Let’s find out just how good a flagship can be, shall we?
Acer Predator X35
Acer Predator X35 – Design and Features
The Predator X35 wastes no time making an impression. It comes in one of the biggest boxes I’ve ever seen for a monitor. At 39 by 26 inches, it’s already large, but when you add in an unusually thick width and a whopping 45 pound shipping weight, and it was enough to make the delivery person struggle getting it off the truck.
There’s a good reason for that size: the X35 is also the first monitor I’ve ever used that comes fully assembled. It’s literally as simple as taking it out of the box and plugging it in, assuming you’re planning on using the included stand — which you should, because it’s excellent.
Its heavy metal frame and low-key rubber feet kept the stand from moving, even when I would turn the panel. You can adjust height, tilt, and swivel to plentiful degrees, but there’s no rotation to use it in portrait mode. Given the specs of this monitor, it’s hard to imagine anyone using it as more than a main display, but for this price, I was disappointed to find that I couldn’t rotate it. If an arm or wall mount is more your style, you’ll need to unscrew the base and replace it with the included VESA mount.
Acer has done a good job of making the X35 look cool. Predator is an apt name, because you could put this monitor on the deck of a spaceship and have it fit right in. The scales on the stand, the piping, and RGB all work together to make a display that just looks mean.
Since the X35 is a G-Sync Ultimate monitor, video inputs are limited to one HDMI and one DisplayPort connection. You’ll want to stick to DisplayPort, however, because HDMI is limited to 100Hz at the maximum resolution. DisplayPort can clock all the way up to 200Hz when overclocking is enabled in the OSD but anything beyond 144Hz is limited to 8-bit color. The panel is capable of 12-bit, if you don’t mind scaling down to 120Hz.
The X35 uses a spacious, 35 inch VA panel that looks stunning. The bezels are thin, the screen is bright, and the 1800R curve is just generous enough to draw you into the picture. Compared to a TN panel, which is a popular choice for gaming monitors, the response time is a bit slower, but color accuracy and viewing angles are improved. In my testing, the off-axis color shift is the best I’ve ever seen.
Spec-wise, the X35 is a high-water mark for ultrawide displays. Acer rates it at a native brightness of 600-nits and a peak brightness of 1000. The vast majority of ultrawide gaming monitors today offer peak brightness of 400 nits or less, which makes the X35 especially impressive. It also features a native contrast of 2500:1 and an unprecedented (for a gaming display) 512 local dimming zones. The product page also promises 90% coverage of the DCI-P3 color space, which is especially good for vibrancy. Add to that its 2ms response time, which is perfect for eliminating ghosting and perceived input lag in games, and you have a monitor that should be outstanding for HDR gaming, movies, and content creation alike.
To test some of these claims, I turned to the SpyderX Elite from Datacolor. This tool uses a camera and software bundle to assess color, brightness, contrast, and much more. The limitation is that the monitor must be in SDR mode to make the necessary picture adjustments to capture accurate readings. Here is the scorecard:
As you can tell, the monitor did very well. The highest brightness I was able to record in SDR mode was 537 nits. When playing HDR-enabled games, brightness clearly and frequently extends far beyond this, though the Elite wasn’t able to gather those numbers. The lowest score here was for Luminance Uniformity, which measures whether the brightness varies at different areas of the screen. The upper corners each lacked brightness by 13-14% maximum compared to the center of the screen. In normal use, however, I didn’t notice the difference at all. White point, contrast, and color assessments were all very good.
Acer’s out of the box calibration was also good. Gaming on default settings, whites tended to look slightly blue, which was confirmed by the SpyderX. Slightly lowering the blue level in the color settings helped to bring that back in line before I swapped to a custom picture profile that was an exact match to the SpyderX’s readings.
That said, no matter what I tried, I couldn’t find coverage anywhere near the 90% DCI-P3 color spectrum featured on the product page. Instead, I found that the monitor covered 100% of sRGB, and 74% of both DCI-P3 and AdobeRGB. Neither of these are bad for a VA panel but are clearly short of the marketing and reinforce that creative professionals would be better served by an IPS display.
The company also promises an impressive 2ms response time, which should be enough to eliminate both ghosting and input lag. To test these claims, I used a mix of Lagom’s LCD Test Pages and Test-UFO. On Lagom’s Response Time test, I wasn’t able to observe any noticeable color shifting, which indicates that the panel is quickly able to shift between dark and light colors.
This was borne out in the ghosting test, which didn’t show any ghosts at all. Blur Busters’ Test UFO tests did show ghosts (as it always does), though they weren’t severe, and weren’t visible in any of the games I played. More noteworthy is that the X35’s Overdrive settings show artifacting at any setting but “Off” and become unusably bad at “Extreme.”
Acer Predator X35 – Gaming Performance
The Predator X35 offers a suite of useful gaming features. Inside the OSD, you’re able to set the Auto Black level, which will intelligently scale up black level in dark scenes so you don’t lose detail. You can enhance this further by manually setting your Dark Boost level to peek into the darkness. If seeing in the dark weren’t advantageous enough, the monitor also allows you to set an on-screen reticle for games without ADS.
The real stand-out feature is G-Sync Ultimate, and it’s just as good as you’ve heard. Since the introduction of G-Sync Compatible gaming monitors, Nvidia has rolled out three tiers G-Sync. Each aims to reduce screen tearing for an ultra-smooth gameplay experience, but only true G-Sync monitors feature Nvidia’s proprietary hardware to ensure the best possible experience. G-Sync Ultimate takes it a step further by introducing standards, such as 1000-nits brightness and multi-zone backlight, to the mix.
Playing Doom Eternal on the X35 was a glorious experience. Not only was it the smoothest gameplay experience I’ve ever had, but the HDR performance was simply incredible. The contrast was by far the best I’ve experienced in gaming, even compared to my 1000-nit TCL television playing Doom Eternal on PlayStation 4. The extravagant amount of local dimming zones works wonders for isolating out dark and light areas of the screen, and the peak brightness makes bright areas, like the fire and brimstone of Doom, feel downright alight. You can even take advantage of that full array backlight in SDR by enabling the SDR Variable Backlight setting inside the OSD.
That said, part of what you’re paying for is that 1000-nits peak, but I found it too high to use comfortably. At regular sitting distance, bright whites would cause my eyes to string. Full-on white screens, such as one of the splash screens after booting Doom literally made me squint. If you can’t actually use the full brightness, is it worth paying extra for?
The high refresh rate is a perfect accompaniment to the monitor’s G-Sync capability, however, making for gameplay that is not only smooth but also remarkably crisp. You’ll need a powerful PC to push anything close to that framerate at full resolution, though, since 1440p ultrawide is actually substantially more pixels than a standard 2K monitor.
The X35 also has the best speakers I’ve heard in a monitor under 43-inches. It’s packed with a pair of 4-watt speakers that are enhanced with Acer’s True Harmony technology. At 4 watts, they still won’t compete with a decent sound system, but this is one of the first monitors I’ve used where I’ve left the built-in speakers turned on.
Outside of gaming, the local dimming zones weren’t so nice. On dark backgrounds, anything light colored resulted in a wide halo. Working in Adobe Photoshop, my screen was filled with hotspots, including behind the mouse cursor, which was quite distracting. Turning off HDR disables the local dimming zones and solves the problem, but doing so is a hassle I don’t want to fiddle with every time I start a game or movie. Eventually, I got used to the wide halo effect, but it’s clear that this feature could use refinement.
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