2021-04-22

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Acer Predator X38 P 37.5-inch gaming monitor review: overclocking useful and not so

19 min read

However, despite the obvious external similarity of the Acer Predator X38 P we are considering today with the Acer XR382CQK, the promised parameters of the new product (as well as belonging to the Predator series), on the contrary, clearly demonstrate that the monitor is primarily focused on gaming. Now is the time to find out how successful Acer has been to create a large diagonal gaming monitor with UWQHD + resolution.

⇡#Specifications

The declared parameters of the monitor (diagonal, resolution, bending radius of the screen, brightness, refresh rate) indicate that it uses a matrix produced by LG, similar to that installed in the LG 38GL950G monitor – the “first swallow” among models with similar characteristics – or very close to her.

We can note the high declared brightness level – 450 cd / m2 – and the VESA DisplayHDR 400 certification. The use of a Nano-IPS matrix (an approximate analogue of Samsung’s Quantum Dot) made it possible to provide a wide color gamut – 98% DCI-P3 according to the manufacturer.

Also, for the Acer Predator X38 P, factory calibration is declared with an average DeltaE deviation of less than 2 units, support for NVIDIA G-Sync, a minimum response time of 0.3 ms and a refresh rate of up to 175 Hz in overclocking mode.

Finally, we note that although the NVIDIA G-Sync sticker on the Acer Predator X38 P is exactly the same as on the Acer Predator XB273GX, it uses the hardware G-Sync module, not G-Sync Compatible.

⇡#Packaging, scope of delivery, appearance

The monitor comes in a cardboard box of impressive dimensions, which is not very convenient to carry, despite its moderate weight or the presence of plastic recessed handles at the ends.

Both “fronts” of the box are decorated with laconic images of the monitor from the front and back, as well as the name of the series and model.

The sides of the box scrupulously list the main features of the monitor that distinguish it from others (UWQHD + resolution, refresh rate up to 175 Hz, NVIDIA G-Sync support, 10-bit color, 98% DCI-P3 color gamut, DeltaE deviations less than 2, DisplayHDR 400 certification etc.).

From the information on the sticker on the side, you can find out the main technical parameters of the monitor, the serial number and batch number, as well as the date and place of production (May 2020, China).

The scheme with the unpacking order is as simple as possible: the monitor is inside fully assembled, so all that remains is to connect the connecting cables and an external power supply.

The delivery set is quite consistent with the high positioning of the model and includes:

  • Power cable with Schuko plug;
  • Power cable with BS 1363 plug
  • External power supply (19 V, 7.1 A);
  • VESA mount adapter with mounting screws;
  • кабель USB 3.0 Type-A → Type-B;
  • DisplayPort cable
  • HDMI cable
  • Plastic strip for additional cable fixation;
  • A short user guide for initial setup;
  • Separate instruction in Turkish;
  • Warranty information.

Also in the box is a factory calibration report, according to which not only the average value of the DeltaE deviation in the sRGB space fits into 2 units, but the maximum deviation does not exceed this level.

To prevent damage to the monitor or injury to users during unpacking, the screen is fixed in the lower position with Velcro.

The stand allows you to adjust the height of the screen within 130 mm and rotates 30 ° to each side. An interesting feature of the monitor stand is an unusually large tilt angle of the screen in the highest position – as much as 35 ° versus the usual 20-25 °.

This solution has a completely rational application, allowing the user who is in front of the monitor to connect the connecting cables without serious inconvenience.

However, we still have a couple of complaints about the stand design: the high position of the screen (about 9 cm from the table surface in the lowest position) and the large occupied depth (about 25 cm from the rear edge of the stand to the central “concave” part of the screen).

The semi-matte finish of the screen copes well enough with glare without obvious manifestations of the crystalline effect.

The front of the monitor looks quite typical by modern standards: narrow bezels on three sides of the screen and a slightly wider bezel at the bottom.

The strip under the screen is made of matte black plastic and is decorated with the Predator logo in the center. The bezels, as usual, are actually not so narrow: behind the narrow border of the case there is a rather wide inactive area of ​​the screen.

