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BenQ SW2700PT monitor review

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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.

See Keith’s full BenQ monitor reviews and articles index for more info.

hood fitted

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.

Software updates – [newer link]
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
Apr 2019 – Mac Software V1.3.4 supports ColorMunki Photo and i1Studio.

A new monitor

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.

Buying the SW2700PT Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | B&H

What do you get

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.

instructions to follow

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.

calibration certificate

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.

parts for monitor hood

Next, remove the main packing

main display packing

All the leads and parts are in this section.

leads and CDs

This isn’t the time to scratch anything, so assemble the screen on a surface that won’t cause any damage.

27" screen

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.

rear part of stand

The base locks into place and is secured using the screw you can see. This is easy to tighten and needs no tools.

attaching monitor base unit

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.

monitor hood fitted

Then a simple plugging in of the DisplayPort cable into my MacBook Pro, and it’s working.

monitor attached to MacBook Pro

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).

Buying the SW2700PT Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | B&H

Monitor features

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.

tilting and shifting display orientations

Connections at the back are more than adequate for use with my Mac Pro desktop machine.

See the specifications later for details.

monitor connections

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.

usb3 sockets and SD card slot

Do not press button 16 at the back…

stand and side connections

Using the Palette Master Element software

To get the best from your monitor you need to calibrate and profile it.

The monitor worked just fine with several profiling tools, including my i1Display Pro and Spyder 5 Elite

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.

install element software

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.

software setup for calibrator device

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.

Update Apr 2019: The current list of devices is expanded

supported devices

The monitor has a range of preset display modes, some of which also allow adjustment and setting (the ‘V’s below)

different display modes

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.

choosing a calibration preset

There is a choice of monitor profile types – initial experiments suggested that the matrix setting worked well.

profile type

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

custom monitor setting

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.

choosing number of profiling patches

The software guides you through the calibration and profiling process.

setting up profiling

The device (an i1Display Pro here) is placed in contact with the screen, with the cable running through the display hood top hatch.

place calibrator on screen

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.

measurements underway

After calibration you can see the results of the calibration (Advanced Mode)

calibration report

Running a validation check gives these results (medium target size)

profile validation results

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?

osd control options

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.

Conclusions

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.

hardware profile adjustment

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.

Summary

27 inch 2560×1440 IPS LCD monitor. Hardware 14 bit LUT for more precise calibration.

Buying the SW2700PT Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | B&H

Specifications – from BenQ
Display
LCD Size 27
Aspect Ratio 16:9
Resolution (max.) 2560×1440
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
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
Special Features
Windows 7 Compatible Yes
Flicker-free Technology Yes
Windows 8 Compatible Yes
Windows 8.1 Compatible Yes
HDCP 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
K Locker Yes
Regulations
Energy Star 6.0 6
Included Accessories
Signal Cable DVI-DL/miniDP to DP/USB 3.0 (1.8m)
Other Features
Other Features Palette Master Element Software14 bits 3D LUT

HW calibration

Delta E≤2 (avg)

Black and White mode

Black Level

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16 Comments
  • Steve Hughes | Aug 2, 2019 at 12:32 pm

    A bit [very] late to the party but I think this is the monitor for me. Having looked at reviews, including your one for the SW271 I’ve concluded that I don’t need the 4K side of things and can save the money for other things. The one thing that has me confused is that there appears to be two versions of this monitor still on sale. One is that which you have reviewed here [LCD] the other is a LED version. Any opinion on if the difference should be a consideration? I know that LED appears to have replaced LCD technology, but I don’t have the background to understand the difference for monitors at this end of the spectrum [no pun intended]. Now, I do know the difference with regards CRT [remember those].

  • albert | Aug 2, 2019 at 12:33 pm

    Great review Keith! Just wondering which macbook pro you are using to connect to monitor sw2700pt? because i am planning to buy one, but not sure whether my macbook pro mid 2012 15″ non retina (os high sierra) will compatible with this monitor.. Thank you in advance

  • Jonathan Maloney | Jul 20, 2017 at 5:51 am

    I had the exact same issue with the SW2700PT I purchased about two months ago. After a couple of weeks (outside of the store return policy window) the colour shift (same as yours Catalin) was noticeably visible, enough to make numerous phone calls to BenQ Hong Kong. After they picked up the monitor, it took them another 3 weeks to process the repair with the end result that they refunded the entire purchase. I was perfectly happy to receive a replacement unit but the senior engineer at BenQ advised that it was not in BenQ (Hong Kong at least)’s policy to exchange the new SW2700PT units and that only refunds would be offered.

    My end result now is that I am now using an EIZO CS2730 with absolutely zero complaints. It’s the upgrade to the CG222W I was using previously that should have been made in the first place. It was almost double the price of the BenQ but I have absolutely no concerns about EIZO’s customer or warranty service and certainly any hardware concerns have been completely dispelled again.

  • Sascha Morard | Mar 5, 2017 at 11:44 am

    Hi,

    I’m a bit lost with the Adobe RGB and sRGB mode on this screen.

    It seems that everything is about Adobe RGB (calibration,…) but now let’s say I’m only editing for the Web (a few of my favorites only will be printed).

    Which mode should I choose ? Indeed, before buying this monitor, I edited most of my images on a laptop calibrated with a spider 5. Now when I display those same images on this BenQ monitor after calibration (D65, 120cd,…) in Adobe RGB, the images look oversaturated, too contrasty,… but look “normal” when I switch the monitor to sRGB mode.

    So my question is, if I’m “only” editing for the Web, shouldn’t I just leave the screen on sRGB preset (as I can’t calibrate the monitor in sRGB (another thing I don’t understand as a lot of people edit for web)).

