OSD Setup and Calibration
Like all BenQ monitors, the EX3501R has a tree-style on-screen display (OSD). It’s very easy to find your way around, even when looking for a rarely used option. We wish there was a joystick, but this display makes do with control keys on the bottom bezel edge. The power key is also there and is larger than the others with an internal LED.
Display is the first of five sub-menus. It contains an input selector and PIP/PBP options. You can show up to two sources at once, either side-by-side, or one can be in a movable and sizable window. Inputs include two HDMI, one DisplayPort and USB-C.
As expected, the Picture menu has traditional image settings, starting with brightness and contrast. Sharpness imparts visible edge enhancement, so use it sparingly. There are five gamma presets, all of which have flat tracking. The default is 3, but we found slightly better quality on setting 4.
Also under Picture is an option to address Color Temperature. Here are three fixed options plus a User Define setting, which appears in the Custom picture modes. Finally under Picture is AMA, BenQ's term for overdrive. It can be used on either its High or Premium setting without visible ghosting, but we saw no difference between the two.
Eight fixed modes and space for two custom modes make up the picture presets. Unlike other BenQ HDR monitors, the EX3501R does not have an HDR emulation feature; to see HDR, you must provide an HDR signal. Selecting the HDR picture mode only skews gamma and will make SDR content look worse.
We discovered one caveat with the modes: If you want to access the Brightness Intelligence + feature, you must use a preset other than Custom. BI+ uses a front-mounted sensor to measure room light and adjust color temperature to compensate. It’s designed to reduce eye fatigue and can even change the white point over time if you wish.
The Picture Advanced menu has a Low Blue Light feature, Color Vibrance (acts like the color control on a TV and increases perceived saturation), Super Resolution (more edge enhancement), overscan (removes the outer edge of the image and stretches the remaining picture to fit), Display Mode (aspect ratio control) and HDMI RGB PC Range (changes the black threshold for sources that don’t use the proper 16-235 video level standard). If you find clipping in your HDMI-fed material, try changing the HDMI RGB PC Range option to recover lost detail.
The System menu has everything else you might need to set up your EX3501R. The first three control keys can be customized to provide quick access to many different functions. USB-C Configuration lets you choose between 60 or 100Hz modes. A 100Hz connection sets USB capabilities to version 2.0. To access USB 3.1’s higher throughput, you’ll need to limit the connection to 60Hz.
The EX3501R does not need calibration in its Standard, sRGB, or Custom modes. Out-of-box errors measured quite low in our tests, but as always, we dug a bit deeper to find the very best performance.
Custom is the only way to access the RGB sliders, which can buy you a small improvement but you won’t be able to see a difference with the naked eye.
One change we strongly suggest is to select Gamma 4 instead of 3. VA panels have higher contrast and so often benefit from a slightly darker gamma. This punches up color saturation and adds image depth.
Here are our recommend settings:
|BenQ EX3501R Calibration Settings|
|Picture Mode||Custom 1|
|Brightness 200 nits||54|
|Brightness 120 nits||26|
|Brightness 100 nits||19|
|Brightness 80 nits||13|
|Brightness 50 nits||4|
|Color Temp User Define||Red 98, Green 97, Blue 99|
There are no adjustments available in HDR mode. We found little to complain about, however, as it is just as accurate as the SDR presets. As stated earlier, selecting HDR mode for SDR material is not recommended. The altered gamma does not change the picture in a positive way.
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