Acer Nitro XZ342CUP Gaming Monitor Review - All-Rounder Ultrawide at 1440p

2022-09-10 00:38:09 By : Mr. Jason zhang

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What’s the deal with ultrawide gaming monitors? It’s easy to dismiss the unconventionally wider monitors with a similarly unconventional aspect ratio to be some niche or gimmicky, but it definitely has its value.

And after using a rather decent one in the form of the Acer Nitro XZ342CUP, it’s going to be hard to not go back from ultrawide.

The box of an Acer Nitro 5 XZ342CUP sold in Malaysia includes an HDMI 2.0 cable and a Display Port cable. The stand and base are detached.

Acer’s box packaging has been simply and spartan these days in line with their efforts on being eco-conscious and improve on sustainability- so that means no more of the extra packaging that surely ends up as waste as soon as the product goes out of a box.

But that doesn’t mean it’s a compromise. Despite the spartan package, the box does its job of not harming the cargo it is carrying. We don’t recommend carrying the box around through various public transportation like trains, but should you have to do so like we did, it’s definitely doable.

The monitor is made up of a stand, a base and a panel- all three are easily put together with no tools necessary. Once assembled, it can be swiveled around- the base can be rotated 360 degrees- and the panel can be tilted slightly downwards but mostly upwards. The panels cannot be rotated sideways.

Why would you tilt it upwards, you might wonder? It’s because all the ports are housed right under the panel- at the bottom center of the monitor.

Tilting it upwards gives you better access to the power cable port and the one DP and two HDMI 2.0 ports.

Unfortunately you will have to tidy up the cables on your own. There is a small hook for cable management at the base, but any cable that leads up to the ports will be exposed and dangling. So you’ll need to have some extra zip ties to really get that clean look where the stand stands out, not the cables.

The 34-inch (863mm) size big boi is wide and will look enormous on a regular 900mm wide desk. And on a 1200mm one, as seen below, it fills up a decent size without taking much of desk space.

The stand does have an adjustable height, the tallest setting gives a little bit above 20cm room of clear space below the monitor. The base is of decent size, there will be enough room for normal sized mouse and keyboard to sit on the desk together.

The monitor has a bezel-less display, sort of. There’s no plastic trim the covers the top and sides of the front screen.

However, all of the front screen is the display, so there is still thin black bars surrounding the display. And there is still a plastic bit down the bottom where the Acer logo sits, but having it monitor “bezel-less” in this form makes it look sleek and minimal, sort of.

Speaking of which, the not-sleek gamer red paint job of the stand is suprisingly muted in the low lights and only sparkles under bright lights.

It’s not too distracting for those that don’t prefer the gamer aesthetic. But should you live and breathe gaming and wants the world to know it, the monitor has some design work done at the backside. Nothing too gaudy, but definitely showy.

The monitor shakes and jiggles should you apply pressure on it, so it’s not the most solid of build quality. But when left alone it’s as sturdy as you hope a monitor should be.

Plus, the monitor can support VESA mounts to attach to other stands or wall mounts.

The Acer Nitro XZ342 (the exact model of the review unit we received is the XZ2342CUP ) aims to be a 1440p ultrawide (3440 x 1440) panel for the gamers who crave high refresh rates. It’s a TFT-based display, so it favours higher refresh rates over image quality, but uses a VA panel that comprises a bit on the performance (and price) for better visuals.

It’s why the monitor is colour accurate enough to have 100% sRGB. So it can serve the basic graphics creation workflow like using Photoshop or Premier, though not at the more optimum level of image-quality-focused displays withe their IPS panels. But it’s good enough.

When it comes to high refresh rates there’s a caveat. The XZ342 is advertised to put out a maximum of 144Hz, but you should know that that’s 144Hz only on a Display Port cable, not HDMI.

Thankfully the monitor comes with a DP cable. Laptop users will likely only have a Mini DP port, which requires a Mini DP to DP cable to connect to the monitor and make use of the high refresh rate.

When connected via HDMI 2.0, the refresh rate caps at a rather unorthodox 100Hz.

This is to say, you better get this monitor mainly for connecting to a PC to make full use of its features. Consoles like the PS5 and Xbox Series only support HDMI (up to HDMI 2.1).

But that doesn’t mean it can’t be plugged to a console.

