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

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Viewing Angles, Uniformity, Response, Lag & FreeSync

Viewing Angles

If off-axis image quality is important to you, TN (as is present in this monitor) is the wrong tech to buy. That said, views from different angles aren't too bad relative to other TN screens. The red shift and 50% light falloff are obvious, but detail is still visible down to the darkest steps.

Things are fine when viewed head-on, but we believe 28” is as big as a TN monitor should be. At a 2-3 feet distance, there are no visible issues.

Screen Uniformity

To learn how we measure screen uniformity, click here.

TN monitors are less consistent than IPS or VA monitors when it comes to screen uniformity. Though IPS’ glow and bleed problems are much-discussed in internet forums, our experience shows them more likely to be acceptable than not.

The EL2870U sample is somewhere in the middle. The black field test shows a visible hot spot in the center and a slight glow down the right side of the screen. This can only be seen at the zero-signal level. Any rise in luminance takes the number below 10%. By the time you’ve reached max output, uniformity has improved to 8.24% average deviation from center, a solid result. There are faint color tints in three corners, but the other zones are near-perfect with errors under 1dE. This is acceptable performance.

Pixel Response & Input Lag

Click here to read up on our pixel response and input lag testing procedures.

FreeSync will certainly improve the gaming experience, but aside from the removal of frame tears, you won’t see any other benefits thanks to the monitor's maximum 60Hz refresh rate. That puts the EL2870U at the same level as an average business-class monitor. A 25ms response time is just okay (although there are plenty of screens with higher input lag). You’ll see some motion blur, even with overdrive turned on. And once you’ve experienced 100fps or more, it’s harder to game at 60fps. And that assumes you have enough graphics processing power to reach that speed - Ultra HD resolution is quite demanding.

Gaming With FreeSync

If you already game in Ultra HD, the EL2870U only has FreeSync to add to the experience. Some users may have hung on to an older Ultra HD monitor and upgraded their video board in the meantime to hit 60fps. If that describes you, adding a monitor with FreeSync might be worthwhile, especially for less than $500.

We dialed detail down to the High level and had no problem playing at 40-50fps. We couldn’t find a published spec for the FreeSync operational range, but our gameplay experience strongly indicates 40-60Hz. That’s doable for our venerable Radeon R9 285.

Input lag wasn’t an issue for casual play, but competitive players will certainly want a faster monitor. You’ll want to stick with High for the AMA setting as well. Premium causes a lot of ghosting and other artifacts that are not attractive.

Overall, our gaming experience with the EL2870U was fine, but it didn’t make us want to give up our QHD 144Hz monitors.

MORE: Best Gaming Monitors

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Christian Eberle
Contributing Editor

Christian Eberle is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He's a veteran reviewer of A/V equipment, specializing in monitors. Christian began his obsession with tech when he built his first PC in 1991, a 286 running DOS 3.0 at a blazing 12MHz. In 2006, he undertook training from the Imaging Science Foundation in video calibration and testing and thus started a passion for precise imaging that persists to this day. He is also a professional musician with a degree from the New England Conservatory as a classical bassoonist which he used to good effect as a performer with the West Point Army Band from 1987 to 2013. He enjoys watching movies and listening to high-end audio in his custom-built home theater and can be seen riding trails near his home on a race-ready ICE VTX recumbent trike. Christian enjoys the endless summer in Florida where he lives with his wife and Chihuahua and plays with orchestras around the state.

  • irfbhatt
    Good price for Ultra HD)
  • AlistairAB
    Get the Samsung 32" 4k VA for $369-$399 instead. This monitor makes no sense.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.