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Acer XR341CK 34-in 3440x1440 75Hz IPS FreeSync UltraWide Monitor Review

Author:
Subject: Displays
Manufacturer: Acer

Specs, Physical Design

Over the past 2 years or so we have noticed a trend in PC gaming: more and more gamers are realizing the importance of the display in the total gaming experience. Having been in the reviews game for nearly 16 years, I am just as guilty as most of you reading this of falling into the trap of "good enough" monitors. Steam surveys and our own data from readers shows that most of you have found some form of 1920x1080 screen and have stuck with it. But the truth is changing your monitor can and will dramatically impact how you game, how you work and just how impressed you feel each and every time you sit down in front of your PC.

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Today we are looking at one of the monitors that promises to change how you view productivity and gaming. The Acer XR341CK continues the momentum of a new aspect ratio of monitors, 21:9. Otherwise known as UltraWide displays, they are available in both 2560x1080 and 3440x1440 resolutions, though our testing model today uses the latter, larger option. This Acer has a slight curve to it as well, just enough to be enjoyable without changing viewing angles for the primary user. With a 34 inch diagonal measurement, IPS panel technology and AMD FreeSync variable refresh rate support, the Acer XR341CK is likely to be our new favorite monitor for AMD Radeon users.

This doesn't come without a cost though: the XR341CK retails for just over $1,000 on Amazon. For many of you that will be a breath-taking price, and not in a good way. But consider the length of time that users tend keep monitors, I think we can make the case that type of investment is actually worthwhile.

Continue reading our review of the Acer XR341CK 3440x1440 75 Hz FreeSync monitor!!

For some reason, Acer really doesn't like to update its website with information and specifications for monitors in its lineup. But let's dive into the detail we have about the Acer XR341CK.

Specifications

Acer XR341CK

  • 34-in diagonal
  • 3440x1440 resolution
  • 75 Hz maximum refresh
  • IPS panel
  • 1 x DisplayPort input
  • 1 x Mini DisplayPort input
  • 1 x HDMI (MHL 2.0)
  • 1 x HDMI  2.0
  • 1 x DisplayPort out (second monitor daisy chain)
  • 4 port USB 3.0 Hub
  • 4ms rated response time
  • 300 nit brightness
  • LED backlight
  • FreeSync Variable Refresh Technology support (DisplayPort)
  • 2 x 7 watt speakers
  • Ambient Lighting under panel

Physical Design

The first thing that I noticed after taking the Acer XR341CK out of the box was its physical appearance. It's sleek, sexy and very modern looking; there aren't any flimsy black plastic pieces or wobbly stands to be seen.

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If you haven't been in a room with a 21:9 display yet the wide aspect ratio can be quite a shock at first glance. A typical 16:9 video played back at fullscreen will give you vertical black bars for spacing on either side, which is a drawback, but for gaming and productivity, there are very few display options that can match the balance these have. The stand, with is brushed metal finish and the thin bezel surrounding the panel give the monitor a "high tech" feel that will impress visitors.

With a true IPS panel powering the XR341CK, viewing angles are spot on and color shift when moving around the panel in different directions is basically nonexistent.

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The stand under the monitor is uses two long legs along with a third base, of sorts, at the back in the center. It's minimal, but functional. It takes up a lot of desk space but you can definitely use the area between and under the legs for storage of post-it notes.

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The rest of the stand supports height adjustment of about 5-6 inches, as well as angle adjustment from -5 to 35 degrees.

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This shot shows you the subtle curve of the Acer XR341CK - it's not a huge amount and is just about perfect for a single user in the center of the screen's real estate. Issues that consumers had with curved TVs are avoided with the realization that monitors are inherently single user devices and with the extreme width of the screen, the curve helps make items on either side a bit closer to relative scale.

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In the middle of the stand there is as simple cable management opening to run your power and display cables through.

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Acer has made the XR341CK VESA mountable as well should you want to replace the included stand or add this display to a desk arm.

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A four port USB 3.0 hub is included on the monitor making accessory device connection simple.

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For input connections, the XR341CK includes a mini DisplayPort, a full size DisplayPort (though only one can be used a time), two HDMI ports (one of which supports HDMI 2.0) and even a DisplayPort output to allow for monitor pass through.

