What's new
  • Please do not post any links until you have 3 posts as they will automatically be rejected to prevent SPAM. Many words are also blocked due to being used in SPAM Messages. Thanks!

BenQ XR3501 Curved 35" 144Hz Monitor Review

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,284
Last year, curved gaming monitors became all the rage with multiple releases from numerous companies. While Gamers naturally jumped at the opportunity to increase their immersion factor with a wrap-around high resolution screen, the cost of entry was high and the panels offered limited use for photo editors or semi-professional tests. We’ve actually looked at some from very different ends of the spectrum; the Acer XR341CK and the LG 34UC87C. Both had their own respective strengths and weaknesses but one thing remained constant: the display itself. The BenQ XR3501 doesn’t attempt to change this equation all that much but its approach is actually quite different.

To distinguish their gaming monitor from the rest of the field, BenQ has thought outside the box to say the least. Instead of using the same LG-based IPS panel as many other curved displays, simply overclocking the panel, sprinkling in FreeSync as a distinguishing feature, slapping their own OSD on it, and sticking it in a ‘custom’ chassis, BenQ has actually used an entirely different panel. Whereas many utilize that aforementioned LG panel that’s basically limited to 60-75Hz refresh rate, what we’re seeing with the XR3501 is a full 144Hz native screen refresh rate.

BenQ understandably felt that 75Hz is a step backwards considering so much of the gaming market has moved on to 120Hz and 144Hz panels. To counteract this perceived limitation, and help distinguish the XR3501 utilizes A-MVA technology.


A-MVA panels (or Advanced Multi-Domain Vertical Alignment) are not nearly as popular they once were. On the one hand A-MVA does offer better color fidelity than entry level IPS displays, but loses out to higher grade, newer generation IPS panels. On the other hand TN (Twisted Nematic) panels can typically offer significantly higher refresh rates with lower amounts of blur which made them perfect for gaming. This left MVA stuck in the middle as a compromise design that few manufacturers felt was worth the effort to improve upon.

BenQ on the other hand have used MVA for a long time, and have improved upon the underlying technology. The end result is one of the first 35-inch monitors that can offer a 144Hz refresh rate and a wide enough color pallet to satisfy some of the more demanding buyers.


This however is only the start of the changes BenQ has made. Not only is the panel technology different but the so the layout and even the resolution takes a pretty radical departure from the average 34-inch monitor. This does take a bit of explaining.

Most 34” monitors are 3440X1440 with a slight curve. Basically they start with a typical ‘1440P’ monitor, tack on an extra 880 pixels to the width and bend the panel inwards slightly. BenQ on the other hand has started with a 1920x1080 panel and tacked on an extra 640 pixels to the width (giving the XR3501 a 2560X1080 resolution) and bent the ever living crap out of it. The result is what BenQ calls their “2000R Ultra Curve Technology”.

2000R is actually an industry standard since it represents the radius in millimeters (2 meters in this case) of the curvature if it made a complete circle. Compared to other competing displays which typical use 4000-4500R (4 to 4.5m) the difference is rather noticeable. In other words, this is not a typical 21:9 monitor since it endeavors to boost immersion even more.


The XR3501 may be 144Hz but is not FreeSync nor G-SYNC compatible. Driving a typical 3440x1440 (4,953,600 pixels) resolution monitor to 144Hz is actually quite difficult and requires a massive investment in video card horsepower. BenQ on the other hand believes there’s a market for slightly lower resolution curved displays since existing higher end setups should be able to drive it without too much of a problem. Essentially, if you have enough GPU overhead to reach 144FPS on a typical 27-inch monitor there will be more than enough left in the tank to feed the XR3501 since it has 33% fewer pixels.

Unfortunately there is no such thing as a free lunch and less pixels spread across a larger 35” screen does lead to a lower dot pitch and DPI ratio. To be precise this monitor has a rather lackluster 79.39DPI, which is low compared to the typical 34-inch models (109.68DPI) or even to 2560x1440 27-inch models (108.79DPI).

With all of this being taken into account, BenQ may have a hard sell on their hands. Despite the impressive 144Hz rating and ultra curvature, the XR3501 has a lower resolution when compared against other curved “gaming” displays and it lacks that key feature of adaptive sync be it through G-SYNC or FreeSync. Meanwhile it costs about as much as many other competing displays which include some or all of those elements.



