For years I’ve longed to get my hands on one of the legendary unicorns in gaming hardware; the Acer Predator X38 ultrawide curved gaming monitor. This monitor literally has everything a gamer could want. 38-inch ultrawide IPS panel with high refresh, excellent color accuracy, HDR, G-Sync Ultimate and enough USB ports for any occasion.
Of course, a monitor of this calibre is going to cost an arm and a kidney – about $2,999 here in Australia. That’s more than a 48” LG OLED TV which is in many ways superior thanks to the gorgeous 4K OLED panel with 120Hz over multiple HDMI 2.1 ports, accessible game features and of course, it’s a Smart TV as well. But 48-inches is no joke and can be quite uncomfortable for regular desk setups.
But unlike the LG, the Predator X38 will sit comfortably on a regular desk while still offering a massive 37.5-inches of real estate which is more than most people really need. And while its IPS panel can’t compete with an OLED, it has exceptional color accuracy, HDR and much faster refresh rate that’s great for gaming.
I’ve loved using the X38 for everything from boring spreadsheets to marvelous array of browser tabs to too many hours dying in Destiny 2 Crucible. But there are some things not so great about the X38 that stop it from being the perfect all round monitor which I get into in the review.
Acer Predator X38 Review
First things first is the aforementioned price. The 38-inch ultrawide gaming monitor space is pretty sparse with the Predator X38, the LG UltraGear 38GN950 and the Alienware AW3821DW being pretty much it. They all share a hefty price tag but are generally the best of the best featuring the most premium gaming features and color accuracy. And like the Alienware which I also reviewed, there really is very little to fault the Predator X38 on overall.
The X38 is a giant monitor standing almost a meter wide on your desk. It weighs 9.5 kg with the stand which is extremely sturdy to carry the panels 6.46 kg weight with ease. The forked stand has a carry handle and comes pre-attached in the box so there’s no fiddly setup involved. It also gives the X38 130mm of height adjustment and a tilt of up to 35° forward which is extremely handy for reaching the ports.
Overall, it’s a plain design with most of the design detail concentrated on the stand. Unlike the competition, there’s no RGB lighting on the X38 at all which is actually quite refreshing. But compared to the stunning Alienware monitor, the X38 just isn’t as memorable in the looks department. That Legend design language is one of a kind and on face value, I think most people would pick the Alienware.
Connecting to the X38 is done by a rather miserly selection of video inputs and here’s where my first real complaint comes. The X38 has only two inputs; a single DisplayPort 1.2 and HDMI 2.0 which is kinda absurd for a monitor this big and pricey. I expected at least two HDMI as well as a USB-Type C which is an increasingly common output for modern laptops.
The X38 is definitely the kind of monitor that you’d want to have a console or two hooked to as well as your gaming rig – so the more video ports, the better. Sadly, even if it did have the ports, the X38 doesn’t support simultaneous video input in PIP or PBP modes; yet another common feature that is such a waste of the expansive real estate on offer.
However, the X38 does have plenty of USB 3.0 ports; two on the back and two on the left edge for quick access. This makes the X38 an excellent USB hub for your devices. A KVM switch that allows you to use a single keyboard and mouse for multiple devices would have been really great. I spent far too much time switching cables between my work laptop and PC. Not a deal breaker but still not ideal for multi-device setups.
One thing I can’t really fault is that big, beautiful screen. Technically 37.5-inches, the X38 uses an IPS panel with a gentle 2300R curve that’s just deep enough to wrap your field of view without looking insane like the Samsung Odyssey G9. Being IPS means excellent color accuracy – 98% coverage of DCI-P3 color space with a Delta E<2. As a Design consultant by trade and a reviewer of several monitors, I can assure you this panel is a joy to use for creative work as well as consuming content.
It also gets plenty bright, 450 cd/m² which is enough to earn it a VESA Display HDR400 certification. I’ve not been overly impressed by HDR400 in the past especially when a monitor doesn’t have local dimming. It’s simply not bright enough to make a substantial difference. That said, the X38 pulls this off better than most.
Highlights are captured very well but as usual with HDR400, there isn’t enough definition in darker areas of the picture leading to black crush. Also as an LED lit panel, contrast isn’t nearly as good as an OLED and so the colors don’t quite pop. Still, the overall HDR picture is noticeable over SDR in most cases.
The monitor offers plenty of controls to tune the color profiles via the OSD, something professionals will appreciate but the built-in presets will work fine for most people. The OSD is accessible via standard joystick controls on the right, backside of the monitor. It’s a bit of a reach to get to them given how wide the X38 is and it would be easier if they were in the middle of the lower bezel. It’s also strange that Acer doesn’t provide an OSD Sidekick Windows app like MSI or Gigabyte monitors have.
There are plenty of game related profiles and features like Dark boost, Aim reticules and refresh overclocking that send the X38 upto 175 Hz from its native 145 Hz. But because of that crazy, near 4K resolution, you need one hell of a rig to run any games above 144Hz anyways. Thankfully, the X38 has a full-on NVIDIA G-Sync chip to keep your games running smoothly at all times and I never even once noticed a screen tear.
And as I said in my Alienware 38-inch review, once you’ve gamed in 21:9, ultrawide with HDR, you’ll be ruined forever. The immersion that a monitor this wide gives especially in FPS or Racing games is a whole other level of awesome. I couldn’t get enough of Destiny 2 the entire time I had the X38. Then the Ascent’s cyberpunk world sucked me in as I was able to see so much. I should warn you that consoles don’t support this ultrawide resolution so gaming on those will be a nasty pillarbox experience that will drive you bonkers after you’ve tasted PC gaming.
Now while the X38 is very much a gaming monitor, it’s also fantastic for more traditional productivity and creativity work. The sheer real estate makes it easy to stack four A4 sized windows side by side which makes multitasking a breeze. It’s also particularly suited for creative professionals who need wide canvases for design, photo or video editing. The color accuracy only sweetens the deal.
Just one small thing to note, the X38 is a massive monitor and depending on how near you sit to the monitor, you will get some mild neck strain from constantly traversing it’s girth. I certainly did on a couple of days while using the monitor from about two feet in front of me. Desk size is therefore something to consider as the stand will easily occupy about a foot of depth.
However, Acer throws in some nice creature comforts to keep you healthy while you stare at this beautiful screen for hours on end. A TUV Blue light filter keeps your eyes safe from strain while an Ambient Light Sensor automatically adjusts the screen brightness based on the lighting in your room. These all work beautifully and I never felt fatigue during my time with the monitor.
So is the Acer Predator X38 a unicorn? Almost. I loved sitting down to work and play on this beast every day but I kept running into those small irritations that add up when you use multiple devices like I do. Constantly swapping cables due to the limited video inputs got tiresome but this won’t be an issue for single device setups(though I counter that would be a huge waste of this monitor).
There’s no denying that $3000 is a hell of a lot of money and those missing features could easily become a vexation. The Alienware offers some of those features and HDR600 with local dimming for $500 less than the X38. The new model adds HDR600 but maintains the same connections and design. Nevertheless, the Predator X38 is objectively one of the best monitors big bucks can buy and earns my number two spot.
Acer Australia loaned PowerUp! the Acer Predator X38 for the purpose of this review.