Reviews

BenQ XL2720Z Review: 144hz 3D Monitor for Demanding Gamers

About The Review:

This BenQ XL2720Z monitor was provided by BenQ for review purposes. I will be reviewing the build construction, picture quality, and overall technical performance of the XL2720Z, including input lag performance.

 

Display Details

Size: 27″ Panel: 6-bit
Resolution: 1920 x 1080 Dynamic Contrast Ratio: 12M:1
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Panel Type: TN
Response Time: 1ms GTG Viewing Angle: 170/160
Display Colors: 16.7 Million Color Gamut: 72%

Inputs, Features, & MSRP

Inputs/Outputs: HDMI x2 D-Sub DVI DisplayPort 1.2
Inputs/Outputs (Cont.): Headphone 3x USB 2.0 Inputs
Features & MSRP: under $499 on Amazon 3D Ready

 

BenQ XL2720Z Amazon

 

  • The BenQ XL2720Z, At A Glance:

[dropcap]B[/dropcap]enQ’s latest offering targets gamers that value more than 60hz in their displays. Boasting a maximum refresh rate of 144hz, this allows gamers to yield extremely high frame rates, provided that their hardware is capable of doing so. The XL2720Z is a 27″ 1080p display that also supports Nvidia 3D Vision, allowing you to experience compatible 3D titles in their glory. You can also expect the usual BenQ features, such as a customizable OSD, Low Blue Light, and an extremely useful feature called Motion Blur Reduction.

 

Plenty of inputs for most modern devices are available, including 2x HDMI, DVI, D-Sub, and DisplayPort.

 

Nobody should find the input selection lacking. The XL2720Z features dual HDMI inputs, DisplayPort, D-Sub, and DVI. A headphone jack is also available to connect your headphones or speakers to the monitor. Unfortunately, the monitor does not feature any built in speakers. It shouldn’t be a deterrent to the majority of people interested in this monitor, however. Three USB 2.0 ports are present to connect your USB peripherials, a welcome addition to those running out of motherboard ports. It would have been nice to see USB 3.0 ports instead, as the popularity of USB 3.0 devices are increasing by the day.

 

The S. Switch allows you to operate the OSD without using the touch-sensitive buttons.

 

For those of you that checked out my BL3200PT review, you read about the inclusion of an OSD controller to simplify monitor control without resorting to the OSD buttons. BenQ has included a similar device with the XL2720Z, which does an excellent job controlling the monitor efficiently. Called the S. Switch, it features a scroll wheel that acts as a selection button, along with keys for return and three dedicated gamer profile buttons. These buttons allow you to quickly select one of the three custom gamer profiles that BenQ includes in most of their monitors today. The S. Switch makes OSD operation a smooth, efficient process. I highly recommend utilizing it if you purchase this monitor.

While not the slimmest of bezels, the XL2720Z’s bezel compliments the overall look of the monitor nicely. I’m assuming the bezel couldn’t be razor thin due to the inclusion of touch sensitive buttons along the side of the casing. The stand is a premium upgrade from the design that was fitted on the RL2455HM. It features tilt, portrait rotation, height adjustment, and also allows you to rotate the monitor horizontally, which is perfect for multi-screen setups. Its construction is composed of hefty plastic, and it does a great job keeping a firm hold on the monitor.

 

Not too slim, not too thick. The bezel is about as standard as it gets.

 

  • Panel Specs:

BenQ’s XL2720Z is a 27-inch monitor with a native 1080p (1920 x 1080) resolution. It features a TN-based panel, with an advertised 1ms GTG response time. To make the most out of its TN panel, BenQ offer a maximum 144hz refresh rate, although its still capable of handling 60hz and 120hz content just fine. Its native contrast ratio is pegged at 1000:1, with a dynamic contrast ratio of 12M:1. Bear in mind that this monitor is designed for 16:9 aspect ratios, so for those looking for more vertical screen estate, you would have to check out 16:10 monitors to satisfy that requirement. TN panels are known mostly for their fast response times and low input lag, which give it an advantage over most other panel types.

