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BenQ EW3270U Review – Accomplished, Adaptable, Functional

Pros –

Well-calibrated from factory, Wide colour gamut, FreeSync support, Great contrast and good brightness distribution for its size

Cons –

Doesn’t support true HDR, Cool WB in HDR modes and can’t be adjusted, Mediocre viewing angles

Verdict –

The EW3270U provides a strong viewing experience, impressing with its versatility and immersive size.


Introduction –

BenQ are a Taiwanese technology manufacturer renowned for their monitors, projectors and, more recently, electro-static portable speakers. They have a huge monitor line-up segregated by their intended use cases. While they’ve frequently popped up in conversation in the professional space where they offer some of the most accurate monitors on the market at reasonable prices, BenQ are now pushing their video enjoyment monitors that offer punchier colours, HDR10 and various features that minimise eye fatigue. The EW3270U is one of their flagship media orientated models, with a 4K resolution spread over a spacious 31.5 inches.

It has a high contrast ratio through the adoption of a VA panel and a wide colour gamut, with 95% coverage of DCI-P3, in addition to a 10-bit colour depth that should eliminate banding. This is rounded off with AMD Freesync support which prevents tearing over a 24-60Hz range. BenQ also implements a variety of software features to complement the viewing experience. The EW3270U retails for $700 USD or $899 AUD making it a very well-priced proposition considering the specifications and screen real-estate on offer. You can read more about the monitor here and treat yourself to one here.

 

Disclaimer –

I would like to thank BenQ very much for their quick communication and for providing me with the EW3270U for the purpose of review. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review. Despite receiving the monitor free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective as possible in my evaluation.

 

Accessories –

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The EW3270U has a pleasing unboxing similar to other monitors and TV’s. The monitor slides out, flanked by protective packing and the included accessories lie pressed against the side of the box. In addition to the monitor itself, buyers receive USB type-C, display port to mini display port and power cables in addition to warranty card and driver CD.

 

Design –

The EW3270U is a relatively sleek monitor with a clean design that fits comfortably into almost any environment. Its construction is predominately plastic, though it feels sturdy, especially considering its size and thoughtful choice of finish. The black side bezels melt into the screen when off while a gunmetal grey control bar at the bottom adds a sprinkle of visual intrigue. A black sensor bar lies in the centre facing towards the user. Its piano black finish blends into the matching stand so it doesn’t bother during use. The sensors enable auto brightness and colour temperature adjustments.

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Every surface has an understated matte finish that’s easy to clean and easy to keep clean. Relatively slim 12mm bezels flank the side and top edges of the matte panel. They’re noticeable, but innocuous compared to the size of the panel, contributing towards an immersive experience. The monitor has a tapered side profile with moderate depth that helps it to integrate nicely into a setting when installed via a VESA wall mount. Small vents run along the perimeter of the monitor to keep temperatures in check.

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The controls and interfaces can all be found on the bottom right of the monitor besides the HDR/Brightness Intelligence+ functions that can be toggled via a front-facing button. A large illuminated power button protrudes from the far right, its colour denotes whether the monitor is active, in standby or off. 5 bottom-mounted control buttons correspond with markers on the front panel. They are clicky and evenly spaced, providing pleasing tactile feedback. The buttons are laid out as follows from left to right:

  • Low-blue light mode
  • Display mode
  • Source
  • Display options
  • Close menu

In addition, the monitor has a variety of inputs including 2x HDMI 2.0 ports (supporting 4K @ 60Hz), DisplayPort v1.4 and USB type-C. The power input is located on the opposite side of the monitor to keep wires in check. I do personally prefer rear mounted interfaces as they’re easier to access. That said, bottom facing ports do enable easier cable management to maintain a clean looking setup.

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Should users not want to wall mount the monitor, the included stand is quite solid, very stable AP but could do with a little more width to provide lateral support. Still, it’s well weighted with a rubber base that keeps its place well. The monitor feels nicely planted despite its dimensions and the base provides adequate support to prevent wandering during adjustment. The monitor does not have height adjust or pivot, only tilt adjustment from -5 to 15°. It would have been great to see more flexibility though this is in-line with competing multimedia monitors.

