For our testing, NVIDIA provided the Acer XB280HK, but for the rest of our system, here's what I'm running right now:
- CPU: Intel Core i7 4930K processor w/Corsair H110 cooler (stock clocks)
- Motherboard: ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition
- RAM: 16GB Corsair Vengeance Pro of 2400MHz DDR3
- GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 (reference) in SLI
- Storage: 240GB SanDisk Extreme II and 480GB SanDisk Extreme II
- Chassis: InWin X-Frame Limited Edition
- PSU: Corsair AX1200i digital PSU
- Software: Windows 7 Ultimate x64
- Drivers: GeForce 344.16 WHQL
We'd like to thank all of our partners for their support, as this couldn't be possible without NVIDIA, ASUS, Corsair, SanDisk, or InWin. Without them, we wouldn't have the hardware here to test today, so I'd like to thank them all for providing us with the hardware here in my lab.
Desktop With 4K G-SYNC
3840x2160 is a massive amount of pixels being pushed onto your screen, but I feel that at 28 inches, the screen isn't big enough to do it justice. I do 90% of my work in Google Chrome and Word, so the additional desktop real estate is awesome, but it can sometimes feel a bit small.
As I type this, I'm in Word at 100%, and it's about perfect. Better yet, this single A4 page that I'm typing on is using around 1/7 of my screen real estate, opening up enough room for me to have two Chrome windows side-by-side. The productivity side of 4K is amazing, even at 28 inches. I think 30-34 inch monitors are absolutely perfect for desktop use with 4K, but 28-inch is the bare, bare minimum.
After using the ASUS PQ321QE monitor, which is a 31.5-inch 4K monitor, the 28-inch feels small. But where the PQ321QE stood out with its bigger size, it lost out on splitting the display into two 30Hz displays, and joining them with MST.
This made gaming on the screen not so great, something that becomes even more apparent when a G-SYNC capable screen is sitting in front of you. Even though the ASUS PQ321QE was a "60Hz" display, it wasn't, it was two 30Hz displays joined at the seams in the middle of the display. This isn't the best solution, but more of a stop-gap solution.
What we have here today with the Acer XB280HK is a true 4K monitor with a true 60Hz refresh rate, backed up by NVIDIA's incredible G-SYNC technology. Even on the desktop, you can feel it is much more fluid, with it never slowing down, thanks to G-SYNC picking up the slack, but you notice G-SYNC's magic when you're gaming, which we're going to talk about shortly.
Moving the mouse around in circles on the desktop, or grabbing an Explorer window and throwing it around in circles resulted in a smooth-ish experience. Coming down from the 144Hz display makes everything else feel slower, which is the downside. But if you're shifting from one 60Hz display, which most will be, to the XB280HK, the results will astound you. It's still smooth, but the massive increase in resolution added with 60Hz, mixed up with G-SYNC is the sweet spot.
The ability to play four 1080p videos at once is something even better, as I was able to play Man of Steel, X-Men: Days of Future Past and Need for Speed - all in 1080p each - with enough space to read TweakTown on Chrome. Unbelievable. Nothing slowed down, everything was running beautifully smooth.
Viewing Angles & Sitting in Front of the XB280HK
Acer has used a TN panel for this 4K monitor, with the LED backlight doing a good job of pushing out the brightness to the screen without showing big blotches of backlight bleed. I think the ROG Swift PG278Q did a better job at hiding this, but it was also pushing less pixels, too.
Consumers wondering about viewing angles is something I haven't really gotten before, as for me at least - I look at my display front on, and not from the side. It would be a problem if you were looking at it from the side, but why would you do that? This monitor would be for productivity, or gaming - where you'll be sitting directly in front of it, right?
But, even still, the viewing angles are not too bad at all, within the norm of TN standards. This isn't a super high-end panel like the IGZO-based ASUS PQ321QE, but it's more than good enough. For $799, you're getting a 4K-capable, G-SYNC powered monitor - that's a great deal.
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