The following review was written by our good friend SaltLake. He is also the author of the "My Diary of Life on Ark" series and Fallout 4 Review. We would like to thank him for taking the time to test his own monitor and provide us with his review. Enjoy!
Last year my monitor was starting to die, I had the monitor for 6 years it had given me its money's worth and then some. I was deciding between 2 screens or 3 screens. 2 screens meant my crosshairs would be right between them, and I would be looking dead center of the bezel of both monitors. 3 monitors meant that my whole desk would be nothing but monitors, which left no room to do anything else like studying or painting. I love gaming and want to experience a wider field of view, but I didn’t want to make sacrifice all of my desk space or looking at an ugly bezel. The only option was 21:9 in either 2560x1080 or 3440x1440, but these too have issues. 2560x1080 on a 34” monitor meant low pixel-per-inch that was noticeable, and 3440x1440 normally only runs 60 hz and neither runs G-sync. If I was going to buy a monitor I wanted to buy a premium monitor, after all my last monitor lasted 6 years. I could only wait patiently for a company to answer my plea.
In October 2015 Acer released their Acer Predator X34 monitor, 3440x1440, 100 hz overclocked, slim bezel, IPS, and many other features such as a light bar, solid steel stand, and curved, it seemed to be a perfect monitor. Many reviewers gave it high remarks such as Linus Tech Tips, Pauls Hardware, JayZ2Cents to name a few. Though users were reporting issues overclocking to 100hz, bad backlight bleed, and even some color discoloration. The Acer X34 was unavailable shortly afterwards and even had a recall. It was re-released in December and I purchased it right away, spending that 1300 USD was painful and I took a gamble as they said they fixed all of the issues. A gamble that I will say was worth it. At the time of this review my DSLR camera is still “shipping” from repairs, so you are going to be stuck with the stock photos and some crappier shots.
The stand is the number one reason why I would not have bought a Acer monitor before their XB280HK and XB270HU were from my experience, very wobbly. The new stainless steel stand is exceptional! I actually think this might be my favorite feature. It has a metal loop painted red, that stand out from the gunmetal stand that can be used for cable management. The stand mounts via a 100mmx100mm VESA mount that can be removed, which is a benefit for those who want to mount multiple or movable monitors. Does it get rid of all the wobble and movement? To be honest no it doesn't, the monitor is simply too big to do that. It does a better job at wobble management than most of the smaller sized monitors stands do. I just can’t help tapping the stand and enjoying that feeling of solid steel on my desk, it gives me peace of mind that my monitor isn’t going to fall over or wobble during gameplay.
Underglow lighting I always thought was a gimmick, and to most it is. I will say it is nice to have the underglow while gaming in the dark. I normally keep a pen and paper on my desk for taking notes and ideas that I think about or discuss with people over Ventrilo. The underglow is nice during those times and there is no need to write in the dark, or turn on a light. I simply keep my pen under the monitor and can easily see. I will say I wish there was a way to either have it auto-turn off when I don’t need it, and turn on when it gets dark or turn the light off. This feature would require a higher price, which the x34 already pushes the price high enough.
For convenience there are 2x 7 watt speakers, which are decent but nothing special. Anyone who drops 1300 US dollars on a monitor is probably going to buy for a pair of headphones or standalone speakers. It is still a nice feature for those who use headphones and want to show friends or family something that requires sound.
The screen is obviously the main feature of any monitor. IPS, curved, g-sync, 3440x1440 and 100hz are the X34’s specific features. All of these features on their own make for a decent monitor but not great monitor. There are better ones out there with one or two of these features alone. It is when you combine them all that you get a fantastic monitor. IPS gives you very true colors and it has a matte finish so there is no reflection taking away from it. IPS normally deals with higher latency but Acer managed to get down to 4ms which I think a majority of people will not notice. If you aren’t a competition shooter you probably aren’t going to notice it. I would trade 3ms difference for the huge benefit of color. As reddit user /u/RampageIV’s picture shows you the difference between VA/IPS/TN panels and at different angles.
