If you were in the market for a high-quality gaming monitor last year, but weren't willing to go 4K or ultrawide (21:9), your choice came down to one of two models - the Acer Predator XB271HU bmiprz or its direct competitor, the Asus ROG Swift PG279Q. Both are based on a 27" IPS panel and offer a refresh rate of 144 Hz that can be overclocked to 165 Hz by changing a single setting. Their spec sheets are pretty much the same, which has both sport a native resolution of 2560x1440 (WQHD or 1440p, if those terms are more to your liking) and come equipped with NVIDIA G-Sync support. Both also have the same maximum brightness and static contrast ratio (350 nits and 1000:1 respectively), a couple USB 3.0 ports, DisplayPort 1.2 and HDMI 1.4 connectivity, a pair of barely useful stereo speakers, and a couple built-in technologies to improve overall gaming performance and everyday usage.
The design and price is where they differ the most, with the Acer Predator XB271HU bmiprz currently costing $700, which makes it $50 less on Amazon and in several other stores than the Asus model and, thus, a bit more desirable. Even though the Predator XB271HU itself is now over a year old, it's worth mentioning that the first models that were on the market aren't the same ones available today. Acer kept releasing updated revisions of it, where they fixed various issues detected by the first wave of users. The Predator XB271HU I'm reviewing today is dated November 2016. You won't have to go through great lengths to find that information either - it's clearly written on the box. The firmware revision of the test sample is 4.95, which is easily found out with Monitor Asset Manager.
I have been keeping an eye on this monitor since the day it was released, so I'm well aware of the problems that were present with its first versions, mostly related to a significant backlight bleed. It will be interesting to see whether those issues are still present with this later revision. We're also here to find out if this last year's model is still worth your money, seeing as how the high-end monitor market is slowly but surely shifting towards 4K and HDR and the Predator XB271HU offers neither.
It does, however, offer everything else you might want from a top-notch gaming monitor, most importantly the combination of an IPS panel, 144 Hz refresh rate, and NVIDIA's G-Sync technology. Should you be using an AMD graphics card, you can still utilize its high refresh rate, but the G-Sync module will be of no benefit to you. You're better off looking at the Acer XF270HU, a monitor with similar specs, thicker screen bezels, and a less attractive overall design, but a FreeSync module and a significantly lower price tag of $570.
In case you still aren't sure what the deal is with the high refresh rate shenanigans, let me wrap up the introduction by going over a couple basics that are important to fully appreciate the importance and benefits of the Predator XB271HU. In essence, the refresh rate determines how many times per second the monitor updates the picture we see on screen. Most of today's monitors are still locked to 60 Hz, which is, among other things, one of the reasons we perceive 60 FPS as the optimal framerate when playing games.
However, if your monitor refreshes itself 144 times per second (144 Hz), you perceive everything happening on-screen as much smoother. Just as important is that your mouse movements become unspeakably more accurate due to the simple fact that the position of the mouse pointer updates more than twice as fast. All of this translates into being able to aim at your opponents with much greater precision while enjoying significantly smoother, more fluid gameplay.
Everything I've just mentioned comes with a caveat: to fully utilize the high refresh rate of a monitor, your PC needs to be able to dish out a high framerate, ideally as close to the maximum supported refresh rate as possible. While you'll certainly feel the benefits of a 144 Hz monitor even if you're "only" hitting 85-90 FPS, 100+ FPS is where the magic really happens. You can go about achieving such high framerates by buying a high-end graphics card or lowering your in-game video settings. When we take into consideration that the Acer Predator XB271HU has a native resolution of 2560x1440, a GeForce GTX 1080 Ti is what you'll need to be able to set the video settings in any current AAA game to Ultra and confidently surpass the 100 FPS mark. The lower you go GPU-performance-wise, the more you'll have to trim the video settings to reach the desired framerate.
Going from a 60 Hz monitor to a 144 Hz one is, in my opinion, the biggest, most drastic upgrade to the overall gaming experience one can currently make. There's no going back to gaming at standard refresh rates once you get a taste of the buttery smoothness of your crosshair, as well as the action itself. And adding NVIDIA G-Sync to the mix, a technology that eliminates unpleasant screen tearing by making sure the monitor's refresh rate is always in perfect sync with the current framerate, comes as a cherry on top of an already delicious cake.
|Acer Predator XB271HU bmiprz|
|Native Resolution||2,560x1,440 (16:9)|
|Panel Technology||IPS (In-Plane Switching), 8-bit|
|Refresh Rate||144 Hz (factory-overclockable to 165 Hz) + NVIDIA G-Sync|
|Viewing Angles||178° (horizontal) / 178° (vertical)|
|Response Time||4 ms (GtG)|
|Adjustability||Tilt (-5° to 35°), swivel (60°), height (152 mm), pivot (90°)|
|Inputs||DisplayPort 1.2, HDMI 1.4, USB 3.0 upstream|
|USB ports||4x USB 3.0|
|Supplied cables||1x DisplayPort (1.5 meters), 1x USB 3.0 (upstream, 1.5 meters)|
UK and EU power cord
|Audio||Built-in 2 W stereo speakers, 3,5-mm output|