Gaming monitors often lean hard into a stereotype of what gaming hardware should look like. That means brash, angular design with gaudy LED accents.
The BenQ EX2780Q is an alternative. It’s a sleek, refined monitor that could easily be sold as a professional display. The focus is on image rather than refresh rate, providing a wide gamut display and HDR support. All this helps the EX2780Q carve a unique niche in the crowded market for 27-inch gaming monitors.
BenQ EX2780Q – Design
The BenQ EX2780Q’s simple, curved matte black chassis is paired with elegant trim that, in most lighting, takes on a bronze or coffee hue. Thin bezels frame the display on three sides while the bottom is bordered by a small soundbar with a faux fabric texture. This is where you’ll find the HDRi sensor which detects ambient light and adjusts the monitor accordingly. It all adds up to a refined, luxurious look.
Functionally, however, the EX2780Q falls flat. The included stand is sturdy but short and only adjusts for tilt. The monitor will sit low on your desk, so tall gamers may need to prop it up with a box or some books. A VESA mount is included, so a third-party stand can be attached to solve the issue. Still, it’s odd for a monitor this expensive to ship without a height-adjustable stand.
Connectivity options include two HDMI 2.0 ports, DisplayPort 1.4, and a USB-C port with DisplayPort mode. The USB-C port is another unusual feature to find in a gaming monitor, but don’t get too excited. It doesn’t include Power Delivery, so it can’t charge your laptop.
BenQ backs the EX2780Q with a three-year limited warranty. This is uncommon for a gaming monitor at any price point. Samsung and LG tend to offer a one year warranty on all monitors, and while Alienware can do better, its monitors are much more expensive. It’s unlikely you’ll need to use the warranty, but it’s a nice perk.
BenQ EX2780Q – Features & OSD
The BenQ EX2780Q has a remote that can control all the monitor’s features. It includes buttons to quickly change the volume or access a variety of preset modes, such as HDRi or Blue Light modes. I love the remote, though I’ll admit I spend more time hunched over tweaking monitor settings than the average gamer.
BenQ hasn’t sacrificed the monitor’s physical buttons entirely. It includes a set of buttons alongside a joystick that is used to navigate menus. This is the standard arrangement for most modern monitors. One concession is made to the remote: none of the buttons have a label on the front. It’s easy to accidentally turn the monitor off by hitting the wrong button.
The menu includes a decent range of image quality settings. It has five precise gamma settings that span from 1.8 to 2.6 and RGB color adjustment, though only in the User preset. It provides a Black Equalizer setting for competitive gamers who want to boost shadow detail but doesn’t have a built-in crosshair.
There’s a long list of image presets available. These include Low Blue Light mode, a Rec. 709 mode, and an Eye Care mode. While they have their use, I think most gamers will find them overwhelming. For example, it’s possible to access Low Blue Light mode through two different menus, but only one method then provides five alternative Blue Light mode options. Why do the options differ on how they’re accessed? And does a gaming monitor need five different Blue Light modes?
One mode is worth special attention: HDRi. This feature, which is key to the monitor’s marketing, uses a built-in ambient light sensor to automatically detect room lighting and adjust the monitor accordingly. Despite the name, it doesn’t require an HDR signal to work.
I wasn’t happy with HDRi’s handling of color temperature. The feature at times seemed confused, flipping between a cooler and warmer look with distracting frequency. I also didn’t like the look of HDRi when HDR was turned on in Windows. Every mode looked over-sharpened and too cool.
On the plus side, HDRi significantly adjusted brightness, keeping the monitor at a comfortable brightness throughout the day. That’s helpful; it keeps you from ramping up brightness during the day and then searing your eyes by forgetting to turn it down at night.
BenQ EX2780Q – Day-to-day performance
The BenQ EX2780Q is a wonderful monitor for everyday use. Its 1440p resolution looks sharp across the 27-inch screen, with only the finest interface elements and smallest fonts showing any hint of pixelation or aliasing. It’s also a bright display, and while it doesn’t reach the extreme levels of Alienware’s more expensive AW2721D, it beats LG’s popular 27GL83A-B.