The reason for the increased curve is to warp even more of the screen into your peripheral vision, make games even more immersive and supposedly provide an even better visual experience. Right now there is no ‘right’ answer to how much of a curve is optimal, but BenQ has taken a page from the movie industry for their standard. Basically the XR3501 has the same curve as what IMAX uses…and as IMAX spent a lot of money researching optimal curvature this was probably a very smart move by BenQ.



The first thing you will notice about this monitor is its drop dead gorgeous design which stands out from every other 34-inch monitor we have looked at in the past. The combination of a black / gray panel with a silver stand and with red highlights really does set the stage for making one heck of a first impression.


This monitor has been in our possession for longer than usual so a few issues have reared their head. For example the aesthetics of that silver stand are very transient. As you can see after 3 weeks the ‘chrome’ started to tarnish and rust after normal manipulation. Obviously the glue BenQ is using is extremely corrosive and consumers may want to use soapy water to remove any residue…before it eats the chrome right off the stand.



On the positive side there’s an extremely good list of I/O ports that include both mini and a full sized DisplayPorts, two HDMI 1.4 ports as well as a 3.5mm headphone jack. The only issue is you will not find USB hubs, nor are the DisplayPort inputs 2.0 compliant. Instead they are DP 1.2. This is not that large a deal and offering consumers both HMDI and DP is a great way to making all owners happy. Nothing is more annoying than trying to set up a new monitor only to realize that an adapter is needed to connect it to the system’s video card.


Balancing out the good input selection is the fact that while the stand itself is rather striking and drop dead gorgeous, it is a touch lacking in the abilities department. Much like a fashion model, if you expect this stand to do more than stand there and look pretty you are going to be disappointed. Basically this stand offers tilt adjustment only (20degrees / -5 to +15), and does not offer height or swivel adjustments.

BenQ has also included multiple physical input buttons along the bottom edge of this monitor which should make adjustments easier. This certainly is a good thing as BenQ has carried over numerous gaming features found on their smaller XR-class monitors. These features include a ZeroFlicker backlight and the Black eQualizer that modifies the Gamma settings in real time so that darker areas of the screen remain so without going into black crust territory. There’s also a 20-level color vibrancy control to make colors pop in every game, and even low Blue level adjustment to reduce glare and eye fatigue in darkened gaming environments.



Are all these feature enough to make up for the lack of tear free gaming granted by G-SYNC and FreeSync? BenQ certainly thinks so and that is why this monitor is priced right in the same ballpark as FreeSync-totting alternatives.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,284
Menu Layout & Observations

Menu Layout & Observations


For anyone who has worked with, or even just seen in action, a BenQ ‘X’ series monitor built in the past few years the XR3501’s On Screen Display will be like putting on a favorite pair of slippers. It will be instantly recognizable and all the quirks (and workarounds) are still in place. That is not to say that this is a sub-optimal OSD, rather it is simply in need of a graphics update, and some missing features should be added in.

Luckily this OSD is straightforward, well laid out, generally intuitive to use, and still one of the more novice friendly designs available today.

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/BenQ_XR3501/menu.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

As with all really well designed OSD’s, before entering the main On Screen Display menu you will be greeted with a small mini-screen pop-up that contains the typical adjustment options before entering the full OSD. This means changing something like the brightness levels is only a single click away.

With that out of the way, the main Menu can be quickly navigated and the majority of its features are within one sub-level of the main screen. BenQ has also included a rather impressive list of profile presets. In fact, there are <i>seven</i> preconfigured profiles (sRGB, Racing, FPS1, FPS2, Standard, Photo, Movie) and <i>two</i> slots for custom profiles which can be custom-built and then saved.

<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/BenQ_XR3501/menu1.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

The latter option really does elevate the XR3501 above the typical 21:9 class monitor, however, the seven presets actually do cover the basics rather nicely. For example, FPS1 and FPS2 will both modify response times, color signatures and other items to better suit the quick action in first person shooter games. FPS1 is actually built around Counter Strike: Global Offensive, while FPS2 is for Battlefield games but works equally well with CoD.

Racing meanwhile is tailor made with racing simulation games in mind, while sRGB is for consumers who take color fidelity seriously but plan on creating content solely for the Internet. BenQ even covers mundane non-gaming related scenarios as Standard covers the typical day to day tasks such as word processing and surfing the web, while Photo is for photo viewing (if you like oversaturated images that is), and Movies is for movie watching. Brilliant stuff.