 

  • Buttons:

The XL2720Z features an assortment of touch sensitive buttons located on the right side of the monitor’s bezel. They are very similar to those found on the BL3200PT and PG2401PT monitors from BenQ, although they are now stacked vertically. While they do a decent job at navigating menus, I preferred using BenQ’s older physical menu buttons with the OSD used on the XL2720Z. For some reason, these touch buttons aren’t quite as responsive as the ones found on the BL3200PT and PG2401PT with their respective OSDs. I found myself having to press more than once on rare occasions to get the interface to register. Thankfully, you can avoid using them altogether due to the inclusion of the OSD controller. The buttons do work well enough, but the control offered by the OSD controller is far superior and quicker.

 

The XL2720Z’s buttons are touch-sensitive, and are located on the right side of the bezel.

 

  • Viewing Angles & Uniformity:

Being a TN panel, I was expecting the worst when it came to viewing angles and uniformity. I was actually pleasantly surprised in this regard, as the viewing angles aren’t nearly as bad as I feared them to be (when compared to other TN panels, that is). Moving your head up and down at extreme angles does exhibit the natural TN darkening/gamma shifting we’ve come to expect, but slight movements don’t detract too severly from the optimal viewing angle. Slight horizontal movements exhibit less variance in gamma than vertical movements. The monitor is specified to have a viewing angle of 170/160. This won’t best IPS and VA panels by any means, though when compared to other TN panels, it does a fairly good job at providing adequate viewing experiences.

 

XL2720Z luminance results. Click to enlarge.

 

After calibration, you can expect a maximum deviance of 140K from the center when it comes to white point, towards the right of the screen. I managed to achieve a calibrated color temperature of 6503K without using an ICC profile, which goes as high as 6642K depending on which part of the screen you measure. Similarly, the monitor is brightest at its center for luminance. Calibrating the luminance to approximately 120 cd/m² yielded a maximum deviance of -16 cd/m² on the top left of the screen. Fairly solid uniformity overall, especially for a TN panel.

 

XL2720Z white point results. Click to enlarge.

 

  • Menu Items and Features (OSD)

The XL2720Z inherits its OSD from the RL2455HM, with some key differences. If you read my review on the RL2455HM, you may have noticed that I praised its ability to offer versatility with configuration, along with some great features that separate it from your typical OSD found in most monitors. Like the RL2455HM, it can be operated with ease in dark rooms, working in conjunction with the illuminated touch buttons. The main menu of the OSD can be configured to feature a variety of functions, so if you value configuration of Blur Reduction, volume, and changing inputs over being able to scale the image, you can configure the OSD to label these options without digging through menus to access them. In terms of what’s available, you can freely configure Brightness, Contrast, Low Blue Light, Black eQualizer, Blur Reduction, Color Temperature, Hue, Saturation, AMA, Instant Mode, Sharpness, and Gamma. The advanced menu features additional options to configure scaling preferences. Keep in mind that some of these options are locked out in some picture modes, and accessible in others. An audio menu is present to set the volume and/or mute your external speakers. Finally, BenQ also offers three custom Gamer profiles, allowing you to set specific settings to each picture mode. Combined with the OSD controller, this allows you to quickly select between different custom presets at the tap of a button.

 

  • Black, White, and Color Output:

The menu options feature almost every configuration option you would need to fine-tune the picture. The color temperature options feature 3 presets, limited to Normal, Bluish, and Reddish settings. There is also a User Mode preset that allows you to individually configure RGB values to achieve proper color accuracy. Brightness and Contrast controls are available, however the Brightness setting only controls the backlight intensity; there isn’t a specific setting to calibrate the black level of the monitor, so you will need an ICC profile to adjust it if necessary. Using the controls provided, I was able to calibrate the XL2720Z with relative ease. These settings result in a calibrated color temperature of 6503K without the use of an ICC profile. You may use the ICC profile supplied to further improve the color accuracy.