Fascinatingly, on the PS5, the monitor can output 2160p (3840×2160) at 60fps/60Hz- though more likely is that the monitor can accept a 4K signal and then downsample it.

(The PS5 is planning to support native 1440p resolution in a future update.)

The aspect ratio can be adjusted so the display doesn’t look too stretched out to the sides, with an option to keep the aspect ratio at 16:9, leaving the sides with vertical black bars.

This monitor does not support Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), the console’s version of Adaptive Sync or G-Sync.

Acer has other gaming monitors that cater for the console crowd better, but the XZ342 while not optimal, can be used with a console.

But what makes an ultrawide monitor something to consider? If you play a specific genre of games, or have specific workflows where you need multiple windows displayed at a time, the extra real estate from the wide boy is immensely useful.

With this resolution, I can finally have a monitor that can display a screen on OBS and a screen on Discord together without overlap, as the two apps don’t display perfectly when the window size is 50% of a 1080p screen.

Having to work on WordPress to write this review while another window on the side for research or the emails feel less claustrophobic and makes me want to keep doing my work.

And there’s the video games of course. If you like playing racing games, an ultrawide monitor will change your perspective on speed. The extra periphery view enhances that sense of speed, and will make you lose it when you drive over 300km/h on the Hot Wheels track in Forza Horizon 5.

The extra view also lets you widen the field of view for a more immersive experience in shooters like Destiny 2 or appreciate the vast emptiness of the open world of Death Stranding.

And thanks to the subtle 1500R curvature, the screen is not poking out of your periphery view, but rather engulfs your vision and focuses your sights toward the center of the screen.

It does feel a bit weird playing strategy games with an ultrawide monitor. In some games like Two Point Campus, the wide curvy boi will make you notice the world is in a reverse fish-eye lens. Seeing the straight walls of your buildings not being actually straight is a common occurance that may bug some folks, but not a total dealbreaker.

Don’t sit too far from the monitor and it will look fine.

And also, while more new releases, like the recent Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered, have ultrawide support, not all games do. If you are more keen to play older games from the yesteryears, ultrawide may not be for you. But if you are keeping up with the new releases this shouldn’t be an issue.

If you haven’t tried an ultrawide display yet, you should if budget permits. It could be the game-changer you need to boost your productivity, or enhance your gaming experience.

The Acer Nitro XZ342CUP hits right dab in the middle between performance and image quality. An all-rounder, a jack of all trades, if you will. So it’s not going to wow you the most in any specific spec.

But if you have no preferences of what a gaming monitor should be, it’s perfect. The colours on display (should you adjust the HDR settings properly) looks good enough to contrast with the darker blacks.

Games with environments that are way too dark on a normal display will start to make sense with HDR. Light sources now look like they are illuminating the area, and more detail can be seen in an otherwise bland dark area thanks to the higher range of lighting.

In motion, what you see is nice (compared to some of the shots seen here might suggest). No visible screen tearing in general.

The high refresh rate is really nice if you have a beefy 1440p-capable PC to match it so that you can reach 144 fps to match the 144Hz at native resolution. Because if you downscale it to 2560×1080 the picture loses a lot of its sharpness).

We haven’t done any in-depth technical tests for this, so this is all that you can expect from a layperson’s experience with the monitor. And from that point of view, this monitor does most of the job it’s capable of quite well.

Well, maybe except for this one thing. Don’t use the built-in speakers. If the price could have been cut down for not having one, that’s the thing that needs to get the axe. The sound isn’t loud enough and not clear enough.

Your built-in speaker from a laptop is likely to sound better than this below-average speaker from the monitor.

The Acer Nitro XZ342CUP is an all-rounder gaming monitor fit for any kind of use in 1440p. The ultrawide display makes select games more immersive and work more productive.

Plus at the MSRP of RM1,599, you will get a lot out of this 34-inch display, so long as you have a PC capable of operating at 1440p.

If you’re still sticking to 1080p, or want a monitor to hook both a PC and a next-gen console simultaneously, there are other monitors, even in the Acer Nitro line, that is more suited for your needs at a better value.

But this monitor can do that too, and should your PC (and console of choice) can support 1440p in the future, then you’ll get the full value of your purchase, should you consider the XZ342.

Review unit provided by Acer Malaysia

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