Hot on the heels of its younger brother, the XL2430, this 27″ e-sports monitor offers the same 144Hz mode but with the added benefit of higher resolution and a larger screen.
According to their literature, the Zowie XL models are “fine-tuned to guarantee the smoothest and responsive experience, and the clearest images to arm you for competition.” It certainly seems that way after looking at the spec for this monitor.
This 2560 x 1440-pixel 144Hz 27″ monitor is currently retailing for £449 on Amazon and, yes, there are some full 4K monitors in that price range, too, but few, if any, that can match the refresh rate on this panel.
So what do you get for your money? Just like the 2430, the design is a mostly understated black, with fairly thin bezels running around the screen and the odd red in the stand being the only thing to stand out. That’s good, it avoids the issue of being distracted from what goes on outside the screen. There are no reflections to worry about here, thanks to the matt finish.
Round the back you’ll find two HDMI ports, a DisplayPort 1.2 port, required to meet the 144hz mode, DVI-DL and D-sub ports.
You’ll notice that an area of the stand’s base has a round cut-out. This is for the S Switch Arc, a sort of quick menu mouse for choosing screen options and a scroll wheel for the more complicated menus. It may look a little out of place but it really does help move through menus that would normally require a lot of keypresses.
This is also useful as although the placement of the buttons on the monitor is fairly good (right hand side on the front, rather than on the side or the base as we’ve seen in other monitors), the menu system requires plenty of multiple presses to get the right setup. With this ‘puck’ there are larger buttons and the scroll wheel feels like it effortlessly brushes through items to get to where you need to go.
Of course, the main reason for the S Switch Arc is that it changes between modes quickly, useful if e-sports matches require several different genres of game.
The best design feature for me, though, is that alongside the 2 handy USB 3.0 ports on the left hand side (which can be used as a hub alongside the USB in), and sensibly placed headphone and mic ports is a pull out piece of red plastic. What, you may ask, can this do? Well, it can hold headphones and, trust me, that’s a great idea which certainly tidies my desk and makes it much easier to find headphones.
There’s even a handle on the back of the stand to lift the whole monitor up in the air and carry it around (though how long your arms can take carting around a large 24″ monitor is another question entirely).
Performance and Screen
TN technology has been around a long time and has been evolving, but it’s still not going to reach the dizzy heights of IPS screen technology. That said, the Zowie TN panel is impressive after some tinkering. Having a TN panel also means it’s easier to provide the headline 144Hz operation and 1ms response time which are far more important to a professional gamer than the colour levels and would be something difficult to achieve on an IPS screen at the same price.
The viewing angles are fairly good, considering the panel, too, with little in the way of fading at 45 degrees, and the 1000:1 contrast seems to be met perfectly with no noticable backlight bleeding, either.
But to get the best results, you really need to go and adjust the manual colour temperature controls yourself. This may take several hours if you’re really serious, but it can provide some fantastic results, far better than the original pre-sets that come as standard.
Contrast, in particular, is better when dialled back a little, and even seems to improve viewing angles to a certain extent.
The Zowie XL2730 is a great QHD screen which really sells itself on the 144Hz refresh rate and the fast response time. It’s a little large to carry around but still ideal for e-sports for those who need a bigger, more detailed screen without losing out on the more useful gaming features.