IT Pro Verdict
Four-port USB hub
Ambient light sensor
Stylish for an office monitor
No KVM facility
Looks alone are no reason to buy a monitor, but on the other hand, there's no harm in wanting something on your desk that doesn't look like an ugly generic black lump that's been styled to fit a call center aesthetic.
In an effort to spice up the office environment, BenQ's new GW2790QT is encased in white rather than black plastic. That's a small thing, admittedly, but it makes it look rather more at home when connected to a high-end laptop such as the Dell XPS 13 Plus, MacBook Air, or the Asus Zenbook S 13.
The new BenQ isn't just a pretty face either but has a wide array of connectors, a good quality WQHD panel, and a few other features not always found on monitors with a sub-$400 (£300) price tag, like an ambient light monitor and a built-in microphone.
BenQ GW2790QT monitor: Design & Features
The most signification design feature is the colourway. It's white, all white. Even the stand is white. I'm doing BenQ's designers a disservice because the cabinet is made from unusually high-grade plastic that doesn't creak or squeak, and it's curvaceous with no rough or sharp edges. For the price, it looks and feels very impressive.
All that solidity does come at a price, though. At 8.4Kg, the GW2790QT is on the heavy side for a 27in monitor. Even without the base, it's a rather hefty 5.5Kg. At 280mm wide by 230mm deep, the base of the stand won't rob you of too much desk space. If you are wondering what that hole in the base is, it's a locating slot for BenQ's GC01 Yogi Pad desk tidy. It looks like a great idea, but BenQ wants $60 (£49) for it, which seems a lot for a piece of plastic.
The stand offers plenty of adjustment options, including 20° of swivel to left and right, 110mm of height adjustment, a 90° pivot, again to both left and right, and tilt between -5°and +20°. If that's not enough, you can unclip the quick-release stand and attach the 100mm x 100mm VESA bracket below to a desk arm.
The GW2790QT boasts a good selection of ports with HDMI 1.4, DisplayPort 1.4, and Type-C DP Alt Mode video inputs, no less than four downstream USB ports, a DisplayPort video output, and a 3.5mm audio jack. The upstream Type-C port also supports 65W PD charging to keep your laptop ready for action.
All the video connectors and two USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 data ports are situated at the back of the cabinet facing down, but the third USB-A, the Type-C 3.2 Gen 1 data port, and the audio jack are more conveniently situated on the bottom edge of the unit on the left.
On the opposite side, you'll find a row of four buttons and a small joystick, the latter to access and navigate the main OSD menu, the former to switch the microphone on and off, adjust the blue light levels, adjust the speaker noise filter and turn the unit on. As you'd expect for an enterprise product, there is a Kensington security lock on the back of the cabinet to prevent theft.
BenQ GW2790QT monitor: Display Quality
With a 2,560 x 1,440 matrix stretched over a 27in diagonal, the GW2790QT has a pixel density of 109dpi which is more than adequate for office use. You have to look very, very closely at small text to notice any pixelation. The screen has a slightly matte finish, which does nothing to damage perceived clarity but helps keep reflections at bay.
Criticizing the panel on any technical level is hard because it ticks all the boxes for a basic LED-backlit IPS screen. Maximum brightness is a solid 347cd/m2, while the contrast ratio is a good if not outstanding, 1000:1 thanks to a slightly high black luminance level of 0.34cd/m2.
There's plenty of color around, with gamut volumes of 102.6% sRGB, 72.7% DCI-P3 and 70.2 AdobeRGB. Measured against the sRGB profile, the average Delta E color variance came in at an excellent 1.08, which is close to perfect. The gamma figure of 2.23 and the visual daylight temperature of 6134K were bang on the mark too.
Motion handling is as good as can be expected from a monitor not designed for gaming with a 75Hz refresh rate. Some ghosting is visible in test conditions, but given BenQ's quoted 5ms GtG response time it was no more than we anticipated. Measuring the average brightness and ISO 14861 across the panel, all 25 swatches fell into the Recommended tolerance category for brightness which is an excellent result.
Regarding the ISO results, several of the swatches at the far left and right came close to being outside nominal tolerance with Delta E variances of nearly 3. That's forgivable on a monitor not targeted at professional creatives and, more to the point, is invisible to the average eye.
Turn your workforce into a talent juggernaut
The new BenQ gives the user a lot of options when it comes to color. The OSD lets you skip between seven color profiles – Standard, Coding, Care, M-Book, Movie, Game, and ePaper. Standard, Movie, and Game are pretty similar, but the ePaper, Coding (high contrast, high saturation), and Care (high contrast, low saturation) struck me as genuinely useful, the middle setting being engaged constantly when we were working in a terminal on a Linux box. The M-Book setting harmonizes the display's color profile with an attached Macbook, which is obviously a boon to owners of Apple hardware.
With an eye quite literally on workers who will be spending a full day in front of the GW2790QT, BenQ has fitted an ambient light monitor that works with its Bright Intelligence Gen2 system to balance the brightness and contrast in sympathy with the prevailing ambient light. There's also a five-position blue light-reducing feature.
BenQ GW2790QT monitor: Features
Without a dedicated data upstream connector, either Type-B or Type-C, the GW2790QT can't be used in KVM mode, so you can't flip between it and an attached laptop using the same keyboard and mouse.
The DisplayPort output means you can daisy chain the GW2790QT with another monitor with a DisplayPort input, but that's not really a replacement if you want to use a laptop rather than a monitor as a second screen. It seems a bit of a missed opportunity for want of a second upstream USB connector.
The 2 x 2W speakers won't be the life and soul of the party because there just is not enough volume. At a 1m distance measured against a pink noise source, the best they could do was 68dB(A). What sound there is, though, is well-balanced and detailed, and there's more than a hint of bass.
The sound system is perfect for online communications, helped by the three-position noise filter that reduces background noise on conference calls. It also makes a decent first of music and video soundtracks as long as there is no competition in the room. Thanks to a built-in microphone, you can use the GW2790QT for voice calls without the need for any plug-in accessories.
BenQ GW2790QT monitor: Price
BenQ is selling the GW2790QT for $299 (£225 exc VAT). That's a fair hike from the MSI Pro MP273QP we reviewed back in March, which also has a 2,560 x 1,440 IPS panel, but of course, the MSI lacks anything in the way of Type-C connectivity or a USB hub of any description. Also, the BenQ's panel is more colorful and color-accurate than the MSI, although the difference is small.
Where the BenQ really wins over the MSI is in the looks department. And while we'd never suggest spending more for style rather than substance, we think giving the BenQ the nod over the MSI is reasonable because, for the extra $100, you are getting more style and more substance.
MSI Pro MP273QP Specifications
|Display||27in IPS panel|
|Panel resolution||2,560 x 1,440|
|Panel response time||5ms GtG|
|Adaptive Sync Support||No|
|Ports||HDMI 1.4 x 1, DisplayPort 1.4 x 2, USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 x 3, USB-C 3.2 Gen 1 x 1, ` USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 DP Alt Mode x 1, 3.5mm audio|
|Other features||Microphone, Ambient Light Sensor, VESA mount, Kensington lock|
|Stand||Ergonomics 20° swivel, 90° pivot L&R, -5~20° tilt, 110mm height adjustment|
|Dimensions||(with stand) 534.3 x 614.0 x 238.5mm|
|Weight||(with stand) 8.4Kg|