Acer Predator XR341CK review – immersive ultra-wide gaming experience
Upon the arrival of gaming monitors supporting AMD’s FreeSync and NVIDIA’s G-Sync adaptive sync technologies, the gaming monitor market gets all the attention lately so manufacturers are constantly releasing new models with better panels offering excellent image quality combined with extra fast response time. This is exactly the case with Acer’s latest Predator XR341CK gaming monitor and its 34-inch diagonal, IPS panel and QHD resolution.
For the past couple of years, the obsolete TN panel technology still holds the front due to several notable advantage over the IPS technology – low response time and usually faster refresh rates. Acer, however, wants to close the gap by releasing IPS-powered models so you can now enjoy your FPS and racing games without sacrificing viewing angles and overall picture quality. Yet, the 34-inch Predator XR341CK might not be to the taste of some users due to its unusual 21:9 aspect ratio. But let’s face it, it beats having a dual-monitor setup and can be useful not only for immersive gaming experience but for productivity as well.
You can find the Acer Predator XR341CK’s pricing and availability here: http://amzn.to/1UaGpGd
The retail package comes with the external power supply, two AC cables for European and US standard, HDMI, DisplayPort, USB upstream cable and the usual user manuals.
Design and ergonomics
The Acer Predator XR341CK features mainly glossy and matte plastic with a little aluminum added to the base for extra sturdiness. But what really stands out is the nearly borderless screen with bezels measuring at just 1.5 mm but there’s also a thin black line on the panel before the image starts – 11 mm. So the whole border around the screen is around 12.5 mm but the bottom bezel differs from the rest because it measures at around 22 mm (twice as thick) with the additional 2.5 mm panel line. Also, on the bottom right-hand corner, you will find the OSD control buttons and the status LED light, which glows blue when it’s on and amber when in standby.
On contrary to the front, the back of the display uses glossy finish which easily attracts fingerprints, smudges and collects dust as well. However, since the back of the display isn’t visible if placed near a wall, for example, it won’t require frequent cleaning as the dirt isn’t visible. Moreover, the stand is attached to the screen with four screws instead of a release button because it’s way too heavy and this approach seems safer.
As for the base, it uses three legs and they must be all on the desk for better stability, even if you have a wall in the back of the monitor. Also, the stand is fairly deep to provide extra rigidness and measures 309 mm and will take a good chunk of your space on the desk so mind the space. It’s made of aluminum, as we noted earlier, and can be detached and replaced using a standard 100 mm VESA wall or arm mount. Anyway, the stock stand also offers some tilting and height adjustment as the latter is 150 mm and feels quite stiff. It’s kind of normal considering the weight of the ultra-wide monitor so we can let that one pass.
The machine offers all the needed connectivity options as shown in the photo below – HDMI 2.0, HDM 1.4, mini DisplayPort, DisplayPort in, DisplayPort out for the so-called “Daisy chaining”, DC connector, 3.5 mm audio jack, USB upstream, and 4x USB 3.0.
All OSD control buttons are located at the bottom-right bezel of the screen and the OSD menu itself gives you a wide range of options like customizing the appearance of the OSD menu, adjusting the screen quality, brightness, contrast, black levels, saturation, gamma and even color temperature. There’s also an option for reducing the blue light emissions when you are working late at night. You can check the rest of the options in the photos below.
|Resolution||3440 x 1440|
|Ports||HDMI 2.0, HDMI 1.4, mini DisplayPort, DisplayPort in, DisplayPort out, 3.5 mm audio jack, USB upstream, 4x USB 3.0|
|Panel||LG Display AH-IPS|
The Acer XR341CK uses an ultra-wide IPS panel with 34-inch diagonal (87 cm), 10-bit color (8-bit + FRC) and 3440 x 1440 resolution with 21:9 aspect ratio. In this case, the pixel density is 109 ppi and 0.23 x 0.23 mm pixel pitch. The panel supports the so-called FreeSync adaptive sync technology by AMD and works in range between 30 and 75Hz but the latter is possible only when using the provided DisplayPort connector, otherwise, the HDMI 2.0 port supports only the maximum 3440×1440 resolution at 60Hz. It can be considered as “Retina” when viewed from a distance equal or greater than 80 cm.
Viewing angles are excellent.
We were able to record a maximum brightness of 323 cd/m2 in the center of the screen with standard settings and color temperature set to “Warm”. The average brightness on the surface is 305 cd/m2 with maximum deviation of 12% in the upper-left corner. Color temperature on white background with brightness turned to maximum is 6760K in the middle and 6650K as an average value. It’s pretty close to the optimal 6500K (D65).