On the bottom right is a status LED that glows blue for operation and orange for standby.

Unfortunately, this LED does not provide for either a shutdown or a brightness setting (which, although not too large, due to the large size of the indicator makes it quite noticeable, especially when working in the dark).

The build quality of the display case raises no complaints: there are no backlashes or uneven gaps. The screen is also virtually silent when you try to twist it. However, for high-end models this is the norm.

At the top center there is a window of the ambient light sensor, which is used to automatically adjust the brightness of the image.

Seen from the rear, there are multiple rows of air vents, the Predator badge on the center column, and the familiar basic information decals.

The cooling fan of the NVIDIA G-Sync module is visible under the ventilation grill where the screen is attached to the stand. Its operation cannot be called completely silent, but the quiet rustle of the air flow is felt only when the ear is placed close to the monitor. Even at a typical distance of 0.5-0.7 m from the screen, the fan is not heard.

The controls are familiar to us from a number of other Acer Predator models: this is a pressable mini-joystick located on the rear wall on the right, supplemented by three buttons (plus the power button is the top one).

Although the designers tried to make the buttons tactilely different from each other (you can see a small protrusion on the power button and different heights of the buttons from the side of the case), in practice it is still not as easy to distinguish them by touch as we would like.

The connector panel has one HDMI 2.0 and one DisplayPort 1.4 each, a 3.5mm headphone out, an external power supply inlet, and a USB 3.0 upstream and two USB 3.0 ports.

Two more USB 3.0 ports are located on the left side of the monitor and are maximally accessible for connection at any time.

Under the grilles below, on the sides of the connector panel, you can see the oblong contours of the built-in seven-watt speakers.

The sound is quite decent by the standards of the built-in acoustics: a good volume margin, no distortion even at high volume levels, and even a hint of bass.

But, as usual, external speakers are able to provide much better sound primarily due to better orientation of the emitters. Still, the location of the speakers “on the table”, and even through the “wall” (in the form of the lower part of the monitor case) from the user does not contribute too much to the natural sound picture.

⇡#Menu and controls

In general, the organization and design of the menu has remained practically unchanged since the days of the Predator X27.

The first time you press any button or mini-joystick, a menu with help icons appears opposite the buttons on the right side of the screen. By default, the mechanical buttons perform the functions of selecting the picture mode, brightness and active input, but these functions can be changed (for example, in the photo above, the brightness change is replaced by the response time selection).

The disadvantage can be called the need for two consecutive presses to access the main menu or the functions of “quick” buttons. Of course, when the monitor is configured in accordance with the user’s preferences, this defect will be minimized, but with frequent use of the menu, this is downright annoying.

After entering the main menu, the functions of the mechanical buttons change.

The upper key displays information about the operating mode (from this window it is also possible to reset to factory settings).

The middle key is used to select a picture mode, and the lower one closes the menu.

The main menu consists of six sections, each of which occupies one screen.

The first section is devoted to general image settings:

  • Peak white brightness (like the Acer Predator X27, the brightness is selected not by the usual abstract levels of 0-100, but by the numerical value of the luminance in nits, from 50 to 450);
  • Contrast;
  • Blue level;
  • Lightening shadows;
  • Backlight response;
  • SDR Variable Backlight (automatic change of backlight level in SDR mode);
  • Auto brightness;
  • Auto black level.

The second section is dedicated to color settings:

  • Relative gamma (5 presets);
  • SRGB color gamut for SDR mode;
  • YCbCr signal coding for DP;
  • YCbCr signal encoding for HDMI;
  • Colour temperature.

The section dedicated to sound settings is limited to the ability to change the volume.

Game settings include adjusting the response time (3 presets), activating the overclocking mode to a refresh rate of 160 or 175 Hz (after selecting it, you must select “apply and restart”) and the ability to choose one of three options for the sight in the center of the screen.

When the monitor restarts, a hint warning is displayed in the center of the screen with instructions to the user.

