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One of BenQ's latest displays is the 35" ultrawide EX3501R. This screen is aimed at entertainment and "video enjoyment", focusing in the marketing material on its panoramic 21:9 aspect ratio, HDR (High Dynamic Range) capabilities eye-care. We will talk about the level of HDR support on this screen later in the review, but looking at the BenQ spec page for this Ultrawide curved monitor, you can tell that it seems to be the prime focus. They also talk about their 'Opt-clarity' technology which combines HDR support with their 'Brightness Intelligence Plus" (B.I.+) for helping to improve the viewer experience and soften bright areas while keeping dark areas crystal clearer even in dimly lit environments. Anyway, we will talk more about HDR support later in the review.

The EX3501R is a large 35" sized display and offers a 3440 x 1440 resolution VA technology panel. This allows for high static contrast ratios and deep blacks, one of the key strengths of VA technology. This is combined with a 100Hz native refresh rate for gaming, and support for Adaptive-Sync. This means you can use the screen for variable refresh rates (VRR) on AMD graphics cards, and thanks to the recent NVIDIA driver update, now also from NVIDIA cards if you want to try it (although not one of the certified G-sync Compatible displays). There is BenQ's usual focus on eye-care on this monitor, with a flicker free backlight and low blue light modes provided. More information about their monitor range can be found on BenQ's website.

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Specifications and Features

The following table gives detailed information about the specs of the screen as advertised:

Monitor Specifications


35" Ultrawide

Panel Coating

Light AG coating

Aspect Ratio

21:9 curved 1800R


1x USB type-C

1x DisplayPort 1.4
2x HDMI 2.0

2x USB 3.0 hub
1x headphone out


3440 x 1440

Pixel Pitch


Design colour

3 side borderless design with matte black edges. matte silver back, and shiny silver coloured stand

Response Time

4ms G2G


Tilt, 60mm height, swivel

Static Contrast Ratio


Dynamic Contrast Ratio

20 million:1

VESA Compatible



300 cd/m2


DisplayPort, HDMI and USB type-C cables. Power cable and brick

Viewing Angles

178 / 178

Panel Technology

AU Optronics AMVA (VA-type)


with stand: 10.4 Kg

Backlight Technology


Physical Dimensions

(WxHxD) with stand
833.95 x 444.02 - 504.02 x 224.08 mm

Colour Depth

16.7m (8-bit)

Refresh Rate

100Hz native

Special Features

AMD FreeSync, ambient light sensor, PiP/PbP modes

Colour Gamut

100% sRGB standard gamut spec

The EX3501R offers a very good range of connectivity with 1x DisplayPort 1.4, 2 x HDMI 2.0 and USB type-C offered for video connections. There is an additional 2 port USB 3.0 hub, with the ports located on the back of the screen with the other connections. The screen has an external power supply and comes packaged with the power cable and brick you need. A headphone output connection is provided as well for audio pass-through.

Below is a summary of the features and connections of the screen:


Yes / No


Yes / No

Tilt adjust


Height adjust


Swivel adjust

USB type-C

Rotate adjust


VESA mounting compliant


USB Ports

Audio/headphone out

Card Reader

HDCP Support

Ambient Light Sensor

MHL Support

Human Motion Sensor

Integrated Speakers

Touch Screen

PiP / PbP

Factory calibration

Blur Reduction Mode

Hardware calibration


Uniformity correction

AMD FreeSync

Wireless charging

Meaningful HDR

Design and Ergonomics

Above: front view of the screen. Click for larger version

The EX3501R comes in a black and silver design with matte plastics used along the edges, back and arm for the stand. The legs of the stand are a shiny silver plastic, as is the round cable tidy hole in the arm.

Above: front views of the screen. Click for larger versions

This model has a 3 side borderless design with a thin black plastic edge around the sides and top, measuring ~2mm. There is a 8mm black panel border as well, so the total black edge around the sides and top is ~10mm. Along the bottom edge the black plastic bezel is thicker at ~23mm, with a smaller 3mm black panel edge creating a total border of ~26mm. There is a shiny silver coloured "BenQ" logo in the middle of the bottom bezel.

The stand is attached in the middle of the back of the screen and features a round cable tidy hole in the arm. The shiny silver feet of the screen provide a wide and sturdy base for the large display, and are not too deep even on a relatively shallow desk.

Above: rear views of the screen. Click for larger versions

The back of the screen is encased mostly in a smooth, rounded, matte silver plastic, with a patterned black section along the bottom. The connections are tucked under the curved silver part of the casing.

Above: side profile of the screen. Click for larger versions

The screen has a pretty thin profile thanks to the W-LED backlight and the external power supply (brick and cable provided in the box). The above pictures look a bit thicker because of the screens curvature though of course.

There is a moderate range of ergonomic adjustments offered by the stand. Tilt offers a pretty wide range and is smooth to move, but a little stiff to operate. There is a fairly limited 60mm height adjustment which is a smooth, but quite stiff to move. At the lowest setting the bottom edge of the screen is 60mm from the top of the desk, and 120mm when at maximum height extension. We felt that the maximum height was a little limited, although we could still get it to a comfortable viewing position for our day to day use. Side to side swivel is not provided sadly, which can be useful on any desktop display. Rotation is not included, but not missed on such a wide format screen with a curve. The stand was very stable and sturdy, and there was very little wobble from the screen which was pleasing.

A summary of the ergonomic adjustments are shown below:




Ease of Use




A little stiff




Quite stiff










Reasonable enough with tilt and height. Height adjustment a little limited, and we missed side to side swivel. Stand was sturdy with very little wobble.

The materials were of a good standard and the build quality felt good. There was no audible noise from the screen, even when conducting specific tests which can often identify buzzing issues. The whole screen remained cool even during prolonged use as well which was pleasing.

The back of the screen features the connections. There are the 1x DisplayPort 1.4, 2x HDMI 2.0, 1x USB Type-C, 2x USB 3.0 downstream, headphone out and the power supply input. Note that to use the two USB 3.0 downstream ports you will need to connect the monitor to your PC using the USB type-C connection as there's no separate USB upstream connection.

The OSD is controlled through 6 pressable buttons located on the bottom edge of the screen, as you can see from the image above. There is also a larger power button which glows white during operation, and amber in standby. You can't see any of these buttons from a normal viewing position, you have to reach underneath the bottom edge of the screen to use them. The button closest to the power button is actually an input selection, and can't be used for anything else in the menu navigation. The other 5 are used to get to the quick access menus and the main menu.


