Acer Predator XB3 gaming monitor review: Not quite an apex Predator – Popular Science

Acer’s Predator XB3 offers incredible gaming and productivity performance, but is it worth the sky-high price tag?
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The Acer Predator XB323QK NVbmiiphuzx—XB3, for short—tries to do it all. Its beautiful, fast 4K screen is an excellent match for PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X. Its robust connectivity and features offer plenty of support for all kinds of PC users. Solid ergonomics, built-in speakers, and HDR all go above and beyond what we would call “basic” gaming monitor utility. Trying to be everything for everyone, though, comes at a high cost. At $1,200, the XB3 prices itself out of consideration for most people—but not all people. For the right kind of player, one who both wants exceptional-looking games and professional-caliber color, the Predator XB3 may be worth the expense. Let’s take a closer look.
Harry Rabinowitz
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Even among Acer’s premium Predator line, which includes most of Acer’s best monitors, the XB3 is expensive. Two of our favorite 4K gaming monitors, the Gigabyte M32U and Asus Swift PG32UQ, offer very similar features for less than $1,000, so the XB3’s price invites some skepticism. It is an impressive display, though, with the color reproduction to serve as a highly accurate monitor for photography and design work.
Among Acer’s premium Predator brand, the XB3 offers excellent image quality, only outmatched by the massive 37-inch X38 and 43-inch CG7. The XB3 features a 31.5-inch IPS display running at 4K resolution, 144Hz refresh rate, 1ms response time, and a DisplayHDR 400 rating. A 32-inch, 4K gaming monitor running 144Hz is among the most luxurious core specs you can get, typically costing upwards of $700 (and often more when paired with unique innovations).
Outside of the screen, the XB3 features a bevy of premium touches. The chassis is largely metal, with ample ergonomic adjustability, a sturdy build, and slim bezels. Built-in are two four-watt speakers that serve as a great backup when headset fatigue starts to set in. On the rear, the XB3 features ample connectivity, including the latest HDMI 2.1 and DisplayPort 1.4 ports. HDMI 2.1 is especially useful for console gamers seeking peak performance from their PS5 or Xbox Series X.
Fully assembled, the XB3 weighs a hefty 29.7 pounds. That weight makes it incredibly sturdy when adjusting ergonomics but difficult to physically move around.
It’s important to know what you’re getting into buying a monitor this size. On my 47 x 30 inch desk, the screen felt a little too close to my face, no matter where I placed the monitor. The stand places the screen in front of the stand, so you need a very deep desk to position it well. Anyone with a larger desk shouldn’t have an issue, but tighter setups like mine are a bit tricky to perfect.
Aside from two USB-A ports on the left-hand side, the XB3 features a wall of downward-facing ports along the back of the display, including HDMI, DisplayPort, USB-C, USB-B, USB-A, and 3.5mm audio. Downward-facing ports are a double-edged sword: They reduce strain on your cables but are a pain to switch in and out. It’s realistically worth it for the primary video cables—HDMI and DisplayPort—but it can frustrate with ports used for connecting other devices, like USB-A and USB-C.
Like most monitors, the onboard controls also leave something to be desired. You use a row of five square, downward-facing buttons on the right-hand side of the screen to navigate and make system-level display adjustments. The menus are intuitive, but controlling them isn’t, especially compared to monitors like Acer’s Predator X34 and X35, which feature a four-directional joystick.
The Predator XB3 is a perfectly capable everyday monitor but it didn’t initially “wow” me with its performance. Digging into the settings, I discovered the XB3’s eight different picture modes: Standard, Eco, Graphics, HDR, Action, Racing, Sports, and User. Out of the box, Eco is the default, which turns off the XB3’s most impressive features—things like HDR, Super Sharpness, visual response boost (VRB), and Overdrive.
Out of all the preset picture modes, I found that HDR offers the best picture. If you really want to fine-tune the monitor to your liking, User mode lets you fully customize each and every setting.
The XB3 has a Vesa DisplayHDR 400 rating that makes everyday apps pop. Outside of everyday tasks, HDR400 isn’t really enough to fully display high-dynamic range effects in video games. Still, when I showed the XB3 to my friends and family who were used to 1080p and 1440p monitors, they were blown away watching 4K HDR TV shows and YouTube videos.
You don’t buy the Predator XB3 to work on spreadsheets, though. This is a gaming monitor, and you’ll only see what makes its full potential when playing games.
I tested a wide variety of PC games over the XB3’s HDMI 2.1 and DisplayPort 1.4 connections. Few monitors offer the newest HDMI 2.1 connectivity—being able to play games in 4K at 144Hz over HDMI, rather than DisplayPort, was a new experience for me. G-Sync, paired with my Nvidia RTX 3070, ensured buttery smooth performance in graphically intense titles like Elden Ring, which felt massive on the XB3’s 31.5-inch screen, with far-off vistas and gruesome monsters rendered in stunning detail. Frenetic action games like Hades looked seamless and felt smooth.
Frankly, the XB3 enables a higher frame rate and resolution than most gaming PCs can handle. Many AAA games, such as Elden Ring and Red Dead Redemption II, are capped at 60 frames per second in 4K, and even maintaining that resolution and frame rate requires a lot of horsepower. My system could hit 144Hz in 4K in some well-optimized first-person shooters like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and indies like Dead Cells that were easier on my graphics card. When I could manage it, though, playing games in 4K at 144Hz felt fantastic. Fast-moving objects and small details were rendered with incredible fidelity, so much so that I noticed new details in games I was already familiar with. 
Although I only tested the XB3 with a PC, it’s also particularly well-suited for console gaming. With HDMI 2.1, it’s capable of playing games from a PS5 or Xbox Series X in 4K at 144Hz. Many monitors only offer HDMI 2.0, so they can only output one or the other from a console. The large 31.5-inch screen and built-in speakers allow for a self-contained TV-esque experience, as well.
My daily monitor usage covers a wide variety of tasks, including light creative work in Adobe. The XB3 is best suited for gaming but also offered surprisingly great color reproduction for creative workflows. Among gaming monitors, the XB3 offers very bold color reproduction. It has a color accuracy of Delta E<1, with a base DCI-P3 color gamut of 90 percent and sRGB color gamut at 135 percent. That’s in line with similar premium gaming displays like the Asus Swift PG32UQ and Gigabyte M32U, as well as many top monitors for graphic design. Superior color accuracy isn’t a guarantee among top gaming monitors and, candidly, it often isn’t necessary when you’re playing games for fun. If you need professional color, though, the XB3 is mostly up to the task.
The Acer Predator XB3 is an incredible 4K 144Hz gaming monitor that can do a lot of things. It renders games in amazing detail, with fast action captured effortlessly thanks to a high refresh rate and G-Sync compatibility. It’s also well-rounded, bringing above-average color accuracy and pixel density to creative production, particularly for a monitor not designed to put color reproduction first.
Frankly, Its main drawback is its price. Since only the most powerful gaming rigs will be able to hit its maximum resolution and frame rate, the Acer Predator XB3’s $1,199.99 price may be a bitter pill to swallow, even for players with high-end systems. With options like the Asus ROG Swift PG32UQ or Samsung Odyssey G70A in the mix, it is an exceptional display that will only make sense for a very select group of creatives who love games.
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