Color performance is a highlight. The BenQ EX2780Q is astoundingly accurate right out of the box, going toe-to-toe with mid-range professional monitors like the Asus ProArt PA278QV. The BenQ also serves up an ideal color temperature and spot-on gamma. It’s a wide gamut display, covering the entire sRGB gamut and 90 percent of the AdobeRGB gamut.
Brightness isn’t exceptional, but it’s far more than you’re likely to need for daily use. In fact, I typically used the BenQ monitor at less than half its maximum sustained brightness. This alone would combat glare, which is further reduced by an effective anti-glare coating. The BenQ EX2780Q is a good pick for bright rooms.
Overall, the EX2780Q delivers an experience on par with entry-level professional monitors. It’s a real stunner for photo or video editing. Its on-screen menu lacks the customization some professionals might prefer, but that’s easy to forgive when image quality is this good right out of the box.
BenQ EX2780Q – Gaming performance
You might guess the BenQ EX2780Q’s accurate color and wide gamut leads to excellent visuals in games. You’d be right.
The monitor’s highly accurate, vibrant color looks fantastic in every game you throw at it. Minecraft, which I’ve returned to in recent months, is an excellent example. No one has ever accused Minecraft of being vivid or dazzling, but the EX2780Q does its best to change that. The game looks bright, crisp, and fresh. My time playing Diablo 3 and Final Fantasy XIV lead me to similar conclusions.
This is an IPS monitor and, like all monitors of its type, it can’t reach a deep, inky black. Scenes that should appear entirely dark are instead a hazy gray. However, the EX2780Q I tested had excellent luminance uniformity. It lacks distracting blotches of obvious excess brightness along the corners of the display, which can ruin simulation or horror games and remains a common flaw among gaming monitors.
Indeed, BenQ avoids all the major flaws that often degrade an IPS monitor’s image quality. Contrast is good for an IPS monitor, uniformity is solid, gamma performance is excellent and color, as mentioned, is spot-on.
The monitor falls short in just one area, and that’s HDR. The EX2780Q’s superb color performance offers a vibrant experience that’s more vivid and alive than SDR. However, the monitor’s mediocre brightness and complete lack of local dimming has downsides. It can’t deliver remarkable highlights in brilliant scenes or excellent shadow detail in dark scenes.
Don’t judge the EX2780Q too harshly on this basis, however. No monitor in this price range provides a great, or even passable, HDR experience. The BenQ can defeat monitors well above its price range, like the Alienware AW2721D, in SDR image quality, while sidestepping flaws found in monitors sold for twice as much.
BenQ EX2780Q – Motion performance
The BenQ EX2780Q has a 144Hz IPS panel with a one millisecond gray-to-gray response time. Once impressive, this is now the default for gaming monitors. Gamers can choose competitors with a 1440p panel at up to 165Hz, or a 1080p panel at up to 280Hz.
BenQ makes a clear choice not to compete with ultra-high refresh displays, like Asus’ excellent TUF VG279QM. Highly competitive players who demand the absolute best in pixel response times and refresh rates should look elsewhere. The EX2780Q is built for image quality, not speed.
Still, the monitor’s motion performance is good. Great, even, depending on what you have right now. A 144Hz monitor like the EX2780Q delivers motion clarity and a smooth feel that’s a clear, obvious upgrade over the 60Hz monitors that were common a few years ago.
The monitor also avoids common motion problems. I paid close attention to gameplay in Diablo 3, which combines dark background elements alongside bright, colorful characters and effects. Ghosting and halos weren’t noticeable in my experience.
AMD’s FreeSync Premium is officially supported, but Nvidia’s G-Sync also worked and showed no problems in my time with the monitor.
BenQ EX2780Q – Sound
Most monitors have weak built-in speakers, if they have any at all. The BenQ EX2780Q bucks that trend with a pair of two-watt speakers and a five-watt subwoofer. This system offers loud, deep, rich sound with noticeable bass. The only flaw is sound staging; the speakers are located in a soundbar along the monitor’s chin and fail to provide definition between the left and right channels.