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Reviewed on Dec 12, 2018

BenQ EL2870U MONITOR REVIEW

Usage Ratings - Version 1.0
7.2
Mixed Usage
7.0
Office
7.6
Gaming
7.2
Multimedia
7.2
Media Creation
6.3
HDR Gaming
Size : 28 "
Resolution : 3840x2160
Refresh Rate : 60 Hz
LCD Type
:
TN
Variable Refresh Rate
:
FreeSync

The BenQ EL2870U is a decent 4k monitor. It has great gaming features, including FreeSync support, a fast response time, and excellent low input lag. It also has great accuracy out of the box. Unfortunately, it has disappointing dark room performance due to the sub-par native contrast ratio and disappointing black uniformity. It supports HDR, but there is little benefit to this mode, as it can't get very bright and can't display a wide color gamut.

Test Results
Design 7.0
Picture Quality 6.7
Motion 8.0
Inputs 9.0
Pros
  • Great gaming features, including low input lag and FreeSync support
  • Great accuracy out of the box
Cons
  • Disappointing dark room performance
  • HDR doesn't add much
  1. Update 1/15/2019: We tested the monitor's compatibility with NVIDIA's new FreeSync driver. See our full investigation into NVIDIA's FreeSync Drivers here.

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7.0

Design

Curved : No
Curve radius : N/A
Weight (without stand)
:
9.7 lbs (4.4 kg)
Weight (with stand)
:
12.3 lbs (5.6 kg)

The BenQ EL2870U has a decent design, identical to the larger EW3270U. It is thicker than average for monitors of this size, and the panel is surrounded by a noticeable bezel on all sides. Despite being almost entirely made of plastic, it has good build quality, and shouldn't cause any issues down the road. Unfortunately, like the EW3270U, the stand has terrible ergonomics, making it difficult to place it in an ideal viewing position.

Stand
Width
:
12.6" (32.0 cm)
Depth
:
7.7" (19.6 cm)

The stand is mostly made of plastic, and it has a matte finish, which unfortunately tends to show fingerprints and dust a bit more. The stand supports the monitor well, and it only wobbles a bit when the monitor gets nudged.

2.2 Ergonomics
Height Adjustment
:
N/A
Switch portrait/landscape : No
Swivel Range : N/A
Tilt Range : -15° to 5°

The stand can only tilt, there are no height adjustments and it cannot swivel, which is disappointing. If you want to be able to adjust the monitor, a VESA stand would be a better choice.

Back
Wall Mount : VESA 100x100

Like the EW3270U, there is no cable management on the EL2870.

Borders
Borders
:
0.7" (1.8 cm)

The borders are a bit thicker than average, with a thicker bezel that surrounds the entire panel.

Thickness
Thickness (with stand)
:
5.6" (14.2 cm)
Thickness (without stand)
:
2.5" (6.4 cm)

The BenQ EL2870U is slightly thicker than the EW3270U, which is unexpected. When removed from the stand, it is quite thin and will look good when VESA mounted.

7.5 Build Quality

Good build quality. There is a small gap around the outer edge used for heat dissipation, but it shouldn't cause any issues. The monitor itself is mostly made of plastic, but there are no points of concern.

6.7

Picture Quality

The BenQ EL2870U produces decent overall picture quality. It has an excellent SDR color gamut, and great out of the box accuracy. It shows no signs of temporary image retention and produces excellent gradients. Unfortunately, HDR doesn't add much, as the HDR color gamut is almost identical to the SDR color gamut, it has a disappointing native contrast ratio, and it doesn't support local dimming. Overall, the picture quality is much worse than the larger BenQ EW3270U.

5.8 Contrast
Native Contrast
:
915 : 1
Contrast with local dimming
:
N/A

Disappointing contrast ratio. Blacks appear gray in a dark room. These results are about average for TN monitors, but much worse than the larger EW3270U, which has a VA panel.

0 Local Dimming
Local Dimming
:
No
Backlight
:
Edge

Local dimming is not supported on this monitor. The above video is for reference only.

7.3 SDR Peak Brightness
SDR Real Scene
:
273 cd/m²
SDR Peak 2% Window
:
292 cd/m²
SDR Peak 10% Window
:
292 cd/m²
SDR Peak 25% Window
:
291 cd/m²
SDR Peak 50% Window
:
290 cd/m²
SDR Peak 100% Window
:
290 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 2% Window
:
291 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 10% Window
:
291 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 25% Window
:
291 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 50% Window
:
290 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 100% Window
:
289 cd/m²
SDR ABL
:
0.001

Decent peak brightness, in the same ballpark as the EW3270U. There is very little variation between scenes, so the brightness won't change while you're using it, unless B.I.+ mode is activated.

