Acer Predator Z35p review: A 21:9 monitor with a one-hit KO price

Acer Predator Z35p

Of all the ultra-wide 21:9 displays I’ve looked at so far in my quest to find the best monitor for Final Fantasy XII, the Acer Predator Z35p is by far the most expensive. At £800 / $990 at time of writing, it’s around £150 / $300 more expensive than the Philips 349X7JEW and £50 / $200 more than the AOC Agon AG352UCG.

Sure, it has a 35in curved 3440×1440 VA display with a 100Hz refresh rate, an adjustable stand and Nvidia G-Sync support, but can it really justify such a hike? Let’s find out.

On size alone, it certainly feels like you’re getting your money’s worth. Measuring 579mm high, 844mm wide and a desk-hogging 309mm deep, the Predator Z35p has a significantly bigger footprint than either the Philips 349X7JEW or the AOC AG352UCG. As such, you’ll need quite a sizable desk in order to accommodate it, and as you can see from the picture below, I only had just about enough room for my keyboard in front of the Z35p. Anything bigger, like trying to squeeze a laptop in front of it to use as a second screen, is out of the question – unless you happen to have a desk the size of a small planet, of course.

Acer Predator Z35p side on

The stand does afford quite a lot of flexibility, though, including a generous 130mm of height adjustment, 20 degrees of side-to-side swivel and between 4-35 degrees of tilt, so it’s pretty easy to get it set up to your liking. There’s also a small cable tidy for threading your wires through to help keep things nice and neat.

For all its extra bulk, though, I was disappointed to find there were still just two display inputs: DisplayPort and HDMI. To make matters worse, the HDMI port only supports the 1.4 standard rather than the 4K-friendly 2.0 standard, giving it exactly the same problem as AOC’s AG352UCG.

As I explained in my AOC Agon AG352UCG review, the limited bandwidth of HDMI 1.4 means the Predator Z35p’s refresh rate can only reach 50Hz at its full resolution of 3440×1440. This in turn restricts the number of frames you’ll be able to see in games. You might have two Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 cards inside your PC, for example, but you’ll see only be able to see a maximum of 50fps if you use the HDMI port.

Acer Predator Z35p ports

Switch over to DisplayPort, however, and you’ll not only be able to use the monitor’s Nvidia G-Sync support to help make games appear smoother and less stuttery, but you’ll also be able to take advantage of its full 100Hz refresh rate. This is activated by simply enabling it in Windows’ advanced display settings – much like you’d do with both the Philips and AOC.

Acer, however, have taken this one step further, as you also have the option to overclock the monitor’s refresh rate all the way up to 120Hz using its onboard menu system. This is something the Philips and AOC can’t do, which starts to explain why the Predator Z35p costs so much more. Of course, you’ll need a fairly hefty graphics card in order to run games at 120fps at 3440×1440, but is it really worth paying such a premium for an extra 20 frames? Personally, I’d say no, but you may think otherwise.

The Predator Z35p also gives you a bucket more display options than its rivals, but even these feel superfluous when its ultra-wide VA panel produces such an excellent picture straight out of the box. There are eight profiles in total, three of which are special ‘gamer’ modes that can be adjusted and customised to your liking, but I left the Z35p on the default User mode throughout my testing as this proved to be the most accurate starting base.

Acer Predator Z35p USB ports

Here, even the fixed Warm colour temperature profile covered 99.0% of the sRGB colour gamut profile when I tested it with my i1 DisplayPro calibrator, and I was only able to increase it by 0.2% when I switched to the User colour temperature profile to rein in its slight green bias. I mean, it’s very generous of Acer to include both RGB and CMY options, not to mention gamma, adaptive contrast and dark boost settings, but when you’ve got a near pitch perfect picture anyway, it’s also completely unnecessary.

The Z35p is also a lot brighter than the Philips and AOC, topping out at around 326cd/m2, but you won’t need anything near this for everyday use. Still, at least it provides a bit more leeway than its rivals, and you also get a blue light filter option to help ease potential eye strain. However, this switches the monitor into a specific blue light colour temperature profile, so any adjustments you make on other colour temperature profiles won’t carry over.

Its black level was roughly the same as the Philips and AOC at 0.13cd/m2 (the closer to 0.00cd/m2, the better), but its contrast ratio of 2005:1 puts it ahead of both, helping it produce more fine detail in darker shadow areas than its rivals. The aforementioned dark boost settings will help brighten areas further, too, which may be handy on a sunny day if you’re playing something particularly gloomy, but on the whole I found this often wiped out a lot of detail rather than enhance it, so it’s probably best left turned off in favour of shutting your curtains.

Acer Predator Z35p face on

Still, at least the Z35p’s menu is reasonably easy to use should you need to change any settings, which is more than can be said for the AOC. Not only is it sensibly laid out, but all of its button prompts are clearly labelled, too, requiring little to no head gymnastics as you navigate in and out of its tabs.

Another improvement the Z35p has over the AOC is the presence of four USB3 ports as opposed to just two, bringing it in line with the Philips. One of them can charge your phone and other devices, too, once you’ve enabled USB charging in the onboard menu, and they’re also a heck of a lot easier to access as well, located simply on the back panel rather than underneath in some tiny plastic cavity you can only reach with some blind fumbling.

Ultimately, though, I’m not sure all this is worth the extra cash. There’s no denying the Acer Predator Z35p is a lovely monitor, but when the Philips 349X7JEW costs so much less, takes up less room and comes with just as good a screen, it seems silly to say, ‘Actually, I’d like to ignore this cheaper monitor and pay massively over the odds for this one instead.’ Yes, the Philips only has AMD FreeSync support rather than G-Sync, but right now it’s still the best way to get a great 21:9 display for the least amount of money.

