The Acer Z301CT is a premium curved gaming monitor with a 200Hz refresh rate, G-Sync, and Tobii Eye Tracking built into its gamer-centric exterior. Apart from the excellent performance, this product is also offering a unique experience for meticulous gamers who are looking for something new. The Acer Z301CT looks promising in delivering a new level of immersion, but is it well worth the price premium? Let’s find out.
Acer Z301CT Specifications
- Screen Size: 30 Inches
- Resolution: 2560 x 1080 UW-UXGA
- Aspect Ratio: 21:9
- Panel Technology: Vertical Alignment (VA)
- Refresh Rate: 200Hz
- Response Time: 4ms
- Contrast Ratio: 3000:1 (Static)
- Brightness: 300 cd/m²
- Built-in Speakers: Yes 2 x 3 Watts
- Stand: Height – Yes (4.72 Inches)
- Stand: Tilt – Yes (-5°/+25°)
- Stand: Swivel – Yes
- Stand: Pivot – No
- VESA Compatibility: No
- Connectivity: DisplayPort 1.2 x 1, HDMI 2.0 x 1, USB 3.0 x 4, 3.5mm Audio Jacks
- Dimensions (WxHxD): 28.1″ x 15.1″ x 12.4”
- Weight: 21.3lbs
Design and Features
The Acer Z301CT comes with an aggressive red and black design with sharp edges and clean lines distinct to the predator line. The face has slim, almost non-existent bezels which do not distract from the 30-inch diagonal view, plus it seems as if they disappear when the monitor is turned off. Only the bottom strip appears thicker, but this is where the Tobii Eye Tracking sensor is stealthily attached.
The cabinet isn’t ideal for wall mounting because of its 4.6-inch thickness, not to mention the tight 1800r curvature which would make it stand out against a flat surface. We do like how the matte black with brushed texture panels feel because there is no flexing and it seems as if the company did not skimp on materials for the Acer Z301CT.
Sticking this beautiful product to a wall isn’t required anyway since it includes a fantastic stand made of solid plastics and durable aluminum. The base has boomerang-shaped feet which provide a lot of stability to the heft of the product, plus it includes superb ergonomics as well. You can raise the screen up to 4.72 inches from its original position, plus you have thirty degrees of tilt and 25 degrees of swivel on both sides.
The rear’s styling is quite appealing, from the chevron shaped bulge which apexes at the middle to the covered I/O panel. Only the USB ports, OSD buttons with a multi-directional joystick, and the imprinted laser logo are visible. Frankly, the Acer Z301CT looks cleaner than its cousins like the Acer Z35P, which has over designed red vents.
Since the Acer Z301CT is a G-Sync equipped model, connectivity options are limited. This model only includes DisplayPort 1.2 and HDMI 1.4 for video input, although there are four USB 3.0 ports located on the left side on the rear for your accessories. There are 3.5mm audio jacks for sound output, plus a pair of DTS tuned 3-Watt speakers which are a bit refined than most but lacking the punch gamers require.
Display and Performance
The Acer Z301CT boasts a 30-inch VA panel with a 2560 x 1080 resolution, 200Hz refresh rate, 4ms response time, and 3000:1 contrast ratio. Unlike some of the specs listed which are typical for a lot VA panels, the module in this product only has a native refresh of 144Hz. The advertised 200Hz is achieved via Acer’s overclocking magic, a feature which you can easily activate without any fuss. Our unit functioned flawlessly at 200Hz without any of the known issues such as image instability or flickering.
At around half the brightness setting, the Acer Z301CT can put out a massive contrast ratio of 2800:1, which is excellent, even when compared to other sophisticated VA panels. Calibration doesn’t affect this score by much, and using both G-Sync or ULMB did not produce significant differences. This result makes ULMB even more usable for a lot more gamers since it previously had adverse effects on dynamic range.
At default, the Acer Z301CT doesn’t look so good due to oversaturation with a Delta E result going over 4.5 and weak gamma performance of .12 which is too dark. But with the help of a colorimeter to guide adjustments to the color temps and by lowering brightness, this model can achieve a color accuracy of 1.7 and a gamma rating closer to the ideal 2.2. What’s excellent about the oversaturation is that the Acer Z301CT has an sRGB coverage of 110%, making eye-popping color easy to achieve.
Since the Acer Z301CT has a wider than most screen and a tighter curve of 1800r, we expected some issues from the backlight which could affect uniformity. Thankfully, this isn’t the case since deviations from the center going to the sides do not go over 13%, with minimal effect on color uniformity. This result is a testament to the superb quality of the panel used and Acer’s quality control for this model.
200Hz is a lot of headroom for most games, not to mention that 2560 x 1080 is easy as peas for midrange to high-end cards from Nvidia. This feature makes the Acer Z301CT suitable for competitive gaming, as it is one of the fastest ultrawide we have seen with input lag only reaching around 6.8ms. Pixel response was great as well since in fast-paced action scenes; we did not see a lot of blurring and interlacing without looking hard enough.
Finally, the Acer Z301CT has a unique gimmick called Tobi Eye Tracking, which runs with a user’s gaze to perform actions in a game. We tested it with Tom Clancy’s the Division, and although first time use confusions did produce a lot of deaths and fails, once you get used to it, aiming and taking cover became easier. You will still need your mouse for precision aiming and adjusting on the fly, but after a few hours of use, it somehow felt more natural. Tweaking and testing to perfect the system is key, and it is a load of fun once you try it for yourself.
When the Acer Z301CT was announced back in January at CES 2017, it did not garner a lot of excitement like the 4K 144Hz Acer X27. But it is safe to say that this model should be on your shopping list if you are looking for a fresh and exciting gaming experience. This ultrawide option also has the potential in performances such as responsiveness and imaging accuracy, although the latter needs a bit of work to perfect.
Right now, the asking price for the Acer Z301CT sits at more or less $900 which is a few hundred bucks short of a full-sized, 34-inch 3440 x 1440 variant. In our opinion, that is a bit steep, but if you consider the high-quality panel, G-Sync, and Tobii Eye Tracking, it might seem justified. Our biggest complaint is that 30-inches feel a bit narrow for immersive purposes, but aside from that, the Acer Z301CT is a great buy if it is within budget.