Around 12 months ago, Acer announced the news of three new arrivals which would slot into their impressive Predator series of gaming monitors. The latest displays would be part of a new Predator XB3 lineup, boasting impressive performance specs that could see them reach the top of the gaming market.
From the three monitors announced back in June 2020, we’ll be testing and reviewing the Acer Predator XB273U in today’s article. The XB273U GS is a 27″ gaming panel that boasts all the bells and whistles – including a fast 165Hz refresh rate, low 1ms GTG response time, and 2560 x 1440p screen resolution. The XB273U offers the IPS experience, providing 95% of the DCI-P3 color gamut alongside VESA displayHDR 400 certifications.
In the following guide, we’ll be putting the Acer Predator XB273U through its paces in a number of different scenarios, including gaming, multi-tasking, editing, and general entertainment – comparing against market leaders as and when we can.
So, with plenty to get through, let’s waste no further time and dive straight into it!
2560 x 1440
100 x 100mm
612 x 415 x 236 mm with stand
1 x Predator XB273U Widescreen LCD Monitor, 1 x DisplayPort Cable, 1 x HDMI Cable, 1 x Power Cord (US), 1 x USB 3.0 Cable
2560 x 1440 picture clarity
165Hz refresh rate
1ms response time
Enters the higher end of the price spectrum
Some questionable design features
The Acer Predator XB273U comes in a smallish box that showcases some marketing material on the exterior – including topline specifications and Predator’s textbook branding. The monitor sits inside the box completely unassembled – requiring the stand and the base to be constructed before use.
Putting the monitor together is incredibly easy, requiring no tools and only a few simple steps to do so. Inside the box, users will also find the following items:
- Acer Predator XB273U Monitor
- Kettle Plug
- HDMI 2.0
- DisplayPort 1.4
- Quick Start Guide
With specifications out the way, let’s take a closer look at the build quality, design, and mechanical features this monitor comes equipped with.
Acer has given the XB273U their textbook Predator branding, offering a ‘loud’ look that certainly leans more towards a gaming aesthetic. For the most part, the front of the monitor looks fantastic – providing a sleek look thanks to very slim, dual-stage bezels and a matte panel coating. However, someone in the RGB department wasn’t satisfied and decided to slap a couple of interesting RGB strips on the bottom bezel. Whilst we’ve seen it in numerous monitors before (Samsung G7 most noticeable) I can’t remember a single time where I thought it looked decent. Granted, some people will love the RGB on the front, however, for me, it just adds a tackiness to an otherwise solid-looking monitor.
RGB aside, Acer has utilized a tripod-style stand that is metal by design – finished with a plastic cover that offers both cable management and a headphone stand at the rear. The gunmetal grey color theme works nicely with the rest of the monitor’s dark color scheme – nowhere near as aggressive as the XB253Q. The Predator logo is proudly displayed on the bottom bezel in between those RGB strips, alongside a G-sync sticker and Agile-splendor IPS.
Moving to the rear, there isn’t a lot to discuss from a design standpoint. The Predator logo can be seen on the top of the stand, alongside the Acer logo on the back of the monitor on a brushed aluminum background. The rear of the stand is black by design and fairly featureless – apart from the headphone stand and cable management hole. A quick-release button can be used to remove the stand from the panel – revealing a 100 x 100 VESA mount.
Looking at build quality, the XB273U seems to tick a lot of the right boxes. That said, there are some obvious flaws too.
On a positive note, the monitor generally feels pretty well-made and solid. We performed a few robustness tests on the panel itself and no creaking wasn’t experienced. The stand is mostly metal in construction and provides an extremely sturdy base for the panel to sit. I experienced almost zero ‘wobble’ when gaming – a factor that can often plague lesser-built 27″ panels. The panel coating felt solid, as did all the input ports too.
That being said, the bottom bezel – the RGB zone – has a weird construction that feels extremely vulnerable. It didn’t feel overly secured to the panel itself, and with enough force, could easily be ripped from its housing. Thankfully, this was the only real flaw we could find in the build quality of this panel. Ultimately, and like most Predator monitors, it scored quite highly for build quality and robustness.
Like most modern panels, the XB273U comes equipped with an anti-glare coating (in matte) with a 3H hardness. This particular material is not only great for mitigating both natural and manmade light sources, but it also adds another layer of protection to the more delicate interior components.
One downside to this coating is, it does pick up a tonne of fingerprint marks quite quickly – something the photography team was most displeased with.
As we said earlier, the bezels on this monitor are dual-stage and extremely slim by design. The top and side bezels offer a ‘zero frame’ look that is a huge positive to this monitor’s design (and immersive value). The bottom bezel is still annoying and is fairly large when compared to other 27″ variants.
The top and side bezels measure in at 7mm, whilst the bottom bezel is 25mm by comparison.
As we touched upon earlier, the stand on this monitor offers excellent support and a tonne of versatility too – often the case with Predator monitors. The mechanism which handles the movement is fantastic in this monitor, providing a sturdy hold no matter what position you decide to use this monitor in.
