BenQ XL2420G G-SYNC Monitor Review
NVIDIA’s G-SYNC has made a splash in the gaming monitor market and with good reason. When it was first announced in 2013 (yes, it’s been more than a year since its introduction), it promised to eliminate screen tearing and other visual artifacts normally associated with uncapped framerates but also substantially reduce VSync-induced input lag and step-down stuttering. Initially we were extremely impressed with the technology and G-SYNC has only matured since our first look at it.
2014 marked a maturing G-SYNC’s technology backbone and a relatively quick rollout into high end gaming monitors. BenQ’s latest offering (notwithstanding the announcements made at CES) is the XL2420G, a 1080P, 144HZ TN-based monitor that has recently become more affordable and offers several features that are sure to appeal to gamers looking for a fluid experience, without many tertiary sacrifices. BenQ’s has also added an integrated IR senor, making the XL2420G natively compatible with NVIDIA’s 3D Vision.
Unlike some other monitors that narrowly target NVIDIA users with their G-SYNC panels, BenQ has designed the XL2420G so it has as wide an appeal as possible. With it, even AMD GPU owners can have a gaming experience worthy of a relatively high-end asking price. Naturally, the 144Hz refresh rate and BenQ’s non-PWM LED backlight (called FlickerFree technology) will be primary selling points for those who can’t use the closed ecosystem of G-SYNC.
There are also BenQ’s own in-house features that are supposed to enhance the overall gaming experience. For example, Low Blue Light output reduces eyestrain, Game Refresh Rate Optimization Management features customized refresh and response rates and there’s a Game Loader that allows users to download and apply custom profiles. Additionally, the UI has been designed for maximum ease of use and BenQ’s FPS Mode makes a comeback. FPS Mode is particularly interesting since it is out-of-the-box preset that automatically adjusts your monitor calibrations for optimal brightness, contrast, sharpness and color tint in gaming environments.
While there are some very interesting IPS-based offerings coming in the next few months, achieving their goals of an ultra-quick panel with G-SYNC required some sacrifices in BenQ’s part. To hit a 144Hz refresh rate meant utilizing a panel with TN technology so the XL2420G is only able to offer 16.7 million colors and a 72% NTSC coverage rating. Gamers typically aren’t overly concerned with ultra accurate color reproduction but it’s nonetheless something to take into account.
With all of the recent announcements of 4K, IPS, 27” and larger panels being available with G-SYNC, the 24” 1080P XL2420G has seen a pretty drastic reduction in its price as of late. While it started off life as a $650 high end gaming monitor, there has been a transition into the $540 price point which isn’t exactly affordable but will prove to be more palatable for gamers. BenQ expects this to become their “entry-level” G-SYNC equipped SKU in the near future.
Much like the RL2460HT the XL2420G takes a much more conservative approach to overall aesthetics than some other so-called “gaming” monitors. Besides the few dashes of red on the stand itself the it uses a predominantly black color scheme alongside a standard width bezel.
BenQ has also added a new anti-glare coating which offers up an optimal amount of glare-reducing qualities while avoiding the washed-out look that aggressive AG applications typically feature.
In order to cram all of the various technologies into their XL2420G, BenQ had to make it a bit thicker than many of its contemporary non-G-SYNC competitors. This is a small sacrifice to pay for the features being offered here.
By opting for a bigger and somewhat heavier than usual panel, BenQ also had to use a very robust stand that boasts some pretty impressive abilities. Not only does it have a whopping 130mm of height adjustment, 25° of tilt (-5° to +20°), as well as excellent swivel capabilities, it also offers a portrait mode. As a bonus feature the lower portion of the arm has a cable management cutout, and the top of it has a secondary 'hook' for cables, and an integrated carry handle. The base also looks pretty good.
Along the XL2420G’s ample bezel are capacitive sensors for the OSD buttons, an integrated IR emitter which is necessary for 3D gaming, and the power button. This is a straightforward layout but the IR emitter’s location can cause interference issues if you have desk clutter in front of it. Typically, it is located on a monitor’s upper edge rather than in a lower area.
Much like the BenQ BL3200PT, this monitor comes with a nifty little accessory that plugs into the back of the panel. This aptly-named 'S Switch' is a wedge shape device which features three large red buttons for quickly selecting any one of the 3 preselected display modes. There’s also a small button on top for navigating backward in the OSD) and a scroll wheel which also doubles as a selector. This combination allows for quick navigation and selection in the OSD.
XL2420G’s I/O area also has all the bases covered. Not only is there one DVI port, and two HDMI ports, but BenQ has also include the necessary DisplayPort that NIVIDA requires to make G-SYNC work. On top of this the XL2420G also includes a mini-USB port for the S-Switch as well as two USB 3.0 ports and a 3.5mm headphone port on the side bezel.
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