BenQ EW3280U Review: 4K HDR With Superb Color and USB-C

4K and extended color in a 32-inch IPS screen with Adaptive-Sync.

BenQ EW3280U
(Image: © Shutterstock)

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We measured the EW3280U’s Standard mode for the default tests, then calibrated the User preset. We also checked out the Rec.709 option, which proved to be very accurate.

Grayscale and Gamma Tracking

We describe our grayscale and gamma tests in detail here.

In Standard mode, there were no visible grayscale errors, and gamma was nearly spot-on. It ran a tiny bit dark from 50-90% brightness, but this error would not be visible in most content. The white point is a tad red though again, most content won’t show a problem. There is certainly no need for calibration, but we performed one anyway.

The User mode opens up RGB sliders, which delivered a small gain in accuracy. It’s more a measured improvement than a visible one. Gamma became  tighter with almost perfect adherence to the 2.2 standard. This is excellent performance.

The Rec.709 mode locks out the RGB sliders and gamma presets but measured well, nonetheless. Errors were visible from 80-100% brightness and showed slightly greenish-red. Gamma is locked at 2.4, which is a bit dark for an IPS monitor. But in practice, image depth was solid, and we had no complaints. Most users will stick with either Standard or User to enjoy the large color gamut. But if you’re a stickler for accuracy with SDR content, the Rec.709 mode serves well.


A 1.36 Delta E (dE) error is quite low for an un-calibrated monitor. If you choose the Rec.709 mode, the error is slightly higher at 2.21 dE. Either way, calibration was unnecessary, but a few tweaks took us to 0.80 dE, which is excellent, but this is a tough group and the EW3280U came in last in the calibrated grayscale test. 

Gamma tracking is superb with a super-small range of values (0.07) and an average value of 2.21, which translates to a minimal 0.40% deviation. This refers to the gamma for Standard and User mode, which uses the DCI-P3 color gamut. The Rec.709 mode also has tight tracking and the same 0.40% deviation with an average value of 2.41. This is excellent performance.

Color Gamut Accuracy

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

Not only does the EW3280U cover almost all the DCI-P3 color gamut, it does so with accuracy at every saturation level. The points for red, green, cyan and yellow are all on-target. Tracking up to 80% is excellent for blue and magenta with a slight over-saturation at the 100% point. This was difficult to see in most content, but bright blue skies looked a little more brilliant.

Our calibration (see our recommended settings on page 2) made a tiny improvement by bringing the cyan and yellow hues a little closer to perfect, although the change was barely visible. 

Some monitors include a Rec.709 or sRGB mode as an afterthought but BenQ clearly made sure that this one is accurate. Blue and magenta are slightly undersaturated, but the overall error is even lower than that of the DCI-P3 mode. Our only complaint is the slightly dark gamma, but you can compensate for some of that by turning up the brightness control.


This is a very competitive group so the EW3280U is mid-pack when it comes to color error. You can see that none of the screens have any visible color errors since they all have dEs that are less than 2. The fact that the Rec.709 result is un-calibrated is impressive.

The best part of all this is the EW3280U’s coverage of DCI-P3. All the monitors have low color errors but the BenQ has the largest color volume by over 3%. It’s one of the largest gamuts we’ve measured to date. Only a handful of professional screens can boast better performance in this test. Given this result and the accuracy we’ve observed, the EW3280U qualifies for professional duty in an environment where DCI-P3 and Rec.709 are the reference gamuts.

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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.

  • daglesj
    Be nice to know how well these work with Fire TV and Apple TV boxes plugged into them.
  • Moyersteven
    daglesj said:
    Be nice to know how well these work with Fire TV and Apple TV boxes plugged into them.
    I just got this monitor yesterday and I must say is looks AMAZING! You can plug in your Apple TV, Fire TV, Roku or Chromecast into it and it works. The colors are great and the display is super bright. Just trying to figure out why is keeps dimming and brightening on its own. Otherwise its Awesome!!!
  • Johnny_reader
    I have the BenQ EW3270U, which is the VA version of this monitor. Concerning their eye protection feature:
    The newer IPS EW3280U has both "Reading mode" and "ePaper mode" (see link here).
    The older VA EW3270U only has "Reading mode".I might be wrong but it seems to me that "ePaper mode" is just a grayscale version of "Reading mode". Can EW3270U achieve something similar to "ePaper mode" by using "Reading mode" and making my MacOS grayscale (which is an option in Accessibility settings)?