BenQ XL2420T review
Monitors designed specifically for gamers are rare, which isn't surprising as their key needs - fast response times and refresh rates, plus decent contrast - have long been the core ambitions of most manufacturers anyway. The new BenQ XL2420T covers all these bases, and tries to go one step beyond too. It has an overdrive circuit called Instant Mode that’s designed to reduce response times, it supports 120Hz refresh rates and it claims a contrast ratio of up to 12 million to one.
The XL2420T's contrast is quite good for a TN panel, but it isn’t as good as the IPS panels we've reviewed recently, which have a wider colour palette and can therefore display finer gradations of colour to improve contrast. The XL2420T also has a Dynamic Contrast option, but we left it turned off because it produced distracting changes in luminosity.
Overdrive is a method of sending more voltage to each LCD cell in order to force it to change state more quickly and therefore improve response times. TN panels already have great response times, and the human eye can't detect anything below 10ms, which makes it pointless on the XL2420T. In any case, we didn't notice any difference with overdrive turned on.
Its 120Hz refresh rate was impressive, however, and it's the main reason why gamers should consider the XL2420T. In Crysis, we noticed far less ghosting on straight edges as we moved past them, and everything seemed far smoother. It also lets the XL2420T work with Nvidia's 3D Vision technology, and if that's your thing BenQ has another model, the XL2420TX, which comes bundled with a pair of Nvidia's glasses and a USB transmitter.
Sadly, images display a sheen that smacks of over-processing, which isn't a surprise when you consider that the XL2420T has a Sharpening option. In our experience, any display with this option is suspect because it attempts to change the structure of the image itself and only ends up making it look compressed, like a poor digital camera shot.
The XL2420T's menu system is far more complex than most. We were excited to find a remote control panel for the menu that has a handy scroll wheel and three buttons to quickly access presets. The remote control is far easier to use than the unmarked, touch-sensitive buttons along the right edge of the screen, but it only speeds up operations so much.
Sadly, there are simply too many presets. In addition to the usual Movie and Photo options (which saturate colours far too much) there are two for first-person shooter (FPS) games and one for real-time strategy (RTS) games. There are also Standard, sRGB and Eco modes, with sRGB giving the best colour accuracy, although it’s a bit dark. There are also three configurable presets, which are marked Gamer1, Gamer2 and Gamer3.
Some presets disable image options such as brightness and contrast while leaving other options, such as Dynamic Contrast, available. The gaming modes play havoc with colour accuracy, but in games they actually work quite well, boosting the brightness of the colours in Crysis and giving it a much more sun-drenched feel.
There's much more to the XL2420T, such as its adjustable stand, the wide choice of inputs, the USB hub and the carrying handle built into its stand, but our overall impression was that while its 120Hz support is great for games, the image is too processed for photo work. For a TN panel, it has great contrast and colour accuracy, and gamers will love its smooth 120Hz support, but as an all-round monitor it feels too over-processed for us to recommend it whole-heartedly. The Viewsonic VX2336S-LED has impeccable image quality and costs less than half the price.
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