Acer XF270HUA review: An oldie, but still a great 27in 144Hz monitor

Acer XF270HUA

Acer’s XF270HUA has been around for about a year, but this 27in monitor is still a great buy while stocks last. With a resolution of 2560×1440, a high 144Hz refresh rate for super smooth gaming and superb picture quality, this is one display you won’t mind dropping £500 on.

Even before I began my tests, I could tell this monitor was a bit special. It’s a real looker, for starters, with slim bezels, an understated control panel and a tasteful red ring round the height/tilt/swivel/rotate-adjustable stand with not a single LED in sight. You also get plenty of connectivity options, including DVI-D and DisplayPort, two HDMIs, a four-port USB3 hub and headphone and audio in jacks, making it a lot more flexible than the £400 Asus PG248Q I looked at last week.

Image quality is where the Acer XF270HUA really shines, though, and that good feeling I had when I first turned it on bore out in my calibration tests, as it produced a practically perfect picture with only the most minimal amount of tweaking. This is largely thanks to its IPS panel, which generally produces the most accurate colours out of all the different panel types, but even I’ve rarely seen one this good.

For those interested in the technical nitty-gritty, it covered 99.3% of the sRGB colour gamut when I switched to its User colour profile and knocked down the green bias setting a couple of notches, and its overall brightness level went all the way up to 400cd/m2 – which is more than enough luminance regardless of whether you’re gaming in bright sunlight or sitting huddled over your desk in a darkened room. Throw in a couple of blue light filters, and the XF270HUA should also keep eye-strain to a minimum when you’re hours deep into a cross-continental drive in American Truck Simulator.

Acer XF270HUA ports

Admittedly, I wasn’t so keen on the monitor’s three default gaming modes, as these ramped up the sharpness to make images and desktop icons appear overly pixelated during everyday use. Thankfully, the rest of its colour profiles were much easier on the eye. More importantly, you can save any combination of settings you like to each of those very three gaming modes, letting you customise your viewing experience however you like with minimal fuss and fiddling – handy when the monitor fails to remember your preferred options whenever you switch modes.

I also appreciated that you can manually adjust the monitor’s gamma levels as well. Without getting into too much technical detail on the subject, this essentially controls the balance between light and dark areas of the screen – a higher gamma setting (2.2 or above) will make images and games appear very dark with pitch black shadow areas, while a lower gamma setting (2.2 or below) will help lift the veil on those dingy corners and reveal a greater level of detail.

It’s a similar idea to those in-game brightness bars you get where you’re told to adjust the image until the game’s logo or something is barely visible, only here you can apply it to everything you do on your PC. This will be useful if you’re considering using the monitor for detailed photo or video editing, but it’s also handy if, like me, you’re a bit of a wimp when it comes to playing horror games and want to see every threat coming a mile off without spending ages trying to find that damn in-game brightness slider.

Acer XF270HUA rear

The XF270HUA’s 144Hz refresh rate also worked a treat. Much like the Asus PG240Q, this allows games to run at higher frame rates than your regular 60Hz monitor – in this case, up to 144fps. Frame counters will obviously go higher if you’ve got a beefy enough graphics card and disable the V-Sync option, but the number of frames you actually see is still limited by the number of times a screen is able to refresh its display, so these types of monitor are a great option if you feel like your current graphics card is at the uppermost limit on your favourite games. Watching orcs come hurtling towards us in Middle-earth: Shadow of War was a much tastier treat for the eyes than Peter Jackson’s headache-inducing 48fps take on The Hobbit.

The XF270HUA also has AMD FreeSync support, which helps prevent screen tearing and stabilises the monitor’s refresh rate if the frame rate happens to take an unexpected dip, making games appear smoother and less stuttery. Naturally, those with Nvidia graphics cards won’t get any use out of this, but AMD owners should find it particularly handy when utilising the XF270HUA’s full 2560×1440 resolution on higher graphics settings.

Even if it didn’t have FreeSync, though, I’d be much happier spending £500 on the Acer XF270HUA than I would paying £400 for Asus’ PG248Q. It’s a bigger, better-looking monitor with a higher resolution (personally, I wouldn’t recommend buying a 27in monitor with anything less than a 2560×1440 resolution) and my eyes aren’t bionic enough to tell the difference between the Acer’s 144Hz refresh rate and the Asus’ overclocked 180Hz refresh rate. Deus Ex’s Adam Jensen might, but until I’ve also got shades that can extend out of my eyebrows, I literally can’t see any benefit in having the extra 36Hz. If high-frame rate gaming is what you’re after, then monitors don’t come much better than this one.

16 Comments

  1. BooleanBob says:

    Ah, so FreeSync isn’t compatible with Nvidia cards at all? That’s a shame – I thought they were making it, like, an open standard or something.

    Still… IPS, 144hz and a good, but not overkill screen size. Sounds very tempting. I guess I should ask, what features is it missing? Because I know as a general rule you can’t have everything you want in a monitor.

    • Sakkura says:

      Adaptive-Sync is an open standard, and is what allows a monitor to work with Freesync (which is really just the name of the implementation on AMD’s end). A monitor that advertises Freesync support is really an Adaptive-Sync monitor, and it would work with any graphics vendor who bothered to support it.