Note that if in the overclocking mode up to 160 Hz full color reproduction is preserved in RGB444 format (as well as when working at the nominal 144 Hz frequency), then the 175 Hz refresh rate is available only when YCbCr422 color subsampling is activated.

In the YCbCr422 color format, the quality of displaying fonts is clearly deteriorating (color halos along the outlines of characters), which can be clearly seen in the two photos above. Therefore, when measuring the color reproduction parameters of the monitor, we stopped at a refresh rate of 160 Hz.

The menu settings section allows you to select the language, on-screen display time, menu transparency, on-screen refresh rate and menu lock.

The current refresh rate is displayed in the upper right corner of the screen.

The system settings section allows you to select the active input, assign “hot keys”, select the aspect ratio, enable deep sleep mode and activate the monitor quick start mode. You can also save your current settings as one of three preset game picture modes.

Thanks to the found access to the service menu, we confirmed the guesses regarding the matrix used (LG Display LM375QW2), and also learned a number of details about the hardware and software components of the G-Sync module (up to the current cooling fan speed and chip temperature), the total screen time and separately – operating time in overclocking mode.

Also, through the service menu, you can adjust the RGB gain settings for the main color temperature presets and change a number of other parameters.

Testing technique. Working parameters. Measurement results

⇡#Testing methodology

The Acer Predator X38 monitor was tested using a slightly modified method using the X-Rite i1 Display Pro colorimeter, Argyll CMS software with DisplayCAL graphical interface and HCFR Colormeter software. All operations were carried out in Windows 10. During testing, the monitor was connected via the DisplayPort 1.4 interface to a GeForce GTX 1070 video card with the driver up-to-date at the time of testing (color management is activated using third-party software, other settings are default). The screen refresh rate during testing was 160 Hz, since 175 Hz is available only in the YCbCr422 color downsampling mode with a drop in image quality.

In accordance with the methodology, we will measure the following monitor parameters:

  • White brightness, black brightness, contrast ratio with backlight power from 0 to 100% in 10% increments;
  • Color gamut;
  • Color temperature;
  • Gamma curves of three primary RGB colors;
  • Gray gamma curve;
  • Color deviation DeltaE (standard CIEDE1994);
  • Uniformity of illumination with a brightness in the central point of 100 cd / m2.

All measurements described above were performed before and after calibration. During the tests, we measure the main monitor profiles: the default, sRGB (if available) and Adobe RGB (if available). Calibration is carried out in the default profile, except in special cases, which will be discussed later. For monitors with extended color gamut, we select sRGB hardware emulation mode, if available. Before starting all tests, the monitor warms up for 3-4 hours, and all its settings are reset to factory settings.

We will also continue our old practice of publishing calibration profiles for the monitors we tested at the end of the article. At the same time, the 3DNews test lab warns that such a profile will not be able to 100% correct the shortcomings of your monitor specifically. The fact is that all monitors (even within the same model) will necessarily differ from each other in small color rendering errors. It is impossible to produce two identical matrices physically, so for any serious calibration of the monitor you need a colorimeter or spectrophotometer. But the “universal” profile created for a specific instance, as a whole, can improve the situation for other devices of the same model, especially in the case of cheap displays with pronounced color rendering defects.

⇡#Operating parameters

When testing the monitor, we used the Display Port 1.4 interface as the most hassle-free and fully revealing display capabilities. For setup and calibration, we used the custom mode as it provides a full range of monitor image settings.

By default, the settings for the main parameters are as follows:

  • Image mode – “Standard”;
  • Brightness – 315 nits
  • Contrast – 50;
  • Color temperature – “Warm” (50/50/50);
  • Response time – “Normal”;
  • Gamma – “Default”.

During manual adjustment (100 cd / m2 and 6500 K), the parameters took the following form:

  • Image mode – “Custom”;
  • Brightness – 101 nits
  • Contrast – 50;
  • Color temperature – “Custom” (53/48/47);
  • Response time – “Normal”;
  • Gamma – “Default”.

