Acer Predator Z35P review: oversized impact

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£830

The Acer Predator Z35P is a titanic display, a 1440p ultra-wide measuring 35 inches across with all of the must-have gaming features: a high 120Hz refresh rate, Nvidia G-Sync and a low 4ms response time. Is that enough to justify its desk-spanning size and equally weighty price point of nearly £1000? Let’s find out!

 

Specs & Features

  • 35-inch 3440 x 1440 ultra-wide AMVA panel
  • 120Hz refresh rate (overclocks from 100Hz)
  • Nvidia G-Sync + ULMB
  • 4ms response time
  • DisplayPort, HDMI, 4x USB 3.0
  • 844 x 579 x 309mm (w/ stand)
  • 12.5 kilograms (w/ stand)
  • £950 RRP, currently ~£830

The Z35P is an impressive leap over the last ultra-wide Acer monitor we reviewed, the Z301CT. That smaller 30-inch monitor had a faster 200Hz refresh rate, but only offered a relatively low 2560 x 1080 resolution without the benefit of G-Sync. The Z35P offers way more image detail with its 3440 x 1440 resolution, while still hitting a high-enough 120Hz refresh rate to satisfy gamers who play fast-paced shooters, MOBAs or other titles.

 

Design

The Z35P has a understated design compared to other Acer Predator monitors we’ve seen recently, with minimal red trim visible from the front of the monitor. However, you probably won’t be looking at the overall design much when you’re staring down at a 35-inch screen with a substantial 1800R curvature, providing a cinematic wrap-around view.

The Z35P does have thicker bezels compared to smaller gaming monitors on the market, including the inexpensive AOC G2590PX and Acer’s own Predator XB271HU (which we use as our daily driver). That’s perhaps unavoidable given the size and curvature of the screen, but I’d be curious to see if Acer will be able to shave these somewhat in future iterations.

The stand has also changed from its predecessor, with the wide multi-coloured base of the Z35 being replaced with a slimmer and more elegant alternative. This should mean that the monitor takes up less space on your desk, giving you a better opportunity to place your keyboard and mouse in a convenient position.

The underside of the monitor is where you’ll find its power input, via a small laptop-style power brick rather than the standard kettle lead, plus two video inputs: DisplayPort 1.2 and HDMI 2.0.

On the back, you get four USB 3.0 ports, along with the requisite USB 3.0 Type-B upstream port. This allows you to connect peripherals like your keyboard, mouse, gamepad or USB headset while only taking up one USB port on your computer’s motherboard.

The monitor is quite adjustable, with an impressive 39° of tilt, 40° of swivel and 130 millimetres of height adjustment. Unsurprisingly for a curved ultra-wide display, portrait rotation is not an option.

The stand can also be removed in favour of a VESA mount. Bear in mind that the monitor weighs 9.4 kilograms even without the stand, so you’ll need to find a strong monitor arm to take on the challenge.

It’s also worth noting that there’s a carry handle at the top of the stand, which is almost a must-have given the weight of this monitor.

 

Impressions

The Predator Z35P is an awesome monitor for playing games, and it works well for watching movies or actually getting work done, too. Let’s take a closer look at its performance in each of these areas.

Impressions: Gaming

The biggest appeal of video games are their ability to draw you into a different world. This was still true when video games were just blocky ASCII characters on a screen, but as games have evolved visually, their capacity to immerse and amaze has continued to grow in kind.

Playing games on the Predator Z35P served as a stark reminder of how far this industry has come; at several points I completely lost interest in the actual objectives of the games I was playing because I was so entranced with the sparkle of golden-flecked sands or the break of water around a tank fording a river. Even fiercely competitive titles like World of TanksPlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Civilization VI became opportunities to relax and relish the sights and sounds of a new locale.

So why is the Z35P such an experience? Some of it is certainly the 35-inch size and 1800R curvature. The monitor fills your peripheral vision, giving you a better sense of immersion, while the inky blacks, high pixel count and strong colour reproduction mean your eyes don’t find any distracting flaws.