For those that need stand versatility, the Predator XB273U comes equipped with height, tilt, swivel, and pivot functionality – the latter of which is great for individuals that like to swap out input cables fairly regularly.
Below are the exact specifications of the stand:
- Forward Tilt – 5 degrees
- Backward Tilt – 20 degrees
- Left Swivel – 20 degrees
- Right Swivel – 20 degrees
- Pivot – 90 degrees
- Height – 115mm
The XB273U comes equipped with an array of input options, including three display inputs, audio inputs, and several USB ports as well. Most of the inputs can be found at the rear of the panel and need to be inserted in a vertical fashion. On the left-hand side of the monitor, however, lies two additional USB inputs – one of which has the capacity for fast-charging of devices.
The OSD (on-screen display) on the XB273U is extremely intuitive to use, offering a clean design that is in no way confusing. There’s nothing worse than an OSD that is overly complicated – and that’s not the case here. Users have all the usual adjustment options within the OSD, including color, picture, and gaming features. Gaming features include Adaptive-sync, Overdrive, VRB, and ultra-low latency settings, allowing you to fine-tune your gaming experience to your exact requirements. We will be exploring the best OSD settings for gaming performance in more detail further down the article.
The OSD is controlled by a 5-directional joystick found at the bottom right-hand corner of the monitor (at the rear). Above, users will also find four quick control buttons that can be used to change luminance, input signal, or power. Once you’ve found the perfect settings, you also have the option to save the settings to the onboard memory – with three profiles available.
Great colors and excellent picture quality are two of the main factors that help create immersion during your gaming. Whilst this is the case, gaming monitors don’t always calibrate the color to what is deemed accurate within certain color spectrums – sRGB/Rec.709 for example.
For that reason, we like to test each of the monitors we review for color reproduction to see how they would perform in color-accurate 0scenarios.
Here are the results.
|Preset||White Point||Black Depth||Contrast Ratio||Average ΔE*00||Gamma|
|Out The Box||6879K||0.1288 cd/m²||924:1||2.42||2.22|
Like always, we ran an initial ‘out the box’ color test to see how accurate the colors were right off the shelf. For this monitor, the color temperature was set to warm, brightness was around 300nits of brightness (higher than the recommended amount for daytime viewing), and adaptive sync ‘On’. A quick color test returned a white balance of 6879K with a decent 0.12 black depth. The contrast ratio was slightly below the advertised 1000:1 (924:1), and average deltaE came in at 2.42 – poor for most color-accurate working situations.
We moved onto the built-in sRGB preset, expecting better results off the bat. Weirdly, the test measured a white balance of 7535K – much higher than what we’d normally experience for the sRGB preset. A black depth of 0.133 was measured alongside a 915:1 contrast ratio. The average deltaE for this preset was 1.33 – not the best we’ve ever seen, but not the worst either. Gamma came in at 2.32 – above the ideal 2.2.
The XB273U also came with a number of other built-in presets, including a DCI-P3 prest. We measured it over a shorter testing format, with results offering what we consider below par. White balance was good but black depth grew to 0.375. Contrast ratio took a further dip, and average deltaE came back at 2.26. That being said, the DCI-P3 color space did manage to offer a richer color experience, something many users will appreciate.
Finally, we ran a quick test using a ‘normal’ color temperature. As you can see, results were hit and miss – again. White balance was under the 6500K ideal but black depth measured a low of 0.10. Contrast ratio was above the advertised 1000:1 (1107:1) and average deltaE was an all-time low of 2.43.
|Preset||White Point||Black Depth||Contrast Ratio||Average ΔE*00||Maximum ΔE*00||Gamma|
We quickly calibrated the monitor (using User color temperature) to see how accurate the Acer Predator XB273U could become. For best results, we changed the RGB values to 45/46/51 and ran the calibration.
After calibration was finished, we ran a more in-depth color test to see how accurate the new profile was – using the sRGB spectrum. As you can see from the results above, the color accuracy of the monitor became much better after doing so. We measured a white balance of 6529K and black depth of 0.12. Contrast ratio was still below the advertised 1000:1 (987:1), but not by much. Most impressive, however, was the average deltaE – which took a sharp drop to 0.27. The maximum deltaE was still a little high at 1.54, but still well within the ‘noticeable by human eye’ limit.
Panel uniformity is a test we run to check how uniform the luminance and color is 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.
Looking at panel uniformity, the XB273U performed to an extremely high standard. As you can see from the graph above, almost every quadrant in our test returned a green score – offering a sub 5% deviation from the reference quadrant. This is great for viewing content that has a lot of block color – think sporting events like football or tennis.
The left-hand side of the monitor did show some imperfections to uniformity, but for the most part, this panel scored very highly in this test.
Like most IPS panels, this one returned a good score for viewing angles. Colors did start to shift slightly at very obscure angles – but for the most part, the brightness and colors were extremely accurate. That goes for both horizontal and verticle viewing positions.
