BenQ SW2700PT monitor
A competitively-priced monitor with high pixel density, selectable colour modes, adjustable brightness levels, multiple inputs and outputs and support for hardware calibration.
The BenQ SW2700PT monitor is easy to assemble and doesn’t take up too much space on an average desktop. The controls are well set up and easy to access and fine-tune and the adjustments are wide enough to cover most potential users’ requirements.
The screen itself is bright without being glaring and the brightness level is very easy to modify to suit personal preferences. Our review monitor displayed image colours with a natural balance without over-saturating any hue.
There’s nothing to complain about when it comes to build quality and ease of use and the shading hood is a genuine bonus at this monitor’s price point.
The last time we looked at a BenQ monitor was when we reviewed the PG2401PT 24-inch model in September 2014. More people are opting for larger screens these days, with 27-inch models providing a good compromise between having enough screen real estate and a unit that fits on the average desktop. Like the PG2401PT, the SW2700PT we received for this review is designed for colour-critical work and boasts coverage of 99% of the Adobe RGB colour space.
Angled view of the BenQ SW2700PT monitor. (Source: BenQ.)
The SW2700PT received the TIPA Award for the Best Photo Monitor in 2016. It was commended for its: ‘IPS technology and 99% Adobe RGB colour space coverage, as well as a brightness level of 350 lux and high contrast for rendering deep blacks. The monitor’s other remarkable assets include inputs and outputs such as Display Port, DVI and HDMI, with USB 3.0 ports, SD card reader and a unique OSD controller. BenQ SW2700PT can be hardware colour calibrated which is essential for serious photo retouchers and graphic designers alike. Last but not least, a detachable hood underlines the professional attributes of this affordable but in essence high-end monitor‘.
That list includes a lot of genuine advantages and the BenQ SW2700PT’s price tag is well below the price of the equivalent EIZO monitor (the CS2730), which is listed at AU$1980 (RRP). Both screens are the same size and have the same specifications for resolution, brightness, contrast and viewing angles. The Eizo’s look-up table is 16-bit, whereas the BenQ’s is 14-bit but the BenQ has a five millisecond grey-to-grey response time, while the Eizo’s is 10 milliseconds.
The last time we reviewed an award-winning monitor was the LG IPS ColourPrime 27EA83, which we tested in June 2013. Although it was capable of displaying 100% of both the sRGB and Adobe RGB colour spaces, that screen lacked the colour accuracy and tonal response needed for accurate image editing.
Who’s it for?
Going on specifications alone, the SW2700PT should suit photographers who are interested in printing their images. It leaves the factory fully calibrated and comes with a unit-specific calibration report ““ although that report doesn’t provide a lot of useful information.
The SW2700PT is supplied with everything you need except a calibrator and an HDMI cable (although the latter isn’t actually necessary). Unfortunately, the printed Quick Start Guide in the box only provides very basic set-up instructions so we recommend visiting the product’s support page and downloading the detailed instruction manual at the same time as you download the Palette Master Element software user guide.
The screen and stand are packaged separately in Styrofoam and the stand must be connected to the screen before the base is attached. A bayonet fitting attaches the stand to the base and it’s locked in with a thumbscrew. This is all very simple to accomplish.
Most users will connect to the screen via the DVI cable, which plugs into the monitor’s video socket. The USB connection is via a standard B plug, which fits into the upstream USB port on the back of the screen.
Angled rear view of the SW2700PT monitor. (Source: BenQ.)
Two additional USB downstream ports are located in the left hand side panel, where they sit above a slot that can accept SD, MMC or Memory Stick media. The top USB port is recommended for connecting a calibrator to the monitor, while the lower one will be free to accept USB thumb drives or other media.
The screen has an integrated power supply, which connects to the mains via a standard IEC C13 connector, which is supplied. An OSD (on-screen display) is also provided as part of the package, along with a detachable monitor hood.
The OSD controller connects to the screen via a mini-USB plug located next to the headphone jack on the back of the panel. It has four keys for selecting the various display menus and swapping between menus. Pressing the controller keys will give you direct access to the Adobe RGB, sRGB and B+W screen modes, with the last key exiting the OSD.
The hood comes in five pieces and you’re required to connect the left side and top pieces before installing them on the screen, followed by the right side pieces. The final piece of the hood sits on the top and connects the left and right sides of the hood. It has a hatch with a sliding cover to allow a calibrator to be passed through.
This is a very convenient arrangement and having a slot for the calibrator is really convenient. However, personally, we prefer the Eizo solution of having magnetic strips for holding the hood in position, even though you’re forced to lift the hood to pass the calibrator through.
We found it relatively easy to fit the left side part of the hood because you have the USB/card port assembly to act as a guide. But there’s no guide to help you clip on the right side of the hood ““ and the process can be tricky.
