BenQ EW3270U 4K HDR Monitor2018
4K HDR monitors have been around for a while but they haven't been particularly affordable. BenQ's 32 inch EW3270U (well, technically 31.5 inch) 4K HDR monitor isn't cheap either, but its $499 price tag makes it a great buy for someone willing to make the investment.
Featuring 95% of the DCI-P3 color gamut and support for 10-bit color, this is a very promising display. (The sample was provided by the manufacturer for testing purposes).
With the last few generations of graphics cards, 4K 30 gaming is very easily possible in moderate to high powered gaming builds. A high-end graphics card is still required to hit the 4K 60 sweet spot, but with a monitor this big, you can easily sacrifice some of the AA and graphical settings to squeeze out every last bit of fps possible.
On paper, it looks absolutely great, the specifications are as follows:
- Resolution: 3840x2160
- Diagonal Size: 31.5 inch
- Panel type: VA
- Response time: 4ms
- Refresh rate: 60 Hz
- Viewing angle: 178/178
- PPI: 140
- Color depth: 10 bit
- Freesync: Yes.
- Native contrast: 3000:1
- Dynamic Contrast Ratio: 20 Million: 1
- 2W x2 Speaker System
- HDMI Port, USB Type-C Port, Display Port 1.4
Freesync will also make the experience a lot more enjoyable. All that said, BenQ is positioning this as a video entertainment monitor and the primary reason for that is because of the wide color gamut this display offers with 100% Rec .709 and 95% DCI-P3 support. This means this would be a great choice for students and professionals in the video industry and pretty much anyone else that is concerned about accurate color reproduction.
1. BenQ EW3270U: First look and aesthetics
The monitor comes in a very well packaged and sturdy cardboard box with enough packing material to survive the roughest of handling by the courier. Everything is packaged securely and the box comes with multiple connection cables, the stand and the monitor itself.
BenQ decided to go with a very industrial but minimalist looking design which I personally quite like. A single center stand with a sanded aluminum plate will fit in with just about any desk and the included stand allows a few degrees of tilt either way. The HDR button is added, somewhat conspicuously, to the bottom left edge of the monitor while the control buttons are at the bottom side.
The monitor itself is quite large (especially to someone upgrading form a lower form factor) and at viewing distance of 1.5 feet, it is impossible to resolve individual pixels - which means the DPI is great! Everything you need to get started is included in the box. Plugging in the cable can be problematic if you have your desk set up near a wall, but apart from that, the monitor is easy to setup and total installation time is less than 5 minutes.
2: BenQ EW3270U: Ambient light features
This particular monitor rocks an ambient light sensor which can adjust the screen tone and brightness according to the ambient light conditions. Since this is a monitor that is designed for HDR in mind, it can get quite bright and the ambient light sensor is a welcome addition. The B.I. mode can be turned on using the button on the bottom left corner and most of the time it will result in an image that is less bright than the standard setting.
Apart from the reduced level of brightness, the default mode is low blue light mode which will also take the edge of the blue light spectrum - making for a more comfortable viewing experience but sacrificing some color accuracy in the process. This is a great thing to have if your loved one is sleeping in the room and you don't want to blind them with what is the equivalent of the light output of a small bulb.
The B.I. mode can be turned on, on its own, or with HDR mode enabled. Keep in mind that the HDR button here turns on the forced HDR mode or the emulated HDR mode. To get the true 10-bit color mode, you will first need to enable HDR in windows by digging through the menus or connect the monitor to a Bluray player or console that supports HDR . This brings us to the meat of our review, the actual testing and use of the monitor.
3. HDR, color gamut, brightness, and pixel grid resolution
The HDR mode drastically improves the brightness of the monitor as well as the intensity of the highlights while at the same time making sure the shadows remain visible. The light output can become so strong that if you are not used to HDR monitors, it can be surprising at first. My lux meter saw an increase of more than 100% in the light output of the monitor and general definition and color accuracy improved as well.
From standard mode, with B.I. on, the light output goes from 81 lux to just over 200 lux. This is a pretty huge increase in light output. According to the manufacturer's specs, the monitor is capable of going to as high as 300 lux in certain conditions, which is quite a lot of light. Keep in mind however that while this is still not enough to display a Rec. 2020 color gamut HDR image, it is in line with what the industry is offering for HDR monitors right now so I will not nitpick.
Highlights and neutral greys improved dramatically, while blacks remained about the same. The added contrast, however, made it appear as if the blacks have improved as well. In the forced HDR mode, this is even more apparent as contrast is amplified and there is a visceral difference between the dark and light areas of the screen. Considering you cannot tell individual pixels apart in the 4K resolution, this results in a very immersive experience - especially while playing video games.
Talking about video games, Freesync performs admirably and just as well as you would expect although to really take advantage of the 4K res, you would have to go with either a Vega GPU or any of the high-end Pascal NVIDIA series. As far as movies go, which is what this monitor is actually intended for, they look absolutely great.
I am more than happy to christen this the ultimate Netflix viewing device. Every single detail comes through with clarity and no banding of any sort occurs at any moment. In fact, in trying to find something wrong with the monitor I ended up realizing that the color accuracy of the display is so good, that it makes you spot problems in color grading in movies that you would otherwise not see at all! Make of that what you will, but this is definitely a win for the BenQ in my book.
4. BenQ EW3270U: Conclusion
I have been using the BenQ EW3270U 4K HDR monitor for over a month now and to be honest, I could not be happier. I do the occasional dabbling in video work as a side project and dealing with images is part of my daily routine. The colors are neutrally saturated and are never exaggerated and you can usually trust what the monitor is showing you - which if any of you are in this business would understand is a huge blessing!
Gaming has been a very immersive experience for me because it covers most of the fovea of my eyes to the point where it can appear very close to a virtual reality experience. Try playing Dirt with one of these bad boys and you will see what I mean. This monitor does not display HDR to its full potential, but this is not a fault in my book because its HDR performance is well in line with the industry standard for this price tag and at this moment, unless you go for a $2000+ quantum dot display capable of over 1000 lux brightness with complete local dimming, you will not get a better deal.
The question of whether this monitor justifies its price tag is subjective, but for myself, it definitely does so. To me, the BenQ EW3270U 4K HDR monitor is the perfect upgrade for anyone wanting to move up from 1080p or 1440p. It also wins our Editor's Choice Award. You can buy the BenQ EW3270U for $499 over at Amazon.
A very well balanced, DCI-P3 color gamut capable, 4K monitor from BenQ that supports Freesync and is priced responsibly.
- 4K monitor at a reasonable price
- Great color gamut
- Has HDR support
- Has Freesync Support
- 32 Inches with PPI capable of handling it!
- No portrait mode
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