Acer Predator XB272 gaming monitor review

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Welcome to the future, where high-end gaming monitors are so quick that we can’t actually show you how quick they are. Seriously. During our Acer Predator XB272 review, we were constantly struggling to find ways to put its impossibly fast 240Hz refresh rate into words.

Chances are, the monitor you’re reading this on caps out at 60Hz, which means it refreshes 60 times per second. That’s more than enough for everyday use and most gaming. But the further you climb up the refresh-rate ladder — up to 75Hz, 144Hz, 200Hz, and now with the Predator XB272, 240Hz — the smoother gameplay looks.

High refresh rate gaming poses its own set of challenges, though. To get the most out of a 240Hz monitor like the XB272, which retails for $680 on its own, you need a monster gaming rig.

Predator-lite

Acer’s characteristic Predator styling — red accents, sharp angles — is notably absent on the Predator XB272. If not for the chrome “Predator” branding on the bottom edge of the display, the XB272 would be almost indistinguishable from more mundane monitors.

The stand is largely plastic, and while it does a good job of keeping the monitor steady, it’s not very attractive. It’s just a black column with some black plastic feet. That could be a blessing in disguise, though, if you’re looking for a display that will fit in with your home décor.

Looking at similar displays like the BenQ EX3200R, it’s clear that gaming monitors can occasionally benefit from elegant design. The EX3200R, with its wide, sweeping display, sits atop a chrome metallic stand. It’s modern and stylish, like a faucet in a fancy hotel — one of those swoopy ones.

It’s modern and stylish, like a faucet in a fancy hotel — one of those swoopy ones.

Then BenQ looks good, but maybe it’s not for everyone. Design decisions are always a risk, so it’s hard to blame Acer for hedging its bets here, and going with something bland and functional.

While the Acer Predator XB272 isn’t the fairest in the land, it’s certainly sturdy. Every inch of the display feels solid, there’s no creaking or settling when you give it a good squeeze, and once you adjust its positioning, it tends to stay put. The stand provides excellent isolation, too, so the display doesn’t wobble much when the desk it sits on is bumped.

The monitor is VESA compatible, and with its super-slim bezels, it wouldn’t be a bad choice for a wall-mount. The bezels also make this monitor great for multi-monitor setups.

Portacular

Never in the history of this earth has anyone looked at a device and thought “this has too many ports.” The Acer Predator XB272 embodies this philosophy, in some ways at least, by including four USB Type-A 3.0 ports and one USB Type-B port. That last one is a weird inclusion, but a welcome one.

Acer Predator XB2 review side USB

Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Moving on to the essentials, the DisplayPort 1.2 and HDMI 1.4 ports are conveniently located just behind the frontal lip of the display. They can be reached from the front just tilting the display back, which is a nice touch.

An extra DisplayPort or HDMI port would have been welcome, but gaming displays have been pretty stingy with those recently, so it’s par for the course. The Acer Predator Z35 also features a single HDMI and DisplayPort.

Buttons within buttons

Monitors usually come in two varieties, those with buttons and those with jog buttons — a little joystick that is also a button. We seldom have a choice in the matter, it’s a binary imposed upon us by monitor manufacturers. But following in the footsteps of Prometheus, who bore fire to mankind, the Acer Predator XB272 offers us the gift of choice.

Welcome to the future, where high-end gaming monitors are so quick, we can’t show you how quick they are.

It’s a monitor with both a jog button and regular buttons.

Okay, that might not be the most exciting thing about this monitor, but it’s helpful because the Predator XB272 is very customizable. Hitting the jog button brings up the main menu, from which you can navigate to several sub-menus to adjust brightness, contrast, color settings, and the built-in “Aim Point” reticle — a crosshair the Predator XB272 can superimpose on your display to make in-game aiming easier.

The “regular” buttons bring up an additional quick menu where you can adjust brightness, tweak the contrast, and cycle between presets for gaming, movies, or graphics work.

Silk-fast and lightning-smooth

In some ways, high refresh rate gaming is on its own parallel path alongside other graphical innovations like 4K gaming. Currently, it’s just not feasible — even for high-end gaming PCs — to offer 4K gaming at 240Hz. That’s why we’ll often see gaming monitors support either 4K or a super-high refresh rate, but we rarely see both together.

That’s also why we see so many high-refresh-rate monitors max out at 1080p. Consistently running games at 240 frames per second is tough, but scaling back the resolution to 1080p makes things much easier. The image won’t be as sharp, but you’ll get to max out your detail settings — depending on the strength of your hardware.

The Acer Predator XB272 is one such monitor, with the resolution dialed down to 1080p and the refresh rate dialed all the way up to 240Hz. If your hardware can handle it, hitting 240 FPS and turning on G-Sync makes every game a visual symphony. On this display, a game like Overwatch becomes hyper-real. Fluid animations, fast-paced gameplay, and killer visuals all cascade across the screen, imbued with an unparalleled sense of movement and momentum.

That rapid-fire refresh rate comes courtesy of the Acer Predator XB272’s twisted nematic or TN display panel. These kinds of displays are typically very quick, but often suffer from poor viewing angles, and the XB272 is no exception. Moving too far left or right will cause the display to appear discolored, but thankfully the stand is very easily adjustable, so this drawback is easily mitigated.

