BenQ EX3203R Monitor Review – The 1440p upgrade you didn’t know you needed.
When it comes to choosing a new monitor for your gaming PC, there's always a tonne of different options to choose from. Whether you're looking for a fully optimized 27" gaming monitor or a 49" multimedia monster, making the right display choice is something that can be strenuous and time-consuming.
Fear not though, this is where WEPC lends a helping hand. Our team of PC experts and enthusiasts have had the pleasure of testing and trialing the best and most popular monitor's money can buy.
Today, we get the opportunity to put the BenQ EX3203R through its paces to see how it performs under the strict WEPC testing lights. Let's get straight into the EX3203R's pros and cons.
- Large (32”)
- Great Color
- VA panel
- Large Screens Aren’t for everyone
- No power eco mode
- 4ms response; could be faster
Currently, in the WePC testing studio, we have a whole plethora of gaming monitors to choose from. However, the BenQ EX3203R, with its impressive 32" curved display catches the eye in more than one way.
Aesthetically it looks superb, visually it's just as good. HDR, 144Hz, FreeSync 2 and a curved screen make this monitor one of the stand out performers.
EX3203R - Large monitor, or TV?
We've had the privilege of testing a lot of BenQ's monitors over the last couple of months, all of which have their own unique set of features and benefits. However, this is the first monitor they've sent us that is 144hz and curved... Oh, and 32", did I mention that?
Now, when someone references a 32inch display, you're probably thinking, TV? Not in this scenario though. The EX3203R is a huge gaming monitor and one that, if you're used to a 27" or less monitor, is going to look enormous on your desk.
I suppose this opens the EX3203R up to a whole other consumer demographic, the console gaming market. The issue with TV's is they have lower refresh rates which, in turn, lead to screen tearing and display issues. Obviously, the 3203R doesn't have this issue.
Since we're talking about the EX3203R's specs, we may as well go over the full list now:
The specifications of this monitor are pretty impressive, especially when you consider the price tag and curved aspects of it. It's always difficult finding a large monitor with decent performance levels, this, however, ticks many of the right boxes.
Physical Size and Weight
As stated above, this monitor is huge coming in at 32” diagonally (which is how screen size is determined). This gives us a total monitor area of 437 inches (2823 cm). For reference, a 24” 16:9 monitor has a total area of 246 inches (1588 cm). That’s an additional 77% extra usable monitor space.
The total HxWxD size specifications for the monitor are 21.1x28x8.77 inches (536x712.69x223.87mm).
This monitor does come in at a pretty hefty 18 pounds. This probably won’t be an issue for most, but if you’re using a glass desk with thin glass or a shelf to set your monitor on, 18 pounds is quite a bit heavier than your standard monitor so keep that in mind.
With a curvature rating of 1800R, this monitor is also perfect if you have a desk that’s not very deep and will need to sit closer to the monitor. 1800R is a measure of the curvature and indicates that the curvature is a radius of 1800mm. Taking into account the size and curvature, the recommend sitting distance for this monitor would be about 1.8 meters away.
However, I sat much closer than this during my time with it and had no problems with image quality or eye fatigue.
Personally, I felt the curved screen was a great choice. The field of vision for the human eye is already in a natural curvature, so when you’re staring at a monitor, it helps it feel more natural when it’s curved.
Resolution and Refresh Rate
The EX3203R boasts a resolution of 2560×1440 (1440p, or QHD), a 144Hz refresh rate, and a 4ms response time.
Let’s discuss these features in more detail below.
This monitor is a 1440p display. If you’ve been wanting to upgrade from a 1080p monitor, but don’t have the money to run a 4K setup, I'd recommend 1440p as a cheap, middle ground alternative.
Resolution is the number of pixels that a monitor can display. The max resolution of a monitor refers to the number of pixels vertically and horizontally. So a monitor with a maximum resolution of say 2560×1440 (1440p), it has 2,560 pixels running width wise, and 1,440 pixels running height wise.
Response time measures how fast colors change on the monitor; the LEDs have to react and change as well. This is measured in milliseconds (ms). If the change happens too slowly, you can get ghosting on your images. In general, you should always look for 5 ms or under when it comes to gaming. The BenQ is rated at 4ms which is not ideal, but not bad at the same time.
As for your refresh rate, it represents how fast your monitor can refresh the image that it's currently displaying. The refresh rate is affected by your GPU and computational frame rate output. If your PC is pushing a game at 250FPS, and your monitor can only fresh at 60Hz, you will ultimately experience screen tearing.
The contrast ratio of a monitor can be very important as it’s a measure of the darkest darks and brightest brights. More specifically, contrast ratio is measured by the number of shades it takes to turn black to white. The more shades it takes, the more color range the monitor has.
The EX3203R native contrast ratio is 3000:1. This would mean that there are 2999 shades of grey between the monitor’s blackest black and its whitest white. 3000:1 is a great contrast ratio, but it gets even better thanks to HDR, which we discuss below.
This monitor is top of the line and bang up-to-date when it comes to inputs. You get the following: 2x HDMI v2.0, Display Port, and USB-C. It should be noted that if you choose to use USB-C as the input, your refresh rate is limited to only 60Hz, as there’s not enough bandwidth for higher.
