Acer XB253Q GP

Author: Adam Simmons
Date published: August 31st 2020

 

Introduction

IPS (In Plane Switching) type panels have become increasingly responsive, making them suitable candidates for a solid high refresh rate experience. The Acer XB253Q GP (also referred to as XB253QGP or XB253Q GPbmiiprzx) of the Predator series promises a responsive IPS experience. The monitor offers a 144Hz refresh rate, VESA DisplayHDR 400 capability and support for Adaptive-Sync. Including AMD FreeSync and Nvidia’s ‘G-SYNC Compatible Mode’. This combination marks something of a departure from the dedicated G-SYNC modules that, up until recently, the Predator series was known for. This all looks nice on paper, but we put this monitor to the test to find out how it really performs.

Specifications

The monitor uses a 24.5” 144Hz AHVA IPS-type (In-Plane Switching like) panel from AUO. True 8-bit colour is supported, with a specified 2ms grey to grey response time. Or “up to 0.9ms” according to some marketing material; either way, pay little attention to these highly misleading figures. Some of the key ‘talking points’ for this model have been highlighted in blue below, for your reading convenience.

Screen size: 24.5 inches

Panel: AU Optronics M250HAN01.6 AHVA (Advanced Hyper-Viewing Angle) LCD

Native resolution: 1920 x 1080

Typical maximum brightness: 400 cd/m²

Colour support: 16.7 million (8-bits per subpixel without dithering)*

Response time (G2G): 2ms

Refresh rate: 144Hz (variable, with Adaptive-Sync)

Weight: 5.31kg

Contrast ratio: 1,000:1

Viewing angle: 178º horizontal, 178º vertical

Power consumption: 17.40W

Backlight: WLED (White Light Emitting Diode)

Typical RRP as reviewed: $280 USD


*The monitor is set up to allow GPU dithering to be enforced under SDR or HDR. So 10-bit (12-bit via HDMI 2.0) can be selected in the graphics driver for working with or displaying higher bit depth content.

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Acer XB253Q GP


Features and aesthetics

The monitor has the clear Predator visual signature, with a sharp-lined ‘gamery’ appearance. The screen has solid footing thanks to the powder-coated metal tripod style stand base. The legs of this have a dark silver finish, for a bit of contrast with the surrounding black and dark grey elements. There’s also a touch of red in the centre of the stand base. The bottom bezel is dark grey plastic with a very fine ‘grid’ texture and shiny silver Predator logo in the centre. This bezel is moderately thick, ~19mm (0.75 inches). The top and side bezels have a dual-stage design, or what Acer likes to call a ‘Zero Frame’ design. This includes a slim panel border that’s flush with the rest of the screen, plus a slender hard plastic outer component. Including both components, the bezel is ~5.5mm (0.22 inches) at the top and ~6mm (0.24 inches) at the sides. The main feature from the front is of course the screen itself, with a ‘regular’ (medium) matte anti-glare finish as explored shortly.

Predator touches

Switched on

In-game (Shadow of the Tomb Raider)

The OSD (On Screen Display) is controlled by pressable buttons and a joystick running down the right side of the monitor (as viewed from the front), at the rear. There’s a small rectangular power LED towards the bottom right as well, which glows blue when the monitor is on and amber when it’s in a low power state (signal to the system is lost). The video below runs through the OSD as well as Acer’s accompanying Display Widget software.



From the side the monitor is quite slim at thinnest point – ~20mm (0.79 inches), lumping out centrally. At the left side there are 2 USB 3.0 ports, with the top one supporting fast-charging for connected devices. The stand offers full ergonomic freedom; tilt (5° forwards, 25° backwards), swivel (20° left, 20° right), height adjustment (~120mm or 4.72”) and pivot (90° clockwise or anti-clockwise rotation into portrait). At lowest stand height, the screen clears the desk by ~76mm (2.99 inches) with the top of the screen ~404mm (15.91 inches) above the desk. The top of the stand neck pokes up an additional ~10mm (0.39 inches) at this low stand height, too. The total depth of the monitor including stand is ~240mm (9.45 inches) with the screen a few cm back from the front edge of the stand base. So it’s more compact than some models and not a huge desk depth hog, but deeper than others.

Side view

The rear of the screen is largely matte black plastic, with some brushed-textured elements towards the top and a satin silver rim towards the top of the stand base. There’s also a flip-down headphone hook near the top of the stand neck. The stand attaches using a quick-release mechanism, removed by pushing up a switch beneath the attachment point. This reveals 100 x 100mm VESA holes for alternative mounting. The remaining ports of the monitor, aside from the 2 USB 3.0 ports at the side, face downwards and include; AC power input (internal power converter), 2 HDMI 2.0 ports, DP 1.4, USB upstream, a 3.5mm headphone jack and 2 USB 3.0 ports (4 total). 2 x 2W speakers are also included, offering basic and fairly low-quality sound output without strong bass or volume.

The rear view

Flip-down headphone hook

AC power

The ports

1920 x 1080 @144Hz and HDR can be leveraged via DP 1.4 and HDMI 2.0. Adaptive-Sync including AMD FreeSync and Nvidia’s ‘G-SYNC Compatible Mode’ is only supported via DisplayPort. Standard accessories include; a power cable, DP cable, HDMI cable and USB 3.0 cable. This can vary by region. The first 2 images below show the refresh rates available for the native Full HD resolution. Note that if the monitor is running at a refresh rate from the first list, including 60Hz, steps must be taken to correct the colour signal on Nvidia GPUs. The driver setting change covered in the article – setting ‘Output dynamic range’ to ‘Full’ is the simplest method. Also be aware that 23Hz and 24Hz is only selectable via HDMI. The second list is identical on both HDMI and DP. If using HDMI, various downsampling settings are included, such as ‘4 x 2k, 3840 x 2160’ which is shown in the final image. This downsamples the ‘4K’ UHD resolution, useful for example if you’ve connected a ‘4K’ capable games console and want to run that with a ‘4K’ signal.

Refresh rate list 1

Refresh rate list 2 (identical for HDMI)

'4K' downsampling via HDMI

Note that 120Hz is listed as a ‘PC’ resolution, rather than in the ‘Ultra HD, HD, SD’ list. Resolutions and refresh rates from the ‘Ultra HD, HD, SD’ list are referenced internally by monitors (in their EDID) as ‘TV’ resolutions. Our research suggests the Sony PS5 isn’t always able to ‘read’ refresh rates that aren’t stored as a ‘TV’ resolution. So you might be restricted to 60Hz on this monitor when using the PS5. A workaround would be to buy an HDMI EDID Emulator (Amazon link) which converts the signal into a format readable by the console. If you’re intending to use the monitor with the Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S, be aware that a small settings tweak needs to be made on the Xbox to ensure 120Hz is selectable. Details can be found in this post.

Calibration

Subpixel layout and screen surface

The image below is a macro photograph taken on Notepad with ClearType disabled. The letters ‘PCM’ are typed out to help highlight any potential text rendering issues related to unusual subpixel structure, whilst the white space more clearly shows the actual subpixel layout alongside a rough indication of screen surface. This model uses a ‘regular’ (medium) matte anti-glare surface. This diffuses light significantly and therefore provides effective anti-glare properties. Light emitted from the monitor is also diffused moderately, affecting the clarity and vibrancy potential. The surface texture imparts a bit of a grainy look to lighter content. Not we’d describe as a ‘smeary’ graininess and it doesn’t give a strong ‘sandy’ appearance. It’s lighter than some matte screen surfaces, but a touch grainier than the screen surface used on the competing AOC 24G2(U). It’s quite comparable to the screen surface used on many competing Full HD 144Hz TN models.

Subpixel layout

As shown in the image above, the monitor uses the usual RGB (Red, Green and Blue) stripe subpixel layout. This is the default expected by modern operating systems such as Microsoft Windows and Apple’s MacOS. As a Windows user you don’t need to run through the ClearType wizard, although you may still wish to adjust this according to your preferences. As a Mac user there’s no need to worry about text fringing from non-standard subpixel layouts. The subpixel layout and arrangement is normal and we had no subpixel-related concerns related to sharpness or text clarity on this model.

Testing the presets

This monitor includes a range of presets which Acer simply refers to in the OSD as ‘Modes’; ‘Action (G1)’, ‘Racing (G2), ‘Sports (G3), ‘User’, ‘Standard’, ‘ECO’, ‘Graphics’ and ‘HDR’. With the exception of the last one, these presets simply change various settings in the OSD. With an SDR signal detected, the ‘HDR’ mode is similar to ‘Standard’ with many settings locked off. And applies a high brightness level plus the ‘Super Sharpness’ filter by default. If you make manual adjustments to most settings in the other modes (including but not limited to brightness, contrast or the colour channels) the monitor automatically switches to the fully customisable ‘User’ setting. The first 3 presets in the list (G1, G2 and G3 for short) are fully customisable, like the ‘User’ setting. These numbered presets allow you to easily save and recall 3 sets of preferred settings. The exception here is that adjustments made to colour channels (‘Color Temp.’ set to ‘User’) are applied universally, so you can’t have different custom colour channel adjustments and easily recall them. We touch upon these ‘Modes’ in the OSD video, but for this table we’ll be focusing on a range of manual adjustments instead. The table provides gamma and white point readings taken using a Datacolor SpyderX Elite colorimeter, alongside general observations.

Our test system uses Windows 10 with an Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti connected via DisplayPort. No additional monitor drivers or ICC profiles were specifically loaded and the monitor was left to run for over 2 hours before readings were taken or observations made. Aside from our ‘Test Settings’ where various adjustments are made, assume factory defaults are used. Exceptions include that the monitor was set to 144Hz in Windows for this table, although that did not significantly affect our observations here. When viewing the figures in this table, note that for most PC users ‘6500K’ for white point and ‘2.2’ for gamma are good targets to aim for. Individual targets depend on individual uses, tastes and the lighting environment, however.

