The back of the monitor is standard fare. There is no height adjustment, only angle adjustment. DVI and VGA ports are hidden behind the arm, and are actually surprisingly difficult to get at. We're great fans of height adjustment. Since we're staring at a monitor for hours every day, we want it to be as ergonomically beneficial as possible - it's disappointing that more manufacturers don't include the adjustment, with Iiyama and Eizo being amongst the good guys.
In-game and image testing
We can refer you back to our findings in our last 4ms monitor review. We still believe that our thoughts are true - 4ms (or 5, as here) is undoubtedly a great specification, but you will really struggle to see the difference from 8ms, even when playing very fast-paced games or movies. That's not to say that it's a bad response time or anything like that - it simply isn't really different from 8ms panels, and those are invariably cheaper.
We mentioned that being a good gaming monitor is about more than just response time. In our tests, we found that colours were well represented, with the coating adding a real intensity to images that standard TFTs lack when placed side by side.
In-game, images were crisp and responsive as you'd expect. We really like the coating, which really adds depth to the colour in a rather intangible way. However, it does really increase reflectivity, so you'll need to be careful about the positioning of the monitor. Our new favourite game for testing black on black images is the single-player demo of F.E.A.R., which has replaced Doom 3 as the moody shooter of choice. Whilst the BenQ held up well, its vivid colours making up for the slightly reduced contrast ratio when placed next to the Viewsonic, we could definitely have benefitted from a little more clarity, and we did find we had to play with the brightness and contrast to get a fully playable image.
To test the viewing angle of the monitor, we did a simple test - we loaded up an image of the gorgeous Jessica Alba, then looked to see how she appeared from different directions.
In the centre image, you can see the great colour intensity that the BenQ has. On the left, slightly angled, you can see that the colours are a little faded. As we move to the right and increase the angle of viewing, you can see that the skin tones wash out a fair amount. BenQ quote a viewing angle of 140 degrees horizontally - that seems about right, but isn't a particularly great number.
The viewing angle is certainly not bad, but it's not the best we've seen. The additional problem with viewing not from straight ahead is the reflectivity of the coating, which can cause issues depending on what you have positioned around your desk!
It's fair to say that the BenQ is a good monitor, but it falls short of being really decent. There's no faulting the response time, because it's clearly top of the range - the issue is whether you'll notice.
The glass front is great too and adds a great effect. However, for me, the problem is with the price.
At around £200 / $350 , it's the same cost as a Samsung 8ms 19" monitor. When it comes to gaming, why not have the extra two inches? The BenQ is not a bad monitor, but on the other hand, in real-world usage it has little to really make it stand out from the crowd either, with average colour statistics and a response time that's fantastic on paper without being overly noticeable in use. The coating gives a great intensity to images, but it doesn't warrant the cost. If you must have a 17" monitor rather than a 19", you can pick up one that's a better price for the image quality provided.