BenQ EW3280U review: 4K 32 inch entertainment monitor
A closer look at one of BenQ's newest 32-inch 4K entertainment monitors
Over the years, we’ve tested some of the fastest gaming monitors the market has to offer. However, it isn’t all about speed. Some individuals prioritize immersion, colors, and viewing angles – qualities that the BenQ EW3280U has in abundance.
If you’re the sort of person that needs highly-accurate colors, extensive screen real-estate, and crisp 4K image clarity, this could be exactly what you’re looking for. The EW3280U delivers a fantastic viewing experience thanks to the32 inch IPS panel at its heart – offering a wide color gamut, OK HDR performance, and superb viewing angles.
Furthermore, thanks to the arrival of treVolo audio, the EW3280U also offers up a high-end audible experience – albeit lacking slightly in the bass department.
All being said, we’ll be putting the BenQ EW3280U to the test in a number of different scenarios to see how it stacks up against some of the market’s leading alternatives. We’ll be testing it for build quality, color accuracy, viewing angles, panel uniformity, and gaming. So, is this 32 inch 4K monitor from BenQ all it’s cracked up to be? Let’s see.
BenQ EW3280U: Specifications
- 4K Screen resolution
- Wide color gamut
- Decent color out of the box
- HDRi functionality
- Good viewing angles
- Only HDR400 certified
- Peak brightness is limited
- Poor stand ergonomics
- 5ms response time
What's in the box & construction
Like most modern panels, the EW3280U comes in a fairly rudimentary box that features marketing shots of the panel and its key features on the exterior. Inside, the monitor comes unassembled inside two large pieces of styrofoam padding. All cables and accessories are packaged in plastic bags around the outside of the styrofoam.
For assembly, a screwdriver is required after the construction of the toolless stand is complete. Two Phillips head screws attach the body of the stand to the rear of the panel – fixing it in place firmly.
Alongside the monitor and the stand, the following items can be found inside the box:
- BenQ EW3280U
- USB Type-C
- User manual
With specifications out the way, let’s take a closer look at the build quality, design, and mechanical features the BenQ EW3280U comes equipped with.
Straight away, you can tell this monitor hasn’t been designed for the hardcore gaming market. It offers up a simple design that still manages to look stylish regardless of its lack of features. Characterized by a near-boarderless design, the BenQ EW3280U certainly suits most workplace or home office environments. The bottom bezel is larger than the rest, featuring BenQ’s branding on the left and HDRi on the right – a cool feature that we’ll discuss in more detail later.
Moving to the rear and there really isn’t much to write home about. BenQ hasn’t equipped the EW3280U with any pointless RGB or cooling grills – instead, finding another small BenQ logo printed onto a speaker grill. The EW3280U offers excellent sound via treVolo audio, something we’ll discuss further down the article.
The stand comes equipped with a bronze color scheme that works well with the rest of the monitor’s design language. It’s square by design and holo allowing you to use it as a collector of sorts.
Overall, while there’s nothing overly exciting about this monitor, there’s nothing wrong with it either. It is simple, effective, and suits most scenarios nicely.
The build quality of the BenQ EW3280U felt pretty good if truth be told. However, as this monitor resides in the higher end of the price spectrum, you really wouldn’t expect anything less.
All the seams and fittings of this monitor feel nicely finished, with minimal gaps where dust and debris may have had a chance to build up. There were no creaks or obvious flexes when testing the monitor either, leading me to believe that decent materials were used throughout its construction.
Finally, while the stand didn’t offer a tonne of versatility in terms of functionality, it did feel pretty well made. It features a metal construction that is solid throughout.
This monitor features an anti-glare coating (in matte) with a 3H hardness, enabling it to mitigate both natural and manmade light sources to a decent level. Of course, this particular panel coating can pick up fingerprints fairly easily, however, a decent cleaning rag and solution will see to those in no time.
As for bezels, the BenQ offers a slender look thanks to 8mm bezels on the top and sides. With a screen of this size, the bezels are particularly slim – helping you to focus more intensely on movies or work. The bottom bezel is much larger than the top due to the treVolo sound system that this monitor utilizes.
The bottom bezel also features the BenQ logo and ‘HDRi’ – showcasing the monitor’s ability to actively change the intensity of HDR depending on the light conditions in your room.
