Do you Photoshop, design, work in animation, or otherwise need your monitor to give you extremely accurate colors? If so, BenQ has the monitor for you, but it’ll cost a pretty penny. Well, 100,000 pretty pennies.
The PD2720u sits in an odd space. It is, to be frank, a gorgeous, stunning, screen perfect for anyone who makes money by creating beautiful digital things.
But it’s also $1,099. And let’s be honest, you almost stopped reading the review right there. But please, keep going. BenQ may have justified the high sticker price for the right kind of a person.
Nailing the Basics
At 27 inches, the PD2720u hits that sweet spot of “probably big enough” for most people. While 32 inches is more and more common, a 27-inch size means it’ll likely fit on your desk without issue, yet give you plenty of screen real-estate.
The 3840×2160 resolution doesn’t hurt either, though you’ll need to work with scaling or fight to read the tiniest of text. Gamers aren’t the target here, though; you only get a 60hz refresh rate and a 5ms response time. Plenty enough for casual gaming, but not winning any competitions.
What the display does give you are all the connections. You’ll find 2 HDMI 2.0 ports, a DisplayPort, two Thunderbolt 3 ports, three USB 3.1 ports, and audio out. The Thunderbolt ports are the star attraction here; they support daisy chaining and single cable operation.
That means instead of a cable from each monitor to your PC or laptop (which would be difficult from a laptop), you connect a cable from the laptop to the first monitor and another cable from the first monitor to the second monitor. If you have a recent Apple MacBook Pro, the monitor can even charge your Macbook. Overall it makes for a cleaner and less cluttered work area.
BenQ even includes just about every cable you can ask for, DisplayPort being the lone exception in the list.
The bezels on the side and top are incredibly thin. They clearly achieved that by cramming everything in the chin and back (this monitor is thick), but those thin bezels are hard not to appreciate. Unless you want to put a webcam on your monitor, then you’ll be wishing for a little more bezel.
The Stand is Fantastic
In our other BenQ review, we pointed out how that monitor’s included stand left a lot to be desired. Thankfully that’s not the case here. The included stand is a heavy metal telescoping affair, and it’s wonderful.
While BenQ still has a habit of placing the port connections in an inconvenient location at the bottom of the monitor, the problem here is mitigated as this stand rotates 90 degrees for portrait view. It also slides up, down, tilts left, right, forward and back.
And height adjustment is impressive on multiple fronts, both from the smooth sliding mechanism, and just how tall it gets. If I can’t mount them, I typically place monitors on a stand to give them more height. I felt no need to do that here, and I don’t even use the monitor at its full height.
Overall the sand feels solid, it’s a joy to use, and it gets the job done.
The stand also has a built-in loop for cable management. And well, it’s there. It works. But it’s just a loop realistically. Better than nothing, but only just barely.
And if you prefer, you can skip the stand and use a standard wall mounting VESA wall mounting bracket.
Killer Image Quality
Every PD2720u monitor is factory calibrated for color consistency. When you open the box, you’ll find a report about your specific monitor’s calibration. BenQ promises the monitor complies with 100% sRGB/Rec. 709, and 95% DCI-P3 color gamut, and it seems to have delivered (at least with this unit). If you don’t know what any of that means, let’s boil it down to this: The colors on this monitor are gorgeous.
The monitor is HDR10 capable, and I leave that on most of the time just for the vibrant dark colors. It’s an IPS panel, so it’ll never hit OLED blacks, but it’s as close as IPS can get.
That color accuracy is aimed directly at designers. Thanks to the included Hotkey Puck (more on that in a bit), you can easily switch between color profiles, HDR, sRGB, Adobe RGB, CAD/CAM, Animation, and more. To add to the monitor’s party tricks, you can choose one color profile for the left half, and another color profile for the right half.
I’m not a Photoshop expert or designer by any means, but my wife is. So I had her sit down and use the monitor with a MacBook and do Photoshop work.
When it comes to color accuracy, she was impressed. She told me the monitor would be perfect for print work (where getting what’s on the screen to match what comes out on paper is critical), and most importantly, she wanted to keep using it after.
