Acer Predator XB323QK Monitor Review

The new Acer Predator XB323QK 31.5-inch UHD Gaming monitor is a sign that next gen gaming has finally come home to roost on the desktop. When Microsoft and Sony launched their new consoles a year ago, everybody was excited at the prospect of playing games from a console in 4K at 120fps via the new HDMI 2.1 spec. TV manufacturers like LG with its fantastic C1 OLED‘s were quick to jump on board with this but gaming monitor makers have been really slow to catch-up.

Barring the recent news that HDMI 2.1 isn’t exactly a standard meaning buyers beware, a lot of manufacturers are starting to ship gaming monitors with at least one HDMI 2.1 port. Acer is giving you two on the XB323QK as well as USB Type-C and DisplayPort 1.4 video inputs. And, you get a beautiful Agile Splendor IPS panel with an impressive 144Hz refresh. I spent the past month using this beautiful monitor for my daily grind and a fair bit of gaming across PC, Laptop and Console.

Acer Predator XB323QK 4K Gaming Monitor

The A$1,699.00 Predator XB323QK is squarely aimed at owners of next gen consoles who might also have a gaming PC and maybe live stream. As such, it’s a standard 31.5-inch size with a 4K UHD resolution of 3840 x 2160 in 16:9 ratio that the consoles operate on. The monitor refreshes at 144Hz with support for Adaptive Sync and is G-Sync compatible. Overall, the XB323QK isn’t a desk hog thanks to its minimal and almost bezel-less design that saves a precious few inches all around.

Around the back is a large LED strip that looks likes Acer stuck a Philips Hue light strip on the monitor. It’s stunningly bright and in my opinion, the best backlighting implementation on a monitor — primarily because of how powerful it is to illuminate surfaces behind the monitor. The strip is monotone meaning it can only display one color at a time but you can change the colors via the OSD menu. I can’t overstate how bright it gets and I wish every gaming monitor with RGB copied something like this.

The stand is the typical gorgeous Predator affair with solid metal fork legs, a carry handle and a slot for cable management. It’s extremely sturdy and there’s no wobble on the monitor at all. It offers height adjustment, some tilt to access those ports and swivel. No rotation so you can’t use this in landscape mode. However, the XB323QK can be VESA mounted so with the right monitor arm, you can still do that.

Agile splendor indeed

The panel is an Agile Splendor IPS panel which is extremely fast with a response time as low as 5ms when in overdrive. It also covers 90% of the DCI-P3 wide color gamut which makes it great for professional creative work as well as gorgeous looking games and movies. On top of that, the panel is a VESA Display HDR400 which is enough to make a difference though not particularly stunning. I will say that when playing games on my Xbox One X, I much preferred the HDR mode than SDR. The contrast in Assassins Creed Valhalla was much better making colors of old England more vibrant and punchy.

On PC, HDR was more hit and miss but that’s still down to Windows and games implementation. I can’t say I noticed enough of a difference between SDR and HDR gaming while playing games and much less when watching videos. I wouldn’t even bother with HDR for streaming Disney+ or Netflix though.

In terms of response and smoothness, the XB323QK delivered on every front. While I didn’t have a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X on hand to test, I was blessed to have a review unit of an obscenely powered Alienware for review to help test this. An AMD Ryzen 9 5900X, GeForce RTX 3080 and fast SSD is clearly more than a match for those puny consoles. The XB323QK also comes bundled with an 8K High Speed HDMI cable which you will need to get the requisite bandwidth necessary for 4K120.

Once plugged into one of the two HDMI 2.1 ports. the Alienware had no problems running modern games at 4K 60fps but getting anywhere near 120fps at highest settings, let alone 144fps is still a stretch even for one of NVIDIA’s best. Forza Horizon 5 and Doom Eternal were the only non-esports titles that I could wrangle to get above 100fps in glorious 4K, HDR with RTX-On. Sure, you can turn down a bunch of settings and hit those numbers but where’s the fun in that, eh? Regardless, the XB323QK kept up with ease and nary a trace of stutter or tearing.

Port ahoy!

Now, while you might not use them ever, the XB323QK does come with built-in speakers. At 4w each, the stereo speakers are loud enough but have the expectedly tinny sound signature lacking in Bass and Mids. There’s a headphone jack to plug your headsets in and you’ll be better off with those. Alternatively, you can plug the dongle of your wireless headset into one of the 4 USB ports — two of which are easily accessible on the left edge of the monitor.

With all the ports, the XB323QK is an excellent hub for all your devices. I had my work MacBook Pro 16, Alienware PC and Xbox Console all connected and switching was a breeze thanks to the context sensitive OSD buttons located on the lower right bezel of the monitor. The XB323QK has a KVM switch effectively allowing you to use the same set of peripherals like mouse and keyboard on different devices which is really cooler than you might think.

Speaking of the OSD, Acers on-screen display menu is really easy to understand and use. There’s a host of special features including game modes, game assistants like crosshairs, black equalizers, framerate monitor and more. You can also adjust the monitors ambient light sensor or Blue light Filtering modes. Navigating the menu is done via contextual buttons located on the bottom right bezel of the monitor – a great place to put them unless you are a lefties. In which case, it’s still better than hiding them on the back right of the panel.

Now I have to say, I didn’t like navigating the menu. Even though there is a slight gap and difference in shape between the power button and the four menu buttons, I can’t tell you what a pain it was switching off the monitor almost every time I initially reached for the menu. Furthermore, whenever you press any button, contextual menus appear just above the bezel to alert you to what each button will do. But they don’t seem to align quite right resulting in so many wrong button presses. I wish Acer had just used the standard joystick nub we are all know and love.

Verdict

The Acer Predator XB323QK is a great monitor. Gamers, content creators and professionals will love the Agile Splendor IPS panel for work and play. The excellent range of video inputs and USB ports make it perfect for multiple computer setups. At A$1,699.00, it’s far from cheap and hovers dangerously in that “should I just buy an LG C1 48″ TV instead‘ territory. But as much as I love the C1, which is undoubtedly better than the XB323QK in almost everyway, the 48-inch size is way to big and inflexible for most desks. Also, you have to worry about OLED longevity. So, if you have the dosh to spend and you have a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X, you can’t go wrong with Predator XB323QK.


Acer Australia kindly loaned us the Predator XB323QK for the purpose of this review!

Acer Predator XB323QK 31.5' UHD Gaming Monitor
LIKES
Gorgeous Agile Splendor IPS Panel
Two HDMI 2.1 ports
Plenty of video inputs & USB ports
DISLIKE
Really expensive
Irritating menu buttons
9
A quality HDMI 2.1 monitor
Kizito Katawonga
Kizito Katawongahttp://www.medium.com/@katawonga
Kizzy is our Tech Editor. He's a total nerd with design sensibilities who's always on the hunt for the latest, greatest and sexiest tech that enhances our work and play. When he's not testing the latest gadgets or trying to listen to his three whirlwind daughters, Kizzy likes to sink deep into a good story-driven single player game.

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