Gaming monitors come in all shapes in sizes, from super-ultrawide to 43-inch monsters, and beyond. Yet many gamers, including the most serious competitive players, stick to a humble 24-inch, 1080p display. A 24-inch monitor will offer the highest refresh rates and best response times at any given price point.
Acer’s XB253Q GW, a 24.5-inch 280Hz monitor priced at $399.99, drives that point home. Although certainly expensive for a 1080p monitor, it’s hardly more expensive than the 240Hz gaming monitors it competes against. The XB253Q has great image quality, as well, with excellent color and good contrast.
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Acer Predator XB253Q GW – Design
The Acer XB253Q GW clearly aims at the gaming market and, in my opinion, misses. The monitor is a jumble of thin lines and harsh angles. Its most offensive trait is the chin that lines the bottom of the display. This ledge juts forward a quarter of an inch, ruining an otherwise slim and subtle frame. Make sure to have a microfiber handy, because that expansive plateau is going to collect some dust.
Thankfully, the ill-advised look doesn’t carry over to build quality. Though entirely plastic, like 90% of gaming monitors sold, this thing is a tank. It rarely creaks or flexes when handled, giving confidence the monitor will hold up if you tote it to a LAN party.
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The stand might look flimsy, but it keeps the monitor planted and free of wobble. It includes height, tilt, swivel, and pivot adjustments, so you’re sure to find a comfortable position. There’s a VESA mount, as well, so third-party monitor arms are an option if you need a wider range of adjustment.
Acer backs the monitor with a 3-year limited warranty, a nice upgrade over the 1-year warranty provided with most monitors. Dell, which also owns Alienware, is the only competitor that frequently offers a similar warranty. LG and Samsung almost always stick to a 1-year warranty.
Acer Predator XB253Q GW – Features and OSD Menu
You control the Acer XB25Q GW’s on-screen menu with a joystick and several buttons along the monitor’s right flank. This is a common arrangement, though Acer’s implementation could use some work. The physical location of the buttons doesn’t line up with their indicated location in the on-screen menu, forcing mistakes when adjusting settings.
I quickly forgave that problem when I saw the monitor’s long list of quality adjustments. Acer provides five gamma presets, all of them properly labeled, along with RGB calibration and three color temperature settings (though they’re vaguely labeled Normal, Warm, and Cool). It’s a good range of settings for a monitor that targets competitive gaming.
The menu contains the typical gaming-focused features. There’s several gaming presets that target specific genres, like action or racing. Players can turn overclocking, adaptive sync, and variable refresh rate on or off. There’s an optional aim point with several selectable crosshair designs for those who like to cheat in Gears 5.
The menu is full of gotchas, however, which can become annoying. Adaptive Sync doesn’t work with the maximum overclocked refresh rate of 280Hz. Turning on HDR automatically switches the display mode to HDR, which interferes with other settings and adjustments. Precise calibration is only possible in the User display mode, but that turns off some gaming features. It’s a big, tangled ball of if-then, then-that.
The monitor’s connectivity includes two HDMI 2.0 ports, DisplayPort 1.2, an audio-out jack, and a USB 3.0 Type-B upstream connection that serves two USB 3.0 Type-A ports on the monitor’s left side. Gamers should note the DisplayPort 1.2 connection is the only video input that supports 280Hz.
Acer Predator XB253Q GW – Day-to-day Performance
Acer’s XB253Q GW puts most gaming monitors, in any category and at any price, to shame. Its measured out-of-box color accuracy is the best I’ve recorded in ten years of testing, rivaling the color accuracy of the best professional monitors.
Color does fall short of professional standards in color gamut, as the XB253Q GW covers just 97 percent of sRGB and 78 percent of AdobeRGB. Here, the XB253Q GW performs worse than monitors that are less expensive, like the Dell 27 Curved Gaming Monitor S2721HGF. Still, this monitor has a vibrant and engaging look and, when viewing photos or watching movies, delivers a realistic and balanced picture.
That’s helped by the monitor’s extremely bright backlight, which hits a maximum of 456 nits. This isn’t unusual in 2021, but it does make the monitor enjoyable even in a bright, sunlit room. The monitor offers an HDR mode that works well with Windows’ HDR turned on. There’s no local backlight dimming, though, so HDR performance in movies is just ok.