As for media inputs, this monitor is equipped with 2x USB 3.1, and an auxiliary port for headphones.
For me, a monitor shouldn't just excel in performance and practicality, it must also look the part whether in use or not. The BenQ seems to have nailed that expertly as well.
The first thing that caught my eye, apart from the massive 32" 1800R curved screen, was the stand which has been finished with stylish metal. The metal works brilliantly with the dark grey plastic bezel of the screen itself to give a good contrast of materials and colours.
The screen itself is, as mentioned above, a VA panel and has an extremely small bezel. You can see the BenQ logo on the bottom bezel and centred above the light detection sensor.
The back is classic BenQ and comes with a grey finish with the BenQ logo branded above the Vesa mounting holes.
Overall I really enjoy the way this monitor looks when compared to other BenQ and curved monitors in its price range. But like I said at the start, it must be able to perform well and be practical, so let's dive into this monitor's main features.
The guys at BenQ decided to kit this monitor out with every feature they could think of, luckily, they all seem to work in harmony unlike other monitors in today's market.
I never felt like the features were just “there”. I actually ended up using most of them, and the one feature I didn’t have a need for (Super Resolution, discussed below), I’m sure I’ll end up using it later on down the road for some retro gaming.
Starting the features portion of this list is High-Dynamic-Range. One of the biggest things that contribute to how good a picture looks is the range of colors and the contrast that can be displayed.
HDR increases that range significantly, allowing for much deeper, richer colors and much brighter images.
This was my first time using an HDR monitor so I wasn’t sure whether it would be a pain to set up. Luckily, the BenQ EX3203R made it incredibly easy and self-intuitive. Just select HDR from the display settings built into the monitor, and turn HDR on in Windows and any program with the feature.
I decided to use Shadow of the Tomb Raider as a test subject and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. The changes are night and day.
Initially, I planned to use screenshots for this test, unfortunately, screenshots don’t capture the true essence of HDR and end up looking washed out. This being said, both of the above pictures were taken at the same time, and haven’t been retouched. You can see how much richer the game looks in HDR.
Remember when I was talking about screen tearing and refresh rates? Well, the BenQ has you covered with FreeSync.
FreeSync is a technology from AMD that allows their GPUs to sync with a monitor’s refresh rate. This allows the refresh rate and the FPS of your game to sync together. This creates a super smooth playing experience since your monitor will only refresh when a new frame is available; it will also help eliminate screen tearing.
Sometimes when you’re using a monitor, and you need to run a resolution with a different aspect ratio (say your monitor is a 16:9 and you need to run something at 4:3), there can be changes and distortions in your image.
Super Resolution allows the non-native resolution to run freely, without fear of distortion.
Brightness Intelligence Plus
Brightness Intelligence Plus (B.I.+) is a feature BenQ added along with HDR to help with bright spots in your images. Sometimes a scene or image is a little brighter than you’d like it to be, and this will try and soften those bright areas.
It does this by using a built-in sensor to detect the ambient light around the monitor. It decides if the image needs to be warmed or cooled, and it adjusts the color temperature accordingly.
This also helps with eye strain, since there won’t be as many bright spots glaring into your eyes while you use it. I used this monitor both during the day and night and never felt like my eyes were being strained.
This is a feature that can be turned on or off, and you have the option of fine-tuning the sensor in the settings.
BenQ has gone above and beyond to make sure their monitors are causing as little harm to your eyes as possible. Along with B.I.+, they’ve added their Eye-Care technology.
There are two main things that Eye-Care brings to the table: reduced strong blue light and elimination of screen flicker.
Strong blue light can be harmful to the human eye over long periods of time; monitors produce a lot of blue light. This monitor comes with blue light eliminating tech, a way to reduce the harmful blue light that is typically found in monitors without changing the color balance.
This leaves you with a great looking image, without the harm to your eyes.
Screen flicker is another big one that’s harmful to your eyes. Screens typically flicker, usually fast enough that you can’t see it, but it’s still happening. This can cause strain and fatigue on your eyes. BenQ knows this and has eliminated the screen flicker all together, again helping to reduce eye strain. They’ve really put in the work when it comes to eye safety and their monitors.
My main monitor is a 27” curved 144Hz screen, so I wasn’t sure what to expect when testing the EX3203R. I only sit 2.5-3 feet away from my monitor, so I feared this 32” monster would be too big and I'd have to move away to obtain the maximum viewing potential.
After getting everything hooked up, I sat down at the desk and realized that even though I was way closer than the suggested 1.8 meters, the monitor didn’t feel too big, which I largely attribute to the viewing angle and curved screen.
Messing with the settings for my initial setup was a breeze. Everything is well labeled, and the monitor controls are intuitive.
As mentioned above, once in HDR mode this monitor has a crazy contrast ratio, and you can certainly tell. I love how much richer and more realistic the content looks with HDR enabled.
This monitor is great for people transferring from a dual monitor setup thanks to its large display & high resolution which will easily allow for screen splitting and multiple on-screen programs.
After using this monitor for a few days, I can say that I can’t recommend this monitor enough. If you’re looking to upgrade to a large monitor, then I say look no further than the BenQ EX3203R.