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

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Choosing an entertainment display has become complicated. Do you go for an all-out gaming monitor with speed, adaptive sync and super-fast response? Or do you sacrifice some of that performance for HDR and extended color? Right now, there are no games that can take advantage of HDR. So for the near term, that extra dynamic range is far more useful for watching movies.

By choosing a VA panels you can enjoy more dynamic range at roughly the same prices as the non-HDR competition. And the extra color is there too. Some screens hit 90% of DCI-P3, and the EX3501R isn’t far behind at 80%.

Taken purely as a gaming monitor, the EX3501R is a good display. 100Hz and FreeSync will guarantee a smooth and tear-free experience if your PC is equipped with a mid-grade video card or better. High contrast in SDR mode means a stellar image and solid detail, and 3440x1440 resolution with 8-bit color lightens the processing load a bit more, increasing performance.

As an HDR movie machine, this monitor does some things very well, like exemplary grayscale and EOTF accuracy. Color isn’t quite as full as others, but the gamut is only 5-10% smaller. Plus, 24p film material is processed like a television eliminating the cadence stuttering usually seen on 60Hz monitors. Our only wish is for a vertical stretch mode so we can enjoy all of that beautiful 21:9 screen. Hopefully this'll come in a firmware update.

The EX3501R is a good gaming monitor that adds HDR to enhance the movie experience. There are better screens for video and faster displays for gaming, but none combine features like this BenQ. If you’re looking to add a jumbo curved display to your gaming rig, the EX3501R is a great choice.

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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