On the very first monitor review I did for AnandTech, I skipped over the input lag tests. I didn’t have a CRT I could use for a reference, and as someone that isn’t a hard-core gamer themselves, I wasn’t certain how much overlooking them would really be missed. Well, I was wrong, and I heard about it as soon as it was published. Since that initial mistake I’ve added two CRT monitors to the testing stable and tried to find the ideal way to test lag, which I’m still in search of.

To serve the large, and vocal, community of hard core gamers, there are plenty of monitors out there that directly target them. One such display is the BenQ XL2720T, a 120 Hz LCD that’s also used in many sponsored gaming tournaments. Beyond its gaming pedigree, I was interested to see if it also performed well as a general purpose display, or if it really is just designed for a small subset of the market.

Probably the key feature on the XL2720T is its 120 Hz refresh rate, which as usual means that it is a TN-panel. The other key feature on it is a quick select switch that it includes to let you switch between monitor presets with a single button press. For their gaming target, BenQ sees you utilizing this to have different presets for different games, and they even provide some specific profiles for popular games that you can load and use for these. Another use would be to use one for daytime settings, one for nighttime, and one for gaming. The quick access to switch modes makes it easy to do so, and providing “optimized” settings for games might be a very beneficial use.

The included stand for the XL2720T is very well done, with a full range of ergonomic adjustments and you can assemble the whole thing without a single tool. I’d use a screwdriver at the end to make sure it is really tight and secure, but the overall stand design is great. One feature I’d still like to see from a monitor company is inputs that either rotate or are angled at 45 degrees to make it easier to hook up cables than to have to reach underneath. Thankfully since it pivots to vertical, it is still easy to hook up the BenQ XL2720T to your computer or video game system. It has a pair of HDMI ports, so it is well equipped for both PC and console gaming.

One disappointment is that the USB ports are still just USB 2.0 and not 3.0 as most new, higher end monitors have now. Another disappointment in the monitor design is the touch sensitive buttons that control the on-screen display.

As with the Dell U3014 that I just reviewed, I find the touch screen buttons to be less responsive than actual buttons, and wish companies would go back to standard buttons. It doesn’t look quite as nice but it is far more functional. This is somewhat alleviated by the S Switch that BenQ includes. Though mostly used to switch between three preset modes, you can also use the wheel to control the OSD, and here it does a great job. The OSD has been redesigned from previous BenQ displays so it is much better to use, with all selections going Up and Down, without any Side-to-Side inputs. This combination is one of the better interfaces that I’ve used; I just wish controlling it without the S Switch worked as well.

As mentioned, the on screen display from BenQ has been totally redone from the last display that I used. Previously you would move Left to Right to select a category, Up and Down to select a function to adjust, and then Left to Right to adjust it, all with just two buttons to move all four directions. The OSD now resembles the ones that Dell has, where all selections and inputs are Up and Down, making it very easy to adjust the display. It also lets you see all the levels of sub-menus on the screen at once, which makes it easy to see what you are working on and not get lost in the menu system. BenQ has moved from having one of the worst menu systems for user controls to having one of the best that I’ve used. Bravo for that!

On the exterior and the on screen display, BenQ has gotten most everything right with the XL2720T. Sure I would change a couple little things, but they manage to get the overall user experience with the monitor as correct as anyone else has right now, and that’s much different than I said about their displays two years ago. I wish every monitor vendor would take this feedback and improve their products as much as BenQ did in these areas.

BenQ XL2720T
Video Inputs 2xHDMI, 1xDisplayPort, 1xDVI-DL, 1x D-sub
Panel Type TN
Pixel Pitch 0.311mm
Colors 16.7 million
Brightness 300 cd/m2
Contrast Ratio 1000:1
Response Time 1ms GTG
Viewable Size 27"
Resolution 1920x1080
Viewing Angle (H/V) 170/160
Backlight LED
Power Consumption (operation) 27W
Power Consumption (standby) <0.5W
Screen Treatment Anti-Glare
Height Adjustable Yes (140mm)
Tilt Yes (-5/20 Degrees)
Pivot Yes
Swivel Yes (45/45 Degrees)
VESA Wall Mounting Yes (100mm)
Dimensions w/ Base (WxHxD) 21.5" x 25.3" x 10.8"
Weight 16.5 lbs.
Additional Features USB 2.0 Hub (3 port), S Switch, Headphone Jack
Limited Warranty 1 year
Accessories Power cable, USB Cable, D-Sub Cable, DVI-D Cable, Protective Cover
Price $482 (on 5/17/2013)


Viewing Angles, Pre-Calibration Numbers and Gamut
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  • chizow - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    Glad to see you are revisiting the review of this monitor with a fresh outlook. Honestly, after you have your new results with LightBoost, you may consider just re-writing the entire review. It's a completely different market for this type of monitor that gets away from the muddy mosaics of finely pixeled high-res monitors.
  • qiplayer - Saturday, November 9, 2013 - link

    The today's problem is comunication. Companies want to throw stuff on the market and us to buy. Actually they have no idea what is our need expectations and so on. They lack on ability to observe. ...Today I saw the graps of gtx 780 gtx780ti gtx titan clock behaviour during heavy load/gameplay. Clock is high and every 45 seconds it drops by 40% =every 40 second you get fps drops. Is it possible that they sell a card for 1000$ and haven't found a better solution? YES, they (nvidia) probably even didn't notice it. It would have been enough to let the max clock be 3-5% lower to avoid the needing to downcloack.
    So yes they produce and hope to sell, they found out the solution that many gamers aspire to have in a monitor by case, by looking for a better 3D.

