BenQ EX3501R 35" VA Curved FreeSync HDR Gaming Monitor Review: Good Gaming, Great Looks

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Viewing Angles, Uniformity, Response and FreeSync

Viewing Angles

Curved VA monitors have no issues when viewed head-on or at a slight angle. But at 45° there is a definite shift to red and a 50% light falloff. Gamma doesn’t suffer too much, which means detail is still there. IPS retains its advantage here.

The story is the same when looking at the monitor from above; however, viewing it from this angle nearly wipes out screen detail. So don’t look down on your VA monitor. It just won’t look very good from that angle.

Screen Uniformity

To learn how we measure screen uniformity, please click here.

Our sample showed average screen uniformity. We didn’t see any obvious bleed or glow in the black field pattern, but the numbers show a little extra brightness down the center portion of the panel. At some angles it’s visible when the lights are out, but we there aren't any problems when playing games or watching movies. Color uniformity is technically perfect since the range of error values is comfortably below 3dE. We saw only even white tones from edge to edge.

Pixel Response & Input Lag

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

Gaming is the EX3501R’s forte, and that is supported by an excellent 11 milliseconds (ms) screen response and just 40ms of total input lag. The other monitors here are 60Hz screens, so that explains the victory.

There are faster curved ultra-wides out there, but at this price BenQ offers good performance. The most-skilled gamers will want something faster, but for the vast majority this panel has excellent motion processing and delivers a smooth, fast experience.

Gaming With FreeSync

Even though the EX3501R doesn’t have sufficient FreeSync range for LFC, it didn’t show much tearing at rates below 48fps. We were able to play Tomb Raider in the 40fps range with little problem. That was at the Ultimate detail setting, which is something of a drag for our Radeon R9 285. Turning down to High kept the action solidly over 60fps, which was much better for control response and smoothness. We tried both settings of the AMA controls and found little difference between High and Premium. No ghosting appeared when using the faster option. In either case, motion blur was minimal and almost non-existent at the highest framerates.

As a gaming monitor, the EX3501R will satisfy all but the most competitive players. 100Hz is more than enough speed for players of average skill. The picture quality alone is enough to recommend it. Contrast and color saturation are first-rate. Adding in the wraparound curve and large size just pushes it over the top. Sadly, we had no HDR games to try. Given our findings on the previous page, we’d say this monitor is a good but not stellar candidate for that format. We imagine by the time HDR titles are common, BenQ will have updated this model or released something better.

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.

  • Diji1
    >Right now, there are no games that can take advantage of HDR

    Uh ... Assassin's Creed: Origins, Final Fantasy VI?
  • Diji1
    Final Fantasy 15 even.
  • DerekA_C
    mass effect andromeda I'm more concerned with that 4ms at 100hz YUCK already bought ASUS version and it was TRASH returned it motion blur and input lag VA is not where it needs to be yet ISP is still better.
  • jcroe72
    why are screens being made with internal bezel a portion of the edges being useless its very ugly and misleading
  • Dantte
    21097935 said:
    mass effect andromeda I'm more concerned with that 4ms at 100hz YUCK already bought ASUS version and it was TRASH returned it motion blur and input lag VA is not where it needs to be yet ISP is still better.

    I think you're confusing response time with input lag:

    Response Time is a measure of how fast a pixel can turn on/off (yes I'm simplifying this...) and is what affects "motion blur". VAs are generally faster and better then IPS here and there are ways to fix a monitor with a slow response such as using ULMB.

    Input Lag is the time it takes for a signal sent out by the source to be displayed on the screen, this has no effect on motion blur and IPS are generally faster than VA here. Example, click you mouse button and (40ms) later that action takes place on the screen, this is input lag.

    If you're truely concerned about either of the above items, get a TN panel as it smokes both IPS and VA in both fields, but you will lose a lot of color, contrast, and viewing angle with a TN. I use to do competitive game and my main gaming monitor is still a TN; anytime I'm on a VA or IPS something just feels off and i suspect its the display speed. I didnt give up my CRT (NEC FP2141SB) as my main gaming monitor until 2012 if this says anything about it...
  • saf227
    Do you think there's any chance they'll be releasing this monitor in a G-Sync flavor?
  • Colin_10
    Been waiting for a monitor like this, after experiencing 144hz, going back to a 60hz monitor just for the larger size and curvature wasn't acceptable. A Curved/Freesync/VA/100Hz is in the sweet spot for me.
  • computerguy72
    I'm worried these devices are effectively albatrosses since HDMI 2.1 is out.
  • gaborbarla
    Pros: 100Hz
    Cons: 100Hz