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A month with the Acer Predator X34

By Kenny Yeo - on 18 Mar 2016, 1:27pm

A month with the Acer Predator X34

Acer Predator X34

First seen at Computex 2015 in June last year and commercially available in October just months after, the Acer Predator X34 was the first curved G-Sync monitor hardcore gamers could buy.

Let’s begin by talking about the Predator X34’s specifications. It has a curved 34-inch IPS panel display that outputs a resolution of 3440 x 1440 pixels, giving it an aspect ratio of 21:9. Other key specifications that you want to know is that it supports G-Sync, has a maximum refresh rate of 100Hz (via overclocking in the OSD), and a response time of 4ms. The stand adjusts for both height and tilt, but not orientation, for obvious reasons. As for inputs, the Predator X34 accepts both DisplayPort and HDMI. You need to use DisplayPort for G-Sync, but the inclusion of an HDMI port means you can pair the monitor up with other devices such as Blu-ray players or gaming consoles. It also has four built-in USB 3.0 ports, so it doubles up as USB hub, which is definitely a good thing.

IPS monitors have reached a very high standard these days, and the Predator X34 works very well out of the box. Colors are vivid and vibrant, and brightness uniformity (an issue on larger displays) is not really a problem here, though the edges do seem less bright - but only if you really stop to notice. But more importantly it performs well as a gaming display, thanks to its high refresh rate and G-Sync, and it's great for doing work too. 

 

The Curved Experience

You get a wider field of vision with a curved display.

Curved TVs have been around for a while, but curved monitors are relatively new and I suspect that for many Predator X34 owners, this would be their first experience with a curved monitors.

Curved displays are often advertised as being able to offer a more immersive experience and wider field of vision, and it’s true, but the effect only seems most pronounced for the first couple of hours. After some time, your eyes will adapt and you begin to get used to the curviness of the display and the novelty of the curved display will wear off.

Still, I love playing and working on the Predator X34 and though the novelty of the curved display has somewhat diminished, I still find it more pleasant and enjoyable on the eyes as compared to the regular flat-panel 27-inch monitor that I normally work on. But those just take my words for it, check out our hardcore experience with curved displays in Korea.

 

Do I really need a wide display?

 This is what I can do with 3440 horizontal pixels. Have two windows for web browsing open while working on this piece.

One of the attractive features of the Predator X34 is its ultra-wide display. There’s 3440 horizontal pixels, which gives it a 21:9 aspect ratio, and is almost akin to having two Full-HD displays side by side. As you would expect, it’s awesome for playing games. The wider display really makes gaming more immersive, and you do get to see more of what’s around you.

However, the problem with this is that our nature field of vision is limited. And unlike TVs where we normally sit at a greater distance, monitors are typically positioned closer to us. This means is that the edges of the display are often at the very peripheral of our field of vision. Consequently, the added stuff that is being displayed often goes unnoticed, especially in the heat of the moment.

I also find that unless you are sitting at quite a fair distance away, it does get tiring after awhile, to constant look or turn your head left and right to check the extreme edges. Obviously, your mileage will vary, maybe you prefer sitting further back or your eyes are more adept than mine, but for me and at my preferred viewing distance, I find that the extra stuff that the extreme edges of the display often goes unnoticed.

How many columns is that? A to AZ baby! 52 columns!

That said, where I really appreciate the extra pixels most is during normal use. I like browsing the web with two windows side by side, and the Predator X34 lets me do this comfortably without any cropped webpages. Furthermore, I could easily have two browsing windows opened plus work on stories at the same time. Just look at the screenshot I’ve captured at this start of this section. The Predator X34 is also super for users who spend lots of time dealing with spreadsheets.

The 21:9 aspect ratio is great for watching movies. No black bars!

The Predator X34 is great for watching movies too thanks to its 21:9 aspect ratio, which means movies, which usually comes in a 2.35:1 or 2.40:1 aspect ratio, fills up the display more fully. But since Blu-ray movies are typically in 1080p resolution, there’ll be some upscaling involved and there’ll be a noticeable fuzziness.

It's not so great for watching YouTube though.

YouTube addicts, take note, the aspect ratio advantage doesn’t apply for you because YouTube videos are displayed in a 16:9 format. See the screenshot right above to see what a 4K YouTube video looks like when played in full screen on the Predator X34.

 

I have a 1080p/1440p display, is it worth the switch?

Is the Predator X34 better to use? Yes, it certainly is. Can it improve your gaming? It definitely has the potential to if your eyes can scan quickly enough. By all accounts, it is, like I mentioned, a great gaming monitor, offering great colors, fast refresh times, and NVIDIA’s awesome G-Sync technology. So is it worth the switch?

