BenQ BL3200PT 32-inch 1440p monitor review

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The BenQ BL3200PT is a massive, high resolution monitor, with a thirty-two inch diagonal and a 2560 x 1440 resolution. It’s the bigger brother to the BenQ BL2710PT monitor I reviewed earlier this year, offering a whole lot of screen for around £500. The feature-filled monitor is designed for professionals – like photographers, graphic designers and CAD/CAM operators – but could also hook gamers looking for something more than the 27-inch 1440p standard. Let’s see how it shapes up.

 

Features

  • 2560 x 1440 QHD resolution
  • CAD/CAM mode for precision design
  • Animation mode
  • Wide viewing angle panel and 100% sRGB
  • Rotate screen with Display Pilot software
  • OSD controller – viewing adjustments in an instant
  • Sleek ergo-design
  • I/O ports on the side
  • Slim bezel for dual monitor setup
  • Ergo monitor with height, tilt, pivot, stroke + swivel adjustments
  • Flicker-free and low blue light mode, eye protect sensor
 

Specifications

  • Screen size: 32 inches
  • Aspect ratio: 16:9
  • Resolution: 2560×1440
  • Pixel Pitch: 0.276mm
  • Brightness: 300 cd/㎡
  • Contrast: 3000:1
  • Panel Type: VA
  • Viewing Angle: 178 l/r, 178 u/d
  • Response Time: 12ms, 4ms (GtG)
  • Display colours: 1.07 Billion
  • Colour Gamut: 100% sRGB
  • Inputs: VGA, DVI, DP 1.2, HDMI, 3.5mm in/out
  • Speaker: 2x 5W
  • USB Ports: 2x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0, miniUSB for OSD controller
  • Dimensions: 640.2 x 740.3 x 232.5mm
  • Net Weight: 13kg
 

Physical Features

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The BL3200PT has a more advanced look than its 27-inch cousin. The 32-inch screen is wrapped in a very thin bezel, and sits atop a metal stand. Two 5W speakers are built into the rear of the monitor.

has_bl3200pt

This stand curves toward you at its bottom to meet the plastic base. It allows the monitor to rotate 90 degrees and/or tilt back, forward, left or right 178 degrees.

base

The bottom of the metal portion includes a small bowl which fits the OSD controller perfectly. The rest of the base is quite flat.

ports2

The right hand side of the monitor houses its hub, which includes two USB 3.0 ports and a headphone jack. These are passed through the monitor to your computer, and offer more convenient access than the same jacks on most PCs.

ports

The right hand also has some of the monitor’s ports; specifically its HDMI, DVI-D, VGA and Display Port 1.2 ports. These are easily to see and use than ports facing down on the back of the monitor, and the monitor is big enough that cables don’t stick out the side.

ports3

The remaining ports are on the back of the monitor, facing down. These include the power, microUSB, two USB 2.0 and the USB / headphone passthrough cables which connect to your computer. These are intended to be the cables that you’ll leave plugged in pretty much all of the time.

stand

The monitor connects together in the same way as other BenQ models, with a folding thumbscrew on the bottom of the base and a stand that clicks into the rear of the monitor.

Overall, it’s an impressive package, and the metal stand really provides a touch of class to the whole operation. The BL3200PT is a good looking monitor, if not quite at the level of the most stylised options on the market.

 

Testing

As usual, we’ll evaluate this monitor with a combination of synthetic benchmarking (via the Spyder4Elite calibration tool) and overall impressions after using the monitor for a period of weeks.

 

Benchmarks

The BL3200PT uses a VA panel, so our expectation is for good contrast scores and worse colour accuracy than we’d find on an IPS panel – but better than that of a TN display. Let’s see how these results compare to those expectations.

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One thing we see immediately is excellent DeltaE values for 50% grey and good contrast – once calibrated, our white / black measurements are 119.1 / 0.13 candelas, for a contrast ratio of 916:1.

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So out of the box we can immediately see that we’re between IPS and TN when it comes display standards. We hit 100% of sRGB (our last TN panel hit 96%), but 71% NTSC and 74% AdobeRBG values are a little way off the last BenQ IPS screen we saw (which was 72% NTSC and 79% AdobeRGB).

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Good contrast is shown at each measured brightness setting, from 930:1 at the lowest setting to 1160:1 at full brightness. In practice, you’re likely to be on around 25~50% brightness, so you can expect at least 1000:1 – a very good result. The white point was a little high compared to the 6500k target, but was still reasonable.

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You can see that there are quite a few presets available on the BL3200PT, which made this part of the benchmarking quite take some time! You can see that contrast ratios and white points vary substantially between these, with the presentation mode accurately simulating a projector’s high black levels.

