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Hands On: Acer Predator Z1 Monitor

We’ve seen a lot of Acer Predator merch come through the studio recently – everything from PCs to keyboards to, of course, monitors. We’re still using the 144Hz Z35, so you can say we’re fans of the line.

144Hz is great for gaming, but we like to push things to the limit around here. We’ve been waiting to get our hands on the Predator Z1 Z301C so we could get to overclocking the refresh rate to higher than 144Hz. The faster the better, so let’s see what the Z1 is capable of.

You can pick it up here for $900.

Deadly Looks

Like so much of the Predator line, Acer went with the red and black motif for the Z1. It’s got the same aggressive, deadly looking metal base and almost alien aesthetic. If you’re familiar with the Predator line’s styling, you’ll know what to expect here. That’s not a bad thing. If it ain’t broke, don't fix it.

The ultra-wide 30 inch Vertical Alignment panel sports a 2560x1080 resolution, a 21:9 aspect ratio, and a pretty substantial 1,800R curvature.

While we would of course prefer 4K, the Z1 has a few tricks up its sleeve – namely the 144Hz refresh rate that can be overclocked to 200Hz. If you’re upgrading from 60Hz, 144 makes a huge difference; 200 is like playing with silk.

If you’re a competitive gamer, you know what a difference that accelerated refresh rate can make. This display also comes loaded with G-Sync, so you get less screen tearing and higher performance, assuming you've got the right hardware.

The response time of the Z1 is a little higher than some of the competition at 4ms. The Predator XB2 is down to 1ms, though that’s a 1920x1080 panel.

Other Features

Menus are controlled with a small joystick and four buttons on the right side of the display. The menus are fairly standard fare, with color profiles, blue light level adjustment, and the aforementioned overclocking options buried within. I had no trouble with navigation, and the flow of the menus was sufficiently intuitive.

It should be noted that there is only one DisplayPort (which you will need to utilize for the higher refresh rate) and a single HDMI port for displays. It’s probably enough for most people, but if you want to use the monitor to switch between more than two sources, you’re going to have to get around back.

There are also a generous five USB ports, one down and four up, so you can charge devices directly from the back of the monitor.

In addition to that, the Z1 comes equipped with a pair of seven watt speakers that were surprisingly loud. They aren’t going to replace your external speaker set or headphones, but their inclusion is certainly a plus.

2K All Day

We ran some simple visual tests consisting of a nighttime map from Battlefield 1 and the bright splashes of daylight color in Overwatch. Both the blacks and the colors looked great, and the 200Hz refresh rate made for a remarkably smooth gaming experience.

Keep in mind that not every game supports 21:9, but when you find one that does the curved screen certainly adds some cinematic flair and makes it hard to go back to 16:9.

If you want a high-end monitor with a curved screen and a wicked refresh rate but don’t need 4K, the Predator Z1 is an excellent middle ground.