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BenQ XL2730Z 27-inch FreeSync Monitor Review

For our first chance to examine AMD’s FreeSync, BenQ sent us its brand-new XL2730Z, and we’re running it through our demanding suite.

QHD, FreeSync And More

Once again, BenQ delivers an excellent gaming monitor to the marketplace. Not only does the XL2730Z offer lots of player-oriented features and FreeSync support, it comes with performance that almost qualifies it as a professional screen.

Of course FreeSync is the star here, and it’s the main reason to consider purchasing one of these for your high-end gaming rig. We say high-end because, like all cutting-edge products, the tech isn't cheap. Expect to spend nearly $300 more than the excellent XL2720Z. That extra coin buys you QHD resolution and frame rate-matching. But this is still a TN panel, which will turn some users off. Its nearest competition is the Asus ROG Swift PG278Q. After spending some time priced near $1000, that display is back down in the $750 range. Still, once you’ve experienced the smoothness of G-Sync or FreeSync, it’s really hard to go back to a vanilla 144Hz screen.

To further distance itself from the competition, BenQ takes huge strides with its blur-reduction technology. The earliest gaming monitors with the feature had on/off switches, which meant dropping light output by more than half. Unless you started with a panel rated at over 450cd/m2, you had a barely-usable image when strobing was active. Asus includes a pulse width adjustment with its ROG Swift, and other manufacturers have followed suit. Our favorite implementations, though, come from BenQ and LG. Both manage to strike an ideal balance between light output and blur-reduction to the point where you can actually use the feature all of the time. And it bears mentioning that the XL2730Z is one of the few screens that can do it at 144Hz.

Other value-adds include the OSD controller, which we just can’t say enough good things about. Typically, you'd configure the display and never visit its menus again. For gaming, however, it is sometimes necessary to move outside the strict parameters of calibration when you need better detail rendering or more saturated color in specific situations. The XL2730Z allows that with useful gamma presets, a Color Vibrance control and the aforementioned blur-reduction adjustments.

And we can’t finish this review without again mentioning BenQ’s excellent build quality. When you unpack the XL2730Z, you can’t help but be impressed by the solid aluminum upright coupled with a super-rigid base and a panel chassis completely devoid of flex. As an assembled unit, it moves with precision into whatever position you desire. To top it off, you get a handy headphone hook (also made from aluminum), a sturdy carry handle cast right into the upright and even a nice dust cover to keep your new purchase clean. It all adds up to a package that, while pricey, delivers a lot of quality both behind and in front of the screen.

For its excellent performance, no-fuss FreeSync implementation, top-shelf motion blur-reduction and solid build quality, we’re giving the BenQ XL2730Z our Tom’s Hardware Editor Recommended Award.


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Christian Eberle is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware, covering Monitors and TVs.

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  • norseman4
    I don't understand why the price is so high. The only things I see that are different (in any meaningful way) from the Acer XG270HU (which I have, and am a fan of) is hight adjustment and an external puck to load configurable screen settings. (that is pretty cool though)

    The Acer also doesn't have the raised bezel that is actually about 8mm (Top, Left and Right)

    The Benq looks like a good monitor, I just don't see what justifies the premium price.
    Reply
  • Xajel
    I'll wait for 29" 21:9 1440p instead, the only option available is curved, which is pricey, I don't see the curvation worth the extra cost... FreeSync is a plus but this will drive the cost up again ( to have a 144Hz panel at that resolution )... and please add a USB 3.1 hub with 2x Type-A & 2x Type-C ports
    Reply
  • eklipz330
    i may have missed it in the article, but what is the range of frames freesync covers on this monitor?
    Reply
  • I Hate Nvidia
    i may have missed it in the article, but what is the range of frames freesync covers on this monitor?
    First thing I was thinking of is FreeSync Range , and I double checked the article and there is no mention of it at all! I think the writer is not well informed regarding FreeSync - GSync Range.
    Reply
  • ceberle
    The frame-rate range is 40-144Hz.

    -Christian-
    Reply
  • JTWrenn
    This was a good article for a monitor review....it was a very bad article for one of the first Freesync monitors to be released. Many of us wanted more info on that and you acted like all monitors are the same as long as the tech works...that is just not true. Please add more about the Freesync tech, how it worked and what it's limitations were.
    Reply
  • singemagique
    Why does the author not add a comparison to the Acer XB270HU? Instead they make reference to the ROG Swift? At ~$740, the XB270HU offers 1440p, 144hz, and Gsync on an IPS panel and is definitely at the top of my list at this price point. Could Toms please add info on the Acer panel to this review?
    Reply
  • Falkentyne
    Christian, I sent you an email about Version 4 firmware for the previous monitor you reviewed--the XL2720Z.
    And "Area" is the same thing as "strobe phase" is on the older Z series.

    http://forums.blurbusters.com/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=560
    Reply
  • Bondfc11
    He says it's 40-144, but has that been tested? Or is that just the normal statement? Recall plenty of FS monitors state a range and then the panel won't oblige once it was properly tested.
    Reply
  • Falkentyne
    That's the refresh rate capability, NOT the blur reduction rate capability. The older Z series can't even single strobe at 50hz without a Vertical Total tweak which tricks the scaler into using 60hz backlight pulse widths (if you try single strobe at 50hz without it, the backlight becomes overdriven with voltage and the current makes the monitor reset from overcurrent protection.

    It can "double strobe" at 50hz and 60hz but that's only because the single strobe option is missing from the service menu (it was there in all of the previous benq blur reduction monitors including the 2430T).
    Reply