As a cousin of the revered Predator X27—which sits near the top of our best gaming monitor lists and at the peak of our best 4K monitor for gaming list—the Acer Predator XB273K (sometimes listed as the XB273KP or XB3) brings with it a certain sense of excitement. Inspecting the specifications on paper, it seems a close cousin of the X27. Very close. So close, from appearance to specs, that it is very hard to tell the difference. Nonetheless, given the reputation of Acer’s Predator series, there's a very good reason to be optimistic here. And given the price difference between the XB3 and the X27—a whopping nearly-$1000 price gap—there’s a desire to see if that difference is measurable in performance too. Putting it bluntly, if the XB3 can hold its own, particularly in the face of the X27, we may have a new 4K sheriff in town.
Price: $1,000 / £1,200
Panel Size: 24-inch
Native Resolution: 3840x2160
Panel Type: IPS
Maximum Refresh: 144Hz
Display Inputs: 1 x HDMI 2.0, 1 x DisplayPort
Connectivity: 5 x USB 3.0
VESA Mount: 100mm
Warranty: Two years
The XB273K’s gaming pedigree is obvious the second you unbox it: it is a 27-inch, G-Sync enabled, IPS screen, that boasts a 4ms gray-to-gray response rate, and a 144Hz refresh rate. Oh, and a 4K resolution. And it's got HDR. As a starting reference point, those are the same specs as the X27 behemoth. If a monitor can offer all these and get it right, then it is quite something (if you have the rig to make the most of all of the specs). Elsewhere, the XB273K gives you a good range of options within its menu to deploy those gaming specs, ranging from different gaming presets (Acer’s GameView options), to bluelight settings you can adjust to save your eyes. There is definitely enough here to rely on for plugging and playing, as well as creating a perfect setting yourself, whatever you’re into. The buttons to access the menu are easy enough to use, and the main stick makes it particularly simple to navigate. And the ports you have available increase your ability to either plug and go or adapt to your machines’ needs: an HDMI; DisplayPort and five USB 3.0 ports are at your service.
With the privacy shields setup (reducing screen glare and reflection), I booted up some games to test the monitor with. The glorious Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is just that: glorious. The whole game is incredibly vivid and has the crispest of image qualities to boot; no blurred or smudged edges to see and each feature looks almost perfectly defined and graphically identified. Particular highlights are the way water effects, lighting, reflections and sheens are presented, but there is equal enjoyment to be had from landscape features, the people and urban elements. All further benefiting from a widespread excellence in color, contrast, shades (and shadows) and tones.
Going darker, I turn to Metro Exodus, and am immediately greeted with a great quality picture. Any scene or view from Artyom’s perspective is fantastically clear and well presented. The contrasts are particularly strong with any colors punching through the greys and blacks. However, the smaller details here are equally good, down to clothing detail, skin tone and complexion, and facial expressions once again. Exodus’s predecessor and cousin, Metro Redux proved that the XB273K handles near-total dark environments very well indeed. There is an immersion-heightening quality to the blacks and grays of the Metro and those games certainly don’t feel five years old on the XB273K.
Playing Apex Legends on the XB273K, at max settings, seamlessly traversing and smoothly running around Kings Canyon is one of the best Apex Legends experiences I’ve had when it comes to monitors. Not only did the image quality from the other games remain, but the speed and smoothness of the monitor provides me with a wonderful, smooth picture at 144Hz. The speed of the screen means that there is no loss in quality even when you’re spinning on the spot frantically trying to find your enemies, or flitting between shots in cover.
Having used the XB273K for many hours of gaming, and then using the monitor as a day-to-day work screen, there really aren’t any significant shortcomings. The pricetag is still high for a gaming monitor (usually about $1000), but at $1,000 cheaper than the X27—supposedly the leader in the field—the XB273K offers serious value for a screen that is likely to future proof you for years. All in, the only real difference between the two are a slight reduction in the excellent HDR: the HDR is rated 400 nits (which is the minimum) on the XB273K and 1000 nits on the X27. In simple terms the HDR is a bit dimmer on the XB273K. That's it. It’s definitely one of the best we’ve tested and if it ever comes down in a price it’ll be an absolute bargain.