Gaming Impressions, Pricing, Conclusions
With support for G-Sync, the Acer Predator X34 display targets the enthusiast PC gamer that wants arguably the best display experience that exists – at least in this reviewers opinion.
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 3440×1440 resolution on the Acer Predator X34. Compared to a 2560×1440 monitor, this display has a 33% higher pixel count, so you will still see a performance hit on existing hardware.
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 played a lot of Star Wars Battlefront and I can tell you that the feeling you get from an UltraWide screen, and definitely from a curved one, is very different than anything else in single screen experiences. In many ways, you are getting the benefits of Eyefinity/Surround 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 100 Hz overclocked maximum refresh on the Acer X34 means that you can utilize the G-Sync capability for variable refresh rates (no tearing and no judder!) through a huge range. It's odd that Acer would choose to ship this display with an initial refresh rate of just 60 Hz (compared to the 75 Hz we see on the Acer XR341CK FreeSync version of the monitor) even though we had no problems getting the 100 Hz maximum overclock. It's a hassle to deal with, but only a slight one.
Pricing and Availability
I hope you are prepared for this: the Acer Predator X34 is an expensive monitor. Though it is currently sold out, Newegg.com lists the display for $1290 and Amazon.com lists it for a bit more, though you can get it today. That's a sizeable investment for a single monitor configuration, even if it does combine some of the latest options and technologies into an impressive package, with its 100 Hz refresh rate.
On its own, that wouldn't be a total deal killer but the fact that the XR341CK exists, is easily available, and sells for over $300 less, puts NVIDIA and Acer in a bit of a box. NVIDIA has been careful to make sure its partners don't create any EXACTLY comparable products, where the only difference in specifications is FreeSync or G-Sync, but these are as close as we can get to date. The G-Sync enabled X34 monitor does go to 100 Hz refresh rate, while the FreeSync display is limited to 75 Hz. Otherwise, these panels, features and capabilities are the same. It's hard to justify the $300+ price delta between the two options with all that laid out to see.
Of course, it may not matter. GeForce users have to buy the Predator X34 and Radeon users have to buy the XR341CK if each wants to take advantage of the variable refresh rate technology, which I would highly encourage you do. So even while NVIDIA continues to claim there is no "G-Sync tax" on displays, evidence continues to mount to the contrary.
If you asked me, today, to pick a single monitor to put on my desk, with all of the options I have seen come through our offices, it would be the Acer Predator X34. The combination of 3440×1440 UltraWide resolution with a stunning 100 Hz refresh rate, 34-in diagonal size and crisp IPS panel make for a premium experience for both gaming and productivity workloads. The curved nature of the monitor is not something that I'm attached to, but it adds to the "cool factor" when showing off the screen to friends and family. Obviously, the G-Sync variable refresh rate support takes PC gaming another step forward, as long as you are also rocking a GeForce GPU.
That recommendation comes with a price though… the, uh, price. At nearly $1300, this is an exorbitant cost to add on to an enthusiast gaming machine, but we often find that the pinnacle of technology starts out that way. The fact that you can find a nearly identical monitor, without G-Sync and with a slightly lower 75 Hz refresh rate, for more than $300 less is unfortunate, and you'd be forgiven for going that route even with a GeForce card to invest that cash in a better GPU, larger SSD, etc. But, if money is not biggest concern for your selection, then the Predator X34 gets my personal seal of approval.
My new favorite monitor… but at a cost