BenQ SW271 4K Monitor Review

BenQ SW271 4K Monitor Review - We review the BenQ SW271 - a 27inch 4K monitor capable of HDR, AdobeRGB, sRGB and more.

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BenQ SW271 in Display Devices

Features
Handling
Performance
Verdict
Specification

SW271

The BenQ SW271 is one of the latest photographic monitors from BenQ, and not only features a 4K (3840x2160) resolution, and Adobe RGB, but also features HDR and 10bit colour. The last monitor we reviewed from BenQ was the SW320, a 4K 31.5inch screen.

The SW271 features a thin bezel and offers 99% AdobeRGB, 100% sRGB, 100% Rec.709, plus a High Dynamic Range (HDR) mode. Hardware calibration is possible using BenQ's Palette Master Element software, with a compatible calibration device. There's a darkroom and a black and white photo mode, and the monitor includes a shading hood as well as a controller, all for around £1050.

BenQ SW271 Features

BenQ SW271 In Use Ephotozine

The monitor is supported by an easily manoeuvrable height adjustable stand, which easily accommodates the monitor in both landscape and portrait orientation and makes it easy to find a comfortable viewing position. The design includes a route for the cables, as well as a place to put the Hotkey Puck / remote control, which plugs into a MiniUSB socket in the back of the monitor.

Designed for photography, and colour accurate work such as graphic design, the monitor is designed to work with BenQ's Palette Master Element software, which is used to calibrate the monitor display, and updates the monitor's LUT (Colour Look Up Tables) to ensure accurate colour is consistently displayed. The monitor is calibrated at the factory, and a sheet is provided to show the results of calibration with a maximum colour deviation of below 2 (max 1.02 - tested using a KM CA310). It's a good idea to calibrate regularly and to do this using the provided software you will need to use a calibration device such as a Spyder4, 5 or i1 Display Pro. If you use multiple monitors, then it's worthwhile calibrating both devices.

The monitor uses an IPS panel, with viewing angles of 178/178 degrees. The monitor can display 1.07 billion colours (10bit colour reproduction), and maximum brightness is 350cm/m2 with a contrast ratio of 1000:1. Video inputs include HDMI (2.0 x2), DisplayPort, and USB-C (3.1), and there's a headphone jack for audio output.

Response time is 5ms grey-to-grey, which should be good for video (and gaming), as response times below 8ms are generally considered good by today's standards. The monitor also features a built-in USB3 hub with two ports, and an SD card reader. 

DisplayPort and HDMI inputs are included for connecting to various types of graphics adapters, and in order to get the full 4K UHD resolution, you'll need to ensure your computer hardware is up to the task. We used an NVidia Geforce 1050 graphics card with this monitor.

 

BenQ Sw271 Borders (1)

When using the DisplayPort or latest HDMI cable, simultaneous 10-bit colour display is possible, via a 14bit look-up table, which means the display is capable of displaying more than one billion colours at once. 

The monitor supports a number of calibration devices which are needed for use with the BenQ Palette Master Element software. The devices supported include X-Rite i1 Display Pro / i1 Pro / i1 Pro 2 & Datacolor Spyder 4 and Spyder 5‎.

You'll need to download the software from BenQ's website. Unfortunately, the software isn't included on the CD in the box, which is a shame, although it does mean you will be downloading the latest version. 

 

For HDR (High Dynamic Range) you can use the provided HDMI cable, and with this cable, you're able to display the full resolution of 3840x2160. The NVidia GeForce 1050 graphics card also supports HDR, and it looks like if you have the right games, then you might be able to play games in HDR. You can also enable this in Windows 10.

Windows10 HDR Toggle
Windows 10 HDR Toggle

Windows10 10bit HDR
Windows 10 10bit HDR

HDMI cables come in a number of different specifications, and in order to support the full resolution of the monitor, you need to ensure your cable (and graphics card) is the correct type.

Key Features

  • 27inch 16:9 matt screen 
  • 3840x2160 (UHD) native resolution 
  • 1000:1 native contrast ratio
  • 350 cd/m2 brightness, 5ms response time (GTG)
  • DisplayPort 1.4, and HDMI 2.0 inputs
  • Palette Master Element colour calibration software
  • Black-and-White photo mode, Darkroom mode
  • Wide Colour Gamut (99% AdobeRGB, 100% Rec. 709)
  • 14-bit 3D Look Up Table (LUT) 
  • "Hotkey Puck" Control (Remote)
  • Shading Hood, with gap for calibration device
  • USB 3.1 hub, Headphone jack
  • Landscape / Portrait orientation
  • 3-year warranty

BenQ SW271 Handling

BenQ SW271 Detail (2)
Hotkey Puck

The BenQ SW271 impresses with its business style design and thin and flat bezel around the top and sides of the screen. There is a blue ring for putting the cables through. A weight of 16.4kg is quite heavy, although the stand has no problem supporting the weight, whilst offering ease of adjustment for height, tilt and orientation. The power light and on/off button isn't too bright a white.

