BenQ Zowie XL2546 Gaming Monitor Review: Spoiled forever
Esports is on a rise with many people becoming professional gamers. These are the users who need the best of components because one small jitter could cost them their virtual life. While having the best of internals like the processor and graphics is important, the need for peripherals and output devices is now gaining importance. Gaming monitors are one of the lesser looked at aspects of the entire setup, and the BenQ Zowie XL2546 is a great reminder of how a monitor can affect your performance.
This is my first experience with a gaming monitor, and my first thoughts were that this is a redundant piece of hardware, just being sold by adding “gaming” to the name. However, having used it for a month, gamed on it for many hours (for research purposes) and talking to Esports players opened my eyes as to why the Zowie XL2546 is the industry standard Gaming monitor preferred by so many. Some of these observations just seemed to be a part of the honeymoon phase, but now when I move back to my basic (1080p 60Hz) monitor, everything makes sense. Yes, it is an expensive monitor (check the product page for current pricing) for anyone who does not need the specifications and features that it offers, but even the general user experience of looking at the screen being so smooth is an experience that you will surely miss.
How to set up the Zowie XL2546 monitor
The monitor has a very easy setup process and you should be able to put it together without needing the instructions. There are 3 parts to the setup: The base stand, monitor stand and the monitor itself. The base plate connects to the stand with a simple thumb screw once the lines align. Having the stand in place, the monitor can be attached with a simple snap into the place to the stand. The entire process will take less than a minute.
After that, you can connect your GPU to the monitor with the cable of your choice, and add extras like the USB hub and the S-switch. Both have their cables included in the box.
Zowie XL2546 monitor Features
The main reason why someone would get a gaming monitor would be the extreme frame rate and the response time, and the Zowie XL2546 shines in those departments. A max refresh rate of 240Hz (standard displays are 60Hz) means that you get to see the tiniest of changes on the screen with perfect clarity and no blur. And a minimal refresh rate of 1ms means that the display updates itself with practically no lag, letting you respond immediately.
DyAC is a Zowie proprietary feature which stands for Dynamic Accuracy. It helps you further reduce motion blur and micro jitter, giving a clearer image with higher sharpness. For instances like when the enemy is running, or if you are spraying with a weapon, DyAC will cut down on the blur and help you get a better view of the surrounding.
Black eQualizer is another feature meant to improve the game’s visuals. It increases the brightness in the darker parts of the screen (usually shadows) to reveal hidden elements from there. technically, it changes the image reproduction accuracy but can definitely help you spot an enemy lurking in the shadows.
Shields are extra black panels you can attach on either side of the display to direct more focus to the screen and get a tunnel vision of sorts. For esports players, this is an important addition to remove distracting elements from their peripheral vision and have their attention on where it needs to be.
The left side of the monitor has an extendable arm which can be used to rest your headphones on. A simple nifty addition. Besides that, you get two USB 3.0 ports, a headphone jack and a mic in.
The S-Switch remote lets you add 3 display settings profiles which you can switch with the click of a button. Not sure why you would want to change the profile while usage, but it’s there if you need it.
Zowie XL2546 monitor Image quality
This being a gaming monitor, color reproduction is not one of the strong points of it. The vibrancy was a little low for my liking, and the matte coating on top makes that worse. Viewing angles were average, with a blue or a pink color shift with even little off-axis angles. Lastly, if your work revolves around documents, or text more specifically, the sharpness of this monitor might disappoint you because of the large size using a standard 1080p resolution.
Max brightness was satisfactory, and I used it at the lowest brightness throughout the review period with no issues. Contrast and black reproduction were underwhelming, but those come inherently with a TN panel. Again, these are decided with gamers in mind and hence may seem less than ideal for others.
Zowie XL2546 monitor User experience
I was slightly skeptical of a monitor with such an extreme frame rate, not because the differences are not perceivable, but because 240Hz seemed like overkill to me. But after using it and getting used to it, the practical uses of the Zowie gaming monitor became evident. As mentioned earlier, the extra refresh rate is a boon for gamers who can make use of seeing every small bit of movement in the scene. For non-gamers, just the feeling of seeing the cursor move along the interface with that level of smoothness will spoil you for any other display. They will literally feel like you are using a monitor that is lagging or dropping frames (I am definitely facing this on my older monitor now.)
Most modern games have max FPS unlocked so you can actually touch and sometimes exceed 240Hz if your system is that powerful enough. Games like Counter-Strike, PUBG, and Fortnite easily cross the 120Hz barrier. Heavier titles will demand a more powerful GPU. Other parts of the Windows will constantly refresh at max frame-rate even with a lesser graphics card.
The monitor can be moved on all 3 axes with ease and can rotate all the way up to 90-degrees to use in a portrait orientation. Tilt and Swivel options are also present to get the monitor exactly in front of your face for the optimal viewing experience. The height adjustment stand is an engineering marvel as you can change the height of the monitor with a simple push, and it locks into place. There is a leveler present to mark the current height if you plan on using it again or have a multi-monitor setup.
The settings screen is pretty straightforward and very easy to navigate through. Everything is well labeled and the buttons are indicated to get around. Picture profile, game settings, special features can all be controlled from here.
For a price of almost INR 45,000, the Zowie XL2546 is a very niche product. For professional gamers for whom a few milliseconds can be the difference between victory and loss, this monitor is the best they can get. Apart from the extreme hardware specifications, you get tons of features implemented with gamers in mind, to get the best performance out of you. Having said that, this monitor will be worth only if you are an exceptionally good player and your current display setup bottlenecks your performance. Basically, it probably won’t make you a better gamer.
For non-gamers, the price itself might be a major red flag, and then others like inaccurate colors and a slight lack of sharpness will further confirm your decision. This gaming monitor is meant for a very specific target group, and if the pros are not valuable enough, then it is not meant for you.
BenQ Zowie XL2546 Gaming Monitor Specifications:
- Screen size: 24.5-inches diagonal
- Panel type: TN
- Resolution: 1920×1080
- Refresh rate: 240Hz
- Response rate: 1ms
- Brightness: 320 nits
- I/O: DisplayPort 1.2 x 1, HDMI x 2, DVI-DL x 1, USB 3.0 x 4, Headphone jack, Microphone jack
- Package contents: Monitor, stand, base plate, side shields, S-switch remote, Display port cable, power cable, USB pass-through cable