It looks like 4K is here to stay and it’s actually quite surprising that more monitor manufacturers aren’t taking advantage of the massive demand for cheaper options on PC. BenQ have, fortunately, come up with something that should please the wallets of those looking for a cheaper entry point into 4K gaming without resorting to a TV.
The BenQ EL2870U is a 28″ monitor which seems to have it all. It’s available at under £400, for a start, which is normally usual for a good 1080p monitor of the same size. But this boasts a full 4K screen, a good quality TN panel and HDR to boot, though we’ll look at that later.
On the outside, the monitor doesn’t look all that special. The Bezels are rather larger than the slimline Zowie models of late, with at least 2cm at every edge and more at the bottom. The stand only tilts a short distance due to the size of the monitor., though the option is there fore Vesa support should you want to spend the extra to get a much more flexible angle.
There are even physical push buttons for the menus, where BenQ usually have touch sensitive ones. These don’t pose an issue, they’re well made and tactile, at least, though it does seem to be another way of saving costs to bring that overall price down to under £400.
But don’t let this fool you. Connect this up to a PC with a graphics card that can handle 4K and you’ll see what the monitor can really do. The TN panel is both a blessing and a curse here, it provides a crystal clear 4K picture head on, though viewing angles are not as good as with an IPS panel. This shouldn’t bother most gamers as they’ll be sat directly in front of the monitor for much of the time, but it also provides 1ms input lag to compensate, which is what every competitive gamer aims for in a display. The test PC’s 1070GTX handled the 4K signal with ease, though you’re limited to games that run well on PC, so I also lugged over the Xbox One X to give it a test with the new 4K console generation. This is, surprisingly, where the monitor showed its best efforts and goes to show that the EL2870U could be a serious contender for a smaller scale console gaming screen in rooms where anything above 40″ is just too big. There’s definitely a market area to be had here and I’m surprised that BenQ haven’t already started to target PS4 Pro and Xbox One X gamers with this monitor.
BenQ is pushing Brightness Intelligence Plus Technology (BI+ for short) on its range of monitors at the moment and this one is no exception. It’s a nice alternative to HDR where unavailable and basically emulates a better range of colour dithering and depth by running some pretty complicated realtime algorithms. The results are much brighter colours and a more natural look to art and video, it works surprisingly well and only shows its artificial nature from time to time.
The big selling point here, though, is HDR. High Dynamic Range uses high gamut range and brightness to show a greater range between colours and to also produce a more lifelike picture. The monitor supports HDR10, the current standard for HDR, though the TN panel can really only reach 300-330cd/m2, not really anywhere near the competition of high end OLED TVs but the gamut range helps pull it back into contention. The results speak for themselves, though sadly this is hard to put across on standard media in any meaningful way.
The BenQ EL2870U 4K HDR Gaming Monitor is perfect for those looking to get into 4K gaming on a budget on a PC or console where a 40″ screen is way too big for their environment or where low input lag is required. It’s a great package for an incredible price.