Acer KG221Q review: Not the best monitor, but it's fantastic value for money
Loses out on size and colour accuracy, but it’s still a high-contrast FreeSync gaming panel for a very reasonable price
The Acer KG221Q costs just 100, which makes it seriously tempting if you have a tight budget. However, it does also mean compromises - its 21.5in diagonal makes it a couple of inches smaller than rivals, and it doesn't have DisplayPort or DVI inputs - just HDMI and VGA.
It does, however, have FreeSync. AMD's active-sync technology is included on this screen and can work at a maximum refresh rate of 75Hz, which means games can be synchronised to an AMD GPU's frame rate at a peak of 75fps, reducing tearing artefacts.
That's not a super-high refresh rate, but it will be fine for most people's needs, especially when using a mid-range or budget AMD GPU. Either way, it's a boon to have active sync take in a sub-100 monitor, and it worked well in our tests, with no evident stuttering or tearing.
Acer KG221Q: Design
Elsewhere, the Acer uses a familiar 1080p TN panel, just like other rivals at this price point. Its gaming credentials are boosted with a quoted 1ms response time, and it's an 8-bit panel that can render 16.7 million colours.
The Acer is smaller than many competitors, though, and the lower price means it looks a little worse. There's no sign of brushed-metal-effect plastic - instead, you get a glossy finish. The stand is also wide, but the screen is noticeably wobblier than other similarly priced screens. Meanwhile, its thick bezel that means it's not suitable for multi-monitor setups.
As with many other monitors in this bracket, it only offers tilt adjustment. The onscreen display is fine; it's a little slow, but it's well organised and contains all the usual setup options.
Acer KG221Q: Display quality
The Acer may be cheap, but it punches above its weight in some tests. Its contrast ratio result of 1,103:1 is great, and it's formed from a black figure of 0.26cd/m and a brightness level of 287cd/m. That means that both darker and lighter areas are detailed and distinct in games and movies.
The Acer's Delta E result of 1.9 is reasonable, and its gamma deviation level of 0.17 is fine. Both of those figures are middling, but they help to create reasonable colour accuracy across 93.5% of the sRGB gamut.
In other departments, though, the budget bites. The Acer's 6,986K colour temperature makes the monitor look at little blue and pallid, even with its "Warm" colour temperature setting enabled - you'd normally want a monitor to get as close to the 6,500K mark as possible.
As for the screen's uniformity, the Acer manages a mean brightness deviation of 4.4%. Considering its price, it's not bad, though, its brightness was particularly wayward along the bottom and right-hand edge. Remember, there's somewhat of a 'panel lottery' involved, so yours might be better or worse than our tested panel.
Viewing angles were underwhelming, too. We wouldn't bother with the gaming modes either. The Action mode puts a pointless reticule in the middle of the screen and makes the Delta E a little worse, while the Racing and Sports modes make both the contrast and Delta E a tad poorer.
We got mixed results following calibration, too. We were never able to align the Acer KG221Q's colour levels perfectly, and while our tweaks improved the colour temperature and gamma to 6,647K and 2.15, we couldn't noticeably improve the monitor's contrast or Delta E.
Acer KG221Q: Verdict
The Acer may not have the best colours or uniformity, but this surprisingly cheap panel is fine for general use. The Acer's main compromise is the small diagonal when it's stacked up against other screens at a similar price. Still, it offers FreeSync, great contrast and a fantastically reasonable price. It isn't the best monitor, but it definitely offers the best value for money.
The Acer may not have the best colours or uniformity, but this surprisingly cheap panel is fine for general use. It isn't the best monitor, but it definitely offers the best value for money.
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