Let’s see how it stacks up to competitors in a few other areas.

While it’s tempting to compare the Acer Predator XB272 to its larger cousin, the 35-inch ultra-wide Acer Predator Z35, it faces strong competition from the BenQ EX3200R.

With a contrast ratio of 2,060:1 the BenQ EX3200R takes the lead, and the Acer Predator Z35 comes in second with a contrast ratio of 1,190:1. Both are superb scores, which illustrates that both monitors are capable of rendering highlights and shadows right beside one another without losing much quality, if any. Images, videos, and games all possess a sense of depth you just don’t see at lower contrast ratios.

The Acer Predator XB272, with its contrast ratio of 740:1, does well for itself, but when compared side-by-side to the BenQ EX3200R, there’s a staggering difference between them. The BenQ is lavish by comparison. Even flat images possess a sense of life and detail you just don’t see on the Predator XB272.

The XB272 looks fine. Images aren’t washed out, and videos don’t display any visible banding due to low contrast — but for almost $700, it’s not a bad thing to expect more than fine.

If your hardware can handle it, hitting 240 FPS makes every game a visual symphony.

Moving on to color gamut, the XB272 hits 75 percent of the AdobeRGB color space, while the Predator Z35 managed to render 79 percent. It’s not a big difference, and none of these monitors are achievers when it comes to color gamut. Even the Z35, with its slightly-higher-than-average-score, would be a poor choice for color-sensitive work in Photoshop.

Color accuracy is a slightly different story. The Acer Predator XB272 and BenQ EX3200R lead the pack in this category, with average color error scores — 1.74 and 1.29, respectively — close enough that neither monitor features any noticeable distortion.

With color error, a lower score is better, and anything below one is hard for the human eye to notice. So these scores are very good, and in league with the low-end of monitors that claim professional-grade performance.

The Acer Predator Z35 and Dell S2417DG were within inches of each other with scores of 2.45 and 2.4, respectively. Those scores are low enough that nothing on either display ever looks severely discolored, but high enough that you might want to refrain from using either one for photo or video editing — especially if you’re doing any color-correction.

No calibration necessary

Calibrating a display doesn’t always unlock hidden potential, but it can sometimes mitigate a monitor’s undesirable traits. The Acer Predator XB272 is just as capable right out of the box as it is after calibrating with a professional-grade colorimeter, which is a mixed blessing.

Acer Predator XB272 Gaming Monitor Compared To

On the one hand, it means you won’t have to fiddle with the XB272 to get it to perform well. It’ll do that from day one. But on the other hand, it means there’s not much you can do about the XB272’s painfully average color gamut, or contrast ratio.

The color accuracy did improve a small amount, but the XB272 already does well in that regard, so moving from a score of 1.74 to 1.58 isn’t really worth the time it takes to calibrate the display.

Warranty information

The Acer Predator XB272 comes with a three-year limited warranty, covering parts and labor in the event of any manufacturer defects. That’s pretty long for a gaming monitor, as we commonly see one and two-year warranties on monitors in this price range.

Our Take

The Acer Predator XB272 is a good gaming monitor. It’s held back because it offers only 1080p resolution at $680, but the ultra-high refresh rate puts it well ahead of its nearest competitors when it comes to raw speed. That presents its own problem, though. Do you really need 240Hz to get that liquid-smooth gaming experience? Can your PC even handle it?

Is there a better alternative?

Yes, there is a better alternative: The BenQ EX3200R. It’s a 31.5-inch curved, ultra-wide monitor with killer picture quality and a lightning-fast 144Hz refresh rate. It’s not as quick as the Acer Predator XB272, but put them side by side, and you might not notice the difference. The BenQ is also a 1080p display, but its more reasonable $400 price tag helps excuse that potential downside.

Generally, you’ll experience diminishing returns the further you push past 60Hz. At 75Hz motion takes on that glassy-smooth quality, while at 144Hz games become otherworldly. The Acer Predator XB272 looks great at 240Hz, but the difference between 144Hz and 240Hz is minimal … and almost imperceptible to the naked eye.

A 1440p display with a 120Hz or 144Hz panel is another possible alternative. Acer and Asus offer panels with this combination of resolution and features, such as the Asus ROG Swift PG279Q, and most sell for around the same price. They offer a good compromise between image sharpness and refresh rate. You can always scan our list of the best computer monitors for additional choices.

How long will it last?

The Acer Predator XB272 benefits from a long three-year limited warranty, and it is a well-built little monitor, so it’ll probably last long enough to wear out that warranty. Also, at 240Hz it’s going to be able to keep up with your gaming rig for the foreseeable future, or last long enough for your hardware to catch up to that refresh rate.

Should you buy it?

If you can’t possibly settle a refresh rate less than 240Hz, yes, you should buy the Acer Predator XB272. It offers slightly above average picture quality, even if it is a bit pricey. If you can get by with 144Hz though, you would be better off going with the BenQ EX3200R, or another 144Hz competitor.