Preset Mode Gamma (central average) White point (kelvins) Notes
Gamma = 1.8 1.8 6867K A slightly cool tint to the image, a clear lack of depth to many shades due to low gamma. Strong consistency due to IPS-type panel, without the perceived gamma and saturation shifts associated with TN or VA panels.
Gamma = 2.0 2.0 6872K As above, slightly more depth.
Gamma = 2.2 (Factory Defaults) 2.2 6873K A rich and varied look to the image. Again quite cool, but appropriate depth.
Gamma = 2.4 2.4 6873K As above, extra depth. Some shades appear a bit deeper than intended.
Gamma = 2.6 2.6 6875K As above, even more depth and a more saturated appearance to many shades. Quite a striking and cinematic appearance, but darker shades lack appropriate distinction from one another.
Color Space = sRGB 2.2 6812K An sRGB emulation setting. Restricts colour gamut so it runs even closer to the sRGB reference space. Brightness is adjustable (moderate by default), controls such as colour channels and gamma are locked. Appears a bit more muted than native gamut with slightly lower saturation levels.
Color Space = Rec. 709 2.4 6830K Another emulation setting. As above, including gamut restriction to sRGB, with gamma target raised to ‘2.4’. Slightly more depth because of this. Higher default brightness, again adjustable.
Blue Light = 80% 2.2 6173K A very mild Low Blue Light (LBL) setting. Warmer appearance to image compared to default.
Blue Light = 70% 2.2 5860K Slightly stronger blue light reduction, lower default brightness and slightly warmer look to the image. Slight green cast introduced as green channel is not reduced.
Blue Light = 60% 2.2 5415K A further reduction in blue light output and reduced default brightness. An effective LBL setting with strong reduction in blue colour channel – again, noticeable green tint due to the green channel remaining strong.
Blue Light = 50% 2.2 5026K The strongest LBL setting available, default brightness further reduced but can be manually adjusted with all LBL levels. This is a highly effective LBL setting.
Test Settings (see below) 2.2 6468K The image is rich and natural with good balance and variety.

Out of the box the monitor provided an image that was quite well-balanced, aside from the usual high brightness and a bit of a cool tint. Gamma adhered closely to the desired value, with good gamma setting flexibility in the OSD and appropriate average gamma in all cases. The graph below shows the gamma tracking for our ‘Test Settings’, sitting close to the desired ‘2.2’ curve and very similar to the ‘out of the box’ gamma tracking we observed. Since only minor adjustments were made in the OSD and gamma setting was left alone, this shouldn’t be too surprising.

Gamma 'Test Settings'

Gamma 'Test Settings'

Given the intended uses for monitor, inter-unit variation and strong performance following OSD tweaking alone we will not be using any ICC profiles for this review or including any measurements or graphs using them. We wouldn’t recommend using them unless created for your specific unit using your own calibration device. But we appreciate some users still like to use profiles and some aspects such as gamut mapping for colour-aware applications can be useful. You can download our ICC profile for this model, which was created using our ‘Test Settings’ as a base. Note again that this ICC profile is not used in the review.

The monitor also includes a ‘Blue Light’ Low Blue Light (LBL) setting. This can be set between ‘50%’ (maximum effect) and ‘80%’ (minimum effect) in increments of 10%. The higher levels in particular (50% and 60%) offered effective blue light reduction. Minimising exposure to stimulating blue light in the hours leading towards bed is particularly important to aid a restful night’s sleep. This setting was effective, particularly at the greater effect levels, significantly reducing blue light output from the monitor. As common for LBL settings, the green channel is left alone so that it remains relatively strong. This minimises the impact on static contrast from applying the setting, but it also imparts a green tint. Your eyes adjust to this to some extent over time, although never fully compensate. We used the strongest setting (‘Blue Light = 50%’) with reduced brightness for our own viewing comfort in the evenings, although not for any specific testing beyond that involving this specific setting. We assigned this to the ‘G3 – Sports’ preset so it could be easily activated and deactivated. Just be aware that if you do then then make manual adjustments to ‘Color Temp.’ afterwards, with what becomes the ‘User’ preset, you’d have to set up the ‘G3 – Sports’ preset again. It’s best to make use of the ‘G1’, ‘G2’ and ‘G3’ presets as much as possible and just switch between them as that will avoid you overwriting things without realising.

Test Settings

We lowered brightness and made minor adjustments to colour channels for our ‘Test Settings’. Following these adjustments, the image appeared rich and natural with very good balance. It’s important to remember that individual preferences vary and that different units of the same model may require different adjustments. These settings are just a suggestion and won’t be optimal in all cases. Assume any setting not mentioned, including contrast, was left at default. We’ve also included the refresh rate used in Windows and our preferred ‘Over Drive’ setting used for most of the review, just for reference. These settings only apply to SDR, HDR has separate settings associated with it (is far more restrictive) and is explored in the relevant section of the review.



Mode: Standard (becomes ‘User’ after modified)

Brightness= 36 (according to preferences and lighting)

Color Temp.= User

R Gain= 50

G Gain= 49

B Gain= 49

Over Drive= Normal

Adaptive-Sync= On (will grey out ‘Over Drive’, set that first)

Refresh rate (Windows setting)= 144Hz


Contrast and brightness

Contrast ratios

An X-Rite i1Display Pro was used to measure the luminance of black and white using a range of settings. From these values, static contrast ratios were calculated. The following table shows this data, with blue highlights indicating the results with HDR active and under our ‘Test Settings’. Black highlights indicate the highest white luminance, lowest black luminance and highest contrast ratio recorded (VRB disabled). Assume that any setting not mentioned was left at default, with the exceptions already noted in the calibration section and with brightness set to ‘100’ with VRB enabled.


*HDR measurements were made using this YouTube HDR brightness test video, running full screen at ‘1080p HDR’ on Google Chrome. The maximum reading from the smallest patch size (measurement area) that comfortably covered the entire sensor area and colorimeter housing was used for the white luminance measurement, which was ‘4% of all pixels’ in this case. The black luminance was taken at the same point of the video with the colorimeter offset to the side of the white test patch, equidistant between the test patch and edge of the monitor bezel.

The average contrast ratio with only brightness adjusted was 1268:1, which is quite strong for the panel type and comfortably above the specified 1000:1. Under our ‘Test Settings’ we recorded a respectable 1207:1 contrast ratio, with the slight drop due to the colour channel changes made. The monitor maintained good contrast across all settings tested, including VRB and the ‘sRGB’ and ‘Rec. 709’ emulation modes and ‘Blue Light’ Low Blue Light (LBL) settings. The highest luminance recorded on the table was 395 cd/m², whilst the minimum white luminance recorded (VRB disabled) was 71 cd/m². This minimum is slightly higher than some sensitive users might like, although most would consider this dim and would use a higher brightness setting. This yielded a luminance adjustment range of 324 cd/m².

The monitor offers no local dimming and therefore provides no contrast advantage under HDR. There are two HDR modes, ‘HDR-400’ and ‘Auto’ – but both seemed to be identical. The brightness regulation under HDR is unusual on this model. If you select the ‘HDR’ mode of the monitor without an HDR signal detected, so it acts as a sort of ‘HDR emulation’ mode, you can access the brightness slider and adjust according to preferences. Once an HDR signal is detected the brightness slider is greyed out and displays ‘100’ – but it will still respect whatever brightness setting you’d set on that mode before the HDR signal was active. Even without local dimming and as part of the VESA DisplayHDR 400 level, it’s usual for a monitor to use Dynamic Contrast enhanced with HDR meta data for backlight regulation. This model did not employ this and just used a static brightness set as described above. The maximum luminance measured was 381 cd/m², slightly shy of the 400 cd/m² VESA DisplayHDR 400 target and similar to the maximum brightness of our unit under SDR.

This monitor provides a Dynamic Contrast option called ACM (Adaptive Contrast Management), which can be activated under SDR only. This setting ignores the brightness level you’ve set and adjusts the whole backlight (as an individual unit – global dimming) according to the overall levels of light and dark on screen. It offered fairly gentle adjustment and tended towards a higher brightness level than we’d like, even for predominantly dark content. We prefer keeping this setting disabled as it’s brighter and less predictable than we’d like, but some users may see some utility in it. Either way, we feel it’s odd omitting this sort of setting under HDR. Especially where the precision can be enhanced with HDR metadata. It’s no substitute for effective local dimming, but without even an enhanced Dynamic Contrast setting there was nothing remotely ‘HDR-like’ about the brightness experience.

PWM (Pulse Width Modulation)

The XB253QGP does not use PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) to regulate backlight brightness at any level. Instead, DC (Direct Current) is used to moderate brightness. The backlight is therefore considered ‘flicker-free’, which will come as welcome news to those sensitive to flickering or worried about side-effects from PWM usage. The exception to this is with VRB active, a strobe backlight setting which causes the backlight to flicker at a frequency matching the refresh rate of the display.

Luminance uniformity

Whilst observing a black screen in a dark room, using our ‘Test Settings’, we noticed minor backlight bleed and slight clouding. This is shown in the image below, but it’s important to note that individual units vary when it comes to uniformity issues such as this. The image was taken far enough back to eliminate ‘IPS glow’. This is most noticeable towards the bottom corners of the screen, from a normal viewing position. It appears as a cool-tinted silver haze towards the bottom left and a warm grey towards the bottom right, which we found more subdued in comparison to the left. It blooms out more noticeably from sharper viewing angles with a tone that varies alongside viewing angle – this is shown in the viewing angles video later.

Monitor displaying black in a dark room

The SpyderX Elite was used to assess the uniformity of lighter shades, represented by 9 equidistant white quadrants. The luminance of each quadrant was measured and compared to the brightest measured quadrant. The table below shows these values as well as the percentage deviation between each quadrant and the brightest point measured.

