Acer CB273U review: Effortless colour accuracy, impressive feature set

The Acer CB273U is a 27in docking monitor built for creative professionals and office workers alike. For professionals, the CB273U delivers spot-on colour accuracy in the sRGB colour space; for office workers it supplies a healthy selection of ports and a versatile stand.

This makes my life very easy. With so many great features working in its favour and a panel that lives up to the marketing claims, the Acer CB273U is an easy sell. It may be overkill for casual users but, if you spend a lot of time in Photoshop, or you need an advanced feature set this is a cracking buy.

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Acer CB273U review: What do you get for the money?

The Acer CB273U isn’t widely available in the UK at the moment but, in the US, this monitor will set you back $480 (£369). That gets you a 27in IPS monitor with a resolution of 2,560 x 1,440, a refresh rate of 75Hz, a 4ms response time and AMD FreeSync support.

On the rear you’ll find one HDMI 2.0 port and one DisplayPort 1.2 port; a USB-C port that can deliver 90W of power and carry a video signal simultaneously; an RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet port; a 3.5mm headphone jack; two USB-A 3.0 ports; and a USB-B 3.0 port to power them (the USB-C port can also handle this task). There’s a second 3.5mm jack with mic support and two more USB-A 3.0 ports on the left-hand edge of the panel.

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The stand covers all the important bases, providing 180 degrees of swivel left and right, 90 degrees of pivot (into portrait mode), 25 degrees of backwards tilt and 120mm of height adjustment. The monitor comes with HDMI, USB-C and USB-B cables in the box.

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Acer CB273U review: What does it do well?

I don’t usually start with the panel here, but the Acer CB273U is uncommonly good in this regard. Out of the box it produced 113.4% of the sRGB colour gamut and 80% of the DCI-P3 gamut. It did so with an average Delta E colour variance score of 0.41 tested against sRGB, which is a fantastically good result (below 1, variations in colour reproduction are imperceptible). Tested against DCI-P3 this monitor produced an average Delta E of 1.4, although the coverage is a little low.

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The result is a colour-accurate monitor that you won’t need to tinker with. If you do go diving into the OSD, however, you’ll find dedicated sRGB and Rec.709 modes – which lock the brightness at 99cd/m² and 140cd/m² respectively – plus a number of other presets that are best left alone.

Beyond the panel, I have plenty of praise for the Acer CB273U’s feature set. From a port perspective, the monitor covers all the basics and a few more advanced features to boot. If your laptop or PC has USB-C ports, you can hook it up to the CB273U using a single cable and access the USB-A and RJ45 ports while expanding your screen real estate. If you don’t have USB-C, however, you’re still covered by the USB-B port, which is a thoughtful touch.

The stand is similarly generous. It’s not unusual but it is very easy to manoeuvre and the impressive 180 degrees of swivel suits the kind of creative, collaborative professional environment this monitor is intended for. In fact, the monitor is generally well-built and, while I wouldn’t call it a good-looking thing, it certainly feels like a premium product.

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Acer CB273U review: What could be better?

One aspect of the design that I’m not so fond of is the OSD controls hidden on the rear. Like other Acer monitors, the CB273U uses a combination of joystick and buttons. Annoyingly, the power button is borderline indistinguishable from the other buttons, so you will end up switching the monitor off while blindly attempting to navigate the OSD.

Spend enough time exploring the OSD and you’ll spot a “Max brightness” toggle. This is switched off by default, limiting the CB273U to a peak luminance of 206cd/m². That’s a surprisingly mediocre effort: good enough for most well-lit office spaces, yes, but not so great if you happen to be sitting in direct sunlight (as I often am in the Expert Reviews office).

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Switching “Max brightness” on elevates the peak luminance to 268cd/m², which is better – I just wish you didn’t need to go digging around in the OSD to do it. It also makes me wonder why this monitor has an “HDR” mode: it clearly doesn’t have the backlight for HDR content, nor indeed the contrast. I measured a high of 899:1, which is merely passable.

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Acer CB273U review: Should you buy it?

On balance, though, the Acer CB273U comfortably earns my praise. If you’re a creative professional or heavy Photoshop user hoping to avoid spending an absolute fortune, the CB373U is a good pick. It may not be the punchiest monitor in the world but it is highly accurate and packed with useful features.

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