Buying a monitor? Please refer to this post before purchasing.
September 15, 2019 at 7:39 am #55855Dentnu
Hi, I am in the process of buying a new monitor. I have been using a PG279Q for about 4 years now. I would like to upgrade to either a 4k 144hz or ultrawide 144hz in the $1000 range. I will be using it for gaming. I have been doing allot of researching for the last few day and the only two monitors that fit this bill and I am interested in is the Acer XB273K or the LG 34GK950F-B. I am leaning towards the XB273K but honestly I can’t decided. I now see Acer has listed two new XB273K monitors on there website. One of them has the same specs as the one that is already out and the other seems to have native 144hz and 1ms VBS response time. The price on these are allot cheaper and don’t know if I should wait for these new one to come out before buying a monitor. With that said I don’t want to wait 6 months or anything like that. I am now confused don’t know which route to take. Should I just wait or buy one now with these monitors costing so much I thought I’d ask here and see if someone can help me make a decision. I have a few questions if you don’t mind answering for me that would be great. Thanks
1. Should I go for a 4k 144hz or Ultrawide 144hz ? I know my options are limited but which one of those is the better choice ?
2. I keep hearing people say 27 inch is to small for 4k is that true ?
3. I could not find any info regarding any new panels that supports 4k and 144hz natively @ Full Range RGB. All the ones out now are 120hz that are overclockable to 144hz and I believe that DP and HDMI out right now don’t have the bandwidth to push 4k and 144hz with Full Range RGB. Is there a panel in the works coming out soon that will support 4k and 144hz natively @ Full Range RGB?
4. What would you do buy a Acer XB273K now or wait for the new ones to come out ?September 15, 2019 at 7:56 am #55858PCM2
Hi Dentnu and welcome,
1) Obviously the choice between the Acer XB273K and LG 34GK950F, or 144Hz ‘4K’ UHD and 144Hz 3440 x 1440 UltraWide would come down to personal preferences. One is not “better” than the other. We’ve got articles which look at both experiences in detail and these are linked to and summarised in both reviews- pick which you prefer:
I personally very much enjoy the extra Field of View (FOV) provided in games from the UltraWide resolution, but the superior pixel density of the Acer is also very endearing, which brings me onto your next point. It’s also worth being aware that the 3440 x 1440 resolution is easier to run than the 3840 x 2160 resolution, although as noted in the relevant section of the review and article you gain plenty of benefits from the ‘4K’ resolution on a 27″ screen even with settings reduced a lot. The Acer also has better pixel response tuning than the LG, if that’s important to you.
2) No, it’s nonsense as covered in our article and reinforced in our reviews of such models. It may not be the optimal size for the resolution, I’d put that somewhere around 32″. That’s because, on a 27″ ‘4K’ model, you will most likely need to employ some scaling or more scaling than you would on a ~32″ ‘4K’ model. And the pixel density difference between a 27″ and ~32″ ‘4K’ model gives quite a similar visual experience aside from the physical screen size (and bigger is better, right?) But you still benefit from the excellent pixel density on a 27″ UHD model, which unless you have poor eyesight or are sitting rather far back from the monitor is very easy to notice for suitably high resolution content such as games.
3) There are 3 models I see listed currently.
a) The XB273K P (XB273K Pbmiphzx), the original model as we’ve reviewed.
b) The XB273K S (XB273K Sbmiprzx) which seems to have a lower MSRP (although, because it’s ‘new’, higher retail price currently). I’m not exactly sure why. The MSRP reduction might be that they’ve used a simpler backlight without any local dimming (vs. basic local dimming on the XB273KP). Or Acer just being Acer and re-releasing a new model with no distinct changes to try to reinvigorate the series.
c) The XB273K GP (XB273K GPbmiipprzx). Cheaper still. A simpler backlight once again, but I believe from my conversations with some knowledgeable individuals that this lacks the G-SYNC board and is instead ‘G-SYNC Compatible’ via Adaptive-Sync. So you lose the tight pixel overdrive tuning and variable overdrive technology, but you get a decent price reduction. This model includes a VRB (Visual Response Boost) strobe backlight mode, which doesn’t get lumped with ‘proper’ G-SYNC models. You’re unlikely to use this – you’d need a solid 144fps and can’t use G-SYNC at the same time. Plus such technologies are generally poorly implemented.