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The input selection on the back is great but there is one headache in the design. If you use a standard DisplayPort cable with a retention lock on it (which is very common) you are going to have a difficult time removing it because of the proximity of the bordering overhang. To be fair, the cable that Acer provides does NOT have a lock on it to prevent this from occurring, but with only 4 feet of range with the cable in the box, I fear many users will find longer cables and then later realize the issue. Acer should fix this on future models.

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The back side of the monitor is a very shiny piano black finish and will attract dust and fingerprints easily. For most users with the monitor opposite a wall it will likely not be an issue. If the rear of your monitor faces outward though you'll want to keep a dust rag handy.

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Acer has included ambient lighting under the XR341CK that can be adjusted for color, pattern and brightness. Blue, red, green and white are your options, with five different brightness settings and you can have the light steady, flash, pulse or swing back and forth like Knight Rider. It is a really neat effect and is actually useful for those of you that game in the dark, adding some ambient light to your desk.


October 21, 2015 | 04:15 PM - Posted by mLocke

Thank you for your courage.

October 21, 2015 | 04:33 PM - Posted by Bezzell

Tack on another 300 bucks for gsync. UGH!!

How close are driver modders on getting freesync working on Nvidia cards?

October 21, 2015 | 05:28 PM - Posted by H1tman_Actua1

"Free"sync not so "free".

October 21, 2015 | 06:14 PM - Posted by funandjam

Quit being a knucklehead. You know very well that is not what the 'free' is referring to.

But in case you conveniently forgot:

Two equivalent monitors side by side, one freesync and the other gsync. The gsync costs a fair amount more than the freesync version. It's this price difference that freesync is referring to. As in, the freesync monitor is "free" of that price increase.

October 21, 2015 | 06:54 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

But that would make too much sense. People stuck in fandom mode wouldn't like that.

October 21, 2015 | 09:53 PM - Posted by DaKrawnik

Probably because G-Sync works that much better. Freesync is still struggling with that lower VRR window performance...

October 22, 2015 | 04:36 AM - Posted by JohnGR

Who wants to game at, for example, 25 fps even with GSync? Those extra $200 that you pay for the GSync version can go in a better graphics card. They are enough to move you from a GTX 970 to a R9 Fury. So, instead of gaming at 25fps with a GTX 970 and having to depend on GSync to get a smooth 3D experience, you buy a Fury X and have a better experience at probably 35fps for example.
GSync is a one way road only for those who stay loyal to Nvidia hardware or want to make the best gaming setup with A SINGLE card. There a GTX 980Ti or a Titan X and $200 more for a GSync monitor, is the only option.

October 26, 2015 | 04:40 PM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

People don't generally game at 25, but as we've mentioned several times in the past, the issue is more of what happens when a game engine hitches and we get one or two frames drawn at a lower refresh rate. This can cause intermittent tearing or judder on non-GSync panels as the engine resumes from that hitch event.

October 21, 2015 | 11:56 PM - Posted by H1tman_Actua1

Gsync version of this is listed at the same price. So again Not "free" ass most AMD followers think what "free" means in the title.

October 22, 2015 | 02:07 AM - Posted by rl (not verified)

You're a liar and whats even worse, a bad one.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16824106002&cm_re=Ac...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16824009869&cm_re=ac...

newegg is just an example.

October 22, 2015 | 08:12 PM - Posted by renz (not verified)

did you follow FreeSync from the very beginning? do you know whay AMD specifically choose the word "Free" to begin with? i know some people like to think that the "free" means free licensing to monitor maker. but if you really follow FS from the very beginning you will know that is not the case. back when AMD actually showing FS in CES 2014 they even mention they might not take it into real product. so obviously that 'free' is not coming from free licensing to monitor maker. they specifically use the word free to jab nvidia solution which require new hardware back then (new gpu since it's only available on kepler and above and of course new monitor). FS was free because there is no need to buy new gpu because AMD claim said technology already supported in their hardware for three generations (which leading to speculation that even 5k and 6k series might be possible to use FS)and no need to buy new monitor because all it needs was firmware update to make it work with current monitors.