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/BenQ_XR3501/menu2.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
</div>

Below these presets are some rather potent options that can improve upon the defaults and tailor the monitor’s output to your particular needs. For example, if you are the type of person who wears a certain brand of ‘gaming’ glasses to reduce eye fatigue, the Low Blue Light option may leave you wondering why you dropped a bill on a pair of overhyped sun glasses. For the more typical gamer the Black eQualizer can give you an edge in dark games as blacks will not be quite as murky as they otherwise would be.

Now with all that said there are few features missing that could – and should – have been included. First and foremost is individual R/G/B color correction is indeed included but is only available when using some of the profiles. This is fairly typical for gaming orientated monitors and as such was expected. What was a tad disappointing was the lack of fine-tuning available for Gamma levels. Instead of actual values BenQ uses a scale of 1 – 5, with 3 being the default value which certainly isn’t precise.

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/BenQ_XR3501/menu3.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

The same holds true for color temperature, as the options are as vague as a politician’s promise. Instead of actual Kelvin ratings BenQ uses the asinine ‘Normal’, ‘Blueish’, and ‘Reddish’ options. Here at least they allow for User Defined options that blend RGB to your satisfaction. Put simply if you take Gamma or Color Temperature seriously you already own a colorimeter or know how to adjust them via software – as nearly every other ‘gaming’ monitor also treats you like a moron.

On the positive side, BenQ may still think you drool and cannot be trusted with such ‘advanced’ features on a <i>thousand-dollar monitor</i>, but they do give a touch more in-depth options than some, so that is something at least.

<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/BenQ_XR3501/menu4.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

The System section deals with the various options that do not easily fit into any of the other sections. This includes default Input setting, power off timeout setting, DDC/CI, emitter mode and other more esoteric features.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,284
Image Quality (Uniformity / Panel & Gamma Performance)

Image Quality


<i>Calibrated Settings</i>
Please remember that the settings below have been calibrated for our specific environment and your viewing conditions may differ from ours.

<b>Mode Used</b>: "Custom Mode"

<b>Notes</b>:
- All tests done at default settings at 120 cd/m2.
- Unless otherwise noted, the tests were carried out via DisplayPort or HDMI


Panel Uniformity


<i>In a perfect world a screen’s brightness output would be equal throughout the entire panel. This is not a perfect world, but the lower the variation the less chances you will notice overly bright or dark sections on the screen. For the consumer LCD marketplace, a variance of 10% is our gold standard but anything below 15% can be considered excellent as we doubt anyone will notice a -7.5 to +7.5 variation. A variation above 15% but below 24% can be considered adequate, but anything above this does not meet our basic minimum standards. </i>

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/BenQ_XR3501/uniform.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

The XR3501 is big, curved…and as expected its panel uniformity does leave something to be desired. By the same token a 24 point variance is not the absolute worst we have seen considering the expansive width of this screen, but it certainly leaves a lot of room for improvement.


Panel Performance


<i>In a perfect world a screen’s real world response rate would be so high that motion blur, ‘ghosting’, ‘reverse-ghosting’ would be a thing of the past. No matter how fast the action on screen all images would be represented in pristine condition similar in quality to a static image. This is not a perfect world, but the less amounts of blurring which occurs the less chances you will notice the issue in real world scenarios. While the panels response rate (ms) <i>and</i> and frame rate (Hz) can give a fairly rough idea of how much blurring to expect it is not the end all and be all.

To this end we have taken PRAD’s Pixel Persistence Analyzer ‘Streaky Pictures’ program and using a high speed camera captured exactly how much and what kind of motion blur you can expect from a given monitor.</i>

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/BenQ_XR3501/blurr.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

Thanks to its 144Hz refresh rate the blur levels are fairly good. By that same token they are not perfect and could easily have been. All BenQ had to do was implement and adaptive sync technology like FreeSync or better still G-SYNC. As such if you take image clarity in games seriously there are better options in this price range – 144Hz panel or not. In addition, the 144Hz doesn’t compensate for the tearing, judder or other visual artifacts taken addressed by those technologies.


Gamma Performance


<i>Gamma correction is one of the hardest terms to explain. However, for our purposes the gamma correction of any electronics device is how bright or dark an image will be displayed on a screen.

All PC devices now use 2.20 gamma as the default. Any variance from this will result in an image being either underexposed which will create black crush and underexposed shadow detail or washed out with too little black level detail (aka being over-exposed).

