Being in the monitor business must be like being the child of an overbearing parent:
“An A? Why didn’t get you an A+?”
“How come you’re not the only valedictorian at Harvard?”
“Your corner office is smaller than that other corner office!”
I say that because every time there’s a story about a new monitor there’s always some fussy consumer who chimes in and says “Well, I like G-Sync, but I won’t take it without IPS” or “It may be 144Hz, but it’s not IPS.”
Well Acer has an answer for just about every gamer’s overly demanding needs with its new XB270HU monitor. It combines IPS, a 144Hz refresh rate, G-Sync, and a moderately high resolution of 2560×1440 on a 27-inch panel. So there.
If you’re wondering why all this matters, it’s because IPS has long been known as the superior panel technology for color reproduction and off-axis viewing. Anyone who edits photos even half-seriously can attest to how horrible standard TN panels are for that chore. And, Acer says, the XB270HU features a 178-degree viewing angles.
G-Sync, for those who aren’t in the know, works with most modern Nvidia GPUs to synchronize frame rates with the refresh rate of the monitor. In games, visual artifacts such as screen tearing and stuttering can become a distraction when the GPU is out of sync with the monitor. With G-Sync, frame rates as low as the mid-30s will appear far smoother and playable. That might come in handy for those with, say, a single mid-range GPU that can’t always push out 60 fps at the monitor’s native resolution of 2560×1440.
Even better, the XB270HU also supports refresh rates of 144Hz, allowing for exceptionally smooth frame rates in games and even scrolling in general desktop use. This works for the gaming 1-percenters—those with two or even three graphics cards running in combination to hit the 144 frames per second. It’s smooth-as-silk gaming for those lucky (and deep-walleted) dogs.
Acer didn’t specify which inputs the new XB270HU features, but I’d guess a single DisplayPort 1.2, similar to most other G-Sync panels today. Only BenQ’s XL2420G offers more than a single DisplayPort input on a G-Sync enabled monitor and actually includes a dual-link DisplayPort as well as a pair of HDMI ports alongside the DisplayPort input. And no, I don’t think the Acer has DisplayPort 1.2a, which VESA announced last May. DisplayPort 1.2a includes an industry-standard take on G-Sync and is widely expected to compete with G-Sync, but most don’t expect panels with support for DisplayPort 1.2a and AMD’s FreeSync until well into this year.
The surprise came on New Year’s Eve: LG dropped a bomb on G-Sync by announcing a panel with FreeSync support. Samsung also pledged to push out a FreeSync-friendly 4K monitor. So even if the new Acer panel has checked off basically everything on that picky gamer’s list, it’s likely to see stiff competition. And let’s face it, the battle between FreeSync and G-Sync will depend on who can get more monitors on the market first at prices consumers will accept. Unfortunately for Acer, the new XB270HU and the next panel we’ll talk about won’t be out until March.
Acer’s other ringer is the new XG270HU monitor. Like the XB270HU (note the B there), the XG270HU is 27 inches diagonal, sports a 2560×1440 resolution, and hits a nice, high 144Hz refresh rate for ultrasmooth gaming with multiple graphics cards.
Unlike the XB270HU though, the XG270HU is probably a TN panel. I say probably, because Acer didn’t specify in its announcement but also didn’t emblazon ‘IPS’ all over it—so I’m pretty sure it’s a TN. There’s no G-Sync either. On the plus side, it’s a nearly frameless display. That makes it better suited for those who want to run two or even three panels side-by-side for surround gaming.
One other notable attribute of the XGT270HU is its use of HDMI 2.0, which increases the bandwidth to support higher frame rates. HDMI 1.4, which is used in most monitors, doesn’t support high refresh rates, but HDMI 2.0 does—including 4K resolutions at 60Hz.
I’d lay the pricing details on you, but Acer hasn’t committed just yet. I suspect Acer wants to see what other monitor makers have coming and for how much. I can tell you what Yoda said: “There is another…”
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One of founding fathers of hardcore tech reporting, Gordon has been covering PCs and components since 1998.