide, for obvious reasons. The 34-in screen looks and feels quite a bit different than the normal 16:9 or 16:10 monitors that you might already have on your desk. Even though we are only talking about a difference of 880 pixels (440px on each side) in width, the apparent change is dramatic.
The Predator X34 leans into the design some with decently narrow side and top bezels, and it has a taller bottom bezel with the monitor logo and OSD inputs, etc.
Angular accents along the back of the display give it some edge and some attitude in order to appeal to the gaming and enthusiast crowds. I appreciate the look and feel back here although, for most of our readers, what's on the back on the display will matter very little.
The stand for the X34 uses a pair of fixed extended legs that crowd into the users desk space some, much further than even the curved panel itself does. This helps keep it balanced but does mean you loose some usability on your desktop, if you are a cluttered person like I am. The red rectangle there is to help manage the cables going in the back of the panel – its basic but gets the job done.
Though the physical bezel around the Predator X34 is very narrow, the internal bezel of the screen itself is still definitely there. Just because its covered in glass doesn't mean it isn't considered part of the bezel, despite what some monitor vendors would have you believe.
Along the bottom of the monitor, you'll find the pitchfork-looking logo that represents the Acer Predator brand of displays as well as a row of LED lights, which are RGB configurable through the OSD.
Though it might seem gimmicky at first, as I said on the XR341CK review, the inclusion of LED lights makes for a nice touch. They give the monitor an air of price and value that it honestly SHOULD have. The ability to have a soft LED light (of various colors) illuminating the desktop while you have surrounding overhead lights out, allows you to see the desk well without risk of distracting glare.
Display inputs are limited to just a single DisplayPort 1.2a and HDMI 1.4a connection. G-Sync is only available on the DP connection, of course, but it's nice to see this latest generation of G-Sync monitors allowing a secondary input.
Other than that, you have your power input, headphone output (for audio passed in through DP or HDMI) and a 4-port USB 3.0 hub for easy attachment of accessories.
Finally, if you really want to, you can exchange the built-in stand for another VESA-compatible mount of any kind. The Predator X34 stand includes tilt and height adjustment, but it doesn't rotate at all; that's really the only knock against it.
On-Screen Display Settings
Interacting with the OSD on the Acer Predator X34 is an act of frustration – the buttons work just fine but I was constantly unsure which one I was about to press. The labels are separated from the buttons by enough space that I often was hitting the wrong one, every once in a while turning the whole damn thing off by mistake. Once you get the hang of it though, you can trudge your way through the OSD to some noteworthy options and settings.
This will be where you are found most often, changing the overdrive (OD) settings, ambient LED lighting and even the overclocking frequency. The OD setting can be in one of three states (off, normal, extreme) while the overclocking setting allows us to set the new maximum refresh rate, up to 100 Hz, in 5 Hz increments. Confirming one of these settings reset the monitor, showing up in Windows as capable of that new maximum and all the steps up to it.
You can see there are plenty of configurable settings in the Predator X34, most of which we should all be pretty familiar with.
One nice addition is a real-time refresh rate indicator that you can enable, which will update to show you the refresh rate you are running at even in G-Sync mode. In that case, you are basically looking at a monitor-based frame rate counter!
Testing overdrive on FreeSync and G-Sync monitors is some of the most important work we do, as it was one of the key differences between the technologies early on in their lives. AMD has worked with the monitor vendors to implement an overdrive algorithm that works with variable refresh rates, even if it isn't completely variable in its own functionality, but G-Sync still usually has the advantage.
In this case, the overdrive capability of the Acer Predator X34 is pretty good, but not great. There is a noticeable difference when moving from the "off" to the "normal" setting and, as such, we would recommend owners enable it. We would like to see Acer and NVIDIA work on perfecting this; if you look at the ASUS PG279Q review from October, the overdrive results are nearly perfect, whcih proves that it CAN be done in IPS panels.
The move to "extreme" causes negative ghosting, indicated by the dark spots on the previous frame.