Upon calibration, I was quite pleased with the performance of the monitor. Combined with the adjustable stand, it’s not too difficult to maintain eye level with the monitor to prevent large shifts in gamma and color accuracy.

 

[tabs] [tab title=”Settings:“]Picture Mode: Standard
Brightness: 28 (119cd/m² for dark rooms. Increase if too dim.)
Contrast: 40
Low Blue Light: 0
Blur Reduction: Off
Color Temperature: User Mode (R: 100, G: 94, B: 93)
AMA: High
Instant Mode: On
Sharpness: 5
Gamma: 3
Overscan: Off
Display Mode: Full
HDMI RGB PC Range: (16~235)
Smart Focus: Off

Note: These settings were achieved using an i1 Display Pro, along with X-Rite’s i1 Profiler software. The GPU used on the test computer is an Nvidia GTX 670 using stock settings. These settings require an additional ICC profile for accuracy. The ICC profile for the BenQ XL2720Z can be downloaded here. Use these settings at your own discretion, as they may look different on your display.[/tab] [/tabs]

 

  • Scaling:

Like the RL2455HM, the XL2720Z allows for a myriad of scaling customization. Along with the usual 1:1 and Full options, you can force the image into specific screen sizes and aspect ratios. For example. if you know that you’re going to be using a 24″ monitor in a tournament, you can force the XL2720Z to display the image at a 24″ screen size (with black borders surrounding the empty space), so that you can get accustomed to that size accordingly. This works best for 16:9 sources, though there should be enough customization present for almost any source you throw at the XL2720Z.

 

There is an abundance of scaling options available, more than you would probably need.

 

  • Measured Input Lag:

The main selling point of this monitor is its gaming performance, including its ultra low input lag for serious gamers. Input lag values were identical using both 720p and 1080p testers via HDMI, and all picture modes yielded the same input lag results. Good news for those that choose to stick to a specific picture mode, as input lag is the same across the board. There are, however, certain requirements that need to be met in order to achieve the lowest input lag possible from the XL2720Z.

The XL2720Z included a feature called “Instant Mode” that is designed to minimize input lag as much as possible. This mode was present in the RL2455HM, however through testing, it didn’t seem to change the input lag values at all. This is not the case with the XL2720Z, as the Instant Mode makes a substantial difference with input lag depending on whether or not it’s engaged. These are the input lag values with Instant Mode disabled:

[list style=”arrow-right”] [li]Top: 19.4ms[/li] [li]Middle: 27.0ms[/li] [li]Bottom: 34.4ms[/li] [/list]

Enabling Instant Mode creates a much more pleasing scenario:

[list style=”arrow-right”] [li]Top: 2.6ms[/li] [li]Middle: 10.0ms[/li] [li]Bottom: 17.5ms[/li] [/list]

With Instant Mode enabled, averaging out the three tested areas results in an average input lag of 10ms. There is almost no reason to leave Instant Mode disabled, as it doesn’t prevent any of the monitor’s main features from being utilized. The lower input lag values will make a difference in games that require fast reflexes and pinpoint timing, such as fighters and first person shooters. The XL2720Z features a mode called Blur Reduction, which enables the strobing backlight to reduce motion blur typically found in most LCD based monitors. This can make a noticeable difference in your gaming experience when engaged, as it will reduce motion blur at the cost of some backlight brightness. These are the input lag values when Instant Mode and Blur Reduction are enabled:

[list style=”arrow-right”] [li]Top: 6.7ms[/li] [li]Middle: 15.0ms[/li] [li]Bottom: 23.3ms[/li] [/list]

While it does increase the input lag slightly, it shouldn’t affect the majority of users, including those that play games with precision requirements. It does reduce the peak brightness significantly, which may be too dim for very bright rooms. The brightness reduction shouldn’t affect viewers in moderately-dim or completely dark environments. It is important to note that these tests were conducted at 60hz. If you’re planning to use this monitor for its 120hz or 144hz refresh rate capabilities, you can expect even lower input lag than what was reported above. This is because input lag is reduced at higher refresh rates, and increased at lower refresh rates.

