4K resolution is let down by a very pedestrian G-Synced 60Hz.
T he Acer XB281HK is very much a gamer’s monitor, but it takes a different path to delivering the experience than the XB271HU which David reviewed above. While the 27in XB271HU offers a relatively standard 2560x1440 resolution but at up to a screaming 165Hz, the ever so slightly larger 28in XB281HK displays in 4k (3840 x 2160), but only tops out at 60Hz. Both feature G-Sync to butter up the frames, but it’s the ultra-rarity of G-Sync at 4K that makes the Acer XB281HK so interesting.
Whether the Acer XB281HK appeals to you depends entirely on the GPU powering it. I tested it at home over the Christmas break where I run an Nvidia 980Ti, and I was able to play Fallout 4, Assetto Corsa and War Thunder at the highest detail, rock solid at the maximum possible 60FPS, plus a smattering of other games, and again, G-Sync delivered silky smooth frames. It is true that G-Sync at 144 or 165HZ will look even smoother, but I personally think that the added detail and crispness of 4K is the better way to go. There were tangible gaming benefits, with distant terrain more detailed, and generally visible. You can see more of the game world too, landscapes showed off a greater expanse, maps had a larger field of view, all up a definite competitive advantage.
On the downside it’s a TN panel, unlike the IPS panel used in the XB271HU. Sat dead-on in front of it the colours and sharpness are acceptable, but move more than a few degrees off-centre and the view becomes an indiscernible yellow mess – thought that matters little as a solo PC gamer. What does actually matter in the real world is the screen’s relatively poor colour vibrancy and brightness, being an unfortunate trait of most TN screens. Live with this for a while and you’ll forget what you’re missing and it’s good enough, but any IPS screen will offer far more vibrant colours than what you will find here.
Further holding it back is its unsuitability as a work screen, as Windows and browser fonts were a little blurry – far worse than they should have been at 4K, and worse than 2560x1600 or even 1440 screens. But for a super high-res. game screen with G-Sync smoothness it’s worth a close look, at least until 4K IPS G/Free-Sync screens come along later this year.