Luminance uniformity table

Luminance uniformity table

The luminance uniformity was good. The brightest point recorded was ‘quadrant 5’ in the centre of the screen (168.3 cd/m²). The greatest deviation from this occurred at ‘quadrant 2’, towards the top right of the screen (153.7 cd/m², which is 9% dimmer). The average deviation between each quadrant and the brightest point was 5.86%, which is pleasing. It’s important to bear in mind that uniformity varies between individual units and you can also expect variation beyond the points measured. The contour map below shows these deviations graphically, with darker greys representing lower luminance and hence greater deviation from the brightest recorded point than lighter greys. Percentage deviations between each quadrant and the brightest point are also given.

Luminance uniformity map

Luminance uniformity map

The SpyderX Elite was also used to analyse variation in the colour temperature (white point) for the same 9 quadrants. The deviation between each quadrant and the quadrant closest to the 6500K (D65) daylight white point target was analysed and a DeltaE value assigned. A DeltaE >3 represents significant deviation that most users could readily notice by eye.

Luminance uniformity map

Luminance uniformity map

The colour temperature uniformity was good overall. Significant deviation was recorded towards the bottom right (DeltaE 3.7), but no significant deviation was recorded elsewhere with a maximum DeltaE of 1.8 for the remaining quadrants. It’s again important to note that individual unit vary when it comes to uniformity and that deviation beyond the measured points can be expected.

Contrast in games and movies

On Battlefield V the monitor provided a decent contrast experience. Brighter elements stood out reasonably well against darker surroundings, with the screen surface imparting a slightly grainy appearance. Not a strong ‘smeary’ graininess, thankfully, but still something we readily noticed. Darker elements, including those find in dimly lit interiors, were displayed reasonably well. There was certainly a lack of depth and atmosphere compared to models with much stronger static contrast, but quite good for an IPS-type model. We also observed a moderate degree of ‘IPS glow’, most significant towards the bottom corners of the screen from a normal viewing position. This appeared cooler and stood out more clearly towards the left side, with a somewhat subtler warmer ‘glow’ towards the right side of the screen. This lightened up shades and affected the atmosphere, but the overall level of ‘IPS glow’ was quite typical. On the plus side, the gamma consistency was excellent. Respectable but not excessive detail levels were maintained throughout the screen, certainly better than on VA and moreover TN models. Gamma inconsistencies on VA panels include black crush that hides detail centrally (high perceived gamma), with peripheral regions sometimes showing details too readily (low perceived gamma). On TN models there is a clear gradient of detail and perceived gamma from top (heavily masked, gamma very high) to bottom (too much detail, gamma very low).

We made similar observations on Shadow of the Tomb Raider. This title is full of dark regions such as caves illuminated by a few point sources of light, such as flames or light coming in from small openings. The depth and atmosphere was certainly not as impressive as on models with much stronger static contrast, particularly some VA models. And just a touch less impressive than on the AOC 24G2(U) with its slightly stronger static contrast IPS-type panel. Not a dramatic difference, though. ‘IPS glow’ is present in both cases and eats away at this atmosphere, particularly lower down the screen towards the corners. The strong gamma consistency was again evident, with overall detail levels maintained well throughout the screen without the sort of potentially jarring shifts you see on VA and moreover TN models. Brighter elements appeared somewhat grainy, more so than on the AOC 24G2(U) for example, but less so than on models with heavy ‘smeary’ graininess. It’s something we’re sensitive to, but not everyone would find it bothersome.

We also observed the film Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. As with Tomb Raider, this title features plenty of scenes which look their best with a strong contrast performance. Pulses of energy, explosions and lightsabers illuminating dark interior and exterior locations in this case. This model certainly didn’t deliver an excellent ‘cinematic’ look or impressive depth and atmosphere. Especially if viewed in a dimly lit room, where ‘IPS glow’ becomes particularly noticeable and the relatively less than stellar black depth also becomes apparent. But it wasn’t as bad as we’ve seen on some IPS-type models, with weaker static contrast. Bright elements stood out quite well against darker surroundings, with a bit of graininess from the screen surface but nothing extreme. This title again highlighted the strong gamma consistency of the IPS-type panel. More generally, this becomes particularly apparent for heavily compressed streamed content on platforms such as YouTube, Amazon Prime Video and Netflix. Such content includes ‘compression artifacts’ which should be quite well-masked where perceived gamma is appropriate. On this screen, they did appear suitable blended. If perceived gamma is too low, particularly noticeable lower down on TN models, these artifacts are brought out quite strongly and give a ‘blocky’ or ‘banded’ appearance.

Lagom contrast tests

The Lagom tests for contrast allow specific weaknesses in contrast performance to be identified. The following observations were made.

  • The contrast gradients were displayed appropriately, with distinct brightness steps in most cases. The darkest blue block blended into the background just a touch too readily.
  • Performance on the black level test was strong. The first few blocks blended into the background readily, which is expected for a monitor tracking the ‘2.2’ gamma curve correctly. The third block was a touch more blended than it could be, but not massively so. The remaining blocks showed appropriate steps up in brightness. There was no noticeable dithering.
  • Performance on the white saturation test was quite good overall. The second last pattern was slightly fainter than it could be and the final pattern was masked quite strongly by the screen surface and only very faintly visible.
  • The greyscale gradient appeared smooth without obvious banding or dithering.

Colour reproduction

Colour gamut

The colour gamut of the XB253QGP (red triangle) was compared with the sRGB reference colour space (green triangle), as shown in the image below. The monitor offers fairly comprehensive sRGB coverage (99%), with a very small amount of under-coverage. There’s a touch of overextension in the green to red region. Although not shown in the graphic, we measured 81% DCI-P3 and 78% Adobe RGB coverage. The measured gamut gives the monitor the potential to output most shades within the sRGB colour space, with just a touch of extra vibrancy. To maximise colour accuracy within the sRGB colour space, for colour-managed workflows, full calibration and profiling with a colorimeter or similar device is recommended.

Colour gamut 'Test Settings'

Colour gamut 'Test Settings'


The monitor offers a few sRGB emulation settings. The main one is ‘sRGB’, whilst another with identical gamut but different gamma handling and colour setup is ‘Rec. 709’. These are found under ‘Color Space’ in the ‘Color’ section of the OSD. There is just slightly more under-coverage of the sRGB colour space now (98%), whilst the overextension is removed very effectively. Overall, close tracking of the sRGB colour space – and unlike some sRGB emulation modes, brightness can be adjusted. If you’re profiling the monitor and using a colour-managed workflow, we’d recommend simply using the native gamut. And most users will prefer this more generally. It doesn’t stray far from sRGB anyway, you have slightly better sRGB coverage plus better flexibility in the OSD with colour channels and suchlike.

Colour gamut 'sRGB'

Colour gamut 'sRGB'


Colour in games and movies

The monitor outputted shades in a rich and natural way on Battlefield V. As explored above, it offers comprehensive sRGB coverage and just a little extension beyond this, but falls well short of extended colour spaces such as DCI-P3 or Adobe RGB. This meant that shades appeared largely as the developers intend, with sRGB being the target colour space in mind, with just a touch of extra vibrancy and saturation in places but nothing at all pronounced. This contrasts with models like the AOC 24G2(U), which present such content in a more vibrant and saturated way than intended. Some of the lush and pure greens weren’t as deep and vivid as they’d appear on a model with a more generous colour gamut. And roaring flames lacked some of the intense oranges you’d see on such models. But these shades appeared far from washed out, whilst appearing truer to the developers original intentions. The strong consistency of the IPS-type panel was also evident, with colours maintaining appropriate richness throughout the screen. This helped the display of subtly different green and brown shades, with some reasonably lush greens and a broad palette of more muted shades.

A similar rich and natural appearance was observed for shades on Shadow of the Tomb Raider. Environments looked in place, with brown shades appearing appropriately muted rather than overdone with overly strong red hues, as models with more extension in the red region of the gamut would show. The slight extension beyond sRGB for some green shades injected just a little extra richness, but nothing extreme – for example, you didn’t get the yellow hues of yellowish green shades becoming somewhat overpowering as is sometimes observed here with more generous gamuts. Lara’s skin also appeared appropriate, with a slight but not overdone tan to it. The strong consistency of the IPS-type panel was also evident, with this appropriate richness maintained throughout the screen. This contrasts with TN and VA models where perceived gamma shifts mean shades can appeared more saturated in some sections of the screen and less saturated (and at times ‘washed out’) in other sections.

We made further observations using various episodes of the animated TV series Futurama. With large areas of individual shade, this is a very unforgiving test for colour consistency. The monitor did a good job here, with shades maintaining appropriate richness throughout the screen. Any shifts from a normal viewing position were very minor, very different to VA or moreover TN models where significant saturation shifts were observed. Again drawing the comparison with the AOC 24G2(U), with its 23.8” Panda IPS-type panel, the Acer with its 24.5” AUO AHVA (IPS-type) panel offered superior consistency. The AOC was on the weaker end of what we’d expect from an IPS-type panel in terms of colour consistency, with some shades such as dark red and medium blue appearing somewhat deeper and duller towards the edges of the screen. Noticeable to us from a normal viewing position (~70cm from the screen in our case) but more pronounced when sitting closer. On the Acer these shades didn’t have the same dulling towards the edges. The AOC presented shades in a more vibrant and saturated way, with some quite striking neon shades. Pastel shades were somewhat overblown, although still appeared muted relative to the intentionally more vibrant shades. This model didn’t have the same intensity to the neon shades, but they still looked appropriately lively compared to more muted shades, which appeared largely as they should. There were some decent deep purples and fairly eye-catching neon greens, for example, whilst an excellent variety of subtle pastel shades were evident for character skin tones and clothing.

