Ever since Nvidia introduced their list of G-Sync Compatible monitors so that cheap AMD FreeSync screens could play nice with Nvidia graphics cards, full-fat G-Sync monitors have had to work a heck of a lot harder to earn their keep. After all, why pay almost double the money to get smooth, tear-free gaming on a proper G-Sync monitor when you can get pretty much the same experience on something like our best gaming monitor champ the AOC C24G1 for less than two hundred quid? Alas, Acer’s Predator XN253Q fails to provide a compelling answer to this particular question. It’s not a bad gaming monitor, per se, but it’s not a great one either. Here’s wot I think.
Much of that comes down to the underwhelming colour accuracy of its 25in 1920×1080 TN panel. On its default settings, for example, my X-Rite Display i1 Pro colour calibrator showed it was displaying a reasonable but decidedly average 91.1% of the standard sRGB colour gamut. That’s not bad for a TN panel, which are generally better known for their fast response times than their amazing colour accuracy, but it’s still a fair way behind its 24-25in competition – including AOC’s C24G1 which has 98.8% sRGB colour coverage straight off the bat.
The XN253Q had a pretty decent contrast ratio of 1051:1 out of the box, although this, too, is pretty average for a TN panel as opposed to anything extraordinary. Admittedly, I was a little disappointed by the XN253Q’s high black level of 0.38cd/m2 (the closer to 0.00cd/m2, the better), but that’s partly because it also has a high peak brightness of 400cd/m2 (or 399.25cd/m2, if you want to be ultra precise).
The latter can be handy if your gaming PC happens to live in a particularly bright room, or you sit by a window that catches a lot of sun, but staring at this kind of brightness for too long will give you a bit of a headache. During my testing, for example, I often had to turn the brightness level right down to around the 30% mark in the monitor’s onboard menu settings in order for it to be comfortable over long gaming periods, but thankfully there’s also a built-in blue light filter as well if you want to help protect yourself from eye strain even further.
Naturally, keeping the monitor at a lower overall brightness level will also mean deeper, inkier blacks as a result, so I’m not really too bothered by the results I described earlier. Indeed, for the most part, the XN253Q looked perfectly fine in everyday use. Colours had a decent sense of depth and richness to them, and in-game shadows offered up a good amount of detail in the areas where they transitioned from dark to light.
Usually, though, I’m able to get a bit more out of a monitor when I come to calibrate it, whether that’s improving its colour accuracy or addressing its black levels. The XN253Q, however, just wouldn’t play ball. Even once I’d finished adjusting the colour temperature settings in its onboard menu system, its sRGB coverage refused to go any higher than 91%. Its brightness, black levels and contrast ratio remained equally static as well, which left me feeling pretty underwhelmed as a result.
That’s not great for a £383 / $400 monitor, and I found it particularly annoying that it didn’t remember any of my settings alterations unless I specifically saved them to one of its three gaming profiles, too. The menu itself was fairly easy to navigate thanks to its rear-facing control stick, but the number of times it forgot all my hard work meant it was still quite a frustrating experience overall.
Indeed, for those after a full G-Sync monitor experience, I can’t really see any reason why you’d choose the XN253Q over Acer’s infinitely superior Predator XB241H, which is still my top recommendation for those after a 24in G-Sync display. Sure, it’s getting on a bit now, and its red and black gamer school design isn’t quite as subtle as the XN253Q’s black and grey highlight combo, but when it has a more accurate panel and costs an infinitely more agreeable £300 / $339 at time of writing, the XB241H is hands down the better value monitor.
The only thing the XN253Q really adds to proceedings is a four-port USB3 hub. Otherwise, you’re getting all the same trimmings as the XB241H, including the same 144Hz refresh rate (which the XB241H actually lets you overclock to 180Hz if you really fancy it), the same low input lag over DisplayPort and Ultra Low Motion Blur technology that comes as part of its full-fat G-Sync support, the same Nvidia 3D Vision gubbins, and the same number of inputs.
Then, of course, there’s the AOC C24G1 to consider as well. This 144Hz FreeSync screen may not be one of Nvidia’s chosen and officially sanctioned G-Sync Compatible screens (yet, anyway), but it worked perfectly well with my Nvidia GPU when I had it in for testing the other month, and it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than its Acer competition as well. Plus, its VA panel is the most accurate of the lot, too, which at just £173 / $145 makes it feel like an even better buy in the process.
As a result, I think the C24G1 will likely serve you just as well in the long run if you’re after a small screen with a high refresh rate. But even if you’ve got the cash to spare and are determined to go full G-Sync, I’d urge you to stick with Acer’s XB241H rather than go with the XN253Q. There’s nothing particularly terrible about the XN253Q, but unless you’re absolutely desperate for that USB hub or detest the design of its older sibling, the XB241H is still the 144Hz G-Sync monitor to beat right now.