While 2.20 is the gold standard, a minor deviation of 0.10 will in all likelihood never be noticed by anyone other than professional photographers. Higher levels of deflection however will be noticed by just about everyone. </i>

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/BenQ_XR3501/gamma.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
</div>

This is one area manufacturers seem to be paying more attention to lately, and while 2.22 is not the best we have seen from a 21:9 class monitor it still is close enough to perfection that we doubt the average gamer will even notice. By that same token if you do take Gamma seriously an additional $100 investment in a colorimeter is strongly recommended.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,284
Colour Saturation Levels / Default RGB Levels

Colour Saturation Levels


<i>While there are numerous colors the human eye can’t “see”, the human color space confined to three primary colors and combinations thereof. To make things easier for manufactures (and not waste resources displaying colors we can’t see) a color space was mathematically described and while various models do exist, the CIE RGB color space is the de facto standard.

In the below image, the dark triangle which isn’t highlighted is the sRGB color space while the overall CIE color space is displayed as the background colors. Meanwhile, the white triangle with highlighted color represents the results of what a given monitor can display. No monitor can display the entire CIE color spectrum but a good monitor should be able to display the sRGB spectrum of possible colors as this is usually used as the standard for image encoding.

A monitor which uses the “wide color gamut” moniker can display more than the sRGB spectrum and is considered primarily for professional use. If a monitor cannot cover off the entire sRGB triangle, the resulting image will appear “off” to an observer. The end result is a picture displayed on the panel which won’t be as rich, vibrant or as correct as it should be. </i>

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/BenQ_XR3501/cie.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

As with all the other test result the XR3501 certainly won’t ever accused of being a ‘wide color gamut’ monitor but it still accomplishes a pretty impressive feat of color reproduction. More to the point, in this critical area the XR3501’s A-MVA panel is basically as good as a typical IPS-based solution.


Default RGB Levels


<i>An LCD or LCD LED backlit panel relies on accurately blending Red, Green and Blue pixel clusters to create an overall image so closer to each of these colours is to a “perfect” 100 output, the better and more accurate the default colors will be.
In this case, we have a low tolerance for anything less than perfection since any color shift can be noticeable even to untrained eyes and will require a color correction be applied at the software level to overcome a monitor’s stock output. We do however consider a minor variation of only a few points per color to be acceptable. </i>

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/BenQ_XR3501/rgb.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

Once again the out of the box colors aren’t perfect but it would take a very nit-picky user to notice the slight amount of color drift. As with Gamma a cheap colorimeter can aid in fixing any “off” looking colors but considering this is a thousand dollar monitor, it would have been nice to have slightly better out of box results.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,284
Viewing Angles / Contrast Ratio / Power Consumption

Viewing Angles


<i>Unlike CRT displays, the manner in which LCD panels create an image can result in one large weakness: the image can lose contrast when viewed off angle. While we do not recommend watching an LCD at anything besides perfectly straight on, the reality is this cannot always be done.

To help give you a glimpse of what a panel will look like when seen from either above the horizontal or vertical plane we have taken pictures at fairly extreme angles. </i>

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/BenQ_XR3501/view.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

In this area it really doesn’t matter all that much what the underlying technology is. Sure, <i>technically</i> IPS does hand A-MVA panels their butts in viewing angles, but in the real world the curvature of the monitor makes such distinctions moot.

If anything the increased radius of the curve used on this monitor only exacerbates the usual issues with curved displays. Basically, if you want the best image possible sit directly in front of it as the off-angle views are going to be worse than usual on a curved monitor. This would hold true if the panel was MVA, PLS, IPS or TN.


Maximum Contrast Ratio


<i> While manufactures love to throw around “maximum” contrast ratios in the millions, the fact of the matter is that to get these high numbers they have to use "dynamic contrast" which—at best—results in overly optimistic specs. With DC turned off, the number of shades between purest white and blackest black a given monitor can display is usually in the low hundreds rather than the thousands.
The higher the contrast ratio, the better the monitor will display shades of dark and light. For IPS monitors, anything below 450:1 is unacceptable, with 500:1 or above considered optimal. For TN anything above 120:1 will be considered “good enough” for most consumers.</i>

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/BenQ_XR3501/contrast.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

In this area the A-MVA is every bit as good as the IPS panels used in other curved monitors we have looked at. That is to say bloody good, bordering on impressive.


