There are a ton of monitor options out there, but for players looking to enter the competitive scene, finding the right monitor comes with a lot of questions. From panel type to the flexibility of the monitor stand, there are tons of factors that play into finding the right monitor for competitive players. BenQ Zowie has provided players with an esports-focused monitor that’s a strong option for anyone looking to practice or play like the pros.
The BenQ Zowie XL2731 monitor is a 27-inch, 144Hz esports monitor that features a Twisted Nematic (TN) panel. Don’t let the “TN” freak you out. While there are other panel types that offer better color and viewing angles, like an In-Plane Switching (IPS) panel, TN offers players the fastest response times without having to take out a second mortgage. While these features are common among this class of monitor, the XL2731 feels more grounded in its identity as an esports monitor. Everything here is geared toward competitive play.
To be clear, this isn’t a daily driver monitor. Things like less-than-stellar color can’t be held against the monitor because it wasn’t designed with the intent to assist in editing, designing, drafting, or anything else that might need dead-on color accuracy. When comparing it side-by-side to another monitor that boasts the same exact specs, a few things come to mind. The first that stands out is the value of the Color Vibrance feature and the second is the Black Equalizer providing a convincing case for it being a standard feature on all mid-range gaming monitors.
Color Vibrance is a standout feature of the XL2731. BenQ Zowie has allowed players the flexibility to adjust color vibrancy on the fly. This feature is an absolute necessity for the monitor since it really suffers out-of-the-box when put next to other TN panels out-of-the-box. More casual players will also want to be wary of cranking the vibrancy up too high because everything begins to look much more like a fever-dream of retina-burning oversaturated imagery. The sweet spot for most users will be in the high-mids somewhere but will come down to personal preference for each individual. In a competitive environment, we could definitely see players blasting the Color Vibrance setting through the roof. It’s just another tool at the user’s disposal.
The Black Equalizer is another key feature on the XL2731 and one of its biggest strengths. Having on-the-fly access to the Black EQ makes it easy for users to adjust to any given environment. Didn’t see that enemy player lurking in the corner? No problem, you’ll get them next time after adjusting the Black EQ to see better in the shadows. It really adds a fantastic layer of flexibility with just a few button presses and Rainbow Six Siege players will have Caveira running scared with their Sam Fisher-like ability to see through the dark. Speaking of the buttons and ruining the competition, all the monitor buttons are located front and center.
Buttons understandably take a back seat when monitor shopping. Nobody necessarily wants to look at buttons on the front of a monitor for aesthetic reasons and buttons aren’t as exciting of a feature as the refresh rate or resolution of a monitor. But if a user is serious about their performance, buttons should be located within reach and visible. Luckily, the XL2731 gives users upfront access to Picture Mode, Color Vibrance, Black EQ, and a full array of settings, each with their own individual button.
Again, it may seem like a minor feature, but having access to these features with a literal press of a button can turn the tide of a user’s performance in a match. Players have to be able to see enemy heads in order to click on them. Most monitors have users reaching behind to fumble around with settings, so being able to have everything streamlined front and center is a fantastic, yet simple, move by BenQ Zowie.
Another aspect of the XL2731 that may go unnoticed is its stand. There are a lot of impressive monitors out there but their versatility is often stifled by their stands. The XL2731’s stand boasts a great level of adjustability. Users will be able to horizontally swivel, rotate between portrait and landscape, tilt for better viewing angles, and adjust the monitor’s height. All of these options are why fans of Rainbow Six Siege and Rocket League may recognize the hallmark red ZOWIE emblem for this past year’s DreamHack tournaments.
The monitor handles 144Hz like a champ, but that’s to be expected. If your PC can run it, then so can this monitor. If you’ve never played on a 144Hz monitor, then you’ve definitely been missing out. The jump from 60Hz to a 144Hz monitor is extremely noticeable and makes for an overall smoother experience, especially when sweating it out in a Ranked match. If you plan on playing competitively, then this is an absolute must-have feature.
Rounding out the features on the XL2731 is the inclusion of two HDMI 2.0 connections, a DVI-DL, a Display Port 1.2 connection, and a headphone jack. The Low Blue Light feature is better than most monitors that boast a similar feature, but at the end of the day, the feature just smothers everything in a Gears of War pallet of browns and grays. The frame bezel is also marketed toward a competitive landscape by foregoing any branding or gloss finish in hopes to cut distractions. While it’s a nice touch, it isn’t really a feature that contributes to why this is a solid monitor and it feels tacked on more than anything else.
If you’re seriously looking to get into the world of competitive esports, then the BenQ Zowie XL2731 is a strong contender for which monitor should earn your dollars. Users who want an overall more well-rounded monitor with solid colors should look elsewhere since this monitor won’t suit your needs. There are a lot of features baked in here and the price point of $329 makes this monitor very attractive.
- Flexible monitor stand
- Black EQ may provide a competitive edge
- Color Vibrance
- Esports focused means player focused
- Not for every type of player
- Color is weak out-of-the-box when compared to other TN panels
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