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We expected reasonable if not great colour accuracy from the VA panel, and that’s essentially what we found. Some DeltaE values were very good, but these were balanced by some very high values. An average of 3.82 is tolerable for Photoshop and other graphics work (just above the ideal 3.0 mark), but for really colour-sensitive use you’ll need a wide gamut monitor with better accuracy.

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Colour uniformity is fairly important for multimedia work, and we found very good DeltaE values across the board. The lower left corner proved the outlier, but even this was only 1.7 points out of whack – pretty good.

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I’d argue that luminance uniformity is more important than colour uniformity for gaming, and here we do see slightly worse results. Still, the biggest difference of 20% isn’t too poor.

All in all, a reasonable showing that’s in line with our expectations: decent to bad colour accuracy and gamut, good contrast ratios and a reasonably uniform display.

 

Subjective Results

Gaming

Gaming on the BL3200PT is quite remarkable. The span of the 32-inch display is uncommonly large, providing an immersive experience even when sitting some distance back. The pixel density is lower here compared to a 27-inch 1440p monitor, but it still remains sharp enough that things look good… it just means that individual pixels, like an enemy’s head, are just that tad bit bigger. The density is comparable to a 24-inch 1080p monitor, which seems quite ideal.

A 27" display (green) compared to 32" monitor (blue)
A 27″ display (green) compared to 32″ monitor (blue)

Remaining at 1440p instead of making the jump to 4K (2160p) also means that your computer has an easier time cranking out enough frames to keep things smooth.

The BL3200PT impresses in other areas too. Viewing angles are quite good, so it’s quite possible to have a few people crowd around the monitor for some split-screen gaming, on PCs or consoles – even if they’re sitting on the floor or off to one side. You couldn’t really do this comfortably with 24 or 27-inch monitors, but at 32 inches you’re getting into TV territory.

slim_bl3200pt

The bezels of the monitor are also quite slim, making it a decent choice for a tree-monitor Eyefinity arrangement. Of course, triple 32-inch monitors is quite a considerable investment of both space and expense.

Response times are a common bugbear for non-TN panels, with the VA panels used by BenQ regarded as being distinctly average at best. However, the BL3200PT seems to offer some minor improvements, particularly when the AMA Overdrive setting is switched to ‘High’. With this engaged, I didn’t notice much blurring or other artefacts, with response times measured at around 12ms. The other two settings (‘Off’ and ‘Premium’) seem far inferior, offering higher response times and ridiculous overshooting, respectively… so leave the monitor on the ‘High’ default.

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All in all, as a gaming machine the BL3200PT was quite reasonable. The 1440p resolution worked well for PC gaming, and the large 32-inch span made it ideal for multiplayer console games as well – a rarity for a PC monitor. Viewing angles and response times were good enough, although hardcore gamers might prefer a monitor with higher refresh rates and lower response times like the BenQ XL2720Z.

Work

As I mentioned in the gaming section, the 32-inch span and 2560×1440 resolution seem well matched. You get a noticeable increase in real estate over a 1080p monitor, without running into the tiny-text-and-buttons DPI problems of a 4K monitor. With a 27-inch 1440p monitor I tend to enlarge the text of a lot of websites in order to read more easily; I needed to do this far less frequently on the 32-inch BL3200PT.

2560×1440 is generally a good resolution for getting stuff done, as you can get two websites open side-by-side at that common 1280 pixel minimum width. It also means you can work on 1080p content 1:1, with some room left over on each side for toolbars, menus and the like.

precision_bl2710pt
Standard (Left), CAD/CAM mode (Right)

It is professional use–CAD/CAM, Photoshop, Premiere–that is the proclaimed focus of the BL3200PT, so you would expect that the monitor excel in this department. And for the most part, that is indeed the case.

The panel itself is great for 3D modelling, and with decent colour accuracy and excellent contrast after initial calibration you can work easily in Photoshop or Premiere as well. While IPS displays remain the kings of the Photoshop circuit, BenQ have made good strides with their VA panels and they’re certainly a reasonable choice here.

Of course, a monitor’s quality isn’t only dependent on the panel itself. BenQ have helped their case considerably through the inclusion of their OSD, which is both comprehensive and easy to use.

OSD

The touch-sensitive buttons on the face of the monitor are among the best I’ve ever used, making even the arduous task of testing every single mode for benchmarking quite easy.

controller

This is further helped by the optional controller, which is ensconced neatly in the monitor’s base but can be removed for extended use. The controller seems a bit easier to use than the wheel-and-buttons unit included with the BL2710PT, as it has four-way directional control instead of a simple scroll, and definitely helps when you’re fine-tuning the monitor.

