Acer Predator X38 S review (2022)
A closer look at one of the market's lead 4K 144Hz gaming monitors
Back in May 2021, Acer announced a refresh of their high-end Predator X38 P gaming monitor, the Acer Predator X38 S. The new display was said to offer performance-enhancing features that would put it head and shoulders above its predecessor, sparking a new wave of excitement for an already popular ultrawide gaming monitor.
The new Predator X38 S comes equipped with all the fundamental features as its predecessor, including a 175Hz refresh rate, 37.5″ IPS panel, and 3840 x 1600 screen resolution. On top of this, the new X38 S will also deliver a much faster 0.3ms GTG response time, higher 750 nit peak brightness, and new VESA DisplayHDR 600 certification. Users can also expect a 1000:1 contrast ratio, 2300R curved ultrawide display, and 98% DCI-P3 color gamut coverage – breaching the minimum requirements for a true HDR experience.
On paper, the X38 S looks to bridge the gap between the X38 P and similarly priced alternatives from Alienware, Samsung, and AOC. In this guide, we’ll be putting the X38 S to the test in a number of different areas to see how it stacks up in build quality, gaming performance, response, and color accuracy. We’ll also be concluding with our thoughts on the X38 S and deciding whether or not it’s worth the relatively steep price tag.
So, will the X38 S put the ‘X’ in excellent or will it be more of an expensive mistake?
Acer Predator X38 S monitor: Specifications
- Stunning UWQHD+ screen resolution
- Excellent color accuracy out the box
- Nvidia G-Sync Ultimate
- Rapid 175Hz refresh rate
What's in the box & assembly
The Acer X38 S comes in a fairly basic brown box that showcases some simplified images of the panel on the exterior alongside core features and specifications.
Inside, the X38 S is protected by two large pieces of styrofoam to ensure no damage occurs during transit. The monitor comes fully assembled, meaning no assembly is required to get up and running on this monitor.
Below is a full list of everything that comes in the Acer Predator X38 S box:
- Acer Predator X38 S
- Color pre-calibration report
- HDMI Ultra High Speed Cable
- Power adapter
- Power cord
- Quick start guide
- USB type-A to type-B
- Warranty Card
Design, build quality, & features
With specifications out the way, let’s take a closer look at the build quality, design, and mechanical features this monitor comes equipped with.
Right out of the box, it was clear to see what direction Acer was taking with the X38 S design. This monitor just screams gamer – characterized by a subtle 2300R curved display, sharp angles, predator branding, and an interesting stand that certainly catches the eye.
The face of the monitor looks absolutely fantastic, grabbing your attention thanks to a carefully thought out combination of subtle curves and sharp angles. The panel itself features a 2300R curve that pairs nicely with the borderless bezels on either side. The bottom bezel features the brand’s Predator logo alongside NVIDIA G-Sync branding and a small LED indicator light on the right-hand side.
The large V-shaped stand can be seen poking out from underneath the panel, finished in gun-metal grey. The grey coloring is classic of Acer and works nicely with the rest of the monitor’s black exterior. While the stand is on the large side, it doesn’t disrupt your desk space too much (unlike the AOC AG324UX we tested recently). Annoyingly, this monitor does come with a fairly large side profile, something that we noticed immediately upon unboxing. While it doesn’t really take anything away from the panel, it does give an aging feel to this new display.
Moving to the rear of the panel and there is plenty to discuss as far as aesthetic features go. The rear of the monitor itself features a plate-like design that is separated by cooling grills where the ‘plates’ meet.
The stand is one of the most unusual stands I’ve seen (since the last Predator monitor we tested), offering that reptile-esque scaley look that is definitely hit and miss for many. More Predator branding can be seen on the rear of the stand, with a cylinder mechanism used for the swivel function of the stand.
A carry handle can be found at the top of the stand, allowing users to easily cart this panel from room to room if needed. Overall, the Predator X38 S looks pretty damn good. While it does lean towards the gamey vibe, it still manages to feel incredibly premium.
While Acer has been criticized in the past for poor build quality, the same can’t be said for the Predator X38 S. This monitor resides at the higher end of the price spectrum and the build quality seems to match the price tag it comes equipped with.
High-quality materials seem to have been used throughout the design of this monitor, with metal running through the core of its design. The stand is almost entirely metal, giving the monitor a stable feel that only showcases a small amount of wobble (when forced). The face of the panel utilizes a matte coating with 3H hardness – giving the monitor an additional layer of protection at the front.