    If yes, why is everybody so concerned by a wide gamut Adobe RGB 98 as, anyway when you export them to sRGB, colors will look dull if you’ve been editing them in Adobe RGB ? Are all these people buying a wide gamut monitor in the purpose of printing?

    If somebody could answer this question I would be very grateful as it’s extremely frustrating to invest in a monitor and then realize that all old images look terrible with the “best settings” and look “normal” with settings that a “basic” monitor will render.

    Thanks a lot guys, have a lovely day.

    • Keith Cooper | Mar 6, 2017 at 8:00 pm

      It’s an interesting set of choices with such a large gamut monitor. It partly depends on what you use to edit and then view the images. If I work in Photoshop with my PS working space set to sRGB, then my images (saved with profile) look fine, viewing them subsequently in a colour managed application. Taking images that don’t have a profile (but are in sRGB) will indeed look overly colourful if I’m in normal wide gamut mode. Now this happens very rarely on my Mac (you don’t mention any software or what system mac/win is used for viewing/editing) and it’s effectively just not an issue.

      I do sometimes switch to sRGB mode to see stuff on different browsers and files with/without profiles, but not very often.

      I much prefer to edit in a wide gamut space, since Photoshop shows my sRGB images (as sRGB) just fine – It’s also much easier handling potential image clipping when processing RAW camera files (it’s why I use the even bigger ProPhoto space for some things).

      If you only do web stuff, go for a bigger and better sRGB monitor – this is especially so if your using not using colour managed software (absolute guaranteed problems and unpredicted results if you use a wide gamut monitor much)

      See also my recent SW320 review (it’s also wide gamut) If you look at the reviews I’ve written here, you’ll see that I do a lot of print and web work.

      • Morard Sascha | Mar 9, 2017 at 11:10 pm

        Hi,

        Trying to answer since two days now, but my “long” answer is blocked as spam all the time.

        Some idea ? Can you manually unspam ?

        thanks

        • Keith Cooper | Mar 10, 2017 at 12:15 am

          email me – there is only me here doing all the articles/ reviews :-)

          I have no control over what Disqus does with comments, but it does do an excellent job in keeping stuff I don’t want out of the comments!

        • Keith Cooper | Mar 10, 2017 at 11:13 am

          Any northlight email comes through my inbox :-)

  • Chris Rioux | Jan 24, 2017 at 2:07 am

    I had the exact same issue. It seems to me that the “White” LED power light indicator on outside of the monitor must be “bleeding” into the screen, causing the color shift (since white LED’s are actuallly slightly blue/magenta).

  • GFS | Jan 14, 2017 at 1:18 pm

    Somewhat late to the discussion, but I bought this monitor a month or so ago and am extremely happy with it. It is replacing an HP Dreamcolor LP2480zx, which in theory was great, but which had serious uniformity issues and decided over time to go increasingly pink. Calibration fixed this, but it couldn’t fix the monitor’s fading brightness.

    I specifically wanted to ask how you have gotten on with the conundrum of the monitor’s own OSD colour space/profile setting, combined with the Mac’s System Preferences setting? Have you been able to work out what happens, or perhaps you’ve asked BenQ what happens on a Mac? I guess since Windows has only just started to think about colour management, it’s less of an issue on that platform?

    • GFS | Jan 14, 2017 at 1:18 pm

      Aaah. Can ignore my support email. I’ve solved why I couldn’t post

    • kacoooper | Jan 14, 2017 at 2:06 pm

      I created two custom calibrations, one at 6500 and one at 5500 for print work. I know that D50 is suggested for proofing, but I still find it too warm, and I don’t work in colour critical proofing.

      Although I have multiple calibrations via the monitor, I found that I only tended to use the 6500 most of the time. To switch (and make use of the hardware calibration) you need to switch the monitor and via the system prefs. The system needs the correct profile, even if you have a hardware calibrated monitor.

      I shall be looking at this again, since I’ve just got the new SW320 to look at

      • GFS | Jan 15, 2017 at 5:51 pm

        What confuses me on the Mac is that you have to switch spaces on both the Mac and the monitor. I suppose this is because there is no driver on the Mac, whereas on Windows there is, so perhaps there it will switch the OS space for you? It would be useful if they explained this in the manual. I think there will be many people who think they can switch via the OSD, whereas goodness knows what’s going on as you’re working with 2 separate profile inputs. I love the idea of the OSD control, but it seems half baked for the Mac.

        I’d be interested to know what BenQ say about this, if you get the chance to push the point in your next review.

        Regarding D50 for proofing … surely it depends on final viewing conditions. D50 is a compromise, but as we know, daylight can be many things as can artificial light. If you can’t work to those specifically, then a general compromise is the best you can do. I think D55 or even D60 is fine. Personally, I’m even printing D65 for interior display with mixed lighting and it seems fine to me. If you’re going to repro, then best to let the repro house decide. Just my 2p’s worth. :)

        • kacoooper | Jan 15, 2017 at 6:05 pm

          Just tried the multiple calibrations and the SW320 needs the same switching – it would be nice if all I had to do was switch the system current profile and the monitor changed its own setting – I’ll enquire…

          There are drivers on the Mac – they are just never exposed the way it’s been needed over the years in Windows (my last use of windows barely even supported dual monitors though)

          D50 is I believe specified in some ISO standards, so that sort of thing matters to some people far more than it does to us ;-)

          • GFS | Jan 15, 2017 at 6:40 pm

            Indeed, the standard is well understood. The point though, is how it ‘looks’ when you look at it with your eyes. Not all people see the same thing … so how useful is a standard? :)

          • kacoooper | Jan 15, 2017 at 7:43 pm

            It depends on how much your business relies on adherence to standards as part of its QA and QC strategy – fortunately my aim is to produce good looking prints rather than tick marketing boxes ;-) YMMV…

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