BenQ SW271 In Use (1)

A cable tidy is included on the rear of the stand for keeping everything neat once it’s set up how you like. There's also a handle at the top, making it easier to lift the monitor if needed.

The monitor can swivel 45 degrees left and right, which isn't much when compared to an EIZO ColorEdge monitor, and if you regularly want to show others what's on your screen then this may feel limiting. The screen tilts down -5 degrees and up 20 degrees, and you can move it up 150-160mm.

BenQ SW271 In Use (2)
Quick Menu and buttons

You can quickly change between calibration profiles using the remote controller, and you can set buttons 1, 2, and 3 to your preferred colour modes. There are a plethora of built-in colour modes: AdobeRGB, sRGB, Black and White, Rec. 709, DCI-P3, HDR, DICOM, Darkroom, Calibration 1, Calibration 2, Calibration 3, Custom 1 and Custom 2.

BenQ SW271 Detail (3)
BenQ SW271 Rear Ports

The ports available are HDMI (x2), Displayport, USB-Type-C, as well as a headphone socket, a USB upstream connection, and Micro/MiniUSB for the Hotkey remote control. There are two USB 3.1 sockets and an SD card reader on the left-hand side of the monitor.

BenQ SW271 Detail (1)
BenQ SW271 USB and SD Card sockets

There is no way to attach a device via an analogue connection to this display, so owners of computers using older graphics hardware (or many older Windows/Linux compatible laptops) may need to upgrade their equipment to use this monitor. A full range of cables and a hood for shading the display are provided in the box, leaving you needing nothing extra, in order to set it up.


BenQ SW320 Menus

BenQ SW271 In Use (5)
 

 

BenQ SW271 Performance

BenQ SW271 In Use White

One of the toughest tests for any monitor is how well a monitor can display white. So we've taken a photo of the screen displaying 100% white, with white balance on the camera set using the central point of the monitor. The monitor has a slight magenta / pink hue on the right-hand side of the monitor and a very slight green cast on the left-hand side of the monitor. 

The resolution of 3840x2160‎ provides plenty of working space, while text is comfortable to read with Windows font set to 125%, although you may want to increase the font size further. 

This resolution provides more than enough space for working with several programs on at the same time, and you can view a full 8-megapixel photo at 100% on the screen. If you regularly deal with large images or need to view a lot of an image, in detail, then the high-resolution will be particularly useful. For 4K (UHD) video, the monitor's resolution is ideal, letting you view the full detail in the video.

Viewing angles are 178 degrees for both vertical and horizontal, which is very good. Although the viewing angle is typical for a high-end display using IPS panel technology, those who are used to the older TN panel technology will be impressed by the difference this makes. Colour and brightness remain fairly consistent, although can change towards the left and right if you are not positioned in front of the middle of the monitor.

BenQ SW271 Borders (2)

Video quality is good with excellent blacks and good contrast, and the screen updates quickly with no visible ghosting even with rapidly changing action. There is very little backlight bleed which is common on budget orientated monitors using IPS panel technology. The matt screen surface also helps to ensure reflections are kept to a minimum, although there was a slight reflection visible with bright light sources.

Using BenQ's software Palette Master Element you need to use a calibration device to calibrate the monitor, such as the X-Rite i1 Display Pro. 

 

BenQ SW271 Measurements and Calibration

BenQ's Palette Master Element is like a slower, more basic version of the i1 Display Pro software you get with the i1 Display Pro calibrator, although it does have the benefit of updating the screen's LUT. 


BenQ Calibration

Using Palette Master Element

Benq Sw271 Calibration1
Benq Sw271 Calibration1

We used BenQ's Palette Master Element software, set the colour mode to Calibration 1, 120cd/m2, 6505K colour, and ran the calibration, with an i1 Display Pro. The results for colour temperature was 6527K, and brightness is very close to the requested 120 cd/m2 value, at 121 cd/m2.