Shade representation using SpyderCHECKR 24

The image below shows a printed reference sheet of 24 ‘sRGB’ shades, included as part of the Datacolor SpyderCHECKR 24 package. The screen is displaying reference photographs of this printed sheet, in both the same order as printed (right side) and reverse order (left side). The camera is mounted slightly above centre so that the image is representative of what the eye sees from an ergonomically correct viewing position. This, coupled with the inclusion of a flipped version of the shade sheet, allows both accuracy and colour consistency to be visually assessed. Bracketed numbers in our analysis refer to shades on the printed sheet or right side of the screen if they’re ordered consecutively from top left to bottom right.

Note that there is always some disparity between how emissive objects (monitor) and non-emissive objects (printed sheet) appear. The representation of shades in this image depends on the camera and your own screen, it’s not designed to show exactly how the shades appear in person. It still helps demonstrate some of the relative differences between the original intended sRGB shade and what the monitor outputs, however. Full profiling and appropriate colour management on the application would provide a tighter match, our intention here is to show what can be expected in a non colour-managed environment.

SpyderCHECKR 24 'Test Settings'

The monitor provided quite faithful reproduction of the shades shown here, accounting for the natural differences related to emissive vs. non-emissive objects noted above. Medium orange (3) and gamboge (23) appear slightly undersaturated, with the former appearing a bit too light and the latter lacking a little bit of golden richness. Persian blue (7) and dark lime green (18) appear just slightly too saturated and lemon yellow (10) a slightly brighter than intended shade. These shades and a few others such as yellow green (19) and candy apple red (14) are represented much more faithfully here than on models where the colour gamut extends much further beyond sRGB. With a more generous colour gamut some of these shades can appear somewhat neon. The monitor also shows strong consistency overall, with some differences due primarily to colour temperature uniformity on our sample. Medium chocolate brown (24), for example, appears a richer and warmer tone when displayed towards the bottom right. Due to our sample’s colour temperature uniformity weakness in that region. Things certainly appear more consistent than the VA and moreover TN references shown in our panel types article. Aquamarine (4), medium chocolate brown (24) and neighbouring shades are particularly good for highlighting colour consistency weaknesses, due to their position at the extremities of the screen. The image below shows show things appear using the sRGB emulation setting (‘Color Space = sRGB’) and factory default colour channel settings.

SpyderCHECKR 24 'sRGB'

Many shades appear slightly more muted now, but in most cases the differences aren’t profound. This is expected given that the colour gamut doesn’t naturally extend much beyond sRGB. So the emulation setting only makes a relatively small change there. We observed some shades appearing slightly oversaturated earlier, namely Persian blue (7) and dark lime green (18) – these are now brought closer to the reference, with saturation levels curtailed. Lemon yellow (10) now appears more muted than it should, whilst medium orange (3) and gamboge (23) that were a bit undersaturated before are now muted further. Profiling the monitor with your own colorimeter or spectrophotometer is always advised for best results if the strongest colour accuracy is desired.

Viewing angles

Lagom’s viewing angle tests help explore the idea of colour consistency and viewing angle performance. The following observations were made from a normal viewing position, eyes ~70cm from the screen.

  • The purple block appeared a pinkish purple shade throughout. There was a marginally stronger pink hue towards the edges, but this was fairly minor. It was free from a more obvious pink at some sections of the screen or flashes between this and a purer purple as you move your head a bit. This is what you’d observe on VA or TN models.
  • The red block appeared a fairly rich red throughout. Consistency here was strong, free from the pink hue or saturation shifts you’d see on VA or TN models. Some IPS-type models (such as the AOC 24G2/U) show some shifts here including a dulling towards the edges, which this model didn’t exhibit.
  • The green block appeared a consistent saturated green chartreuse shade throughout. Models with weaker consistency would show greater yellowing at some sections of the screen, this model was very consistent without showing this in an obvious way.
  • The blue block appeared royal blue throughout.
  • The Lagom text appeared a blended grey throughout, with a slight red hue to the striping of the text which was a touch stronger near the edges. There were no clear flashes of saturated red, orange or green or shifts between these with a bit of head movement. This indicates a low viewing angle dependency to the gamma curve of the monitor, typical for an IPS-type panel.

Lagom Text Test

The video below shows the Lagom text test, a mixed desktop background, game scene and dark desktop background from a variety of viewing angles. You can see fairly minor contrast and colour shifts for the mixed desktop background and game scene. Less pronounced than you’d see on TN or VA models and indeed some IPS-type models with weaker viewing angle performance. The dark desktop background highlights ‘IPS glow’, which creates an obvious ‘bloom’ as viewing angles sharpen. Depending on angle, the glow may take on a cool-silver appearance or slightly warm grey shade.




Interlace pattern artifacts

On some monitors, particularly but not exclusively those with high refresh rates, interlace patterns can be seen during certain transitions. We refer to these as ‘interlace pattern artifacts’ but some users refer to them as ‘inversion artifacts’ and others as ‘scan lines’. They may appear as an interference pattern, mesh or interlaced lines which break up a given shade into a darker and lighter version of what is intended. They often catch the eye due to their dynamic nature, on models where they manifest themselves in this way. Alternatively, static interlace patterns may be seen with some shades appearing as faint horizontal or vertical bands of a slightly lighter and slightly darker version of the intended shade. We observed faint vertical static interlace patterns, but at higher refresh rates in particular these were not too obvious. Even at ~60Hz and below they were faint enough to escape the notice of most users. The ‘Over Drive’ setting or Adaptive-Sync status didn’t affect these observations.

Responsiveness

Input lag

A sensitive camera and a utility called SMTT 2.0 was used alongside a sensitive camera to analyse the latency of the Acer XB253Q GP. Over 30 repeat readings were taken to help maximise accuracy. Using this method, we calculated 3.35ms (under ½ a frame at 144Hz) of input lag. At 60Hz we measured a slightly higher but still fairly low 4.50ms. These figures are influenced by both the element of input lag you ‘see’ (pixel responsiveness) and the element you ‘feel’ (signal delay). They indicate a low signal delay, especially at 144Hz, which even sensitive users shouldn’t find bothersome. Note that ‘Ultra-Low Latency’ was enabled during this testing – more specifically ‘Adaptive-Sync’ was enabled in the OSD, which forces this on and greys the option out. We have no way to accurately measure input lag with Adaptive-Sync active in a variable refresh rate environment or with HDR active in an HDR environment, however.

Perceived blur (pursuit photography)

Our article on responsiveness explored the key factors affecting monitor responsiveness. An important concept is explored here called ‘perceived blur’, which is contributed to not just by the pixel responses of the monitor, but also your eye movement as you track motion on the screen. This second factor usually dominates on modern monitors, although both are important. We also explore a photography technique that uses a moving rather than stationary camera to capture motion on a monitor in a way that reflects both elements of perceived blur; ‘pursuit photography’.

The images below are pursuit photographs taken using the UFO Motion Test for ghosting, with the test running at its default speed of 960 pixels per second. This is a good practical speed to take such photographs at, highlighting both elements of perceived blur nicely. The UFOs move across the screen from left to right at a frame rate matching the refresh rate of the display. All three rows of the test are analysed to show a range of pixel transitions. The monitor was tested at 60Hz (directly below), 120Hz and 144Hz using all available ‘Over Drive’ settings; ‘Off’, ‘Normal’ and ‘Extreme’. Where possible, reference shots are included in the final columns for comparison. These include the AOC 24G2(U), with its 23.8” Panda IPS-type panel and the ViewSonic XG240R with its very fast (and well-tuned for 144Hz) 24” TN panel. The references are set to what we consider the optimal pixel overdrive setting for a given refresh rate. Wavy patterns surrounding some UFOs in the background are slight image retention. This was only observed during this test and is something we’ve seen on various monitors before. It soon disappeared when using monitor normally.

Note that if ‘Adaptive-Sync’ is set to ‘On’ in the OSD, it greys out the ‘Over Drive’ setting. Confusingly, if the ‘Overdrive’ level is set to ‘Off’ or ‘Extreme’ before enabling ‘Adaptive-Sync’, the pixel overdrive will act as if it’s set to ‘Off’ in both cases. If you set it to ‘Normal’ before enabling ‘Adaptive-Sync’, it will act as if it’s set to ‘Normal’. In other words, you can’t use the ‘Extreme’ setting with Adaptive-Sync and you need to set the overdrive level appropriately before enabling Adaptive-Sync. As we explore below, we’d recommend the ‘Normal’ setting for high refresh rates (certainly 144Hz) but ‘Off’ for lower refresh rates – which correspond to expected frame rate ranges if Adaptive-Sync is being used. You can easily save and recall a given ‘Over Drive’ state under Adaptive-Sync by using the ‘G1’, ‘G2’ and ‘G3’ preset modes of the monitor. You can then assign ‘Modes’ to an OSD hotkey so you can easily switch between the different pixel overdrive levels – we run through this procedure in the OSD video.

Perceived blur, 60Hz

At 60Hz, above, the UFO appears soft and unfocused without clear internal detailing. This reflects a moderate amount of perceived blur due to eye movement. This is also reflected by the reference displays. Setting ‘Over Drive’ to ‘Off’ provides a strong performance here. It’s the weakest pixel overdrive setting, which is always called ‘Off’ on Acer Predator models, but it’s doing a very good job here at providing suitably fast pixel responses without overdoing things. It’s quite similar overall to the reference shots, slightly faster for some transitions even when compared to the XG240R. The Acer does comparably well with the medium background (middle row) but also performs well for the dark background (top row) and light background (bottom row). There’s just a very small hint of ‘powdery’ trailing in places. The ‘Normal’ setting gets rid of this, but replaces it with quite strong overshoot (inverse ghosting), with colourful trailing behind the object. The ‘Extreme’ setting ramps things up further and provides very strong overshoot that’s impossible to ignore. We consider ‘Off’ to be the optimal setting here. Below you can see how things look with a doubling of refresh rate, to 120Hz.