The rear of the panel also utilizes hardened plastic that features very little in the ways of flex or bend – a good sign of the overall build quality of the panel. All buttons, inputs, and fittings seem to be nicely finished, with no play in any of these areas. Furthermore, the stand’s adjustability feels very purposeful and solid for the most part.
Ultimately, we were pretty impressed with the build quality of this panel. However, at this price point, you’d expect absolutely nothing less.
The Acer Predator X38 S features an anti-glare matte coating with a 3H hardness for additional protection to the face of the panel. The anti-glare matte coating does an excellent job of mitigating both natural and manmade light sources – a feature that is definitely required when using a curved display.
Annoyingly, this particular panel coating does fall victim to fingerprints relatively easily – with oils being very noticeable. Luckily, cleaning the X38 Scouldn’t be easier – with a microfiber cloth and cleaning liquid seeing to the marks nicely.
Despite the bezels of the X38 S being larger than those of smaller screens, they don’t intrude on the viewing experience at all. The top and side bezels of the X38 S measure in at 11mm, while the bottom bezel features a larger 17mm profile – fairly standard in most modern panels.
The borderless design (which should always be taken with a pinch of salt) certainly helps to create additional layers of immersion when using this panel, regardless of the bezels’ slightly larger design.
As far as stand ergonomics and adjustability go, the X38 S seems to offer everything you could want from a modern display. Users can expect height, tilt, and swivel functionality – with no need for a pivot option.
Acer has also given the X38 s plenty of height and tilt adjustments – making the inputting process of cables a lot easier. Furthermore, the stand feels very robust and holds the monitor in place well – with only limited wobble when forced.
Below are the exact specifications of the stand:
- Forward Tilt – 5 degrees
- Backward Tilt – 35 degrees
- Left Swivel – 30 degrees
- Right Swivel – 30 degrees
- Pivot-o • Height – 130mm
Acer has equipped the X38 S with a plethora of inputs, allowing users to connect numerous devices and peripherals. Most of the inputs can be found at the rear of the panel in the usual orientation – with cables inserted vertically into the rear. There are additional USB ports on the left-hand side as well, allowing users to connect additional peripherals if required. Unfortunately, the X38 S doesn’t feature HDMI 2.1 certification – meaning this panel won’t be able to push the max resolution and refresh rate of next-gen consoles. For a more in-depth look at the inputs, see below:
- 2 x HDMI 2.0
- 1 x DisplayPort 1.4
- 2 x USB Type-A Gen 1
- 1 x USB 3.0
- 1 x 3.5mm audio jack
Inside the OSD, users have access to a plethora of color and picture options, including peak brightness, color profiles, tone, contrast, blue light, and more.
Additionally, the X38 S also comes with a fairly comprehensive game menu – allowing users to tweak the response of the panel to their exact needs. You can also overclock the monitor within the OSD, show the refresh rate on-screen, and select the monitor’s G-Sync Esports preset.
Below we’ve listed all the major features of the OSD:
- Acer Vision Care 3.0
- Dark Boost
- Game modes
- Flicker Free Technology
- NVIDIA G-Sync Ultimate
- Refresh rate Overlock
- Response time boost
- SDR/HDR variable backlight
Color Accuracy & Picture Quality
We like to test each monitor for color reproduction to see how they would perform in color-accurate scenarios.
It’s worth mentioning that this monitor comes pre-calibrated to an average deltaE of <2 – meaning this monitor should showcase excellent colors right out of the box.
Like always, we started off the color accuracy testing section of this review by loading up our colorimeter and running a test right out of the box.
Below are the results:
|Preset||White Point||Black Depth||Contrast Ratio||Average ΔE*00||Gamma||Luminance|
|Out The Box (sRGB color tone enabled)||6610K||0.1469 cd/m²||819:1||0.3||2.22||120cd/m2|
As you can see from the results above, the Acer Predator X38 S performed to an incredibly high standard right out of the box. We recorded a 6610K white point, acceptable o.146 cd/m2 black depth, and 2.22 gamma. While contrast ratio was underwhelming (819:1), the same can’t be said for the hugely impressive 0.3 average delta E. That’s much lower than most panels that boast out of the box pre-calibration. Brightness was also perfectly optimized for daylight viewing, set to 120cd/m2.
We loaded up the ‘Graphics’ preset next to see what color experience it provided. We immediately noticed greater levels of vibrance and brightness, however, it wasn’t nearly as accurate. We recorded a 6614K white point, higher 0.199 cd/m2 black depth, and 1.92 gamma reading. Like most non-sRGB presets, the Graphics preset featured a disappointing 3.18 average deltaE – with many of the color shades being noticeably off what is considered ‘true’.
