BenQ EW3280U Review

8.4 Total Score

The BenQ EW3280U may be one of the BenQ’s entertainment monitors, but this 4K multimedia display covered all aspects of your computing life thanks to fantastic color reproduction, excellent feature set, and affordable price.

  • BenQ picture quality
  • Great HDR and supporting features
  • Exceptional colors and contrasts
  • Great for games and entertainment
  • Only HDR400 certified
  • 5ms response time

The BenQ EW3280U is the latest shot in the brand’s long line of quality monitors, with BenQ consistently impressing with its fantastic releases over the last few years. It’s a 32-inch, 16:9 flat panel that’s a perfect choice for those who need a more versatile screen that excels at workday tasks and is a great all-around tool that provides lots of screen real estate, as well as immersive gaming.

As designed, the BenQ EW3280U aims to not only compete with the best 4K gaming monitors but also attempt to match the best HDR monitors, while being fit for the offering and delivering niche features, like a volume dial, that we haven’t seen elsewhere.

Though the EW3280U is sold as part of BenQ’s entertainment display line, it punches far above its weight and excels for general use too. With a 4K resolution and multiple accurate color modes, this monitor can serve as a professional monitor for anyone working in either the Rec.709 or DCI-P3 color spaces. It boasts a full 10-bits color depth and supports HDR10 signals with a VESA DisplayHDR 400 certification.

While it won’t deliver the same level of HDR fidelity as an HDR display with a full-array backlight, but for an IPS screen at this price range, it delivers decent performance. Gamers will appreciate the EW3280U’s support of AMD FreeSync with SDR or HDR, and from our tests, even though Nvidia hasn’t certified the monitor, it can also G-Sync with SDR and HDR. What’s missing for gamers is the fast refresh rate (just 60Hz), but for an entertainment monitor, we can’t call that a deal-breaker.

BenQ EW3280U Review remote

About the BenQ EW3280U

Overall, the BenQ EW3280U is one unique monitor that packs interesting features, including a well-designed remote monitor and something we’ve never seen on any monitor, a volume dial. Yes, this monitor has an actual mechanical dial underneath the bezel that you can use to adjust the volume of the built-in speakers. Those speakers come with yet another unique feature, a subwoofer. Though the subwoofer is just 1 inch in diameter and powered by a 5-watt op-amp, it churns enough bass than any other monitor we’ve heard recently.

Perhaps the only problem with the BenQ EW3280U is that it comes in a category and price range with strong competition (including competition from BenQ’s own displays). At this price point, sleek and more capable 4K panels are in abundance to pick from, and this is just one among many.

  • Screen size: 32-inch
  • Aspect ratio: 16:9
  • Resolution: 3840 x 2160
  • Panel technology: IPS
  • Brightness: 350cd/m2
  • Contrast ratio: 1,000:1
  • Supported colors: 1.07 billion
  • Colour space coverage: 95% P3

If you’re in the market for a 4K monitor that’s just the right size for work and play and looks good no matter what task you throw at it, the BenQ EW3280U deserves a top spot on your shortlist. After all, BenQ is a household brand in the monitors space, known for beefy hardware, and we can rely on it producing a capable display, and that’s certainly the case here.

BenQ EW3280U Review ports

BenQ EW3280U Review: Design

BenQ uses a simple and minimalist styling on the EW3280U. There’s nothing here that screams ‘gaming monitor’ with just a bezel that’s 8mm on the top and sides and 34mm across the bottom with a fine grill texture and two logos. One of the logos says “HDRi,” which points to the monitor’s ability to adjust the HDR tone map using a room light sensor. This is especially helpful as it optimizes contrast to match your particular room environment.

There’s also a light sensor that can adjust the image’s color temp and brightness to suit different room environments. That’s BenQ’s Brightness Intelligence Plus (BI+), whose usefulness will depend on personal preference.

The stand is very simple with a cast aluminum base and a short upright. The stand doesn’t get much in terms of ergonomics, with the only movements being 15 degrees of back tilt with 5 degrees forward. You don’t get height, swivel, or portrait adjustments. At the back, you can remove a cover to find a 100mm VESA mount.

Though not the first monitor we’ve seen with a remote, the BenQ EW3280U has the best-designed yet. In addition to a power toggle and menu navigation, it includes dedicated keys for HDRi, BI+, and audio mode.  If you’d rather navigate the on-screen display (OSD) with monitor controls, there’s a handy joystick around the back-right along with three buttons.

Connecting is good, but not the best for a monitor at this price point. There are enough input ports – two HDMI 2.0, DP 1.4, and USB-C. However, there isn’t a USB hub or even a single USB port. Luckily, for those still using wired headphones, the .5mm audio port is a welcome extra.

BenQ EW3280U Review remote

BenQ EW3280U Review: Features

As ever, 4K resolution looks excellent on a 32-inch panel, and that’s the first win on this display. The BenQ EW3280U is just the perfect size for that sharp 3840 x 2160 viewing experience. Then there’s BenQ’s BI+ and HDRi sensors we mentioned above, which work in tandem to detect content and current ambient light, and automatically adjust parameters like brightness, contrast, and color temperature to enhance that viewing experience.

That’s in addition to the different color modes available (Cinema HDRi, Rec.709, and Game HDRi), VESA DisplayHDR 400 certification and Low Blue Light presets. You’ll find all of these effective in delivering the best experience possible, whether you’re streaming movies, gaming, or editing videos.

Once again, gamers will appreciate AMD FreeSync technology as it promises smoother, artefact-free gameplay despite the low 60Hz refresh rate. If you need better, there are gaming monitors like the LG 27GL850-B with a 144Hz and short 1ms response rate for buttery smooth gaming on modern AAA titles.