Power Consumption


<i>To obtain the maximum number we set the monitors brightness to 100% and the contrast to 100%. The Calibrated results are taken at 120 cd/m2 with the contrast set to the default level. </i>

<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/BenQ_XR3501/power.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

The XR3501 is a big monitor which takes a rather potent amount back-lighting to properly drive. As such if you are the kind of person who counts every watt, this monitor may not be right for you. By that same token these results are in the same ballpark as all other mega-monitors we have looked at, and in fact it tends to be a touch better.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,284
Gaming Performance

Gaming Performance


<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/BenQ_XR3501/g1.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

On paper at least the BenQ XR3501’s combination ultra-curvature, an easy to drive resolution, and best of all a 144Hz refresh rate just seemed like a perfect tri-fecta of gaming. Sadly, things are not as rosy as the paper specifications would lead one to believe.

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/BenQ_XR3501/g2.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

First and foremost, we absolutely <i>loved</i> the increased curve of the XR3501 and think this layout deserves to be the standard for all similar gaming orientated monitors. Of course the extra curve drove us to the brink of insanity when trying to use it outside of gaming related scenarios…but it is hard to knock the XR3501 for not being a great all round monitor since BenQ doesn’t market it as anything other than a <i>gaming</i> tool. However, in order to be considered a good tool, said tool has to be first <i>useable</i> and secondly make things <i>better</i> than they were before rather than <i>worse</i>.

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/BenQ_XR3501/g3.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

First and foremost, the resolution may indeed be easier to drive than even a 27-inch 1440P monitor but that is not as important as BenQ would lead consumers to believe. This monitor is not inexpensive, in fact at over 1K this is a bloody expensive choice and as such terms and phrases like ‘value’ do not even enter into the equation. These well-heeled consumers are going to have GPU horsepower to spare and if not, they will know how to perfect tune their games to deliver optimum performance regardless of the resolution involved.

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/BenQ_XR3501/g4.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

The main problem here is the absence of any type of adaptive sync technology, be it FreeSync or G-SYNC on a thousand dollar monitor. Like it or not, both make a huge difference and can make displays with lower refresh rates deliver frames in such a way that they “feel” like they have a faster panel. Either one is an essential add-on for any monitor that bills itself as an expensive gaming-grade device.

Another red flag situation is the image warping that’s evident in the XR3501’s competitors is exemplified here due to the enhanced curvature. While it won’t be apparent in FPS or racing games, any title with an onscreen menu running the monitor’s width will experience visual artifacts. RTS’ and some RPG’s become a challenge to play as their interface wraps around the user rather than being front and center.

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/BenQ_XR3501/g5.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

Now with all that said, and before we all get out the tar and feathers, the gaming abilities of this monitor are quite good, and would have been a stand-out feature had it been launched at a lower price point or earlier in 2015. In fact, the 144Hz refresh rate did make us realize what we were missing with the other 34-inch models. The same is true of the color fidelity of the MVA panel. It is actually quite decent and easily competes against similar products.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,284
Movie Performance

Movie Performance


<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/BenQ_XR3501/m1.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

These types of gaming monitors usually place movies and the like lower down on their list of priorities. Thankfully, the BenQ XR3501 may actually have a fitting place with movie buffs. Basically most of the negatives that made gaming a relatively poor actually make this a pretty good movie watching monitor. Sure the 144Hz refresh rate will be wasted on most people, but for viewers who do not mind the ‘soap opera’ effect and know their way around third party programs it will be sure to please.

<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/BenQ_XR3501/m2.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

On its own that is not enough to impress us,. however the reason this monitor can actually make for a superior HTPC ‘television’ is two-fold. First and foremost it has an expanded 1080P resolution and while it will add in black bars on both sides – unless you stretch the image – this makes more of the 34-inch real-estate usable when compared against a typical 34-inch curved display.

In addition when used as a TV people will be sitting further away from the screen and as such the low dot-pitch ratio is a non-issue. Thus, two of the major problems with the XR3501 become positives. Brilliant or lucky, we are not sure, but in either case BenQ delivered.

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/BenQ_XR3501/m3.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

The second thing this monitor has going for it is the fact that BenQ utilized IMAX’s standard for its curve. While not exactly the same as being “IMAX on a small screen” it did make movies more immersive and provided a noticeably better experience. These features all added up to make us like this monitor, but what really pushed it over the edge and into excellent category was the MVA screen. Its color fidelity and out of the box colors made for one hell of a combination. A combination that was superior to any other 34-inch we tested to date.

