"Acer's XZ272U gaming monitor strikes a great balance between price and performance."
Excellent gaming performance
Surprisingly accurate in color
Curved, but not too much
Lack of processing quality
Easy lubrication with time lapse
Inconspicuous color scale
I'm someone who usually dives into the high-end segment, and Acer caught my attention when they announced a 27-inch curved gaming monitor with a 165Hz refresh rate. Not because of its spec sheet, but because of its price: could the Nitro XZ272U, with an MSRP of $ 330 but often retailing around $ 300, be worthy of our list of the best gaming monitors?
That's not a lot of money in the world of gaming monitors, and while it's not exactly pocket money either, Acer's numbers promise a solid gaming experience. So we're going to find out how well it works.
There's always a catch with specs like this at this price point. But with this nitro gaming monitor, there's nothing like a deal breaker here – as long as you know what you're signing up for.
Starting with the design of the monitor, when you unpack the Acer XZ272U, you will be pleasantly surprised. The monitor isn't heavy and clearly built to a cheaper standard, but Acer scores a ton of brownie points with the display stand.
It has a simple round, swiveling base on which you attach a red, anodized aluminum neck that has height and tilt adjustments, giving you a complete range of motion.
There are some red accents on the back of the monitor, but there are no sticky design elements on the front other than the subtle red accents on the stand. If you ask me, these are among the better looking gaming monitors you can buy for this budget, and it won't look out of place on the family computer either.
The curve is rated 1500R, and this is what it looks like: it's subtle, but it helps you get a little more immersed in the game without overdoing it so that it's just gaming-appropriate.
If you want to use it for both gaming and work, this is a great dual purpose monitor.
Connections and controls
If you need a display with tons of ports, the back of the Acer XZ272U isn't as covered as Dell's 27-inch USB-C monitor, although you've probably seen it already. You'll want to use the monitor's DisplayPort input, but it also has two HDMI inputs, a headphone output, and a power connector – and that's it. There is neither USB-C nor a USB hub or other fancy extras here, but at this price they are not to be expected anyway.
The OSD is also incredibly simple, but it has everything you need. Operation is via a direction node in the lower right corner of the display, which first calls up a quick menu with brightness, input and color modes. If you go to the full menu, you will find a section titled "Image" where you can adjust the settings for Brightness, Contrast, HDR and Sharpness. The Color submenu provides more precise adjustments to get the right colors, including gamma and temperature controls.
There is also a game submenu where you can enable FreeSync, set overdrive mode, bring up an update rate counter, and enable a virtual target point.
One thing to keep in mind with the OSD is that it can be very slow to respond to input and the Directional node is not particularly inviting to use. It's shaky, dirty, and provides buttery feedback at best as you go through the motions. However, it is unlikely that you will spend much time in the OSD. Hence, it's likely that this doesn't really matter anyway.
Acer has equipped the XZ272U with a QHD VA panel, which means that it has a resolution of 2560 x 1440. Thanks to VA technology, the static contrast ratio is given as 3000: 1. Acer does not provide any numbers for color coverage. So let's see how the display fares in our tests.
Our sample achieved 95% coverage of standard sRGB storage space and 72% of AdobeRGB. These are not spectacular numbers, but if all you have chances is it doesn't matter to you anyway. Of course, if you're looking for a monitor that's good for gaming and color-critical work, you'll want to look elsewhere, but then you'll also need a bigger budget. In terms of color accuracy, however, Acer seems to be doing something right, with the XZ272U reporting a Delta-E of 1.23. It may not have a wide gamut of color, but it accurately reproduces what it can display.
The XZ272U also failed to meet the promised contrast values, although only a few VA monitors ever achieve the promised 3000: 1. In this regard, the XZ272U actually did quite well, achieving a contrast of 1870: 1 at 100% brightness and 2000: 1 at 75% brightness, which we don't have to write down often.
The XZ272U did quite well, achieving a contrast of 2000: 1 at 75% brightness
However, the display doesn't get very bright. Our highest brightness is 287.5 nits. The full brightness may be a bit disappointing in a brightly lit room, but if you play in a dark room at night I found the 75% brightness display to be the most comfortable as it happens to have the best contrast ratio.
After calibrating, I managed to get 1 percent more AdobeRGB coverage out of the display, but the accuracy was actually a bit worse with a Delta-E of 1.27 instead of 1.23. So it can be said with certainty that the calibration of the XZ272U brings at least little benefit in the case of our sample.
