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Lifewire / Andy Zahn
Great image quality
Wide viewing angles
Very thin profile
Only full HD
Difficult to operate monitor controls
No way to adjust the display angle
The Acer R271 performs well outside its budget price point, offering a beautiful, bright, and accurate IPS display that is easily viewable from many angles. Though it includes a few minor compromises in terms of build quality, these are overwhelmed by the value it offers.
For the PC gamer or creative professional unwilling to shell out hundreds of dollars, finding the right monitor can be a frustrating game of trial and error. There are few things more disappointing than purchasing that new display only to find that it looks washed out and dull.
The Acer R721 falls into a budget niche where so many other displays have failed—the price is right, but can it perform? We tested this monitor to see if it delivers on quality without cutting too many corners.
The Acer R271 is a strikingly thin monitor. The upper half is as petite as a display can be, while the lower quarter flares outward. This is not only a pleasing aesthetic design choice but a practical one as well—it means the monitor is weighted at its base and thus less likely to tip over. The screen has a very thin bezel to match its thin profile, and the monitor really is quite attractive. You could easily put two side by side for a multi-monitor display without an overly thick bezel space between the two displays.
It is advantageous that the screen is not top heavy because the base does not seem to have the most secure connection to the screen. This is a shame, as both the screen and the base individually seem well-constructed.
The base is heavy, which keeps the entire device steady (despite the questionable connection). There is no height or angle adjustment, even though Acer actually advertises the R271 as having a tilting stand—from what we experienced in our testing, it does not. Fortunately, the excellent 178-degree viewing angle greatly reduces the need to tilt the monitor.
There is no height or angle adjustment, even though Acer advertises the R271 as having a tilting stand.
Another missing feature Acer advertises is a magnetic base, which they claim is useful for sticking up paper clips and other metal objects. As far as we could see, after tapping all over with various metal objects, no part of this monitor is magnetic. It isn’t a big loss, but it is puzzling—perhaps Acer decided after initial production to switch the better, more expensive display stand for one that was cheaper to produce in order to lower the overall price.
The ports are arranged in a fairly standard way on the back of the monitor, and it is easy enough to plug and unplug cables into them, even from awkward angles. As for your selection of ports, you get the basics: HDMI, DVI, and VGA. There is no display port or USB here. The lack of a display port is particularly glaring, as that is a useful input method that is common in most modern displays and computers. The limited port variety also makes it trickier to use the R271 in multi-screen setups.
We noticed that the Acer R271 seems to be remarkably dust resistant. During the weeks we tested it very little dust collected on it, and the little spots that inevitably appear on the surface of displays were also absent. We don’t know if this is because of the materials used in the R271, or if this is just a positive side-effect if the monitor’s inability to tilt (it invariably sticks straight up, creating sheer vertical surfaces). Also, since it is very thin, this decreases space on which dust and grime can collect.
We found that assembling the Acer R271 was a simple if mildly frustrating experience. This is primarily due to the poorly-designed mounting bracket that attaches the stand to the monitor. We had an easy time attaching input and power cables to the ports located on the back left-hand side of the monitor. Unfortunately, there is no integrated cable management, so your cords are left dangling behind the screen.
We were able to adjust the screen brightness, contrast, and other settings with a series of buttons located beneath the lower right-hand corner of the display. However, these are not easy to operate as they are recessed too far to the back of the monitor, and there are no visible indicators to help guide searching fingers.
A further issue with the layout of these controls is that the LED “power on” light is not itself the power button. With many monitors, this LED actually turns on the display and acts as a guide to locating and operating the OSD (On Screen Display) monitor controls. The light on the R271 is also slightly larger than the actual buttons, and we often found ourselves unwittingly trying to use it to power the monitor on.
The OSD can be confusing to use at first, as commands change frequently depending on which menu you are using. To make matters worse, the timeout for the OSD is set to 10 seconds as default, and we found it necessary to change this to at least 20 seconds in order to be able to easily operate the menu system.
