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Acer Predator X34 Review

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Acer Predator X34 Testing:

Gaming:

When it comes to gaming, the benefits of an ultra-wide resolution vary greatly depending on the genre and the game. So in order to get the best picture I could (no pun intended), I tested out several games from different genres in order to answer the following key questions: what benefit, if any, does 3440x1440 offer over your typical 1920x1080?; does the curved nature of the screen provide increased immersion?; and finally, does G-SYNC matter? I will go game by game, listing the genre for each game, with a final summary at the end.

Before I begin, I would just like to touch upon widescreen behavior in games for those that are unfamiliar with the common techniques game developers employ. Now that 16:9 and 16:10 displays are mainstream, widescreen support is pretty much a given these days outside of 2D, pixel-based retro games. The most common way of supporting widescreens is referred to as HOR+, wherein the horizontal field of view is increased while the vertical field of view remains untouched. This provides a wider, more panoramic field of view and is considered the most ideal technique. The opposite would be VERT-, wherein the horizontal field of view is typically unchanged or possibly increased slightly, but the vertical field of view is decreased. This technique is obviously disliked since you’re actually losing field of view and is only slightly more tolerable than the laziest method of all, stretching. I don't think I need to explain that one; and if you do encounter a game like that, your best bet is just playing it windowed to avoid distortion. In any case, ultra-wide support typically follows suit, employing whatever technique is used for widescreen.

NOTE: For all the screenshots, I have inserted limegreen lines to mark the added real estate provided by 21:9 over 16:9 (remember to click on the images to view larger sizes where the green lines are more apparent). Red lines with diagonals over the area represents real estate lost due to VERT- implementation.

First up is Batman: Arkham Knight, Rocksteady's latest (and final?) third-person, action-adventure game in the Arkham series. Arkham Knight employs a HOR+ approach, while keeping the GUI untouched. As such, jumping to 3440x1440 from 1080p or 1440p, you get to see more of the environment around Batman, but the GUI elements reside in the same positions within the 16:9 ratio area. Despite the technical issues many people experienced with the PC version, Arkham Knight is a gorgeous game when maxed out, especially with all of NVIDIA's goodies turned on. The ultra-wide resolution and curved nature of the screen definitely provided a very immersive experience, and despite having already beat the game before testing this monitor, I felt compelled to complete a few more side missions just to soak in the new-found beauty of it all. Thanks to NVIDIA G-SYNC, the experience was nice and smooth even on the GTX 770.

 

 

Next up is another third-person, action-adventure game, Tomb Raider – the 2013 reboot. I chose this game for several reasons: it was my personal 2013 Game of the Year; it is one of the most immersive games I've played in recent years; it is very resource intensive when everything is cranked up; it was actually one of the demos NVIDIA used to show off G-SYNC when the company first unveiled the technology; and it was recently announced that the sequel will be coming to PC this month! Like Arkham Knight, Tomb Raider employs a HOR+ approach and with the minimalistic GUI, you simply get to enjoy more of the world. The Acer Predator X34 made one of the most immersive games even more immersive! I can't wait to play Rise of the Tomb Raider on this beast!

 

 

Moving out of the third-person realm, I wanted to see what advantage, if any, an ultra-wide resolution would provide in first-person shooters. So naturally, I went with a game that is still somehow Steam's best-selling game, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO). CS:GO employs the typical HOR+, but the GUI floats to the edges of the screen horizontally, while also scaling to the vertical resolution. The latter implies that the GUI elements have percentage-based sizes rather than fixed sizes. Having the elements move to the side are nice, allowing more unobstructed view centrally, but I wish the Source engine provided a scaling option for the GUI elements so I could shrink them a bit. Nevertheless, the increased field of view would theoretically have given me an advantage in the game had I not been super rusty from not playing it in months. The extra vision would allow you to spot enemies that would typically be out of your field of view, although you obviously still need the reflexes and skills to respond in a timely manner.