Being a multimedia monitor, it makes a good attempt at delivering a more robust audio department than most displays. It comes with a pair of 2W speakers, alongside a 5W woofer for that extra oomph. It also comes with various sound modes like Cinema, Dialog/Vocal, and Game that are also handy, as is a volume wheel, a new feature on displays.

Finally, the EW3280U has a USB-C port that boasts 60W PD for hooking USB-C peripherals and charging your laptop. We believe that should make up for the missing USB port.

BenQ EW3280U Review back

BenQ EW3280U Review: Performance

Moving away from design and features, it’s on performance that the BenQ EW3280U truly shines. It might just be a monitor for multimedia consumption, but it delivers sharp and crisp picture quality worth of professional use on creative workflows. That’s especially true when you factor in its impressive sRGB and DCI-P3 color gamuts and Rec.709 color mode, excellent viewing angles, and high color accuracy.

The monitor’s DisplayHDR 400 might not be the proper HDR, but it nonetheless delivers accurate color and gives those visuals some pep in saturation, even if it doesn’t do much in boasting the dynamic range in the darkest and brightest sections to compensate for the lost details.  The HDRi modes are equally effective in that same way.

BenQ doesn’t mention anything about the monitor’s color accuracy, but it’s much better than you’d expect from a non-professional monitor. In Datacolor Spyder X Pro colorimeter and DisplayCal 3 calibration software, the EW3280U falls a little short on accuracy, especially for creative work out of the box, but it does improve post-calibration, yielding a Delta-E of just 1.21 and particularly 1.96 for its DCI-P3 color profile.

On the other hand, BenQ advertises a 95% DCI-P3 color gamut, but it delivers better color coverage in testing. It yields 99.9% of sRGB, as well as a higher 97.3% of the DCI-P3 color space. Brightness also falls short, albeit only a little behind BenQ’s advertised numbers. In testing, it scores 343cd/m2 and 990:1 contrast ration and 100% brightness. That’s within striking distance of the 350-nit brightness and 1,000:1 contrast ratio BenQ has promised on its official website.

BenQ EW3280U Premium Monitor 32" 4K UHD w/ Remote Control | IPS | HDRi |...
  • Your #1 Source of Entertainment: Experience endless entertainment with this 32 Inch 4K IPS...
  • USB-C Connectivity: Synchronize images, videos, data and charge all of your mobile devices...
  • HDRi Optimization: Get ready for a cinematic experience thanks to the HDRi optimization...

Gaming Performance

As we review more HDR monitors, it’s constantly getting clear that proper setup of both display and software is key. Though the BenQ EW3280U lacks a wide dynamic range or zone dimming, its HDRi feature makes for a better HDR image than many edge-lit screens we’ve reviewed. For instance, you’ll realize that Display HDR mode works best with HDR-enabled games like Call of Duty: WWII, as it boasts the color quality and offers a nice bump in contrast.

Playing SDR mode games like Tomb Raider also gives you a taste of the monitor’s HDR emulation. With that feature turned off, the color looks rich, but elevated black levels wash out the image. This is a limitation of the IPS panel used here, but turning on HDRi improves the look dramatically.

Away from games, the EW3280U does a great job with photo and video content, thanks to its color accuracy. SDR and HDR video display on the monitor with their proper color gamuts, and for most workday tasks, like document editing and picture processing, the larger gamut of the User mode works great.

Overall, the BenQ EW3280U is certainly a flexible display that’s equally capable for productivity, entertainment, and gaming, alike. Its pictures are rich and vibrant, and the quality is as good as any premium TV set.

BenQ EW3280U Review | Verdict

There are plenty of monitors best suited for gaming and others sharply focused on specific tasks or general productivity. However, finding a display that balances entertainment with accuracy while offering the latest Adaptive-Sync and HDR technologies takes a keen eye and a little more effort. Usually, such products are only available in premium tiers with high prices to match. But if you’re shopping on a tight budget, you’ll have to do with some sacrifices.

The BenQ EW3280U is one of the few, better-balanced displays we’ve reviewed. On the entertainment side, it pops with FreeSync and G-Sync (unofficial), both with HDR. While its IPS panel has low contrast, the HDRi feature, that’s unique to BenQ, does a good job of improving perceived contrast with SDR. Combine that with its near-full coverage of the DCI-P3 gamut and excellent accuracy, and you have a solid 4K monitor with gorgeous picture that won’t break the bank.

Gamers will readily appreciate the EW3280U’s support for both AMD and Nvidia technologies, though some may wish the 60Hz refresh rate were higher. That’s readily available in other displays at a higher cost, of course. At this price though, Ultra HD is going to max at 60Hz. Despite that, you’ll enjoy the gaming experience, and for casual gamers, input lag won’t be a problem.

Should you buy the BenQ EW3280U?

The BenQ EW3280U is a perfect choice for anyone looking for a large flat screen in the traditional 16:9 and a 4K resolution. It’s a capable gaming monitor, professional display, and enterprise screen all baked into one. And for the price, it’s killer value.

Last update on 2024-06-13 at 08:48 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

BenQ EW3280U 32 inch 4K Monitor | IPS | Multi Media with HDMI connectivity HDR Eye-Care Integrated Speakers and Custom Audio Modes

$649.99  in stock
7 new from $649.99
3 used from $469.99
Free shipping
as of June 13, 2024 8:41 am
BenQ EW3280U Review
BenQ EW3280U Review
Digital Weekly