Review - BenQ SW271 (27" 4K monitor)
As image makers, it goes without saying that using a high-quality, photo-editing monitor allows us to make the most of our images. From seeing the details, textures, and vibrancy of each colour, a high-end monitor seems like a logical investment to make as a professional photographer or filmmaker. However, the biggest barrier to entry for many is often price, with most monitors selling for thousands of dollars. Thankfully, there are a number of well-priced, high-end monitors now on the market.
When you think of an entry-level or mid-range monitor, the feeling that you get is akin to paying for a lunch special at a restaurant only to receive a half-serving. It may be good for your wallet, but it is a half-experience which leaves you hungry for more. And for those looking for a monitor, this means sacrificing something in terms of quality, colour accuracy, or features.
However, the 4K UHD BenQ SW271 proves to be the exception to this rule with its 99% Adobe RGB colour space, native brightness level of 350 lux, high contrast ratio of 1,000:1, and HDR support delivering all the above at a mid-range price point of $1,699. Extra features include a USB-C port, SD card reader, and a Hotkey Puck Controller. It is as if BenQ seems to be telling us that with a monitor this reasonably priced, there is no excuse for being sloppy when it comes to colour management.
Who is it for?
At first glance, the BenQ SW271 with its affordable price point, seems to be targeted towards emerging professionals building their client base. Its specifications and colour accuracy alone makes it the perfect companion for someone editing images or 4K videos off their laptop or iMac and are looking for both a colour management and improved resolution solution. All it takes is a quick connection via HDMI, Display Port, or USB-C. However, from looking at the crisp images that the BenQ SW271 produces, we also recommend this monitor to professionals. Ideal as a main monitor, it's also perfect as a second colour-accurate monitor to accompany a high-end monitor, especially for those that don't want to shell out the big bucks again.
Out of the box
When you receive your BenQ SW271, you will find everything nicely packaged protecting all the parts of the monitor and the screen. Taking it out of the box and assembling the monitor was an easy process, but we did spend a little longer trying to screw the base and stand together via the thumb-screw. However, once these two components were together, clicking the monitor into the base and removing it with the press of a button is oddly satisfying and makes this 4K monitor seem almost portable. This proved to be useful for transporting the monitor from the office to the studio for clients to view their images during tethered shooting. The solid hood was also a bonus with BenQ providing seven hood pieces which allow you to use the hood in both landscape and portrait orientations. The hood also includes a hatch at the top to thread a colour calibrator through.
After connecting to our Macbook Pro via USB-C and going through a series of portraits, landscapes, and 4K videos, the image this monitor produces straight out the box is bright from corner-to-corner, has great contrast, and high dynamic range. While the monitor does contain a number of presets, the majority of this review was done working in Adobe RGB mode. Thanks to its 10-bit colour display, the colours in this mode seemed quite vibrant and natural. Resolution-wise, a 4K monitor may seem a bit overkill for displaying and editing your images compared to BenQ’s 2K monitors, however, working with medium format images or editing 4K video files on the BenQ SW271 was a pleasure.
It’s also important to note that each BenQ SW271 monitor comes with an individual calibration report to prove that BenQ are calibrating each of their monitors in factory before they ship them out. However, calibrating your monitor regularly should form a part of any serious image-maker's colour management workflow. While you can use BenQ’s Palette Master Element calibration software with X-Rite and Datacolor calibrators, the monitor can also be calibrated with the software that comes with the calibrators.
Key features & accessories
As a monitor, it is the small details that elevate the BenQ SW271. This includes the cable management hole in the stand to thread cables through, the recession in the middle of the base to house the Hotkey Puck, and adequate height adjustment which is perfect for bringing the monitor to eye-level to reduce strain on your neck. The Hotkey Puck is also worth mentioning as it allows you to switch between Adobe RGB, sRGB, and B&W modes. It can also be customised to map other modes or OSD settings such as brightness and contrast for convenience, and allows you to navigate the menus and settings more easily. While the puck may seem like a gimmick, it actually proves to be quite useful especially for switching to B&W mode to get a quick preview of how an image will look in B&W before making necessary adjustments.
Set-up ★★★★ ½
Setting up the BenQ SW271 is so efficient that you will want to take it to every job. It does lose half a star for the finicky process attaching the base to the stand.
With a colour-accurate 4K monitor with 99% Adobe RGB colour space, HDR 10-bit panel, IPS panels, and plenty of extra features, it definitely reaches towards the high-end monitor market.
Image quality ★★★★★
Amazing image quality from corner-to-corner. Really impressed at the monitor’s natural colours.
Value for money ★★★★★
At the present time, you won’t find a more capable 4K monitor at this price. Consequently, the BenQ SW271 gets top marks for value for money.
Panel Size: 27 inches
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Native Resolution: 3840 x 2160 pixels at 60Hz
Panel Technology: LED backlit 10-Bit IPS Panel with 14-Bit 3D LUT Hardware Calibration
Viewing Angle: 178 degrees
Gamut: 99% Adobe RGB, 100% sRGB, 93% DCI-P3
Connections In: Power, DisplayPort x 1, HDMI x 2, USB 3.0 Downstream x 2, USB 3.0 Upstream x 1, USB Type C x 1
Other Connections: SD/MMC Card Reader, 3.5mm stereo headphone jack
Other features supplied: Viewing Hood, built-in 14-bit LUT
Supplied Cords: Power, DisplayPort, USB-3 Upstream, HDMI 2.0, USB Type C Cable
Power requirements: 90~264V, 43.38W (Max), 0.5 Watts (Standby)
Dimensions (HxWxD) without base: 372.2x626x238.04
Net weight w/o stand and base: 6.3 kg
Weight with base and hood: 10.5 kg
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