Perceived blur, 120Hz

At 120Hz, above, the UFO appears significantly narrower with clearer internal detailing. This reflects a significant decrease in perceived blur due to eye movement. There are again varying levels of trailing behind the UFO. With the ‘Off’ setting the powdery trailing is now more pronounced than at 60Hz, but by no means extreme. Most noticeably for the dark background, but even then it sticks quite close to the UFO and isn’t as bold as it could be – in other words, it doesn’t have a ‘smeary’ appearance in practice. The increase in ‘powdery trailing’ is due to the significantly increased pixel response requirements for an optimal performance due to a doubling of the refresh rate. The ‘Normal’ setting again curtails this slight ‘powdery’ trailing and replaces it with overshoot. This is strongest for the medium background but is less pronounced than at 60Hz with the same setting. The overshoot is shorter and sharper as well as somewhat more muted at 120Hz. The ‘Extreme’ setting again increases the overshoot, it’s particularly strong with this setting. We’d consider ‘Off’ to be the optimal setting, unless you’ve got reasonable overshoot tolerance in which case ‘Normal’ may be preferred. The images below show things bumped up slightly to 144Hz.

Perceived blur, 144Hz

At 144Hz, above, the UFO appears just slightly narrower with slightly better definition. This reflects a slight reduction in perceived blur to eye movement. The trailing behaviour for the ‘Off’ and ‘Extreme’ settings are fairly similar to at 120Hz overall, but the ‘Normal’ setting now exhibits significantly weaker overshoot than it did at 120Hz. It certainly appears that this setting is optimised with this maximum refresh rate in mind and indeed it does a good job. It gets rid of the powdery trailing with the ‘Off’ setting and replaces it with minor overshoot. It gives a performance that’s noticeably improved compared to the 24G2U reference in this test and surprisingly close to the XG240R. Albeit with slightly higher (but still rather minor) overshoot. The ‘Off’ setting is by no means slow, for those who prefer to eliminate the overshoot entirely. There is generally less ‘powdery’ trailing than with the 24G2U reference for all background rows here. See for example the somewhat less extensive trail behind the red UFO body for the dark background – although the yellow cockpit shows some similar weaknesses. What’s clearer is the much shorter and sharper trail behind both the UFO body and cockpit region for the medium background on the Acer when compared to the AOC reference. The AOC isn’t considered a ‘slow’ monitor, either, and is using its most aggressive pixel overdrive setting (‘Strong’) for this comparison. We consider ‘Normal’ to be the optimal setting at 144Hz due to the very clean performance overall with pretty minimal overshoot. But ‘Off’ is a decent fallback if you want to eliminate the overshoot entirely. And certainly makes sense if you frequently find your refresh rate dipping (due to dips in frame rate and Adaptive-Sync active) much below 144Hz.

The monitor has a setting called VRB (Visual Response Boost) that can be activated instead of Adaptive-Sync, if you wish. This is a strobe backlight feature that causes the backlight to flicker at a frequency matching the refresh rate of the display, with 85Hz and 120Hz selectable. Sensitivity to this flickering of the backlight varies and some will find it bothersome whilst others may notice accelerated eye fatigue, even if the flickering isn’t actively bothersome to them. We found 85Hz uncomfortable to use and difficult to adjust to, with 120Hz more palatable by comparison. The pursuit photographs below were taken with the monitor set to 85Hz using VRB set to both the ‘Normal’ and ‘Extreme’ setting. The ‘Extreme’ setting uses a marginally shorter pulse width than ‘Normal’, meaning the backlight spends a relatively long period in its ‘off’ phase. This offers a potential motion clarity improvement at the expense of brightness. Do not confuse the VRB settings (‘Normal’ and ‘Extreme’) with the ‘Over Drive’ settings as they are separate things.

Note that the ‘Over Drive’ setting is adjustable with VRB active, but the ‘Off’ setting is too slow for a comfortable experience and greatly hampers the effectiveness. The ‘Extreme’ setting provides very strong overshoot that’s distracting and difficult to ignore. We there only focus on the ‘Normal’ setting, which is easily the best balanced for this mode.

Perceived blur, 85Hz VRB

With VRB active, the main object is significantly narrower with clearer internal detailing. Even at 85Hz and comparing to 144Hz with VRB disabled. The segments are distinct and the notches easy to count. The ‘Extreme’ setting appears to have a slight edge in clarity if you focus on the notches. In practice this difference wasn’t clear and is more due to the higher brightness level of the ‘Normal’ setting bleaching these elements out slightly when captured by the camera. You can see moderate overshoot behind the UFOs for the medium and light background, which is due to the fairly aggressive pixel overdrive used here to help keep conventional trailing at bay. It’s fragmented with multiple repetitions due to the strobing nature of the backlight with this setting active. The dark background shows a repetition of the object in the form of a conventional trail, plus a faint overshoot trail beyond that. The repetitions can be broadly termed ‘Strobe Crosstalk’ and can appear in different places and with different intensity depending on which section of the screen you’re observing. That’s because not all parts of the screen refresh simultaneously – we show and describe the strobe crosstalk throughout the screen a little later on. The images below show the monitor running with VRB set to 120Hz. Some reference screens are included for comparison, the AOC C24G1 using its ‘MBR’ setting and the Dell S2417DG using its ‘ULMB’ settings. These are both quite useable strobe backlight settings and make appropriate references.

Perceived blur, 120Hz VRB

The main object again shows excellent clarity, particularly with the ‘Extreme’ setting. Again, the difference between the two settings is somewhat exaggerated by the camera or more to the point the clarity using the ‘Normal’ setting is really quite similar to how ‘Extreme’ is shown here, to the eye. The trailing behind the object, be it conventional trailing (dark background) or overshoot (medium and light backgrounds), is shorter and sharper than at 85Hz simply due to the increased refresh rate. What isn’t shown here is that the flickering is significantly reduced and ‘connected feel’ also improved when comparing the two refresh rates as well, making 120Hz more palatable in general. The AOC reference shows weaker trailing (or strobe crosstalk, if you prefer) than the Acer and is free from overshoot. The Dell reference shows fairly similar overshoot to what is observed with the medium and light backgrounds on the Acer.

In practice the overshoot and conventional trailing shown here by the Acer is significantly weaker than the object itself and therefore doesn’t greatly impede the overall perceived blur with this setting active. We assess this subjectively, shortly. These shots were taken towards the centre of the screen, though, and some regions higher up or lower down the screen show more noticeable strobe crosstalk. This is evident in the image below, pursuit photographs with the screen set to 120Hz and ‘VRB = Normal’. Strobe crosstalk variation at different points was also observed at 85Hz and using ‘VRB = Extreme’, but the relative changes in strobe crosstalk was similar so we didn’t feel it was worthwhile documenting these observations.

Strobe crosstalk, 120Hz VRB Normal

Towards the top of the screen you can see strobe crosstalk in front of the intended object. It’s particularly strong further up, where it’s nearly as bold as the object itself and essentially melds into it. There’s also some overshoot behind the object. This overshoot is visible centrally, although there’s no additional strobe crosstalk for most of the central mass of the screen. Towards the bottom of the screen strobe crosstalk is introduced behind the object, essentially replacing the overshoot. At the lowest point shown and a bit above this is fairly bold, although not quite as bold as the strobe crosstalk in front towards the top of the screen. When gaming normally, the central mass of the screen is the main area of the screen you focus on. So it’s good that there isn’t clear strobe crosstalk there – just overshoot that’s quite distinct from and fainter than the main object.

Responsiveness in games and movies

On Battlefield V the monitor provided a fluid experience, with the frame rate keeping up with the 144Hz refresh rate. Compared to a 60Hz monitor (or this monitor running at 60Hz), the monitor is outputting over twice as much visual information every second. This, coupled with the low input lag, provides an excellent ‘connected feel’. Describing the precision and fluidity that’s felt when interacting with the game world and something that low input lag alone can’t provide. As demonstrated using Test UFO earlier, there’s also a significant decrease in perceived blur due to eye movement from the increased refresh rate and frame rate. This gives a competitive advantage on titles like this as it makes it easier to track and engage enemies and keeps the game world more sharply focused during movement.

The monitor did an excellent job in terms of pixel responsiveness, too, making very good use of the 144Hz refresh rate. We had no real complaints in terms of conventional trailing. Very faint whiffs of ‘powdery trailing’ for some transitions, such as white text against a medium-dark background. But this was very slight and affected such a slim number of transitions that it did very little to impact the overall perceived blur. This compared favourably to the AOC 24G2(U), which showed some more extensive ‘powdery’ trailing in places – it’s by no means a slow monitor, but the Acer still has an edge. An area we praised the AOC was overshoot, which was almost non-existent at 144Hz. The Acer did exhibit some overshoot at 144Hz, but it was far from strong and didn’t really stand out. There was a little ‘halo trailing’ in places with trailing that was slightly lighter than the object or background shade. And also a little ‘shadowy’ or ‘dirty’ trailing in places that was slightly darker than the background shade. You can remove this if you wish by setting ‘Overdrive’ to ‘Off’ – but as we’ve explored this only really makes sense where the refresh rate is reduced. The section of video review below runs through the clear strengths and less clear weaknesses in the monitor’s responsiveness.



The monitor provided a similarly fluid experience on Shadow of the Tomb Raider. Whilst the competitive edge was certainly less important here, the fluid experience with reduced perceived blur and superior ‘connected feel’ was still enjoyable. This title showcases many ‘high contrast’ transitions, with dark environments lit up by small light sources and suchlike. These transitions are the sort that will cause some clearer weaknesses on your typical VA model in the form of ‘smeary trailing’ and will cause some potentially heavy ‘powdery’ trailing on many IPS-type models. The monitor provided a strong performance here, traces of overshoot and no real conventional trailing to speak of. So fast and well-tuned pixel responses for 144Hz. We also observed movie content at a range of frame rates, including ~24 – 30fps and 60fps content. There were no clear weaknesses here, with the visual fluidity limited by the frame rate itself rather than the monitor.

