BenQ EX3203R Is the Ultimate 144Hz HDR Curved Gaming Monitor
BenQ have once again built a stunning monitor with the EX3203R. Strangely named, but lacking nothing in features, this might just be the ultimate 1440p gaming monitor.
BenQ’s EX3203R is a 31.5 inch, curved monitor. With USB-C, FreeSync 2, and a 144Hz refresh rate, it’s shaping up to be quite a special display.
Read on to find out exactly what we thought of the EX3203R, and at the end of this review, we’re giving one away to one lucky reader!
Features and Design
Retailing at $700, the EX3203R is not a budget monitor, and with a resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels, it’s not even able to display a 4K signal. With 8-bit color, and a 90% DCI-P3 color gamut, the EW3270U appears to beat it in every way.
Here’s where the EX3203R improves things. A 1800R curvature sits alongside AMD FreeSync 2, and a high refresh rate of 144Hz. Brightness Intelligence Plus technology dims the display depending on the ambient light in the room, along with the color temperature. A maximum brightness of 400 cd/m² handles HDR content.
The LED-backlit VA panel sports a 3000:1 native contrast ratio, 178-degree viewing angle, and 4ms Gray to Gray (GtG) response time.
On the back, you’ll find two HDMI 2.0 inputs, a single DisplayPort 1.2a input, a 1/8th-inch headphone jack, USB Type-C input, and two USB Type-A 3.1 upstream ports. You have to power this monitor with the included power brick, but that’s not a big deal.
The USB-C input supports 10W power delivery, so you’ll be able to charge your USB-C only laptops while keeping your desk tidy with only one cable. There’s no support for HDMI 2.1 , but as this monitor doesn’t run at a 4K resolution, there’s no need to worry.
It’s possible to wall mount this display, but you’ll need to purchase a VESA wall mount transfer kit: it doesn’t have a suitable VESA mounting point out the box.
Two built-in speakers deliver average sound quality, but you’re buying this monitor for the image quality, so you shouldn’t expect fantastic audio.
Inside the box, you’ll find the power brick, stand, USB-C cable, DisplayPort to Mini DisplayPort cable, and HDMI cable. You’ll need to attach the stand to the base, but the locking mechanism and tool-less design mean that this is an easy task.
Our USB Type-C explained guide covers more details about USB Type-C, along with many features supported by the EX3203R.
Take a Look at These Curves
The EX3203R’s stand is as well designed as the monitor is. Sporting a bright silver livery, the two-pronged stand provides excellent support without taking up too much room on your desk. It’s significantly better than the stands on many other BenQ models.
A large cable hole is lined with yet more silver plastic and provides a functional, yet elegant way to route cables.
This monitor allows vertical movement of approx. 2.5 inches, and tilts between -5 and 15 degrees. You won’t be able to rotate this monitor 90 degrees, however.
Moving on to the bezels: they look amazing. As an Apple iMac user, I’ve come to expect chunky bezels, but BenQ has shown that this doesn’t have to be the case. While the bottom bezel is slightly chunkier, the side and top bezels are tiny, and would easily support triple monitor configurations with little frame blocking.
If you’ve never used a curved display before, they can take some getting used to. The 1800R curve radius is perfect for sitting closely. A shallower curve would be better for long distance viewing, but this monitor is really designed to be an up-close computer display, rather than a television.
Once you’re accustomed to a curved display, you won’t want to go back to anything else. You’ll feel completely immersed in games, and wide-screen movies look stunning.
In typical BenQ style, the bottom right of this display contains the illuminated power button, along with several menu controls. Two custom buttons can be configured to jump directly to any menu entry, and the on-screen menu clearly indicates the purpose of each button, which changes depending on the function you are operating.
The menu interface is clear and simple to use. While you can assign the custom buttons to jump to the volume menu, it’s not possible to configure volume up or volume down button directly. Any sound adjustments, therefore, need two clicks to perform, instead of one. This is only a minor annoyance, but the ability to instantly adjust or mute the speakers would be a welcome change.
As is expected from a high-end monitor, image quality is breathtaking. Yes, it’s not 4K, but you wouldn’t know it.
4K resolutions are too big for working on a computer. Icons and words appear tiny, so you need to scale the resolution down, in a similar way to how retina displays work.
With a 1440p resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels, you don’t need to make any changes to see the text. This is (in our opinion) the perfect balance between high-resolution, and ease of use.
Sporting a maximum refresh rate of 144Hz, the EX3203R is heavily geared towards gaming. Such a high refresh rate combined with AMD FreeSync 2, ensures you’ll see almost no screen tearing, artifacts, or jittering.
It takes some getting used to and may look weird and uncomfortable, but once you’ve adjusted to it, you won’t ever want to look back. Although you’ll need a fast computer to run games maxed out.
Films look amazing, and the colors look bright and vivid. Widescreen screen movies lose some of the magic provided by a curved monitor, but ultrawide models such as the XR3501 take things up to 35 inches, which is starting to approach crazy sizes.
Sure it’s not an IPS panel, and it’s not a glossy Apple-style design either, but BenQ has engineered a curved display which is capable of reproducing an incredible image, and at 1440p 144Hz as well!
Do You Need a Curved Display?
This monitor has it all. 1440p resolution, HDR, beautiful curves, excellent stand, 144Hz refresh rate, multiple inputs … we could go on.
Like many monitors, it has poor sound quality. Annoyingly it doesn’t support VESA mounting right out the box. It’s also not 4k, but as this is a monitor isn’t a TV, you can probably live with these drawbacks.
If you’d like to win an EX3203R courtesy of BenQ, then all you have to do is enter our giveaway contest below.