A smooth operator.
Acer’s XG270HU FreeSync Gaming Monitor is a great option for PC gamers looking to upgrade to 1440p without spending big money on lots of bells and whistles. The XG/B series is the company’s midrange monitor line with more emphasis on gaming than its entry-level models, but also a step below the company’s high-quality, high-priced Predator series. Compared to the Predator line you get fewer features for a lot less money, as the XG270HU is just around $440 on Amazon compared to a similarly equipped Predator model at $778. The XG model I’m looking at its its midrange 1440p model with FreeSync and 144Hz refresh rate, and there’s also a similar model with the XB designation that has G-Sync as well if you’re on the green team. Let’s take a closer look.
Design and Features
The XG270HU is an attractive, light monitor with metallic copper accents on the stand and at the bottom of the monitor itself, making it resemble its smaller sibling the GN246HL. When the monitor is turned off, it tricks you into thinking its bezel is smaller than it actually is. The filter covering the screen stretches just a millimeter or 2 from the edges, but it’s an illusion as the actual bezel is closer to 5 or 6 millimeters. The top part of the monitor itself is quite slim, but the trade-off for its slim profile is that it uses an external power brick, but it’s thankfully small and unassuming, making it easy to tuck away.
The stand is sturdy and putting it together doesn’t require any tools since it snaps together. It can be tilted 15 degrees forward and five degrees back, a range I found quite comfortable with my current office setup. Tilting it requires just the right amount of effort, and once it’s set to a comfortable position, it stays put. Unfortunately that’s the only adjustment the stand offers as there’s no way to rotate the panel for portrait orientation or to adjust the height. It’s easily one of the big tradeoffs in going with a less expensive monitor.
Below the power light are the XG270HU’s menu buttons, and Acer made the decision to clean up the front of the monitor by putting them under the bezel. Though it makes for a nice, clean look, anytime I needed to make an adjustment I found myself fumbling around like Velma in Scooby-Doo after losing her glasses and feeling my way around. On more than one occasion, I accidentally hit the power button when I meant to hit the right-most menu button, forcing me to start my menu navigation process from scratch.
The menu is full-featured, with 5 screen presets available for Movie, Standard, etc. If you’re not a fan of presets there’s an additional menu that lets you make more precise tweaks for Gamma, Saturation, Color Temperature and a feature called “Super Sharpness” which is a binary sharpness setting that’s either on or off. It simply makes everything sharper, and in my professional opinion made things look too sharp. Small text and graphical details looked distorted when it was turned on so I left it off.
Connection options are plentiful in that they include HDMI, DVI, and DisplayPort, and amazingly Acer includes cables for all three, which is both rare and appreciated. There is no VESA mount capability, however. Despite its generosity with cables it’s quite stingy with USB ports, as there are none. This omission is surprising given the price of the XG270HU, but again, if you’re wondering why this monitor is so much less expensive than a Predator model this is exhibit number two (number one is the lack of adjustability). There are built-in speakers, and they are lousy, but better than nothing. They produce a hollow, tinny sound that sounds worse than the built-in speaker on my iPhone.
Though the monitor offers DVI, HDMI, and DisplayPort connections the only way to get both FreeSync and a 144Hz refresh rate working is to use DisplayPort. It’s also important to note, in case it wasn’t clear already, that you need an AMD GPU or APU to run FreeSync. For testing I connected the monitor and the Radeon software set the resolution to 2560×1440 automatically, and I excitedly dove into my games and started turning up the settings to support the higher-than-FHD resolution. My personal monitor is 1080p, so I was excited to make the jump to 2560×1440 and I have to say, I was not disappointed. Doom looked fantastic at 2560×1440, and found myself once again sucked into its world. Playing an older game like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, which is my most-played PC game, felt more immersive, but since the game isn’t as detailed as a newer titles like Doom the effect wasn’t quite as dramatic.
Though the monitor’s high resolution is a great upgrade from 1080p, what was more useful to me was its 144hz refresh rate, and this is a feature almost anyone using this monitor can take advantage of regardless of which GPU he or she uses. Of course I had to make some graphical trade offs to get my framerate in Doom above the 60fps I was used to, but the buttery smoothness of the high refresh rate was worth it. I didn’t quite hit the dizzying heights of 144 fps in Doom, but at Medium settings I was routinely over 120 and the fluidity of the movement was at a level I didn’t even know I needed until I saw it in action.
In addition to the sky-high refresh rate the XG270HU also offers FreeSync, which is AMD’s adaptive refresh technology. It eliminates the tearing that arises from a mismatch between GPU and monitor refresh rates without the processing burden of V-Sync. One common complaint with Freesync is that it can cause ghosting during gameplay, so to test it I once again fired up Doom since its gameplay is as fast and frenetic as you can get. Not only did I not see any ghosting but gameplay felt so smooth with FreeSync turned on that I’m not sure I’ll be able to go back to my old, non-FreeSync enabled monitor.
After my gaming tests were complete I turned to some real exams to try and ascertain the quality of the monitor’s TN panel. Right off the bat its 1ms response time helped the XG270HU pass the Lagom response time test with flying colors. I noticed no flashing at all from the squares in the test, and the monitor also handled the gradient banding test with similar aplomb. The colored strips transitioned from black to black to white smoothly, displaying no banding whatsoever.
For the black level test, all squares on screen were distinguishable, which is the best possible outcome since it means they are well-defined and not muddied. During games, I did notice a small amount of light bleed from the bottom of the panel, but it was only really noticeable during pitch black scenes, marring its otherwise excellent black reproduction. When it comes to white saturation, the XG270HU didn’t fare as well. Adjusting brightness and gamma levels got the Lagom test score to 251, and a full three stops short of the ideal 254 as the final three boxes appeared solid white, revealing no details.
The Acer XG270HU FreeSync Gaming Monitor has an MSRP of $499.99, but like a lot of PC hardware it can generally be nabbed at a discount. Several retailers offer it for $50+ below MSRP including Amazon: