BenQ EW3270U 32" Ultra HD Monitor Review: HDR For The Enthusiast

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HDR Grayscale, EOTF & Color

To run HDR benchmarks, we add an HD Fury Integral to the signal chain to simulate HDR10 content from our Accupel DVG-5000 pattern generator. This enables us to measure the BenQ EW3270U’s grayscale in 5% increments, EOTF tracking, and color gamut capabilities within a Rec.2020 container.

The EW3270U has two fixed HDR modes, HDR and Cinema HDR. They display slightly different color tracking, but are nearly identical in most respects. We preferred the latter for our hands-on viewing. Both offer the same dynamic range and image depth.

Grayscale Tracking & EOTF

It’s a shame the BenQ EW3270U doesn’t allow calibration in its HDR modes, because it sorely needs adjustment. The mid tones are very blue with errors well over 15dE at 60 and 65%. The darkest and brightest areas are fine, but that blue tint is occasionally visible and reduces the effectiveness of HDR’s extra depth.

EOTF, HDR’s version of gamma, tracks the same in both modes. Cinema offers a touch more brightness around 40%, but that can barely be seen. This is a good chart for the most part. At 60% brightness, you’ll start to see some clipping of detail, but the BenQ EW3270U tracks its designed values correctly.

Color Gamuts Within Rec.2020

Rec.2020 is still a prototype-only gamut, but it’s important for a display to render the correct colors within that container. For most Ultra HD content, that means mastering in the DCI-P3 color space. Many monitors hit their targets fine in SDR mode and not as well in HDR. But the EW3270U is not one of those. It tracks color extremely well for both DCI and Rec.709. Despite its grayscale issues in the mid-tones, color is quite good. It’s easier to see the difference between HDR and Cinema HDR modes here. The latter looks a bit more saturated, and that's shown in the charts. Click them back and forth to see what we mean.

Ultra HD Blu-rays

The lack of adjustment in HDR mode, coupled with the grayscale issues we measured, make the EW3270U difficult to recommend for professional Ultra HD and HDR mastering applications. But watching Ultra HD Blu-rays was an excellent experience. No user intervention is required other than dropping an appropriate disc in the player; we used a Philips BDP-7501. The monitor automatically switches to HDR mode when the correct signal is detected. You can choose between HDR and Cinema HDR; we stuck with the latter.

The blue issue mentioned above turned out to be a “here and there” proposition. Every so often, we could see a blue tint in a mid-toned highlight, but color was otherwise exemplary. Watching the first episode of Planet Earth II was a revelation. The grass-like fur of the pygmy sloth in sequence one just leapt from the screen. Color, resolution, and contrast all served to create a realistic, 3D-like image. Primary colors all looked richer than their SDR/Rec.709 counterparts. This disc is true demo material for 4K HDR, and showing it will likely help sell a lot of these monitors.

Kingsman, The Golden Circle offers many opportunities to assess fine shadow detail and black levels. Though you won’t mistake it for an OLED or plasma, the EW3270U handles these scenes well. An accurate EOTF means you’ll see all the intended elements with no clipping or murkiness. Color was rich and vivid, especially in warm fleshtones and outdoor scenes. For movie-watching, this monitor is a winner.

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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.

  • milkod2001
    I'd be happy to pay $1000 for the same thing with Gsync instead, 120Hz refresh rate and if it was properly calibrated from factory. It that so much to ask? What do yo guys think?
  • davidgirgis
    Screen Size & Aspect Ratio: 35" / 21:9
    Should Be:
    Screen Size & Aspect Ratio: 31.5" / 16:9
  • jfkeenan
    I'd also be happy to pay a premium for 43", 4K HDR, 120Hz, G-Sync, factory calibrated.
  • 10tacle
    Too-blue mid-tones in HDR mode cannot be adjusted

    Can you not use an aftermarket monitor calibration tool like from Datacolor or X-Rite with this in HDR mode? I am VERY interested in this monitor at this price point.
  • derekullo
    I'd be happy with a 40" OLED.

    Literally nothing else would matter to me lol
  • Icepilot
    "this is one of the best HDR 4K monitors we've tested yet--especially given its roughly $700 asking price."

    Score - 7/10.

    The score doesn't seem to match the words - am I missing something here?
  • cryoburner
    20990505 said:
    I'd be happy to pay $1000 for the same thing with Gsync instead, 120Hz refresh rate and if it was properly calibrated from factory. It that so much to ask? What do yo guys think?
    Unfortunately, you're likely going to need to pay double that for anything close any time soon. : D

    4K, high refresh rate HDR displays with G-Sync are coming soon, and they're going to be very expensive. Keep in mind, that's only a 27" screen for $2000. And at 27", you'll probably have a hard time even distinguishing the difference between 1440p and 2160p while gaming, so it would probably make a lot more sense to get a screen with the more moderate resolution and get much higher frame rates instead, at a fraction of the cost. After all, what good are high refresh rates at 4K when even today's best graphics cards will struggle to hit 60fps at max settings in many games.
  • hannibal
    In this size, trible this price!
  • Ninjawithagun
    20990505 said:
    I'd be happy to pay $1000 for the same thing with Gsync instead, 120Hz refresh rate and if it was properly calibrated from factory. It that so much to ask? What do yo guys think?

    I completely agree with you. Unfortunately, reality won't be so kind. Acer plans to sell their 27-inch 4K HDR 120Hz panel for no less than $2000 :( I'm usually an early adopter of tech, but that price tag is just to steep for me. I had the patience to wait for the formerly very expensive Dell AW3418DW 3440 x 1440 IPS 120Hz G-Sync monitors to drop in price and bought two fo them for only $900/each through Best Buy (with 3-year warranties). I guess I can wait for these to come down in price once there is competition in the market place.
  • happoman
    How did you managed to get that Freesync range? Mine only does 40-60hz.