Once installed, the hood seems to stay in place and even though the hatch is a tightish fit for the Spyder5 colorimeter, it’s easy to keep the colorimeter in place by closing the hatch enough to trap the colorimeter’s cord. This provides welcome relief from having to hold the device in place while measurements are taken.
Design and Ergonomics
Design-wise, the SW2700PT is similar to the PG2401PT, with a narrow bezel that is 20 mm wide at the top and sides and 25 mm wide along the bottom of the screen. The screen itself is slim enough to be mounted on a wall using an optional mounting plate. It can also be rotated through 90 degrees clockwise into a ‘portrait’ position or tilted forward through 3.5 degrees or backward through 20 degrees. It can be swivelled through 35 degrees to the left or the right and its height is adjustable through 130 mm.
The monitor can be rotated through 90 degrees when mounted on the supplied stand. (Source: BenQ.)
Like the PG2401PT, the SW2700PT has two built-in USB 3.0 ports on the left hand side panel, plus a card reader slot that supports all regular-sized varieties of SD, MMC and Memory Stick cards. The main button controls, which consist of four control buttons plus a power button, are located on the underside of the bezel on the right hand end of the screen. They are very easy to locate and the pull-up menus they open are logical and easy to use.
All the interface inputs are situated on the lower edge of a moulding on the rear of the screen. Reading from the left with the screen facing away from you, you’ll find the AC power-in jack, OSD controller jack, headphone jack, DVI-D socket, HDMI socket, DisplayPort socket, a USB upstream port for connecting the monitor to a computer and a Kensington lock slot.
There’s a handle slot in the top of the stand to make the monitor easy to move around plus a vertical scale to help you keep track of height adjustments. However, the light sensor on the bottom bezel of the PG2401PT is not included so you have to adjust the backlight manually via the Colour Adjustment > Brightness setting in the menu.
While most adjustments can be achieved via the OSD controller, we found it simpler to use the buttons under the bottom bezel, which are easily located by touch. When changing settings, you can move by one step in either the positive or negative direction by selecting the relevant arrow and then tapping the button. One tap changes the setting by one level, while holding the button down scrolls through the settings at a moderate pace.
In the two Calibration modes, you can save calibration results, which can be a time-saver when switching between different calibration targets. The Custom Mode can be employed for additional colour adjustments.
The SW2700PT features an AHVA-IPS panel that can display more than one billion colours and uses LED backlighting to provide even illumination. It includes 14-bit processing capability, with a 14-bit 3D Look Up Table (LUT) for accurate RGB colour blending.
The on-screen menus provide scope for adjusting many parameters. You can tweak the backlight manually via the Color Adjustment > Brightness setting, which ranges from 0 to 100 steps. The Color Adjustment menu also provides settings for fine-tuning the Colour Mode, Contrast, Sharpness, Colour Temperature, Gamma, Colour Gamut and Hue.
Factory calibrated preset viewing modes include Standard, Adobe RGB, sRGB, B+W, Rec.709, DCI-P3, Photo and a Low Blue Light mode that decreases the blue content of the light to protect viewers’ eyes while the screen is being used for normal office tasks, web surfing or viewing multimedia files. There are also two Calibration mode where users can apply and save calibration settings and switch between different calibrations. Two Custom modes enable users’ settings to be applied for precise colour tuning.
The Rec. 709 and DCI-P3 settings are interesting because they target different end uses. Rec. 709 is the standard colour space for HDTV displays. It has a similar colour space to sRGB but slightly lower gamma (contrast). It would be a good option to use when editing images and videos that will be displayed on widescreen HDTV sets.
DCI-P3, or DCI/P3, is a common RGB color space for digital movie projection. Like Adobe RGB, it is slightly larger than sRGB but it extends a little more into yellows and reds, whereas Adobe RGB extends more into blues and greens.
DCI-P3 is supported by the display screens on a lot of portable devices, including Apple’s 2015 iMac desktop with Retina 5K display, 9.7-inch iPad Pro, iPhone 7, iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, iPhone 8 and 8 Plus and MacBook Pro; Microsoft’s Surface Studio desktop, Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+, Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL and the OnePlus 5 smartphone. So if your edited images are destined for display on one of these devices, using this setting could be advantageous.
For image editing, both Adobe RGB and DCI-P3 are classed as wide-gamut colour spaces, which means you can take advantage of the extended gamut available through raw files. Colour-managed applications like Photoshop and Lightroom should automatically use the display profile selected in your computer’s system preferences.
Editing with a DCP- P3 display should be straightforward as long as the selected display profile accurately describes that display and images are tagged with an appropriate colour profile. Any colour-managed application should reproduce colours consistently and you should be able to take advantage of the full gamut ranges provided by professional printer ink sets. (You probably don’t need to change the settings in the Edit > Color Settings dialog box in Photoshop.)