 

Sound –

The monitor has two downward firing 2W speakers on either side. They provide pleasing stereo separation and a reasonably high maximum volume. Unfortunately, the quality of that sound is subpar and likely no better than the average Ultrabook besides maximum volume. Bass is non-existent and the midrange is thin and tinny. Highs are fatiguing above medium volumes. The speakers will do in a pinch but are hardly enjoyable for film or music. Given the quality of the panel, a dedicated speaker setup is recommended and luckily, buyers have a plethora of affordable speakers available such as the $100 Edifier R1280DB and Logitech Z623. They are easily connected either to the computer or the monitor’s 3.5mm output located near the inputs on the bottom right. No digital audio output is provided, which may bother users of optical speakers/amplifiers, though it’s easy enough to interface with the computer directly.

 

Image Quality –

The photos below are provided for reference only. They do not holistically or accurately represent the image quality of the monitor in real-world use.

 

OSD – 

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Brightness and Distribution –

I measured a peak brightness just over BenQ’s quoted 300nits in the corners of the display and a hair below at 285nits in the centre. Considering the size of the panel and its edge-lit design, this is an impressive result. I noticed slightly more luminance in the bottom corners in particular, however, the difference didn’t irk on either bright or dark images and was less intense than the bleed I’ve seen on many IPS panels. Subjectively the panel’s 300nits of brightness is adequate as its matte finish mitigates glare and reflection and its ideal white point enhances clarity. When word processing and gaming, often setting the monitor to 70% brightness or ~200nits was sufficient with max brightness becoming too intense.

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However, it definitely does lack brightness for brilliant HDR content and darker content such as film left me wanting. The EW3270U, therefore, best suits those with a shaded room and those with a setup in direct sunlight will want to look into a monitor with higher max brightness. Viewing angles are also something to consider, a known limitation of VA panels. It is exemplified here with the monitor slightly washing out beyond 30° horizontally and vertically. Given its massive size, this is less of an issue as most users will use the monitor standalone. Users also won’t experience any colour shift even at extreme angles, however, for multi-monitor setups, this is not ideal.

 

Colour and Gamma Accuracy –

Calibration from factory is very good in both sRGB and wider DCI-P3 gamut, though slight oversaturation is not ideal for editing. Utilising my Spyder 5 yielded a minute difference, most notably slight desaturation of greens producing more natural skin tones. White point is also spot on and in-line with my other Pantone certified displays which aids the impression of brilliance

Combined with its wide colour gamut that covers 95% DCI-P3, 100% sRGB and 100% of Adobe RGB, the EW3270U provides a sublime colour rendition that flatters any kind of content. Again, its slightly enhanced saturation is not ideal for photo or video editing though the monitor is still a better choice here than the vast majority of competitors and easily sufficient for hobbyists such as myself. This is reaffirmed by accurate gamma tracking that ensures that the monitor remains accurate in all picture modes. From factory, gamma is adjusted slightly too low, providing more contrast but also crushing blacks. Once adjusted to the 3rd setting in the user options, it is almost spot on.

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The monitor also has a wealth of software features and video modes to suit various uses. Standard, sRGB and M-Book modes all have a slightly warmer balance where the two HDR, Game and Photo presets sport a cooler white balance. Unfortunately, the colour balance cannot be adjusted in HDR mode and it tends to skew skin tones more than I would like though in return, the cooler white balance aids the impression of greater brilliance. The User setting enables more specific adjustment to the picture settings including brightness, contrast, sharpness, gamma, colour temperature, hue and saturation.

Using the user-defined colour temperature settings enables users to alter the primary hues. Through comparison to the calibration file from my Spyder 5 Express, I was able to achieve almost perfect colour balance without the need for software compensation by lowering the green hue to 97. This is significant for users with multiple sources ensuring the display is accurate and consistent amongst them.

 

Word Processing & Multimedia –

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The EW3270U is excellent for general browsing and word processing due to its high 4K resolution and excellent contrast that aids text legibility. Though dwarfed by modern smartphones, 140 PPI is a very respectable pixel density for a monitor that users view from longer distances. Once using a high-resolution monitor, it’s hard to step down. Spread over its large size, its 4K resolution feels significantly more appropriate than on smaller monitors and laptop displays. There’s so much screen real-estate for users to take advantage of, perfect for multi-tasking and split window workflows. That said, users will want to use scaling options to provide legible text and UI icons. Using Windows 10, I was comfortable with 150%.

