If there's a universal truth about gaming enthusiasts, it's that they are extremely demanding, both in the areas of performance and value. That being said, BenQ has always striven to check as many of the boxes as possible with every display it introduces. Recently, that goal has become tougher to reach now that G-Sync and FreeSync are available.
With frame-rate-matching displays coming from every major manufacturer, can we make room for a premium monitor that doesn't offer the feature? Enter the XR3501. Here, BenQ is hoping to entice buyers with a couple of other unique properties that you won't find elsewhere -- namely a high-contrast AMVA (Advanced Multi-Domain Vertical Alignment) panel coupled with 144Hz and a more extreme-than-the-rest 2000R curvature for an even greater wrap-around effect.
First, let's check out that curve. The other curved displays we've seen sport a 3800R curvature, which means a radius of 3000 millimeters. To put it another way, if you wanted to completely encircle yourself with 3800R monitors, the screens would be 3.8 meters away from a seat placed at the center, and the circle would be 7.6 meters across. BenQ seeks to wrap the screen around more tightly with a curve of 2000R.
You can see the difference in the above photo. On top is the Dell U3415W with a curvature of 3800R like every other curved monitor we've seen thus far. Underneath is the BenQ XR3501. We realize the vertical angles are different but the two curves are easy to tell apart. The biggest impact in actual use is that the BenQ monitor really does wrap around your viewpoint more and you can plainly see the curve in objects on the screen. It's a bit like looking out of an aircraft windshield.
BenQ bills the monitor as ideal for racing games and we agree. The extra field of view afforded by a 21:9 aspect ratio is palpable when playing. The biggest challenge in making driving and flying simulators realistic is mimicking the player's peripheral vision. The XR3501 adds noticeably to the suspension of disbelief in any first-person title.
While this monitor includes a couple of sought-after features, two major things have been left out: G-Sync or FreeSync and high resolution. The spec table is indeed correct, this is a 1080p monitor. At 35 inches diagonal you'd think that would be a deal-breaker, but we urge you to look at an XR3501 in person before passing judgement. The AMVA panel from AU Optronix is a brand-new part with a white LED backlight, full 8-bit color depth and an sRGB gamut. Recalling our review of the BenQ BL3200PT, that AMVA screen proved to have fantastic contrast at about double the level of most IPS screens. The XR3501 aced our tests and we think that extra image depth might just make up for the lower pixel count.
This is a premium-priced product but it has some unique attributes. How does it stack up? Let's take a look.
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