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BenQ EL2870U 28" Ultra HD HDR FreeSync Monitor Review: Can't-Beat Price

One of our favorite budget 4K monitors.

Grayscale, Gamma & Color

The EL2870U, like most BenQ monitors, offers excellent out-of-box accuracy. It doesn’t require calibration if you select the Standard, sRGB, Rec.709, or User picture modes. With the latter, you can tweak the white point to near-perfection. The only thing we strongly recommend is to change the gamma preset from 3 to 4. Follow our test results to see why.

Grayscale Tracking

Our grayscale and gamma tests are described in detail here.

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The Standard default mode generates an excellent grayscale tracking chart. There is no need to change the color temp unless you want something other than D65. Slightly better performance is available in the sRGB mode, but then you won’t be able to adjust gamma. If you want to use one of the HDR modes with SDR material, it still tracks 6500K with no visible errors. Calibrating the User mode produces the best result with all but two errors under 1dE. That’s about as good as any monitor can boast.

Comparisons

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The EL2870U has the best default grayscale performance of any HDR monitor we’ve tested thus far. A 1.58dE score eliminates any need for adjustment.

The User mode delivers even better numbers and manages to squeak out second place by .01dE. Only the Acer PE320QK is better.

Note: The UP2718Q looks less impressive because we were unable to perform the software calibration it needed. It is capable of greater accuracy than our results indicate.

Gamma Response

Gamma is the only place that requires adjusting. The default trace is quite light, averaging around 1.9. This reduces color saturation and makes the image look flat. The EL2870U is already a bit down on contrast from the competition, so its gamma needs to be right for optimal performance. Changing the preset from 3 to 4 solves this easily. 

Color Gamut & Luminance

For details on our color gamut testing and volume calculations, please click here.

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The EL2870U has good out-of-box color accuracy, but the red primary is a little undersaturated. This is a trait of all 28” Ultra HD monitors and is inherent to the older Innolux panel they’re based on. You’ll see this error in all picture modes.

Changing the gamma from 3 to 4 helps minimize the effect by improving saturation at the 20-80% levels, along with delivering more neutral luminance. Grayscale adjustments have a subtle impact, but since there is no cost in dynamic range, we recommend making the changes as outlined on page two.

Comparisons

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The EL2870U’s measured color gamut result went from 3.21dE to 1.64dE, mostly from the change in gamma preset. Getting that extra red in the lower and middle saturation targets makes an easily seen difference in image quality. All the panels here deliver solid accuracy, but it’s impossible to ignore the first and second place VA monitors.

Gamut volume is no surprise here. The EL2870U is an sRGB monitor and manages nearly 100% thanks to some bonus blue. But that doesn’t help it approach DCI-P3 of which it only renders 68.17%. Color-wise, HDR won’t look that different than SDR.

If one is engaged in color-critical work, this monitor will benefit from a custom profile, but that won’t add in the missing red.

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MORE: How We Test Monitors

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  • irfbhatt
    Good price for Ultra HD)
    Reply
  • AlistairAB
    Get the Samsung 32" 4k VA for $369-$399 instead. This monitor makes no sense.
    Reply
  • pegasusted2504
    I just don't understand some of the comment these so called reporters make(or whatever title they have), "Ultra HD is more than just 3840x2160 resolution" Erm, yeah, not it isn't. HDR and extended colour support have totally zero to do with UHD, UHD refers to the resolution nothing else. This is 2 or 3 times now I have caught these people talking total crap. I was under the impression that these people know what they are talking about, yet to my dismay I have found that they don't S I guess I won't be relying on this site for any information in the future.
    Reply
  • BryanFRitt
    "Ultra HD is more than just 3840x2160 resolution", I've heard UHD also includes the 7680x4320 resolution(, etc?). It's just that the 3840x2160 is the lowest resolution that can still be called a UHD display.
    Reply
  • zodiacfml
    My LG TV is IPS, has larger speakers, 43 inch, can function as an analog and digital TV, has a remote, Wi-FI and LAN, similar HDR spec and is CHEAPER.
    Reply