5.6 HDR Peak Brightness
HDR Real Scene
:
246 cd/m²
HDR Peak 2% Window
:
271 cd/m²
HDR Peak 10% Window
:
271 cd/m²
HDR Peak 25% Window
:
272 cd/m²
HDR Peak 50% Window
:
272 cd/m²
HDR Peak 100% Window
:
272 cd/m²
HDR Sustained 2% Window
:
270 cd/m²
HDR Sustained 10% Window
:
271 cd/m²
HDR Sustained 25% Window
:
272 cd/m²
HDR Sustained 50% Window
:
272 cd/m²
HDR Sustained 100% Window
:
272 cd/m²
HDR ABL
:
0.001

Unfortunately, the EW2870U can't get very bright. While this can still deliver a decent experience when playing PC games in HDR that are mastered for lower brightness levels, it still falls short of the minimum DisplayHDR 400 requirements. It is far too dim to show off the creator's intent when watching movies in HDR.

5.3 Horizontal Viewing Angle
Color Shift from Left
:
28 °
Color Shift from Right
:
30 °
Brightness from Left
:
45 °
Brightness from Right
:
51 °
Black Level from Left
:
28 °
Black Level from Right
:
27 °
Curve Radius : N/A

Like most TN monitors, the EL2870U has disappointing horizontal viewing angles. When looking at the monitor at an angle, colors lose accuracy rapidly beyond about 30°, and at the same time, the contrast increases drastically. The brightness remains fairly consistent though, dropping to half at about 47°.

5.9 Vertical Viewing Angle
Color Shift from Below
:
11 °
Color Shift from Above
:
38 °
Brightness from Below
:
15 °
Brightness from Above
:
45 °
Black Level from Below
:
20 °
Black Level from Above
:
39 °

The vertical viewing angles are almost as bad as the horizontal viewing angles. When looking at the EL2870U from above, you shouldn't have any issues, as it manages to stay accurate to a fairly wide angle of about 40°. From below though, colors shift rapidly beyond 11°, and the brightness drops by half at only 15°.

7.5 Gray Uniformity
50% Std. Dev.
:
5.406 %
50% DSE
:
0.134 %
5% Std. Dev.
:
2.131 %
5% DSE
:
0.082 %

Decent gray uniformity overall. There is above-average variation in the overall gray, but there is only slight dirty screen effect near the center, which shouldn't be too noticeable when browsing the web or streaming sports.

In near-dark scenes, the uniformity improves, but is still worse than average. There is very little dirty screen effect, which is good.

5.1 Black Uniformity
Native Std. Dev.
:
2.580 %
Std. Dev. w/ L.D.
:
N/A

Disappointing black uniformity. There is noticeable edge bleed around the edges of the monitor. There are significant uniformity issues throughout the screen, and these are noticeable in some content.

8.0 Pre Calibration
Picture Mode
:
User
Luminance
:
273 cd/m²
Luminance Settings
:
100
Contrast Setting
:
50
RGB controls
:
Normal
Color Temperature
:
6396 K
White Balance dE
:
2.88
Color dE
:
2.16
Gamma
:
2.24

Out of the box, the EL2870U has great accuracy. White balance and color dE are both below 3, and even enthusiasts are unlikely to notice any inaccuracies. The color temperature is a bit warm, but not far from the target 6500 K. Gamma follows the target curve well, but some scenes appear a bit dimmer than they should.

9.6 Post Calibration
Picture Mode
:
User
Luminance
:
100 cd/m²
Luminance Settings
:
25
Contrast Setting
:
50
RGB Controls
:
100-94-96
Color Temperature
:
6442 K
White Balance dE
:
0.44
Color dE
:
0.59
Gamma
:
2.18

After calibration, the EL2870U is nearly perfect. The white balance dE and color dE are so low, specialized equipment is needed to spot any inaccuracies. Gamma follows the target curve nearly perfectly. The overall color temperature is a bit closer to the target of 6500 K, but still a bit warm.

