BenQ makes awesome gaming monitors. It’s never a hard sell to take a look at a gaming monitor when BenQ reaches out and says they have something new for us to review. Over the past couple of months I’ve been able to test out and review some BenQ products, the most recent being the EW3270U (Review HERE). That monitor was incredible, it was 4K, 32″ and it had everything one would need to game and do just about anything. The thing is, that monitor was for everything. Everything related to media as a whole. It wasn’t really for gaming even though games looked great on it. Gaming requires certain features to make sure that when you game you’re having the best possible experience. BenQ’s newest monitor is totally geared to the gamer. It’s the EX3203R. It’s curved, bright, it kicks ass and this is my non-NASA review of this great monitor.
Design, setup and ports
The predecessor to the EX3203R is the EX3200R. As you might expect with updated versions of any product they aren’t always vastly different from the previous. This holds true in this case. The design of the EX3203R is basically the same as the 3200R which isn’t a bad thing because the 3200R was sleek and clean looking. Some minor refinements and change in weight make the EX3203R that much better from the original. Once you open the box you’ll notice that the EX3203R comes already assembled and the moment you take it out of the box can already get a sense of the experience that you’re going to have because it’s so well made. The screen is 32″ and basically bezel-less, there’s a very subtle curve at 1800r and two chrome feet at the bottom add a splash of elegance. Once you sit it down on your desk, take a step back and you’ll be able to fully appreciate just how good looking this monitor is. Your desk setup will be clean.
The rear shows off a very sturdy tilt and swivel stand that allows you to raise and lower the screen as well as the ability to tilt it forward and backward. Sorry, no vertical turn so you won’t be able to use this monitor in portrait mode with the stand it comes with. This monitor does support VESA mounting so, if that’s your thing and you have a swivel mount then you can put this monitor in whatever orientation you see fit.
On the underside of the EX3203R are all of the available ports. You get 2 HDMI 2.0 ports, 2 USB 2.0 ports, a displayport and a USB type-C port. Directly on the underside of the right of the display itself are the LED power button, input switch and the menu buttons. They aren’t the most convenient buttons because it isn’t clearly labeled and you kind of have to know where the buttons are or feel around. In the next version of this I would like to BenQ just give us a remote control. Nitpicky issues aside this monitor is gaming ready right out of the box. Just make your connections and you’re good.
Display and Gaming
BenQ has always been able to nail down the fine details in their monitors that make them great to use. This display in particular covers a lot of the proverbial checkboxes when it comes to a solid gaming monitor. For starters, the EX3203R is BenQ’s first gaming monitor that has been certified for AMD’s FreeSync 2 technology while also supporting VESA DisplayHDR 400. Basically, if you’re using an AMD Radeon GPU then you get the added bonus of Freesync 2. Yes, it sucks if you’re using an NVIDIA GPU but having Freesync 2 keeps costs down so BenQ did us a favor here, if BenQ went with G-Sync capability, add $200 to the cost of this monitor.
Resolution on the panel itself stands at 2560 x 1440 (1440p) at 144Hz. While it’s not 4K, 1440p is still very crisp and good looking and doesn’t require the type of powerful components that one would need to support 4K capability. Gaming in 4k can get expensive. It’s not always necessary to game in that resolution. In my opinion, 1440p is the sweet spot for PC gaming. It’s a higher res than 1080p and it’ll give good framerates with a 10-series GPU. This monitor can support 1440p in full on all settings and it’s not nearly as expensive as 4k can be.
The EX3203R is a VA panel so while it won’t get those good blacks and higher contrast like an IPS panel you’ll still get a gaming experience that’s immersive and fun, especially if you play games in HDR or watch movies and video in HDR. The display panel gives you a variety of viewing options as well as three pre-configured gaming options plus eye-care and blue light minimizing options for those who want to be good to their eyes. I found that my favorite modes are the HDR and Cinema HDR modes. They put forth the best color and brightness arrangements in your media and games
As far as gaming is concerned, I tested out the EX3203R with quite a few complex games just to get a feel of how that 144hz panel would behave with games that have a lot of action or require a multitude of swift movements. In my testing, I went back and forth between PC and console. I played God of War, Forza Horizon 4, WWE2k19, Destiny 2: Forsaken, Mega Man 11 and Battlefield 1. All of the games I mentioned not only looked beautiful but played seamlessly. PC gaming behaved a little differently but that was mostly due to issues with the GPU and not the monitor itself. Overall, I had no instances of input lag, frozen frames, nothing. As I said prior, I use an Nvidia GPU so I didn’t get to take advantage of Freesync 2 but it didn’t take away from my experience. Gaming is a joy with this monitor. It’s what it was made for.
