I have to admit, when it comes to reviewing gaming monitors I am a novice. In fact, this will be my first attempt at such a review on our site, so please keep that in mind before you bomb me with negative editorials in the comments section below. That being said, I am always up for challenge, so when BenQ sent us a loaner XL2420T Gaming Monitor for review I threw up my hand as I was very curious to see what the this “gaming-specific” monitor could do, especially since I have been using the same 17″ LED monitor for years. Now I really wanted to give the XL2420T a workout so not only did I hook up my PC to it I also connected one of my Xbox 360s too. I played somewhere between 6-8 PC and Xbox 360 games on the monitor and after I putting it through its paces it is safe to say I will be picking up one of these high end BenQ Gaming Monitors real soon so I can own one a permanent basis.
The first thing I noticed after I hooked up the monitor was how awesome the blacks looked. I can’t count how many times I have played dark games over the years and in the end I get punished due to poor visibility issues. This time around while playing Modern Warfare 3 on PC for instance, everything looked sharp and even in some of those darker multiplayer maps I could see enemies better than before. The XL2420T comes equipped with the Black eQualizer color engine technology which is designed with the gamer in mind. What this means is that you get a vast amount of control and visibility. Despite the darker areas being a little more vibrant and colourful I never found that the brighter areas or day maps were compromised in any way. Needless to say I was fairly impressed with how games looked on this 24″ LED display. The rich colours and solid contrast is clearly evident with XL2420T. So as far as image quality is concerned, this monitor kicks ass.
Although I was indeed impressed with the colours, I do have to admit that out of the box, I was not all that impressed with the default color settings of the monitor. I understand these settings were selected by a couple of pro gaming legends, which is neat; however, I just found the default settings to be a little too bright. This was most noticeable when playing games like Far Cry 3 and Madden NFL 13. Yet after a little online research I managed to find some optimal settings. You will likely want to do the same. If you don’t I do recommend that you just turn down the brightness a little and you should notice an improvement. Once I tinkered with all the settings, such as the brightness, contrast, sharpness and color tint, I noticed some pretty drastic improvements.
Many gamers will want to have different customized picture settings for different games. Fortunately, the XL2420T comes with an S Switch. The S Switch acts as remote control and comes with three preset buttons. So there is no need to tweak your monitor’s settings every time you play a different game or when you just want to use your PC for mundane domestic or simple web-surfing purposes. The S Switch also conveniently clips on to the base of your monitor so it really doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb.
Speaking of the monitor stand itself, I was impressed with this aspect of the XL2420T. This monitor will suit any set up and swivels in almost any direction you please. The stand can be raised and lowered and it also rotates and twists with ease. The actual monitor itself wobbles a little when you slightly push on the screen but otherwise it is a sturdy stand. The monitor also features a slick little red hook on the back where you can hang your headset should you desire. The monitor does not come equipped with speakers so having that headset hook was handy to say the least. The stand also has a hole in the center of it which allows for all your cables to run through. It keeps everything neat and tidy so there is really nothing unsightly about the stand or cables.
In terms of the specs and what you can hook up to the XL2420T, the monitor has a VGA port, two HDMI inputs, two dual-link DVI ports and a single DisplayPort input. Additionally, there is one 3.5mm headphone jack and there are three USB ports. I have yet to mention this monitor also supports Nvidia’s 3D Vision 2 technology. I still don’t see a massive demand for 3D gaming and it is really a style of gaming I prefer to avoid as frankly 3D gaming gives me headaches and I just find it too much strain on my eyes. This being said, the XL2420T includes LightBoost technology which means more brightness resulting in a more colourful 3D experience. The monitor does not come with 3D glasses so you will need to purchase a pair if 3D gaming is something you are targeting with this monitor.
For those that do a significant amount of PC gaming and have come to enjoy First Person Shooters on your PC then the 120Hz refresh rate will be noticeable. Modern Warfare 3 runs silky smooth. Likewise Battlefield 3 also runs without a hitch. It is actually quite awesome as every quick move is captured with no lag. In fact, I never found any lag with anything that was going on in the screen. I never really noticed any enhancements when playing with my Xbox 360 though which was connected via HDMI cable but when playing the PC I never noticed a lag between what was happening in the game and what you actually see on screen. Some call it the “ghosting effect”; this is something I did not notice with this monitor.
Overall, I was highly impressed with the BenQ XL2420T Gaming Monitor. The colours popped off the screen and the monitor was able to keep up with the action taking place within all the games I played, which is something you should see from a gaming specific monitor. The monitor itself is sturdy and fairly sharp looking as you are not only able to customize your picture settings but you can also customize how you want to position it. At around $400.00-$500.00 dollars, XL2420T is certainly one of the more expensive monitors on the market; however, there is no denying this monitor performs, the image quality is second to none, and you could easily consider this a long term investment.