The BenQ Zowie XL2540 is 240Hz gaming monitor with a TN panel that is full of gaming features. It is incredibly responsive due to the high refresh rate and exceptionally low input lag, and also has the ability to flicker the backlight to clear up motion. It supports FreeSync which allows the refresh rate to adjust to the game, however, the picture quality is below average, and the edges of the screen lose accuracy due to the narrow viewing angle.
The design of this BenQ XL2540 is great. It is well supported by the stand despite the small footprint. The stand also provides a wide range of ergonomic movements so it is easy to find a comfortable viewing position. The monitor also has external quick settings buttons and privacy flaps which can also prevent reflections or glare. The build quality is also great, even though the monitor feels almost entirely plastic. The inputs are located on the back and can be a bit difficult to access, but the ability to rotate the monitor makes it much easier.
The stand of the BenQ XL2540 has quite a small footprint, but it still supports the monitor well and feels stable. There is also an indent in the stand to hold the quick settings buttons fairly securely.
The monitor has a wide range of ergonomic adjustments available. The height, tilt, and swivel are all adjustable to suit any viewing area and the monitor can easily be rotated to portrait which is great.
The rear of the monitor is quite simple but still looks good. It is all made of plastic, but there are holes in the stand for cable management which is a nice touch. The VESA mount also makes it easier to add to an existing stand or setup.
The borders of the monitor have an average thickness. When placed side-by-side in a multi-monitor setup, there is a small gap between screens.
When placed close to a wall, the BenQ Zowie XL2540 sits quite far forward. However, the monitor itself has an average thickness and won't stick out much if mounted on a VESA stand.
The build quality is great. Although almost entirely plastic, the monitor does feel high quality and the parts fit together well.
The picture quality of BenQ XL2540 is below average. The contrast ratio is quite low, so blacks appear gray in a dark room such as when watching movies at night. It is better suited to a bright room though, as it can get quite bright and the screen finish works well to reduce the intensity of reflections, which is useful for a bright office environment or open-plan room. The image is unfortunately quite inaccurate out of the box, and the edges of the screen lose accuracy due to the poor viewing angle. It also doesn't support any features to improve the picture quality further such as local dimming or a wide color gamut.
The contrast ratio of this BenQ XL2540 monitor is below average, as a result of the TN panel. This results in blacks that may appear gray when viewed in a dark room.
The BenQ Zowie XL2540 does not have a local dimming feature. The video is for reference only.
The SDR peak brightness is great. At around 460 nits for all window sizes, the image is bright enough for almost any use or to overcome glare. The brightness is almost constant due to the lack of local dimming or frame dimming.
HDR is not supported on this monitor.
Poor viewing angle, but fairly typical for a TN panel. The BenQ XL2540 doesn't have noticeable degradation while sitting directly in center but even a slight lateral movement causes the color accuracy and contrast to go haywire.
The vertical viewing angle of the BenQ XL2540 is bad, but this is fairly typical of a TN panel. When viewed off-axis vertically the picture degrades very rapidly, so even when viewed from a normal distance the angle to the top and bottom edges of the screen result in a non-uniform image.
The gray uniformity of the BenQ Zowie XL2540 is great, which is good for watching content that has large uniform areas such as sports or browsing the web. Almost no uniformity issues are visible near the center of the screen, and most of the uniformity issues, when viewed from in front, are a result of the poor vertical viewing angle.
The black uniformity is poor, which is bad for watching movies at night as dark scenes are blotchy. The edges of the screen appear a bit darker, and the top and bottom of the screen also look non-uniform due to the poor vertical viewing angle.
Disappointing accuracy out of the box for this monitor, and this when set on the most accurate picture mode. With a white balance near 6, this inaccuracy is noticeable for most people. The color accuracy is a bit better and the white points are a bit more accurate than seen on other monitors, but with a dE of 4.08, this is still noticeable for enthusiasts.
Note that the 'Standard' picture mode is the most accurate one, followed by the 'Movies' picture mode. Most of the other picture modes available have a white dE and color dE over 10, so if you use those modes without a calibration, you won't have the best picture quality.
After calibration, the monitor accuracy is excellent. The white balance and color inaccuracy are well under what most people would notice, even professionals. The gamma is now tracking right on our 2.2 target and the curve is almost spot on. Not many problems can be pointed out, besides the 100% primaries being a bit off target compared to the other colors, but not by that much.