The XB253Q GW is a 24.5-inch, 1080p monitor, and that of course has limitations compared to larger monitors. The pixel count feels cramped when multitasking. Pixel density works out to about 90 pixels per inch, which is low for a modern monitor. However, the XB253Q GW has a reasonably sharp image from a normal viewing distance of two and a half to three feet. Small text can look pixelated but remains easy to read.
Overall, the Acer XB253Q GW is a solid day-to-day monitor despite its focus on competitive gaming. Its size will be a deal-breaker for some, but its quality is excellent. This is among the most attractive 24-inch monitors you can buy, so it should appeal to anyone who wants great quality from a small screen.
Acer Predator XB253Q GW – Gaming Performance
High-refresh monitors arrived several years ago, but the first wave used dated TN-panel technology. Many 240Hz monitors based on TN panels arrived through 2018, and some can still be purchased today. Examples include the Alienware AW2518HF, BenQ Zowie XL2540K, and Acer XF250Q.
The Acer XB253Q GW, and other recent high-refresh IPS monitors like the Asus ROG Swift PG259QN, makes those old TN-panel displays obsolete. You might be lured towards the TN-panel screens by lower prices, but don’t be fooled. The new generation of high-refresh IPS monitors absolutely smears them.
Acer’s XB253Q GW makes the superiority of IPS obvious. As mentioned, the XB253Q GW has great color accuracy. It’s extremely bright and can handle an HDR signal, which provides extra pop in games that support HDR.
The result is a 24.5-inch 1080p gaming monitor that looks fantastic in almost every game you throw at it. Final Fantasy XIV was wonderful, with vibrant yet accurate color that helps fine details, like the purple trees found across the new expansion’s otherworldly landscape, stand out. The monitor looked just as impressive action-RPGs like Diablo 3 and Grim Dawn. Arcane orbs and lightning bolts seem to sizzle with energy as they race across the screen.
This agrees with the XB253Q GW’s competitive focus. Most competitive games have bright, colorful, high-contrast graphics that immediately grab your attention. League of Legends, and Overwatch are great examples. Shooters like Rainbow Six Siege and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare might be considered exceptions, but even they have skewed towards bombastic presentation over the years.
The XB253Q GW only falls short in games with many dark scenes, such as Resident Evil 7 or The Medium. That’s because the XB253Q GW uses an IPS panel. All IPS panels struggle to show a deep inky black, and this monitor is no exception. Still, the monitor hit a contrast ratio of 1100:1 at 50 percent of maximum brightness, which is above average for an IPS monitor.
I also noticed minor color banding in Microsoft Flight Simulator, a tangible result of the XB253Q GW’s modest color gamut. Microsoft Flight Simulator is a stress test for banding because you spend most of your time staring at a sky that spans millions of shades of blue all at once. I call the color banding minor because it usually wasn’t noticeable, showing up only when directly viewing the sun, and at dawn or dusk.
The Acer XB253Q GW’s fundamental strengths lead to a great gaming experience. This monitor is marketed as a twitch gaming monitor, but it holds up when playing strategy, simulation, and role-playing games.
Acer Predator XB253Q GW – Motion Clarity
The Acer Predator XB253Q GW is a 240Hz panel that can be overclocked to 280Hz. First, some simple math. A 240Hz refresh rate works out to a new refresh every 4.16 milliseconds, while a 280Hz refresh rate equals a new refresh every 3.57 milliseconds. Yes, 280Hz is technically better, but I think the difference is too slim to make a difference in perceived responsiveness.
Overclocking to 280Hz disables adaptive sync, and 280Hz is only available over DisplayPort. The HDMI ports are capped at 240Hz.
The overclocked 280Hz refresh rate didn’t introduce noticeable overshoot, a problem caused by overenthusiastic pixel response that appears as white trails behind moving objects. Overshoot was noticeable with the monitor’s response time set from normal to extreme, at both 240Hz and 280Hz, so I’d recommend sticking to normal.
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Motion clarity is excellent at 240Hz and 280Hz. Using the UFO test, which quickly scrolls a UFO across the monitor, the XB25Q GW can display details of the UFO and let you pick out individual stars and galaxies in the background. This is helpful not only when viewing a fast object in a game, like the ball in Rocket League, but also when rapidly turning to spot an enemy in a first-person game.
I saw the benefit even outside the games you’d normally expect. I appreciated the clarity in Dyson Sphere Program, where I found it easy to identify specific buildings in my factory while scrolling rapidly across a planet. The game felt wired to my brain, with every click and camera pan executing precisely the moment I intended.
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This article was originally published by IGN.COM