There is quick access to 3 different settings, brightness, contrast and the preset mode. You can actually customise these in the main OSD if you want access to a few other settings like volume or low blue light modes. The main menu presents a lot more options to pay with. Navigation was easy and felt intuitive, with good on-screen guidance at the bottom of the display to make it clear which button would do what. We only found ourselves accidentally pressing the input selection a couple of times, as the OSD labels were pretty helpful to directing you to the correct buttons you wanted.

Power Consumption

In terms of power consumption the manufacturer lists a typical usage of 65.7W but no other specs. We carried out our normal tests to establish its power consumption ourselves.

State and Brightness Setting

Manufacturer Spec (W)

Measured Power Usage (W)

Default (100%)



Calibrated (22%)



Maximum Brightness (100%)



Minimum Brightness (0%)






Out of the box the screen used 58.5W at the default 100% brightness setting. Once calibrated the screen reached 33.4W consumption, and in standby it used only 0.6W. We have plotted these results below compared with other screens we have tested. The consumption (comparing the calibrated states) is comparable to the other 34 - 35" ultrawide sized screens here, being a little more than most of the smaller ultrawide 27" models.

Panel and Backlighting

Panel Manufacturer

AU Optronics

Colour Palette

16.7 million

Panel Technology

AMVA (VA-type)

Colour Depth


Panel Module


Colour space

Extended gamut

Backlighting Type


Colour space coverage (%)

100% sRGB quoted
115% sRGB measured (85% DCI-P3)

Panel Part and Colour Depth

The BenQ EX3501R features an AU Optronics M350QVR01.1 AMVA (VA-type) technology panel. The panel offers an 8-bit colour depth, producing 16.7 million colours and is confirmed when dismantling the screen as shown below.

Key Quick Information Box

  • AU Optronics VA technology panel

  • 8-bit colour depth

  • Although not advertised, backlight produces wider than standard gamut at ~115% sRGB / 85% DCI-P3

  • Flicker free backlight operation

Screen Coating

The screen coating is a light anti-glare (AG) offering. It isn't a semi-glossy coating, but it is light as seen on other modern VA type panels. Thankfully it isn't a heavily grainy coating like some old IPS panels feature and is also lighter than TN Film panel coating. It retains its anti-glare properties to avoid too many unwanted reflections of a full glossy coating, but does not produce too grainy or dirty an image that some thicker AG coatings can.

Backlight Type and Colour Gamut

The screen uses a White-LED (W-LED) backlight unit which is standard in today's market. This helps reduce power consumption compared with older CCFL backlight units and brings about some environmental benefits as well. According to the spec pages for this screen the W-LED unit offers only a standard colour gamut which is equal to 100% of the sRGB colour space. In fact our independent measurements in the following sections confirmed the gamut was wider than this, covering around 115% sRGB, and representing about 85% of the DCI-P3 colour space.

Anyone wanting to work with even wider colour spaces would need to consider some of the wide gamut displays available instead. Considering the screen is heavily promoted for its use with HDR content we might have expected BenQ to promote this extended colour space a bit more. It doesn't meet the >90% DCI-P3 requirements usually considered for HDR, but it's wider than a normal sRGB screen. If you want to read more about colour spaces and gamut then please have a read of our detailed article.

Backlight Dimming and Flicker

We tested the screen to establish the methods used to control backlight dimming. Our in depth article talks in more details about a previously very common method used for this which is called Pulse Width Modulation (PWM). This in itself gives cause for concern to some users who have experienced eye strain, headaches and other symptoms as a result of the flickering backlight caused by this technology. We use a photosensor + oscilloscope system to measure backlight dimming control with a high level of accuracy and ease. These tests allow us to establish

1) Whether PWM is being used to control the backlight
2) The frequency and other characteristics at which this operates, if it is used
3) Whether a flicker may be introduced or potentially noticeable at certain settings

If PWM is used for backlight dimming, the higher the frequency, the less likely you are to see artefacts and flicker. The duty cycle (the time for which the backlight is on) is also important and the shorter the duty cycle, the more potential there is that you may see flicker. The other factor which can influence flicker is the amplitude of the PWM, measuring the difference in brightness output between the 'on' and 'off' states. Please remember that not every user would notice a flicker from a backlight using PWM, but it is something to be wary of. It is also a hard thing to quantify as it is very subjective when talking about whether a user may or may not experience the side effects.

100%                                                     50%                                                     0%

Above scale = 1 horizontal grid = 5ms

At all brightness settings a constant Direct Current (DC) voltage is applied to the backlight, and the screen is free from the obvious off/on switching of any PWM dimming method. As a result, the screen is flicker free as advertised.

Pulse Width Modulation Used


Cycling Frequency


Possible Flicker at


100% Brightness


50% Brightness


0% Brightness



Brightness and Contrast

This section tests the full range of luminance (the brightness of the screen) possible from the backlight, while changing the monitors brightness setting in the OSD menu. This allows us to measure the maximum and minimum adjustment ranges, as well as identify the recommended setting to reach a target of 120 cd/m2 for comfortable day to day use in normal lighting conditions. Some users have specific requirements for a very bright display, while others like a much darker display for night time viewing or in low ambient light conditions. At each brightness level we also measure the contrast ratio produced by the screen when comparing a small white sample, vs. a black sample (not unrealistic full screen white vs. full screen black tests). The contrast ratio should remain stable across the adjustment range so we also check that.

Graphics card settings were left at default with no ICC profile or calibration active. Tests were made using an X-rite i1 Display Pro colorimeter. It should be noted that we used the BasICColor calibration software here to record these, and so luminance at default settings may vary a little from the LaCie Blue Eye Pro report you will see in other sections of the review.

OSD Brightness


Black Point (cd/m2)

Contrast Ratio
( x:1)














































Total Luminance Adjustment Range (cd/m2)


Brightness OSD setting controls backlight?

Total Black Point Adjustment Range (cd/m2)


Average Static Contrast Ratio


PWM Free? 

Recommended OSD setting for 120 cd/m2


At the full brightness setting in the OSD the maximum luminance reached a high 310 cd/m2 which was a little higher than the specified maximum brightness of 300 cd/m2 from the manufacturer. There was a good 271 cd/m2 adjustment range in total, so at the minimum setting you could reach down to a low luminance of 39 cd/m2. This should be low enough for most people including those wanting to work in darkened room conditions with low ambient light. A setting of 27 in the OSD menu should return you a luminance of around 120 cd/m2 at default settings. It should be noted that the brightness regulation is controlled without the need for Pulse Width Modulation for all brightness settings so the screen is flicker free.


