Acer Predator 32" XB1 Impressions (XB321HK)

I just received the 32" Acer Predator XB1 today (XB321HK). It was supposed to be my first 4k. Sadly though, I will return the unit, since it has notably strong backlight bleeding in the lower right corner. It's a shame really, as there is very little bleed in all other areas, but the amount of bleed in that corner is just too excessive. It's not just around the bezel, it spreads out into an area about 10-15cm wide. Too damn distracting. Other than that, my thoughts on the XB1 are:

  • Space wise, it's a nice upgrade from my 1200p though if you need to scale above 100%, I feel like you'd loose unproportionately much of what you gain with 4k. It's actually not as huge as I hoped (though it's still a very large space, really).
  • Watching videos is awesome. Incredibly immersive thanks to screen size and resolution.
  • I can read tiny fonts now because of the 138 ppi (e.g. down to 12px at 100% scaling, 60cm viewing distance seems to work). Oh wow, this is just beautiful
  • IPS glow. Yeah, I'm not sure if I'd keep it even without the backlight leakage. Though I'd say the glow of the XB1 is moderate, the problem is simply the size of the screen. It does magnify the issue. I like dark backgrounds with inverted colors (that's why I use Deluminate), so I'm picky like that
  • Build quality is not great but ok. Though you can see some unevenness where the panel meets the bezel, I could tolerate it if the display had less flaws. The menu navigation is functional

Still, I must say I already miss it. Sitting again in front my Dell 1200p (U2412M), this feels like ancient hardware now :/

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One more thing

  • The ag coating is good, imo very close to the perfect compromise. Nothing to complain about

I just watched Wendell's 32" 4k review again and now that I've seen it myself, I think he is spot on. 38 to 40" 4k ist probably best for most people at 100% scaling at a comfortable distance. It's too bad that non-ebay 40" 4k panels with G-Sync are still so far off. According to this and this, they don't even have it on the roadmap for 2017.

What is wrong with the manufacturers? Dell and Philips dropped the ball when they didn't put freesync into their 43" IPS panels.

The demand is obviously out there. All the Wasabi Mango UHD420 panels got sold out very quickly, and with 4k being the latest big thing, panels that people can run it on at 100% scaling should be top priority for the manufacturers. Instead we just see them pumping out more dp1.2 1440p panels. Shame.

Agreed. I read somewhere that the manufacturers are concentrating on TVs and the mobile market, because that's where the big money is. It's in line with Intel dropping the ball on consumer CPUs; it seems we have reached a saturation point. PCs are in decline, monitors have reached a point where mainstream consumers don't care for higher resolutions; they rather put their money into bigger TVs and the latest iPhone.

I think we are in the minority here, no matter how loud we shout? A drought is coming.

Not sure if the Korean models are representative for any significant demand for 40" 4k. I doubt they produce these in market creating quantities. It seems just us geek noticing.

Warning, first world problems rant.

So I've sent it back now and reached the conclusion, that realistically, I'd have to wait another 2 years until something better comes along. 4k just isn't a thing right now and having had a taste of it, I need something to bridge the gap unitl OLED 4k becomes a reality. It seems that my only option is to cycle through a few of these until I get lucky, with respects to backlight bleed. I'll report back on how it goes.

Quick update:

I went through 4 units which all had some kind of defect. It went like this:

  1. Strong bleeding in the lower right
  2. Strong bleeding in the upper left
  3. Light bleeding all over the screen, and clouding all over the place. One stuck pixel dead center
  4. No bleeding, perfect backlight but one dead pixel in the upper right corner

It was quite the hassle, but I decided to keep number 4, since the dead pixel is really not that noticeable.

I've had the monitor for a week now and can happily report, that I'm very satisfied. The IPS glow on unit #4 is very light. The blacks - unless looking way off center - are astonishingly deep. I am speculating that it might be due to the high dpi of this panel? Anyway, I wasn't expecting such good black levels (coming from a Dell U2412M) and am very positive that it will last me until OLED screens become affordable.

However, there are some minor drawbacks I've encountered:

  1. In Chromium at least, some Youtube videos seem to flicker while loading. It seems to happen mostly when playback is paused, though I guess it's rather a driver issue as opposed to the monitor's fault. Currently, I have a GTX 780, but will upgrade to a 1080 shortly and report back on it.

  2. Unfortunately, half of the screen randomly flickers for a split second every other hour resp. it seems to depend on what you're doing, though I can't confirm this atm, it's too early. It seems very rare and so does not bother me in relation to the overall awesomeness of the screen. Might be another driver or maybe a Displayport 1.2 issue?