October 22, 2015 | 10:59 PM - Posted by El Gato (not verified)

If (and when) FreeSync is as good as Gsync then Gsync will be out permanently. But as far as I can see Gsync is just better and people that pay 1000 for monitors don't care about price anyway. AMD has budget gaming, NVidia has the high-end enthusiast crowd. And I followed the two links to those monitors on Newegg and the Gsync monitor is sold out! I might be a fanboy but I have my reasons........

October 22, 2015 | 04:27 AM - Posted by JohnGR

The GSync version costs $1299.

October 22, 2015 | 09:06 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

OH NOES! A review of a piece of hardware that uses an AMD technology! BASH IT!

October 21, 2015 | 06:48 PM - Posted by Evo01

Thanks for the review Ryan. I got this panel last week and for the most part it's awesome. Other than some games not supporting the resolution(Heros of the Storm is one). My biggest problem is when I change the settings in the OSD they don't save after the monitor wakes from sleep or after I shut it off.

Update: The monitor I got was an open box item from amazon(their error wasn't suppose to be). After I hit the reset option in the OSD everything seems to be working as it should. I'll post another update if it happens again.

October 21, 2015 | 05:57 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Does Witcher3 support this res? Also Ryan does the osd save settings properly as per comment above? That's a significant flaw if it doesn't.

October 22, 2015 | 01:57 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

The Witcher 3 does support that resolution, yah.

Yeah, he corrected himself and it seems to be working for him, above. I had no such issues.

October 21, 2015 | 09:30 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I see little reason to get this over a cheaper, larger, higher resolution 4k panel.

October 21, 2015 | 09:46 PM - Posted by John H (not verified)

A few reasons to consider:
5 megapixels is easier to drive than 8
21.5:9 is really engaging for all kinds of games
Good for 21.5:9 movies - 100% viewing area
Still falls back to a 27" 2560x1440 when used 16:9

You have to try one for at least a whole day.

October 22, 2015 | 12:52 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

The 4k (assuming around 40", which you can get cheaper than this) is even wider than this thing, both in terms of pixels and physical size. So even if you think that vertical resolution is irrelevant, 4k will still get you even more horizontal room to play with for ultrawide content, as well as the option for far more vertical room when needed. 3440x1440 would be a perfectly good option if priced between 2560x1440 and 4k (and closer to 2560), but as it stands, with prices exceeding those of 4k, you can get a monitor which does everything this one does, and more, for less money.

October 28, 2015 | 04:54 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

As far as I know 4K monitors only come in 16:9 format like HD TV's, I never heard of a 4K ultra wide. If so I would imagine it would be a beast to drive and cost a fortune to purchase.

October 22, 2015 | 01:29 AM - Posted by Hakuren

Seriously I don't get it what's the point of this resolution. If you want big go 4K (or 3.9K because full 4K is over 4000 px). If not - 1440/1600p. Firm believer that best aspect ratio (and I'm with Allyn on this one) is 16:10. Unfortunately manufacturers charge outrageous $$$ for that kind of stuff, so 1440 it is.

October 22, 2015 | 04:53 AM - Posted by Joakim L (not verified)

"Firm believer that the best aspect ratio is 16:10" So you are honestly believing that one specific aspect ratio is best for every purpose or situation, I'm sorry but thats just stupid.

October 22, 2015 | 11:23 AM - Posted by Branthog

I refused to accept 16:9 for ages. That is part of why I wouldn't replace my 16:10 30" Apple Cinema Display. I wasn't going to replace a five year old display that was gorgeous and performed fantastically for a shitty 16:9 like some fucking peasant. Like some plebe who probably refers to resolutions with a single dimension and tags a "p" onto the end of them, redundantly.

I mean, 16:9 are by and for total pieces of shit!

But then I got a 16:9 and was like "oh, actually, I don't care -- in fact, the horizontal space is a bit more important than extra vertical space.. especially at this screen size, where it just means I have to move my head up and down a bunch more".

I mean, I'm always happy for more pixels, but . . . it really isn't the end of the world at all.

October 22, 2015 | 02:41 PM - Posted by Jeremy Hellstrom

4:3 FOREVER!!!
 

So there!