Of course, this monitor isn’t so beguiling that you’ll do nothing but dribble in front of your keyboard when you’re meant to be playing games. You can also use it quite effectively to win at games, with the 120Hz refresh rate offering sufficient fluidity for past-paced games like Counter-StrikeFortnite and DotA 2. You also have the option of G-Sync, which increases the cost of the monitor substantially but results in smoother performance at lower frame rates.

You also get some gaming-specific features to play around with, like a built-in crosshair, an automatic brightness boost to dark areas and genre-specific modes that provide a subtly different look.

With a higher resolution comes a higher demand on system performance. 3440 x 1440 is harder on your graphics card than 1920 x 1080 or vanilla 2560 x 1440, but nowhere near as hard as 4K. You can see the total number of pixels of each of these resolutions below to get a better idea of the relative challenge of this ultra-wide resolution.

I’ve also put in the maximum refresh rates you can find for each resolution, then multiplied them out so you can see how much relative grunt you need if you also want to make full use of your monitor’s refresh rate.

Resolution1920 x 1080
Full HD
2560 x 1440
Quad HD
3440 x 1440
Ultrawide Quad HD
3840 x 2160
4K Ultra HD
Total pixels2.1M pixels3.7M pixels5.0M pixels8.3M pixels
Max Refresh240Hz165Hz120Hz60Hz
Pixels / sec504M610.5M610.5M498M

In our testing, we generally saw frame rates between 90 and 120 frames per second in recent games, using a rig with a GTX 1080 graphics card, overclocked Core i5 6600K processor and other relatively high-end components — you can see the full loadout here.

Before using the Z35P, I was idly thinking about choosing an ultra-wide whenever I next upgrade my monitor. Now, getting an ultra-wide is essential. (I’d much rather have this than HDR, at least given the HDR monitors I’ve tested so far.)

Impressions: Working

I very much enjoyed working using 21:9 aspect ratio monitors in the past, despite their relatively low resolution of 2560 x 1080. With the Z35P, you’re stepping up to 3440 x 1440, which makes a big difference in terms of both clarity and screen real estate. You can easily fit two or even three windows side-by-side-by-side, which largely eliminates the need to alt-tab between different applications and engenders increased productivity. (I recommend checking out the app DisplayFusion if you want to assign applications to a third of your screen (or any other proportion) rather than Window’s standard half.)

As well as being high resolution, the monitor’s reasonable colour accuracy and contrast aid in editing photos and video. Doing these kind of colour-sensitive tasks on the TN panels often used in gaming monitors was a bit risky, as colours in your project might appear quite differently on your monitor compared to the client’s. The Z35P’s VA screen is much less worrisome in this regard, and should work fine for most professional work. (However, high-tier IPS monitors intended explicitly for creative professional use like the BenQ PD3201PT will provide the best results.)

The inclusion of a flicker-free backlight and a blue light reduction mode will also be appreciated for anyone working long hours, although blue light reduction modes have long been available via flux and are now built into recent versions of Windows 10 and macOS.

Impressions: Media

Sadly, while 21:9 may be a cinematic standard, actually finding ultra-wide content to fit this monitor is something of a challenge. You can locate some material on YouTube, with the video filling the screen nicely, but on 99% of content you’ll get black bars left and right if you maximise the video. It’s possible to find some films online that fill the screen, although you may need to dig around in VLC or MPC HC to adjust the aspect ratio manually in some cases.

No matter what aspect ratio, the monitor’s high contrast values and reasonably accurate colours make for a visual feast. You don’t get quite the ‘pop’ of an OLED panel, but VA makes for a noticeable improvement in viewing angles, colour reproduction and contrast over the TN panels you often see in lower-cost gaming monitors. Just remember to turn off the Predator’s gaming features, like ‘Dark Boost’, to ensure the action on-screen appears as the editor intended.

