BenQ EW3270U Review: Making 4K HDR Affordable For All
The EW3270U is an outstanding, great value choice for a huge 4K monitor. The only question is: is your desk large enough?
BenQ are known for bringing great quality technology to market at affordable prices. The BenQ EW3270U is a stunning, 4K HDR, 32-inch, LED monitor that does exactly that–for only $700. With USB Type-C, AMD FreeSync, 95% DCI-P3 coverage, and 100% of Rec. 709 coverage, it can talk the talk–but can it walk the walk? Let’s find out.
Features and Design
Retailing for roughly $700 (but usually available for less) the EW3270U has certainly got it where it counts. This huge monitor looks good, and produces a wonderful image.
For connectivity, it has:
- HDMI 2.0 (x 2)
- DisplayPort 1.2 (x 1)
- USB Type-C (x 1)
- 3.5mm or 1/8th inch audio out (x 1)
The 4K UHD VA panel has a resolution of 3840 x 2160. It runs at 60 MHz and a 16:9 image aspect ratio. It offers a 3000:1 native contrast ratio, 12ms black to black (BTB) response time, 4ms gray to gray (GTG) response time, and intelligent eye care modes. This has been proven to reduce the strain on your eyes, and reduce the likelihood of eye damage.
Two built in speakers provide 2 watts of average sound quality. During use, it consumes 76 watts of power. For the gamers, AMD FreeSync is supported, for smooth, fast-paced gaming experiences.
For video professionals or cinema fans, the EW3270U covers 100% of Rec. 709 and 95% of DCI-P3 standards. Put simply, this means colors are presented very accurately—more so than many other “consumer” level monitors.
HDR 10 is supported, and a pseudo HDR mode is provided, which attempts to expand the dynamic range of media that isn’t “real” HDR (What is HDR? ).
That’s a lot of specs to process, so here’s the executive summary: All the ports you could ever need, loads of pixels, outstanding colors, and great response times mean this monitor can handle anything you throw at it.
What’s In The Box?
Inside the box you’ll find the monitor, a power cable, HDMI 2.0 cable, USB Type-C cable, and a mini DisplayPort to DisplayPort cable. That’s everything you need to get started, and our video cables guide will help you out with the differences if you’re unsure.
The EW3270U comes in a giant box, as this monitor is quite chunky. At 31.5 inches diagonal, the panel is massive. This monitor is really quite thick, but you’ll not notice this once it’s on your desk.
The included stand slots in and tightens up with a thumb screw. Despite having such a wide base, the stand is somewhat “wobbly”. I didn’t have any concerns with it in my home office, but if you’re going to place this monitor somewhere it might get knocked over, you may want to use a VESA mount instead. Holes for a 100mm VESA compatible mount are built in to the back.
The stand allows you to tilt the screen forwards and backwards, but there’s no height adjustment. It’s not possible to rotate 90 degrees for sideways viewing, either. Interestingly, the included stand raises the monitor to almost the exact height of a 2017 (and most other) iMacs. Bit of clever thinking there on the part of BenQ.
Speaking of iMacs, if you’ve ever used one, you’ll know how glossy the screens are, with a wonderful flat glass front. The EW3270U doesn’t quite meet than standard, but it does follow a more traditional monitor design.
The panel is inset slightly from the outer bezels. These bezels are very thin, with the bottom bezel being slightly thicker, presumably as it contains the buttons and other electronics. The panel has a matte finish, rather than gloss, but it still looks superb when in use.
The bottom right chin contains the menu controls and power button. The menu allows you to adjust all the settings quickly and easily–as you’d expect. Two shortcut buttons can be customized to your requirements. We’d suggest the volume here, but nearly anything can be assigned.
On the front of the monitor itself, is a HDR/intelligent brightness mode. Pressing it toggles between “fake” boosted HDR mode, and intelligent auto dimming mode. This auto dimming mode works much like adaptive brightness in your smartphone. Using a sensor at the bottom of the monitor, the brightness is automatically adjusted depending on the ambient light in the room. This works very well, reduces strain on your eyes, and is something which is very nice to have included.
As is to be expected from such a premium monitor, the EW3270U delivers when it comes to image quality. 4K content is superbly rendered, and (like all 4K monitors), looks sharp and true to life.
Unlike 4K televisions, a resolution of 3840 x 2160 is too many pixels for everyday use. You’ll want to run this monitor scaled, in a similar way to how Apple Retina displays work . It’s perfectly possible to run this monitor at its native 4K, and this is even preferable for gaming, but good luck reading any text—you’ll need a magnifying glass!
There’s no greater endorsement for the EW3270U than the fact that I switched from a 5K iMac to this as my primary monitor. While current iMacs use a 5K IPS panel, they are 27 inch screens. The extra few inches of the EW3270U mean that the picture is bigger, and so the scaled resolution can be reduced. This means you can fit more stuff on the monitor at once…and still be able to read text.
The 4K panel is an LED backlit, VA panel. VA panels are much better than TN panels, produce excellent contrast ratios, and good black uniformity. Their main disadvantage over IPS panels is their viewing angles. This monitor is pretty poor for viewing angles. If it’s your primary monitor, you’ll have no problems, but view it from angles such as the side, above, or below, and you’ll notice a lack of contrast and color.
This isn’t BenQ’s fault, as it’s just how the technology works. The color reproduction alone is worth the poor viewing angles. Our LCD display panel comparison covers the details if you’d like to know more.
Moving onto HDR content, it’s not the greatest. The main problem it suffers with is brightness—or lack of. This is fine for now, and you’ll not have any problems as a casual user, but if HDR content really goes mainstream in the future, you might be left behind here. Realistically, HDR content won’t replace 100% of all media consumption within the next year, or even five years, so you’ll be able to get plenty of use out of this monitor.
Finally, this monitor produces a superb image quality for gaming. Colors jump out of the screen, and the 60 MHz refresh rate ensures you’ll not see any lag. The inclusion of AMD FreeSync technology helps to nudge this monitor into the gaming limelight, and ensures you won’t experience any tearing, artefacts, or dropped frames—providing your graphics card supports FreeSync.
What’s Not to Like?
There’s so much to like about the EW3270U, but there are a few minor things you should be aware of.
There’s no digital audio output, which may be irritating for some. The data cables carry digital audio in. Realistically, you can easily counter this with a direct digital audio output from your computer or games console.
As mentioned above, the stand is slightly wobbly. It’s not flimsy, but it does occasionally feel slightly unstable, especially given the size of the screen.
The VA panel produces terrible viewing angles, which may be a problem for some. This won’t be a problem if you sit square on, and use this as your main monitor.
Finally, there’s no upstream USB ports. Not a major problem for most, but if you’re using a MacBook or other USB-C device, then you may have to use up another precious port.
Is It Worth It?
Retailing for roughly $700, (but we’ve seen it for lower than that, especially during sales), the EW3270U represents excellent value for money. With vivid colors, millions of pixels, all the ports you could ever need, intelligent eye care modes, and features to cater to professionals, gamers, or home users, this monitor represents excellent value for money. It’s significantly cheaper (and better, in our opinion) than the LG Ultrafine 5k, and would make an excellent companion to a 4K video editing PC, or Xbox One X