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BenQ EW2880U review: An affordable all-purpose 4K monitor

Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
379
inc VAT

The BenQ EW2880U is a good-value 4K display, even if it isn’t the most accomplished all-rounder

Pros 
USB-C
Relatively cheap
Large, decent-quality panel
Cons 
No USB hub
Weak stand ergonomics
Could be better for gaming
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The BenQ EW2880U is touted as a multipurpose 4K monitor that sits comfortably at the intersection of work and play. It doesn’t matter if you’re updating spreadsheets, watching a film or enjoying your favourite game, BenQ says, the EW2880U will be up to the task. Better yet, you won’t need to dig too deep to afford it.

This is an ambitious undertaking. It’s uncommon to find a 4K monitor that you’d call a true jack-of-all-trades: sure, many 4K gaming monitors are also suitable for work, but these monitors tend to be expensive. The simple fact is that it’s difficult to create an all-rounder at a reasonable price without making a few significant sacrifices.

Ultimately, the BenQ EW2880U doesn’t quite break the mould, but that’s okay. Even if this isn’t the complete package, it’s still a thoroughly competent 4K monitor at a good price.

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BenQ EW2880U review: What do you get for the money?

The BenQ EW2880U cost £379 at the time of writing. For that, you’re getting a 28in IPS panel with a resolution of 3,840 x 2,160, a refresh rate of 60Hz, a response time of 5ms G2G and AMD FreeSync support.

The EW2880U also supports HDR10 decoding but has no official VESA DisplayHDR certification. What it does have is a dedicated button for enabling HDRi, which purportedly adjusts brightness, contrast and colour temperature in HDR to suit the ambient lighting in your room via a sensor embedded in a small black bar below the screen.

On the rear are two HDMI 2.0 ports, one DisplayPort 1.4 port, one upstream USB-C port capable of 60W power delivery and carrying a video signal, plus a 3.5mm headphone jack. BenQ’s marketing materials depict the EW2880U next to the PlayStation 5, but without HDMI 2.1 this monitor can’t make the most of your new console.

The stand offers 15 degrees of backwards tilt, 15 degrees of left and right swivel and 100mm of height adjustment. In the box, you’ll find a remote control for switching source and adjusting volume and image, alongside a power cable, an HDMI 2.0 cable and a USB-C to USB-C cable.

BenQ EW2880U review: What do we like about it?

The EW2880U is a sturdy thing, with minimal stand wobble and a design that doesn’t offend the eye. The leathery brown accents might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I rather like them.

It has a rather large “chin” of a bottom bezel that sticks out some way from the screen itself but it’s otherwise quite trim, measuring 81mm deep without the stand. Compared with the drab rectangular design of BenQ’s EL, GL and GW monitors, the EW2880U is positively attractive.

It’s always good to see a USB-C port on a modern monitor, especially one that aims to appeal to as many people as possible. I’m also fond of the remote control. Not only will it be a huge help for anyone who uses their PC as an entertainment centre but it also simplifies navigating the onscreen display and adjusting the volume. Speaking of which, I was pleased by how good the EW2880U’s twin 3W speakers sounded. They go loud and have more weight to them than most.

When I put it through its paces, the EW2880U generally performed well. Out of the box, it produced 114% of the sRGB colour gamut and 82% of the wider DCI-P3 colour gamut, the latter of which is a touch under BenQ’s claims but not at all disastrous for a 4K monitor at this price. It produced colours accurately, too; with an average Delta E of 1.46 in its default mode, the EW2880U is only mildly let down by some wonky red tones in sRGB.

Elsewhere, the EW2880U continued to deliver good results. Although colour temperature varies depending on the preset you choose, in its default mode the panel hovered at 6246K, which isn’t too far off the 6500K required for a neutral, natural white. The contrast ratio and brightness in SDR came out roughly as advertised, too, at 987:1 and 300cd/m² respectively.

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BenQ EW2880U review: What could be better?

That last set of results might be spot on for what BenQ is advertising, but they essentially eliminate any hopes you might have had for the EW2880U’s HDR performance. With HDR engaged I was only able to measure a peak luminance of 223cd/m² and a contrast ratio of around 800:1. As the monitor has no DisplayHDR certification, this is hardly surprising, but I mention it here to temper your expectations.

I was a little more surprised to note the lack of a USB hub for peripherals. Even two additional USB-A ports would have helped cement the EW2880U’s home office credentials. The combination of USB-A and USB-C on a monitor is particularly effective in an age of laptops that skimp on ports.

Similarly, I was a little bit disappointed by the EW2880U’s stand. I suspect BenQ has taken the “bare minimum” approach in order to mitigate the cost of the 4K panel, but even a tiny bit more vertical adjustability would have done the trick. I’ve reviewed monitors that cost much less and offer much more on this front. The 24in Philips 243B9H is a good example (£285).

My final gripe pertains to the monitor’s gaming performance. For a monitor that is clearly being advertised as a companion to your current- or next-gen console, the EW2880U falls short in a few key areas. The 60Hz refresh rate and 5ms G2G response time are hardly going to set gamers’ hearts aflame, and I discovered that even with BenQ’s Automatic Motion Accelerator (overdrive) switched off the EW2880U produces a surprising amount of ghosting.

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BenQ EW2880U review: Should you buy it?

I’ve been skirting a clichéd expression for some time now, but it’s become unavoidable: the BenQ EW2880U is a jack of all trades and a master of none. While this isn’t exactly a shocking revelation, it bothers me a little bit because this monitor is so close to nailing at least one of its chosen disciplines. More USB ports, better ergonomics, a more responsive panel: any one of these things would have nudged the BenQ EW2880U into recommended territory.

That’s not to say the monitor is without merit, however. Even if it does struggle under the burden of mass appeal, the EW2880U does one thing very well indeed. If you want a high-resolution screen at a relatively low price with a few nice extras thrown in, the EW2880U might be the monitor for you. Just don’t expect the world.

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