On the flipside, I can overwhelmingly say that I enjoy this monitor very much because

  1. As mentioned, the black levels are awesome. I was not expecting this level of deepness and am speculating that it's due to the high dpi that causes IPS glow to be not that noticeable?

  2. High DPI is just awesome. Imagine having a giant Smartphone like screen, At least as I'm running this on Gnome, it's no issue at all at 100%. It allows me to read the most tiny texts while still being seated at a comfortable 65+ cm away. As Wendell said in his review of the 32" Crossover, it's really awesome on Linux. In the browser it depends a bit on the website you're on and the colors that that is using (note that I'm using Deluminate), but I'm mostly fine with 100-125% scaling in Chromium. Outside of the brower however, it's brilliant.

  3. I'm also very impressed by the monitor stand. Most of them nowadays, don't let you lower the screen all the way down to your desk, but this one does. It's a must have feature at this size.

  4. Also the bezel is very thin. It's not "slim edge", but is still very good looking.

  5. You can set the power LED to auto-off, which basically turns it off once the monitor has powered up. A tiny but very appreciated feature if your room is leaning to the dark side in general.

  6. The anti-glare coating is very good. At least in my (generally dark) lighting conditions, it seems to be the perfect compromise.

4k glory...

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Looks awesome; I'm going to have to hold out on 4k until high refresh rate panels(>100hz) become a reality. I'm too addicted to gaming on my 144hz 1080p monitor right now. Hopefully by then GPUs will have caught up and ~40 inch Gsync panels will be available. I could see myself getting a 4k panel as a second screen for photo editing as such keeping the 144hz one my primary though. Also I would very much like to replace 3 of the 1080p screens I have at work with a 40 inch 4k; that would be awesome for software development work.

Yeah, thankfully I'm not spoiled by high refresh rate monitors, so I just love this one. Though I forgot to mention that I can't comment on the gaming aspect of the XB1 just yet, having only a puny 780 GTX (ridiculously expensive 1080 GTX incoming). But I'm not into shooters nor MMO FPSs anyway, so it's not a priority for me.

I'd be curious to try a 40" 4k in comparison myself. At the moment, I feel like the high pixel density trumps 40" 4k, at least on Linux. Everything is just so ridiculously sharp (looking at it now, my previous 95 ppi U2412M hurts my eyes ;p).

Regarding dev work: yeah it's really a chore now having to go back to my 24" 1200p at work every day. It's just such a huge leap.

I do wish mine were 1200p instead of 1080p; those seem to work better in portrait. Some websites just don't like 1080px wide viewports. MIne are Dell P2314Hs.

Have you tried the Acer with Windows? Curious as to how well Windows 10 handles the pixel density. For gaming it sounds like the gtx1080 should handle most things at 4k just fine; I'm driving my little 1080p panel with a gtx980 to keep the FPS up and some games make me wish for an upgrade. Maybe when the 1080ti comes out down the road I'll upgrade, or if I get a Vive later this year I might end up getting a 1080 then.

I've not installed my Windows / gaming SSD yet, but have a Windows 10 virtual machine running and on this one, the scaling / rendering quality at 100% seems a little bit smaller than on Gnome, but still quite ok. It might be too strenuous for longer periods of time, depending on your sight. You may want to go up it to 125%, but it will be an awesome experience nevertheless.

Quick comparison

Edit: Although if I actually scale the VM up to 125%, the text doesn't seem to be as sharp anymore (looking at it at this monitor), so meh :( Not sure if you can see the difference

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I recommend ordering one from Amazon and trying it yourself. Although it might be difficult to return if you like it ;p

That's what I'm afraid of. ;-) I have been eyeing some of the 4k models from that eBay store that Wendel buys monitors from. They're got some that are pretty reasonably priced; I've been wanting to get something more color accurate than my gaming panel for photo editing.

I've contemplated over whether to order one off of ebay too, but my OCD monitor standards wouldn't allow it. If there'd be something wrong with it - which seems pretty likely imo - you'd be stuck with it or, if your're lucky, still have to shell out the money for the return shipping. I'm in Europe though, not sure how expensive it would be in the US. But it depends on your standards, I guess.

il be the backwards heathen here .. 4k wasn't that impressive when i tried it. It is just more pixels and beyond a certain distance 1440p is fine for me. Panel quality (color, contrast) refresh and response time matter more. Now couple the above with 4k on a nice 43" panel then were talking, you have the lot. But thats not happening for a good long while, perhaps a really long time if VR takes off in its 2nd,3rd and 4th gen iterations.

Went from a 28"4k TN to a 32" VA 1440p and im fairly happy tbh. Generally speaking though, LCD technology still isn't that good for gaming