At this stage, we wasted no time and decided to calibrate the panel to see just how accurate it could become. To do this, we enabled the User’ preset and tweaked the OSD color values to the following: 50/45/44.
Here are the results:
|Preset||White Point||Black Depth||Contrast Ratio||Average ΔE*00||Maximum ΔE*00||Gamma|
|Calibrated Profile||6472K||0.1085 cd/m²||1098:1||0.26||0.79||2.24|
After calibration, we were hugely impressed by just how accurate this monitor could be. We recorded a near-perfect white point, lower 0.10 cd/m2 black depth, and 1098:1 contrast ratio – greater than the marketed specifications for the panel. Better still, we managed to reduce the average deltaE to 026 – with a maximum recorded deviation of 0.79. This is more than accurate enough for color-accurate work within the sRGB spectrum – great for any individual that prioritizes work and play. Gamma read 2.4.
Panel uniformity is a test we run to check how uniform the luminance and colors are across the entirety of the screen. During this test, the center square is used as the reference space. Every other square is then tested to see how far it differentiates from the reference.
In an ideal world, we want every square to be green, meaning it hasn’t broken the differential threshold – something we can set at the start of the test.
Note: results will differ from panel to panel.
After the color tests, we ran the X38 S through the panel uniformity test – expecting similar levels of performance to other IPS panels we’d tested before. However, we experienced relatively poor panel uniformity – a relatively uncommon feature of IPS panels. As you can see from the graphic above, large portions of the upper left-hand comer and bottom right-hand corner resulted in a red score – exceeding the nominal tolerance of the software.
Despite this being the case, we didn’t notice any anomalies when testing the monitor with the naked eye-with large blocks of solid color looking very uniform throughout.
Again, one of the main features of an IPS panel is fantastic viewing angles – and that’s perfectly showcased by this high-performance gaming monitor. Viewing angles were pretty much perfect on this monitor, even when viewing it from obscure angles. Colors do start to shift after a while, however, to experience this you need to be sat at very obscure angles.
Below is a quick video showcasing the viewing angles of the panel:
As part of the calibration process, the DisplayCal will give an accurate measurement of the color gamut the monitor can provide.
It’s worth mentioning that, when initially testing the panel, we struggled to unlock the maximum color potential of the X38 S – with many of our earlier tests resulting in a sub-par 70% DCI-P3 color gamut. To unlock the maximum color space, users will have to go into the OSD, select the ‘Color’ tab, and disable the ‘SDR Colors sRGB setting – which is enabled by default.
Below are the results of the color gamut test:
After disabling this feature, which annoyingly locked the color space to the sRGB spectrum, the results were much closer to that of the marketed specifications. As you can see from the graphic above, the X38 S manages to produce an impressive 141.9% sRGB color gamut – equivalent to around 97.8% Adobe RGB or 100.5% DCI-P3.
This translated to 99.9% sRGB, making this monitor a fine choice for any gamer who likes to edit photos or videos on the side. For individuals requiring a wider color gamut, you’ll be happy to know that we also recorded 86.1% Adobe RGB and 94.6% DCI-P3 color coverage – more than the minimum HDR requirements.
Looking at the physical color gamut graphs above, you can easily see where the Acer Predator X38 S extends past the various color spaces. This is a great indication of what color the 38 S can produce over wider spectrums.
Maximum And Minimum Brightness
We ended the color accuracy and picture quality testing by checking the maximum brightness, minimum brightness, and 120 candelas points on this panel. The results are below:
For those who want to use our calibrated color profile, you will find a link below where you can download the zip file.
Acer Predator X38 S: Gaming Performance & Response
With color accuracy out of the way, it’s time to put the Acer Predator X38 S through a number of different gaming scenarios to see how it stacks up in pixel response, input lag, and overall responsiveness.
We kick-started the gaming section of this review by loading up CS:GO, a fast-paced competitive esports title that benefits hugely from monitors with fast refresh rates and low response times. We use CS:GO as our standardized testing game for response to better understand the visual differences across all monitors.
Before we start, it’s worth mentioning that we utilized the G-Sync Esports mode for all gaming tests with this monitor. This setting would lock the overdrive setting to ‘Esports’ mode. We also overclocked the monitor via the OSD to 175Hz – enabling it via the NVIDIA Control Panel as well.