However, if you’re adamant about having Nvidia’s adaptive frame rate tech to help shore up your graphics card, then I’d probably still opt for the cheaper AOC Agon AG32UCG, despite the fact it only has two USB ports. The Acer Predator Z35p does a lot of things right, but it’s just not worth it at current prices. Will Dell’s Alienware AW3418DW fare any better? I’ll be finding out very soon.

15 Comments

  1. Riaktion says:

    I’m after a 1440p 32 inch monitor but struggling to find a recommendation, any thoughts would be appreciated. The Asus strix 32 inch looks good but not sure about the curved screen…. Any thoughts welcome!

    • Voldenuit says:

      Looking for ultrawide or regular 16:9? If the former, go to r/ultrawidemasterrace, if the latter, there’s no shortage of options.

      • Riaktion says:

        I’m after a 16:9, just for compatibilty with games (and desk space), however finding one with the same features I currently have… I’m struggling. A 32 / 34 inch IPS 1440p screen with 144hz refresh rate is what I would like, with G-sync as a cheeky bonus. Any suggestions? Maybe I’m looking in the wrong place!

        • Voldenuit says:

          I don’t believe anyone makes a 32/34″ 1440p G-Sync capable panel. The 32″ ones I’ve seen have been 60 Hz 4K models.

          Moving down in size, the acer XB271HU and ASUS PG279Q are both 144 Hz IPS 1440p 16:9 G-Sync. The acer can be found for around $550 and the asus is usually much more expensive.

          If you want to move down a bit in quality, the Dell S2716DG is 144 Hz 1440p TN, but the TN panel is 8-bit. I have the similar ASUS PG278Q as a secondary monitor, and it’s acceptable though not as nice as a true IPS panel for RAW or video editing. It can be found for under $400 if you look around or wait for a sale.

          • Riaktion says:

            Thanks for your suggestions, I actually own an ASUS PG279Q currently and can vouch for their loveliness too, and it is it that panel I am looking to upgrade, which seems to be no east feat! In a nutshell if I could have a 32 inch version of the PG279Q, that would be the ideal 😊. However as that doesn’t exist, I’m trying to find an alternative that ticks the same boxes.

        • StylusEcho says:

          Take a look at the LG 32GK850G. It ticks all the boxes for you. 32″, IPS, 1440P, 144Hz out of the box (overclockable to 165Hz), G-Sync, no curve. :)

          • Riaktion says:

            Thanks for the your suggestion, that is exactly what I’m after! On checking though, I can only see a VA version and not an IPS one, are we looking at different models do you think? Any thoughts?

          • StylusEcho says:

            Hey, you’re right, sorry. I had it mixed up with another LG. It’s VA only.

          • Riaktion says:

            No worries! The LG panel you suggested ticks all the other boxes so I’ll still read up on it and see what people say. Thanks for the heads up on it!

    • Riaktion says:

      Well I’ve done a lot of research and as far as I can tell the type of monitor I want just doesn’t exist. A 16:9 1440p 32inch IPS G-SYNC 144hz panel just isn’t out there. The closest I could find was the ASUS ROG SWIFT Curved PG348Q, which is an Ultra wide beast.. something I’m not 100% sold on due to potential compatibility issues with all games at a 21:9 ratio. Ah well… I guess I just keep an eye out.

  2. wackazoa says:

    Question on monitor overclocking. Is is a simulated Hz or is it actual ‘real’ Hz. Cause Im wondering if the monitor is capable of running faster, why not just clock it that speed base?

    Or is it like CPU and the heat produced make it less durable?

    • Zanchito says:

      In this case, panels can do more than the standard 60Hz, but it’s a lottery. What Acer does is pre-select those panels that are tested to provide 100Hz.

    • Voldenuit says:

      They’re real Hz, take real input, and display real frames.

      I have my AW3418DW running at 120 Hz with no issues, and coming off a 144 Hz PG278Q, my personal experience is that I can’t tell the difference between 144 Hz and 120 Hz, but I can definitely tell the difference between 120 Hz and 100 Hz.

      Is the difference worth enough to shell out more for an AW3418DW or X34p (both 120 Hz) over the old X34 (100 Hz)? I say, “yes”.

  3. kael13 says:

    So if I’m reading that fifth-ish paragraph correctly, you either get the option of using G-Sync, at a hamstrung 50Hz, or forget the expensive Nvidia module to enable 100-120Hz?

    … No wait, no, it said, “you’ll not only be able to-“. Okay good. My comprehension fail. Yes, DisplayPort is absolutely the only choice for computer monitors. Maybe Thunderbolt 3, if you’re willing to pay out the nose on fees. The HDMI is so you can plug in a PlayStation if you wanted to.

    I agree that it would be nice if they had two DP ports for switching. I have to unplug my computer if I want to plug in the laptop for clamshell mode. It’s a right pain in the proverbial, so it is.

  4. geldonyetich says:

    Oh, nice, they put out a revision from the Z35 I have now. The Z35p has better resolution and keeps the VA panel, but has a lower refresh rate. Although I’m not entirely sure the refresh rate was as high as advertised anyway.

    The main thing I’m wondering is if they fixed the black pixel ghosting? For example, if you run Elite: Dangerous on a Z35, you can hardly see the acceleration indicators on either side of the hud because it’s something fast moving that is bright against a black background. Even the orbit lines of planets are nearly invisible if they are moving on your screen.