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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  • althaz - Monday, June 17, 2013 - link

    What an absurd thing to say - the vast majority of people have 1080p monitors and it's not just because they represent good value for money.

    As a gamer and a worker I have a trio of 1080p monitors for several reasons:
    @ 1080p I'll be able to run games at maxed settings for a while (and I haven't upgraded for over a year).
    Dual monitor > than one big monitor (by a very long way). Triple monitor is of varying degrees of usefulness to most people, but I find two landscape and one portrait monitor is basically perfect for all tasks (some people find three monitors overwhelming however).
    Reply
  • mutantmagnet - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    We can downsample a lot of games these days. Until strobe backlighting is possible on the IPS panels settling for TN is fine since they are already cheaper and achieving 100+ FPS consistently isn't easy above 1080. Reply
  • tackle70 - Monday, June 17, 2013 - link

    Yeah I could never go back to TN panels after making the jump to IPS, and I play tons of games. I am guessing that 99.9% of gamers are not good enough for the 120 Hz to make any real difference other than as a placebo effect, and so I don't see the point.

    I wish we could get some new technologies out there other than this TN garbage :\
    Reply
  • TesseractOrion - Monday, June 17, 2013 - link

    I have a Yamasaki Catleap (IPS) and a Qnix Q2710 (PLS) , the latter at 120Hz, the former @ 60Hz (only due to DVI restriction on the 7950 GPU, had it up to 116Hz on the DL-DVI port). Hard to go back to TN and 1920x1080 now... very stripped down monitors, no scaler, OSD or multiple inputs, resulting in low input lag as compensation... Reply
  • Jedi2155 - Monday, June 17, 2013 - link

    Thanks Chris for your review. I believe it would be a better format in future reviews to add a table of specifications describing the important aspects of the product during the introduction. It took me multiple pages of skimming in order to find the information that this was in fact a standard TN panel at 1920x1080 resolution (I was hoping for a 27" IPS 120 Hz, or at least 2560x1440).

    While this information could be found with some googling, I've always come to expect AnandTech to provide very poignant and useful information very quickly and easily. Good review and I hope you will continue to refine your skills in the future!
    Reply
  • chizow - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    Questionable results and questionable competency with this review. Main concerns below:

    1) Was this monitor tested with LightBoost always enabled? Main benefit of these 3D Vision Ready panels is their ability to always be in LightBoost mode if you trick the Nvidia driver to set the 3D Vision mode to "Always On".

    2) Input lag results are questionable given this is a 120Hz input panel and the results indicate 3 frames worth of input lag. Highly doubtful on a 120Hz TN. Did you set the panel to gaming mode to see if there is a difference?

    3) I'd like to see comparisons against the Asus VG278H or even VG278HE, which have become the standard for 120Hz TN LightBoost panels.
    Reply
  • mdrejhon - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    The input lag is because the Leo Bodnar input lag tester is limited to 60Hz and HDMI. So it's not an accurate measurement of input lag. Reply
  • chizow - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    Wow, nice catch. I didn't even bother reading the testing methodology, but if true that's a pretty epic fail on reviewer's part. Not only is it probably going through the built-in video scaler/processor at that point and introducing additional latency, but it also effectively cuts refresh rate in half while doubling response times.

    Really needs to be re-done over DVI and at 120Hz with and without LightBoost.
    Reply
  • Samus - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    My last (and only) two BenQ monitors broke. I should have learned for first time after the second one caught fire. Reply
  • jigglywiggly - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    Why did you pick the worst 120hz display? Pick the vg278 or vg248qe
    both are 144hz and much better
    Reply

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