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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  • ViperV990 - Monday, June 17, 2013 - link

    I'm not seeing any mentions of Lightboost (strobing backlight). IMO that is the most important selling point of this monitor. If you think the differences between 60Hz to 120Hz is huge, you'll be blown away by the differences between Lightboost on and off. Reply
  • ViperV990 - Monday, June 17, 2013 - link

    If you're not familiar with Lightboost, this is a good place to start reading up:

    http://www.blurbusters.com/zero-motion-blur/lightb...
    Reply
  • A5 - Monday, June 17, 2013 - link

    Strobing backlight is the same thing "240 Hz" LCD TVs use to achieve their effect.

    Is the difference noticeable in anything besides specifically designed motion resolution tests?

    Considering most games have motion blur shaders on these days anyways, I hardly see the point.
    Reply
  • chizow - Monday, June 17, 2013 - link

    No, it's not the same thing as 240Hz LCD TVs, instead of counting an inserted black frame or interpolated frame as a new "frame" to accomplish 240Hz, the backlight pulse ONLY strobes when an actual new frame is ready to be displayed, resulting in MUCH less image blur while allowing intermediate or transitional frames to clear.

    So instead of a constantly lit, muddy picture full of transitional ghosting and image retention, you get a crisp, true 120Hz image that pulses double-bright only when a true, new frame is ready to be displayed. Really a huge difference, it's why many fast-paced gamers won't go back to anything else but a 120Hz LightBoost panel, despite some of the trade-offs like 1080p limitation, TN panels etc.
    Reply
  • Galford007 - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    @A5, @Chizow:

    I initially thought this "lightboost" thing was a gimmick but I recently bought an ASUS 144hz lightboost-capable monitor (VG248QE, ~$300 on Newegg) and I'm now a true believer. It's capable of 3D but I prefer to use it in 2D lightboost mode. There ARE some tradeoffs such as loss of color accuracy and brightness, but it looks AMAZING, especially in games like Battlefield 3. In order to get the full effect, you need to match in-game FPS with the refresh rate, so even with a GTX 580 I have to turn BF3 settings to low and 100Hz. The graphics still look pretty good but it's worth the tradeoff IMO. I'd definitely recommend to check out the Blurbusters site for more info on the technology (as ViperV990 suggested). Basically this "lightboost" thing is a happy accident, but I'm sure it'll gain traction soon.
    Reply
  • chizow - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    Oh and blur shaders are a huge part of the problem, designed to cover up the muddy ugliness that is the norm with 60Hz non-LightBoost monitors. You'll want to turn all that crap off if you're using a 120Hz panel with LightBoost, if you value a clear, fluid image anyways. Reply
  • mdrejhon - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    TFTCentral's Motion Blur Reduction Backlights (Including LightBoost)
    http://www.tftcentral.co.uk/articles/motion_blur.h...
    They said that LightBoost outperformed all scanning backlights they have ever tested.

    A good 60Hz vs 120Hz vs LightBoost image comparision is:
    http://www.blurbusters.com/faq/60vs120vsLB

    There's also a large LightBoost FAQ at:
    http://www.blurbusters.com/zero-motion-blur/lightb...

    Also, see the improved Battlefield3 score graphs at:
    http://www.blurbusters.com/zero-motion-blur/testim...

    You will notice that about 20% of amazon.com customer reviews for the ASUS VG248QE monitor (popular LightBoost monitor) have rave reviews about the LightBoost motion blur elimination. Go check out the rave LightBoost reviews:
    http://www.amazon.com/VG248QE-24-Inch-Screen-LED-l...
    Within that webpage, hit Control+F and find "LightBoost" in all the Amazon customer reviews!
    Reply
  • mutantmagnet - Monday, June 17, 2013 - link

    I clicked this article just to see if they were going talk about this as well. They talk about sacrificing color correction for smoother gameplay as a mundane thing which isn't the case. Reply
  • cheinonen - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    I've been testing Lightboost today after reading the comments and will go in and add some commentary on it. Using lightboost for 2D is undocumented (at least as far as BenQ is involved) and requires some messing around with settings, and never came up in my discussions with BenQ as something to be aware of with the display. I didn't notice any commentary on it online until now either, which is how it didn't get mentioned.

    Also, I have no idea how the stats didn't make it into the review, that's just a dumb mistake on my part that needs to be remedied here really quick.
    Reply
  • mdrejhon - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    BTW, great to recognize the attention needed because LightBoost apparently now sells a significant fraction of 120Hz monitors ever since the extreme enthusiast community figured out how to use it (without needing 3D).

    Some good news -- ToastyX is developing a new LightBoost utility (I'm beta testing) that makes it easy to enable/disable. No inf/reg files -- just an easy utility. Finally, it will be easy to enable/disable LightBoost -- with a hotkey shortcut! -- even on multiple monitor setups.

    Some tips:
    - If you don't have a Titan/780, then Lightboost often benefits older games a lot more (try source engine games, Quake Live, test with both VSYNC ON, and with VSYNC OFF), as it behaves like a 120Hz CRT and needs 120fps to make it sing.
    - XL2720T Lightboost color seems better with drivers 320.18
    - For picture adjustments, see LightBoost FAQ at http://www.blurbusters.com/zero-motion-blur/lightb...
    - I've sent you an email with a link to a new motion test
    Reply

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