BenQ PD3220U DesignVue Designer Monitor Review
A stunning 4K monitor that offers great color accuracy right out of the box - no calibration required.
Whilst we try to focus on gaming monitors here at WePC – not every monitor we get sent fits that particular bill. Today’s monitor is one of BenQ’s flagship designer monitors – equipped with a stunning 4k native screen resolution, great color accuracy, large selection of ports, and a stunning aesthetic design, the PD3220U is one of the best BenQ monitors on the market.
BenQ has also prioritized convenience alongside accuracy for the PD3220U, offering up a fully ergonomic stand (height, tilt, swivel, and pivot functionality) as well as their proprietary HotKey puck for easy OSD navigation.
It’s all wrapped up in a stunning 32inch panel which really does tick all the right boxes from a creativity standpoint. If you’re looking for a large-screen professional monitor, the PD3220U might be exactly what you’re looking for.
- Accurate colors right out the box
- very attractive design
- Large 4K native screen resolution
- High end price tag
- Poor gaming performance
What's In The Box
The BenQ PD3220U comes in a very basic box – a little too basic if you ask me. I would of expected something a little larger for a monitor that retails north of $1,000 – but here we are. Like all monitors, the PD3220U comes with a decent amount of protective foam and plastic, ensuring the monitor doesn’t get damaged during transit.
Alongside the panel and the stand, users will find the following items:
- BenQ PD3220U DesignVue Designer Monitor
- HDMI cable
- DisplayPort to Mini-DisplayPort
- USB Type-C cable
- USB Type-B Cable
- HotKey Puck G2
Design And Features
With specifications out the way, let’s take a more comprehensive look at the build quality, design, and mechanical features the BenQ PD3220U comes equipped with.
From a purely aesthetic standpoint, this might be one of the nicest looking monitors I’ve tested in some time. It comes equipped with a subtle design with very little flare or showmanship – if that’s possible in a monitor? The screen has a fully borderless design (if you forget the bezels) which really does add a feeling of premium to this panel.
At the base of the panel lies a fairly large (220 x 278mm) plate that actually looks pretty damn cool. The base is constructed from metal with a natural finish that looks very premium. Moving to the rear of the panel and again, there isn’t really much going on, to be honest – but in a good way. The stand follows the same trend the base set, constructed of metal with a natural finish. This styling contrasts nicely with the black exterior of the monitor and gives a versatile aesthetic that should suit almost any scenario.
Whilst the BenQ PD3220U is basic, I actually really like the design. It isn’t flashy, nor is it boring. It’s a nicely balanced mix of premium materials and a carefully thought-out design.
Moving onto the build quality, it’s safe to say that BenQ has been a little hit and miss down the line in this department. We’ve had the pleasure of testing several of their panels now and it’s either good or bad. Luckily, the PD3220U feels absolutely rock solid – to be expected at this particular price point.
This monitor does host a mix of both plastic and metal, with the plastic not feeling the most robust we’ve ever tested. That said, metal has been used in all the areas that truly matter – including the stand and most of the mechanical features. Speaking of the stand, this one feels absolutely rock solid. All mechanical movements are purposeful and stop dead when you find the desired viewing position.
One area that did feel a little flimsy, however, was the backplate. It’s made from plastic and just feels a little poorly made. Furthermore, it requires a lot of force to remove from the back of the monitor when inputting new cables.
Like most modern monitors, the BenQ PD3220U comes equipped with an anti-glare coating in a matte finish. The panel coating does an extremely good job of mitigating both natural and manmade light sources. That being said, when under direct pressure from sunlight, this monitor does struggle to reach the brightness levels required to still work efficiently.
For a monitor of this size, the bezels are extremely narrow and quite immersive. Measuring in at roughly 9mm (top, side, bottom), the BenQ PD3220U really does offer an almost borderless design.
The stand, for me, is one of the best I’ve sampled in some time. Whilst it isn’t the flashiest in terms of design, it definitely ticks all the right boxes when it comes to rigidity and robustness. All the mechanical features feel solid, yet require little force to actually adjust.