You can download our ICC profile calibration here. This is provided for reference only and should not be used, as the calibration values vary per individual unit even for the same model due to manufacturing tolerances.

8.6 SDR Color Gamut
sRGB xy
:
96.7 %
Adobe RGB xy
:
74.9 %

Excellent SDR color gamut. It covers nearly all of the s.RGB color space, which is good, but the Adobe RGB coverage is limiting for professional photo and video editing (see our recommendations for the best monitors for photo editing).

8.7 SDR Color Volume
sRGB in ICtCp
:
94.7 %
Adobe RGB in ICtCp
:
78.4 %

Excellent SDR color volume. It has nearly perfect coverage in the s.RGB color space, which is great, but it can't produce deep, dark colors very well.

5.7 HDR Color Gamut
Wide Color Gamut
:
No
DCI P3 xy
:
62.4 %
Rec. 2020 xy
:
51.5 %

Disappointing HDR color gamut. There is very little difference in the gamut between HDR and SDR, so HDR content will not look as vibrant as it should.

4.8 HDR Color Volume
DCI-P3 in ICtCp
:
50.5 %
Rec. 2020 in ICtCp
:
45.8 %

The EL2870U has bad HDR color volume. It is limited by the HDR color gamut, the disappointing HDR peak brightness, and the contrast ratio. These results are much worse than the EW3270U.

10 Image Retention
IR after 0 min recovery
:
0.00 %
IR after 2 min recovery
:
0.00 %
IR after 4 min recovery
:
0.00 %
IR after 6 min recovery
:
0.00 %
IR after 8 min recovery
:
0.00 %
IR after 10 min recovery
:
0.00 %

There are no signs of temporary image retention, even immediately after showing our high contrast static torture test for 10 minutes.

9.8 Gradient
Color Depth
:
10 Bit

Outstanding gradient performance. There is some banding in dark shades, but this shouldn't detract from the viewing experience in any way. These results are among the best, and better than most TN monitors, similar to the Samsung UE590 and AOC AG271QX

10 Color Bleed
Pixel row error
:
0.000 %
Pixel column error
:
0.000 %

There is no color bleed at all, which is great.

7.5 Reflections

Overall, the EL2870U has good reflections handling, similar to the Dell S2417DG. There shouldn't be any issues with indirect lights, but light sources directly opposite the screen may cause some issues.

8.0

Motion

The BenQ EL2870U has great motion handling. It has a great response time that produces only a short blur trail behind fast-moving objects, and there is only a bit of overshoot. It also supports FreeSync over HDMI and DisplayPort, which is great, and the backlight is flicker-free. It has a maximum refresh rate of 60 Hz, which is okay for casual gamers, but may disappoint more experienced users.

8.8 Motion Blur
80% Response Time
:
3.4 ms
100% Response Time
:
17.3 ms
Best Overdrive Setting
:
High

Response Time Off
Response Time High
Response Time Premium

The BenQ EL2870U has an excellent fast response time. There are three different settings for the response time, and we recommend the 'High' setting, as it produces the fastest response time with the least amount of overshoot. The 'Off' setting results in significant undershoot in most transitions, resulting in a slower overall response time, and the 'Premium' setting results in significant overshoot.

7.5 Image Flicker
Flicker-free : Yes
PWM Dimming Frequency
:
0 Hz
Black Frame Insertion (BFI)
:
No
BFI Maximum Frequency
:
N/A
BFI Minimum Frequency
:
N/A

The EL2870U, like the EW3270U, is completely flicker-free, which is great. Unfortunately, there is no option to add flicker in order to reduce persistence blur.

7.8 Refresh Rate
Native
:
60 Hz
Factory Overclock
:
N/A
Variable Refresh Rate
:
FreeSync
G-SYNC Compatible
:
Yes
VRR Maximum
:
60 Hz
VRR Minimum
:
40 Hz
VRR Maximum With OC
:
N/A
VRR Supported Connectors : DisplayPort, HDMI

The BenQ EL2870U supports a maximum 60 Hz refresh rate, which may be disappointing to more serious gamers. It does support FreeSync though, which is great, and the full VRR range is available to both HDMI connections and the DisplayPort connection. Unfortunately, low framerate compensation (LFC) is not supported, so you may still experience some tearing when the frame rate drops below the VRR minimum.

Update 01/15/2019: We have tested the EL2870U with the new NVIDIA G-Sync compatible drivers. FreeSync can be manually enabled from NVIDIA Control Panel with the EL2870U, and it works without any major issues.

