Computer displays have gone through a lot of transformations since their inception, so much so, that if you were to assemble a performance machine at home, you would have to make a separate budget to accommodate a higher quality display. Take professional gamers for example. Not only do they require a top of the line CPU configuration, they also require the best possible display to get the immersive experience they so heartily desire. There are cases wherein they use multiple displays in cascade to get the desired outcome, but such a configuration can get tedious at times, as looking across multiple displays simultaneously can be very very stressful. But all that is about to change now, thanks to BenQ and their new offering to the display market, the XR3501 gaming display. So, without further ado, lets dive right in –
To begin with, the XR3501 features a stunning aspect ratio of 21:9 , which , though new to the block, will decimate any display setup you put up against it. For those who are new to the world of displays, the first recognizable aspect ratio we had was 4:3, which was replaced by the more capable 16:9 aspect ratio. Even today, most of the displays available in the market feature this aspect ratio. The folks at BenQ however decided to go one up on the world, and brought out the XR3501 with the next best aspect ratio of 21:9, which they believe will negate the effort of cascading multiple displays together, and produce the same effect with just the one display. Moreover, the XR3501 display is not just a planar display, its got a bit of a curve going on for it as well. Add to that a 35 inch display size and a refresh rate of a staggering 144 Hz, and you are looking at a display meant to rule the market.
Build wise, the XR3501 is very sturdy, and has a bit of a hefty look to it thanks to the somewhat massive display size. Whats impressive though is that BenQ has designed the stand to the display keeping all these form factors in mind, so don’t worry about the display tipping over anytime. Computer displays usually don’t have much of a scope to show off in the looks department, but BenQ has tried their very best all the same with a nice subtle metallic finish to the XR3501, which complements the screen very nicely, giving it a rather pleasing appearance. I thought that the lack of height adjustment would be a matter of concern, but its not really that bad, as you can still tilt the display to eye level, which is more than enough for me. It’s a display after all and not a driver’s seat in a car. Another point worth noting here is that while a 16:9 aspect ratio is considered optimal for curved displays, the bumped up 21:9 feels like it was made for the same. Once the display is plugged in and is at work, it gives you this sense of envelopment which is very hard to ignore. What I am trying to say, is that while 16:9 is the preferred choice, 21:9 is the best choice for curved displays today.
Coming to the input ports available on the XR3501, BenQ has left no stones Un-turned in this respect either. What we have are two HDMI 1.4 ports, though i am still wondering why HDMI 2.0 ports were not used instead. DisplayPort and mini-DisplayPort connections are necessary to utilize the 144 HZ refresh rate, as well as the absolutely stunning 2560 * 1080 resolution of the display. Accompanying them all are the standard issue line In/Out and headphone jack which take care of the audio responsibilities.
Next up, we have the button layout. BenQ is well known when it comes to providing some of the best button controls in the industry. Their legacy moves forward with the XR3501, which features the best button controls I have seen on a display by far. Part of the credit though, goes to the 35 inch display size which accommodates the controls with apparent ease. The best part however, is that finding the right button in the dark is super easy, simply because the display actually shows you the various control icons, thus making it easy to choose the control of your choice. They have also added a small back-light to the power button , so you don’t accidentally press something else instead.
Next up, lets take a look at the performance –
When it comes to performance, the BenQ XR3501 does really well, with some really punchy colors and sharp details, but falls short when it goes toe to toe against other players like the Dell Ultra-sharp, or even the Acer Predator X34. both of which flaunt a mouth watering 3,440-by-1,440 resolution. Another short fall is the color accuracy. While BenQ would want you to believe that the XR3501 produces accurate colors, closer inspection would prove otherwise. Sure, the color output is top notch, but not at all ideal, as far as benchmarks go. Where the XR3501 compensates is the gray scale testing. The VA display correctly renders every shade of gray available in the palette , thus giving super accurate shadows, and details. The viewing angles are quite good as well, and you won’t really find color shifting or fluctuation in luminescence, should you view the display from an angle.
When it comes to gaming, the XR3501 feels right at home, with a blazing 144 HZ refresh rate and 4 millisecond pixel response, both of which give you an enviable gaming experience. The curved display works its magic too, making it easier to pay attention to events happening near the corner of the screens when you are playing hardcore games like Crysis .
Power consumption is quite generic when it comes to a display of this calibre. speaking in terms of numbers, the XR3501 consumes close to 50 Watts of power, which, compared to other competitors, is just around a watt in excess.
In conclusion , the BenQ XR3501 is definitely a gaming display worth investing in, thanks to the 35 inch display size, and super fast 144 Hz refresh rate. The problem however, is that the display does have a few key features missing, such as USB ports and height adjustable stand, while the resolution maxes out at 2560 * 1080p. Well, then the question arises – Should one buy the BenQ XR3501 ?
The answer goes both ways. If you are a person looking for a high performance gaming monitor, and don’t really cae about the addition frills that come along with it, then by all means, head to a retailer right away and bring the BenQ home. however, if you are one of those perfectionist gamers, who need the best of the best, with every feature imaginable, then you are better off going for other displays, best of which is the Acer Predator X34. It features a 3,440-by-1,440-resolution panel, a height-adjustable stand and an Nvidia G-Sync module, which eliminates screen tearing , and gives you a flawless gaming experience.