BenQ SW2700PT monitor review
BenQ SW2700PT monitor review
A high quality 27″ LCD Monitor
Keith looks at the new BenQ 27″ SW2700PT. This monitor is aimed at photographers like myself, who require a well specified monitor with a larger than normal gamut, but don’t really need all the additional precision and certification you get with one like the 24″ BenQ PG2401PT reviewed earlier this year.
I’ve been trying out the monitor on several of my Apple Mac systems, although it should be noted that the software is very similar on Windows PCs.
Nov 2015 – New software adds support for Spyder5 colorimeter
Oct 2015 – Mac Software V1.01 (10.11 support and bug fixes). Link also for latest Windows s/w
The monitor I’m looking at is a 27 inch 2560×1440 IPS LCD monitor. It has hardware 14 bit LUT (lookup table) for more precise calibration and a gamut approaching (99%) that of the Adobe98 colour space.
The headline specifications (from BenQ).
- 27 inches, 16:9, 2560x 1440, IPS technology
- 99% Adobe RGB coverage
- Colour accuracy through 10-bit processing IPS panel, 14-bit 3D LUT, and excellent ΔE ≤ 2
- Proprietary Palette Master Element calibration software
- Black & White mode
- Individually factory-tested colour calibration report included
- Input terminals include DVI-DL, HDMI, DisplayPort, USB 3.0, together with an SD card reader
- Comes with monitor anti-glare hood
The monitor being looked at was supplied by BenQ before the UK product launch, but is the model that ships.
The monitor comes well packed, but do note the markings on the box about how to remove the contents. It helps to have someone else hold the box whilst you remove the contents.
The first item is the monitor’s individual calibration certificate. It’s not as detailed as you get with the PG2401, but I don’t really care that much. Remember that I’m a working photographer and don’t do pre-press work or need to match my output to known calibration standards.
I’ll come back to looking at what you might need in the conclusions.
The monitor hood is in the first item removed from the larger box.
This just clips together and is attached to the edge of the monitor. It’s very simple to assemble, but just remember which side is which.
Next, remove the main packing
All the leads and parts are in this section.
This isn’t the time to scratch anything, so assemble the screen on a surface that won’t cause any damage.
The vertical part of the stand clicks firmly into place.
The base unit and on-screen display controller (round puck) are off to the left.
The base locks into place and is secured using the screw you can see. This is easy to tighten and needs no tools.
After attaching the base, I’ve clipped on the monitor hood.
You can see the handle at the top of the vertical post, at the back of the monitor. Use this to lift the monitor/stand.
There is also the little ‘hatch’ on top of the monitor, which opens for you to hang your monitor calibrator through.
Then a simple plugging in of the DisplayPort cable into my MacBook Pro, and it’s working.
It’s really taken just a few minutes to get it all assembled and working.
There is no software needed at all to get it working (on my Mac).
The monitor has a good range of inputs and other features.
I’m not a big fan of tall/thin displays (not since I tried a Radius Pivot many years ago), but I know some people find it really useful when working on long documents.
Connections at the back are more than adequate for use with my Mac Pro desktop machine.
See the specifications later for details.
USB3 is supported, along with an SD card reader – fine, but I use CF and SD cards, so I still have a fast card reader attached to the computer.
Do not press button 16 at the back…
To get the best from your monitor you need to calibrate and profile it.
However, to get the very best from the monitor, the profiling software needs to access internal monitor hardware, and for that you need the supplied Palette Master Element software.
The supplied software is installed as an application. This is the Mac version.
At the time of writing (Sept 2015) the supplied software did not run on Windows 10 (We only have Macs here, so no Windows related functionality was tested)
As you can see below, the software supports a wide range of measuring devices.
Most of my initial testing used the i1Display Pro device, but the others listed worked just fine.
I’m told that Spyder5 support will appear in a software update this year (2015) The only problem I found with any of the listed devices (all of them were tested), was with an old (Gretagmacbeth) i1Display 2, which was not recognised, nor any of the [not listed] ColorMunki products. Nov 2015: Spyder5 support added.
The monitor has a range of preset display modes, some of which also allow adjustment and setting (the ‘V’s below)
I’m going to be using one of the two calibration presets.
Having two options allows me to have a monitor set up for normal web use at 6500K and say 120 CD/m2, with a different setting matched more closely to my print viewing setup. This makes soft proofing easier, although you still need to take the usual precautions with regard to bright interface elements and other distractions that can throw things off.
There is a choice of monitor profile types – initial experiments suggested that the matrix setting worked well.
Custom settings allow for many different options.
You’ll note that many of the options are just the sorts of things you get with higher end monitors (such as the PG2401PT)
This is the ‘Advanced’ view – there is a simplified ‘Basic’ process as well
The number of targets (coloured patches) that the software will measure with the attached device can be varied.
More patches make for a better profile, but at the cost of a longer profiling time.
The software guides you through the calibration and profiling process.