4) I guess this is clear from the above, but if not – the XB273K P is recommended, depending on price and availability the alternative models could be attractive alternatives.September 16, 2019 at 7:05 am #55879Dentnu
Thanks for the help will be ordering one this week. Will be using your Amazon link for the XB273KP.September 16, 2019 at 7:05 am #55881PCM2
I appreciate the support and I hope you enjoy the monitor. And it works out for you. 🙂September 18, 2019 at 3:21 pm #55908Dentnu
Hi, I just used your link and ordered one. I was wondering if you could explain and list a few test I should run on it to verify BLB, Uniformity, dead pixels, etc. I also have a ColorMunki Display so i am planing on calibrating it. It been a few years since I did in sort monitor calibration so I don’t remember how to do it. Can you tell me whats the best software I should use to do the calibration on it ? I been searching the web for good tutorial on how to do all of this and could not find any recent ones that go into detail. I don’t know if you are interested in making one but I think it would be a great addition to this site in my opinion . Thanks AgainSeptember 18, 2019 at 3:30 pm #55911PCM2
The last thing I’d recommend doing with the monitor is trying to run specific tests to identify issues. That’s how people end up perpetually unhappy with monitors. Just use it as you normally would and if any issue is really going to be a problem for you, it will rear its head. There are various websites to help check for dead or stuck pixels should you wish to, they’re all pretty similar. A black screenfill can be achieved using MS Paint or another application, to assess dark uniformity. 🙂
I don’t really have any preferences for calibration software and don’t have a lot of experience in that area. I use different software for different tasks, but mainly for checking and reporting certain criteria. The bundled Datacolor software is very good for my uses which is why I use it in my reviews (with the latest SpyderX Elite now). I also use software called BasICColor – from a company that, sadly, no longer exists.September 18, 2019 at 3:54 pm #55912Dentnu
Thanks for the info and help once again.September 18, 2019 at 9:58 pm #55938PCM2
My pleasure – I appreciate the support and hope you enjoy the monitor!October 2, 2019 at 4:42 pm #56201Frostbyte
Hey, wanted to let you know what I found out about the 3 XB3 models after some digging with tweeting at Predator Gaming and rtings.com. Rtings told me about the GP model not having a dedicated G-sync hardware module but they weren’t sure about P versus S. Predator responded with a link to their product page and some notes that there are different amounts of inputs etc. so that didn’t help entirely at first. I asked if they could do more digging and they came back and said the S model supports VRR and HDMI while the P does not. So basically, it seems like the S version is a slight refresh of the P with different amounts of inputs, VRR over HDMI, and a bit of a cheaper MSRP but in reality it’s a lot more expensive right now; only in stock at Amazon for $1199, while I can get the P on Amazon for $899.
So it seems the best choice right now would be the P version for $849 with an Nvidia GPU, and maybe get the GP if you have an AMD GPU (not sure if FreeSync works with this monitor). Once the S drops in price it’d be the best choice as you’ll get that additional “free” feature of VRR over HDMI which would be good for the Xbox that supports FreeSync, but it’s obviously not a huge selling point. I will wait until December (bonus check time) and see where the prices are and determine from there whether to get the P or S to pair with my 2080 Ti.October 2, 2019 at 4:45 pm #56204PCM2
Thanks for confirming the information. It seems like the ‘XB273KS’ could certainly appeal to some if the price drops, but the additional support of Adaptive-Sync via HDMI is really the main change and that is only something that would appeal to users who use games consoles as a secondary use.
