The BenQ SW271 in the test, the best monitor on a budget

The SW271 from BenQ is with a price of around 1200 € an absolute high-end monitor, which is primarily aimed at professional users.

The SW271 has a lot to offer on paper! In addition to a 4K resolution is just the 99% AdobeRGB color space coverage, together with a high color accuracy to make the pros happy.

Although I do not know if I would call myself a “professional”, but for Gaming Reporter, I already do a lot of photos, as I think mostly pretty good.

Therefore, of course, the SW271 has aroused my interest. So far, I’ve always had the pleasure of working with good mid-range monitors, so the SW271 is my first step into the professional class. Many thanks to BenQ, who provided me with the SW271!

But is the SW271 really a real professional monitor, which can also score in practice with an excellent image quality, or just look good on the technical data?

Let’s take a look at the SW271 in the test! Can this really convince for a price of 1200 €? Let’s find out!

 

The BenQ SW271 in the test

The BenQ SW271 is quite chic designed for a professional monitor. Of course, simplicity is the motto here, but unlike other professional devices, the SW271, for example, has very small bezels and is generally not overly thick or chunky.

The display bezels look particularly slim when switched off due to the invisible frame, but even when switched on, the frames are only a few millimeters thick, which is why they hardly disturb at all with a multi-monitor set-up.

As befits a good monitor, the BenQ SW271 also has an excellent pedestal that has not been functionally slimmed down because of its sleek design. This is made entirely of aluminum and therefore very solid and robust. In addition, the stand has a carrying handle, which has proved during the photographing and wearing the monitor as amazingly useful. Should you take your monitor to shootings with the SW271 is absolutely no problem!

In addition to the handle, the monitor has the usual ergonomic options, such as height adjustment, the ability to tilt the monitor, to turn it vertically or to turn it. The base or the mechanism used also makes a very good and high-quality impression.

Included with the BenQ SW271 is also an optional look -bzw. Störlichtschutz. Here is a small point of criticism, a side panel had a slightly bent edge, which, however, could straighten easily again.

Big pluses are again available for buttons and connectors. There is a “puck” to the BenQ SW271, this is a small wired remote control, which allows a more comfortable control of the on-screen menu.

Every monitor should have such a puck! Especially with the SW271 this makes a lot of sense, because it is so fast to jump between sRGB, AdobeRGB, etc. profiles back and forth.

The puck can be stored in the base or even completely lose weight. BenQ might have been able to create a more elegant cable management here, but apart from this, this wired remote control is a great thing!

Especially as the SW271 also has buttons directly on the display. So you have the choice how to operate the monitor. If you do not use a wall mount, yes the monitor has a VESA mount, but I see no reason not to use the puck.

What about the connections? Very well! The BenQ SW271 has two HDMI 2.0 inputs, a display port input and a USB C input!

For example, you can use the latter to connect an Apple MacBook Pro directly to the monitor without having to use a dongle. However, the USB C port does not support power! This must be regulated separately.

In addition, the SW271 also has two USB 3.0 ports and an SD card reader. These ports can either be powered via the USB C port or via a standard USB 3.0 cable.

However, if you use USB C both for image transfer and for data transfer, you have to decide between 4K 60Hz + USB 2.0 and 4K 30Hz + USB 3.0.

Although I think it’s basically very good that BenQ has a USB hub and memory card reader installed, but the positioning I find something suboptimal. The USB ports and also the memory card reader are mounted on the left rear side. If the monitor is free on a small table in a photo studio is okay, but on a desk against a wall, the positioning is not good.

I could have put the ports on the underside of the monitor, so that they are easily accessible from the front.

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Nevertheless thumbs up for the variety of connections!

Bonus points are given to BenQ for adding all the cables you need. By that I mean the power cable, USB 3.0 cable but also DisplayPort cable and HDMI cable to connect the monitor.

BenQ also adds a glare hood. These “wings” prevent, as the name suggests, that obliquely incident light leads to reflections on the monitor. For someone who works directly in the studio or even outdoors with the monitor certainly a very practical thing!

The antiglare hood is located in a separate box, in which it can be stored well when not in use. However, this must be plugged together when used by the user, but this is not a big problem.

 

The picture quality

The most important point is of course the picture quality. BenQ uses the classic SW271 on an IPS panel, which is equipped with a 10-bit color depth.

The resolution is 3840 × 2160 pixels, so 4K in a 16: 9 aspect ratio. The refresh rate is normal 60Hz, if you control the monitor via USB C, HDMI 2.0 or DisplayPort 1.4!

Important! If you have an older laptop that does not have DisplayPort or HDMI 2.0, you may only get 4K 30Hz, which is not nice. So if you have an older laptop or PC, check out what your connections are.

The reaction time is given by BenQ with 5ms, which is okay. Of course, the SW271 is not a gaming monitor, but a 5ms response time is more than enough, even for most gamers.