The main changes occurred during the edits of the brightness and RGB gain values.

Decreasing the contrast value slightly improves the default shape of the gamma curves (of the available presets, it is the closest to 2.2). However, this significantly lowers the contrast of the image, which we considered an excessive price to pay for the slight improvement in gamma.

⇡#White brightness, black brightness, contrast ratio

The initial check was carried out in the default “Standard” mode with factory default settings for the main parameters with HDR disabled in the Windows 10 display settings.

As noted above, the brightness in the Acer Predator X38 P menu is selected immediately in the luminance measured in nits. Since the adjustable range is from 50 to 450 nits, we chose the luminance values ​​in 40 nits steps, which corresponds to a 10% brightness step.

At all brightness values, we noted a slightly increased white luminosity level relative to the set value, but the maximum difference in the set and actual luminance does not exceed 7 nits.

The contrast ratio at almost all brightness values ​​is kept in the range of 920-950: 1, which is quite a typical indicator for IPS-type matrices, although slightly below the declared level of 1000: 1. The only exception is contrast at minimum brightness: the lowest luminosity with it almost does not differ from the black luminance at 10% brightness, which leads to a significant drop in contrast (below 600: 1).

⇡#Measurement results

During testing, we focused on measurements in standard mode with full monitor color gamut and sRGB emulation. Other image presets are clearly not aimed at color accuracy, although in certain conditions their use may well be justified – but for the sake of interest, we carried out measurements in them.

⇡#Standard mode

Let’s start with the results shown at the factory default settings of the monitor in the “Standard” mode.

The full color gamut of the matrix covers 99.9% of the sRGB color space and 88.4% of the Adobe RGB space. True, the coverage of DCI-P3 is slightly lower than stated: 92.1% instead of the promised 98%.

The color temperature is slightly overestimated relative to the target level, but for a gaming model, the setting can be called quite accurate.

The white point and grayscale deviate quite seriously from the target values, but the grays are grouped quite tightly.

The gamma curves are slightly above the reference level.

The Argyll test failed in all main indicators: deviations of both the white point and the average and maximum DeltaE values ​​are higher than even the minimum test requirements. Of course, this is not a tragedy for a gaming monitor, but we cannot fail to note this fact.

⇡#”Standard” mode after setting (“Custom”)

The color gamut has not changed after adjustment.

After adjusting the RGB gain, the color temperature in most measurements is slightly overestimated relative to the target level.

The white point is significantly closer to the target position. The grayscale is grouped quite tightly and does not stray too far from the target point.

The gamma curves, as before the adjustment, run slightly above the reference level – although slightly closer to the target curve.

In general, the result is far from ideal, although it is better than the default parameters: at least the position of the white point was corrected. However, the situation with colors has remained generally the same: only shades of gray look more or less decent, and other colors are very much outside the tolerance limits.

⇡#SRGB mode

However, the monitor does support sRGB emulation. What happens if, after making the adjustment, you limit the colors produced by the monitor? It will turn out very well!

In sRGB emulation mode, the gamut triangle matches the desired color gamut almost perfectly: 98.5% match with 99.9% sRGB total coverage.

The color temperature is generally closer to the target 6500K than in standard mode with or without adjustment.

The white point is almost perfectly placed and the grayscale is grouped very tightly and noticeably closer to the target point compared to working without emulating sRGB space.

The gamma curves still lie slightly above the reference level, and the differences from the standard mode should be looked for literally pixel by pixel – and they will be explained by the measurement error.

As a result, the Argyll test was passed with distinction in all indicators, except for the average DeltaE deviation, which slightly exceeded the permissible level of 1.5 units (but well within the 2 units promised by the manufacturer in sRGB space).

⇡#SRGB mode, post-calibration results

Although the sRGB emulation is fine-tuned, we tried to further improve the result through calibration.

Color gamut has not changed after calibration.

The color temperature after calibration deviates from the target value of 6500 K even less than in other modes, especially at low levels of screen luminance.