This monitor offers plenty of adjustabilities when it comes to the stand’s functionality. Users can adjust the height, tilt, pivot, and swivel of this monitor, allowing you to find the perfect viewing position at all times.
Below are the full adjustments available with this particular panel:
- Forward Tilt – 5 degrees
- Backward Tilt – 20 degrees
- Left Swivel – 30 degrees
- Right Swivel – 30 degrees
- Right Pivot – 90 degrees
- Height – 150mm
As far as inputs go, this monitor has a tonne to choose from. For display purposes, users have the option of 2 x HDMI 2.0 and 1 x DisplayPort 1.4 ports. The PD3220U also comes with a full array of USB connections too, including Thunderbolt and USB 3.1. This will enable any creative or productivity user to plug directly into the monitor itself – bypassing cable routing to the PC.
Most of the ports are found at the rear of the monitor and need inserting in a verticle fashion – as per usual. That said, there are some nicely positioned inputs on the right-hand side of the monitor, including a Thunderbolt, USB 3.1, and 3.5mm audio out connection.
See specifications for a full list of this monitor’s inputs
Lastly, we have the on-screen display. Unlike older BenQ monitors that made use of the buttons underneath the front panel, this model opts for the much more user-friendly joystick approach. It’s found at the rear of the monitor and is extremely easy (and self-intuitive) to use.
In terms of color and presets, this monitor has plenty of options to choose between. BenQ has equipped the PD3220U with a whole host of color presets which include; sRGB, DCI-P3, Adobe RGB, REC. 709 – to name but a few. As you’d expect, brightness, contrast, and sharpness can also be altered inside the OSD as well – including user settings for your exact requirements.
If you aren’t feeling up to using the joystick, BenQ also throws in their HotKey Puck G2 accessory for on-screen navigation. The premium feeling controller allows you to easily navigate the OSD with a dial at the centre. You can equip presets to 3 different buttons and even change the input device as well.
Color Accuracy & Picture Quality
In the following section, we’ll be taking a closer look at the overall color accuracy of this panel. As this is a design-tailored monitor, this section will be particularly important leading up to our final verdict of this product. BenQ says that is has pre-calibrated modes for sRGB, Adobe RGB, and DCI-P3 right out of the box.
Alongside this, BenQ say the PD3220U is capable of 100% sRGB, 80% Adobe RGB, and 95% DCI-P3 color coverage. We’ll of course be putting all the most relevant color presets to the test to see exactly how accurate they are. Luckily, BenQ has been pretty good in this department, historically. So, it’ll be interesting to see how their flagship designer monitor stacks up.
|Out The Box (Display P3)||6919K||0.2545 cd/m²||834.4:1||0.93||2.19|
|Rec. 709||7010K||0.073 cd/m²||1365.1:1||1.55||2.37|
|Adobe RGB||6954K||0.1916 cd/m²||1395:1||2.16||2.19|
|User Profile||7147K||0.1024 cd/m²||1172.1:1||2.75||2.14|
The first color preset we tested for this monitor was the ‘out the box’ preset. The PD3220U was set to Display P3 mode with a luminance of 300 cd/m² – far more than what is recommended for natural daylight viewing. We cranked the brightness down to 120 candelas – as we always do for standardized testing – and ran a preliminary color accuracy test. The results were pretty good if truth be told. With a white balance just north of the IDEAL 6500K and contrast falling just below the marketed 1000:1, the DisplayP3 offered decent accuracy. Average delta was under 1 (0.93) which was extremely good for a monitor right off the shelf. Gamma was set to 2.19 and black depth was a little less than desirable (0.25).
We moved on to the DCI-P3 preset next. It again showed very good results when tested against the DCI-P3 spectrum. 6512K white point, 0.088 black depth, and 1352:1 contrast ratio is about as good as it gets pre-calibration. Average delta was an extremely impressive 0.78 DE and gamma was set to 2.56. Annoyingly, the DCI-P3 preset would lower your brightness to way below 120 cd/m² – so, it’s worth correcting that before using this particular preset (change to 25 brightness for optimal viewing).
sRGB was the best of the bunch in terms of raw color accuracy, boasting a 0.57 average DeltaE and almost perfect white balance/gamma. Contrast was a little under 1000:1 but nothing too crazy.