The XB273K(P) does seem like the ‘go to’ model for now, with the G-SYNC board and overall performance it offers. But be aware of how you can support our work if you do purchase it, as one of the retailers you mentioned (removed from post) does not in any way support this website.October 2, 2019 at 4:56 pm #56207Frostbyte
Ah whoops, I had readded it thinking I had made a mistake with omitting it but have since removed it again! I understand, sorry about that.
I do appreciate your work, your in depth video on the XB3 is fantastic. I will read through the written review as well before purchasing. Glad to help confirm the information as Acer’s website is pretty lacking in actually explaining the differences right now.October 9, 2019 at 9:57 pm #56250PCM2
Did you end up going for the XB273K(P)?October 23, 2019 at 1:17 pm #56414Frostbyte
Hey, I actually have not purchased one yet. I’ll be waiting til December when we get our yearly bonus check to treat myself. I’ll update then. 🙂February 4, 2020 at 8:18 am #58206Glib
Hi there, PCM
I’d just like to say, I bought the Acer XB273KS after reading numerous reviews (including this one) on the XB273KP. I also spoke to Acer and they confirmed what has been mentioned above — that the XB273KS is the same as the KP, except the KS supports VRR over HDMI. The KS in Australia has only just been released and the KP is listed as discontinued, which is a shame, given it was several hundred dollars less than the KS.
I should add that I couldn’t seem to get the variable backlight working in HDR — when I play a game called Hellblade in HDR, when the character is in a dark environment like a cave, even a small amount of illumination turns the entire backlight on. It is very annoying and whites out all the detail. This seems to agree with the review by Kitguru wherein he states “We experimented with the variable backlight setting on this display to see if it at least had some rudimentary zoning on its backlight – such as on the Samsung CHG90, for instance – but as you can see from the images below, even just the tiny amount of light needed to illuminate a cursor turns the whole backlight on.” So I’m just wondering how you managed to get the local dimming zones working on your review sample?
Otherwise, the monitor I bought is fine – it has no dead pixels and a bit of bleed on the top left corner, but nothing worth returning it for 🙂
Anyway, thanks very much for the comprehensive review – I’ve seen both the video and written reviews and they are fantastic. Keep up the great work!February 4, 2020 at 8:21 am #58209PCM2
Thanks for the feedback, Glib. Did you see what I said above about the XB273K S likely being cut down and not offering any local dimming on the backlight? The reps aren’t all-knowing, especially on technical details like this which aren’t included on the spec sheets they look at when responding to customers. So I wouldn’t necessarily expect them to know about this sort of thing. The ‘‘SDR Variable Backlight’ is what enabled local dimming under HDR for the KB273K P, it simply worked and activated itself under HDR. With only a few dimming zones it was hardly a magical addition, although still nicer than not having it in my view.
Try running MS Paint or another application with a black screenfill, HDR enabled on Windows, and move the mouse cursor around. It should highlight whether local dimming is used. The problem with the Kitguru test is that the mouse cursor, at least on the screenshot they show, was too central. You’d need to have the cursor much closer to the edge of the screen to try to observe local dimming when there are only a few dimming zones. From my testing I believe there were 3 dimming zones, although the way things were set up you’d only see a pronounced effect if the central third (column) of the screen was displaying very dim content. I noticed local dimming activating most in practice if there was a light source towards the corner or very edge of the screen with the rest much darker. You could see a clear difference in the black depth as you moved your character so that the light source was more central (as the cursor is in the Kitguru example).February 4, 2020 at 1:41 pm #58217Glib
Thanks for your quick reply! Yup, I just tested using the method you described and the screen does dim very significantly if the mouse cursor is off the screen, but that’s the entire backlight and the entire backlight lights up again when the mouse comes back on screen, even if it’s near the edge or a corner.
So it looks like you’re correct in that the KS model has had the local dimming zones removed and is a cut down version. That’s pretty disappointing considering it costs so much more than the KP. I paid more for less!
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