 

The XL2720Z offers extremely low input lag with Instant Mode enabled. When utilizing refresh rates higher than 60hz, you can expect even lower numbers than the 10ms pictured above.

 

  • Gaming Performance:

Using Ultra Street Fighter IV as my preferred testing benchmark, I tested how the input lag differences with Instant Mode and Blur Reduction affect the actual feel of the game. Upon disabling Instant Mode, I immediately felt slightly weightier controls due to the increased input lag. To get a feel for precisely how much, I used the network simulation function to add input lag frame by frame. With Instant Mode and Blur Reduction disabled, the timing felt almost identical to having Instant Mode enabled + 1 frame of input lag using the simulation feature in Ultra Street Fighter IV. Not utilizing Instant Mode definitely affected my timing in a negative way, though the difference is very hard to notice for most users. Still, as mentioned earlier, there isn’t a real reason to keep Instant Mode disabled.

With Instant Mode enabled as well as Blur Reduction, I was pleasantly surprised to not feel any significant difference in timing between Blur Reduction on and off. While there is a numerical difference (input lag with Instant Mode is 10ms, and engaging Blur Reduction results in 15ms), I was able to hit all combos, even the tightest 1-frame links, with Blur Reduction enabled. Switching on the fly with the feature didn’t affect my timing at all. If you game in an area that isn’t overly bright, I highly recommend enabling Instant Mode with Blur Reduction to take advantage of the XL2720Z’s strobing capabilities. If you must have the lowest input lag possible, not having Blur Reduction enabled won’t significantly affect your gaming enjoyment, as the default AMA setting of High does a great job at keeping blur at a minimum.

 

Ultra Street Fighter IV features an incredibly useful lag simulation mode, allowing frame-by-frame testing of input lag.

 

  • Motion Blur:

Due to the variety of refresh rates possible with the XL2720Z, your perception of motion blur will largely depend at the refresh rate you spend the most time on. Users that have the ability to take advantage of 120hz+ will notice significantly lower motion blur with moving objects as opposed to 60hz users. The monitor features BenQ’s signature AMA setting that allows you to choose between Off, High, and Premium. Like most other BenQ monitors, I recommend leaving the default setting of High, as Premium results in significant artifacts/glowing of trails behind moving objects, and Off is simply too blurry to be enjoyable for most users. While the pictures do not show this, using Blur Reduction with a 120hz or 144hz refresh rate offers excellent motion clarity. Using your own eyes to track the speeding UFO appears much clearer with Blur Reduction enabled at 120hz+ refresh rates. The strobing backlight functionality is a welcome addition, and I really hope to see this feature used in more displays.

Testing was performed through Test UFO using the ghosting test, operating at 1920 pixels per second.

AMA Off 60hz

AMA Off 60hz

AMA High 60hz

AMA High 60hz

AMA Premium 60hz

AMA Premium 60hz

AMA High 120hz

AMA High 120hz

AMA High 144hz

AMA High 144hz

AMA High 60hz (Blur Red. ON)

AMA High 60hz (BlurR)

AMA High 120hz (Blur Red. ON)

AMA High 120hz (BlurR)

AMA High 144hz (Blur Red. ON)

AMA High 144hz (BlurR)

 

BenQ XL2720Z Amazon

 

About the author

Adeel Soomro

Adeel Soomro

Adeel Soomro, also known as "Four Wude", has been a competitive Street Fighter 4 player since 2008. Using his extensive gaming experience on a casual and professional level, he aims to spread the awareness of input lag existing in today's displays. Having tested over 300 displays for input lag, he hopes that DisplayLag will aid gamers around the world when purchasing the best HDTV or monitor for gaming.