As part of the calibration process, the DisplayCal will give an accurate measurement of the color gamut the monitor can provide. Below are the results of the color gamut test:
Looking at the color accuracy results, the XB273U did provide a wide color gamut – offering up 99,8% of the sRGB color spectrum. The total volume of this monitor’s color gamut far exceeded the sRGB space, bringing 143.7% to the table – equating to 99% Adobe RGB and 101.8% DCI-P3. Impressively, the XB273U actually offered 96.4% coverage of the DCI-P3, more than some professional-grade editing monitors. That being said, you would have to calibrate the monitor to get the best results here.
Looking at the graph above, you can see where the XB273U gamut extends past the sRGB (displayed by the dotted line) space. It offers a much wider range in almost every area – apart from the blue/purple zone. This monitor, after calibration, is considered extremely accurate. I would not hesitate to recommend it for individuals that need a gaming panel that can edit to an accurate level.
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:
|10 Brightness||120 cd/m²|
For those who want to use our calibrated color profile, you will find a link below where you can download the zip file.
With color accuracy out of the way, it’s time to put the Predator XB273U through a number of different gaming scenarios to see how it stacks up in pixel response, input lag, and HDR content. Seeing as though this is Acer’s high-end gaming lineup, I expect only the best gaming experience from it. Here are the results.
Before we started, we enabled the maximum fresh rate (165Hz) in the GPU control panel. We also enabled adaptive sync (G-sync) with Overdrive set to normal and ultra-low latency set to ‘on’.
I started off by playing some CS:GO, a fast-paced shooter that challenges your monitor’s pixel response time and refresh rate. The last monitor we tested was the XB253Q – a 1080p variant in this lineup – so it’ll be interesting to see how the two compare. The first thing I noticed upon loading Counter-Strike was the drop in frame rate when compared to the XB253Q. The 1440p screen resolution this monitor offers does add a severe performance penalty to your rig – so just keep that in mind if you are considering this as your next panel. Luckily, CS:GO is a very well-optimized game that allowed me to get 165 frames per second – matching the monitor’s refresh rate. General gameplay felt incredibly smooth, with little to no perceived blur during the most intense battle scenarios. Thanks to the quick pixel response time and low input lag, the XB273U allowed you to really focus on the game with much more clarity – giving me a physical advantage over some of my competitors. I played around with numerous overdrive settings, with medium offering the best balance between picture quality and responsiveness. Moving up the theoretical overdrive ladder would produce decent amounts of overshoot – a screen artifact that would create whitening around objects when moving.
I decided to fire up some more immersive-based single-player titles next, to see how less response-reliant titles would fair. Games like Shadow of the Tomb and Battlefield V looked superb. The 1440p screen resolution, paired alongside the monitor’s wide color gamut and tear-free visuals, offered an extremely immersive experience for the most part. I will say, the RGB lights on the front of the monitor did start to annoy me after a while, especially when walking through jungles or dark caves – so that got turned off pretty sharpish. However, performance-wise, it was hard to knock this monitor if truth be told. I turned HDR on to see what kind of benefits games would experience, but the VESA HDR400 certification didn’t really offer that much. Like all monitors we test, VESA HDR400 is the base certification, offering only small uplifts in detail for extremely bright and dark regions. I didn’t experience too much ghosting throughout my time gaming on this monitor, nor did I experience any screen tearing – thanks to VRR support. This monitor is compatible with FreeSync GPUs, but Nvidia G-Sync is the
Ultimately, the jump from 144Hz to 165Hz, when comparing the XB253Q to the XB273U is far from huge. What I will say, however, was that there was a clear difference seen in overall picture quality across the two panels.
So, there you have it, our comprehensive review of the Acer Predator XB273U – a high-performance gaming monitor that offers stunning picture clarity and excellent response. The only thing left to answer is, do we feel the XB273Uis good value for money – a difficult prospect when you consider its fairly high $499 price point.
Let’s look at the positives. The XB273U is a 1440p gaming monitor that has a very capable 165Hz IPS panel at its heart. That not only makes it great for gaming, but also productivity and color-accurate work too. Granted, you may have to utilize a colorimeter to get the best results out of this monitor, but if you’re willing to spend the extra cash, you really are getting the best of both worlds. Alternatively, for $499, the XB273U does place itself into a fairly competitive price pool – putting itself in direct competition with some of the markets leading 27″ panels.
So, ultimately, it all comes down to what you prioritize. If you’re the sort of person that wants to try and take their esports to the next level, you may want to consider a 240-360Hz alternative. However, if you want a great monitor that does it all, this could exactly what you’re looking for!
The XB273U is a 1440p gaming monitor that has a very capable 165Hz IPS panel at its heart. That not only makes it great for gaming, but also productivity and color-accurate work too. Granted, you may have to utilize a colorimeter to get the best results out of this monitor, but if you’re willing to spend the extra cash, you really are getting the best of both worlds.