Additionally it has two notable features; the Gsync (which can be read about here and the curved screen which is the topic of endless debate. Gsync lends itself very well to the Acer X34 because of its weakness at 100hz. It also creates dips in FPS, and what would be noticeable tearing, is rendered obsolete. I have hard time telling what my frame rate is because it really does make playing games much more pleasant and enjoyable. As for curved screens.. I am not a big fan of curved screen TVs, but I do find it that my eyes seems to drift back to center and focus my attention on the X34. If you don’t know or haven’t experienced curved screens, I recommend you look at a curved monitor (not a TV) and to see if it is for you. It is a debatable issue with some saying it’s a game changer other saying it's a gimmick. I like it but it’s barely noticeable.
The 3440x1440, 100hz, curved and Gsync combination is unique and, as I already said, it works perfectly. Even though 3440x1440 resolution isn’t the most widely accept resolution for computers. It is gaining support more from developers as more people look into ultra-wide monitors. It comes at a cost, most 3440x1440 normally runs at 60hz, Acer x34 also runs at 60hz but can “overclock” to 100hz. Naysayers will say 144 hz or nothing, but the difference between 60hz or even 75hz to 100hz is more noticeable than 100hz to 144hz. I had no issues with overclocking to 100hz and as others have pointed out, why doesn’t it ship at 100hz? It is guaranteed to run at 100hz, so simply ship it at 100hz.
Even though Fallout 4 .ini file can be changed to run 21:9, things like the power armor HUD is still 16:9.
Not everything about this monitor is joyous and perfect, as it has its flaws. The first is the control and menu system. I dread using the monitor's menu, it has good options but navigating and knowing if your settings are saved or not is frustrating. I set it up and have left it alone, but I wish I could change settings or at least know if my gaming profiles were saved and change them as I need. The light bar which is okay doesn’t have full RGB settings so people that use abnormal colors, like my wife's aqua blue theme, doesn’t match. There is backlight bleed but no worse than the Samsung curved TV in my living room, or the Samsung and LG curved monitors at the mall. Located on the back are 4 USB 3.0 ports and headphone ports which aren’t that ergonomic at all and actually are rather a pain to access. The headphone port for example is in the center. So you have to either wrap your cable around your keyboard and mouse, or you can go over your keyboard and have your fingers hit the cable. Neither of these options are the most optimal and its best just to go straight to your pc.
The biggest complaint for people is the price, and it's a fair complaint as 1300 US dollars is not cheap. Acer added every feature they could and to be honest I don’t see how they could make it much cheaper. It's a complaint but I find it hard to really make it any cheaper with all of its options. My final complaint is the monitor's power supply is external and lies on the floor. This isn’t new but I wish in this day and age that a monitor company would have the common sense to at least provide a space to hang it onto the stand. The X34 has a large empty space on the rear of the stand that is unused, which is an ideal place to have the power supply. I ended up using some strong double sided tape to hold it there and keep the cables semi neat.
Full Resolution of picture can be found here.
So after testing it for 2 months what do I think? I love it. There are flaws and complaints; there are annoyances at times when dev’s don’t support the resolution. This is my first time with an ultra-wide, and to be frank… I don’t think I can go back to 16:9. I know there are rumors of 3840x2160@144hz by the end of 2016. For me though… I will wait until 5120x2160, ultra-wide is just that good. I really wish this monitor was priced so everyone could purchase it and get feel as to what an ultra-wide monitors is like. I want PC players demanding to make 21:9 the standard for games. Acer released something with all the features anyone could ask. They made a bang with their return to the high-end gaming monitor arena, not with a small bang of a firecracker, but the tremendous blast of ignited c4. The Acer x34 isn’t perfect and it has room to improve… but what is perfect these days. For now the X34 is my piece of heaven and I will enjoy it. Did I mention how much I like the metal stand?
The question is does the Acer X34’s little brother the Z35 or its cousins the XB271HK and XB271HU stand up to the same standard? I hope so, and my wife is itching to get one and hoping it matches her setup color, but for now I am still nursing my bank account from the X34. Stay tuned and maybe I will have saved enough money to do another review.