The device (an i1Display Pro here) is placed in contact with the screen, with the cable running through the display hood top hatch.
The panel changes colour, and is measured by the sensor.
At this point it’s grey – you can see the measurement progress in the background, and the green bar.
After calibration you can see the results of the calibration (Advanced Mode)
Running a validation check gives these results (medium target size)
The software does not have checks for screen linearity and trend analysis (recording changes over time) but if you really wanted that you could always make use of functionality found in calibration software such as Spyder5 Elite
I get to try out many of these more advanced functions, and see how they work, when writing reviews, but if I’m honest, that’s the end of it. Essentially I’m after a good monitor and a calibration system that gets the best from it.
Setting up the monitor
One feature that initially struck me as a bit of a gimmick was the puck for accessing the on-screen display (OSD). I mean, how often do I really want to change my monitor setup?
It turns out that I’ve used it a bit more often than I thought I would (and not just for writing up this review).
Customising it allows me to have two calibrated modes easily to hand and leave a third set as ‘sRGB’ mode. This is by default, rather bright and with the smaller sRGB Gamut. It allows me to quickly see how much of the rest of the world may see my web pages (oh, and play Quake 3) B+W mode is not something I’d use, if I’ve already got my monitor well profiled.
My one concern about being able to switch screen modes like this is that my system monitor profile does not change, so I need to go into display preferences and change profile to that of the mode I’ve selected. This is on the Mac – Windows might be different, but I doubt it.
This is a very nicely built, high quality monitor. It was simple to assemble and run via both my laptop and main desktop computers.
Picture quality is excellent with good linearity across the screen, and no defects that I could find.
The display hood works very well, giving a very solid black around the screen when working, whilst the screen itself exhibits a good low reflectance.
Compared to an older monitor such as my (still going strong) Apple cinema display, the display is bright and crisp (~109ppi), whilst the wider near-Adobe98 gamut (99%) is great for finer gradations of colour.
My work is as a photographer, sending great looking digital images to clients and producing my own fine-art prints.
Sure, it’s nice using ultra precise monitors, such as many I’ve tested in the past, but my work ‘just’ needs ‘really good’, which the SW2700 reaches.
This monitor offers the big colour space I’m looking for, and the smoothness of the hardware LUT means I could detect no banding or posterisation in any of the images I’ve checked it with.
The diagram below (from BenQ) shows why internal calibration (via the LUT) can smooth the output from the screen. The unevenness at the left is corrected to some extent though profiling, but if you can tweak the actual hardware (as in the right), the profiling software needs to do far less work via a profile, and is likely to give superior results.
One slight downside of this is that (currently) you have to use custom software to make these adjustments, which means that if I still have my Apple Cinema display as a second monitor, I can use absolutely any profiling software I like for that display, but must use the BenQ software to get the best (setting the hardware LUT) from the SW2700.
All in all a monitor that’s great in the areas where I need it, without lots of (for me) needless functionality I’d not really want to pay more for.
27 inch 2560×1440 IPS LCD monitor. Hardware 14 bit LUT for more precise calibration.
|Pixel Pitch (mm)||0.2331|
|Brightness ( typ.)||350 cd/㎡|
|Native Contrast ( typ. )||1000:1|
|DCR (Dynamic Contrast Ratio) (typ.)||20M:1|
|Panel Type||AHVA (IPS)|
|Viewing Angle (L/R;U/D) (CR>=10)||178°/178°|
|Response Time(Tr+Tf) typ.||12ms, 5ms (GtG)|
|Display Colors||1.07 B|
|Colour Gamut||Adobe RGB 99%|
|USB Hub||USB 3.0 (Downstream x 2 (side), Upstream x1)|
|Power Supply (90~264 AC)||Built-in|
|Power Consumption (On mode)||65W|
|(Power saving mode)||0.5W|
|Power Consumption (Off mode)||0.3W|
|Power Consumption (Base on Energy star )||36.7W|
|Hor. Frequency (KHz)||30~89|
|Ver. Frequency (Hz)||50~76|
|Video Bandwidth (MHZ)||270|
Dimensions & Weight
|Dimensions ( H x W x D mm )||H:567 x 653x 323
L:445 x 653 x 323
|Net Weight (kg)||8.3kg (without hood)
9.17 kg (with shading hood)
|Gross Weight (kg)||11.88kg|
|Windows 7 Compatible||Yes|
|Windows 8 Compatible||Yes|
|Windows 8.1 Compatible||Yes|
|Colour Temperature||6500°K/ 5000°K/ 9300°K / User Mode|
|OSD Language||17 languages|
|VESA Wall Mounting||100x100mm|
|Swivel ( left / right )||35°/35°|
|Tilt ( down / up )||-3.5~20|
|High Adjustment (mm)||130mm|
|Energy Star 6.0||6|
|Signal Cable||DVI-DL/miniDP to DP/USB 3.0 (1.8m)|
|Other Features||Palette Master Element Software14 bits 3D LUT
Delta E≤2 (avg)
Black and White mode
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