The monitor is bundled with Palette Master Element software, which was co-developed with X-rite and supports X-Rite (iOne) and Datacolor (Spyder) calibrators. It’s provided on a CD supplied with the review unit or downloadable from the support page at www.benq.com/product/monitor.sw2700pt/downloads/.
In the course of our testing we discovered some interesting issues that may cause a few potential purchasers of this monitor to avoid installing Palette Master Element or remove it after carrying out an initial calibration. When we installed it on our computer, the software performed exactly as we expected on the basis of the downloadable User Guide. It also worked with our Spyder5 Elite calibrator, enabling use to create a profile for the screen.
We tried both the Basic and Advanced modes and found the latter only provided more scope to adjust parameters like White Point, Luminance, Gamma and Black Point. Unfortunately, the performance reports provided were virtually identical and weren’t easy to decipher, compared with the reports provided by the Spyder5 Elite software, which we use for analysing all the screens we test. An example of a report is shown below.
One of the reports obtained from Palette Master Element.
When we swapped to the Spyder5 Elite software, the first problem arose: the calibration target would not move to the BenQ screen. The software interface would be displayed on the BenQ screen right up to the point where the target was displayed for positioning the colorimeter in order to make the necessary measurements. At that point, it flipped to our secondary screen and could not be moved.
It seems Palette Master Element was preventing us from using the Spyder5 Elite software so we removed it from our applications and tried again. This time, the target remained on the BenQ screen ““ but we couldn’t identify the BenQ monitor by name.
Each time we selected the profile we’d created for the screen, the target would jump to the secondary monitor. The only way to keep it on the BenQ screen was to use name belonging to the screen we normally use as our alternative screen, which was displayed by default.
At this point we decided to go ahead and make the necessary measurements, knowing that when it came time to save any of the test data, we could replace the name with the correct BenQ brand and model number. Using the Display Analysis function (accessed via the Shortcuts dropdown menu), we were able to analyse the screen’s performance for the four key presets users may require: Adobe RGB, sRGB, DCI-P3 and Photo. The results are provided in the Performance section below.
Advanced Analysis of measurements taken with the Spyder5 Elite colorimeter and software showed this monitor’s performance often varied with the different screen modes. The results below show the data for four screen modes: sRGB, Adobe RGB, DCI-P3 and the Photo mode.
As far as overall performance is concerned, the results were identical for the sRGB and Adobe RGB screen modes so we’ve published those below. Variations in the DCI-P3 and Photo mode were relatively minor.
With perfect scores for the gamut and contrast plus 4.5 out of a possible 5 for tonal response, the overall rating shows the SW2700PT to be a respectable performer. However it is let down by below-average results for colour and luminance uniformity and colour accuracy only rates 4 out of a possible 5.
The overall results represent the sum of individual parameter tests and we found these could vary for each screen mode. The data graphs and tables are presented below.
1. Colour Gamut
The review monitor delivered some interesting results, as shown in the graphs above. The green triangle in each plot shows the boundaries of the sRGB colour space, while the purple triangle delineates the Adobe RGB colour space. The red triangle shows the measured colour space for the monitor at the designated screen mode. It’s interesting to compare the Adobe RBG plot with the DCI-P3 plot and see how the former covers more of the blue and green hues, while the latter favours orange and red at the expense of the blue and green.
2. Tonal Response
Tonal response measurements deliver gamma plots showing the relationship between the brightness of a pixel as it appears on the screen and the numerical value of that pixel. They are a good indicator of how mid-tones will be reproduced. If gamma is set too high, mid-tones appear too dark; if too low, they will be too light.
In the four plots of the measured gamma (above), the Adobe RGB and sRGB modes delivered a result that was identical to 2.2, the recommended gamma for image editing with Windows PCs. This is an excellent result. The measured gamma for the DCI-P3 mode fell below the 2.2 gamma level, confirming that mid-tone contrast is reduced. The Photo mode plot swings between the 1.8 and 2.2 gamma plots for low input levels and below 1.8 for high levels. It could be difficult to be sure of tonal accuracy in this mode.
3. Colour Accuracy
Once again, the four screen modes delivered different results. If you look at the amount of deviation from the desired hues, the Adobe RGB and sRGB modes represent the lowest level of average deviation (Delta-E), at 1.61 and 1.67 respectively. In contrast, deviation in the Photo mode averages 3.28. This shows up in the length of the lines extending from each colour ‘patch’.
Significantly, the maximum deviation in the Adobe RGB mode is for black (patch 6E) while the maximum for sRGB is cyan (patch 1F) ““ and it’s noticeably greater. The Photo mode also shows significant deviations for cyan as well as many of the other colours. The DCI-P3 plot shows small and relatively consistent values, most of which are quite minor deviations. Its colour accuracy should be similar to the Adobe RGB and sRGB modes.