9.0

Inputs

The BenQ EL2870U has excellent low input lag in any mode, which is great. It has a large 28" screen, and the 4k native resolution is great for multitasking, although it doesn't provide as much screen real-estate as larger Ultrawide monitors. It has a good selection of inputs, so you can easily connect your PC and a console or two, great if you don't have enough space for a TV and monitor.

8.9 Input Lag
Native Resolution
:
8.8 ms
Non-Native Res @ Native Refresh
:
9.1 ms
Native Resolution @ 60 Hz
:
8.8 ms
Variable Refresh Rate
:
9.7 ms
10 bit HDR
:
8.8 ms
Black Frame Insertion (BFI)
:
N/A

Excellent low input lag, typical of 60 Hz monitors. Unlike most monitors, there is slightly higher input lag when using FreeSync, although it is still low enough to be good for most gamers.

9.1 Resolution and Size
Native Resolution : 3840 x 2160
Aspect Ratio : 16:9
Megapixels : 8.3 MP
Pixel Density : 161 PPI
Screen Diagonal : 27.9 inches
Screen Area : 329 sq inches

The 28" screen and 4k native resolution is great for multitasking, as you can easily place multiple windows side-by-side.

Inputs
Total Inputs
DisplayPort : 1 (DP 1.4)
Mini DisplayPort : No
HDMI : 2 (HDMI 2.0)
DVI : No
VGA : No
DisplayPort Out : No
USB : No
USB C : No
Analog Audio Out 3.5mm : 1
Microphone In 3.5mm : No
Digital Optical Audio Out : No
Analog Audio Out RCA : No
Power Supply : Internal

Both HDMI ports support the full bandwidth of HDMI 2.0, great if you are planning on connecting a 4k console to it. It also supports HDCP 2.2, so you won't have any issues watching 4k UHD Blu-rays on it. There is a single audio out port with controllable volume, which is useful for a quick headphone connection.

Features

The BenQ EL2870U has a few additional features. It supports HDR and has internal speakers, which is great. It has an optional B.I. + mode, that uses an integrated ambient light sensor to adjust the color temperature automatically. There is also a separate OS-independent Blue-light filter, if you only want to remove blue light at night, without the color temperature changing throughout the day.

Additional Features
Speakers
:
Yes
HDR10 : Yes
Multiple input display
:
No

The EL2870U has a few additional features, very similar to the EW3270U:

  • M-book mode: This mode adjusts the picture settings to closely match the look of a Macbook.
  • Super Resolution: Like the feature of the same name found on LG monitors, this adjusts the upscaling of lower resolution content
  • B.I. +: There is a sensor protruding from the bottom bezel of the monitor that is used to adjust the color temperature based on the ambient lighting.

On-Screen Display (OSD)
Controls

The controls are identical to the EW3270U. There is a dedicated HDR control button that enables HDR simulation when not in HDR, and can also be used to toggle the B.I.+ sensor on or off.

In The Box

  • Manual
  • Driver CD
  • Power Cable
  • HDMI Cable

Differences between Sizes and Variants

We tested the 28" EL2870U, which is the only size available in this model. There are other models in the same family of BenQ monitors, some which are listed below, but we do not expect them to perform the same as the EL2870U that we've tested.

If someone comes across a different type of panel or if their BenQ EL2870U doesn't correspond to our review, let us know and we will update the review. Note that some tests such as the gray uniformity may vary between individual units.

Model Size Resolution Refresh Rate Notes
EL2870U 28" 4k 60 Hz FreeSync, HDR, B.I.+ Sensor
EW3270U 32" 4k 60 Hz FreeSync, HDR, B.I.+ Sensor
EX3203R 32" 1440p 144 Hz FreeSync, B.I.+ Sensor, Curved
EW2775ZH 27" 1080p 60 Hz B.I. Sensor
EW2770QZ 27" 1440p 60 Hz B.I.+ Sensor

The EL2870U we reviewed was manufactured in August 2018.

Compared to other Monitors

Left: LG 27UK650. Middle: BenQ EL2870U. Right: LG 27UD68P-B
Unlike our other photographs, this picture wasn't taken under a controlled environment, so do not draw conclusions from it.

The BenQ EL2870U is a decent monitor, but there are better choices in the same price range. See our recommendations for the best 28-32 inch monitors, the best 4k HDR monitors, and the best 4k monitors.

