BenQ XL2720Z Gaming Monitor Review

BenQ XL2720Z 05

We’ve always wanted to start doing some gaming hardware reviews, but we haven’t had the chance to do it. Well, this has to change now, so that’s why our first hardware review will be for a gaming monitor, the BenQ XL2720Z.

We’ll try to keep things simple and short, since there are plenty of huge reviews out there and I admit that I only read the conclusions most of the time. I guess that’s what people are also searching for when it comes to a monitor review.

Huge thanks to BenQ Gaming for this awesome monitor and my regards to their Europe Community Team.

First Impressions

When I wrote this, the XL2720Z model was the latest gaming monitor from BenQ so my expectations were really high. I must say that I switched to this monitor from an old 22″ Samsung monitor that I used for quite some time now.

Even if the difference is only 5″, I was really amazed when I took it out of the box. I was afraid I’ll need another desk, heh. All its parts were easy to put together. After I took a few pics of the box and followed the unpacking procedure, I plugged it in and tested for about 2-4 weeks. I really wanted to test everything before I wrote this review.

The menu options and the navigation are something new for me. I was really curious about this since I saw that mouse-like-looking-controller that came with the monitor.

Specifications, Features and Accessories

All the specifications are available on the official website, I’ll only mention here the main ones:

  • Display size: 27″ LED (16:9 aspect ratio)
  • Max native resolution: 1920×1080
  • Refresh rate: 144Hz
  • Response time: 1ms GtG
  • Gaming features: Motion Blur Reduction, FPS / RTS Mode, Flicker-free Technology, NVIDIA® 3D Vision™ 2-ready, Gaming Profiles quick-swap.

Our Tests

OSD menu

First, I went into the monitor menu to check the options, to fix the resolution and to tweak everything that made my picture look better. Here is how the menu looked like:

It is a bit tricky to access to the menu without using the navigation controller, since the tactile buttons are responding strangely. Those buttons did not respond on the first touch and in my opinion some normal buttons would have been a better choice, but really now, how ofter are you changing your monitor settings? On the other hand, using the provided controller is great and you can really use it for every possible action in the menu.

As a side note, make sure you are using the provided DVI cable, since you’ll need a specific type of cable to be able to benefit of that 144Hz refresh rate. Anyway, even if you are using your old monitor cable like I did and something goes wrong, the monitor’s OSD will let you know that you have to change the display cable. I found this pretty neat.

Display quality

Unfortunately taking screenshots or real pictures wont help to show exactly the quality of the display. Screenshots are affected by the display quality you are using and the pics taken with a camera look “strange”. That’s why we ran a few online monitor tests to see how this monitor is doing.

First of all we calibrated the monitor, even though it was not really necessary because the default settings were pretty much perfect for me. Anyway, I used Photo Friday and  FlatPanels tools to calibrate and run the first tests. In addition to those tools I used the official BenQ tool that does pretty much everything you need to have a display well calibrated and it can also load the needed profiles. I guess using a hardware calibration tool would be even better, but since I couldn’t find one, the online ones should suffice for now.

After that, I started a Full HD movie, turned off the lights and enjoyed it. Watching Ice Age on this new display was really enjoyable and I couldn’t find anything bad with the picture quality.

BenQ XL2720Z 14

Since all these tests were ok I’ve headed into World of Warcraft. I set the details on Ultra and I visited the Nagrand area. The bright green of those plains was perfect, even though I had to decrease the brightness from the game settings a bit. I used to play with higher brightness settings on my older monitor but this one was bright enough.
After Nagrand, I went to Ruins of Gilneas. That’s were I wanted to see how the dark areas look like and I wasn’t disappointed. Even with the lower brightness settings everything looks just fine.

Another image quality test was made in the Thief game. If any of you want a dark game where every shadow really matters, that’s the game I suggest. Again, I ran the game with full details and everything was looking great. I guess I overdid the tests here since I played the game for a few days, but let’s say that was only to test my new monitor :)

A neat feature of the monitor is that you can import gaming preset calibrations used by well-known gamers and since I was able to do so, I also played Diablo 3. There is nothing I can complain about here either. The image looked amazing.

I didn’t test the 3D feature of the display. Even if it’s Nvidia 3D Vision ready, since I couldn’t find a pair of glasses to test this, I can’t really say how this feature really works and how the image looks like. Let me know if any of you tested this already.

Conclusion

As you can see from the specifications and from its name, this monitor is really built for gaming. Even though I havent tested any other gaming monitor lately I can completely trust the guys saying that this is one of the best gaming monitors we can get at the moment.

What I was really expecting was a higher resolution, but all the other features compensate for that I guess. I think that if we’d have a higher resolution on this monitor, there would be only a few of us who would really afford it.

The 144Hz refresh rate and the 1ms response time are really amazing for any gamer out there. My old monitor used to really limit my video card FPS. Now it’s like playing new games. It’s a really cool experience. Even if I play WoW most of the time, using this monitor made me want to play other games just to see how everything looks on a gaming monitor. I don’t know if that’s a pro or a con for me, since those games were not free. :P

The monitor support leg it’s a bit strange, because I used to place my monitor against the wall and how I have a big gap between the display and the wall. I had to pull my desk a little bit in front to accommodate.

I can’t really say there there are things I didn’t like about this monitor. Mostly, I wanted to find some small issues with it because only giving you the best parts would sound strange. If you really like a true gaming monitor then this is an awesome choice. Well done BenQ for making this product.

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