As we mentioned earlier, the stand doesn’t offer a great deal as far as ergonomics go. That being said, it does offer tilt features that range from -5 – 15 degrees, respectively.
If you’re looking for great levels of adjustability, the EW3280U does offer VEAS wall mounting via 100 x 100mm holes at the rear.
While the BenQ EW3280U doesn’t offer a great deal in terms of inputs, it still provides enough versatility for most users. Users can expect 2 x HDMI 2.0, 1 x DisplayPort 1.4, 1 x USB Type-C, and a 3.5 mm audio input.
The OSD, or on screen display, for the EW3280U is fairly basic in terms of functionality but still offers a decent array of options for customizing the panel’s performance to your preference.
Unlike gaming monitors, the EW3280U doesn’t offer any features for changing the response time or refresh rate of this panel. As this isn’t a gaming-tailored panel, this lack of functionality is no real loss.
Inside the OSD you’ll find options for inputs, picture, color, audio, eye care, custom key, and system – giving you decent customization of the panel’s picture quality. While this monitor does come with a remote, the review model we received didn’t include one.
Color Accuracy & Picture Quality
Great colors and excellent picture quality are two of the most important factors that help create immersion when playing games or watching movies. Like all major display manufacturers, BenQ tries to provide excellent color alternatives via a number of different presets found in the OSD. We’ll be testing each for color accuracy in this section – followed by panel uniformity tests, a peak brightness test, and gamut volume measurements as well.
Here are the results for the BenQ EW3280U:
Like always, we started off the color accuracy testing portion of this review by loading up our colorimeter and running a test right out of the box. Below are the results:
|Preset||White Point||Black Depth||Contrast Ratio||Average ΔE*00||Gamma|
|Out the box||6583K||0.1182 cd/m²||1026:1||2.63||2.19|
Out of the box, the EW3280U offered average color accuracy. As you can see from the table above, we recorded a decent 6583K white point, mediocre 0.11cd/m2 black depth, and 1026:1 contrast ratio – marginally over the 1000:1 marketed specifications. Unfortunately, color accuracy wasn’t the best for this monitor, delivering an average deltaE of 2.63. That said, gamma was where we would expect it, hovering around the 2.2 mark.
We moved onto the Rec.709 emulation profile soon after, expecting a decent increase in general color accuracy. That seemed to be the case, with average deltaE scores improving to 1.66. Gamma stayed around the 2.2 mark and white balance, black depth, and contrast ratio were all similar to the ‘Standard’ preset.
Lastly, we ran a quick test using the M-Book preset. This was by far the least accurate color profile of the ones we tested, resulting in a 3.03 average deltaE. Furthermore, white balance, black depth, and contrast ratio all resulted in the worst scores. Gamma delivered a 2.43 result, giving the colors of the panel a richer, more saturated look.
We wasted no time and decided to calibrate the monitor to see just how accurate we could make it.
Here are the results:
|Preset||White Point||Black Depth||Contrast Ratio||Average ΔE*00||Maximum ΔE*00||Gamma|
|Calibrated Profile||6630K||0.1648 cd/m²||1005:1||0.27||1.11||2.2|
After calibration, the general color accuracy of the panel went up exponentially. Looking at the table above, you can clearly see how the average deltaE drops from around 1.66 (at its lowest) to an impressive 0.27. This is more than enough accuracy for the general content creators and editors – albeit with some tweaks required to the white balance and black depth required.
Again, you can see the gamma stayed true at 2.2, with contrast still above the marketed 1000:1.
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.
The panel uniformity of the BenQ EW3280U was pretty good overall. Looking at the graphic above, our uniformity tests resulted in no ‘red’ segments (areas that did not pass the tolerance levels for uniformity). This is extremely good for the uniformity of the panel, offering up a pleasant visual experience when playing games or watching content that features large blocks of solid color.
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:
The EW3280U delivered a wide color gamut that is more than enough to offer a true HDR experience. We measured a 151% sRGB gamut volume, equating to an impressive 99.7% coverage of the spectrum. Furthermore, we also recorded 96.5% of the DCI-P3 space and 86% Adobe RGB.
Looking at the physical gamut graph, you’re able to see where the BenQ EW3280U gamut extends past certain color spectrums. The sRGB graph is the most impressive, extending over a far greater area than sRGB itself.