 

Benq Calibration Results
Benq Calibration Results - set to AdobeRGB

Validation Report - Using the advanced mode on Palette Master Element, you are able to measure the monitor's colour performance (Calibration 1), and we measured an average ΔE of 1.72, and a maximum ΔE of 3.81, which is good.

Nb. Delta-E (ΔE) is the measurement of the difference between the expected or requested colour, and the actual colour measured by the calibration device. The lower this number, the better.

It's possible to save the results of performance as an HTML document so that you have a record of how the monitor is performing, which could be particularly important for colour critical work or to show that your computer and monitor is set up correctly. 

 

Using i1 Display Pro to measure the performance of the monitor:

BenQ SW271 I1profiler 110cdm2 New
BenQ SW271 I1 Display Pro Results

Colour results - Black luminance was measured at 0.782cd/m2, luminance 110 cd/m2 (120 requested), and contrast ratio of 140:1. Colour temperature was 6518K, which is very close to the requested 6500K. 

 

BenQ SW271 I1profiler Updated
BenQ SW271 I1 Display Pro Results

Measuring the colour difference (Delta-E again), with the i1 Display Pro, the average was 0.86, maximum 1.73, very good results. 

 

White point and Luminance results, and measuring uniformity across the screen:

Using the i1 Display Pro and i1 Profiler Software, 6493K was the Colour temperature achieved in the centre of the monitor, but this deviated as we measured different points on the screen. Luminance was the requested 120 cd/m2, is 120 cd/m2 in the centre of the frame.

Brightness across the screen is fairly consistent, with the worst result a deviation in brightness of 15%, with most of the screen giving better uniformity (around 10%).

BenQ SW271 Luminance Levels
BenQ SW271 Luminance Levels - 15% biggest difference. 

Colour temperature across the screen was quite good, although there was a stronger deviation on the left of the screen. The colour difference across the screen, shown at the beginning of the performance section, which shows a magenta tint on the right-hand side of the screen, and a cyan tint on the left of the screen, also shows in the black and white mode, which may disappoint those interested in pure black and white viewing.

BenQ SW271 White Points
BenQ SW271 White Points - 237K difference.

 

However, greys are good, with them looking grey, with minimal tint, unless you've moved the image to the left or right of the screen. We found the best colour results were from using a calibration device in combination with the Palette Master Element software, which meant the software was able to write the calibration results to the monitor's LUT.

 

Value For Money

The BenQ SW271 is available for around £1066 and comes with a 3-year warranty, making it quite good value for money, although you will need to purchase a colour calibration device for the best results.

There aren't many other 27inch 4K monitors with AdobeRGB, or HDR, designed for colour critical work. However you could look at the BenQ SW320 is (£1245 including VAT), or the colour calibrated 4K EIZO ColorEdge CG318-4K (31.1inch), although with a price of around £3700 it is more expensive. There's also the NEC PA322UHD available for around £2665.

 

BenQ SW271 Verdict

The BenQ SW271 offers 4K resolution, AdobeRGB colour, HDR, and the monitor has a stylish design with a thin border. Text and images are sharp, crisp and clear. Colour is excellent, although consistency could be better towards the left and right-hand sides, where there is a slight colour shift. The monitor also offers good value for money, being one of the cheaper colour critical 27inch monitors available with HDR (High Dynamic Range) support. The resolution is very good at 3840x2160, with the high-resolution making it easy to use multiple windows.

If you want to see more of your image, or need to view and edit 4K video, then this should provide a suitable solution. Once calibrated the image displays excellent colour, and viewing photographs is a pleasure.

The monitor is well designed, and the remote control makes it easier and quicker to change settings, and the built-in USB3 hub with SD card reader is an excellent addition. The monitor and hood are ergonomically designed, with a stand that gives a reasonable range of adjustments, including the ability to swivel the screen into portrait orientation. For those that want an ultra high-resolution monitor to view 4K video, and edit photos, the BenQ SW271 is a great choice. The monitor is particularly suited for photographers, designers and graphic artists. 

 

BenQ SW271 Pros

  • High image quality
  • Very good colour performance
  • Portrait / Landscape Orientation
  • 3-year warranty
  • Very good value for money
  • 10-bit display
  • Built-in USB3 hub and SD card reader
  • Cables included in box 

BenQ SW271 Cons

  • Could tilt and rotate more
  • Palette Master Element is slow
  • Not completely uniform across the display, with tints to some areas
  • 4K resolution may be too high for some (unless you increase the text size)
  • No DVI port

Features5/5
Handling4.5/5
Performance4/5
Value4.5/5
Overall Verdict

 

 

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