I alluded to the different modes available to the monitor in the last paragraph, and there certainly are a considerable number of them. There are two modes specifically for CAD/CAM work, intended to make thin wireframes show up more easily. There are also modes for high colour accuracy and blue light reduction, both of which are welcome from time to time.

io_bl3200pt

Finally, the monitor is also well equipped with ports. There are a pair of USB ports on the right hand side, along with a headphone jack, so you can plug any oft-removed devices into these instead of some port on the back of your PC. The A/V ports–HDMI, DVI, DP–are also readily accessible on the right hand side, which makes plugging in laptops or tablets much easier than usual.

So the BL3200PT lives up to its professional standards then. While you may prefer an IPS panel monitor for truly colour-sensitive work, for less sensitive work the monitor proves an excellent workplace companion.

 

Conclusion

The BenQ BL3200PT is the first 32-inch monitor I’ve seen from BenQ, and it’s a winner. The added inches offer a noticeable boost to readability over 27-inch models at equal resolution, a trait that makes the monitor better for console gaming and professional work alike. Other strengths of the BenQ BL series are further improved upon here too, with the easy OSD controls and convenient port layout proving a particular delight. If you can make use of the monitor’s professional features, then it seems worth the premium over its 27-inch cousin.

Pros

  • Gloriously large for a monitor, making 1440p easier to see at a distance
  • Good selection of sensibly arranged ports and other features
  • Highly adjustable, with excellent OSD that works well via buttons or controller

Cons

  • Less desirable VA panel instead of the standard IPS; gamut, colour accuracy and viewing angles are slightly reduced here
  • ~£175 premium over similar 27″ model is considerable

Score

  • 9/10

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About William Judd

Editor-in-Chief for XSReviews. Find me @Expert_Will or on G+.

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  • Lewis Duffy

    I purchased a BL3200PT from amazon.co.uk a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately,
    it had a very noticeable vertical band about a third of the way from
    the left hand side. The screen was darker to the right of this band and
    lighter to the left.

    I contacted BenQ, via their website, but it took over 5 days to even get
    a reply. I was then told, reluctantly, that a replacement would be
    dispatched.

    As I had heard nothing further about the replacement for over a week I decided to just get a replacement from Amazon.To my disappointment, the replacement is even worse in terms of banding – it has multiple vertical bands that look like smears. After spending nearly £500 on a monitor, I certainly do not expect it to be suffering from such defects/flaws.

    It does seem, after doing some research, to be a widely reported issue with monitors that use this type of panel. Some users, however, have reported that they have banding free devices so maybe it’s the luck of the draw. My two monitors both had manufacturing dates of August 2014 (was this a bad batch I wonder?).

    BenQ did state again that they would send a replacement which did not suffer from the banding issue. They also said that they would send it by expedited delivery this time. That was 5 days ago so I have to assume that either they can’t source one of these monitors without the banding issue or the word ‘expedited’ means something very different to BenQ.

    I subsequently requested that my incident be escalated but that has seemingly only fell on deaf ears.

    In summary, I would advise anyone to avoid this monitor until the quality control issues on this panel have been sorted.

    • Damn, that sucks dude! Thanks for your report; I hope BenQ make good. I’d advise contacting them on Twitter + FB if you haven’t done so already :)

  • Sweetie

    The Spyder colorimeter you used reports a low contrast ratio just like the two I unfortunately own do. This panel should have at least a 2500:1 contrast ratio. Look at the tftcentral review, for instance. No MVA panel in recent years has dropped below 2000:1, certainly not below 1000:1! Datacolor’s Spyders are just not accurate at all when it comes to contrast ratio measurement.

    No IPS can provide the contrast ratio your “less desirable VA panel” can. They indeed max out at around 1000:1 while MVA can be as high as over 5000:1 (Sharp’s panel in the Eizo).

    Each of the three main panels types has a particular strength. TN has its fast response, which makes it more desirable for gaming. It’s also the cheapest to make. VA has its high contrast. IPS has its color and gamma consistency at off-angles (although it does have IPS glow unless given a polarizer). It’s inaccurate to flatly label VA “less desirable”, especially when your review is providing false contrast ratio information based on the defects in a Datacolor product.

    • Fair enough – I didn’t know the Sypder had this defect. Can you recommend a more accurate colourimeter? Thanks for the information!

      • Sweetie

        You’re welcome. I unfortunately bought a Spyder 3 and a Spyder 4. I had hoped that both would be accurate but they don’t appear to measure black level properly, among their other drawbacks.

        X-rite products are probably the best choice, from what I’ve seen from tftcentral’s reviews and such.

        • Ah, that sucks. Thanks for the recommendation; I’ll look into that as it would be great to have accurate contrast values… :)

          • Sweetie

            Yes, particularly as high contrast is the primary advantage provided by the MVA panel type.

            Without it it could indeed be seen as an inferior alternative to IPS. In actuality, though, IPS cannot provide the same level of contrast.