We have plotted the luminance trend on the graph above. The screen behaves as it should, with a reduction in the luminance output of the screen controlled by the reduction in the OSD brightness setting. This is basically a linear relationship.

The average contrast ratio of the screen was measured at 1910:1 before calibration, which was very good thanks to the VA panel, although a little less than the specified 2500:1 from the manufacturer.

Testing Methodology

An important thing to consider for most users is how a screen will perform out of the box and with some basic manual adjustments. Since most users won't have access to hardware colorimeter tools, it is important to understand how the screen is going to perform in terms of colour accuracy for the average user.

We restored our graphics card to default settings and disabled any previously active ICC profiles and gamma corrections. The screen was tested at default factory settings using our new X-rite i1 Pro 2 Spectrophotometer combined with LaCie's Blue Eye Pro software suite. An X-rite i1 Display Pro colorimeter was also used to verify the black point and contrast ratio since the i1 Pro 2 spectrophotometer is less reliable at the darker end.

Targets for these tests are as follows:

  • CIE Diagram - confirms the colour space covered by the monitors backlighting in a 2D view, with the black triangle representing the displays gamut, and other reference colour spaces shown for comparison

  • Gamma - we aim for 2.2 which is the default for computer monitors

  • Colour temperature / white point - we aim for 6500k which is the temperature of daylight

  • Luminance - we aim for 120 cd/m2, which is the recommended luminance for LCD monitors in normal lighting conditions

  • Black depth - we aim for as low as possible to maximise shadow detail and to offer us the best contrast ratio

  • Contrast ratio - we aim for as high as possible. Any dynamic contrast ratio controls are turned off here if present

  • dE average / maximum - we aim for as low as possible. If DeltaE >3, the color displayed is significantly different from the theoretical one, meaning that the difference will be perceptible to the viewer. If DeltaE <2, LaCie considers the calibration a success; there remains a slight difference, but it is barely undetectable. If DeltaE < 1, the color fidelity is excellent.

Default Performance and Setup

Default settings of the screen were as follows:

BenQ EX3501R
Default Settings



Monitor OSD Default Settings


Picture Mode






Color Temperature






Luminance Measurements


luminance (cd/m2)


Black Point (cd/m2)


Contrast Ratio


Colour Space Measurements


sRGB coverage


DCI-P3 coverage


Rec.2020 coverage



Initially out of the box the screen was set with the 'Standard' picture mode (various presets for different uses) and the other settings listed in the table above for gamma and colour temperature. The display was set with a maximum 100% brightness which was too bright and uncomfortable to use. You will definitely need to turn that down. The colours felt bright and well balanced. Unless comparing the screen side by side with a normal sRGB screen, you couldn't really detect any major changes in the colour appearance from the wider colour gamut in normal uses. They looks bright and vivid, but not over-saturated.

We went ahead and measured the default state with the i1 Pro 2. The CIE diagram on the left of the image confirms that the monitors colour gamut (black triangle) extends a little way beyond the sRGB colour space reference (orange triangle). We measured using ChromaPure software a 114.9% sRGB gamut volume coverage which corresponds to 84.7% of the DCI-P3 reference and 60.8% of the Rec.2020 reference. BenQ don't really promote the extended colour gamut on their product pages, but this ~85% DCI-P3 colour space is useful for HDR content and to give the screen a bit of a boost in colour vividness that many gamers and multimedia users will like.

Key Quick Information Box

  • Reasonable gamma setup

  • Colour temp also reasonable, but a bit too warm

  • Strong VA contrast ratio of 1940:1 out of the box

  • Confirmed wider colour gamut ~85% DCI-P3 coverage

  • No direct sRGB emulation mode

There is an sRGB picture mode preset on this screen, but it does not offer any emulation of the smaller sRGB colour space. In fact the default setup of that preset is very close to the standard mode measured above. This means you cannot move to a standard, smaller gamut if you wanted to. You will always have that larger colour space. For a lot of people they will prefer that more colourful and vivid appearance for the intended gaming and multimedia uses, and on the EX3501R it is only a pretty modest extension of the colour space anyway. Not something most people need to worry about we don't think.

Default gamma was recorded at 2.3 average with a moderate 6% overall deviance from the target which was acceptable. White point was measured at a little-too-warm 6147k, being 5% out from our target. Luminance at the default 100% brightness level was recorded at a very bright 321 cd/m2 which is too high for prolonged general use, you will need to turn that down. The black depth was 0.17 cd/m2 at this default brightness setting, giving us a strong static contrast ratio of 1940:1 thanks to the VA panel. Colour accuracy measurements show a  dE average of 2.2 which was pretty good but keep in mind that the screens wider gamut output is being compared here with an sRGB reference so will be skewed as a result. Testing the screen with colour gradients showed smooth gradients with some minor gradation evident in the darker tones. There was no sign of any colour banding which was good news.


We used the X-rite i1 Pro 2 Spectrophotometer combined with the LaCie Blue Eye Pro software package to achieve these results and reports. An X-rite i1 Display Pro colorimeter was used to validate the black depth and contrast ratios due to lower end limitations of the i1 Pro device.

BenQ EX3501R
Calibrated Settings




Monitor OSD Default Settings


Picture Mode

Custom 1





Color Temperature

User Define




100, 98, 97

Luminance Measurements


luminance (cd/m2)


Black Point (cd/m2)


Contrast Ratio


Colour Space Measurements


sRGB coverage


DCI-P3 coverage


Rec.2020 coverage


We had to change the picture mode preset to one of the 'custom' modes to be able to access the manually configurable colour temperature mode. We changed the gamma to mode 2 as well, as we measured this to be by default a bit closer to our target with only a small 1% deviance. By changing to the 'custom' preset mode we could enter the 'User define' colour temperature mode as well, which gave us access to alter the RGB channels directly. The OSD settings were adjusted as shown in the table above, as guided during the calibration process and measurements. These OSD changes allowed us to obtain an optimal hardware starting point and setup before software level changes would be made at the graphics card level. We left the  LaCie software to calibrate to "max" brightness which would just retain the luminance of whatever brightness we'd set the screen to, and would not in any way try and alter the luminance at the graphics card level, which can reduce contrast ratio. These adjustments before profiling the screen would help preserve tonal values and limit banding issues. After this we let the software carry out the LUT adjustments and create an ICC profile.