4. Screen Uniformity
The two Screen Uniformity tests check the brightness and colour consistencies of the display in nine sections of the screen (a 3×3 matrix), at various luminance levels. The results we obtained are very similar for all four screen modes so we’ve published only the upper and lower graphs for each category, based on the Adobe RGB screen mode.
4a. Luminance Uniformity.
Luminance uniformity plots show a hot spot in the centre of the upper third of the screen at all measured brightness levels. Significant darkening is also shown in the outer thirds of the screen, where it’s strongest in the middle third of each band.
4b. Colour Uniformity
The colour uniformity plots show a similar hot spot, this time in the centre of the lower third of the screen. The maximum deviations from the ideal values occur in the upper and lower thirds on the right hand side of the screen.
If you plan to use the monitor mainly for image editing and demand the very best in colour reproduction, the BenQ SW2700PT isn’t a match for the Eizo monitors we’ve tested, which continue to earn our top recommendations. That said, it’s roughly half the price of the entry-level Eizo monitors with the same screen sizes and includes some nice features that entry-level Eizos don’t provide.
If you’re on a tight budget and prepared to accommodate the screen’s slight deficiencies, performance-wise the SW2700PT is competitive with the monitors we’ve reviewed from Asus, BenQ and LG. However, we’d suggest you stick with the Adobe RGB screen mode to ensure the best available colour accuracy.
The monitor is easy to assemble and doesn’t take up too much space on an average desktop. It should allow enough space for a two-screen set-up. The controls are well set up and easy to access and fine-tune and the adjustments are wide enough to cover most potential users’ requirements.
The screen itself is bright without being glaring and the brightness level is very easy to modify to suit personal preferences. And while our initial assessments found it brighter and slightly more blue in tone than the Eizo FlexScan SX2262W screen we use every day, we still felt it displayed image colours with a natural balance without over-saturating any hue. We also found we could use the screen all day without experiencing any eye strain.
You can plug the SW2700PT into computers running the current ‘flavours’ of Windows and Mac operating systems and its fast response times and negligible input lag make it very well suited for video editing. There’s nothing to complain about when it comes to build quality and ease of use and the shading hood is a genuine bonus at this monitor’s price point.
All these factors make the SW2700PT a very good choice for enthusiastic gamers and anyone who wants to edit video clips and/or create animations. If you shop around you can find a number of outlets selling the SW2700PT for just under AU$1000.
But be careful when making price comparisons to include any associated delivery costs. High shipping costs and the risk of damage in transit would make it uneconomical to buy this monitor from an off-shore re-seller.
There’s no mention of a warranty on the product page on BenQ’s website but buyers of this monitor are entitled to the protections available under Australian Consumer Law and BenQ has assured us a 3-year warranty applies from the product’s purchase date. This means replacement or refund for a major failure and compensation for any other reasonably foreseeable loss or damage. As far as we were able to discern, the warranty applies for three years from the product’s purchase date.
Panel size: 68.5 cm (27-inch)
Active display size (h ø— v): 596.7 x 335.6 mm
Panel type: AHVA (IPS) with LED backlight
Viewing angles (h, v): 178o / 178o
Brightness: 350 cd/m2
Contrast ratio (typical): 1000:1
Response time (typical): 5 millisecond (grey to grey)
Native resolution: 2560 x 1440 pixels
Pixel pitch: 0.2331 mm
Display colours: 1.07 billion
Wide gamut coverage: 99% Adobe RGB
Built-in Calibration Sensor: No
Look-up table: 14-bit for colour and gamma, 3D look up table
Screen adjustments: Brightness, Colour Temperature, Gamma, Colour Gamut, Hue, Saturation, Black Level
Preset modes: Standard, Adobe RGB, sRGB, B+W, Photo, Low Blue Light, Calibration, Custom
Video/Audio input terminals: DVI-DL+ HDMI 1.4 + DP1.2 + Headphone Jack “Ž
USB ports / standard: USB 3.0 x 2 (1 upstream), SD card reader
Power consumption: 36.7W (0.5W in power saving mode, 0.3W in off mode)
Power Management: Power saving mode
Height adjustment range: 130 mm
Tilt / Swivel / Pivot: -3.5o to + 20o tilt / 35o left and right swivel (total 70o) / 90o pivot
Dimensions (w x h x d): 445 to 566.7 x 652.8 x 322.8 mm
Net weight: 8.3 kg without hood; 9.17 kg with hood
Distributor: BenQ Australia Pty Ltd, 1300 130 336, www.BenQ.com.au
- Build: 8.9
- Ease of use: 9.0
- Viewing quality: 8.7
- Photo editing quality: 8.3
- Versatility: 8.8