For far too long, the monitor has been the neglected component in a gamer’s selected arsenal. While the keyboard, mouse, headset, and even the mouse pad, have started to cater to the technical performance required by the core gamers, manufacturers have repeatedly overlooked the necessity to innovate with the display. Low response time, bigger screen size, and super-high dynamic contrast have all been hailed as the bringer of the good gaming times, but the truth is that they do not offer anything more, or less, than those that are not.
The BenQ XL2420T, however, is different. BenQ’s latest in its series of gaming monitor not only bundles in the usual mix of features expected of a premium-end monitor, but also brings specific features that are engineered especially for the needs of any gamer. It’s a bit pricey at AED 2000, but if you demand the best, the XL2420T is certainly the king of the gaming monitor crop.
The XL2420T impresses the moment you take it out the box. The display is housed in a simple matte black cabinet with a sporty .75cm bezel. The base print is small, and its curvy look gives a bit more impression to the monitor’s overall simplistic look. The T-shape stem isn’t too large and hulking, but takes a bit too much space than required. It has a little handle protruding at the top, which makes the unit a bit easier to carry. It even has a headset hanger, and while that sounds rightfully ridiculous trust me – you will be using it more often than you think. It certainly saved a bit of space on my busy desk.
The stem also allows height and swivel adjustments. BenQ has paid careful attention to make this daunting process as easy as possible, and hence you can make height adjustments with just a finger – it’s that smooth.
In terms of ports, BenQ covers the base and then some. It’s got 1x VGA, 1x DVI, 2x HDMI, 1x headphone jack, and 4x USB ports. The monitor also supports NVIDIA’s 3D Vision technology (the XL2420T does not included the 3D glasses, hence why 3D was not tested. The XL2420XT does).
The OSD is controlled by touch-sensitive buttons embedded on the right-corner of the bezel. Now, before you flip-out, be calm – the touch buttons are not bad at all. In fact, they are nearly perfect. They are accurate and responsive, and coupled with the intuitive menu system, they work flawlessly. A simple addition brings a really cool, techy touch to it - they remain dormant when they are not fiddled with, but lits up the moment you bring your fingers near it. It's a great way to show off your pricey new purchase, if nothing else.
You can also control the OSD with the included wedge-shaped ‘S-switch’. The switch snaps on the right side of the base and plugs into a port on the rear of the monitor. It includes a scroll wheel that is used to access, navigate and select items in the OSD. It also has three ‘preset-buttons’ that can be configured to whatever you want, but by default changes the ‘Gamer’ picture presets.
The XL2420T offers numerous picture settings, some which, as mentioned before, are specifically designed for core gamers. There is the Black Equalizer, which brightens dark shades to show more detail. It is designed to counter camping in dark areas - without the need to turn the monitor’s brightness all the way up- as it allows seeing, upto a great extent, what lurks in the darkness.
Then there is Smart Scaling, an option that lets you adjust the size of the image on screen. It simply crams the picture into various sizes, such as 19” or 21”, which is a feature I am sure many Counter Strike and Call of Duty players will love.
Finally, there are the picture presets. Besides the usual suspects like Standard, Movie, RGB, Photo, and Eco, you will also find two FPS modes as well. These are optimized for Counter Strike 1.6 and Counter Strike: Source by professional players like HeatOn and SpawN. BenQ also allows you to download additional presets with its Game Loader software.
I did put the FPS presets to good use, and in all honesty, I am not sure if it helped my game any bit. First of all, the colors are overly saturated, making an aged game like Counter Strike even more terrible to look at. It’s really hard to believe professional players actually use these settings, unless they like their game in rainbows?
Screen and color production
The XL2420T surprisingly offers a TN panel, which is quite a bummer for its price tag. But the quality and performance is where it’s at, and the BenQ has absolutely no issues slugging it out.
In our FlatPanelsDK test, the monitor produced accurate colors and smooth gradients. There were no banding issues whatsoever, giving a perfectly balanced final picture with punchy colors and deep blacks (under the correct settings, of course).
In terms of bleeding or clouding, it was a complete non-issue for the screen, which is incredibly impressive.
We dosed text over various colors and backgrounds, and the XL2420T held up pretty well. I only found purple twinge under certain colors, but during regular use, that was a complete non-issue.
The XL2420T is an all-out gaming monitor, with a speedy pixel response time and 120Hz refresh rate. Which is why it was shocking to find bits of trailing while playing games. This is most easily noticed in games like Counter Strike, where bullet holes on grey walls clearly leave an electric trail when the cursor is moved slowly. This did not result in lag of any sort but the visual feedback was jarring once I started noticing it. It was a non-issue during movie playback, however.
Here’s where the shortcomings of a TN panel is really noticeable. When viewed from an extreme side angle, the picture suffers from color shifting; whites appear yellow-ish and black, gray.
The BenQ XL2420T truly defines the ‘gaming monitor’ category by offering features and options that cater to the core gamer. The only bit to decide, however, is that is it worth paying AED 2000 over? For hardcore gamers, the BenQ offers a great numbers of features with the Black Equalizer, Smart Scaling and downloadable pro-presets, not to mention the intuitive OSD system and the handy S-switch. Beyond that, for users who are looking for a solid, good quality display first over everything else, the BenQ is a hard one to convince.
It’s wealth of features, I/O ports, performance, and ergonomics certainly makes it our favorite of the lot, though, and is a definite Editor’s Choice for mid-sized gaming monitors.