Acer XB280HK 4K G-SYNC Monitor Reviewby Chris Heinonen & Jarred Walton on January 28, 2015 10:00 AM EST
Acer XB280HK: Introduction, Design and Specs
When it comes to gaming, 4K displays present a conundrum (beyond 4K being used incorrectly, but I’ll still use it). On the one hand, all the extra pixels allow for far more detail. On the other, that is a lot of pixels to push for a GPU. Even with the best GPUs out there, you might – okay, will – have to disable certain features and start to introduce aliasing and other artifacts. A solution to this might be G-SYNC to enable gaming that looks smooth even when running below 60 FPS, and that's what we're looking at today.
G-SYNC, only available on video cards from NVIDIA, allows frame rates below the normal optimal speed of 60FPS to still look very smooth. The Acer XB280HK is the first G-SYNC display to also feature a 3840x2160 resolution. Unlike some other G-SYNC displays the Acer only runs at 60Hz and below, though I don’t believe running faster than 60Hz at 4K resolutions will be much of an issue right now. Anand previously reviewed G-SYNC and described the details of how it works.
Like all currently shipping G-SYNC displays (with the exception of the IPS Acer display announced at CES 2015), the Acer uses a TN-panel. For 120Hz or 144Hz G-SYNC panels you often need to use TN, but 60Hz would allow for IPS. The likely culprit here is cost, as the Acer currently sells for under $800. Other 4K 28” IPS displays cost at least as much and lack G-SYNC, making them a much worse choice for gaming than the Acer. Since I am not a gamer myself, all the gaming comments for this review will be done by Jarred Walton. Aside from some WiiU or Magic Online, my gaming days are well behind me (or ahead of me).
Like most G-SYNC displays, the Acer has but a single DisplayPort input. G-SYNC only works with DisplayPort, and if you didn’t care about G-SYNC you would have bought a different monitor. It also has a USB 3.0 hub with two ports on the rear-bottom and two on the side. There are no headphone connections or speakers, so it is fairly bare-bones as far as connections and extra features go.
The included stand is very good overall. Built-in adjustments for height, tilt, swivel and pivot make it a very flexible option, and though running a TN panel in portrait mode can be problematic at best, the ability to pivot does provide for easier access to the bottom ports when connecting peripherals. It also has 100mm VESA mounting holes if you desire to use another stand or even wall mount it. The outer bezel is a shiny plastic, which is not my favorite as it shows fingerprints and smudges very easily. Though an $800 monitor should have a nice stand, many displays choose form over function but Acer does it correctly here. I really see no reason to replace the stand they provide.
The OSD works well, with a row of buttons on the bottom of the screen and icons directly above them indicating what they do. There's no guessing which is correct, and no touch-sensitive buttons that don’t work well. Acer provides basic, simple, effective controls that everyone should be happy with. There are a decent number of controls available, including gamma and color temperature. There is also an optional frame rate indicator that you can see on the left side of the screen. This gives you a quick indication of what your actual frame rate is, since G-SYNC should remain smooth even when it drops below 60Hz.
From a user interface perspective, the Acer XB280HK hits all the right notes. The stand is very adjustable while the controls are easy to use. The only real thing I would change is to make the bezel a matte finish instead of glossy to avoid fingerprints, and because I think it just looks better.
Looking just at the specs and the exterior design, the Acer XB280HK has a lot going for it. The big questions are how well will it perform when gaming at 4K with G-Sync, and how does the monitor perform on our objective bench tests?
|Acer XB280HK G-Sync|
|Video Inputs||1x DisplayPort 1.2|
|Response Time||1ms GtG|
|Viewing Angle (H/V)||170 / 160|
|Power Consumption (operation)||42.5W|
|Power Consumption (standby)||0.5W|
|Tilt||Yes, -5 to 35 degrees|
|Swivel||Yes, 45 Degrees|
|VESA Wall Mounting||Yes, 100mm|
|Dimensions w/ Base (WxHxD)||25.9" x 22" x 9.6"|
|Additional Features||4x USB 3.0, G-Sync|
|Limited Warranty||3 Years|
|Accessories||DisplayPort Cable, USB 3.0 Cable|
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JarredWalton - Wednesday, January 28, 2015 - linkI suppose the question on 4K gaming is this: would you rather have 4K medium or QHD high settings (possibly even QHD ultra)? There are certainly games where 4K high or ultra is possible with a more moderate GPU, but most of the big holiday releases come close to using 3GB RAM for textures at ultra settings, and dropping to high in many cases still isn't enough. I think people really after 4K gaming in the first place will want to do it at high or ultra settings, rather than to juggle quality against resolution, but to each his own.
DigitalFreak - Wednesday, January 28, 2015 - linkI had the Dell P2715Q for a bit and swapped it for the U3415W. I really didn't like the trade-offs you have to make with 4k (performance, etc.), and didn't really notice that much of a difference in graphics quality.
Mustalainen - Thursday, January 29, 2015 - linkI also looked at that monitor(the U3415W). It is beautiful but it came down to the fact that it was priced at 990 euro. In hindsight I think I'm happier with 4k as text is so sharp. I also like having 2 or more monitors as I can run one application in full screen on one monitor while being able to see whats happening in the other applications on the other monitors. I don't know if I would want to put yet another monitor beside that 34", maybe works great, maybe not, I do not dare to comment on that. The important thing is that everyone has the hardware that fits them the best.
I'm mostly happy that companies seems to be releasing a variety of monitors at reasonable price points. It felt like monitors 20"-22" were stuck at 1080p forever while mobile phone screens were improved every month. Lets hope that improvements will continue on both markets.
Mustalainen - Thursday, January 29, 2015 - linkOh, I cant edit, It was supposed to say 20"-27" were stuck...
Mustalainen - Thursday, January 29, 2015 - linkJarred, you are probably correct. I just wanted to give an alternative opinion to those who are looking at 4k and are leaning towards working(involving a lot of text) and being happy with not maxing out the graphics. I feel happy with 4k. It feels like "something new", have a lot of area to work with, scaling is almost a non-issue in win8.1 (with most of the applications I use).
Taristin - Wednesday, January 28, 2015 - linkAcers always have that blue tint problem. I have 3 acer monitors on my desktop and each of them leans too far into the blue spectrum, even after playing with calibrations. Leads to some rapid eyestrain.
B3an - Thursday, January 29, 2015 - linkTN panel? Nope.
FreeSync or fuck off.
Pork@III - Thursday, January 29, 2015 - linkYes! Indeed!
Write TN and we now know that the only use is to fence in my pigsty.
Pork@III - Thursday, January 29, 2015 - linkWoW I read this article now: http://gamenab.net/2015/01/26/truth-about-the-g-sy...
Cheers for those who paid lot of money for display with G-Synk module!
JarredWalton - Thursday, January 29, 2015 - linkInteresting, though a bit too laced with conspiracy theory stuff to convince me he's not off his rocker. I'd like to see a game with clear videos of VSYNC Off, On, and G-SYNC modes on that laptop. Part of the issue of course is that a cell phone video of a display is going to be difficult to tell if the refresh rate is really 50Hz, 60Hz, or more importantly variable. The pendulum demo is a bit too staged for "proof".