With a 144Hz refresh rate at 1440p, a stunning IPS display and AMD FreeSync this monitor is the best in the business
- 144Hz refresh rate at 1440p
- Responsive monitor
- Stunning colours
In 2015, the Acer XB270HU was my outright favourite gaming monitor. It was responsive, reasonably priced and had great image quality. Equipped with Nvidia’s G-Sync tech, though, it left AMD graphics card owners a little out in the cold.
Step forward the 2017 Acer XF270HUA, which updates the design of the older screen and builds support for AMD FreeSync into the bargain. With a 144Hz refresh rate at 1440p, can the XF270HUA retain the crown as the best gaming monitor, or has Acer missed the mark?
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Acer XF270HUA review: What you need to know
The answer to that this question is that the Acer XF270HUA is a star. Its 27in 1440p 144Hz panel makes it the perfect choice for competitive and casual gamers alike. And with the inclusion of AMD FreeSync, those with AMD graphics cards get tear-free gaming.
Its “ZeroFrame” narrow-bezel design is the key improvement this generation, though, lending the monitor a sleeker, more lightweight look on your desk. If you’re looking for a monitor that can do it all, and have £480 to spend, it’s the best you can buy.
Acer XF270HUA review: Price and competition
You can pick up an Acer XF270HUA for around £480 on Amazon. Its predecessor, the Acer XF270HU, and even the G-Sync XB270HU used to be available for around £400 and £680 respectively. They’re both extremely hard to find nowadays, but it’s worth noting their original prices as a reference point.
There is currently only one true competitor to the Acer at this price: the £500 Asus MG279Q, which shares the same core set of specifications. If you want Nvidia G-Sync, there’s the Acer Predator XB271HU, but this costs a little more at £600.
If you don’t want to spend this much, there are cheaper choices but they’re equipped with less colour-accurate TN panels. In this group, the best choices are the AOC AGON AG271QX at £410, Acer XG270HU at £430 and BenQ XL2730 at £450.
Acer XF270HUA review: Design, features and build quality
The Acer XF270HUA is well built, and Acer’s new ZeroFrame design is an improvement over its slightly clunkier predecessor, the XF270HU. This model has a three-side borderless design and a brushed-aluminium finish on the bottom bezel, which combine for an elegant look.
The stand is sturdy and allows you to tilt the screen, pivot and fully rotate it and, if you’re not a fan of its circular base, you can replace it with a compatible 100 x 100mm VESA stand. Unlike most gaming monitors I’ve seen of late, though, there is no headphone arm or carry handle.
For connectivity, you’ll find a DVI, DisplayPort 1.2, HDMI 2, HDMI 1.4 (with MHL) display inputs out back and a four-port USB 3 hub (two ports on the left-hand side, two underneath).
There are also two 3.5mm jacks for audio input and output, and the onscreen display is accessed via a set of physical buttons on the right-hand edge of the screen, which makes it easier than most to navigate. I especially like the way you can assign custom functions to the monitor’s pair of hot keys, making it easy to access commonly used functions.
Unlike last model, the Acer XF270HUA supports AMD FreeSync, which gives you a tear-free gaming experience if you have a compatible AMD graphics card. Nvidia G-sync isn’t supported, but Nvidia graphics card owners can still use the monitor in 1440p at 144Hz and can use V-Sync if needs be; do remember however that this will add unwanted input lag.
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Acer XF270HUA review: Image quality
An IPS panel is Acer’s weapon of choice for the XF270HUA. Running at a native resolution of 2,560 x 1,440 at 144Hz, the monitor pushes a lot of pixels through its 27in display.
And it’s a good-quality panel, too, suited just as much to professional photo and video editing as it is to gaming. In sRGB mode, the Acer achieved 97.2% sRGB coverage and a maximum luminance of 283cd/m², which means images are vivid but lack brightness.
As for colour accuracy, I measured the screen’s average Delta E at 1.33, which is a respectable score for a gaming monitor, and the contrast ratio at 1,208:1 (with a black level of 0.23cd/m²). It’s also a uniformly well-lit display, with very little brightness variation from corner to corner.
Interestingly, disabling sRGB mode leads to a much higher 407cd/m² maximum brightness reading, which is a noticeable difference. If you’re using the monitor in bright conditions – perhaps next to a window or in an attic room – this is something to bear in mind.
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Acer XF270HUA review: Gaming performance
Image quality is great, then, but it’s just as good at gaming. Just bear in mind that if you want to run games at the monitor’s full 1440p resolution and 144Hz refresh rate, you’re going to need a powerful graphics card to pair it with. If you have a compatible AMD graphics card, you’ll also benefit from a tear-free gaming experience by enabling AMD FreeSync.
For competitive gaming (I usually play Counter-Strike: Global Offensive), the best setup to choose with this monitor is to set the Overdrive option to Extreme. This lowers the panel’s response time and makes it ideal for games such as Counter Strike: Global Offensive.
There is a small amount of inverse ghosting (purple haze) on this setting, however, so you might prefer setting it to Medium. This delivers a more visually pleasing experience in visually intensive games such as Battlefield 1.
Just like its predecessor, input lag is sensationally low and sets the Acer apart from other IPS and TN gaming monitors I’ve tested. It tracks your mouse movements pretty much instantaneously and it’s a pleasure to game on, whether you doing so professionally or casually.
Acer XF270HUA review: Verdict
For £480 there’s nothing negative to say about the Acer XF270HUA apart, perhaps, from the lack of headphone support arm. It has a gorgeous display, suitable for the most competitive gamers out there, and it’s a joy to use, even if you’re after a responsive monitor that will suffice for a touch of semi-serious Photoshop work.
If you’re the owner of an Acer XF270HU, the only difference is the bezels, so I wouldn’t upgrade if you’re already a happy owner. If you have another monitor and want to invest in a gaming monitor, though, get the XF270HUA – you most certainly won’t regret it.