The Acer Nitro VG270UP is a great gaming monitor that won’t break the bank
- Responsive 1440p panel that runs at 144Hz
- Outstanding colour accuracy
- Works with both AMD FreeSync and Nvidia G-Sync
- Awful stand
- Noticeable inverse ghosting on Extreme overdrive
- Brightness uniformity could be better
The Acer Predator XF270HUA was a cracking gaming monitor and one of my all-time favourites. It was well made, great for gaming and still one of the best monitors you can buy. But times move on and there’s a new Acer gaming monitor vying for your money: the cheaper, seemingly equally well-specified Acer Nitro VG207UP.
The latest in a long line of distinguished products, Acer’s latest goes out on the limb, stepping away from the AU Optronics panel featured in the Acer XF270HUA and other Acer products, instead of deploying one produced by Taiwanese screen maker, Innolux.
Acer Nitro VG270UP review: What you need to know
Like the famed XF270HUA, the Acer Nitro VG270UP is a 27in monitor with all the features a modern gaming monitor requires. It has a 1440p panel running at an ultra-smooth 144Hz, an IPS panel ensuring excellent colour accuracy and viewing angles; support for both AMD FreeSync and Nvidia G-sync, plus an elegant, three-sided borderless design.
The Nitro isn’t entirely identical to its illustrious forebear. It has a fixed stand, lacks a USB hub and has no 3.5mm headphone jack, but with the aid of Visual Response Boost (VRB) Acer is able to quote a lower response time of 1ms.
Acer Nitro VG270UP review: Price and competition
At £350, the Nitro is also cheaper than the Predator XF270HUA (prices fluctuate between £400 and £494) and, in fact, it’s the cheapest 1440p 144Hz IPS monitor on the market.
Most of the competition around this price comprises VA-based monitors: the AOC AG322QC4 at £385, Samsung’s fantastic HDR gaming monitor, the C27CHG70 at £520, and the Innolux-panel-based Gigabyte Aorus AD27QD at £549.
Acer Nitro VG270UP review: Design, features and build quality
You don’t have to look far to see where manufacturing costs have been cut. The triangular-shaped stand is made from light plastic, and it’s extremely flimsy and wobbly. I’ve seen sub-£100 monitors with better-made stands than this.
Adjustments are at a premium, too, with only the ability to tilt the screen back by up to 20° and no option to swivel, rotate or tweak the height of the screen. Thankfully, you do get a 100 x 100mm VESA mount at the back, which allows you to install your own stand.
Despite the awful stand the Nitro VG270UP does at least look nice. I particularly like its three-sided borderless design. It’s easy to use, too, with the on-screen display accessed via a clickable joystick and four physical buttons mounted on the rear of the screen in the bottom right-hand corner. One clever feature is that it’s also possible to tweak the monitor’s settings via software. Even more ingenious is that the Acer Display Widget works directly over a DisplayPort or HDMI connection; unlike with the Gigabyte Aorus AD27QD, the Acer doesn’t require an additional USB connection – it’ll work over on all GPUs, too.
Disappointingly, the software doesn’t provide a fully comprehensive set of options, such as the ability to create separate custom colour profiles, but it’s a worthy addition and allows the adjustments of most of the monitor’s core features quickly and easily. For instance, it’s possible to switch colour modes here, enable “Visual Sync” – which allows you to assign colour modes to certain applications – enable the monitor’s Split Screen mode (essentially a duplication of Windows 10’s Snap Assist feature) and adjust advanced settings such as brightness, colour, gamma and colour temperature. On a side note, you can’t disable the power LED – be it through the monitor’s OSD or via Acer’s software.
As for physical connectivity, there are two HDMI ports here and a DisplayPort video input. I’d suggest using the latter if you’re looking to unleash Nvidia G-Sync, as Nvidia requires DP to enable G-Sync on a FreeSync-certified monitor. You’ll need an Nvidia GTX 10-Series graphics card or above and Windows 10 to enable the technology. AMD graphics owners will be pleased to know FreeSync works straight out the box with compatible AMD cards. Elsewhere, the monitor has two 2 watt speakers but lacks a 3.5mm headphone jack output.