So far as the basic technical data, we come to the actual test. Let’s start with readings from the Datacolor Spyder 5 ELITE.

 

color space

BenQ speaks for the SW271 of a 100% coverage of the sRGB color space and a 99% coverage of the AdobeRGB color space.

100% sRGB is not as impressive as it was a few years ago, but 99% AdobeRGB coverage is still very special in 2018!

With its around 1200 €, the SW271 is the second cheapest 4K monitor currently on the market which according to its manufacturer creates 99% +.

But does the SW271 really create these values ​​promised by the manufacturer? We measure once or we have to measure twice. Once in SRGB mode in once in AdobeRGB mode.

Adobe RGB mode

sRGB mode

In sRGB mode, the SW271 provides 98% of the sRGB color space and 76% of the AdobeRGB color space. This is only partially impressive, the really impressive values ​​we see only in AdobeRGB mode.

Here, the SW271 creates 99% of the sRGB color space and 95% of the AdobeRGB color space. These are somewhat worse values ​​than BenQ’s stated, but honestly, with such small differences, I would rather tap on a measurement inaccuracy of my gauge.

Therefore, I consider the 100% and 99% given by BenQ to be given! Which of course are both great values! Even the 93% coverage of the DCI-P3 color space is great! Much better it is currently hardly for a monitor.

So the SW271 is recommended for professional content creator without any problems from the point of view of color representation / color space coverage.

 

color fidelity

For professional devices, besides a high color space coverage and thus a good color representation, a high color accuracy is very important.

You want his recordings to reflect what you would get from a professional print or publication.

What about the SW271?

Out of the Box

recalibrated

(Smaller value = smaller deviation)

Out of the box already very good! The BenQ SW271 inherently has a delta E of ≦ 1 on average. Where it depends on the particular color. Interestingly, Turquoise is a small outlier with a Delta E of 4. All other colors are 0 or 1.

After a short calibration with a Spyder 5, the SW271 achieves almost perfect values! Most colors can be calibrated to the point and even turquoise can be pressed on a Delta E of 2.

Thus, the BenQ SW271 is also easily for users who make many prints! Incidentally, it is also possible to calibrate the SW271 “Hardware”. The calibration profile is saved directly in the monitor.

 

Brightness and contrast

Although a super high brightness is not quite as essential in a monitor used in a studio, but BenQ gives the maximum brightness with good 350cd / m².

Are these achieved?

At 100%, the SW271 achieves 331cd / m² brightness. Just below the manufacturer, but still a good value.

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331cd / m² is bright enough, even if you have a light source in the back. Here, of course, also helps the matte display coating, which hardly causes reflections.

In normal everyday life you will probably use the monitor at 50-80% of its maximum brightness, so you still have a small buffer if you have a light source in your neck.

What about the contrast? Here BenQ gives the usual 1: 1000, which seems to be the standard value for IPS panels.

Here I must confess to have had some problems at first. My meter spit out too low values, from 1: 180, etc. Since it was assumed that these values ​​are wrong, I’ve tried a bit around and really found the solution to the problem, the HDMI port.

Only after using DisplayPort 1.4 instead of HDMI 2.0 did I achieve plausible values ​​in terms of contrast. Connected via DisplayPort I reached a value of 1: 900, which is a realistic and usable value for a monitor of this class.

I can not tell you what the problem was, to be honest. Otherwise, no settings were changed and both measurements were in sRGB mode. Whether it is the port, the cable or my PC fault, I can not define exactly.

If you have problems with too bad contrast with the SW271, try another port!

In monochrome mode, the contrast of 1: 940 in the top is a bit better than in the sRGB or AdobeRGB mode.

Incidentally, a contrast of 1: 900 is a very good value for an IPS panel. More is usually achieved only VA or OLED panels.

 

Illumination and image homogeneity

Let’s come to the only real weakness of the BenQ SW271, the illumination. This has many monitors problems, but these are relatively strong in the SW271.

First of all a few readings:

As you can see, the meter speaks of up to 16% brightness differences in individual segments of the monitor. 16% is not catastrophically bad, but even with the best will not top value. This will certainly make some cheaper monitors better.

But what is subjective?

When viewing images normally, the moderately good illumination is actually not directly present. Only when using test images or a black image controls the illumination, you will see weakening.

Most likely, the weaknesses in the lower left area, at the very edge, where there is a lightspot on my SW271.

Certainly not optimal, but something I can live with. Incidentally, it makes no difference whether you use the monitor at 100% brightness or 50% brightness, the suboptimal illumination persists.

 

Sharpness and perspective

A 4K resolution on 27 inches is of course a guarantee for a sharp picture. This is also offered by the BenQ SW271! This is primarily noticeable in texts and letters, where the image of the SW271 is a good deal sharper and smoother compared to a normal Full HD monitor.