When it comes to HDR performance, the Acer XZ272U has a DisplayHDR 400 certificate, which doesn't really mean a lot. There is no form of local dimming, and since DisplayHDR 400 is the lowest level of certification I would see it this way: The Acer XZ272U can interpret HDR signals, but it doesn't give you a true HDR experience.
In summary, it can be said that the panel does not have the most sparkling colors, but is sharp, deep black, consistent and surprisingly accurate in the colors displayed.
When it comes to gaming, Acer touts a refresh rate of 165 Hz and response times of 4 ms, which means a solid gaming experience, but nothing earth-shaking. The standard for gaming displays these days is 144 Hz, so Acer jumps over it by a hair. However, we are entering a time when 240 Hz displays are emerging, and a handful of manufacturers have just launched 360 Hz displays alongside the launch of the Nvidia RTX 3000, though the vast majority of gamers will benefit from nothing above 144 Hz will be anyway.
VA panels deliver vivid colors and deep blacks
My experience is reflected in it. The 165Hz refresh rate was a dream to play with, be it slow single player titles or nervous multiplayer games like Destiny 2. The QHD resolution isn't too demanding for your system. So if you have an up-to-date graphics card and want to cut the settings down, it is very doable to get smooth frame rates without spending a lot of money. FreeSync works as it should without stuttering, tearing, or flickering. The latter can often occur on VA panel monitors.
The XZ272U does not have a real G-Sync module, but it does support G-Sync via the Adaptive-Sync standard. While it doesn't appear on Nvidia's list of supported G-Sync monitors (yet), the technology works all well.
As mentioned earlier, this monitor has a VA panel that we find a catch on: VA smear. As much as VA panels deliver vivid colors and deep blacks, smearing is a common phenomenon with VA monitors as the color is sometimes slow to change. Visible smearing occurs on fast-moving objects, especially when changing from light to dark colors.
For example, if you move your mouse across the screen on a dark background, it leaves a short trail – or in games, if you turn around quickly, it presents itself as a kind of slight motion blur. It's a very soft blur because the refresh rate is high, but still a blur.
However, it is not something that you should immediately take at face value and pass this monitor on. Smudging is minimal and unless you are very competitive in your games, it is unlikely to be bothered, if you even notice it. You can see the effect in the Blurbusters test above. The upper alien moved at 165 Hz, the middle one with half and the lower one with half. Of course, the top alien produced the smoothest image, but you can see the light is dying out and the image was certainly not as sharp as the Samsung G7's.
A monitor like the Samsung G7 (either its 27-inch or 32-inch variant) offers crisp moving images with less smudging, but you'll have to more than double your budget to get your hands on one of these, which is easy is not the case. For most people, it's not worth it.
After all, the strength of the VA panel lies in the color rendering and contrast ratio, and the deep black and the somewhat vivid colors make games very entertaining.
If you're looking for a gaming monitor that will likely meet most of your needs, the Acer XZ272U is worth considering. It may not be the absolute fastest on the market, but it's fast enough for the vast majority of gamers, and at $ 300 it's easy to forgive the monitor's shortcomings, largely due to cheaper build quality and a visible light due to smudging (if you can even see it), a nondescript suite of ports, and a slow user interface.
But you won't be spending a lot of time in the UI anyway. With its 1500R curve, the XZ272U is suitable for both games and office work. So, if you need a dual-purpose monitor for games and writing papers, this is the one for you.
Are there alternatives?
Absolutely, the $ 300 gaming monitor segment isn't lacking for competition. The Gigabyte G27Q has an IPS panel with greater color coverage, but you'll sacrifice the curve and deep black. For little extra money, you can get the same Acer monitor, but in a 32-inch format for more immersion. If you want to spend a little less, you can consider Asus' TUF Gaming VG27VH1B as it has a lower resolution and will therefore also be less demanding on your graphics card. Similarly, Acer also sells the 27-inch Predator Z1, which is available at a similar price but drops the resolution to Full HD and has a refresh rate of 144 Hz. Currently it is also a 4 year old model.
If you double your budget, you can get the 1000R Curved G7 from Samsung. However, despite its unmatched performance in gaming, this monitor has shortcomings that can make you feel salty when you spend as much as it costs.
Overall, I feel that Acer's XZ272U strikes a balance between price and performance that is likely to please the largest audience.
How long it will take?
Unless you get a lemon, we expect the Acer XZ272U to last as long as any monitor today should: at least five years, and Acer protects your purchase for a three-year warranty.
Should I buy it?
Yes. If you need a monitor for gaming and general office work, the Acer XZ272U is likely to keep you happy for years.