Average gamma was measured at 2.2 average (leaving a 0% deviance) and sorting out the differences that we'd seen out of the box where a 6% deviance had been measured. The white point had now been corrected to 6513k which had fixed the too warm 5% deviance we'd seen before. Luminance had been improved thanks to the adjustment to the brightness control and was now being measured at a far more comfortable 119 cd/m2. This left us a black depth of 0.07 cd/m2 and maintained a strong static contrast ratio of 1747:1 thanks to the VA panel. This had dipped a bit because of the RGB adjustments and gamma curve correction but still surpassed any IPS or TN Film technology screens and remains a strength of VA panel technology. Colour accuracy of the resulting profile was excellent, with dE average of 0.5 and maximum of 0.9. LaCie would consider colour fidelity to be excellent. Testing the screen with various colour gradients showed smooth transitions with some minor gradation in darker tones and some slight banding introduced through the correction of the gamma curve in the darkest shades. You can use our settings and try our calibrated ICC profile if you wish, which are available in our ICC profile database. Keep in mind that results will vary from one screen to another and from one computer / graphics card to another.

Calibration Performance Comparisons

The comparisons made in this section try to give you a better view of how each screen performs, particularly out of the box which is what is going to matter to most consumers. We have divided the table up by panel technology as well to make it easier to compare similar models. When comparing the default factory settings for each monitor it is important to take into account several measurement areas - gamma, white point and colour accuracy. There's no point having a low dE colour accuracy figure if the gamma curve is way off for instance. A good factory calibration requires all 3 to be well set up. We have deliberately not included luminance in this comparison since this is normally far too high by default on every screen. However, that is very easily controlled through the brightness setting (on most screens) and should not impact the other areas being measured anyway. It is easy enough to obtain a suitable luminance for your working conditions and individual preferences, but a reliable factory setup in gamma, white point and colour accuracy is important and some (gamma especially) are not as easy to change accurately without a calibration tool.

From these comparisons we can also compare the calibrated colour accuracy, black depth and contrast ratio. After a calibration the gamma, white point and luminance should all be at their desired targets.

Default setup of the screen out of the box was fairly good with only a small deviance in the gamma and white point. It's possible to improve those with just some simple OSD setting changes as well if you want. Note that the gamut extends a little beyond the normal sRGB reference (~115% coverage), and there is no emulation mode offered to reduce that if you needed to do any colour critical or photo editing work specifically with sRGB content. For normal uses, gaming, multimedia etc the extended colour space will give you a bit of a boost in colour vividness which looks nice, and does not lead to any obvious oversaturation or issues.

When it comes to black depth and contrast ratio the screen performed very well thanks to the VA panel. The calibrated figure of 1747:1 was a fair bit lower than the specified 2500:1 but it still surpassed anything that IPS or TN Film panels could offer.

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Viewing Angles

Above: Viewing angles shown from front and side, and  from above and below. Click for larger image

Viewing angles of the screen were moderate. The image behaved more like older generation VA panels than some of the modern VA screens we've tested. From a side angle, the image became washed out and pale in appearance as you can see. Not surprisingly they were very similar to what we'd seen from the Asus ROG Strix XG35VQ which features the same AU Optronics panel revision. They were a little better actually than some older competing models like the AOC AGON AG352UCG from March 2017 and Acer Predator Z35 we tested in January 2016. There was a little less washout on the EX3501R here than those models which was pleasing. We have seen some modern VA panels offer better viewing angles with less noticeable gamma and colour tone shift, such as the LG 32GK850G. All in all, on the BenQ they were fairly typical VA viewing angles.

The colour tone and gamma shifts were more noticeable of course than IPS-type panels, including the 34" Dell Alienware AW3418DW and Acer Predator X34 as an example. Users should also be aware that the panel exhibits the off-centre contrast shift which is inherent to the VA pixel structure. When viewing a very dark grey font for example on a black background, the font almost disappears when viewed head on, but gets lighter as you move slightly to the side. This is an extreme case of course as this is a very dark grey tone we are testing with. Lighter greys and other colours will appear a little darker from head on than they will from a side angle, but you may well find you lose some detail as a result. This can be particularly problematic in dark images and where grey tone is important. It is this issue that has led to many graphics professionals and colour enthusiasts choosing IPS panels instead, and the manufacturers have been quick to incorporate this alternative panel technology in their screens. We would like to make a point that for many people this won't be an issue at all, and many may not even notice it. Remember, many people are perfectly happy with their TN Film panels and other VA based screens. Just something to be wary of if you are affected by this issue or are doing colour critical work.

Above: View of an all black screen from the sides. Click for larger versions

We captured a photo of an all-black image as viewed from a side angle as shown above. This can help exhibit any glow you might see on different panel technologies. Here, the actual glow caused by the VA panel technology was quite low, with some pale areas picked up in the photo. This side-angle photo actually captures some of the uniformity issues we measure in the following section, and you can clearly see the darker and lighter areas of the screen. From a head on viewing position this is hard to see, but viewing the screen from a side angle accentuates it. We had seen a very similar situation on some other 35" ultrawide models like the Asus ROG Strix XG35VQ and AOC AGON AG352UCG incidentally.

Panel Uniformity

We wanted to test here how uniform the brightness was across the screen, as well as identify any leakage from the backlight in dark lighting conditions. Measurements of the luminance were taken at 35 points across the panel on a pure white background. The measurements for luminance were taken using BasICColor's calibration software package, combined with an X-rite i1 Display Pro colorimeter with a central point on the screen calibrated to 120 cd/m2. The below uniformity diagram shows the difference, as a percentage, between the measurement recorded at each point on the screen, as compared with the central reference point.

It is worth noting that panel uniformity can vary from one screen to another, and can depend on manufacturing lines, screen transport and other local factors. This is only a guide of the uniformity of the sample screen we have for review.

Uniformity of Luminance

Luminance uniformity of the screen was not very good on our sample, with a fairly significant difference in luminance in the upper corners. In both the top left and top right corners the luminance dropped down to 86 cd/m2 (-40% deviance) in the worst case. The central lower region of the screen was a bit brighter than the calibrated central point as well, reaching up to 127 cd/m2 maximum along the bottom edge. This was not really noticeable in normal day to day use, or for multimedia at all, but if you are doing any colour critical work or photo editing, the uniformity variation may present problems.

