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Review: BenQ XR3501

by Ryan Martin on 12 August 2015, 16:30

Tags: BenQ

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Introduction

The market for high-end ultrawide monitors, with a 21:9 aspect ratio, is slowly growing in response to a wider variety of panel types and increasing consumer interest in the ultrawide advantage. Recently released ultrawide monitors include the stunning LG 34UC97 with a 3,440x1,440-pixel curved IPS display and the LG 34UM67 with a 2,560x1,080 IPS display and AMD FreeSync support. Monitor vendors consistently pitch the new 21:9 aspect ratio as ideal for gamers yet, thus far, most ultrawide panels have been limited to 60Hz or 75Hz refresh rates.

BenQ sets out to change all that with its XR3501 gaming ultrawide that delivers a 144Hz refresh rate on a 2,560x1,080 panel. Measuring in at 35 inches, the XR3501 uses an 8-bitVA-type panel to achieve the range-topping refresh rate paired with a 4-millisecond grey-to-grey response time. There is currently no support for adaptive V-Sync technologies, FreeSync or G-Sync, on BenQ's XR3501 meaning it potentially misses a trick in consolidating its gaming monitor credentials.

BenQ XR3501 Specification

Diagonal Size
35in
Resolution
2,560x1,080 (UWFHD)
Refresh Rate
144Hz
Response Time
4ms (GtG), 16ms (typical)
Panel Type
VA (AMVA)
Viewing Angles
178/178
Colour Depth
8-bit
Aspect Ratio
21:9
Contrast Ratio
2000:1 (typical)
VESA Compatible
N

BenQ's XR3501 is similar to LG's 34UC97 in that it sports a notable curve in the display to provide a more immersive experience, something BenQ hopes will attract the gaming audience. Other features of the XR3501 include 20 levels of colour-vibrancy control to provide those poppy gaming visuals and colours as well as the Black eQualizer function which exploits gamma settings to 'illuminate' dark areas while not boosting the brightness of lighter areas. BenQ also provides three display profiles for different game genres such as racing and FPS that it worked to tune with professional gamers.

Design and Connectivity

The XR3501 is a stylish monitor thanks to the sleek stand and subtle 2000R curve crafted into the panel. We're inclined to say it's not quite as sleek as LG's 34UM67 and 34UC97, both which have much thinner bezels and are finished with nicer materials, but for a gaming audience this can normally be overlooked. The thicker bezels only pose an issue to users who intend to use multiple displays side-by-side.

As seems to be the trend with the current wave of ultrawide monitors, the BenQ XR3501 is limited in terms of stand adjustments. There is tilt adjustment only which allows the user to alter the vertical viewing angles and, unlike the LG 34UC97, there is no adapter bracket provided to facilitate a Vesa mount. The stand does make up for this, to some extent, by being sleek in appearance and well-built.

BenQ covers a balanced variety of I/O options with full-sized DisplayPort 1.2, mini DisplayPort 1.2, a pair of HDMI 1.4 ports, line-in, line-out and a headphone jack to compensate for a lack of integrated speakers.