White point positioning was slightly less accurate, but this was offset by improved grayscale density and accuracy.

The gamma curves are much closer to the reference curve, which is perhaps the main plus obtained during the calibration. If the gamma parameters were initially adjusted closer to the target value of 2.2 (the default is 2.1 on average, the step of alternative presets is 0.3), taking into account the quality of setting other parameters, there would be no need for calibration at all.

According to the Argyll test results, all parameters with a large margin fit into the recommended tolerances, the average level of DeltaE deviations is only 0.33 units, and the maximum is 0.89 units.

⇡#Other modes

The preset modes “Race” and “Sport” differ from the standard only minimally, mainly in the initial level of brightness. The gamma curves and white point are the same. In general, the same can be said about the “Eco” mode, the main difference of which from others is the initially included automatic brightness control.

Гамма-кривые RGB в режиме «Экшен»

RGB Gamma Curves in Action Mode

Гамма-кривые RGB в режиме «Изображение»

RGB Gamma Curves in Image Mode

Гамма-кривые RGB в режиме «Кино»

RGB Gamma Curves in Cinema Mode

Точка белого и оттенки серого в режиме «Экшен»

White point and grayscale in Action mode

The three remaining modes, Action, Cinema, and Image, have very peculiar gamma curves, and the first also has a significant spread in grayscale (the rest are close to the standard mode in determining white point and grayscale).

It is clear that it makes no sense to talk about the correctness of color reproduction in these modes – only about the subjective “like / dislike”.

⇡#Backlight uniformity

The uniformity of the display backlighting was checked after lowering the brightness at the center point of the monitor to a level of 100 cd / m2 and setting the color temperature to ~ 6500 K.

Something like this looks like a white background displayed on the screen in the dark.

The picture above shows a photo of a white field at a certain exposure adjustment during shooting (in the dark) and further software processing for a more visual representation of the uniformity of the backlight.

Problems are most noticeable along the top and bottom edges of the screen, as well as on the right side.

When measuring the brightness at 45 points, the average deviation from the central point at a brightness of 100 cd / m2 was 4.9%, and the maximum (in the upper left corner) was 18.01%. In terms of numbers, the result looks quite decent given the large diagonal and bending of the screen, but it is worth noting that the greatest deviations in the backlight level in the tested monitor occurred at the very top of the screen, and the “lack of light” at the very top of the screen is noticeable even with the naked eye during normal operation.

The deviations in color temperature in DeltaE units are relatively small. The average deviation is 2.78, and the maximum (in the lower right corner) is 6.52 units. if the top of the display was problematic in terms of uniformity of backlighting, then, on the contrary, the lower part of the screen demonstrates the greatest color deviations. It can also be noted that the DeltaE is higher on the right side of the screen than on the left.

When looking at the black screen in the dark, only a not too noticeable light in the lower left corner attracts attention.

After additional exposure adjustment and image processing, you can see small flares at other angles, but in reality they are almost invisible.

⇡#Gradient quality and response speed

Градиенты на неоткалиброванном мониторе

Gradients on an uncalibrated monitor

Градиенты на откалиброванном мониторе

Gradients on a calibrated monitor

The display quality of gradients is generally satisfactory. After calibration, you can notice a slight increase in the visibility of the boundaries between tones in the area of ​​dark shades.

The response speed of the matrix is ​​declared at the level of 1 ms GtG, and the minimum value is only 0.3 ms. There are three performance modes available. By default, the Normal mode is used – with it you can notice the presence of small overexposure artifacts behind objects at some color transitions, but the residual trails behind objects are shorter than in the completely artifact-free “Off” mode (Off). A photo at a shutter speed of 1/200 s (less than the frame change time on the monitor) gives a “tail” in two “residual” frames in the “Off” mode. and only one – in normal mode.

In the extreme (Extreme) mode of matrix overclocking, artifacts are striking even at many color transitions, making the actually visible trail behind moving objects more noticeable than even in the mode with the response time compensation disabled.