October 25, 2015 | 05:39 AM - Posted by Prasanna Shinde (not verified)

hey i wanted to ask this for a long time to PCPer, please consider this question :
is there anyone (a company like ASUS, Acer, DELL, or hell even Nixeus) even trying to build a 24" 1080p 144Hz IPS G-SYNC/FreeSync monitor under 300$-350$?
G-SYNC / FreeSync either would work because we all know that in 2016 AMD and nVidia both would have tremendously powered GPUs that could easily overpower a 1080p screen which would cost less than 300$ !!!

October 28, 2015 | 05:00 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Yes, but 21:9 gives you 44 % more horizontal video rendering where as the 16:10 only gives you about 11% more vertical and no increase in horizontal.

October 22, 2015 | 04:30 AM - Posted by JohnGR

The lights under the monitor will be useful in a dark room when using a keyboard close to the screen, that doesn't have LED illumination. In any other case I hope they have the option to turn them off.

October 26, 2015 | 04:42 PM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

Yeah they can be turned off / change brightness. Totally agree though, that's a great use case (keyboard lighting).

October 22, 2015 | 10:40 AM - Posted by Batismul (not verified)

Nice looking monitor but that the only thing about it....

October 22, 2015 | 11:20 AM - Posted by Branthog

I'd be down for this if it had GSync.

Also, a thousand bucks for a monitor of this size is *nothing*, with IPS.

I mean, shit, until my ASUS ROG Swift this year, my last four monitors over the previous dozen years were all Apple Cinema Displays (the 23" when that was the biggest, then the 30" ones when those were). I think, including taxes, I must have dropped $9,000 or so on those four displays...!

October 22, 2015 | 01:03 PM - Posted by JohnGR

Here

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16824009869&cm_re=ac...

It only costs $200 more.

October 23, 2015 | 11:43 AM - Posted by Prasanna Shinde (not verified)

hey i wanted to ask this for a long time to PCPer, i know this a "storage" area but, please consider this question :
is there anyone (a company like ASUS, Acer, DELL, or hell even Nixeus) even trying to build a 24" 1080p 144Hz IPS G-SYNC/FreeSync monitor under 300$-350$?
G-SYNC / FreeSync either would work because we all know that in 2016 AMD and nVidia both would have tremendously powered GPUs that could easily overpower a 1080p screen which would cost less than 300$ !!!

November 2, 2015 | 05:26 AM - Posted by Lesh (not verified)

It is a pity that at the time of entry FreeSync monitors, all the reviewers focused on comparing AMD and Nvidia technology. In all the hustle and bustle of the most important fact has been overlooked. Because of the price, G-Sync is not attractive for owners of low-cost systems, which is where it is most useful. The average user of NVidia card, always will prefer to buy the higher-end card, than pay the $ 200-300 for the monitor. In contrast, an expensive card holders (with default high in-game fps) do not gain much. Quite different is the situation in the case of AMD cards. Because the price of the FreeSync monitors does not require additional investment, this is an excellent investment for owners of less expensive cards from AMD, where normally fps in games drops below 60 Hz.

November 2, 2015 | 05:46 AM - Posted by Lesh (not verified)

BTW. I am the owner of cheaper LG 34um67 monitor with an aspect ratio 21:9 and FreeSync (EDID modified to the range (30-75Hz). Experience in demanding games - Witcher3, Star Citizen AC - is amazing, although the resolution is only 2560x1080. Certainly, I will never go back to standard 16:9 monitor and a lack of Sync technology.

January 22, 2016 | 01:17 PM - Posted by Arseni (not verified)

How did you get the range down to 30?
got one as well would love to know

November 3, 2015 | 06:22 PM - Posted by J Nevins (not verified)

Would have loved some game test results at this resolution. Disappointing Ryan didn't put the time in. I bet he played Star Wars on a nVidia GPU too.

January 14, 2016 | 03:36 PM - Posted by Peter (not verified)

I have this monitor and the screen does't scale to each end, top-bottom and more clearly, left and right (the sides).

I notice the monitor in this review does not do it either. The crimson drivers for AMD GPU scaling does not seem to do anything.

Does anyone know what gives here? There are no other settings that allow overscanning and what not. And like I said, the ones that do, don't change a thing.

Advice?

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