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BenQ ZOWIE XL2720 review: A 1080p, 144Hz monitor made for eSports

Christopher Minasians
22 May 2017
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
370
inc VAT

Competitive gaming requires an extremely fast monitor, and the BenQ ZOWIE XL2720 delivers just that

Pros 
Low input lag
Fast response time
Excellent colours for a TN panel
Cons 
Expensive 1080p monitor
No AMD FreeSync or Nvidia G-Sync support
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Full HD monitors have come a long way in the eSports scene. It used to be that you needed the most responsive monitor with the highest refresh rate. These days, with the prevalence of colour accurate IPS monitors and new technologies such as that found in Samsung’s Quantum Dot panels, competitive gamers are demanding more. Step forward the BenQ ZOWIE XL2720, a 144Hz 27in monitor aimed at competitive gamers, that aims to bridge the divide between performance and image quality.

BenQ ZOWIE XL2720 review: What you need to know

With a lot of competition in this space, I’d be inclined to recommend other monitors for those into gaming in a more casual sense, however there’s no denying that the Zowie is well-suited for competitive gamers in the eSports scene. It has a low input lag and a fast response time, which combine to make the monitor an excellent choice for first person shooters.

Despite its colour accuracy being below average, the TN panel still looks fantastic in both graphically intense games and movies. It’s a great gaming monitor, but overshadowed by its high price tag.

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BenQ ZOWIE XL2720 review: Price and competition

The 27in BenQ ZOWIE XL2720 can be found for £370 on Amazon while the smaller 24in variant, the XL2430 costs £340. Competition is fierce in the 144Hz 1080p monitor space, though, with the AOC G2770PF coming in considerably cheaper at £284 and the Samsung C27FG70 at touch more at £415 both of which offer AMD FreeSync technology. The Samsung in particular, offers magnificent colour accuracy through its Quantum Dot panel. In fact, you can find the 24in variant (the C24FG70) for £300.

BenQ ZOWIE XL2720 review: Features, design and build quality

The BenQ doesn’t make the greatest of first impressions, with thick  bezels surrounding the screen and a rather ugly looking plasticky stand. That stand is sturdy, however, and gives you the ability to pivot (by 90°), tilt (by -5 to 20°) and height adjust (by 140mm) the monitor’s positioning. Around the back of the monitor there’s an arm for your headphones, and a handle for you to carry the monitor around the back of the monitor.

A handy remote control pod, named the S Switch, is also included in the package. This small box, which connects to the monitor through a proprietary cable, allows you to cycle quickly through preset profiles and access the OSD without having to reach out and fiddle with awkward, bezel-mounted buttons. It’s a fantastic addition, makes settings much easier to play around with compared with most monitors and, when you don’t need it, it can be snapped magnetically to the right or left side of the monitor’s stand. Neat.

The OSD itself has a lot of options within it, including a colour temperature adjustment and a blue light filter mode, plus you can set up three user profiles and adjust the audio volume. Note there are no internal speakers but you can use the monitor as a pass-through for audio through its 3.5mm headphone jack.

As for video connectivity, that’s pretty comprehensive with VGA, DVI, 2 x HDMI 1.4 and DisplayPort 1.2 port to choose from. There’s also a three-port USB 2.0 hub – handy for connecting flash drives, your keyboard and mouse or simply charging your smartphone.

It’s a pretty comprehensive list of features, with one key omission. As mentioned above, you don’t get AMD FreeSync or Nvidia G-Sync support, which hinders the monitor’s performance in graphically intense games, as tearing does occur.

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BenQ ZOWIE XL2720 review: Image quality

This Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) 27in monitor employs TN panel, which is not a technology associated for its colour reproduction and vibrant look. That’s certainly the case with the BenQ Zowie, but it is better than your average TN display.

To test picture quality, I used the  X-Rite i1 Display Pro calibrator and the free DisplayCAL software. With the monitor set to its sRGB preset it’s able to achieve a maximum brightness of 315cd/m² and a contrast ratio of 985:1, both of which are lower than most IPS/PLS or VA panels tend to achieve but above average for a TN panel.

As for colour accuracy, that’s a lot less impressive. Its average Delta E of 2.9 (the closer to zeros the better) lags a long way behind most monitors I’ve tested recently, and in particular red, blue, yellow and orange were vastly off the target. Its sRGB colour gamut coverage of 92.3% means that colours don’t look too dull, but I’d be wary of recommending the Zowie for any kind of professional photo or video editing.

Despite these low scores, though, I’m not one to solely base a monitor’s performance on numbers, as they don’t always depict what the eye wants to see. When flicking through my regular test images I found the monitor surprisingly good at reproducing vibrant colours that aren’t overly saturated or washed out. In fact, I’d class it as one of the best TN-based monitors I’ve seen in this regard and, by comparison, it outclasses the AOC G2770PF, by a distance.

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BenQ ZOWIE XL2720 review: Gaming performance

The key selling point for this monitor is its gaming performance. Aimed at eSports gamers and those who want an insanely fast monitor, the XL2720 does not disappoint in the slightest.

Set to 144Hz at 1080p, with its AMA (Advanced Motion Accelerator) option set to Premium and Instant Mode enabled, the monitor excels. AMA boosts the panel’s response time to 1ms G2G, and Instant Mode reduces the input lag. In particular, I was surprised by the minimal overshoot (inverse ghosting) that occurs with Premium AMA and the low input lag from my mouse.

Compared with other monitors I found it to have a slight edge over the Samsung C24FG70, a smaller 24in monitor that costs around the same amount as the Zowie.

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BenQ ZOWIE XL2720 review: Verdict

The XL2720 is a great gaming monitor that is aimed at the extremely competitive gamer. If you’re looking to shave down a few milliseconds off your panel’s response time, or want a monitor that’ll accurately reproduce your mouse movements, the XL2720 is the way to go.

However, for the vast majority of gamers, who aren’t that obsessive, there are more sensible options. For a little more you can pick up an AOC AGON AG271QX for £414, a 1440p monitor with AMD FreeSync technology; while the 24in Samsung C24FG70 almost matches it for performance and offers far better image quality, while the 27in AOC G2770PF is far cheaper.