You Can Game, but Don’t Buy it for Gaming
I wanted to continue testing the display’s full capability, so I hooked up an Xbox One X to the monitor. First I played a 4K HDR Blu-ray of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. It’s a taxing movie, and it should look gorgeous. On this monitor, it certainly did.
But the moment that truly hit me was loading up Forza Horizon 4. The splash screen looked incredible. And then I tried playing games. This isn’t a gaming monitor, and it can’t keep up with them. The 60hz refresh holds it back. So while everything looks gorgeous, it also feels slow. It’s fine; I enjoyed Forza Horizon. But I wouldn’t use it for twitch shooters. BenQ doesn’t market the PD2720u as a gaming monitor, and if you’re a casual gamer, it’ll do fine.
The Extras Are a Mixed Bag
BenQ included a few extras, some with more success than others. The monitor has physical controls to access the menus, but they’re awkward to use. Part of that is the placement on the back, and part of it is the menu system for those buttons isn’t very good. That’s OK because the monitor also comes with a Hotkey Puck.
I assumed it would be a Surface Dial clone, but it’s not. Instead, it provides much more convenient access to the monitor menus. You can quickly get to color settings, brightness, and more. The menu navigation system for the Puck is much better than the buttons, and it’s all I use. I genuinely think it adds something to the monitor.
The monitor includes built-in speakers. They sound best when muted. I tried to give the speakers a go, but they’re incredibly tinny, soft, and just all-around awful. Plan to get dedicated speakers instead.
BenQ also includes KVM capabilities with the monitor. I keep a PC, a MacBook, and a Surface Pro on my desk, so I seriously considered setting it up. But you need to hook up dedicated cables to every machine, and then switching from one device to another requires deep menu navigation. It’s a nice thought, but too much effort.
It’s Expensive for a Monitor
Here’s the elephant in the room. The PD2720U is over a thousand dollars. Should you spend a thousand dollars on a monitor, even one as gorgeous as this? Yeah, maybe. It depends on what you’re doing with it.
If you want to game, buy a gaming monitor. And if you primarily work on spreadsheets, Word documents, or anything focused on text, buy any less expensive monitor.
But if you’re the kind of person who is seriously thinking of buying a $5000 iMac Pro, well suddenly the math changes. You could, instead, buy a MacBook Pro and this monitor, and get something nearly as good (if not as good) for a thousand or more less.
And if your job or passions revolve around visual creation then you probably already know that getting the most accurate colors in a display is the number one priority to getting work done. And you’re not going to get that for cheap.
Case in point: between the start of review and publish, Apple announced the new Pro Display XDR. That monitor, while boasting XDR (a step up from HDR) and 6K resolution, starts at $5000. And that price doesn’t include a stand. You’ll pay another $1000 for the privilege of giving your fancy Apple monitor some feet. While you will get a calibrated monitor, just like the PD2720U, you won’t get KVM software or a handy dial device to adjust settings on the fly.
Suddenly, the PD2720U pricing feels a little less expensive than it did a few weeks ago.
I Wouldn’t Buy It, but I’d Pine for It
I’m not the target audience here. I wouldn’t buy an iMac Pro, and while I use Photoshop for my job occasionally, I’m no master. Frankly, I’ve never had the best eye for visual detail. So I couldn’t see myself spending over a thousand dollars on any monitor. I balk at the idea of monitors half that much.
But having spent time with the PD2720U, I get it. Even my untrained eyes can see just how gorgeous this thing is. I haven’t turned on my regular 1080p monitor since I started using this review unit, and I’m kind of dreading the thought of doing so. Maybe I was better off not knowing what I was missing.
Because even though I can’t justify spending so much for my needs, I find myself trying to. It’s just so pretty. And if you are a person who spends hours agonizing over color profiles, or insists that movies should only be seen in HDR, or if you need a monitor that’s accurate out of the box, then the PD2720u is for you. High-priced sticker and all.
Here’s What We Like
- Gorgeous accurate colors
- Fantastic stand
- Tons of ports
- Hotkey Puck is actually useful
And What We Don't
- Super expensive
- Speakers are total garbage
- KVM requires too much setup
- Did we mention super expensive?