BenQ’s EX3203R is a monitor that showcases some really good features that gives you the quality that you see on your screen and in the media you consume and games you play. Although we tend not to focus too much on specs, they do matter. So, for all of you spec junkies take a look below and you can see everything that the EX3203R has to offer.
Screen Size: 32 Inches
Resolution: 2560 x 1440 QHD
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Colors: 16.7 Million
Panel Technology: Vertical Alignment (VA)
Refresh Rate: 144Hz
Response Time: 3ms
Contrast Ratio: 3000:1 (Static)
Brightness: 400 cd/m²
Built-in Speakers: No
Stand: Height adjustment – 60mm
Stand: Tilt – Yes (-5°~ 15°)
Stand: Swivel – No
Stand: Pivot – No
AMD FreeSync 2
Low Blue Light
Brightness Intelligence Plus
Dynamic Power Saving (DPS)
VESA Compatibility: Yes 100 x 100
Connectivity: DisplayPort 1.2 x 1,, HDMI 1.4 x 2, USB-C x 1, 3.5mm Jack
Dimensions with Stand(WxHxD): 28.6” x 20.56” x 8.47?
BenQ Eye-Care Technology
BenQ’s Eye-Care technology is built into this monitor just like the last monitor I reviewed which was the BenQ E32070U (You can check that out HERE). This is by far my favorite feature of this montior. If you spend as much time on a computer or in front of any electronic screen, being able to take care of your eye health is important. Eye stress and fatigue over time can be extremely harmful and BenQ is trying to help alleviate some of that problem by building in features such as Eye Care and B.I+ that give you an option on how you view things on your screen, especially screens of this size and brightness. Flicker-Free, Low Blue Light technology, and Brightness Intelligence Plus (B.I.+) technology are incorporated into each of BenQ’s newer line of monitors going forward. It allows you to adjust the color temperature of the screen as well as the brightness to be more suitable for viewing and it does this without compromising picture quality, blacks or white balance, the changes are critical to your productivity. Going into the evening and late night hours is when this feature is most beneficial. It’s been shown that at these hours looking at a screen of any kind at full brightness can have an affect on your eyes and even disrupt sleeping patterns. That little eye-care sensor on the bottom of the EX3203R makes sure that it’ll make all of the necessary adjustments to the screen depending on lighting environment that’ll make your eyes happy.
On a personal note, Eye-care technology is important to my workflow and my ability to game. My eyes have become increasingly more sensitive as I’ve gotten older and having the eye-care sensor adjust the screen brightness when the lighting changes has been extremely helpful to me. I had been getting headaches because of bright computer screens and TV’s and it made me reluctant to work in front of a computer. Once I see that little eye icon on the bottom right of the screen I feel better in knowing that my eyes won’t hurt as the monitor will be constantly making adjustments. Eye care is an added bonus to this monitor and you’ll be surprised how much you might need it and not have realized it.
Is it worth the money without 4K?
Although the BenQ EX3203R isn’t a 4K monitor you might ask yourself is it worth the money BenQ is asking for this monitor is this day and age when everything is 4K? Ultimately, what you spend your money on is up to you but if you’re basing this on what it offers for the gamer then the answer is a resounding yes and for a few reasons. Let me give you the run down of what this monitor offers. The EX3203R has HDR 10 support, ultra thin bezels, a beautiful curved design (1800R) and it comes pre-calibrated and pre-assembled so there’s no pain in the ass setup. This monitor has BenQ’s Eye-Care technology which is incredibly helpful for gamers who dedicate long hours to gaming and it’s great for productivity. AMD’s Freesync 2 is supported on this monitor so if you have an AMD GPU you’ll be able to take full advantage of it. This monitor has a refresh rate of 144hz so smooth gameplay happens everytime with almost no lag of any kind.
This monitor isn’t just for PC gamers either. Console gamers will have a great time using this monitor and even more so if you’re using a PS4 Pro or Xbox one X. This monitor is an all around beast. 4K isn’t always necessary. Sure, it’s great to have but it doesn’t always speak to if you’re going to have a great experience. It’ll be a clearer experience for sure but not always great. Personally, I like to game in between 1080 and 1440p because I’ve always preferred consistent framerates over visuals. 4K can be very demanding on a GPU except if you have one of Nvidia RTX 2080’s but how much is that going to cost you? The EX3203R is $699 and it’s competitively priced with any monitor that offers similar specs. If not having 4K isn’t a dealbreaker then this monitor is a great choice for the money. There are very few cons that I have with this monitor and if there is one it would be a complete lack of internal speakers. Monitor speakers even when they exist always suck to me but to not have the option? No bueno. All things considered, this is a great HDR gaming monitor and $700 well spent. Head over to BenQ and get one HERE