    And if we look cell phones, I'm since years looking for something that is not an iphone, but I always felt I can't type half that fast with samsung htc and so on because the keys had a lag lighting up when pressed. For years this aspect hasn't been seen in reviews, then, one day "tadaaahhh" revelation: a test of touchscreen responsetime. Iphone was far better than the best samsung. So is it possible that no one of the thousands worldwide reviewers noticed it? No one engineer?
  • cheinonen - Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - link

    I've added charts and data on Lightboost to the review, as well as commentary on the image quality of it. They can all be found on the gaming use and lag page.
  • chizow - Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - link

    "One thing this does do it lock out all the picture controls except color and brightness."

    It only locks you out once you enable LightBoost, prior to that you can make any adjustments to presets, color, temperature, sharpness etc. At least that is how it worked on my 2 previous 3D Vision monitors.

    Also, you shouldn't lose any brightness, if anything, the image is usually too bright for those who are not accustomed to it as brightness is maxed out and locked and strobing at 2x brightness.

    Anyone interested in the truly important vitals of this monitor should follow mdrejhon's links as they give a much more accurate picture of this monitor's strengths.
  • cheinonen - Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - link

    You're going to lose brightness because it's working with black frame insertion basically to mimic the performance of a CRT in that way. The lack of object permanence on-screen causes the eye to see motion as being more fluid when tracking something. This same behavior also means that instead of the backlight being on all the time, it's shut down every so often and that causes a measurable drop in light output. With the monitor at factory settings, other than Lightboost, and contrast set to the maximum level before clipping, I got under 130 cd/m2. Going higher requires clipping.

    As far as the user controls being locked out, at least on the BenQ when it went into Lightboost mode my previously set user color temperature settings were removed, leading to the blue image. Different monitors could easily have different settings, but on the BenQ they were all locked out.

    I've read all of mdrejhon's links, and he's providing his perspective. He, and many others, are after the least amount of blur no matter what, and that's fine. To me, the trade-off in brightness, color quality, and noticeable flicker are not worth it to me. But that's my opinion. However I think comments that color quality is unimportant compared to the 120Hz mode is giving BenQ a free pass. They could easily provide both, but choose not to due to cost or another reason. If color accuracy isn't important to you at all, that's fine, but it shouldn't be dismissed outright.
  • sweenish - Monday, June 17, 2013 - link

    180-220 is a 10% range, is it not?
  • brucek2 - Monday, June 17, 2013 - link

    Thanks Chris. I really appreciate direct, straight forward conclusions like yours. The most important part of most reviews to me is the part that says this product is either the winner for some specific use case, or if not here are the likely better options to consider. Far too many reviewers are afraid to be so blunt so I always appreciate it when I see it.
  • mdrejhon - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    To be fair, SkyViper (a former CRT user) thought a 120Hz monitor was disappointing until he enabled LightBoost:

    "I felt like I may have wasted $300 bucks on a monitor that is full of compromises. The next thing I tried of course was using the Lightboost hack."
    [...Enables LightBoost....]
    Am I seeing this correctly? The last time I gamed on a CRT monitor was back in 2006 before I got my first LCD and this ASUS monitor is EXACTLY like how I remembered gaming on a CRT monitor. I was absolutely shocked and amazed at how clear everything was when moving around. After seeing Lightboost in action, I would have gladly paid twice the amount for something that can reproduce the feeling I got when playing on a CRT. Now I really can’t see myself going back to my 30″ 2560×1600 IPS monitor when gaming. Everything looks so much clearer on the ASUS with Lightboost turned on.”
  • Panzerknacker - Monday, June 17, 2013 - link

    Agree with your conclusion Chris, TN monitors are just completely worthless for anything, looking at them makes me puke. Many years ago I used to be a hardcore gamer, but when my CRT died and I was forced to purchase a LCD monitor, that completely spoiled the fun I had in gaming. Everything suddenly looked like complete crap, especially the dark atmospheric games I used to enjoy like Doom 3 and Splinter Cell. Displays like this are maybe only good for one thing, and that is proffesional gaming tournaments where nothing matters but respons. Even while practicing at home though I would prefer the better looks of a IPS over the faster respons of the TN.

    How do modern IPS screens do in terms of allround gaming vs CRT's? I still use to think all LCD's just suck, I just bought a phone with the best display on the planet and everybody and every review says it has the most awesome black levels ever in a LCD, but imo it still sucks compared to CRT.
  • Insomniator - Monday, June 17, 2013 - link

    TN panels ruined gaming for you? Give me a break.

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