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Acer XB253Q GP


FreeSync – the technology and activating it

AMD FreeSync is a variable refresh rate technology, an AMD-specific alternative to Nvidia G-SYNC. Where possible, the monitor dynamically adjusts its refresh rate so that it matches the frame rate being outputted by the GPU. Both our responsiveness article and the G-SYNC article linked to explore the importance of these two elements being synchronised. At a basic level, a mismatch between the frame rate and refresh rate can cause stuttering (VSync on) or tearing and juddering (VSync off). FreeSync also boasts reduced latency compared to running with VSync enabled, in the variable frame rate environment in which it operates.

FreeSync requires a compatible AMD GPU such as the Radeon RX 580 used in our test system. There is a list of GPUs which support the technology here, with the expectation that future AMD GPUs will support the feature too. The monitor itself must support ‘VESA Adaptive-Sync’ for at least one of its display connectors, as this is the protocol that FreeSync uses. The XB253Q GP supports FreeSync via DP on compatible GPUs. Note that HDR can be activated (at the same time as FreeSync) via DP 1.4. You need to make sure ‘FreeSync’ is set to ‘On’ in the ‘Game’ section of the OSD. On the GPU driver side recent AMD drivers make activation of the technology very simple and something that usually occurs automatically. You should ensure the GPU driver is setup correctly to use FreeSync, so open ‘AMD Radeon Software’, click ‘Settings’ (cog icon towards top right) and click on ‘Display’. You should then ensure that the first slider, ‘AMD FreeSync’ is set to ‘Enabled’ as shown below.

Enable FreeSync

The Acer supports a variable refresh rate range of 48 – 144Hz. That means that if the game is running between 48fps and 144fps, the monitor will adjust its refresh rate to match. When the frame rate rises above 144fps, the monitor will stay at 144Hz and the GPU will respect your selection of ‘VSync on’ or ‘VSync off’ in the graphics driver. With ‘VSync on’ the frame rate will not be allowed to rise above 144fps, at which point VSync activates and imposes the usual associated latency penalty. With ‘VSync off’ the frame rate is free to climb as high as the GPU will output (potentially >144fps). AMD LFC (Low Framerate Compensation) is also supported by this model, which means that the refresh rate will stick to multiples of the frame rate where it falls below the 48Hz (48fps) floor of operation for FreeSync. If a game ran at 31fps, for example, the refresh rate would be 62Hz to help keep tearing and stuttering at bay. This feature is used regardless of VSync setting, so it’s only above the ceiling of operation where the VSync setting makes a difference.

To configure VSync, open ‘AMD Radeon Software’. Click ‘Settings’ (cog icon towards top right) and click ‘Graphics’. The setting is listed as ‘Wait for Vertical Refresh’. This configures it globally, but if you wish to configure it for individual games click ‘Game Graphics’ towards the top right. The default is ‘Off, unless application specifies’ which means that VSync will only be active if you enable it within the game itself, if there is such an option. Such an option does usually exist – it may be called ‘sync every frame’ or something along those lines rather than simply ‘VSync’. Most users will probably wish to enable VSync when using FreeSync to ensure that they don’t get any tearing. You’d therefore select either the third or fourth option in the list, shown in the image below. Above this dropdown list there’s a toggle for ‘Radeon Enhanced Sync’. This is an alternative to VSync which allows the frame rate to rise above the refresh rate (no VSync latency penalty) whilst potentially keeping the experience free from tearing or juddering. This requires that the frame rate comfortably exceeds the refresh rate, not just peaks slightly above it. We won’t be going into this in detail as it’s a GPU feature rather than a monitor feature.

VSync options

Some users prefer to leave VSync enabled but use a frame rate limiter set a few frames below the maximum supported (e.g. 141fps) instead, avoiding any VSync latency penalty at frame rates near the ceiling of operation or tearing from frame rates rising above the refresh rate. If you activate the ‘Refresh Rate Num’ setting in the ‘Gaming’ section of the OSD, this will display the refresh rate of the display and therefore indicate the frame rate if ‘FreeSync’ is active and the frame rate is within the variable refresh rate range of the display. The final point to note is that FreeSync only removes stuttering or juddering related to mismatches between frame rate and refresh rate. It can’t compensate for other interruptions to smooth game play, for example network latency or insufficient system memory. Some game engines will also show stuttering (or ‘hitching’) for various other reasons which won’t be eliminated by the technology.

FreeSync – the experience

As usual we tested a broad range of game titles using FreeSync and found the experience similar in all cases. Any issues identified with FreeSync that were isolated to a specific title would indicate an issue with the game or GPU driver rather than the monitor as well. We’ll therefore just focus Battlefield V for this section. This title provides good flexibility with its graphics options, allowing our RX 580 (far from a beast of a GPU) to be tested across the entire variable refresh rate range of the monitor. With graphics settings set nice and low we were often close to 144fps, with some dips just a little below, perhaps to around 130fps or so. Without FreeSync active, these dips caused obvious tearing if VSync was disabled or obvious stuttering if VSync was enabled. Obvious to us and users sensitive to such things, at least, as it’s important to point out that individual sensitivity varies.

In more intense scenes or with graphics settings turned up a bit, it was common to see the frame rate dip further. Perhaps to 120fps or closer to 100fps. As usual for a monitor with Adaptive-Sync and in contrast with a model with dedicated G-SYNC module, there is no variable overdrive. So as the refresh rate dips due to a decrease in frame rate, increasingly noticeable overshoot kicks in. It happened fairly quickly on this model – as demonstrated using Test UFO earlier, even at 120Hz this is quite a bit stronger than 144Hz. Below that it increases further – so if you’re frequently dipping much below 144fps and using Adaptive-Sync, we’d recommend sticking to the ‘Off’ setting. Which is still quite fast and certainly capable of providing a solid performance, particularly with the lower pixel response requirements of these reduced refresh rates.

With further increases in eye candy came further decreases in frame rate. With frame rates now in the double digits, the loss of ‘connected feel’ and decrease in perceived blur was certainly noticeable when compared to those nice high frame rates. But the lack of tearing and stuttering was a very nice bonus even so. At this point the ‘Normal’ overdrive setting provided some very eye-catching overshoot for some transitions, quite colourful and difficult to ignore. The ‘Off’ setting meanwhile was very nicely balanced here, providing about enough acceleration for optimal performance without noticeable overshoot. Below a certain refresh rate, LFC (Low Framerate Compensation) is used where the refresh rate sticks to a multiple of the refresh rate. This worked as intended to get rid of tearing and stuttering, although as usual there was a momentary stuttering when it activates or deactivates. The exact point of activation was difficult to define exactly – it’s supposed to be 48Hz (48fps), but sometimes seemed to occur as high as 55Hz (55fps). Either way, this should only be a potential concern if you’re frequently passing above or below the trigger point.

Nvidia Adaptive-Sync (‘G-SYNC Compatible’)

As noted earlier, AMD FreeSync makes use of Adaptive-Sync technology on a compatible monitor. As of driver version 417.71, users with Nvidia GPUs (GTX 10 series and newer) and Windows 10 can also make use of this Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) technology. When a monitor is used in this way, it is something which Nvidia refers to as ‘G-SYNC Compatible’. Some models are specifically validated as G-SYNC compatible, which means they have been specifically tested by Nvidia and pass specific quality checks. With the XB253Q GP, you need to connect the monitor up via DisplayPort and enable ‘Adaptive-Sync’ in the ‘Gaming’ section of the OSD. When you open up Nvidia Control Panel, you should then see ‘Set up G-SYNC’ listed in the ‘Display’ section. Ensure the ‘Enable G-SYNC, G-SYNC Compatible’ checkbox and ‘Enable settings for the selected display model’ is checked as shown below. Press OK, then turn the monitor off then on again so that it re-establishes connection – the technology should now be active.

Update: As of driver version 461.40, this model is officially certified as ‘G-SYNC Compatible’. Which means it has been specifically tested by Nvidia and passes various quality checks with the technology working as it should. Issues highlighted here shouldn’t be expected, certainly not with newer GPUs.

G-SYNC Compatible settings

You will also see in the image above that it states: “Selected Display is not validated as G-SYNC Compatible.” The image is for a different model, but exactly the same information is displayed for the Acer (aside from the model number, of course). This means Nvidia hasn’t specifically tested and validated the display. Acer seems to market the monitor as if it is ‘G-SYNC Compatible’ and certified as such, but this isn’t confirmed in the driver. And at time of review, the ‘GP’ model isn’t listed on Nvidia’s website as certified. On our GTX 10 Series GPU (GTX 1080 Ti), the technology worked to a degree, but didn’t quite do what it should. It would frequently disable itself momentarily or cause significant mismatches between frame and refresh rate. It was effective in reducing tearing (within its window of operation) and stuttering, but we observed some stuttering and slight tearing that corresponded to the frequent mismatches in frame and refresh rate. The tearing wasn’t as frequent or obvious as with the technology disabled and VSync disabled, whilst the stuttering wasn’t as frequent or obvious as with the technology disabled and VSync enabled. It was strange having a bit of both, though, and this shouldn’t occur with ‘G-SYNC Compatible Mode’ working correctly. Newer GPUs such as the RTX 20 and RTX 30 series should fare better. We’ve observed various issues on other monitors using ‘G-SYNC Compatible Mode’ that seem to only apply to older GPUs like ours but not newer generation GPUs such as the RTX 20 series. Either way, we still found the technology useful and preferred having it enabled over disabled – it didn’t have ‘deal breaking’ issues such as screen blanking or potentially obnoxious flickering and still reduced tearing and stuttering. This section of the video review runs through the technology and some of the issues we described above when using it on our GTX 1080 Ti.

Our suggestions regarding use of VSync also apply, but you’re using Nvidia Control Panel rather than AMD Radeon Software to control this. The setting is found in ‘Manage 3D settings’ under ‘Vertical sync’, where the final option (‘Fast’) is equivalent to AMD’s ‘Enhanced Sync’ setting. You’ll also notice ‘G-SYNC Compatible’ listed under ‘Monitor Technology’ in this section, as shown below. Make sure this is selected (it should be if you’ve set everything up correctly in ‘Set up G-SYNC’).