Accordingly, when focusing on the maximum picture quality, we recommend the high-speed mode “Off.” (Off), and for games the Normal mode looks optimal. Extreme mode can hardly be recommended for use due to clearly visible artifacts of the response time compensation circuit.

In general, the performance of the matrix is ​​excellent: even in the slowest mode, trails behind objects are almost invisible, and even less in normal mode.

No frame skipping is observed at either 160Hz or 175Hz.

⇡#Viewing Angles and Glow Effect

With minor changes in the horizontal viewing angle, the picture on the screen does not change at all. if the angle is increased to 30-45 degrees, the image becomes slightly less contrasting, the saturation of some colors decreases slightly, the shadows are slightly lightened, a very weak parasitic shade appears in one or another part of the screen – nothing unusual. The picture on the screen deteriorates faster with changes in the vertical plane.

The glow effect of the model under consideration is relatively weak. With the typical position of the user in front of the monitor, even against a dark background, he practically does not bother, and working when looking at such an acute angle, when it will no longer be possible to ignore it, is hardly possible.

⇡#Crystal Effect, Cross-hatching, PWM

The Acer Predator X38 monitor uses a matrix with a semi-matt protective surface, which is not characterized by a pronounced crystalline effect – and this model is no exception to the general rule. The monitor is also not affected by the Cross-Hatching effect.

According to the manufacturer, the display has a Flicker-Free backlight, which has been confirmed in our tests. At any level of brightness, the SHI modulation is not used, or its frequency is several kilohertz or even tens of kilohertz.

Conclusions

The Acer Predator X38 P monitor makes an excellent impression both thanks to the speed of the matrix and the refresh rate in games, as well as the well-tuned out-of-the-box sRGB emulation mode for working with color.

The only thing that can be called not entirely successful is the stand, which takes away a lot of depth from the table top and does not allow the screen to be lowered low, as well as a significant drop in contrast at minimum screen brightness. However, there is one more problem: the very high cost of the Acer Predator X38 P against the background of direct competitors – we hope that over time the price of this model will become closer to that of its classmates.

Advantages:

  • Excellent quality materials and workmanship;
  • The presence of a VESA mount;
  • Excellent performance for an IPS matrix;
  • Good sound (by the standards of the speakers built into the monitor);
  • Extended color gamut and the possibilities that it gives;
  • Perfectly tuned sRGB emulation mode (allows you to get a standard color gamut if necessary);
  • Good gradients in all settings;
  • The basic refresh rate of the screen is 144 Hz with the ability to get a refresh rate of 160 Hz without a drop in image quality;
  • Support for NVIDIA G-SYNC adaptive synchronization technology;
  • The presence of a USB 3.0 hub for four ports, two of which have easy access from the side;
  • No Cross-hatching and no discernible crystal effect under normal viewing conditions.

Disadvantages:

  • A refresh rate of 175 Hz can only be obtained in the YCbCr422 color format with a corresponding drop in picture quality and fonts clarity (unpleasant contours appear) – but with the DP 1.4 interface bandwidth, this is inevitable;
  • Drop in contrast at minimum screen brightness;
  • High price.

May not arrange:

  • Not very convenient work with the menu (double-clicking to enter the main menu or to activate the functions of “quick” buttons, unobvious location of resetting in the information window, etc.);
  • High placement of the screen even in the lowest position of the stand;
  • Large depth of the stand, resulting in a very close position of the screen to the user on the table;
  • Large bending radius of the screen – 2300R;
  • Lack of Motion Blur Reduction or its equivalent.

From the 3DNews.ru file server, you can download the color profile for this monitor, which we received after calibration in the sRGB emulation mode with clipping of areas outside this color space.

 

1 thought on “Acer Predator X38 P 37.5-inch gaming monitor review: overclocking useful and not so

  1. Hi,
    could you please send me, how to access to the service menu from the Acer Predator X38?
    My G-Sync fan run everytime in full mod, maybe I can this adjust, before I send the monitor to the Acer service for repair.

    thx

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