In the end the fact this monitor makes for a superior multi-media experience may have taken us by surprise but that's simply a silver lining around a pretty dark storm cloud. Is this unexpected ability enough to justify the steep asking price? No. Actual LCD TV’s in this size range cost a hell of a lot less, come with fewer scaling issues, and many also come with just as good colors and refresh speeds.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,284
Non-Colorimeter Tweaking and Results

Non-Colorimeter Tweaking and Results


<i>In a perfect world either every monitor would come factory calibrated to perfection or every single consumer would own a decent colorimeter. We don’t live in such a world and as such most consumers simply use the old Mark 1 Mod 0 eyeball to fix any imperfections with the stock colors of their new monitor.
In order to gauge how easy this is to do for a given monitor we have included a new set of tests. These tests will be carried out before any of our standard tests and will consist of us using a combination of the free online LCD Monitor Test Images (found here LCD monitor test images) and then if necessary the free Hex2Bit Monitor Calibration Wizard (found here Hex2Bit - Software by Mike Walters). The goal of these tests is to not only gauge how easy it is to accurately calibrate a given monitor using only the onboard monitor tools, but to see how closely we can come to what a Spyder3 Elite can do. </i>


To obtain these results we did the following
- used “User Custom" mode
- adjusted the brightness to 27% (which resulted in a 121.2 cd/m2)
- All other settings left to default levels

<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/BenQ_XR3501/man_gam.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Monitor/BenQ_XR3501/man_rgb.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

For most the out of the box profile is good enough and the only thing that really needs to be modified is the brightness level. Simply put the BenQ XR3501 is extremely bright when first turned on and as such you will want to immediately lower this setting.

Overall we consider this to be a fairly user-friendly monitor to adjust without a colorimeter, but not the absolute best we have ever seen in this price range. For over a grand we expect to be able to adjust the Gamma via the OSD and not have to resort to off screen ‘software’ solutions. We expect to be able to use the buttons as often as we like without fear of them breaking (which one did). We simply expect more. However, we have yet to find a 21:9 monitor that was able to meet expectations in all these areas and as such consider this monitor to be merely average <I>for its class</i>.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,284
Conclusion

Conclusion


We went into this review hoping for big things from the XR3501. It is obviously meant to target a segment of the gaming market which doesn’t feel the need for potentially costly adaptive sync technologies yet want ultra high refresh rates. In that respect it does exceedingly well but when placed up against direct competitors, BenQ’s flagship tends to pull the short straw.

The XR3501’s exterior design looks awesome and those good looks are backed up by a surprisingly capable MVA panel alongside one of the better OSD’s we’ve come across as of late. While it can’t beat the color accuracy, contrast levels, black ratio or viewing angles of the highest-end IPS screens, BenQ has been able to match the IPS panels used on other curved gaming monitors in all those respects. What’s particularly impressive is this has all been accomplished while still delivering crazy-high refresh rates.

To BenQ’s credit the XR3501 is vendor-agnostic which may sound like an odd thing to say but in today’s market it is a poignant observation. Right now most so-called “gaming” monitors fall into one of two categories: they either support AMD’s FreeSync or NVIDIA’s G-SYNC. This has very much segmented the high end monitor segment to the point where a brand of graphics card will ultimately determine the type of display being purchased.

BenQ does away with this maddening AMD versus NVIDIA approach by delivering simplicity: an ultra high refresh rate of 144Hz on a massive curved panel. Unfortunately, it’s that lack of adaptive synchronization (despite the monitor’s product page does indicate it is compatible with FreeSync) which is ultimately one of the XR3501’s major drawbacks. After using both FreeSync and G-SYNC we can conclusively say that a 75Hz to 100Hz monitor equipped with some form of adaptive sync delivers a superior visual experience than a standard 144Hz display.

Another drawback of this screen is its dot-pitch ratio but it may only be a hindrance for some. While a resolution of 2560x1080 makes it substantially easier to power at higher framerates with a less expensive GPU, there were plenty of times we wished for more pixels.

On the surface of things neither the lack of A-SYNC nor the low resolution or MVA panel are deal breakers. Even the stunningly curved screen (even more curvy than its competitors) has tangible benefits in the immersion department even though all the issues associated with non-straight screens apply here as well. The XR3501’s real problem is one of price; at over $1050 it is more expensive than many 34” G-SYNC and FreeSync compatible screens and yet offers less useable features.

We are certain there’s a niche market for large, curved 144Hz, 2560x1080 gaming monitors. However, with such a high asking price and a lack of adaptive sync technology, the BenQ XR3501 has a massive hill to climb before it justifies such a high premium.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Latest posts

Twitter

Top