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Acer K273 review: A staggeringly cheap monitor for work and play

Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
160
inc VAT

Basic but the Acer K273 has a good panel and an appealingly low price tag

Pros 
Phenomenally cheap
Decent IPS panel
Good for gaming
Cons 
Terrible stand
Limited port selection
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The Acer K273 is a multipurpose monitor with a minimal feature set and a sensationally low price tag. This is a very traditional budget monitor: connectivity is limited and comes with the kind of stand that needs an extra bolster to be raised to a suitable height. With an RRP of £160, however, I would expect very little else.

Ultimately, the K273 is a textbook example of getting exactly what you pay for. There are few frills here but where it counts, this monitor delivers; the panel is surprisingly well-rounded and will suit office workers and gamers on a tight budget.

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Acer K273 review: What do you get for the money?

The K273 is available at Acer for £160 and is even cheaper elsewhere. That gets you a 27in IPS panel with a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080, a refresh rate of 75Hz, a quoted response time of 1ms G2G (with virtual response boost enabled) and AMD FreeSync support.

On the rear, you’ll find one HDMI 1.4 port and one VGA port for video duties plus two 3.5mm ports for audio. The stand offers a mere 15 degrees of backwards tilt but the K273 is VESA compatible, so you could spend the money you saved on an aftermarket monitor arm. In the box, you’ll find HDMI and VGA cables alongside the power lead and assorted documents.

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Acer K273 review: What does it do well?

On the whole, the panel is good for a £160 product. I was particularly pleased with its motion handling: the K273 exhibited minimal ghosting in its default mode, and engaging the first of two levels of Overdrive improved things further still. Going up to Overdrive level two introduces a bit of inverse ghosting but that’s normal. Thanks to the IPS panel technology used here – a bit unusual for a budget monitor – there’s very little motion blur and viewing angles are great.

Although the IPS panel holds the K273 back a bit in the contrast ratio department, at 1,010:1 it’s certainly not the worst I’ve seen. A peak brightness of 263cd/m², meanwhile, is good enough for most office environments, although if your desk is right next to a window it might not be the best choice.

This is also a fairly colourful monitor by the standards of others in its price range. It covers 94% of the sRGB colour gamut out of the box. This figure barely budges, regardless of which colour mode you switch to: there are several available, including an sRGB mode and a low blue light mode for reading. Only the colour temperature varies noticeably.

Anecdotally, the K273 is great to use. The lower pixel density caused by the 27in size and 1080p resolution didn’t bother me and the extra screen real estate is a big plus. Gaming was smooth and responsive: obviously, 75Hz is hardly top-end stuff but even a cheaper PC or laptop should handle it no problem. The resolution also makes this a decent monitor for Nintendo Switch owners.

Outside the panel, the K273 is barebones but it doesn’t feel cheaply made. There’s very little stand wobble and the frame of the monitor doesn’t exhibit any obvious signs of subpar build quality (that is, creaking or flexing under stress). There’s also an argument to be made for the inclusion of the somewhat archaic VGA port: sure, most modern PCs, laptops and consoles use HDMI or DisplayPort but if you’re still relying on the older connector, the chances are you’re not willing to spend hundreds on a monitor.

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Acer K273 review: What could be better?

That said, the port situation is, objectively, pretty dire. With no USB-C, USB-A or DisplayPort, the K273’s versatility is severely limited. The stand is similarly unimpressive: for your back, neck and eyes, 15 degrees of backwards tilt is nowhere close to sufficient. You’ll need to buy an arm mount or, at the very least, find a good pile of unused books to rest this monitor on while you work.

I’m also not overly fond of the on-screen display. Acer’s obsession with the joystick-and-button combo has always been a bugbear, particularly when one of the buttons (all of which are hidden on the rear of the monitor) switches the screen off. The menus themselves aren’t overly difficult to navigate but I’d be surprised if you didn’t accidentally turn the K273 off at least once or twice while attempting to navigate them.

Finally, and returning to the panel briefly, I should point out that this monitor returned an average Delta E colour variance score of 3.5, which means it is visibly inaccurate in the sRGB colour space. This may or may not bother you, and it probably shouldn’t affect the average user, but it’s worth pointing out all the same.

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Acer K273 review: Should you buy it?

Funky OSD controls notwithstanding, the issues I’ve raised are byproducts of the K273’s ridiculously low price tag. You don’t have to put up with them but you will have to spend more to get more: the £220 BenQ GL2785TC, for example, has a similarly specced panel but also has a fully adjustable stand and more ports.

If, however, saving money is your primary objective, the Acer K273 delivers exactly what you need. It’s not exactly overflowing with features but the panel delivers the goods at a great price, and that’s the most important thing here.

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