To answer this question requires you think about these considerations.

First of all, can your rig handle the demands of gaming at 3440 x 1440 resolution?

Do the math, 3440 x 1440 pixels is about 4.95 million pixels or 2.38 times more pixels than a Full-HD 1080p display. It’s also 1.34 times more pixels than a 1440p display. If your rig can barely handle whatever resolution you are playing at now, you’ll have to upgrade your rig first before you can be thinking about a higher resolution display.

Are you using a NVIDIA graphics card that supports G-Sync?

Some readers tend to dismiss or gloss over G-Sync, but if you have seen G-Sync technology in action before, it’s hard not to be impressed. If you like the fluidity of a 144Hz display, G-Sync does a good job of replicating that even on a slower display such as this. And thanks to it, even games that are running on lower frame rates like in the mid twenties or low thirties still run, look and play decently.

Do you game exclusively on PC?

It is not unheard of for gamers to use a single monitor with multiple gaming systems, PC, PS4, Xbox One and so on. However, one thing to consider is that even the latest consoles only support up to 1080p visuals. If you use a monitor with a higher resolution, there’ll be upscaling involved, and that’s generally not a good thing because the images will tend to look a little fuzzy. There’s also an increased amount of input lag, which is not ideal, especially if you are a serious gamer. You can technically output your PS4 or Xbox One onto the Predator X34, but images will end up looking stretched or you’ll have unsightly black bars, which negates the usefulness of its extra-wide display.

Do you have desk space?

This may sound silly, but really, do you have desk space? Because a 34-inch large monitor is really quite big. In the case of the Acer Predator X34, the monitor measures 82cm across, while the stand measures about 55cm across and has a depth of around 30cm. If you raise the monitor high enough, you can put stuff underneath it, but there’s still no getting round the fact that the Predator X34 will take up a lot of desk space.

Can you afford it?

Perhaps the biggest stumbling block here is price. The Acer Predator X34 has a list price of S$1699, which means it’s considerably more expensive than most 1440p gaming monitors, much less 1080p ones. Bear in mind that most gaming 1440p gaming monitors with G-Sync technology are usually priced at around S$1000 to S$1300. And if you don’t care for the higher 1440p resolution, you can get 1080p gaming monitors with G-Sync for even less.

Should I spend the same amount of money on two or more monitors?

At S$1699, you might be tempted to spend the money on perhaps two smaller 1440p monitors. The end result will be an even higher combined resolution. It’s a tempting proposition, but one that you might live to regret. To begin, the effect of two smaller monitors isn’t the same as a single larger one. The bezel is incredibly distracting. Don’t be fooled by the manufacturers’ marketing of a “bezel-less design” or “ultra-thin bezels”, almost every monitor has a noticeable bezel once you start to try and split the view across the two of them.

 

My Choice

I was in the market for a monitor recently and contemplated between a curved 34-inch monitor or a 27-inch 1440p monitor. I was coming from a 23-inch 1080p monitor, which is frankly starting to look dated. I also considered a 4K monitor, but soon realized that’s out of the question, for reasons too long to be shared here and will have to do so in a future blog post (so keep a look out for that).

I love myself a curved display, but it's really expensive, you know?

In the end, I picked the smaller 27-inch 1440p monitor. For starters, a curved 34-inch monitor is really expensive as of now. There aren’t much options around and even Samsung’s non-gaming non-G-Sync 34-inch gaming monitor costs about the same as this Acer Predator X34. This makes the Predator X34 seem a bit of bargain, especially when you consider its superior specifications and support for G-Sync. A typical 27-inch 1440p monitor, on the other hand, costs only half as much. Plus, a 1440p monitor is mostly adequate for my needs. Sure, I can’t work with three generously sized windows side by side anymore, but I think I can get by with just two.

Furthermore, I don’t game on a PC as much as I used to. I do most of my gaming on a PS4 console now, and I now use my old 23-inch 1080p monitor for that. That’s great because the PS4 only supports up to 1080p anyway and if you go any larger you’ll have upscaling issues and increased input lag to deal with, which I would dread.

I guess what I'm really trying to say is that the Predator X34 is a luxury product that I cannot justify acquiring at this point of time. But Acer if you're listening, can you consider a more affordable non-gaming version of this monitor? I have no need for G-Sync nor that 100Hz refresh rate. Heck, I could even make do with a slightly slower response time. Make that and you can take my money.

Kenny Yeo

Kenny Yeo / Associate Editor

Specifications are not everything. It's what you do with what you have that matters.

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