We launched straight into some CS:GO Deathmatch as it allows us to focus on several moving images at the same time. To our surprise, the gameplay actually felt very smooth when playing CS:GO – not always the case when reviewing ultrawide 21:9 panels. We noticed limited ghosting and blurring, with perceived blur being relatively good – even when several objects were moving quickly. Of course, this is all while using the monitor’s peak performance settings, so don’t expect these results while using the ‘out the box’ preset.
Using the monitor’s max refresh rate made gaming look incredibly lucid as well – a great improvement when comparing this panel to 120Hz alternatives. We tampered with the various Overdrive settings of the monitor, but it turned out that Esports mode was by far the best balance between image quality and general response. Boosting the response time setting to Extreme would lead to massive amounts of overshoot (as we’ll soon see).
It’s worth mentioning at this stage that the X38 S also comes equipped with full G-Sync Ultimate certification – meaning it will be able to sync your monitor’s refresh rate when the PC’s performance drops to 1Hz. This meant that absolutely no screen-tear was experienced during the gaming tests we ran – always a positive sign.
As you can imagine, stretching CS:GO across a 21:9 monitor isn’t the ideal scenario for this ultra-competitive title. For that reason, we decided to load the game in a more native 16:9 aspect ratio- utilizing black bars. While it took some of the immersive quality away from the visual experience, the X38 S still provided a very enjoyable and responsive feel throughout.
We wasted no time and loaded up a few less competitive titles to see how the panel handled general gameplay. Of course, we loaded Shadow of the Tomb Raider up first and the results were pretty impressive. If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a hundred times, there’s something very enjoyable about playing a single-play game on an ultrawide monitor – especially when you have the luxury of decent HDR. SOTTR looked fantastic on this monitor, especially when utilizing the HDR 600 certification it’s rated for.
We loaded up the monitor’s HDR feature via the Windows settings and the difference was definitely noticeable. You could immediately see greater levels of clarity when viewing extreme dark and bright regions. Unlike HDR 400, HDR 600 offers a much more realistic and impactful experience when gaming or watching HDR content. In Shadow of the Tomb Raider, wandering caves and looking over the jungle horizon when the sun was shining felt incredibly realistic. General image quality and color accuracy also felt very realistic when HDR was enabled, taking away some of the garish vibrance that often comes with a monitor’s preset gaming profile.
We didn’t notice any blurring or smearing when playing these slower titles, with G-Sync Ultimate handling any potential screen-tear issues as well. Overall, I was incredibly impressed with the gaming performance of this panel – considering its size.
Blur Busters UFO motion blur test
Like always, we ran BlurBusters UFO test over all the various response time settings to see which was best for general motion blur.
Below are the results:
So, there you have it, our comprehensive review of the Acer Predator X38 S – the brand’s refresh of the already impressive X38 P ultrawide gaming monitor.
The only thing left to answer is whether or not we feel this monitor showcases good value for money – and you’d have to say yes.
Let’s start off with the positives. This monitor is hugely impressive when it comes to, well, any sort of content consumption. Whether you’re gaming, editing, or watching films, you’re going to be fully immersed in your virtual world thanks to the qualities this monitor brings to the table. The sweeping 37.5″ 2300R curved display pairs incredibly well with the high-performance 3840 x 1600 screen resolution to produce what is arguably one of the best visual combinations in the market. Pair that with the panel’s quick 175Hz refresh rate, low 0.3ms (min GTG) response time, and pre-calibrated <2 color profile and you have the makings for a very impressive gaming panel.
Granted, the X38 S didn’t perform to the highest level in competitive titles, but that’s to be expected from a large-screen gaming monitor. It certainly did itself proud when compared to similar-sized alternatives. We experience only minimal levels of blurring and smearing when playing fast-paced shooters, with G-Sync Ultimate seeing to any potential screen-tear issues. There were so issues when using the various OD settings, with the panel’s Esports response mode offering the best balance between image fidelity and responsiveness.
While colors were excellent for this monitor, it didn’t quite compete with some of the mini-LED/Quantum Dot offerings that reside in today’s market. That being said, the panel still provided a very accurate color experience, even when using the standard out the box settings. For us, build quality could have been slightly better and the OSD could have offered a few more premium features – low motion blur mode, HDR presets, etc.
Overall, despite this monitor’s high price tag, you have to say that it still shows pretty good value for money. If you’re in the market for a large screen ultrawide gaming monitor that meets all the requirements of both gamers and editors, the X38 S could be exactly what you’re looking for.
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