You can download our ICC profile calibration here.
The BenQ XL2540 covers standard color gamuts well. s.RGB is reproduced well enough that most content does not look muted, but its coverage of the wider Adobe RGB color space is a bit too restrained to be useful for more professional use.
The s.RGB color volume coverage is excellent, which is good for most uses. Only the darker colors aren't covered as a result of the monitor's inability to produce very deep blacks. For those interested in the Adobe RGB color space, the volume coverage is not improved over sRGB.
HDR gamuts are not supported.
HDR color volumes are not supported.
No image retention is visible on this monitor, which is excellent. Even after 10 minutes of a high contrast static image, no remnants are visible.
The gradient performance of the BenQ XL2540 is great, despite the 8 bit panel. 8 bit gradations can be seen however there are no obvious errors in shades which is good.
Some color bleed is visible in the vertical color bars. This won't present itself as an issue in most circumstances but may be visible when looking at large areas of uniform colors.
The BenQ XL2540 is good at handling reflections. The light matte finish diffuses reflections across the screen, reducing their intensity. This is good for most rooms but reflections may be noticeable in bright rooms.
The motion handling of the BenQ XL2540 is outstanding. It has an amazing response time, which results in very short trails following moving objects. It uses DC dimming, so the screen is flicker-free, and BFI can be enabled to clear up motion further. The monitor has a very high native refresh rate of 240Hz and can use FreeSync to display variable frame rates lower than its native refresh rate when used with a compatible video card.
The BenQ Zowie XL2540 has an extremely fast response time, which is excellent when watching fast-paced content such as playing action games or watching sports. Pixel transition speed can be modified by changing the 'AMA' (Overdrive) setting. We recommend using the 'High' setting for fast response with minimal overshoot, while the 'Premium' setting is slightly faster but introduces more overshoot artifacts. If you are bothered by the lighter trails following moving objects caused by pixel transition overshoot, you should use the 'AMA Off' setting.
Like most monitors, the BenQ XL2540 doesn't flicker and shows each image for a full frame. Without flicker, motion appears slightly smoother, which is good for smooth motion while browsing the web or working on documents. This does result in more persistence blur, but it is possible to use Black Frame Insertion (BFI) to add flicker and help reduce persistence blur. This is useful for playing fast-paced games such as shooters.
The BFI setting on this monitor (called BenQ Blur Reduction) isn't available in the OSD menu but can be activated in the monitor's service menu or by using the BlurBusters.com BenQ Strobe Utility (see here). The service menu is activated by turning the monitor off, holding down button #4 (4th button from the left), then pressing the power button. When the monitor is powered on, button #4 will bring up the service menu (rather than the OSD). To bring back the normal OSD simply turn the monitor off and on again.
Update 02/14/2019: With the hidden BFI mode enabled, it is no longer possible to enable FreeSync.
The monitor has a very high native refresh rate of 240Hz, which is great for a very responsive feel. FreeSync on this monitor can adjust the screen's refresh rate to match the frame rate of a compatible graphics card, which allows playing graphically-intensive games with significant framerate drops without tearing or stuttering.
Update 01/15/2019: We tested the XL2540 with NVIDIA's new Adaptive Sync mode (FreeSync). FreeSync had to be manually enabled from NVIDIA control panel, as the XL2540 is not officially supported. In our tests, there were no issues with the XL2540; it supported FreeSync perfectly. We don't know if NVIDIA has tested it for official compatibility.
The BenQ Zowie XL2540 has excellent low input lag, but only a fairly common FHD resolution and 25" size, which are good enough for most people but may disappoint enthusiasts.
The input lag of this Zowie gaming monitor is exceptional. At the native 240Hz refresh rate the input lag is around 3.7ms, which is excellent even for the most competitive gamers. At 60Hz the input lag is higher, however, this is expected due to the longer scan out period.
The screen area and native resolution are decent. A 1080p resolution is about a minimum for most monitors now, so it doesn't provide as much productive screen area as higher resolution models.
This BenQ Zowie XL2540 monitor has a few additions which improve the usability. There is an external quick settings button which works well to swap between presents (for example, different settings for gaming and web browsing), and the on-screen display is easy to navigate.
