BenQ XR3501 35-Inch Curved Monitor Review

BenQ's XR3051 high-contrast AMVA panel offers an impressive 2000R curvature and a 144Hz refresh rate along with some very unique attributes.

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.

Specifications

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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  • Realist9
    1080p at 35 inches. No. 5 years ago? Maybe. Today? No.

    And someone dropping $1000 on their monitor is very unlikely to have a sub $300 video card.

    No excuses. This should have been at least 1440p. I was excited until I saw that.
  • Other Comments
  • Soul_keeper
    Everytime I see these display news/reviews I look for the power usage numbers and end up having to google for them.
    Can you start adding the power usage to the specs tables ?

    thanks
  • Grognak
    A thousand bucks for 80 ppi?
  • iam2thecrowe
    Quote:
    Everytime I see these display news/reviews I look for the power usage numbers and end up having to google for them.
    Can you start adding the power usage to the specs tables ?
    thanks

    I don't know, I have never looked at power usage specs when deciding which monitor to buy. Ever. It is expensive for only 1080 vertical pixels though. Would rather settle for a 60hz model with 1440 for a similar price.
  • rajeshgoblet
    'The other curved displays we've seen sport a 3800R curvature, which means a radius of 3000 millimeters.' i think its a little bit typo. 3000 should be 3800 milimeters.
  • Shankovich
    Seems pretty good. Don't mean to sound like a whiner but for $1000 I would expect 10 bit colour on it. Then again loving that 144 Hz, can't complain about anything else really.
  • Realist9
    1080p at 35 inches. No. 5 years ago? Maybe. Today? No.

    And someone dropping $1000 on their monitor is very unlikely to have a sub $300 video card.

    No excuses. This should have been at least 1440p. I was excited until I saw that.
  • eklipz330
    this is clearly an attempt at milking the market. next year they will have a 1440p variant, and the year after they will finally incorporate freesync/gsync.

    they could have at least made it 1200p
  • HideOut
    1080p. Why wouldnt you just buy a 1080p TV for less at that point...
  • noobzilla771
    Got excited until that 1080p....
  • atwspoon
    Waiting for "curved" to die out like "3D." More on this FreeSync and G-Sync tech!
  • eklipz330
    Quote:
    Waiting for "curved" to die out like "3D." More on this FreeSync and G-Sync tech!

    curved monitors are dope. don't know what you're smoking, but it sucks.
  • atwspoon
    Anonymous said:
    Quote:
    Waiting for "curved" to die out like "3D." More on this FreeSync and G-Sync tech!

    curved monitors are dope. don't know what you're smoking, but it sucks.


    Iron Man's projected computer screens are dope, and I can't wait for those. Curved monitors are a cosmetic gimmick to me, but to each his own : ).
  • picture_perfect
    Quote:
    You will start to see tearing when the framerate drops


    Hey Christian, good review but I think you mean judder, not tearing. Tearing (horizontal lines) is when frame rate outpaces refresh. Judder (double images) is when frame rate drops below refresh. Nobody is ever going to get tearing on a 144hz monitor without 4-way SLI.

    This monitor seems like a bad idea. Without G-sync, the mismatch between frame rate and hz will make a lot of judder and blur. That's in addition to any response time blur, which is why motion performance needs to be tested with a pursuit camera. Then we get the whole story.
  • peterf28
    Wtf, in Europe this costs more than €1000 Eur . Fuck. I would buy this for €700 Eur max .
  • ozicom
    I think monitor manufacturers think that we'll buy whatever they make. This monitor means nothing now because there're curved 40" TV's that can be used from HDMI 2.0. So if I can use 2160p at 60hz why should i pay more for a 1080p monitor? Also it doesn't have Freesync or G-sync what they're thinking while designing this product?
  • eriko
    I can't believe they are ignoring their customers.

    If this had been 3440x1440, I'd have pre-ordered immediately.

    I nearly bought the Dell, chickened out at the 60Hz refresh rate, I've been watching this other one, but its only 75Hz, or 100Hz on G-sync. So managed to hold off there too.

    1080p is annoying now.
  • gaborbarla
    Quote:
    Waiting for "curved" to die out like "3D." More on this FreeSync and G-Sync tech!


    So far everyone (and I mean everyone) that has used 30" curved screen eventually admitted that curved is necessary on such a large screen. Why? Because you don't want such a variance of distance from your eyes from the center of the screen to the side of the screen. It is just not comfortable to work on large flatscreen panels on the edges. Another reason is that you normally only one person working on the PC, while this is not always true for Curved TVs I am sure that curved monitors will break through the ignorance barrier.

    Gsync and Freesync is not necessary at higher framerates. Sure it is good to have, but anything over 100FPS does not warrant the need for those technologies if used properly, and by that I mean used with a fast Graphics card or two. This monitor is 144Hz, if you are using freesync you are doing it wrong.
  • gaborbarla
    Ok so make this monitor 3440x1440 and reduce the curve to be in between 2000R and 3800R and you have a winner...
  • red77star
    Curvature -> what a useless thing that is. I am more interesting in 16:10 ratio than useless 16:9 or 21:9. Wtf came up with 16:9? It should be 16:10.
  • Xivilain
    Acer Predator XR34 ... is better than this BenQ monitor at this price range. Oh well.
    75hz FreeSync 3440x1440 curved.
    http://pcpartpicker.com/part/acer-monitor-umcx1aa001