Whereas HDR (excessive dynamic vary), a show expertise that provides increased distinction and extra vivid colours, is changing into ever extra commonplace in TVs it hasn’t actually taken off but in PC screens. So when a monitor just like the BenQ EX3501R comes alongside boasting HDR help, we sit up and we take discover.
And the truth that HDR is just one of a variety of thrilling options on the BenQ EX3501R means we couldn’t wait to unbox it and check out it out.
An ultra-wide 21:9 facet ratio, AMD FreeSync help and USB-C connectivity are all right here, which ticks loads of the bins on our monitor wish-list, and we had been trying ahead to seeing simply what this display screen can do.
Worth and availability
A 35-inch ultra-wide curved monitor isn’t going to be low-cost, however at $899 (round £800, AU$1,100), the BenQ EX3501R is not horrendously dear, and compares nicely to screens such because the AOC Agon AG352UCG and Acer Predator X34, each of that are ultra-wide gaming screens that supply related decision and dimension, in addition to excessive refresh charges, and price a bit bit greater than the EX3501R.
The BenQ is a good bit dearer than the LG 34UC79G-B, which prices $625 (about £480, AU$815). Nonetheless, whereas the LG display screen does have that 21:9 facet ratio, its decision is decrease at 2560 x 1080, in comparison with the 3440 x 1440 of the EX3501R. Whereas that lower cost level could also be tempting, having used each screens at these resolutions we’d at all times suggest going with the upper decision, because it makes the broad and quick facet ratio really feel a lot simpler to make use of.
Contemplating the options the BenQ EX3501R has in comparison with its rivals, we predict its worth, though excessive, is fairly honest – you’re getting loads of monitor on your cash.
In contrast to screens such because the Acer Predator X34, that are aimed toward avid gamers and have putting designs to match, the BenQ EX3501R is positioned as a ‘video enjoyment monitor’, which implies the big display screen, and the content material it shows, are the celebs of the present right here, with the remainder of the monitor’s design being good, but sedate.
The metallic stand feels sturdy, and permits for a level of adjustment to make the display screen comfy to make use of, with vertical adjustment of 60mm and tilt adjustment of between -5 and 20 levels. Meeting is tool-less, and you’ll simply connect the display screen to the stand with out having to dig out a screwdriver. This makes set up loads simpler, whereas the monitor nonetheless feels safe sufficient that you simply’re not fearful the display screen will fall off.
The bezels that encompass the sides of the display screen aren’t the thinnest, however they don’t add an excessive amount of additional girth to this already giant monitor. BenQ calls them ‘ultra-slim bezels’, designed so as to place two (or extra) EX3501R screens aspect by aspect for an much more immersive expertise with an virtually seamless subject of view.
We didn’t have extra EX3501R screens to check this function, however the skinny bezels ought to produce fairly a pleasing multi-monitor viewing expertise, though the sides of every show would nonetheless be seen.
The underside bezel is a good bit bigger than the others, because it holds buttons for navigating the on-screen menu (in addition to an influence on/off button), and a lightweight sensor jutting out from the underside – a well-recognized addition to BenQ screens that function the corporate’s Brightness Intelligence Plus expertise.
This detects the ambient gentle that you simply’re working in, and tweaks the brightness accordingly to assist cut back the results of eye pressure. It’s a pleasant function that may work nicely, however when you don’t need the monitor adjusting itself mechanically you’ll be able to flip it off.
Alongside the sensor is a USB-C port which is a superb addition, permitting you to attach up the newest units. The EX3501R additionally options two HDMI 2.zero ports, a DisplayPort 1.four, a USB three.zero port for connecting to your PC to show the EX3501R right into a USB hub, and two USB three.zero ports for connecting extra peripherals.
Whereas any 35-inch display screen and ultra-wide facet ratio would do a great job of filling your subject of view and providing an immersive expertise if you’re watching movies and taking part in video games, the curved design of the BenQ EX3501R additional immerses you in your media. The curvature is 1800R, which implies its fairly pronounced – many different curved screens and TVs have a curvature of 3000R, which is extra refined.
So 1800R makes for a extra vision-filling show, however some folks might not like such a deep curvature, particularly when utilizing the monitor for non-media actions. One factor to remember right here, although, is that with a curvature of 1800R, 1.Eight meters is the utmost beneficial distance for optimum viewing, whereas for a 3000R show it is three meters. So, as you’re extra more likely to sit nearer to your monitor than to your TV, it might be argued that 1800R is a preferable curvature for a monitor sitting in your desk.
