Review of the BenQ PD2700U professional monitor
Is there any appetite left for a traditional monitor aimed at what you might call serious computing that does the basics right in this age of zany ultra-wide PC monitors, mega-bright HDR monitors, adaptive-sync monitors, super-high refresh monitors, and even monitors with nanotechnology-enhanced backlights? In other words, does anyone anymore care about panels built for pure productivity?
If that’s the case, BenQ’s new PD2700U is well worth a look. Any of the aforementioned whizz-bang characteristics are notably absent. Instead, a high-quality 27-inch IPS LCD display, full 4K resolution, and well-engineered control electronics are what make it appealing.
To put it another way, the new BenQ’s offering includes a lot of pixels and accurate colors, but no 144Hz refresh, quantum dots, or local dimming.
More to the point, at this price point, you have to make the trade-off between a high-quality panel with minimal frills on the one hand, and all those bells and whistles on the other. If you want everything on a single display, you’ll have to pay three times as much.
the cost and the availability
The BenQ PD2700U isn’t cheap, costing $535 in the US, £430 in the UK, and AU$849 in Australia.
However, for the money, it represents a large number of high-quality pixels. To put things in perspective, a 27-inch 4K display from Asus or Acer with genuine HDR functionality and 144Hz refresh will set you back well over $1,000 or £1,000.
However, there are a number of 27-inch IPS 4K alternatives available for less money. On paper, the LG 27UK600 is nearly identical to the BenQ PD2700U, however it typically costs 15% less.
Features and design
Look elsewhere if you’re looking for pure style sizzle. The BenQ PD2700U is a quiet performer. The monochrome black plastics and understated logos create an unobtrusive desktop presence. However, the build quality is solid, and the tiny bezels on three sides of the LCD panel give it a modern look.
The screen’s stand is likewise strong, with a complete range of adjustment options, including the ability to rotate into portrait orientation. BenQ has also equipped the PD2700U with a good set of connectors, including 1.4-compliant standard and Mini DisplayPort inputs, an HDMI 2.0 port, and a USB 3.0 hub.
It doesn’t have USB Type-C connectivity, which is a bummer if you want to power this display with a current laptop.
The use of a single USB-C cable for power, display, and peripherals is a brilliant idea. Nonetheless, BenQ has included an integrated keyboard, video, and mouse (KVM) switch as well as multi-stream transport to facilitate daisy-chaining multiple monitors in the PD2700U.
The PD2700U’s 27-inch LCD panel is an IPS panel with wide viewing angles, 1,300:1 static contrast, and 350cd/m2 maximum brightness. The fact that this isn’t a real HDR monitor is revealed by the latter figure.
It supports HDR10 and can handle HDR signals. However, due to the low maximum brightness and lack of local dimming, the full HDR experience will be unavailable. However, HDR10 compliance does at the very least require a wide color gamut, in this case Rec. 709 and 100% of the sRGB color space.
The native resolution of the 4K panel is 3,840 by 2,160 pixels, however the refresh rate at original resolution is limited to an increasingly antiquated 60Hz. In a 27-inch panel, that amounts to a lovely, tight pixel pitch of 163 DPI.
The BenQ PD2700U will not disappoint you if your expectations are well tuned. It won’t knock your socks off with incredible levels of HDR-style brightness or dazzle you with smooth 120Hz refresh right out of the box. However, it is a very well-balanced display.
When it comes to calibration, each PD2700U is professionally calibrated right out of the box. That helps to explain why it performs so well in our tests.
In black and white scales, there is no evidence of compression, gradients are perfectly smooth, viewing angles are great, and color balance is spot on.
Because of the low brightness and absence of local dimming, the screen’s HDR potential is rather limited. However, it does allow for the processing of HDR video and gives the screen’s visual performance a boost. Similarly, the static contrast ratio of 1,300:1 equates to low black levels.
The 4K resolution is another huge plus, in addition to the panel’s overall quality. On a 27-inch panel, it provides excellent font rendering, as well as lots of desktop space and excellent image and video clarity. On this monitor, 4K movies are razor sharp.
Granted, you probably won’t want to scale your Windows desktop to 100%. As a result, fonts, icons, and screen furniture are uncomfortably small. However, increasing it to 125 percent or 150 percent allows for comfortable viewing while still leaving enough of room for work.
It’s an intriguing alternative to a 40-inch 4K display, for example. The latter provides a much larger physical screen, but at the cost of much larger pixels and less crispness and clarity.
The 60Hz refresh rate, 5ms reaction time, and lack of adaptive sync make the PD2700U look a little behind the times as a gaming display.
But it’s fast enough in practice, and while it’s not a natural fit for first-person shooters, the PD2700U is more than capable of playing games within its broader scope, which is geared at productivity and content production.
You could be forgiven for thinking that the BenQ PD2700U is a bit of a cliche. Many of the cutting-edge features that today dominate the PC monitor market are missing from it.
Instead, it provides a high-quality IPS screen, a large number of pixels, and excellent color accuracy. In other words, the PD2700U focuses on realism and precision rather than the showbiz extravagances that have become the norm in the monitor market. Low-key styling is included in this.
Your $500 / £400-odd would be better spent elsewhere, specifically for gaming and viewing movies. Those are applications that the PD2700U will gladly accept.
But it’s in terms of productivity, or good computing, that the PD2700U really excels. The only minor drawback is that you can get a very identical experience from LG for a little less money.
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