Acer Nitro VG270UP review: Image quality
The VG270UP’s 27in IPS panel has a native resolution of 1440p (2,560 x 1,440). It’s only an 8-bit screen but colour accuracy and overall image quality are stupendously good. With the monitor set to sRGB mode the monitor achieves an average Delta E of 0.62 with a maximum of 1.67 (closer to 0 is better). Put in context, the Gigabyte Aorus AD27QD achieves an average of 1.43. The Acer XF270HUA’s average Delta E is 1.33 and the Samsung C27CHG70 is at 1.75. It’s the best score I’ve seen on a gaming monitor, full stop and it even throws shade at some professional displays.
The contrast ratio isn’t bad, either, at a measured 1,067:1, which puts it on a par with its predecessor. It’s worth noting, however, that if you seek a truly, inky black level you’d be better off with a monitor that uses a VA-type panel. The Samsung C27CHG70, for instance.
In addition, it’s pleasing to see the monitor’s brightness isn’t crippled in sRGB mode. Although the default brightness is 30%, it is possible to adjust it manually once you’ve activated the mode. Peak brightness is 380cd/m², which is bright enough for an SDR (standard dynamic range) image. However, if you enable Visual Response Boost to minimise motion blur, this figure drops to 148cd/m² and 81cd/m² in normal and extreme settings.
The main weakness here is brightness uniformity. The one tested had an 18% deviation from the centre point at the top left corner in a 5×3 grid. However, panels do and will vary in this respect, so your mileage may vary. The same could be said about backlight bleed. The unit I was sent was perfectly acceptable, with light bleed occurring around the corners but I’ve seen comments about bad backlight bleed online.
This monitor doesn’t support HDR but that isn’t a particularly big issue. Most monitors at this price range offer HDR400, which is largely pointless because it only requires peak brightness of 400cd/m2 and 95% Rec.709 (sRGB in other words) and 8-bit colour, all of which fall short of the requirements of the main HDR10 and Dolby Vision standards. If you’re set on the technology, however, look for at least an HDR600-certified or above monitor, such as the Samsung C27CHG70.
Acer Nitro VG270UP review: Gaming performance
If colour performance is impressive, the Nitro VG270UP’s gaming performance is even better. The Acer monitor has a maximum refresh rate of 144Hz and is among a limited number of IPS panels with a quoted 1ms grey-to-grey response time; most, like the XF270HUA, hover at around 4-5ms.
This response time is achieved by enabling the monitor’s Visual Response Boost (VRB) mode, which comes into full effect when the monitor is dialled down to a refresh rate of 120Hz. It’s a trade-off some will be willing to make for reduced motion blur and a faster response time. To test it, I use Blur Busters’ Moving Photo test with Street Map selected. In this test, text is illegible at 960 pixels per second with VRB disabled, where enabling “normal” or higher VRB settings makes street names easier to read.
Turn off VRB and move up to a 144Hz refresh rate with overdrive set to extreme, and the monitor responds extremely well. Indeed, it’s so good you’re unlikely to notice a difference between this IPS panel and most class-leading TN-based screens. Input lag is extremely impressive, too. Coming from the XF270HUA, which boasts incredibly low input lag, there’s no perceivable difference.
One downside to using Extreme overdrive, however, is that it adds noticeable inverse ghosting. Depending on the game, then, you might need to dial down the amount of overdrive used; granted, the monitor won’t respond as quickly but as long as you’re not gaming competitively that’s okay.
The Acer Nitro VG270UP also comes with AMD FreeSync (all compatible cards) and Nvidia G-Sync compatibility ( GTX 10-Series cards or above) and this works in a range of 40Hz-144Hz over HDMI 2.0 or DisplayPort connections. Some early adopters experienced flickering and other issues but this appears to have been a problem on early batches of the monitor, as I didn’t experience any issues at all.
Acer Nitro VG270UP review: Verdict
At £350, you simply won’t find a better value gaming monitor anywhere. No other display at this price delivers as keen a balance between colour accuracy and suitability for competitive gaming as the Acer Nitro VG270UP.
It’s still not as good as the Acer XF270HUA; its fully adjustable stand, superior brightness uniformity and more adept handling of inverse ghosting means it remains the best gaming monitor you can buy. However, the Acer Nitro VG270UP comes a very close second.