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BenQ EW3880R review: Too big to fail?

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £949
inc VAT

The BenQ EW3880R is a massive, capable ultrawide monitor, but it isn’t quite the perfect all-rounder


  • Decent speakers
  • Colourful, accurate panel
  • 38in form factor is great for productivity


  • Not for gamers
  • Surprisingly dim
  • Low contrast

The BenQ EW3880R is a high-end ultrawide monitor. It’s a 38in behemoth that leaves subtlety at the door, attempting to cover as many bases as humanly possible rather than settle for enticing a specific portion of the monitor-buying public.

This jack-of-all-trades approach is one that BenQ often employs and it has benefits – after all, no-one wants to have to sacrifice certain features and specifications in favour of others. In its attempt to deliver excellence in every category, however, has BenQ spread the EW3880R too thin?

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BenQ EW3880R review: What do you get for the money?

The BenQ EW3880R costs £949. That gets you a 38in ultrawide IPS monitor with a resolution of 3,840 x 1,600, a curvature of 2300R, a refresh rate of 60Hz, a quoted response time of 4ms, BenQ’s HDRi technology and support for HDR10 decoding. There’s no adaptive sync technology here.

On the rear you’ll find two USB-A 3.0 ports and a USB-C 3.0 port. The latter enables the USB hub, supplies up to 60W of power to the connected device and also carries a video signal. For further audiovisual duties there are two HDMI 2.0 and one DisplayPort 1.4 inputs plus a 3.5mm headphone jack. There’s also a stereo speaker system built in, comprising a pair of 3W tweeters and an 8W woofer.

The stand provides 120mm of height adjustment, 15 degrees of swivel left and right and 15 degrees of backwards tilt. And, in the box, you’ll find DP, USB-C and HDMI cables alongside the power cable (kettle lead) and documentation.

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BenQ EW3880R review: What does it do well?

As is the case with many of BenQ’s monitors, the EW3880R is a distinctive-looking thing. The matte brown panelling might not be to everyone’s taste, but I like it. As with LED lighting or other kinds of visually exciting decoration, it marks the EW3880R as distinct from your run-of-the-mill office monitor. The heft of this 38in, 13kg panel makes it exceptionally sturdy, too, with no stand wobble or obvious creaking when pressured.

As ever, I’m fond of BenQ’s commitment to entertainment. The speakers on the EW3880R are better than average, with plenty of volume and a small amount of bass. Paired with the excellent bundled infrared remote control, which makes navigating the OSD incredibly easy, the speakers and panel make this monitor a good choice for after-hours film/TV watching, particularly given the 21:9 aspect ratio.

Outside the realm of leisure, the EW3880R is well equipped and practical enough for office use. The USB-C port is the primary draw here. With 60W of power delivery, it will charge your connected Windows laptop or MacBook Air/Pro with no issues. I should note, however, that while BenQ’s website mentions Thunderbolt technology, this is a basic USB-C 3.0 port and it tops out at data transfer speeds of 5Gbits/sec.

The stand is ordinary by the standards of most ultrawide monitors but has ample height adjustment, which is crucial for keeping you in good posture. The sheer size of the monitor means you will be craning your neck a bit but, at the very least, viewing angles are good and the anti-glare coating and gentle curvature help banish reflections.

Performance-wise, this monitor’s panel is exuberantly colourful. Out of the box the EW3880R produced 131.4% of the sRGB colour gamut, which works out at 93.1% of DCI-P3 and 90.6% of Adobe RGB – pretty much on a par with BenQ’s claims. It’s reasonably accurate, too: in default mode, the EW3880R returned an average Delta E of 1.56 when tested against DCI-P3, with slightly wonky blues dragging the average up a bit. Regardless, these inaccuracies will be imperceptible, which leaves the EW3880R in a very good position indeed.

Anecdotally, this is a good monitor to work on. I’ve not tested many panels that offer such a huge amount of screen real estate and at a good, high resolution to boot. A pixel density of 109ppi keeps things looking sharp in spite of the EW3880R’s enormous wingspan.

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BenQ EW3880R review: What could be better?

It’s a real shame, then, that the EW3880R is bafflingly dim. I measured a peak brightness of just 210cd/m², which means it will be difficult to read in bright or direct sunlight. While this isn’t a deal-breaker – just keep this monitor in a darker corner of your office – I cannot fathom why a monitor with such an enormous, colourful panel would be hamstrung in this way. It also renders BenQ’s BI+ adaptive brightness technology ineffective, as you’re going to need maximum brightness in anything other than a very dim environment.

Similarly, this monitor’s contrast ratio leaves a lot to be desired. I measured a contrast of 876:1 out of the box, which is low by the standards of other IPS panels. Given the weak brightness I can’t help but feel that the vibrant panel is being let down by a mediocre backlight.

It’s also worth noting that this is not a monitor for gamers, no matter what BenQ’s marketing materials might say. With no adaptive sync to speak of and a comparatively low refresh rate of 60Hz, you’d be better served by something smaller, zippier and cheaper, such as LG’s Ultrawide Ergo (£520). In fairness, you’d need a mighty gaming rig to drive 3,840 x 1,600 at 60Hz anyway but, ultimately, there’s just not enough to recommend this monitor to gamers.

In addition, I’m not convinced that 2300R is enough of a curve for this whopper of a panel. I’d like something more dramatic to help keep all corners of the screen within comfortable viewing distance; as it stands, you’re going to be squinting a little at the far edges of the display.

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BenQ EW3880R review: Should you buy it?

The EW3880R carves a niche as a high-end ultrawide for work and media consumption but it doesn’t quite do enough to merit a recommendation. This is a seriously expensive product and, as such, I’d expect better performance and a stronger commitment to covering all bases.

The obvious alternative is LG’s Ultrawide 38WN95C (£1,131). This is a monitor with near identical specifications, a superior panel, better gaming credentials and a USB-C port with 94W power delivery and Thunderbolt 3 compatibility. It’s more expensive than the EW3880R by a good £300, but if you want a big 38in screen with no compromises, it’s your best bet.

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