Backlight Leakage

Above: All black screen in a darkened room. Click for larger version

We also tested the screen with an all black image and in a darkened room. A camera was used to capture the result. There was some fairly noticeable clouding and blotching of the backlight along the bottom edge and in the upper corners. It might be quite hard to pick out from the above photo given the strong black depth of the VA panel but it was visible in these tests with the naked eye. You wouldn't notice this in normal day to day use from a head on viewing position, but you could see these lighter clouded areas on dark content and from an angle.

Above: accentuated by a slow shutter speed to demonstrate areas of backlight clouding. Click for larger version

We have also captured the same photo but at a slower shutter speed to try and make this clearer in the photo. This is an exaggeration of what it really looks like to the naked eye, but will highlight the areas of concern on our sample a bit better than the initial photo.

Note: if you want to test your own screen for backlight bleed and uniformity problems at any point you need to ensure you have suitable testing conditions. Set the monitor to a sensible day to day brightness level, preferably as close to 120 cd/m2 as you can get it (our tests are once the screen is calibrated to this luminance). Don't just take a photo at the default brightness which is almost always far too high and not a realistic usage condition. You need to take the photo from about 1.5 - 2m back to avoid capturing viewing angle characteristics, especially on IPS-type panels where off-angle glow can come in to play easily. Photos should be taken in a darkened room at a shutter speed which captures what you see reliably and doesn't over-expose the image. A shutter speed of 1/8 second will probably be suitable for this.

General and Office Applications

One of the key selling points of ultra-wide screens like the this is it's high resolution and large screen size. The 3440 x 1440 display offers a sharp but comfortable picture. Its pixel area is about 1.8 times larger than an Ultra-Wide Full HD 21:9 monitor, and about 2.4 times larger than a Full HD 16:9 monitor. It provides an efficient environment in using Microsoft Office programs showing 47 columns and 63 rows in excel. Thankfully the high resolution is of a very comfortable size on the 34" panel, with a 0.2384mm pixel pitch is is very comparable to a 27" 2560 x 1440 monitor (0.2331mm), and only slightly larger than a 34" screen with equivalent resolution. This means you are basically getting a wider desktop to work with, with a similar font size to a 27" model, and maintaining the same vertical resolution as well. If you're coming from a lower resolution / larger pixel pitch you may still find the fonts look quite small to start with, but like the 27" 1440p models out there you soon get used to it. Side by side multi-tasking on this screen is excellent and you really do have a nice wide area to work with. We liked the curved format of the display actually for day to day office work. It just felt a bit more comfortable than a flat screen on a model as wide as this, bringing the corners a bit nearer to you. You didn't really notice the curve in normal use but we liked the feel. Probably down to user taste, so if in doubt try and see one in person.

The light AG coating of the panel is welcome, and much better than the grainy and 'dirty' appearance of some other AG coatings on some displays. The pretty wide viewing angles provided helps minimize on-screen colour shift when viewed from different angles, with no major glow on dark content like you will see from most IPS panels. There was the normal VA off-centre contrast shift which might mean that viewing dark content or doing colour critical work is a little more tricky than on an IPS display. The default setup of the screen offered a decent enough performance with only minor 5% deviations for gamma and white point. There was also a strong contrast ratio thanks to the VA panel technology, easily surpassing IPS and TN Film panels. In fact you can quite easily improve the gamma and white point through some simple OSD changes, as detailed in our calibration section.

The screen has a wider colour space than normal sRGB screens despite this not really being advertised on BenQ's spec pages, offering about 115% sRGB coverage / 85% DCI-P3. This is good if you want to work with wider gamut content or for the intended gaming and HDR uses, but if you were wanting to specifically work with sRGB standard gamut content for colour critical work or photo editing then that might be a problem. There is no more accurate sRGB emulation mode offered by the screen (the sRGB preset mode doesn't limit the gamut at all) so you might come up against problems working directly with the smaller sRGB colour space. It's not a major over-coverage though so it's unlikely to create many problems unless you are doing a lot of colour critical work.

The brightness range of the screen was very good, with the ability to offer a luminance between 310 and 39 cd/m2. This should mean the screen is perfectly useable in a wide variety of ambient light conditions, including darkened rooms. A setting of ~27 in the OSD brightness control should return you a luminance close to 120 cd/m2 out of the box. On another positive note, the brightness regulation is controlled without the need for Pulse Width Modulation (PWM), and so those who suffer from eye fatigue or headaches associated with flickering backlights need not worry.

There was no audible noise from the screen, even when conducting specific tests which can sometimes cause issues. There's no specific reading or text preset mode on the screen as such, so you will need to set up the 'standard' or one of the 'Custom' modes for every day use. There are however 20 different low blue light settings which will help reduce the blue spectral output of the backlight and might be useful for reading and office work, making the image a little warmer as a result as you increase the setting but being kinder to the eyes.

The Brightness Intelligence Plus (B.I.+) system is am ambient light sensor that can help reduce eye strain in a any lighting environment. The BenQ spec page says that "The ambient light sensor detects ambient light levels and the colour temperature in your viewing environment, automatically adjusting on-screen brightness and colour temperature to fit your surroundings. It also gradually adjusts brightness based on one�s usage time. This offers the best display quality for users� viewing comfort, preventing eye strain and protecting your eyes after you watch monitors for hours." The B.I.+ mode cannot be activated in the custom preset modes, but is available in the others like the 'standard' preset. Once enabled, it locks the brightness, contrast, colour temperature and some other settings in the OSD and then automatically adjusts the screens brightness and colour temp for you depending on your ambient light conditions. A small OSD graphic appears sometimes to let you know the brightness level has been adjusted when there are any major changes.

The screen offers 2x USB 3.0 ports which can be useful. Both are located on the back of the screen so they aren't super-easy to access. Might have been nice to have a couple more, and maybe also offer fast charging support like a lot of other modern screens. There are no integrated speakers but there is a headphone output if you want. There was a reasonable range of ergonomic adjustments available from the stand with tilt and height, but no side to side swivel. The VESA mounting support may also be useful to some people as well for more flexibility.