14 Comments

  • AWESOME review, as always. that monitor looks awesome. Currently have the RL2455HM (your review help me decide to get it. i was coming from CRT, and i was worried about input lag, as i can feel it, unlike my friends/family. i have YET to use a tv that i can play FPS on, and some are HORRIDLY unplayable. i swear…. playing 3rd strike on my sisters tv, it had a full half second of delay T_T). i am content with my RL2455HM for now, as i just got it this past christmas, but perhaps in a couple of year i will upgrade to 120/hz144hz! maybe wants the dust settles on g-sync prices ;P

    • Appreciate the kind words! I’d definitely recommend waiting for G-Sync. I should be receiving those monitors soon for full reviews. After using them earlier this year at CES, I’m totally sold.

      • yeah. by the time i upgrade my monitor (which may very well be 4 years), i am sure there will be awesome 120hz G-Sync monitors for very good prices.

        i AM curious to know if G-Sync could be used for things outside of games, like movies. if you play a 24p movie, if you could use G-Sync to force the monitor to refresh at 48hz for 60hz panels (24 dividing by 48 evenly). or if we won’t even have 60hz G-Sync panels. in which case 120hz would be fine, as 24 divides into that evenly.

  • great review and great monitor !
    I really want to get BenQ XL2720Z,
    but unfortunately there is no any BenQ gaming monitor in my country,
    and I can’t order from online stores because the price will be very high.

    • From others I heard it works great for PS4. Meaning that you won’t experience tearing or artifacts running 60fps on a 144hz monitor.

      If you plan using it ONLY for PS4 and don’t plan gaming on PC with it, you should really opt for the cheaper 60hz, 1ms benq monitor because PS4 and Xbox one never* run at the frames per second that would justify buying a 144hz monitor… Plus you can probably pick up the 60hz benq equivalent to this monitor for about half the price or even less.

  • Hi, I hope you can help me. I just bought this monitor, I have 2 HP notebooks with Windows 7 & 8 and none works using HDMI.
    Monitor works with notebooks only using D-sub cable and with other devices like media box or dvd player works also with HDMI. Using Notebooks reports: “No cable connected!”
    Someone can solve this problem?

    • Make sure you are selecting the correct input connection on monitor menu. If that doesn’t work, Try updating the driver via Device Manager. Select the option “Let me pick from a list of device drivers on my computer”. Selecting the other options didn’t work for me.

      • Hi, thanks for your answer. I selected correct input and tryed to force installation of new drivers but when I connect monitor via HDMI it simply doesn’t appear in device manger. I connected a Sony notebook with Win7 and IT WORKS without problem, only HP present this issue.
        I also contacted Benq support but they gived me usual suggestions.
        I will try with HP support but I’m not optimistic.

  • I can see what seems to be an optical connection in the picture of rear ports but no mention of it in any review I’ve read for this monitor. Can anyone tell me if this is an optical audio output or not? I can’t get anything out of BenQ.

  • According to TFTcentral they disagree with the input lag with BenQ
    XL2720z. I bought a Bodnar tester and it also claimed 10ms, TFT claim
    1.3ms. When I asked them their response was “You’re using a Leo Bodnar
    input lag device there yes? Don’t
    forget that that accounts for a portion of pixel response time delay,
    quite a high one in fact as i believe it includes a black > white
    transition time.” ” We use the SMTT 2.0 tool to measure lag and that is not subject to this element. The SMTT method we use is about as reliable as you can get without
    spending 1000’s of poung on expensive equipment and dismantling the
    screen so i’d enjoy the screen if you can, safe in the knowledge that
    the signal processing lag is very low”
    http://www.tftcentral.co.uk/reviews/benq_xl2720z.htm The questions on
    their site. http://www.tftcentral.co.uk/forum/YaBB.pl?num=1416345410/6#6

  • Hi, would you recomend the XL2720Z over the RL2755HM for console gaming? im considering going for XL2720Z Because I get a good deal on it.

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