Even letters and characters with curves are displayed much better by the SW271.

For photos and videos I find the difference between a 4K and Full HD monitor to be honest less big. Of course, there is a difference, which is primarily due to the presentation of fine details, but that will certainly not immediately attract everyone’s attention. Here are the differences in text but a bit more obvious.

Often, photos even look worse on a 4K monitor than on a Full HD monitor. Especially with smartphone test images, this often strikes me. Without zooming in on a 4K monitor, you can see imperfections in terms of sharpness and detail, much faster and clearer than on a normal Full HD monitor.

But with a monitor like the SW271, it’s all about such things, being able to quickly recognize good shots and then process them further. This is also the big strength of the 4K resolution for professionals.

The viewing angles of the IPS panel are inconspicuously good. You have to be in a very acute angle to the SW271 so that the picture tilts and even then reduces only the brightness and the contrast.

So there is no color shift or something similar.

 

Subjective impression

Enough of the measured values, what is the picture subjectively? Not surprisingly very good! I’ve been used to monitors of the good middle class and here the SW271 is a lot better.

Even colors look very powerful and deep, although the monitor does not provide a supersaturated picture, of course. Here you have to be careful, however, in which mode you are. If you are on the normal Windows desktop and the Adobe RGB mode is active, all the colors seem supersaturated, as if you had just taken a picture with a Samsung smartphone.

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Of course, this can be very nice with a multimedia application like watching a movie, but usually you should have the correct sRGB mode active. Unless of course you are currently editing a picture with AdobeRGB color space.

Thanks to the puck, switching between sRGB and AdobeRGB is a touch of a button. So you do not have to torture yourself through countless menus to change the color space.

Compared with my old ASUS monitor, which also delivers a very good picture, you can see a difference when viewing pictures in the Adobe RGB color space.

Especially when photos of the sky can be seen, the difference is noticeable. Here are the SW271 finer nuances in terms of gradation to recognize.

Also, in applications like Lightroom, it is less often necessary to zoom in on images to get the quality right. This, of course, is an advantage of the high 4K resolution. With Full HD monitors, my first step was always to go into the 1zu1 view, to see if the picture is really sharp.

With the BenQ SW271, on the other hand, with a full view you can already see the detail sharpness very well. This has speeded up my workflow a good deal.

Although the SW271 is of course a professional device, it is also quite safe in classic multimedia applications. Of course, even in movies or even games, the color reproduction is absolutely outstanding!

Even a really significant Imputlag or the like, I could not notice. Yes, there are better monitors for pure gamers, but for a few rounds Overwatch or similar in between, the BenQ SW271 is perfectly suitable!

By the way, this also supports HDR! Certainly interesting for video producers, but also for multimedia fans. For example, because the HDR10 standard is used, the Playstation 4 Pro can also play 4K HDR content on the SW271.

 

Conclusion

The BenQ SW271  is an excellent monitor for semi professionals, as well as professional photographers and video producers.

Of course, the biggest highlight of the SW271 is the almost perfect coverage of the sRGB and the AdobeRGB color space. This is not self-evident even with monitors of the 1000 € + price range!

Also contrast, brightness and sharpness can convince fully, both in terms of the measured values, as well as the subjective impression. The SW271 is picture quality the best monitor, which I was allowed to use so far.

Even compared to my “old” 4K ASUS monitor, which is a good mid-range model, there are still big differences in the color display in favor of the SW271.

The BenQ SW271 has incredibly good colors that radiate a certain amount of depth that I’ve rarely seen on a monitor before. Images, especially when they are recorded in the AdobeRGB color space, offers a great detail and wonderfully nuanced colors.

Even off the picture quality, the SW271 is top! The case, the base and just the “puck” (wired remote control) make a high quality and professional impression.

Even the connection equipment is excellent with two HDMI 2.0 ports, a DisplayPort 1.4, a USB C input (for data and picture), two USB 3.0 outputs and a memory card reader.

The support for HDR completes the very good impression in the end!

Okay I think I’ve praised the SW271 enough about the clover. So is the monitor really perfect ?! No, BenQ has allowed a weakness in the SW271, the illumination. This is really rather mediocre. Here I have already seen much cheaper monitors, which were lit evenly.

It depends on how critical you are. In normal everyday life, even when it came to the photo editing, I did not notice the illumination itself negative. So there were no moments where it really bothered me. Only if you really have a picture that is mostly black, this may be noticeable.

Offside, there is not much to complain about on the SW271! So I would say that the positive points clearly outweigh.

All in all , the SW271 from BenQ is an absolute top monitor , which will also meet professional demands!

The SW271 is also quite affordable for the semi-professional user. Do you want a really good monitor for the next X years, which shines in both photo / video editing, as well as in multimedia applications? Then you are at the SW271 also at the right address!

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