Given what you’re paying per-pixel, it’s sometimes easy to lose sight of why you’d want to opt for a dedicated desktop gaming monitor over a proper HD TV. After all, TV’s often depreciate in value a lot quicker than monitors. They embody a rare combination of both less expensive and more expansive – and expansive if often what you’re looking for with gaming experiences.Thankfully, Acer’s Predator X34 Curved Gaming Monitor makes it abundantly clear why it’s worth what it is.
A crisp 34-inch backlit display, the Predator X34 is a slick package that actively works to enable gaming experiences that are as detailed and sharp as they are immersive.Though it is a little pricey at between AU$1500 and $1800, it provides solid and consistent performance packaged up in stylish design that’s easy to recommend.
A distinctive and imposing construct of metal and plastic, the X34 arrives more or less intact. It boasts a sleek black frame with an atmospheric underlight and a sturdy aluminum base. It’s got all the right edges in all the right places and blends together black, silver and red tones in much the same style as its predecessors. When it comes to setup, it’s all very adjustable. The steel handle on the reverse-side makes it getting it onto your desk quick and easy and you can customize everything from the height and tilt of the monitor to the colour of the underlight. Most of the time, you’ll want to leave it hanging comfortably at close to your head height and the process of getting the X34 where it needs to be is as easy as it gets. Further customization can be found via the control buttons on the underside of the display. Acer’s decision to use tactile physical buttons here over finnicky touch sensors didn’t go unnoticed and messing with the monitor’s settings was a quick and intuitive.
Looking further under the hood, the Predator X34 also incorporates Nvidia’s G-Sync tech. This specialized hardware helps elevate the smoothness of your framerate when gaming, working to eliminate the stuttering and screen-tearing you might find in even similarly-priced displays. It’s a nice feature but you’re going to want to have an Nvidia graphics card to get the most out of it.
If there’s any area where the synchronicity between the design and technical elements of the X34 fall short, it’s sound. While the DTS-powered speakers don’t really sound bad – they’re clear enough – the placement of the speakers themselves is a bit of a head-scratcher. Sitting on the reverse side of the display, it doesn’t really leverage acoustics as well as it could. It’s not a massive problem, but it certainly doesn’t live up to the premium standard of the rest of the package.
In terms of how games looked on the X34, the results were impressive. The X34 is UltraWide QHD display capable of accomplishing a cinematic 21:9 aspect ratio and 10K resolution. It doesn’t mess around – and feels right at home alongside the rest of Acer’s Predator range. Colors richer and possesed more ‘pop’, shadows looked sharper and more dynamic and the 100Hz refresh rate isn’t kept it all looking crisp as can be through both more stylized titles like Overwatch and the more realistic environments of Batman: Arkham Knight.
It’s often hard to imagine how a monitor being curved can make a difference – but it really does. It makes use of your peripheral vision and head-movement in a way that’s as ultra-cool as it is ultra-compelling. The subsequent wrap-around effect allowed first person gaming experiences to feel notably more immersive and this quality even had an impact on my accuracy within those games. Objects and targets further away in the game look clearer on the surface of the X34 in a way that actually does matter. I found myself actively playing better on this monitor than I did on my traditional flatscreen one.
In both design and performance, the Predator X34 shoots for the moon – and it mostly hits the mark. It’s as stylish as gaming monitors get and leverages the tech underlying these aesthetic qualities to deliver an experience that’s well worth the price.