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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  • mdrejhon - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    The XL2720T has better color quality than the VG248QE.
    Someone owns both monitors, and reported this.
    The VG278H is actually pretty competitive to the XL2720T, despite its age.

    What makes them really worth it, is the LightBoost.
    Reply
  • Death666Angel - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    Wow, this review badly needs a table of the specs on the first page. Reply
  • brandonicus - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    I hate to be "that guy" but I found it really annoying you assumed we knew what the resolution was... unless I'm blind the only place it was mentioned was in the "Posted in" header and the seventh and eighth page. I feel like something that important should be mentioned upfront. Reply
  • blackoctagon - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    Thanks for the review, Chris, but WHY exactly did you choose to measure input lag using the Leo Bodnar test? Apart from the fact that it cannot measure the screen's performance at 120Hz (the refresh rate at which this screen is designed to be played), the test itself seems to not have undergone the same verification as, say, PRAD.de's use of an oscilloscope has...for a review that starts out with a discussion about input lag, and even mentions that you were "still in search of" the ideal test, I expected to hear your reasoning for choosing this methodology over others. Reply
  • cheinonen - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    I actually talked to TFT Central about this, as they have an oscilloscope method as well (which is beyond my means, unfortunately). They've tested multiple ways and feel the Leo Bodnar winds up as the most accurate version out there right now as well, other than a scope method. SMTT was working relatively well, but it has a license, and he stopped selling them. Our license expired, so I can't use it anymore.

    Searching for a totally accurate, and affordable, lag measurement device continues. I'll look into the Audrino solution that was mentioned here and see how that looks.
    Reply
  • blackoctagon - Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - link

    Thank you for the reply. Looking forward to seeing where this search leads you Reply
  • mdrejhon - Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - link

    I'm the inventor of the Arduino Input Lag Tester, which runs via a USB cable connected to the computer.

    It features:
    - Sub-millisecond accuracy
    - Works at all computer resolutions and refresh rates.
    - USB cable latency compensation (subtracts calculated USB cable latency)
    - Costs only $40 to build.

    It's currently undergoing beta testing, with custom software I have created.
    Contact me at mark[at]blurbusters.com for more information about the Arudino Input Lag Tester.
    Reply
  • blackoctagon - Thursday, June 20, 2013 - link

    Interesting. But is it 'Audrino,' 'Arduino' or 'Arudino' test? :)
    I see all three (mis-?)spellings on this page
    Reply
  • mdrejhon - Thursday, June 20, 2013 - link

    Apologies. It's a hard word sometimes.
    The correct spelling is Arduino, which refers to an easy-to-program hobbyist microcontroller:
    http://www.arduino.cc/

    It's a home made input lag meter involving (1) Almost any Arduino with a USB port, (2) a photodiode, (3) a resistor, and (4) some wires. It's an open source input lag circuit I've developed that is very easy to build (easier than building a computer -- no soldering iron required!). I'll be publishing some software that makes everything run as an accurate input lag tester (including USB cable latency/jitter compensation), since the assembly is connected to a PC displaying flashing squares.
    Reply
  • Pastuch - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    Honestly, this review is a huge let down. When I started reading this website 10 years ago the articles were always informed and well researched. This review is sorely lacking in that regard. The only reason people are still buying 120hz displays is for Lightboost capable 2d gaming. The CS, BF and Quake communities LOVE the CRT like motion response of Lightboost and this is one of the better models to have that capability. http://www.blurbusters.com/ has all the relevant info, Mark is an invaluable resource and I implore you to contact him for more info.

    You complain loudly about IPS color quality in a gaming review but you admit yourself that gaming isn't a hobby you’re interested in. Your conclusion argues that the money could be better spent on an IPS 2560 display. Do you know how many video cards it takes to run Planetside 2 at 2560 at 80FPS+? You need two Geforce 780s! Can I borrow $1200?

    I used to own a 2560x1440 IPS for desktop work but I couldn’t play CS on it due to slow pixel response and horrible input lag. Once you try lightboost there is no going back. The motion clarity at 120fps + on a LB capable display genuinely changes the gameplay experience. I don't own a LB display yet but I've tried it at a lan party. I was blown away and I was hoping that Anand would provide a comprehensive review of the Benq 2720T. With the latest Nvidia drivers and LB enabled, gamers are reporting almost 1000 contrast ratio on the 2720 which is better than any other LB monitor. Lightboost is a genuine boon to the gaming market, there are Sony FW900 owners that say the motion clarity of LB is BETTER than the FW900. Do you have any idea how amazing that is? People have been waiting 10 years for a monitor that can replace the FW900 for twitch-gaming.

    If you want to read solid monitor reviews go to http://www.tftcentral.co.uk/
    Reply

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