Overall, the color gamut of this monitor was very impressive. It features the minimum requires for HDR and color accurate work – whether that be in the sRGB or DCI-P3 spectrums.
Maximum And Minimum Brightness
We ended the color accuracy and picture quality testing by checking the maximum brightness, minimum brightness, and 120 candelas points on this panel. For this particular test, we used a 30-40% window size.
The results are below:
|20 Brightness||120 cd/m²|
BenQ EW3280U: Performance
With color accuracy out of the way, it’s time to put the BenQ through a number of different performance tests to see how it stacks up in pixel response, input lag, overall responsiveness, and picture quality.
Remember, this monitor is not tailored towards gaming.
We wasted no time and threw the BenQ EW3280U through a number of different gaming scenarios to see what kind of experience it provided. We started by loading CS:GO – a competitive esports title that benefits from quick response times and fast refresh rates.
To no one’s surprise, the EW3280U didn’t perform to the highest level in this style of game. The visual experience was riddled with smear and ghosting (even when players were moving relatively slowly) – both of which were very apparent when dark objects came into contact with light backgrounds. Perceived blur was very bad when using this monitor in games that offered fast-moving objects, depicted perfectly by the Blur Buster UFO test that we’ll showcase later. Unfortunately, the 60Hz refresh rate didn’t do much for competitive titles either, resulting in the overall fluidity of gameplay being stuttered and janky.
Of course, all this was to be expected from a 60Hz 4K monitor with an average response time of around 5ms – so this won’t factor into our verdict too much.
In other news, we found that general content consumption and less response-dependent titles did offer a much better experience. The 4K screen resolution provided excellent picture quality, pairing nicely with the wide color gamut to deliver deep, rich colors. Speaking of which, we decided to fire up the HDR functionality of this monitor to see what benefits it offered. Of course, it’s worth mentioning that this monitor only features VESA DisplayHDR 400 certification – meaning it likely won’t be winning any awards for HDR. That said, we do have a 96% DCI-P3 color gamut which is more than the minimum color requirement for a true HDR experience.
All being said, I tried the EW3280U in HDR games and video with results being underwhelming. Overall, while we did experience increases in detail (over extremely dark and bright areas), it was nothing to write home about. Playing Shadow Of The Tomb was a prime example of a game that should benefit hugely from HDR but didn’t due to the lack of available peak brightness.
This feeling of mediocrity continued as we tested the panel in film, TV, and YouTube video. Despite that being the case, general content consumption was very enjoyable when using this monitor.
The large screen size and 4K UHD screen resolution also helped provide an excellent canvas for editors and multi-taskers. We were able to open up several applications and tabs with productivity benefitting when compared to smaller alternatives.
So, there you have it, our comprehensive guide to the BenQ EW3280U – the latest 32 inch 4K entertainment monitor from BenQ. The only question left to answer is whether or not this display showcases good value for money.
At the time of writing this, the EW3280U retails for around $799 – putting it in the higher end of the pricing spectrum. At this price, you’d have to say that it only really caters to a small portion of users – those that are interested in content creation or editing in 4K resolution.
That being said, I feel the BenQ Ew3280U falls a little when it comes to features and benefits – especially when compared to similarly priced alternatives. Granted, it does feature a larger 32 inch screen size and a wide color gamut, but for me, that’s not really enough to justify such a high price point. The Acer Nitro XV282K is a fine example of a similarly priced monitor that delivers a much greater experience – including HDMI 2.1 support, 144Hz refresh rate, and a low response time.
Overall, while the BenQ isn’t the worst monitor on the market, it’s by no means the best either. If you’re looking for a stylish 4K monitor with a wide color gamut and decent sound, the BenQ EW3280U is still worth considering.
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1 thought on “BenQ EW3280U review: 4K 32 inch entertainment monitor”
This is the best monitor I ever owned. Pre-ordered it online for a pricing error of $299 in Nov. ’19. Great color out of the box and even better after calibration. Looks great with SDR or HDR content. Now, I use a Dr. HDMI 4K EDID Manager to watch Dolby Vision content (needs several picture setting tweaks in menu, but worth it!) and 1080p 120Hz gaming. And the speakers are the best monitor speakers ever. Truly a great overall monitor.
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