ProsGaming performance far beyond any 60Hz monitor; offers excellent color and off-angle viewing; fully-adjustable stand; provides incredible smoothness even when the frames per second aren't sky-high
ConsSome may not appreciate the glossy frame and stand; annoying blue LED power light; single DisplayPort input limits flexibility
In the computing technology world, monitors often get short shrift. Sure, most people upgraded to 1080p monitors once they became available, but since then, not much has pushed people to upgrade. Yes, there are higher resolution monitors, and many users have moved on to 2560 x 1440 models, with a few very early adopters using 4K models. But for a select group of PC enthusiasts, PC gamers, these monitors haven't been entirely appealing. 1440p models have typically been based on high-quality IPS panels, which are great for professional use, but have input lag that can make fast-paced gaming less enjoyable. And 4K monitors simply aren't ideal for modern games without a tremendous amount of graphics hardware to push them to decent framerates.
The truth is that over the past few years, many gamers have gravitated not towards larger monitors, but faster monitors. One example is the Asus VG248QE, which we previously reviewed. Operating at 144Hz, rather than the standard 60Hz, these ultra-fast monitors definitely changed the gaming experience for the better. Now the motion on screen exactly matched the player's inputs, and appeared very smooth, without the hitching you'll see at 60Hz. But all of these 144Hz panels used TN panels, and almost all were limited to 1080p. Why? Because higher-quality IPS panels simply could not operate at higher refresh rates. Until now.
Indeed, the future is here, and it's arrived in the form of the Acer XB270HU. There simply is no better gaming monitor on the market as of our publication date. Now, the XB270HU may not be cheap, but in ushering in the first 144Hz-capable IPS panel, it is ground-breaking. And while Acer could have stopped there, it also packed in a 2560 x 1440 resolution and G-Sync compatibility. Simply put, this is gaming nirvana. Now that you've heard our conclusion, let's get into some of the specifics.
Description and Features
The XB270HU is a 27"-diagonal monitor (hence the "27" in the name), using a newly-developed IPS-type panel capable of 144Hz refresh rates. It uses a sleek stand that provides full height, tilt, and swivel adjustment, which we think is worth paying a premium for versus a fixed-height stand. While some users may not like the glossy finish, it really doesn't bother us. Honestly, a lot of the negative user reviews on the Internet seem to be essentially a pile-on; if the first person hadn't criticized the glossy finish, we're not sure others would have either. Compared to the matte finish on our Dell U2713HM, the Acer's glossy finish looks more modern and attractive. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so you'll have to make up your own mind on this point. We definitely suggest, however, that you use a soft cloth to clean the frame, similar to what you'd use to clean the screen itself.
Like all first-generation G-Sync monitors, this one only includes a single input, of the DisplayPort variety. This is the only input that supports Nvidia's G-Sync, hence the limitation on input options. It is a bit inconvenient, however, especially if you want to use the monitor with mulitple systems (as we do). Another thing not on the features list are built-in speakers, but for most users, that won't be a major shortcoming, since you'll probably want higher-powered speakers than what can be fit inside a monitor frame. Luckily, the XB270HU is up-to-date in regard to USB connectivity, with two side-mounted and two bottom-mounted USB 3.0 ports, along with a USB hub input that runs to your PC. Acer also includes a 3-foot DisplayPort cable in the box. While we would have preferred a six-foot long cable, at least the short cable will get you started right out of the box.
The XB270HU has a wide range of onscreen adjustments, including the typical brightness, contrast, and color (which can only be accessed by selecting user mode). There are also a few nifty features unique to a gaming monitor like this one, including a toggle for ULMB mode, three overdrive settings, and an option to display a refresh rate meter on screen (perfect for confirming that your settings have taken effect).