The following tests were performed with 140 cd/m2 brightness (36%) and gamma set to 2.4.
o make sure we are on the same page, we would like to give you a little introduction of the sRGB color gamut and the Adobe RGB. Starting with the CIE 1976 Uniform Chromaticity Diagram that represents the visible specter of colors by the human eye giving you a better perception of the color gamut coverage and the color accuracy. Inside the black triangle, you will see the standard color gamut (sRGB) that has been used by millions of people in HDTV and on the web. As for the Adobe RGB, this is used by professional cameras, monitors and etc. for printing. Basically, colors inside the black triangle are used by everyone and this is the essential part of the color quality and color accuracy of a mainstream notebook. Still, we’ve included other color spaces like the famous DCI-P3 standard used by movie studios and the digital UHD Rec.2020 standard. Rec.2020, however, is still a thing of the future and it’s hard to be covered by today’s displays.
You can also see the so-called Michael Pointer (Pointer’s Gamut) gamut representing natural occurring colors perceived by our eyes.
The yellow triangle represents the color space, which the panel covers, and it’s 100% sRGB.
Below you will see practically the same image but with color circles representing the reference colors and white circles being the result. You can see main and additional colors with 25%, 50%, 75% and 100% saturation inside the sRGB gamut before and after calibration.
Some additional adjustments were made after we set the 140 cd/m2 brightness and 2.4 gamma. Using the OSD menu, we set Gain R49,G51B50, Saturation Yellow49 under the “Color” tab.
We’ve also measured how well the display is able to reproduce really dark parts of an image. It’s essential when watching movies or playing games. The left side of the image represents the display with stock settings while the right one with our custom profile for gaming and multimedia. On the horizontal axis, you will find the grayscale and on the vertical axis the luminance of the display.
We illustrate the first five levels of the gray (1%-5% white), right after black level, using the five boxes on the image below. Keep in mind that whether you can distinguish them or not strongly depends on the settings of your current display, the calibration, the viewing angle and the surrounding light conditions.
Below you can see the results from the accuracy color checker with 24 commonly used colors like light and dark human skin, blue sky, green grass, orange etc. The results are before and after calibration.
Health-related features (Low Blue Light)
The monitor offers a few presets that limit the blue light emissions and you can see the difference below but keep in mind that the right graph is a result from installing our custom Health-Guard profile. The latter does the same but with some added features like gamma correction for better visibility in dark scenes or images.
PWM (Screen flickering)
The panel doesn’t use PWM for backlight dimming and can be used across all brightness levels without affecting your eyes after prolonged usage.
The sound quality is very good but minor resonance can be felt at lower frequencies. The stereo loudspeakers are also pretty loud.
Acer Predator XR341CK is all about quality gaming. This should be your first choice of ultra-wide gaming monitor if you are more into crisp images rather than speed and performance. The IPS panel might not be the best solution for fast-paced games as it has slower response time and refresh rate compared to models with TN panels but delivers immersive and beautiful gameplay with wide sRGB coverage, high contrast ratio, bright backlight and curved screen. The only limitation this product has is the 75Hz response time as similarly priced products will offer 144Hz, as long as your GPU can handle it, of course. But that’s actually a top-shelf ultra-wide IPS panel from LG and undoubtedly best in class – it’s the best the current industry can offer. There are some rumors of other panels coming in later this year or the next one that will feature higher refresh rates while retaining the resolution and IPS technology.
Anyway, the FreeSync technology is a huge added bonus and covers anything between 30 and 75Hz for buttery smooth gameplay. Obviously, the monitor is aimed at the AMD users and we are waiting for the G-Sync-powered variant to come out as well. It’s going to feature almost identical specs to this one but with a G-Sync chip installed instead.
As far as ergonomics goes, the monitor has limited stand adjustment with only a few degrees of tilting and 150 mm height adjustment. Rotation isn’t possible. Also, the stand is quite big and will not be suitable for users with limited working space. Moreover, we noticed an annoying buzzing sound at around 40% brightness and below – it’s not loud but it might become irritating as you lower the brightness.
All in all, the Predator XR341CK is the best IPS ultra-wide gaming monitor out there with tons of options and features to play with, excellent image quality, decent response time and low lag. Acer was able to squeeze out the best out of this panel with the 75Hz refresh rate, which might not seem a lot compared to other gaming monitors but it sure does offer a 25% increase over the conventional 60Hz displays.
You can find the Acer Predator XR341CK’s pricing and availability here: http://amzn.to/1UaGpGd
- Good build quality, thin bezels, curved screen
- Excellent properties (100% sRGB, contrast ratio, brightness)
- Supports FreeSync with fiarly high refresh rates for an IPS panel(30 – 75Hz)
- IPS panel with low lag and good response times
- Feature-rich OSD menu, presets and settings
- No PWM across all brightness levels
- 10-bit color (8 bit + FRC) for smooth color transition
- Impractical stand with limited functionality
- Whining sound from 40% brightness and below