Responsiveness and Gaming

Panel Manufacturer and Technology

AU Optronics AMVA (VA-type)

Panel Part


Quoted G2G Response Time

4ms G2G

Quoted ISO Response Time


Overdrive Used


Overdrive Control Available Via OSD Setting

AMA setting

Overdrive OSD Settings

Off, High, Premium

Maximum Refresh Rate

100Hz native

Variable Refresh Rate technology

AMD FreeSync + Adaptive Sync

Variable Refresh Rate Range

48 - 100Hz

Blur Reduction Backlight


The EX3501R is rated by BenQ as having a 4ms G2G typical response time. The screen uses overdrive / response time compensation (RTC) technology to boost pixel transitions across grey to grey changes as with nearly all modern displays. There is a user control in the OSD menu for the overdrive under the 'AMA' (Advanced Motion Accelerator) setting with 3 options available as listed above. The part being used is an AU Optronics M350QVR01.1 VA technology panel. Have a read about response time in our specs section if you need additional information about this measurement.

We use an ETC M526 oscilloscope for these measurements along with a custom photosensor device. Have a read of our response time measurement article for a full explanation of the testing methodology and reported data.

Overdrive Setting (AMA)

The overdrive control is available via the AMA (Advanced Motion Accelerator) setting in the OSD menu. We carried out some initial response time measurements in each of the overdrive settings while running at the maximum 100Hz native refresh rate. The refresh rate does have an impact on the response times as well, so we will look at that in a moment. Various visual tests also helped establish the optimal overdrive setting here at 100Hz.

With AMA set to 'Off' there was a lot of blurring on moving content and motion clarity was poor. We measured an average G2G response time of 16.9ms, although many of the transitions were quite a lot slower than this up around 20 - 24ms. As with most VA panels we've tested, the pixel response times were particularly slow when changing from black to grey. These measurements are shown in the top row of the table where the image starts on 0 (black) and changed to different grey shades (dark grey at 50 and light grey 150), and then eventually to white at 255. The changes between black and dark grey are always the most challenging for VA panels, and there was no exception here, where 52.5ms was measured with AMA 'off'. In practice, these slow changes from black > grey result in dark and black smearing behind moving objects which was distracting. Don't use the AMA 'off' mode.

Pushing the AMA setting up to the middle 'High' setting brought about a few minor changes, but nothing much. In practice there was very little change to motion clarity, with high levels of blurring apparent on moving content. Average G2G had dropped now to 14.8ms, although if we ignore the particular slow 0 > 50 transition (51.5ms on its own) the average was actually 11.4ms. It's probably better to compare that figure so that the very high 0 > 50 figure doesn't skew the overall picture too much. This wasn't much improvement over the 13.7ms G2G average (ignoring the slow 0>50 transition) we'd measured with AMA 'off'. In fact neither the off or high modes could deliver response times consistently fast enough to keep up with the 100Hz refresh rate of the screen, where a new frame is sent to the panel every 10ms. Some of the blurring and smearing is related to that inability to meet the frame rate in these modes.

We expected the 'Premium' setting to be too aggressive and result in very large amounts of overshoot (pale or dark halos behind moving objects), as that's what we've seen on other BenQ screens in the past. In fact, there was no sign of any real overshoot in our visual or measured tests which was very pleasing. The 0 > 50 transition was still slow (42.5ms) but most of the other pixel transitions had been sped up really nicely. We measured an average G2G of 7.2ms, if we ignore that really slow transition. Moving content looked clearer and sharper and this was now fast enough to keep up with the 100Hz frame rates.. This definitely seemed to be the optimal AMA setting.

Key Quick Information Box

  • Recommend running at 'Premium' AMA overdrive setting and 100Hz wherever possible

  • Reasonable response times overall for a VA panel

  • Some common problematic changes from black > grey shades

  • Some black smearing evident in practice, when changing from black to dark colours

  • Response times do vary a bit depending on the refresh rate

  • At 60Hz (for consoles etc) stick with the 'Premium' AMA setting as well


Refresh Rate

The comparisons in the 'Overdrive (AMA)' section were done at the maximum 100Hz refresh. Like many high refresh rate screens, especially those with AMD FreeSync, the response time behaviour varies depending on the active refresh rate. We completed the same measurements again while using the 'premium' overdrive setting, but also at a lower 60Hz.

We probably need to ignore the 0 > 50 transition here for a moment to draw some comparisons, which remained slow at both refresh rates. The other response times were a fair bit slower at 60Hz than they had been at the full 100Hz setting. We measured an average 9.2ms G2G now, instead of 7.2ms before. Motion tests showed higher levels of blur and reduced motion clarity because of the response times, but also because of the drop in refresh rate. Refresh rate has a direct impact on the perceived levels of motion blur on an LCD display, and there is a definite and obvious improvement going from 60 to 100Hz on this and other screens.

There is certainly a lot less blurring at the higher refresh rates, and it is easier to track moving objects across the screen. We would recommend running the screen at the maximum refresh rate if you are able to push the screen to these levels from your graphics card and system. That might vary by game, and over time it will become easier to run 3440 x 1440 @ 100Hz as graphics cards improve too.


One important feature of this screen is the support for AMD FreeSync which offers support for variable refresh rates, helping to avoid tearing and stuttering in games without introducing the lag associated with older Vsync options. It's a very useful technology for when your frame rates fluctuate, especially considering it will take a pretty powerful system to run the screen at its native 3440 x 1440 resolution @ 100Hz. FreeSync is supported from compatible AMD graphics cards. The FreeSync range is 48 - 100Hz.

With the recent January 2019 announcement, NVIDIA users with modern gaming cards can also now take advantage of the variable refresh rate (VRR) technology, despite it not being a typical G-sync screen. The EX3501R is not one of the initial 12 screens which NVIDIA have certified as "G-sync Compatible", but that's not to say that you can't still use G-sync VRR anyway. You need to have a compatible graphics card and the latest drivers, but it is possible to then enable G-sync in the OSD menu and make use of the VRR on this display. Again useful to have that support for VRR from NVIDIA systems as well.

There is no added blur reduction backlight on this model. We have written a detailed article about such blur reduction backlights so we would encourage you to read that if you are unfamiliar with how these operate and the benefits they can produce on other displays. Some people aren't bothered by these strobed backlights and would rather game with FreeSync and a flicker free experience anyway, so for some people it won't be missed. Others like to use them and may be a bit disappointed that it is not provided here.