LG 27UK650-W
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The LG 27UK650 is significantly better than the BenQ EL2870U. The two monitors have different panel type, but very similar motion handling and equally low input lag. However, the LG is better overall as it has better picture quality, with wider viewing angles, better uniformity, and you can position it comfortably with ease. Finally, the LG has a better HDR performance as it can get brighter and display a wider gamut of colors.

BenQ EW3270U
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The BenQ EW3270U is better than the BenQ EL2870U. The EW3270U has a much better native contrast ratio, and better black uniformity. The EW3270U also has better HDR performance, as it can display a wide color gamut.

Samsung UE590
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The BenQ EL2870U is much better than the Samsung UE590. The EL2870U supports HDR, although this doesn't add much. The EL2870U also has slightly better motion handling, as the backlight is completely flicker-free at all brightness settings. Although both monitors support FreeSync, the EL2870U supports it over DisplayPort and HDMI, whereas the UE590 only supports FreeSync over DisplayPort.

LG 32UD59-B
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The LG 32UD59-B is better than the BenQ EL2870U. The LG has a larger screen, and the VA panel delivers better dark room performance. The LG also has a slightly more versatile stand, and the image remains accurate when viewed at an angle. The EL2870U supports HDR, although this doesn't add much.

Dell U2719D
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Dell U2719D is a bit better than the BenQ EL2870U. The U2719D has significantly better ergonomics, wider viewing angles, and better gray uniformity. The EL2870U, on the other hand, supports HDR, although this doesn't add much, and it has better black uniformity and a higher resolution screen. The EL2870U also supports FreeSync, for a nearly tear-free gaming experience.

LG 29UM69G-B
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The BenQ EL2870U and LG 29UM69G-B use different panels, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. The 29UM69G-B uses an IPS panel, which delivers wider viewing angles, and it has a higher native refresh rate. The EL2870U has a TN panel, with a much higher resolution 4k screen that is better for multitasking, and it supports HDR, although this doesn't add much.

Acer Predator XB273K
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Acer Predator XB273K and the BenQ EL2870U have different panels, each with advantages and disadvantages. In this case, however, the XB273K is much better in most aspects. The XB273 has a faster native refresh rate, better viewing angles, a faster response time that delivers crisper motion, and you can position it to your liking with ease. The BenQ is slightly larger.

LG UltraFine 4k
Unavailable
Amazon.com

The LG UltraFine 4k is a bit better than the BenQ EL2870U for most uses. The LG has better viewing angles, better uniformity, and slightly better ergonomics. The BenQ EL2870U, on the other hand, supports HDR, has better reflection handling, and has a flicker-free backlight.

+ Show more
7.2 Mixed Usage

The BenQ EL2870U is a decent monitor overall. It performs well as a casual gaming monitor since it supports FreeSync and has excellent low input lag. Unfortunately, it doesn't look as good in a dark room, and although it supports HDR, there is little benefit to enabling it, and the narrow viewing angles make it a bit less versatile.

7.0 Office

Decent monitor for office use. The 28", 4k screen is great for multitasking, and it has a good selection of inputs. Unfortunately, it has disappointing viewing angles, and the stand has terrible ergonomics, making it difficult to place in an ideal viewing position.

7.6 Gaming

Good gaming monitor for casual gamers. It has great motion handling, and it has excellent low input lag. It supports FreeSync, which is great, but it has a maximum 60 Hz refresh rate, which may disappoint more serious gamers. It gets bright enough for even a well-lit room, but it isn't as well suited for dark rooms.

7.2 Multimedia

Decent monitor for multimedia. The 4k, 28" screen is great for watching UHD movies, but unfortunately, HDR support is limited and it can't show movies the way the creator intended. Unfortunately, it isn't as well suited for watching movies at night due to the sub-par native contrast and disappointing black uniformity.

7.2 Media Creation

Decent monitor for creating media. It has low input lag and a fast response time, giving the monitor a very responsive feel. It has an excellent SDR color gamut, but coverage of the wider Adobe RGB color space is less than ideal for professional photo or video editing.

6.3 HDR Gaming

Mediocre monitor for HDR gaming. It has good overall gaming performance, but HDR doesn't add much, as it can't get very bright and can't display a wide color gamut. For a better HDR gaming monitor, check out the Samsung CHG70.

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