 

Benchmarks

Before running our benchmarks, we calibrated the screen using an i1Display Pro Colourimeter and DisplayCAL software (version 3.5.1).

Before benchmarking, we let the monitor warm up for several hours. We calibrated the monitor to 120 nits, ending up with the following settings:

  • Brightness: 23
  • Contrast: 50
  • Gamma: 2.2
  • Colour: User – 49R, 48G, 50B
  • Overclock: 120Hz
  • Overdrive: Normal

Acer Predator Z35P ICC / ICM Download

Here are ICM files produced by the DisplayCAL software, which you may find useful or may make your display worse — no guarantees:

Download the Predator Z35P ICM

Next, we performed our usual suite of tests, checking gamut coverage, colour accuracy and other metrics. Here’s what we discovered.

Luminance and contrast

For our calibrated 120 nits of brightness (measured as 119.2 nits, to be precise), we get a measured black luminance of 0.0613 nits — nice! That’s good enough for a contrast score of 1944:1. That’s a little underneath the stated 2500:1 static contrast, but given the lower brightness this is more than acceptable. You’d expect most TN displays to reach around 1000:1, so going with this VA panel instead has allowed the Acer monitor to offer almost double the contrast.

White point

Our colour temperature figures are nearly perfect at 6495K, just a little ways from our 6500K target.

Gamma

We want a gamma of 2.2, as this is the standard used almost everywhere, and thankfully the Z35P delivers. This should ensure that video and games are displayed as intended by their creators, neither too dark nor too light.

Gamut coverage

Next, we have gamut coverage. This shows us how much of a particular colour space the monitor can accurately hit, which is a good indicator of the monitor’s worth for professional and creative uses. The Z35P hits an impressive 99.1% of the commonly used sRGB space, with 75% and 71.7%, respectively, of the less common Adobe RGB and DCI P3 gamuts. That should ensure that colours are reproduced accurately, and that the monitor can be used without issue for most colour-sensitive work.

You can see on the triangle that the monitor can also reproduce some colours outside of the sRGB space, with a total volume of 117.2% — cool.

Colour accuracy

Next up we have colour accuracy. Good colour accuracy should ensure that what we see on our screen is what content creators are seeing too, whether they be filmmakers, game designers or photographers. The Z35P shows extremely impressive scores here, recording an average Delta-E value of 0.31. Generally anything below 1.00 is hard to distinguish with the naked eye, so we can say with authority that this Predator monitor gets its colours right.

Screen uniformity

Screen uniformity is a measure of how much a screen changes from area to area. We’re doing a compehensive test of 25 regions to see how the monitor changes in brightness and contrast.

Against the challenging ISO 14861:2015 standard, the panel can’t hit our recommended (green) or nominal (yellow) in every zone. The central panels are generally fine, with seven green zones and seven yellow, but on the outer edges we see poorer results with three yellow zones and three red. Here, we see significant colour accuracy issues creep in (with Delta-E values above 4.5 in some cases) and reduced brightness across the board.

It is possible to see a noticeable glow in all four corners, which may contribute to these readings. However, as you aren’t likely to be focusing on these parts of the panel, this relatively disappointing result isn’t a dealbreaker.

 

Benchmark summary

The Predator Z35P performs extremely well, showing the quality of the panel chosen and calibrated by Acer. Initial calibration is relatively easy, requiring a few tweaks to the colour and a high reduction in brightness. Contrast is impressive at around 1500:1, white point hits 6500K exactly and the stated 2.2 gamma setting delivers just that. The monitor hits 99% of the sRGB gamut, and delivers excellent colour accuracy as well. The sole poor result is screen uniformity, with sub-par colour accuracy and diminished brightness on both edges of the monitor. For a high-end monitor, even one designed chiefly for gaming, the screen uniformity is disappointing. However, bearing in mind the remainder of the results, which are stellar, overall the monitor performed well in our tests.

 

Score & Conclusion

Buy from Amazon
£830

Last modified: April 16, 2018

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