Detailed Response Time Measurements
Overdrive AMA mode = Premium
Refresh Rate = 100Hz


Having determined that the screen performed the best at its maximum 100Hz refresh rate and with the AMA overdrive set to 'Premium', we carried out some further tests over a wider range of pixel transitions. The average G2G response time was now measured at 8.7ms average overall, although if we ignore the couple of very slow transitions marked in red, the average was actually 7.5ms G2G which was good. Some transitions reached down to around the 4ms spec (3.5ms in fact was the fastest measured).

This is just comfortably fast enough to keep up with the high 100Hz refresh rate which is good news, as otherwise additional blurring and smearing can be added in moving content. There were a couple of pixel transitions when changing from black > dark grey which were a lot slower (marked in red, reaching up to 42.5ms in the worst case example), which is a fairly typical behaviour for a VA panel. This only impacted the changes between black and dark/medium grey shades, and so the black smearing was not overly obvious. It was less than we'd seen on some other VA panels where the slow transitions also affect to a higher degree the changes from black to lighter grey shades, and becomes more problematic. Nevertheless you see black smearing on darker backgrounds and content like most VA panels.

At this maximum refresh rate and 'Premium' AMA overdrive setting there was very little overshoot evident, and only a couple of transitions showing anything of any note. We also know from our earlier tests that if you lower that refresh rate, or it dips lower when using VRR, the overshoot reduces further so we don't expect you'd see any real issue with overshoot on this screen. You get a slight pale halo on some content, but it's not very noticeable in practice unless looking very closely for it.


Gaming Comparisons

We have provided a comparison of the EX3501R against many other screens we have reviewed. At the optimal settings (100Hz, overdrive set to 'Premium') the performance was good for a VA panel, with an average 8.7ms G2G measured here and moderate levels of black smearing for a VA panel. It also had low levels of overshoot at these settings which was great news. It was faster overall than some other 35" models we've tested like the AOC AGON AG352UCQ and Acer Predator Z35 for instance. Some of these other models in the table above offer higher refresh rates keep in mind, which can help improve motion clarity further as well.

Additional Gaming Features

  • Aspect Ratio Control - the screen has 3 settings for hardware level aspect ratio control. This includes options for full, aspect and 1:1. The aspect and 1:1 modes will be useful for any devices or inputs which aren't in the native 21:9 aspect ratio.

  • Preset Modes - There are quite a lot of preset modes available in the 'Picture mode' menu. There are 3 pre-defined gamer modes, and 2 custom modes available as well. It should be easy to set something up for your gaming needs if you want it to be different from your day to day use.



We have written an in depth article about input lag and the various measurement techniques which are used to evaluate this aspect of a display. It's important to first of all understand the different methods available and also what this lag means to you as an end-user.

Input Lag vs. Display Lag vs. Signal Processing

To avoid confusion with different terminology we refer to this section of our reviews as just "lag", as there are a few different aspects to consider, and different interpretations of the term "input lag". We will consider the following points here as much as possible. The overall "display lag" is the first, that being the delay between the image being shown on the TFT display and that being shown on a CRT. This is what many people will know as input lag and originally was the measure made to explain why the image is a little behind when using a CRT. The older simple stopwatch based methods were the common way to measure this in the past, but through advanced studies have been shown to be quite inaccurate. As a result, more advanced tools like SMTT provide a method to measure that delay between a TFT and CRT while removing the inaccuracies of older stopwatch methods.

In reality that lag / delay is caused by a combination of two things - the signal processing delay caused by the TFT electronics / scaler, and the response time of the pixels themselves. Most "input lag" measurements over the years have always been based on the overall display lag (signal processing + response time) and indeed the SMTT tool is based on this visual difference between a CRT and TFT and so measures the overall display lag. In practice the signal processing is the element which gives the feel of lag to the user, and the response time of course can impact blurring, and overall image quality in moving scenes. As people become more aware of lag as a possible issue, we are of course keen to try and understand the split between the two as much as possible to give a complete picture.

The signal processing element within that is quite hard to identify without extremely high end equipment and very complicated methods. In fact the studies by Thomas Thiemann which really kicked this whole thing off were based on equipment worth >100,000 Euro, requiring extremely high bandwidths and very complicated methods to trigger the correct behaviour and accurately measure the signal processing on its own. Other techniques which are being used since are not conducted by Thomas (he is a freelance writer) or based on this equipment or technique, and may also be subject to other errors or inaccuracies based on our conversations with him since. It's very hard as a result to produce a technique which will measure just the signal processing on its own unfortunately. Many measurement techniques from those trying to measure lag are also not explained and so it is important to try and get a picture from various sources if possible to make an informed judgement about a display overall.

For our tests we will continue to use the SMTT tool to measure the overall "display lag" which has been proven to be a reliable and accurate measurement tool. From there we can use our oscilloscope system to measure the response time across a wide range of grey to grey (G2G) transitions as recorded in our response time tests earlier in the review. Since SMTT will not include the full response time within its measurements, after speaking with Thomas further about the situation we will subtract half of the average G2G response time from the total display lag. This should allow us to give a good estimation of how much of the overall lag is attributable to the signal processing element on its own.

Lag Classification

To help in this section we will also introduce a broader classification system for these results to help categorise each screen as one of the following levels. We will now keep these classifications consistent regardless of the actual refresh rate of the screen being measured:

  • Class 1) Less than 8.33ms - the equivalent to 1 frame lag of a display at 120Hz refresh rate - should be fine for gamers, even at high levels

  • Class 2) A lag of 8.33 - 16.66ms - the equivalent of one to two frames at a 120Hz refresh rate - moderate lag but should be fine for many gamers. Caution advised for serious gaming

  • Class 3) A lag of more than 16.66ms - the equivalent of more than 2 frames at a refresh rate of 120Hz - Some noticeable lag in daily usage, not suitable for high end gaming

For the full reviews of the models compared here and the dates they were written (and when screens were approximately released to the market), please see our full reviews index.


Measurements in ms

Total Display Lag (SMTT 2)


Pixel Response Time Element


Estimated Signal Processing Lag


Lag Classification


 Class 1

We have provided a comparison above against other models we have tested to give an indication between screens. The screens tested are split into two measurements which are based on our overall display lag tests (using SMTT) and half the average G2G response time, as measured by the oscilloscope. The response time is split from the overall display lag and shown on the graph as the green bar. From there, the signal processing (red bar) can be provided as a good estimation.

