REVIEW: BenQ XL2720T Gaming Monitor

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$270 More info from brand

Written by Toby Lucas     01/05/2013 | 10:43 | Category name i.e.PC

I recently spent a good amount of time reviewing the BenQ XL2720T LCD/LED gaming monitor and I must say, as an avid gamer, I had a very difficult time giving it back. The large 27" LCD is sleek in design and abundant in added extras.

When piecing this behemoth of a monitor together I had some serious concerns about the stability of the structure, but after locking the screen into the base using a neat quick release system my concerns were alleviated. Clearing space on my desk and pushing my measly 22" (BenQ gaming monitor circa 2010) aside I hoisted the monitor from floor to desk and was surprised to find how light it was for the size, weighing a mere 7.5kg. 

The overall design of the piece has a very 'gamer' feel to it with sharp looking lines and a nice black and red finish. So I wasn't surprised to find out that it was developed with input from some of the Counter Strike pro-gaming legends, and has become the official monitor for season 6 & 7 of the Intel Extremes Master Tournaments.



Connections/Special Features 
This monitor certainly isn't lacking in the connections department, with the usual suspects including D-sub/DVI-DL/HDMI/DP, you also get 3 x downstream & 1 x upstream USBs. The S-switch is a special feature I haven't seen before on any monitor; essentially it looks like a small mini-USB mouse with a scroll wheel that allows the user to configure 3x custom monitor pre-sets. For example, I could have gaming/movie/text settings, which, with a quick scroll of the wheel, I can toggle between instantly. Side panel connections have become somewhat standard these days, but I felt this was worth a note.



Performance
As some monitors can perform better with certain medias over others, I decided to test the monitor using 3 different forms: Games, Movies and Text. 

After setting up the monitor and resetting the default colour settings which were a bit flat, the first thing I tried was the new Hitman: Absolution game at full graphical settings and I will admit I was pleasantly surprised. Having played the game on my previous monitor, one of my pet gripes was that I couldn't see enough of the terrain, and characters at greater distances were harder to make out on a 60hz screen. Given the power of the 120hz /1ms refresh rate this irritation was no more with the XL2720T. 

The other key aspect of gaming I noticed was the level of detail within the 'dark areas'. For those who aren't familiar with the Hitman franchise, the game is based heavily on stealth and hiding in the shadows, so having a higher level of detail in the shaded areas I found was very beneficial. 

Movie wise the monitor didn't disappoint. Having a blu-ray player on my PC I took full advantage and watched the new release of The Avengers. With Benq's vibrant colours and great picture clarity it was akin to watching a HD release at the cinemas. 

Unfortunately text is where I feel this monitor drops the ball. With the 120hz refresh rate, videos/images and games all benefit greatly, however text takes on an almost grainy feel. After some tweaks using Windows Clear Text feature, I was able to smooth out a lot of the fonts and get the on-screen text to a point that was acceptable. 



Verdict
The Good - If you're a dedicated gamer or an avid movie watcher who wants the best possible visual experience, this is the monitor for you. With its highly functional features, intuitive user interface and amazing refresh rate, there are few monitors on the market that can deliver this level of detail and response time. 

The Bad - With a slight textual letdown and a lack of HDMI cable in the box (it's considered an optional extra) this monitor won't be for everyone. The $599 RRP may be acceptable to gamers with disposable incomes but for the everyday user the asking price may not be justifiable.

Overall however, as always, BenQ have delivered what I consider to be one of the top tier entertainment monitors so far in 2013.

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Pros & Cons

Pros:

- Sharp design: developed with input from some of the Counter Strike pro-gaming legends - S-Switch feature - High quality movies and gaming

Cons:

- Lack of HDMI cable included in box - Average quality of text display