The R271 is only a Full HD monitor, but even in 2019, this is not in itself a major downside. Most people won’t be able to tell the difference between 1080p and 2160p in most applications. What makes more of a difference is how the monitor handles contrast, color, viewing angles, and backlight bleed. The R271 excels in overall image quality, which allows it to compete with more costly, higher-resolution displays.
The IPS panel is bright (250 nits) and evenly lit, with excellent viewing angles. It is reasonably color accurate, boasting 16.7 million colors. This makes the R271 a useful budget option for photo and video editors, and all but the most demanding creative users will find it perfectly acceptable.
The R271 excels in overall image quality, which allows it to compete with more costly, higher-resolution displays.
For gaming it is merely adequate—the 60hz refresh rate and 4ms response time are hardly cutting edge, but are by no means terrible for gaming.
This monitor does not come with any software to install on your computer. Instead, it includes a number of nifty in-screen tricks such as a blue light filter and flicker reduction technology to reduce eye strain, and a technology Acer has termed “ComfyView” that reduces the reflectivity of the screen.
The flicker reduction and “ComfyView” are very passive features, the effect of which can be hard to quantify. However, we can happily report that the screen does not flicker and is not prone to distracting reflections, so it would seem the software is doing its job.
It is truly astounding that such a great display can be bought for so little.
Using the OSD, there are several basic preset modes to choose from based on how you’re using the monitor: “Standard” for general use, “Movie” for better video viewing, “Graphics” for playing video games, and “Eco” for reduced power consumption.
There is also a “User” mode that allows you to alter various characteristics yourself. You can alter the contrast, brightness, hue, and saturation, as well as modify basic settings such as the operating language of the OSD. A number of options included in the OSD are greyed out, including volume controls (the monitor has no included speakers). This indicates that this menu system was copied from a more feature rich monitor.
The Acer R271 has an MSRP of $249, but like most monitors, it usually retails for much less. Whether it’s on sale or not, this is just about rock bottom price for a 27-inch monitor.
What is impressive is the value it offers at this price point. By featuring a 1080p resolution screen, Acer was able to keep the price down and create a display that competes with much more expensive monitors in terms of sharpness, color accuracy, brightness, and viewing angles. It is truly astounding that such a great display can be bought for so little.
It is unusual for a budget display to compete so well with high-end displays, but the Acer R271 manages to hold its own against 27-inch screens costing twice or even three times what the R271 typically costs.
The Dell Ultrasharp U2719DX (a 1440p display) retails for roughly $400, and while it’s certainly superior in terms of build quality, versatility, and resolution, it does not outpace the R271 too far in terms of overall image quality.
If you want to go full 4K, then there is the ASUS Designo MX27UC to consider. If you have a PC that can handle 4K resolution, then it might be worth it to pay for a monitor that can make full use of your computer's hardware. However, the ASUS costs around $600, about three times what you’ll pay for the R271. You’ll have to decide if you really need 4K (or even 1440p) because there’s a good chance it won’t really make that much difference—if this is the case, then you might as well save your money and enjoy the excellent performance of the R271.
An advantage for the R271 over the Dell and the ASUS is that the R271 does not heat up after extended use. This is due to the fact that the R271 doesn’t deliver as much power to its 1080p screen as opposed to its higher-resolution competitors. Both the ASUS Designo MX27UC and the Dell Ultrasharp U27DX can get alarmingly hot, and they might suffer from this excess of heat later on.
Another advantage for the R271 is its 4ms response time. The ASUS has a slower 5ms response time, and the Dell only offers a maximum of 6ms. In this way, the R271 claims a performance advantage when it comes to video games.
Exceeds the limitations of its low price to offer everyone from gamers to video editors a great experience.
The Acer R271 is more than just a budget monitor: it’s a value monitor. Its biggest compromises come in the construction of its base, which is not adjustable and is of noticeably lower quality than the screen itself. But if you need a bright, clear display for very little money, then the R271 will deliver that in a slim, well-designed package.