The screen showed a total lag of only 7ms overall. With ~4.35ms of that accounted for by pixel response times, we can estimate a signal processing lag of approximately 2.65ms. This is next to nothing and should represent no problem for fast gaming. A pleasing result as often FreeSync screens can show higher lag levels.


Movies and Video

The following summarises the screens performance for videos and movie viewing:


Display Specs / Measurements



35" widescreen

Large for desktop display

Aspect Ratio


Can support wider screen content than common 16:9 which is useful for movies


3440 x 1440

Can support native 1080p content, but not quite Ultra HD natively which requires a higher vertical resolution of 2160.



Suitable for encrypted content


DisplayPort 1.4, 2x HDMI 2.0 and 1x USB type-C

Useful additional 2x HDMI input for external Blu-ray players or games consoles.


DisplayPort > Mini DP, and HDMI

Both provided in the box which is good news


Tilt, height

Useful to have tilt and height, but swivel adjustment might be missed if you're wanting to use the screen from a different viewing position than normal desk usage


Light Anti-glare

Provides clear, non-grainy image and avoids unwanted reflections of full glossy solutions

Brightness range

39 - 310 cd/m2

Good adjustment range offered. Flicker free backlight operation with no PWM


1747:1 after calibration

Strong contrast ratio thanks to VA panel, helping provide good clarity in shadow detail and darker content. A strength of this technology and easily surpassing other panel technologies.

Preset modes

'HDR' mode

No specific movie preset mode in the menu, but you can set one of the two 'custom' modes to your liking if you want something different to general or gaming uses. There is an HDR preset which "emulates" HDR (not really doing anything HDR-like) but could be used as your movie preset mode

Response times

8.7ms G2G, minimal overshoot at 100Hz, but 11.5ms at 60Hz

Response time behaviour varies depending on refresh rate. You will need to change to the 'Premium' AMA overdrive mode for optimal performance, including for 60Hz external devices. Reasonable overall although some dark transitions are still slow due to the VA panel and may result in some black smearing on certain transitions.

Viewing angles


Not as wide as IPS, and fairly typical for a VA panel. Free from the pale "IPS-glow" on dark content when viewed from an angle that you see on IPS panels although some uniformity issues become apparent from an angle on dark content

Backlight bleed

Poor (will vary)

Some fairly noticeable backlight clouding on our sample, pretty apparent in darker room conditions. Will vary from sample to sample.


Headphone out

No integrated speakers but there is a headphone output provided

Aspect Ratio Controls

Full, Aspect and 1:1

Good options to account for non-native aspect ratio inputs if needed which is useful as many are 16:9 and not the 21:9 of this display

PiP / PbP

Both available

Might be useful for some people

HDR support

No real support

Despite being heavily promoted as an HDR display, there is no real HDR support from this screen. There is no local dimming to support improvements in the dynamic range which is really the foundation of HDR in the first place. There is no increased peak brightness offered, being limited to around 300 cd/m2 maximum. The panel colour depth is also 8-bit and not the required 10-bit.

However, there is a modest boost in colour space thanks to the 115% sRGB / 85% DCI-P3 gamut offered at least from the backlight, although oddly this is one of the areas BenQ don't promote on their spec page! The screen has the necessary HDR-ready inputs, and can accept an HDR input signal, but there's no real benefits in terms of display output beyond a normal screen other than that slightly improved colour space.


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The EX3501R was a solid all round screen we felt in the ultrawide market. The VA panel delivered a good image quality with the usual high contrast ratio and deep blacks that you would expect from this panel technology. The 3440 x 1440 resolution and 35" screen size provided a really nice, comfortable desktop area for general office-type work and every day use, and the default setup was also fairly decent. It was also easy to make a few tweaks to the settings in the OSD to produce a good gamma, white point and colour setup without much fuss. BenQ's usual focus on eye care was of course welcome, with the flicker free backlight, large range of blue light filter settings and the pretty useful ambient light sensor as well.

If you look at the BenQ spec page and marketing material, the EX3501R is aimed at multimedia and HDR primarily, and to a lesser extent gaming. The display is pretty good for movies and video thanks to the ultrawide format, strong contrast ratio, decent enough viewing angles and good range of video inputs. However, advertising it primarily as an HDR display is a bit misleading. Yes, it can accept an HDR input signal, but it lacks nearly all the specs and features that produce an actual HDR output from the screen. There is no backlight local dimming of any type to actually extend the dynamic range -  a vital part of any display attempting to offer HDR. We guess you could say that the dynamic range produced by the panel is better than TN Film and IPS panels because of the higher default contrast ratio, but it's not offering anything beyond its static contrast ratio capabilities. The maximum brightness is only around 300 cd/m2, whereas HDR displays should be able to offer peak brightness up much higher than that for highlights in content. The panel also lacks the necessary 10-bit colour depth support for HDR content, being limited to only a traditional 8-bit depth. The only area where the EX3501R actually delivers something close to the HDR spec requirements is with the colour gamut, where we measured around 85% DCI-P3 coverage. Usually for HDR monitors this needs to be >90%, but it was still a boost above a typical sRGB screen and helped produce more vivid colours for HDR content. Oddly though, this was the one thing BenQ don't even talk about in their spec pages! There are the necessary video input connections to allow you to send an HDR signal to the display from compatible devices, but it's all pretty pointless as the screen isn't capable of really producing anything close to an HDR output experience.

HDR aside then, we found the gaming experience to be pretty decent on the screen. The response times were fairly typical for a VA panel with some problematic transitions from black to grey, and some black smearing on darker content as a result. However, the other response times were good and there was no real overshoot thankfully. The 100Hz native refresh rate helped improve motion clarity and gaming experience nicely compared with the wide range of 60Hz displays out there. Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) support for both AMD and NVIDIA systems (with relevant modern graphics cards) was welcome too, and the input lag was very low which was great news.

Overall if we ignore the fact it's clearly marketed as an HDR display when it can't live up to that claim, the EX3501R is a solid all rounder and performs nicely in a wide range of uses and applications. The EX3501R is available from most regions via Amazon and also from Overclockers in the UK (affiliate links).



Good all round performance from VA panel, with strong contrast ratio

HDR market position is misleading, no real HDR performance

Decent gaming experience with 100Hz refresh rate, VRR support, very low lag and decent enough response times

Missing swivel adjustment from the stand

Good size, resolution and format for general uses

Some slow response times leading to typical VA black smearing in some cases


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