G-SYNC Compatible settings

Finally, remember that you can activate the ‘Refresh Rate Num’ setting in the ‘Gaming’ section of the OSD to display the current refresh rate of the monitor. This will reflect the frame rate if it’s within the main variable refresh rate window, with the additional fluctuations described above possible depending on your GPU. And as with AMD FreeSync, HDR can be used at the same time as ‘G-SYNC Compatible Mode’.

VRB (Visual Response Boost)

Earlier in the review, we introduced the ‘VRB (Visual Response Boost)’ feature, its principles of operation and how it performs using specific tests. When using VRB or a similar strobe backlight feature, you must have your frame rate synchronised properly with the refresh rate of the display. If that isn’t the case you’re left with extremely obvious stuttering or juddering. This stands out in a particularly obvious way because there’s very little perceived blur due to eye movement to mask it. You can’t use Adaptive-Sync at the same time as VRB and you’re limited to relatively low brightness levels, as explored earlier. As a reminder, we recorded a maximum luminance of 88 cd/m² and most users prefer brightness levels significantly higher than that, typically 120 cd/m² – 200 cd/m² and sometimes higher. Some will find this brightness level fine and will adjust to it, particularly if the room isn’t too bright. We tested this setting using various game titles, but for simplicity we’ll simply be focusing on Battlefield V running at a solid 120fps and monitor set to 120Hz for this section. The observations here are largely reflected at different refresh rates or VRB settings – we prefer ‘Normal’ as ‘Extreme’ is simply too dim for our taste. And we prefer 120Hz due to lower flickering and superior ‘connected feel’, although 85Hz can be a nice fallback if you can’t sustain a solid 120fps and you don’t mind stronger flickering.

This setting performed its main function effectively, massively reducing perceived blur due to eye movement. Further up and down the screen there was noticeable strobe crosstalk, the repetitions of the object that was demonstrated using Test UFO earlier. This affected the motion clarity in those regions. However; when gaming competitively, which is the main focus of this mode, you tend to fixate on the centre of the screen. This region did not exhibit this strobe crosstalk, instead just showing some overshoot in places. Which was much fainter than the object or any background textures during motion. Rapid turns of the character or manoeuvring quickly in a vehicle was not accompanied by the blurring of the background and loss of detail that occurs with VRB disabled. The level of clarity and overall detail (low levels of perceived blur, in other words) in that central mass of screen was excellent. So whilst this wasn’t the cleanest strobe backlight setting we’ve seen, it was far from the worst. And actually quite useable for those who are happy to put up with the drawbacks and find the competitive edge it brings attractive.

HDR (High Dynamic Range)

Under HDR (High Dynamic Range), an ideal monitor is able to simultaneously display very deep dark shades and very bright light shades. Additionally, an excellent range of shades between these extremes can be shown, including very eye-catching vibrant shades as well as a good palette of much more muted shades. Ideally, per-pixel illumination would be used (backlightless technology such as OLED, for example). Failing that, a backlight solution such as FALD (Full Array Local Dimming) with a great number of dimming zones is desirable. This allows some areas of the screen to display very deep dark shades whilst other areas display brilliant bright shades. Colour reproduction is also an important part of HDR. The long-term goal is support for a huge colour gamut, Rec. 2020. A more achievable near-term goal is support for at least 90% DCI-P3 (Digital Cinema Initiatives standard colour space) coverage. Finally, HDR makes use of at least 10-bit precision per colour channel, so its desirable that the monitor supports at least 10-bits per subpixel.

The HDR10 pipeline is the most widely supported HDR standard used in HDR games and movies and the pipeline supported by this model. Unlike most HDR-capable monitors, the Acer XB253Q GP does not automatically switch into its HDR operating mode when an HDR colour signal is detected. You must do this manually – there are various ways to do this. You can set ‘HDR’ to ‘Auto’ or ‘HDR-400’ in the ‘Picture’ section of the OSD (both settings seem to be identical). Or selecting ‘HDR’ as the ‘Mode’ or ‘Color Space’ in the ‘Color’ section of the OSD. As of the latest Windows 10 update, relevant HDR settings in Windows are found in ‘Windows HD Color settings’ which can be accessed via ‘Display settings’ (right click the desktop). Most game titles will activate HDR correctly when the appropriate in-game setting and monitor setting is selected. A minority of game titles that support HDR will only run in HDR if the setting is active in Windows as well. Specifically, the toggle which says ‘Play HDR games and apps’. If you want to view HDR movies on a compatible web browser, for example, you’d also need to activate the ‘Stream HDR Video’ setting. These settings are shown below. Also note that there’s a slider that allows you to adjust the overall balance of SDR content if HDR is active in Windows. This is really just a digital brightness slider, so you lose contrast by adjusting it. The balance of the image was a lot better than most models displaying SDR content with HDR enabled, but you get a loss of normal brightness control, colour channel adjustment and some gamma inconsistencies. We’d recommend only activating HDR in Windows if you’re about to specifically use an HDR application that requires it, and have it deactivated when viewing normal SDR content on the monitor.

Windows HD Color settings

For simplicity we’ll just focus on two game titles for this section; Battlefield V and Shadow of the Tomb Raider. These are titles we’ve experienced on a broad range of monitors under HDR and we know they are good at highlighting strengths and weaknesses in the HDR performance. Providing a good HDR experience if the monitor is capable enough under HDR. The experience we describe here is largely dictated and limited by the screen itself. Although our testing here is focused on HDR PC gaming using DisplayPort, we made similar observations using HDMI. The observations apply to other HDR content, such as movies, and also running HDR on compatible games consoles. Usually a sharpness filter is applied under HDR to accentuate some of the enhancements it makes. In this case it can be manually enabled by enabling ‘Super Sharpness’ in the ‘Picture’ section of the OSD. Or left disabled, which is our preference on this model.

The Acer XB253Q GP is VESA DisplayHDR 400 certified. This is the lowest level of certification that VESA certifies for and therefore means that only a basic HDR experience is offered. One area that the VESA DisplayHDR 400 requirement isn’t too strict about is colour gamut. As mentioned earlier, good coverage of the DCI-P3 colour space is desirable. In this case the colour gamut only covers 81% of the DCI-P3 space, as shown in the gamut representation below. The red triangle shows the colour gamut of the monitor, whilst the blue triangle shows the DCI-P3 reference space. The image didn’t looked ‘washed out’ exactly, but in general shades were somewhat more muted in appearance than under SDR. There was just a general lack of depth, plus a bit of a cool tint which couldn’t be adjusted for in the OSD due to locked colour channels. These being locked off isn’t unusual for HDR, however. The poor colour gamut by HDR standards meant that there weren’t some of those elements of real vibrant pop that can sometimes be offered over HDR. On Battlefield V, for example, roaring flames didn’t have the rich and vivid intense oranges you’d sometimes see, whilst deep paint colours and lush forest greens were less saturated than they could be. On Tomb Raider there were elements like deep purple flowers, dark blue dresses and flows of lava that lacked the sort of HDR intensity we’d expect. Environments and skin tones still looked quite natural and had reasonable richness and at least Acer didn’t try to make up for the lack of gamut coverage with clear digital oversaturation or quirky gamma behaviour.

Colour gamut 'Test Settings'

Colour gamut 'Test Settings'


The monitor doesn’t natively support 10-bit colour reproduction, although the HDR10 pipeline does make use of 10-bits per channel colour output. The additional 2-bit dithering stage is offloaded to the GPU under HDR. We’ve carefully observed a range of content (including fine gradients) on a broad range of monitors where 10-bit is supported monitor side (usually 8-bit + FRC) and where the GPU handles the dithering under HDR. Including comparisons with a given model where the monitor handles the dithering at some refresh rates and the GPU handles it at others, due to bandwidth limitations. Regardless of the method used to achieve the ’10-bit’ colour signal, we find the result very similar. Some subtle differences may be noticed during careful side by side comparison of very specific content, but things are really handled very well even if GPU dithering is used. The enhanced precision helps enhance the nuanced shade variety, giving a more believable look to shaded areas. It helps lift out detail in a natural way, with a superior range of very closely matching dark shades. This is very different to the artificial or flooded appearance that some sort of gamma tweak would achieve. This enhanced nuanced shade variety is also easy to appreciate at the high end. Fine gradients such as areas of sky, mist, smoke and suchlike are displayed much more smoothly with more gentle progressions between shades. The image below is from Shadow of the Tomb Raider and is one of our favourite scenes under HDR to help highlight the strengths and weaknesses of a monitor’s HDR performance from a contrast perspective. Remember that the photo is purely for illustrative purposes and in no way represents how the monitor appeared running HDR in person. Note that vertical lines on lighter areas of the image are moiré from the camera, not observed on monitor.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider HDR

The scene certainly highlighted the nuanced shade variety nicely, with the mist and light rays showcasing some excellent smooth gradients. Things certainly didn’t look as eye-catching or impressive as they could from a contrast perspective, though. VESA DisplayHDR 400 does not mandate any local dimming and has a more restrictive brightness requirement than higher DisplayHDR levels. The bright light streaming in from the sky and the glints of light on the water and waxy leaf surfaces just didn’t have the eye-catching pop that much more capable HDR performers provide. Meanwhile, the darker shades lacked the depth that they should have. Daylight scenes like this therefore didn’t have that natural brightness range that defines a proper HDR experience and makes such scenes look more believable in many respects. Darker areas certainly highlighted limitations in the HDR performance, too. The backlight brightness control of the Acer is really rather unusual under HDR. You can set the brightness before the HDR signal is detected, by selecting the ‘HDR’ mode with an SDR signal selected. The monitor will then respect the brightness level you’ve selected when the HDR signal is detected. We found lower brightness settings to be particularly far removed from any semblance of ‘HDR’ and preferred just leaving this at the default of ‘100’.