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Source: Mad Max (2015)

Film and animated content is also flattered, however, as with a high-resolution set of headphones, the large, high-resolution EW3270U is less forgiving of lower resolution content than the majority of other monitors. Still, regardless of resolution, a slight boost in saturation provides extra depth to content without overly skewing skin tones while 10-bit colour support provides immediately smoother gradients when viewing animated content. Strong contrast enables easily discernible detail regardless of whether the scene is bright or dark. HDR isn’t as flattered, lacking peak brightness. However, booting up a HDR Bluray of Mad Max (2015), the monitor provided a dynamic and immersive viewing experience that left me wanting little more than a few notches of brightness in the highlights.

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Source: Your Name (2016)

The EW3270U also provides multiple options to alleviate eye strain during extended use. BenQ implements 4 low blue light setting tailored towards multi-media, web surfing, office and reading. They vary in intensity and brightness. B.I+ is one of the headline features of this monitor. It uses the array of sensors on the front of the monitor to dynamically alter both brightness and colour temperature to the environment. It’s an effective and responsive feature that’s practical for daily use if not suitable for colour sensitive applications. The aggressiveness of the brightness adjustment can also be tweaked in the menu and disabled entirely, enabling automatic colour temperature only, a thoughtful touch.

 

Gaming –

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The EW3270U provides punchy colours and deep contrast that flatters any kind of content. Super Mario Odyssey on the Nintendo Switch simply exploded with colour, though its 900p resolution was less eye-pleasing, a limitation of the system itself. For more competitive gamers, BenQ implements a feature called AMA which is similar to overdrive function that prevents ghosting. The monitor’s strong contrast provides perceptibly higher shadow detail than competing IPS and TN panels, especially noticeable in games such as Metro Last Light where the panel uncovered a significant amount of nuance completely undetectable on my other monitors.

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In addition, HDR emulation can be toggled to create the impression of a higher dynamic range. These image presets provide a slightly cooler white balance, however, it is fairly effective at redeeming even greater shadow detail in SDR content at the cost of contrast. Response time is a respectable 4ms and subjectively input lag was a non-issue, even compared to my Samsung TN monitors. I also didn’t experience any ghosting in the standard setting yet alone with AMA set to high. With its high resolution, the monitor well suits fast-paced games, especially advantageous when playing hit scan due to the added detail.

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Still, take into account that frequent and competitive gamers will need a very powerful setup to power those pixels at high framerates. Some users may relent at the monitor’s 60Hz refresh rate, however, realistically, it is hard to achieve significantly higher framerates on current hardware. My test PC utilises the i7-7700HQ, GTX1060 and 16GB DDR4 RAM, I was just able to drive less demanding titles such as Overwatch at 4K 60fps at medium settings. More demanding games such as PUBG struggled even at 2K with occasional stutters and I experienced frequent freezing at 4K on the lowest setting. GTX1080 and 1070 users will be able to more comfortably push higher resolutions at a consistent 60fps. AMD users will also be able to take advantage of Freesync, suiting lower framerate gameplay at higher quality.

 

Verdict –

Most might consider this monitor’s main asset its enormous size. However, long-term use reveals that it has a lot more appeal than simple real estate. One of the strongest traits a monitor can have is versatility and the EW3270U delivers in spades. Its well-balanced colour rendition and wide colour gamut flatter multi-media and casual, if not professional, photo and video editing work. Meanwhile, enhanced saturation makes the image pop and a high contrast ratio provides depth and shadow detail that competing IPS panels can’t match.

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HDR support is very welcome even if the panel isn’t capable of fully reproducing it, then again, no models around this price are. For the frequent gamer, FreeSync, effective overdrive and lower response times create a close to ideal experience. To counterbalance this argument, viewing angles are just average and maximum brightness could be higher. Though calibration, gamma and grey scale performance are terrific, saturation is a touch overcooked for precise work. Still, the monitor provides a strong viewing experience, immersing with its size and compelling with its focus on strengths that lie outside the spec sheet.

 

The EW3270U is available from Amazon (International) for $699 USD at the time of writing. Please see my affiliate link for the most updated pricing, availability and configurations.

 

 

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