We’ve reviewed many professional monitors over the past few years, and though the category is advancing slowly, we have indeed seen an evolution. It was once enough to call any display with a wide gamut “professional” and leave it at that. The accuracy was usually better than gaming and general use monitors, but it was rarely guaranteed. Today, a factory calibration report is an absolute must for pro monitors. However, those are becoming more common; even gaming monitors can include a data sheet. So how do we refine this crowded genre?
Accuracy is assumed in professional monitors, but one thing we don’t always see is flexibility. A professional display isn’t much good if it can’t be made to bend to the user’s will. Standards are many and varied in today’s world of Ultra HD, HDR and extended color.
BenQ has answered the call with the SW271, a 27-inch IPS (in-plane switching) panel with HDR and support for wide gamuts up to and including Adobe RGB. What’s more, it has a super-precise on-screen display (OSD) that enables combination of different color temps, gamma curves and color standards. If any monitor can be called reference, it just might be the SW271.
We don’t use the term reference lightly. There are plenty of screens (professional and otherwise) that deliver accurate color. But very few displays hit every mark to near-perfection while still allowing the user to mix and match color, gamma and white point specs to keep up with the demands of today’s content. Plus, this can all be accomplished in the OSD; software calibration is supported but not completely necessary.
The SW271 is one of the most accurate displays we’ve ever tested. It includes fixed modes for sRGB, Rec.709, DCI-P3 and Adobe RGB and accepts HDR10 signals. It supports any color temp you care to create and has gamma presets ranging from 1.6-2.6. On top of this, it also comes with the best light-blocking hood we’ve ever seen. There is little the SW271 cannot do, and today, we’ll see just how well it performs.
|Panel Type & Backlight||IPS / edge array|
|Screen Size & Aspect Ratio||27-inch / 16:9|
|Max Resolution & Refresh||3840 x 2160 @ 60Hz|
Density - 163ppi
|Native Color Depth & Gamut||10-bit w/14-bit LUT|
|Response Time (GTG)||5ms|
|Video Inputs||1x DisplayPort 1.4|
2x HDMI 2.0
|Audio||3.5mm headphone output|
|USB||v3.0 - 1x up, 2x down|
1x USB-C, 1x SD Card
|Power Consumption||38.6w, brightness @ 200 nits|
|24 x 19.8-24 x 8.4 inches|
614 x 504-611 x 213mm
|Panel Thickness||2.5 inches / 63mm|
|Bezel Width||Top/sides - .3 inches / 8mm|
Bottom - .9 inches / 23mm
|Weight||23.1lbs / 105.kg|
Unpacking & Accessories
Once you’ve assembled the SW271’s base, upright and panel, more goodies remain. The cable bundle includes USB-C, USB 3.0, HDMI and DisplayPort, along with an IEC cord for the internal power supply. The user’s manual and drivers are on a CD.
The best extra, however, is the light hood. It’s made from thick, rigid plastic and coated on the inside with light-absorbing fabric. It snaps onto lugs molded into the panel and works in both landscape and portrait modes. It’s by far the best hood we’ve seen to date, and we doubt any aftermarket products can top it.
The SW271’s build quality is a standard for other premium displays to follow. Its heft alone (over 20 pounds) is more than many larger monitors. The upright is a single solid piece of metal that curves smoothly into an attachment point at the base, which is extremely large and solid. The panel snaps onto this assembly. If you want to use your own arm or bracket, BenQ provides 100mm VESA mount lugs, but you’ll need to source your own bolts.
The front layer is flush-mounted, and the image frame is narrow at just 8mm around the top and sides and just under an inch at the bottom. OSD controls consist of small buttons at the lower right. There’s also a Hotkey Puck controller, which plugs into its own port around back and provides menu navigation keys along with three quick access controls whose functions can be specified by the user.
Stand movements are firm and true and offer 45° swivel in each direction, 150mm height, 20° back tilt and 5° forward. You also get a 90° portrait mode; the menu can be set to rotate automatically, and the light hood works in this orientation as well.
On the left side are two USB 3.0 ports and an SD card reader. They are supported by a single upstream port on the bottom-facing input panel. Other connections include two HDMI 2.0a ports with HDCP 2.2 content protection and a single DisplayPort 1.4. The USB-C jack provides 10 watts of power plus data and video functions.
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