 

Next I went with a first-person shooter that's a little more stylistic and less competitive – Borderlands 2 (BL2). If you've never played a Borderlands game, it's essentially a first-person shooter with RPG elements and a ton of humor. What's not to like?! Like the previous games, BL2 employs HOR+. Like Arkham Knight, the GUI elements stay centralized on the screen based on a 16:9 ratio, but unlike that game, you can actually go into the options menu and move them a bit! Not fully, but enough to spread it out a little more. BL2 is a damn pretty game, but it isn't what I'd consider immersive, nor do I think having the extra field of vision in a non-competitive shooter really provides much of an advantage. That being said, seeing more of the world certainly isn't a bad thing, so it's still a better experience overall; albeit, one that's not worth the added cost if this is all you play.

 

 

One of the most popular genres these days is MOBAs, or Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas. For better or worse, my friends lured me into League of Legends (LoL), so that's the one I tested this monitor on (and, outside of testing, is the game I've played the most since getting the monitor). LoL employs HOR+, while keeping the central GUI elements untouched and keeping the outer elements "attached" to the sides. I'm still debating whether this approach provides an advantage or not. On the one hand, you do get to see more of the landscape, allowing you to potentially see enemies on your screen before they can see you (assuming you have vision of the area), but on the other hand, it puts the mini-map farther away from the center of the screen, making mini-map awareness possibly more difficult. LoL is one of those games where you naturally get better over time just by playing, so it's hard for me to say whether this monitor provided any benefit or detriment.

 

Staying with the isometric perspective, I decided to start playing Path of Exile (PoE) again, a free-to-play Action-RPG that is everything Diablo III should have been – dark, gritty, highly replayable, constantly updated, and infused with unique ideas. Like all the previous games I've tested thus far, PoE employs HOR+... to perfection. The GUI elements stay attached to the sides without any scaling, making this one of the best ultra-wide supports of the bunch. The extra real estate means I could see enemies on the screen earlier, which is quite useful on my main character, a bow-equipped Ranger. Being able to pick off 90% of enemies before they even reach me is quite satisfying indeed. PoE is the one game in the bunch where I did experience the occasional stutter, but I'd chalk that up to network latency issues and no fault of the monitor; G-SYNC never faltered.

 

Next up, I decided to install Uplay and give a few popular Ubisoft titles a whirl, starting with Watch_Dogs, a third-person, action-adventure, hack-a-thon. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Watch_Dogs in the past, so I thought I'd surely enjoy it again with even better visuals, right? If only that were true. Ubisoft is notoriously inconsistent with its native widescreen support and while Watch_Dogs did officially support 3440x1440, its implementation was sadly VERT-. Yes, you read that correctly – a normally visually-stunning game that some how becomes worse when going to 21:9. You're actually better off playing this windowed at 16:9.

 

Sorely disappointed with Watch_Dogs, I decided Ubisoft had once chance to redeem itself with its latest major release, Assassin's Creed: Syndicate. As another third-person, action-adventure game, I feared Ubisoft would disappoint me again with some VERT- implementation. Thankfully that was not the case, but Ubisoft did manage to disappoint me in another way. In order to have true, unstretched 3440x1440 resolution, you must manually enter it in the INI, otherwise it's just 2560x1440 stretched. This adds the frustrating side effect of not allowing you to then go change the in-game video settings afterward, or it'll reset, thus making it impossible for me to do proper screen testing by switching to windowed like I could in other games.

Not yet satisfied, I gave Ubisoft one last chance, testing out Far Cry 3, an open-world, first-person shooter. Praise the gaming gods, 3440x1440 was not only officially supported, but was even HOR+! But wait, it's not all redemption for Ubisoft – the GUI gets scaled as well, making the radar/mini-map annoyingly huge. Not a game-breaker by any means, but still rather frustrating like it was in CS:GO, and does take away from some of the beauty of the game.

 

So there you have it – a sampling of several different genres, with overall pretty decent results. If you take out the Ubisoft outliers, ultra-widescreen support is relatively good and the Acer Predator X34's combination of 3440x1440 resolution and a curved screen certainly provides increased immersion in many first-person and third-person adventure games. If you're a hardcore PC gamer in the market for a new monitor, you should definitely consider leaving 1080p behind.




  1. Acer Predator X34 Introduction & Closer Look
  2. Acer Predator X34 Closer Look (Continued)
  3. Acer Predator X34 Specifications & Features
  4. Acer Predator X34 Testing: Setup & Everyday and Work Use
  5. Acer Predator X34 Testing: Gaming
  6. Acer Predator X34 Conclusion
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