      Intel has pledged to support it on their graphics at some point, but Nvidia is instead supporting only their own proprietary G-Sync.

      • BooleanBob says:

        Ah, so your choice of graphics card puts a soft lock on your choice of monitors, and vice versa. That’s a shame.

        • battles_atlas says:

          This is what happens when a company gets a monopoly position for several years. Monitor buying has been an absolute ballache in recent years – if you have a good gfx card you’re either paying an extra >£100 for G-Sync, or left stuck with V-Sync.

          Hopefully AMD’s renaissance will continue and Nvidia will have to wind their neck in and adopt something more open, or at least kill the mark up on G-Sync

  2. MiniMatt says:

    Genuine question: if your graphics card can only pump out, eg, a consistent 40fps on 1440p pretty settings, would a 144hz monitor provide much noticeable benefit over a 60hz model? Or would g-sync/free-sync prove a better match?

    • Sakkura says:

      Freesync/G-Sync would be more use for that.

      But a graphics card that can only do 40FPS in a demanding game would probably still be capable of over 60FPS in less demanding games, so 144Hz would still be of use there.

    • Colthor says:

      Even without Freesync/G-Sync there’s a big improvement in frame latency – at 60Hz you might have to wait 16.7ms to draw a frame, but at 144Hz it’s only 7ms, so stuttering from missed frames will be much less noticable.
      (In my limited experience, the input latency from Freesync is often more noticable than stuttering when running at a fixed 144Hz and just missing frames. YMMV!)

      And the options for evenly-spaced vsynced frames increases from 60, 30, 20, 15 etc. FPS to 144, 72, 48, 36, 28.8, 24 etc. FPS.

      But an irritation (more technical than noticable, admittedly) is when a game presumes 60Hz, runs at some fixed fraction of that, and then doesn’t change the refresh rate to 60Hz to suit. Hyper Light Drifter, cough.

  3. Premium User Badge

    Mungrul says:

    I have this monitor’s predecessor, the XB270HU, and it’s a great screen.

    Before getting it, I had bought the Asus ROG Swift equivalent, but ended up returning it after a couple of days due to the incredibly poor TN panel.
    That had a ridiculously small viewing angle range, to the extent that even minor movements of my head would result in colour shifts on the screen.
    It hurt my eyes to use, and made me realise that the poor dupes recommending it had never seen a good monitor panel in their lives and were just wowed by G-Sync.

  4. Laak says:

    Are there any suggestions for a similar price/performance G-Sync monitor? for NVidia fans?

    • timsmith says:

      There’s the XB271HU, which is basically the above monitor but with G-Sync. I managed to pick one up for £560 from box.co.uk earlier this year. I can highly recommend it. Be careful though, there is a TN version of the G-Sync model called the XB271HUA that I’ve seen mis-labelled as the non-A model. Monitor naming conventions are stupid. Also, unlike the above model, mine has some stupid gamer oriented branding (ugh). Thankfully it’s fairly restrained.

      The exact same AU Optronics panel can be purchased in the AOC AG271QG or the Asus PG279Q. All these models have been around well over a year though so they might be due a refresh soon.

      • foop says:

        I have the XB270HU, which I really like. I don’t think it’s available any more, but has been replaced by the XB271HU which tinsmith likes.

        • fray_bentos says:

          I bought the XB271HUA (TN version) for £400 on Amazon Warehouse and I am very, very happy with it. I tried the IPS version (XB271HU) AND the AOC branded version before that and they both had horrible, horrible orange backlight glow in the corners. To me, that throws the benefits of IPS right out of the window (unless you happen to play games in a room in full daylight). “The exact same AU Optronics panel can be purchased in the AOC AG271QG or the Asus PG279Q” indeed, I’m yet to see a high refresh 1440p 27″ screen that didn’t have orange corners, probably because they are all the same panels.

          • timsmith says:

            Did you also buy the IPS versions from Amazon Warehouse? If so, that’s probably why you got a dud. I tried the same thing, I went through an Asus PG279Q and an AOC AG271QG, from Amazon Warehouse and eBay respectively, before I got the Acer. I correctly suspected both would have backlight bleed issues because they’d already been returned, but thought it was worth a shot if I could get a bargain. The new Acer I bought has no such problem. Yeah it has a bit of IPS glow, but no worse than any other IPS screen I’ve seen, barring the fact that larger screens exacerbate the problem somewhat because your viewing angles at the extremities are greater. But then larger screens also exacerbate the viewing angle colour distortion of TN panels. IPS glow is the trade-off you make to get all the well documented benefits of IPS.

            Sorry, I hope it doesn’t seem like I’m boasting, I just thought your assertion that all of these IPS screens had backlight bleed issues might be a bit misleading for anyone else considering buying one. Even if you weren’t buying returned models, you may have just been unlucky. I got a good one the first time I bought new.

            To be honest, I was seriously considering a TN panel version because I’d seen the Dell S2716DG available for £430. But I’ve had an IPS screen on my laptop for a few years now, and my old TN desktop monitor looked so dull next to it. I know TN has supposedly improved a lot in the 10 years since I bought that screen, but I was pretty set on IPS after getting the laptop.

  5. Max Lift says:

    This. I have the G-Sync enabled

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