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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There are plenty of monitors sharply focused on gaming and others better suited for specific tasks or general applications. But finding a display that balances entertainment with accuracy while providing the latest in Adaptive-Sync and HDR technologies requires a little more effort. Usually, such products are found in the premium genre with high prices to match. But if your budget is more modest, some sacrifices are necessary.

The BenQ EW3280U is one of the better-balanced displays we’ve reviewed. On the entertainment side, it delivers FreeSync and G-Sync (unofficially), both with HDR. Though its IPS panel doesn’t have a lot of contrast, the HDRi feature, something unique to BenQ, improved perceived contrast with SDR content. Combine that with its near full coverage of the DCI-P3 color gamut and excellent accuracy, and you have a solid monitor with a good picture that won’t break the bank.

(Image credit: BenQ)

Gamers will appreciate the EW3280U’s support of both AMD and Nvidia technologies though some may wish for a higher refresh rate. That can be had in other displays for a higher cost. At this price point though, Ultra HD is going to max at 60Hz. Despite that, we enjoyed our gaming experience. As casual players, input lag was not a problem.

One of our favorite features is the HDRi modes. They manage to create extra contrast for SDR content without any visible downsides. Switching between them was a snap thanks to the handy remote. And we can’t believe more monitors don’t have a volume dial. It’s the coolest thing we’ve seen in a while. The EW3280U also covers more of the DCI-P3 gamut than nearly all the extended color displays we’ve tested.

The only negative here is contrast. IPS technology limits its ability as does the edge backlight. The HDRi modes are effective but ultimately, they make the EW3280U equal to, not better than, an average VA-based display. Our wish for the future is that BenQ rolls everything here into a VA monitor, 32 inches and 4K, of course. And while we’re at it, 120 Hz would be great.

If you’re looking for a large flat screen in the traditional 16:9 aspect ratio, the EW3280U is a great choice. It’s a capable gaming monitor, professional display and enterprise screen all in one. Definitely check it out.

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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)?