If money and space are tight this new entry-level BenQ pro designer monitor can be strongly recommended
- Wide range of I/O ports
- Compact and easily adjustable
- Display is sharp, colourful and well calibrated
- Good value
- Maximum SDR brightness is a bit low
- Puny speakers
- Narrow AdobeRGB gamut
- No adaptive brightness
Monitors aimed at creatives with out-of-the-box calibration are not usually among the smaller or cheaper monitor options. BenQ is seeking to rectify that situation with its 25in PD2506Q, which offers pro specification levels for just £400 and will sit unobtrusively on even the smallest of desks.
BenQ’s professional creative monitors are divided into two categories: the SW series is aimed primarily at photographers and the PD series is targeted at the likes of graphic designers, video editors, VFX artists and animators. The PD series is subdivided into one range aimed primarily at Mac users and one for the rest of humanity. The key difference is support for Thunderbolt connectivity on the “for Mac” machines.
BenQ PD2506Q 25in review: What do you get for the money?
For £400 the basic specification is impressive: a 25in IPS 2,560 x 1,440 panel with a matte anti-glare screen and a brace of built-in 2.5W loudspeakers is just about the most that you could reasonably hope for. The panel refreshes at 60Hz and has a quoted 5ms G2G response time and a VESA DisplayHDR 400 certification. There’s no adaptive sync support here.
The spring-loaded stand can be extended by up to 110mm, while the mounting hinge can angle the display between 5 degrees forward to 20 degrees back and up to 30 degrees side to side. The panel can also be rotated 90 degrees clockwise into a portrait position.
You’re not left wanting for I/O ports, either. In the recess below the stand mount, you’ll find – reading right to left – DC-in, DP out (for MST daisy chaining), USB Type-C (supporting 65W Power Delivery, DisplayPort and data), DP 1.4 and HDMI 2.0 inputs, a Type-B USB for upstream data and two USB Type-A 3.2 Gen 1 ports. Look on the right side of the panel and you’ll find a second Type-C and a third Type-A along with a 3.5mm audio jack.
To make the most of all those ports the PD2506Q also supports KVM (Keyboard, Video, Mouse, a hardware switch that lets you control multiple devices from one or more peripherals) and ICCsync, which automatically matches colour profiles between laptops and monitors. Those features can all be managed using BenQ’s Display Pilot app, which has more handy features than you can shake a CAD-generated stick at.
In the box, you’ll find a Type-B to Type-A USB cable and Type-C DisplayPort cable alongside the expected HDMI lead and a 1.8m-long power cable. The power supply is built in so you don’t have to worry about tripping over a power brick.
BenQ PD2506Q 25in review: What does it do well?
BenQ has been canny in using a 25in 1440p panel rather than making it 27in 1440p or 25in 1080p, both of which are more likely options at this sort of price point. The difference between 117dpi, 108dpi and 88dpi may not sound like much on paper but on screen and even with the naked eye, you can tell the difference.
Despite the relatively small display, you can’t describe the new BenQ as light – indeed, it weighs 7.6kg all in – but it feels well made, with none of the squeaks and groans often associated with cheaper monitors. Thanks to some relatively narrow screen bezels – 8mm at the top and sides, 12mm at the bottom – it looks quite minimalist.
Assembling (or disassembling) the PD2506Q could hardly be simpler. The circular mounting pole attaches to the heavy (and, at 230 x 290mm, rather large) baseplate, and then you clip the display to the stand using the quick-release mount. It all takes no time and no tools. Usefully the quick-release mount conceals a 100 x 100mm VESA mount. In a similar vein, moving the display up and down on the stand is so easy that I was able to do it single-handedly without leaning forward in my chair.
The PD2506Q certainly doesn’t want for colour profiles, with sRGB, Display P3, DCI-P3 and Rec.709 all preloaded. You can also switch to M-book Mode, which replicates the native colour profile of Apple’s MacBook Pro machines, as well as Animation, CAD/CAM (which is optimised for use with Autodesk’s AutoCAD suite), Darkroom, DICOM, Low Blue Light and ePaper, the last being especially useful if you need to read text off the display for a prolonged period of time. Lastly, there’s a user profile if you want to set up something bespoke.
The display responds to HDR10 content in a basic way thanks to being VESA DisplayHDR 400 certified. For this sort of money, you simply won’t get a display with adequate HDR capabilities – that is, DisplayHDR 600 with local dimming – so there’s really no point knocking the BenQ for its rather workaday HDR performance.
Measuring with an i1 Display Studio colourimeter, I was able to get a maximum centre brightness of 460cd/m² in HDR mode. In SDR mode that dropped to 263cd/m². That’s a little on the low side for use in really brightly lit environments, though no worse than some of the competition; the similarly priced 27in 1440p Acer CB273U, for instance, maxed out at only a fractionally higher 268cd/m².