They are many common features such as 'Black eQualizer' to improve the visibility of dark scenes, and 'Low Blue Light' to produce a warmer image.
The controls are located at the border on the bottom right-hand side of the monitor. The buttons are clear and provide good tactile feedback when pushed. They also stick out a bit, when makes then easy to use.
We tested the 25" BenQ Zowie XL2540, but it is also available with different refresh rates, and with the 'DyAc' feature. 'DyAc' adds image flicker by default (similar to enabling 'Blur Reduction' on the XL2540 in the service menu).
If someone comes across a different type of panel or if their monitor 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.
|XL2546||25"||240Hz||1080p||DyAc, No FreeSync|
|XL2536||24.5"||144Hz||1080p||DyAc, No FreeSync|
The BenQ Zowie XL2540 is a great monitor for gaming and it feels very responsive due to the 240Hz refresh rate and very low input lag. Unfortunately, the picture quality is sub-par and the 1080p screen is quite limiting compared to higher resolution competitors. See our recommendations for the best FreeSync monitors, and the best gaming monitors for PS4.
The BenQ Zowie XL2540 is better than the ASUS VG248QE. The Zowie XL2540 has a faster refresh rate, great for gaming, although not all computers will be able to benefit fully from this. The BenQ also supports FreeSync VRR. The Zowie also has a slightly better stand that has a wider range of motion for the adjustments.
The ASUS ROG PG279Q is much better than the BenQ Zowie XL2540. The PG279Q has a higher native resolution and larger IPS screen that has much better viewing angles. While both support VRR, the ASUS uses NVIDIA's G-SYNC technology whereas the BenQ uses AMD's FreeSync technology, so it's important to match the monitor with whichever graphics card you have to be able to get the most out of either monitor.
The Acer Predator XB271HU is better than the BenQ Zowie XL2540. The Predator has a higher native resolution and larger screen, so you can see more fine details in games. The Predator also has wider viewing angles, which is especially important as the edges of the screen won't fade if you're sitting too close. While both support VRR, the Predator uses NVIDIA's G-SYNC technology, whereas the Zowie uses AMD's FreeSync technology.
The BenQ Zowie XL2540 is a much better monitor for gaming, For all other uses and HDR support, the Dell U2518D is a better choice. The BenQ Zowie XL2540 is equipped with features like variable refresh rate, black frame insertion, very low input lag, and fast pixel response time. All of these make it an excellent choice for gamers. On the other hand, the Dell U2518D has much better viewing angles and HDR support, along with a better QHD resolution that gives you more detail on your screen. This makes it great for multitasking in an office or for multimedia.
The Dell U2715H is marginally better than the BenQ Zowie XL2540, unless your main usage is for gaming. The Dell has a larger IPS screen with a higher native resolution, so you can see more details when working. The Dell has wider viewing angles so the image remains accurate when sitting very close to the screen or if sharing your work with someone else. If your main usage is for gaming, the Zowie has less motion blur, less input lag, and a much faster refresh rate, plus it supports FreeSync VRR.
Above average monitor for mixed usage. Motion handling is excellent, which makes it a good candidate for gaming and other fast-paced activities. However, the picture quality is sub-par. When sitting close to the monitor, the edges of the screen lose contrast and saturation due to the narrow viewing angle.
Average monitor for office use. The monitor feels very responsive due to the low response time and input lag, but the picture quality is below average. There also isn't a lot of screen real estate for multitasking due to the low native resolution.
Great choice for gaming. The BenQ XL2540 supports a 240Hz input and FreeSync, so games feel very responsive. The input lag is also exceptional. Unfortunately, the picture quality is below average, and the edges of the screen appear non-uniform due to the poor viewing angle.
Decent for watching movies and TV shows. The monitor can get bright to combat glare and the light matte finish is good at diffusing reflections across the screen. Unfortunately, the picture quality is below average due to the low native contrast ratio, and the image loses accuracy when viewed at an angle.
Decent for creating media or editing photos. The BenQ Zowie XL2540 feels responsive due to the excellent motion handling and is good at fighting glare and reflections in a bright room. Unfortunately, the picture quality is below average and the image degrades when viewed at an angle.
Doesn't support HDR or more advanced features like local dimming or a wide color gamut. This is normal for most monitors, as only a few monitors such as the CHG70 support HDR at the moment.