General, the design of the BenQ EX3501R is one which places the monitor’s huge show entrance and heart, whereas providing loads of ports and a good quantity of adjustability.
In case you’re utilizing the BenQ EX3501R with a Windows 10 machine you’re going to have a fairly nice expertise, because the working system handles a spread of resolutions and facet ratios nicely, and the extra desktop house you need to work with means this monitor can have a optimistic impact on productiveness.
Among the ready-made image modes embrace HDR, sRGB and Photograph, whereas you can too create your individual customized look by tweaking brightness, distinction and different settings. Of the preset image modes we discovered HDR and sRGB to be one of the best, with Photograph trying a bit too chilly, with a blue tint, and the assorted gaming modes trying a bit uninteresting.
Straight out of the field the monitor displayed the Home windows 10 desktop nicely, and the extra display screen house allowed us to open a variety of home windows and purposes and run them aspect by aspect.
Nonetheless, the default settings had been a bit too shiny, resulting in some photos trying a bit washed out. Helpfully, the BenQ EX3501R comes with a variety of preset configurations that may be accessed through on the on-screen menu.
On the entrance of the bezel are icons for the ability button and enter change, however the 4 remaining buttons, which function the on-screen menu, solely have dots indicating the place every one is, which might make working the menu a bit fiddly till you get the dangle of it.
Turning on HDR mode produces fairly a pleasing consequence right away, with elevated distinction – though, because the on-screen show informs you, that is merely an emulated HDR impact. Turning on ‘true’ HDR is a bit bit extra sophisticated.
Initially it is advisable have Home windows 10 put in with the newest main replace, Fall Creators Update. This brings HDR help to the working system, and you’ll flip it on by going into the system show settings – nevertheless, we discovered that this produced fairly a harsh consequence which wasn’t comfy to make use of. We had an Nvidia Titan Xp graphics card, so we used Nvidia’s personal graphical settings app to assist make the show look a bit nicer – however as a primary impression, what you see would possibly make you a bit involved about HDR help on PC.
We’d prefer to stress that this situation is extra all the way down to Microsoft’s and Nvidia’s implementations, and hopefully issues will enhance over time. Largely, although, you’ll most likely need to go away HDR set to ‘off’ in Home windows 10.
Watching HDR movies can be a bit sophisticated. If you wish to watch Netflix in HDR you’ll want to make use of both the Home windows 10 app, or use the Netflix web site through Microsoft’s Edge browser. In the mean time, in comparison with HDR TVs and set-top bins, the expertise of accessing HDR content material in Home windows feels fairly cumbersome, and it could go away you feeling a bit let down.
Nonetheless, all that may be a world away from the expertise of taking part in HDR-enabled video games. Right here, the video games detect that the EX3501R is HDR-enabled and assist you to toggle on the HDR impact. We performed Name of Responsibility: World Warfare II, and the HDR implementation was glorious. Mixed with the excessive refresh price, FreeSync help and immersive facet ratio, we’d truly say that the BenQ EX3501R is a much better gaming monitor than it’s a ‘video enjoyment monitor’ – and because of its help for HDR video games, it’s a greater gaming monitor than many screens that boast of their gaming prowess.
The response time of 4ms could also be barely too excessive for individuals who want as little lag as potential, however we didn’t discover any delays, and for a lot of avid gamers the show dimension, facet ratio and excessive refresh price will make up for any lag.
When HDR works, it really works nicely, though the colour depth is Eight-bit, which received’t produce fairly as pronounced outcomes as shows able to 10-bit HDR (also referred to as HDR10).
There’s an enormous quantity to love concerning the BenQ EX3501R. Its dimension, ultra-wide facet ratio and excessive decision makes this a wonderful monitor for work in addition to play, and HDR help, whereas not good in Home windows, is a superb addition for video games, as is the 100Hz refresh price.
We didn’t like
It is a monitor that actually advantages from some tweaking with its settings, so you could be a bit upset by the out-of-the field expertise. Additionally, HDR help in Home windows 10 nonetheless wants work, though that is all the way down to Microsoft, not BenQ.
General, the BenQ EX3501R is a superb monitor, and we really feel that BenQ is doing it a little bit of a disservice by not shouting about its gaming prowess – it is a good gaming monitor that delivers excessive resolutions, immersive visuals and clean gameplay, and the HDR in video games, the place supported, is superb.
As a media-playing monitor it actually has the chops, however we would prefer to see Home windows 10 higher help HDR, particularly in its video apps. The excellent news is that it appears Home windows 10 will quickly get a boost to its HDR features, and proudly owning the BenQ EX3501R will assist you to make use of these future options after they’re launched.