Brightness proved to be reasonably uniform around the panel, with only the upper left corner showing much divergence measuring 270cd/m² compared to 266cd/m², 266cd/m² and 268cd/m² in the other three corners moving clockwise.
BenQ has coated the display with a very effective anti-glare layer. This can be a real boon in office environments where desk positioning is often less than ideal. For a real-world test, I moved my desk around so the low winter sun was shining directly onto it through the window, and the image still looked vivid and reflection-free.
Turning to gamut coverage, the BenQ registered 99.4% sRGB, 83.9% DCI-P3 and 76.5% AdobeRGB, the last being just a little narrow. The Delta E colour accuracy measured against the default Display P3 colour space was a solid 1.42 (a figure that matched the 1.43 result on the factory calibration report in the box), while the 0.94 result in sRGB was very good. The variation of 2.1 against the DCI-P3 wasn’t too shabby, either. Despite the rather narrow AdobeRGB gamut, this BenQ is colourful and technically accurate enough for professional editing work out of the box. Incidentally, colour temperature can be adjusted between 5000K, 6500K (default) and 9300K, or you can set your own user-defined value.
Being a professional monitor it has certifications coming out of its ears, including a TÜV Certificate for Flicker-free and Low Blue Light performance, Solidworks (a professional display standard for CAD/CAM software users), Calman, Pantone and Pantone SkinTone validation.
BenQ PD2506Q 25in review: What could be better?
I was a little disappointed by the contrast ratio, which at 615:1 isn’t particularly impressive. This is due in part to the rather low maximum SDR brightness and in part to the level of black luminance, which at 0.43cd/m² is just a little on the high side. Despite the mediocre contrast ratio, the display still looks vibrant and colourful but blacks will appear slightly grey.
Whether or not you regard the 60Hz refresh rate as a handicap depends on whether you plan on doing any gaming on the BenQ. Of course, the PD2506Q is not being pitched as a gaming monitor and even the more expensive models in the PD range are limited to 60Hz, so I can’t really mark it down for this.
The 2.5W speakers are weak. They lack volume, emitting a quiet 67dB(A) from a pink noise source at 1m distance, and there’s precious little in the way of bass. If I had to say something nice about them it would be that they produce a detailed sound with good stereo separation, but to be honest I’d be happier if BenQ hadn’t bothered fitting them and knocked a few quid off the price.
The OSD (On Screen Display) is controlled by a joystick and a selection of push buttons at the rear of the screen on the right-hand side. The first button is a power button, but I’d rather this was positioned next to the power light below the display where it would be easier to reach. The joystick is just inboard from the power button and has a smooth and well-damped action that makes navigating through the menus very straightforward, but it’s a shame you can’t use BenQ’s clever Hotkey Puck on this model.
Inboard again from the joystick are two programmable buttons that can be set to scroll through three-item user-definable menus. By default, they let you skip between colour profiles and input sources. It’s a nice feature but, again, if these two buttons were below the display rather than behind it they would be a little easier to access. All this being said, navigating the menus on a BenQ monitor is easier than it is on some other makes I could mention.
One last feature that the PD2506Q lacks is adaptive brightness, which lowers the intensity of the backlight to match the ambient light in the room. That’s a feature you’ll find on BenQ’s budget monitors such as the GL2780, though of course that only has a FullHD TN panel which is why it’s so affordable.
BenQ PD2506Q 25in review: Should you buy it?
For professional and semi-professional design use, there’s no doubt that the new PD2506Q is a lot of monitor for your money. Using a 1440p panel with a 25in diagonal is an inspired choice because it makes the display sharper and the monitor smaller than the more obvious and common size/resolution options. Technically there’s very little to quibble about, though I would have preferred the maximum SDR brightness and thus the contrast ratio to have been higher, and a wider Adobe RGB colour gamut wouldn’t have gone amiss. The stereo speakers are verging on being a waste of space. That said, for £400 it’s excellent value for money.
BenQ PD2506Q – Specifications
|Panel resolution||2,560 x 1,440|
|Panel refresh rate||60Hz|
|Panel response time||5ms (G2G)|
|Adaptive Sync Support||No|
|HDR Support||HDR10, DisplayHDR 400|
|Ports||USB Type-A 3.2 Gen 1 x 3, USB Type-C x 2, USB Type-B 3.0 x 1, HDMI 2.0 x 1, DisplayPort 1.4 x 2, 3.5mm audio x 1|
|Other features||KVM, ICCSync|
|Stand ergonomics||30° swivel, 90° pivot, 25° tilt, 100mm height adjustment|
|Dimensions (with stand)||550.1 – 440.1 x 570 x 256.9mm|
|Weight (with stand)||7.6kg|