Whilst Adobe RGB, Rec. 709, and User profiles weren’t terrible, they were much closer to what you’d expect from a monitor out of the box. DeltaE for these profiles was above 1.5 (User being the worst at 2.75) on all occasions. Whilst this is a dip from the original 3 presets, it’s still not too bad at all.
We tested the DarkRoom setting at the end and, as expected, the color accuracy was pretty dreadful. Average DeltaE of 5 and a white point of 6998K was the worst of the results. Contrast ratio clocked in at 1159:1 and black depth was decent at 0.078. Gamma was recorded at 1.91 which felt a little unusual considering the results.
|Preset||White Point||Black Depth||Contrast Ratio||Average ΔE*00||Maximum ΔE*00||Gamma|
|User Calibrated Profile||6527K||0.1125 cd/m²||1066.6:1||0.19||1.02||2.2|
We wasted no time and calibrated the monitor in ‘User’ mode to see how accurate we could get the monitor to be. We altered the RGB settings to 98/95/93 and reduced the brightness to 25 for best results.
As you can see from the table above, the calibrated profile offered the best results by far – within the sRGB color spectrum. We saw a perfect 6527K white point, decent 0.11 black depth, and perfect 1066:1 contrast ratio. Average DeltaE dropped to an impressive 0.19 – with a maximum delta of 1.02.
Panel uniformity is a test we run to check how uniform the luminance and colors are across the entirety of the screen. During this test, the center square is used as the reference space. Every other square is then tested to see how far it differentiates from the reference.
In an ideal world, we want every square to be green, meaning it hasn’t broken the differential threshold – something we can set at the start of the test.
Note: results will differ from panel to panel.
As you can see from the graph above, the panel uniformity of the PD3220U was pretty good. Despite the entire top row being amber (average in grey uniformity), the rest of the panel showcases very good uniformity. The remaining sections all showcase good uniformity, displayed by the green results.
With this monitor utilizing an IPS panel, viewing angles turned out to be extremely good – as expected. IPS panels are characterized by their color accuracy and viewing angles – with the LG panel this monitor utilizes providing these two staples in abundance.
As part of the calibration process, the DisplayCal will give an accurate measurement of the color gamut the monitor can provide. Below are the results of the color gamut test:
As you can see from the results below, the PD3220U stayed true to the specifications BenQ set out. With an impressive 99.7% sRGB coverage, alongside 147.3% volume, this monitor is more than capable of providing the full sRGB color range.
Furthermore, with a 101.5% Adobe RGB and 104.4% DCI P3 gamut volume, this monitor offers one of the widest color ranges we’ve tested. Best of all, with the factory-calibrated presets, you’ll be able to work to an accurate level in DCI-P3 and sRGB, respectively.
Maximum And Minimum Brightness
We ended the color accuracy and picture quality testing by checking the maximum brightness, minimum brightness, and 120 candelas level on this panel. The results are below:
|25 Brightness||120 cd/m²|
So, there you have it, our comprehensive review of the BenQ PD3220U DesignVue designer monitor. This large-screen 32-inch monitor is a great choice for creative types and individuals that need to work to extremely accurate color profiles. With a 4K native screen resolution alongside a fully ergonomic stand and great colors right out of the box, it’s really hard to knock this panel too much. Granted, it does fall into the higher end of the price spectrum – and at over $1,000, it does start to compete with some very efficient monitors.
That being said, there aren’t that many 4K monitors that showcase this amount of versatility and accuracy without any need for post-calibration. With a bunch of cool design-tailored features (including several pre-calibrated presets and PBP options), you’ve got to say that this monitor really does offer quite good value for money.
Yes, it’s a large investment, but for me, at $1,100, this monitor actually offers great bang for your buck. If you’re in the market for a larger, 32inch 4K designer monitor, the BenQ PD3220U could be exactly what you’re looking for.
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