Another peculiarity is that the monitor doesn’t employ effective Dynamic Contrast, which is usually used under HDR combined with HDR meta data to enhance precision. Whilst the merits of this are debateable and it doesn’t compare to a solution that also uses effective local dimming, it does at least help maintain better dark atmosphere for very dark scenes where global dimming is used. We observed gamma adjustments, which were strangely gradual at times, when switching from a bright to dark scene. Dark elements becoming increasingly detailed over the course of a few seconds, without the darkest elements appearing any deeper. That’s because the backlight itself seemed to remain set at the same level. This meant that even for predominantly darks scenes the black depth was as high as it would be under SDR with a high brightness level set, giving a ‘flooded’ look. Unless you selected a lower brightness level before the colour signal activated, in which case the bright elements would simply remain looking dull with distinctly ‘non-HDR’ luminance levels. It’s possible these sort of gamma changes are common under HDR, but they’re usually accompanied by backlight brightness changes which make them seem more natural and in-place. Whichever way you cut it, this was a very basic and in many ways quite flawed HDR experience. The HDR experience using Shadow of the Tomb Raider as an example is explored in the relevant section of video review below.

Video review

The video below shows the monitor in action. The camera, processing done and your own screen all affect the output – so it doesn’t accurately represent what you’d see when viewing the monitor in person. It still provides useful visual demonstrations and explanations which help reinforce some of the key points raised in the written piece.




Timestamps:
Features & Aesthetics
Contrast
Colour reproduction
HDR (High Dynamic Range)
Responsiveness (General)
Responsiveness (Adaptive-Sync)

Conclusion

The fluidity of a 144Hz monitor can provide can be very attractive for both casual and competitive gamers. With improvements to pixel responsiveness, we’ve seen a general shift in the market away from TN models towards more ‘colour-capable’ monitors with IPS-type panels. The Acer XB253Q GP is one such product, wrapping things up into the familiar ‘Predator’ package. The stand offers full ergonomic flexibility and has quite a weighty and premium feel to it courtesy of the powder-coated metal base. The OSD offers a good range of adjustment options for those who like to fine-tune things. Whilst some options were implemented in a fairly quirky way, such as the ‘Over Drive’ control with Adaptive-Sync active and ‘Brightness’ control under HDR, the core functionality was good. And we appreciated the ease of storing and recalling preferred settings using the ‘G1’, ‘G2’ and ‘G3’ presets. The Full HD resolution and 24.5” screen size doesn’t provide a staggering pixel density or indeed fantastic desktop real-estate, but we feel it’s a comfortable screen size for the resolution and it’s a relatively easy one to drive at decent frame rates.

The contrast performance was largely in-line with our expectations, if not slightly above them. The static contrast readings weren’t quite up there with the lofty heights achieved by the AOC 24G2(U), with its 1400:1 recorded under our ‘Test Settings’. But they weren’t too far off and also comfortably exceeded the specified 1000:1, at a touch above 1200:1 under our ‘Test Settings’. This certainly doesn’t deliver amazing depth or ‘inkiness’ to dark scenes, particularly if sitting in a dimly lit room. And ‘IPS glow’ eats away at that atmosphere and detail further. But it was a bit of an improvement over some IPS models which struggle to even reach the specified 1000:1. The screen surface was not quite as smooth as on the aforementioned AOC, either, although didn’t impart the sort of ‘smeary’ graininess that some matte anti-glare solutions provide. It was quite in-line with many 144Hz Full HD TN models, which many users happily use without giving too much thought to the screen surface.

The monitor was calibrated quite nicely ‘out of the box’, certainly in terms of gamma. So following just a little tweaking the IPS-type panel delivered an image that was ‘rich and natural’ and also very consistent. The experience was somewhat different to on the AOC 24G2(U). The colour gamut on the Acer only extends a little beyond sRGB, inviting a touch of extra vibrancy whilst keeping things faithful to the original developer intentions. The AOC’s output is more vibrant and saturated, although still very varied due to it being achieved with a fairly generous colour gamut rather a digital saturation boost. An effective sRGB emulation setting is also included on the Acer, which doesn’t lock off the brightness control (yay) but does restrict some other settings like colour channel adjustment. It curtails that slight over-extension beyond sRGB. Again drawing on that comparison with the AOC, the colour consistency of the Acer was superior. Whilst both models have an IPS-type panel, the AOC exhibited some shifts in saturation and a noticeable dulling of some shades towards the edges of the screen. The Acer provided your classic IPS-type consistency, with good richness maintained throughout the screen. In both cases your mileage may vary a bit due to potential uniformity issues which can vary between individual units.

The monitor offers HDR support, although only at a basic level. VESA DisplayHDR 400 certification, the lowest level that VESA certifies for. And rather odd brightness regulation, without the usual Dynamic Contrast enhanced with HDR metadata. This left scenes looking quite bright overall, even if they were dominated by dark shades. This could be counteracted only by reducing brightness in the HDR OSD setting (which, oddly, doesn’t automatically activate under HDR) before an HDR signal is detected. You’d then be left with bright elements looking rather dull and not at all ‘HDR-like’. But of course, without any local dimming and fairly limited maximum luminance things were never going to look too spectacular under HDR anyway. Coupled with a colour gamut that’s far more limited than the near-term DCI-P3 standard, HDR on this monitor is more there for a bit of variety and occasional usage. It does make games look ‘different’ and you can benefit from 10-bit colour processing to improve nuanced shade variety and smooth out gradients. But it’s certainly not specular nor a reason to buy this model.

One reason you certainly might want to buy this model, aside from its colour reproduction characteristics, is responsiveness. The monitor provided a very convincing 144Hz performance. The pixel responses were tightly tuned and heavily optimised with this refresh rate in mind using the ‘Normal’ setting for ‘Over Drive’. There was a touch of overshoot, but nothing extreme – and really very little to complain about in the way of conventional trailing. A step above the AOC 24G2U, which is no slouch at 144Hz, with less ‘powdery trailing’ in particular where medium to darker shades are involved. In fact this model would put quite a few TN models to shame with its level of pixel responsiveness. Coupled with a low level of input lag, the ‘connected feel’ and perceived blur levels were as you’d hope from a solid 144Hz performer. The monitor’s VRB strobe backlight setting was quite useable, provided you don’t mind the drawbacks (including limited brightness and the unavoidable flickering). Strobe crosstalk was minimal in the central region of the screen, but quite strong towards the top and bottom – fortunately, it’s the centre of the screen that will be your main focus during competitive gaming. The monitor also supports Adaptive-Sync, which worked with both our AMD and Nvidia GPUs to get rid of tearing and stuttering. Likely due to a quirk with our older (GTX 10 series) GPU, ‘G-SYNC Compatible Mode’ didn’t work perfectly due to some departures between frame and refresh rate. But it was still nice to have and reduced tearing and stuttering, even if they weren’t entirely eliminated. The lower level of overdrive (‘Off’) proved its worth where the frame rate (and hence refresh rate) dropped, whilst still being quite useable at much higher refresh rates as well.

We’ve been drawing the comparison throughout this review with the AOC 24G2U as this is a very interesting and pertinent comparison to draw. In summary, the AOC is the cheaper monitor in part as it’s based on a 23.8” Panda IPS-type panel rather than the 24.5” AUO panel of the Acer. The AOC offers some potential advantages aside from cost, including having a smoother screen surface, slightly (but not substantially) stronger static contrast and more vibrant colour output. The Acer, on the other hand, offers rich and natural colour output with superior consistency. According to our own findings and user feedback we’ve received, the AOC’s panel is more prone to uniformity issues than the Acer’s panel. The Acer offers higher peak luminance and HDR support, although the AOC is more than bright enough for most users (and comfortably exceeds its specifications). And, of course, the HDR on the Acer is nothing to write home about. The Predator offers superior pixel responsiveness, surprisingly TN-like at 144Hz with its ‘Normal’ pixel overdrive setting. The strobe backlight setting is more useable on the Acer, too, due to lower central strobe crosstalk. It has a more robust ‘feel’ and arguably more premium look due in large part to the powder-coated metal stand. Whilst we don’t make a big thing about it in either review, the Acer also offers true 8-bit colour output vs. 6-bit + FRC dithering on the AOC. It’s finely controlled dithering and for most users it won’t make a difference, but we do know some appreciate the lack of dithering that the XB253Q GP provides. Overall, this is a competent gaming monitor, offering a pleasing mixture of colour quality and responsiveness. It’s well built, feature-rich and importantly performs well without any deal-breaking weaknesses.

The bottom line; a capable, highly responsive and well-tuned monitor with rich and natural colour output.


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Positives Negatives
A rich and natural look to the image with strong consistency and good ‘out of the box’ gamma. Good OSD flexibility to tweak gamma and colour representation
Some may prefer the extra vibrancy and saturation provided by a wider colour gamut
Decent contrast a bit above specifications and strong gamma consistency from IPS-type panel, basic HDR support ‘IPS glow’ eats away at detail and atmosphere. Screen surface gives a bit of a grainy appearance to lighter shades. HDR support limited and quite strangely implemented
Well-tuned pixel responsiveness for a solid 144Hz performance, low input lag and Adaptive-Sync assisting with stuttering and tearing on both our AMD and Nvidia GPU. VRB will have good utility for some due to low central strobe crosstalk
No variable overdrive, optimal setting for 144Hz gives strong overshoot much below that – the lower overdrive level works nicely in such situations. Some issues with Adaptive-Sync on our Nvidia GPU, but it still helps. Newer Nvidia GPUs should work without these hiccups
Quite solidly built with solid powder-coated metal base, good ergonomic flexibility and a feature-rich OSD
Full HD resolution quite limited in terms of pixel density and desktop real-estate, ‘gamery’ aesthetics won’t appeal to everyone and pricing fairly high for a 144Hz Full HD model


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Acer XB253Q GP

 
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