BenQ EL2870U Overview | Digital Developments

BenQ EL2870U 28 "4K HDR Gaming Monitor

"The BenQ EL2870U has HDR and 4K, but not much else."

  • Light but robust

  • HDR support, high resolution

  • Good color gamut and accuracy

  • Affordable prices

  • Bad black levels and contrast

  • Limited adjustability

  • No USB ports

Most people still use a 1080p monitor, and there's nothing wrong with that. Now that prices for 4K monitors are closer to affordability, buying additional pixels is easier than ever.

We checked the BenQ EL2870U to see if it was a solid 4K entry-level monitor. Aside from the high screen resolution, this 27-inch monitor also offers some great features like HDR support and the helpful reduced blue light settings from BenQ.

The EL2870U isn't the most eye-catching monitor we've ever seen – but at $ 449, it offers 4K and HDR on a budget. Is it a bargain?

Keep it in the office

If you've ever seen a BenQ monitor, you won't be surprised when you take this device out of the box for the first time. The base and stand are not made of aluminum like the HP Z27, nor do they have ultra-thin bezels like the Dell UltraSharp 27 U2719DC. The design is not noticeable. It's perfect for an office, but not exactly suitable for a creative studio. Even options like the cheaper Samsung UH750 look more modern. We like the base's brushed metal finish, although everything else seems to be as boring and harmless as possible.

However, the portability of this BenQ monitor was a surprise. With a net weight of 15.9 pounds, we found it pleasantly easy to pick up and reposition on our desks when needed. It corresponds to the weight of monitors with similar prices, but is still a helpful function, especially since it is not too flexible.

The monitor stand has a tilt adjustment (5 degrees down and 15 degrees up), but the lack of height or pan adjustment is disappointing. You need to find a good position for this on your desk and adjust your chair accordingly.

The minimum number of ports you need

The BenQ EL2870U does not have many additional connections. The most important requirements are at the bottom of the case: Two HDMI 2.0 ports and a DisplayPort. You won't find any USB ports, regardless of whether you're looking for Type A or Type C. You cannot use the monitor as a hub for other devices or power your laptop. Most people don't buy a monitor in this sense, but they are the convenience that a budget-level 4K monitor like this can't afford.

BenQ EL2870U reviewLuke Larsen / Digital Trends

Unlike more expensive BenQ monitors, nothing is removable in the stand to hide or steer cables. You just dangle. Without height adjustment, reaching these downward-opening openings is painful. Once you've connected things, you don't want to move them around anymore.

The EL2870U has both speakers and a headphone jack, so you are not forced to use laptop speakers or buy external speakers.

Simple settings

The other notable elements you'll find on the edges of the case are five physical buttons to navigate the on-screen menus and an on / off button next to them. The physical buttons are simple and user-friendly and allow you to control brightness, contrast, sharpness, gamma, color temperature, hue, saturation and a handful of image modes. Image modes include HDR, Cinema HDR, Low Blue Light and some other common suspects like sRGB and Photo.

You need to position it on your desk and adjust your chair accordingly.

Unfortunately, BenQ did not offer quick access to the most commonly used settings such as brightness and volume. Instead, you can use the button on the far left to switch between different settings for Low Blue Light. You'll go through the settings every time you want to decrease the brightness, which is a little annoying. Another small annoyance is the on / off switch, which looks and feels exactly like the others. We accidentally pressed it several times before getting familiar with the setup.

Finally, BenQ installed a forward-facing HDR button in the lower right corner of the monitor, which is proudly painted red. With a click, the small menu opens, in which you can choose between HDR, HDR + B.I. or just B.I. can switch. – This is BenQ's proprietary "Brightness Intelligence" solution. After switching on, the function automatically adjusts the brightness of the monitor to the ambient light in the room. The technology works well, especially when you are in a brightly lit office.

Bad black levels and contrast

We normally expect excellent picture quality from BenQ monitors. Options such as the BenQ EX3501R or the PD3200U are some of our favorites, as both have precise colors, high contrast and large color scales. However, as the EL2870U proves, not every BenQ monitor achieves the same impressive results.

We noticed the lack of contrast and the poor black levels when connecting. The background image looked washed out, as did certain elements of the Windows 10 operating system. The problems became more apparent when we saw a movie. The darker scenes from Solo: A Star Wars Story looked gray and difficult to decipher, especially when compared to the same scene on the display of our Razer Blade laptop.

The results of our colorimeter only confirmed this suspicion. The black levels and contrast were ready to go – some of the lowest values ​​we've seen on a display lately. We looked at the settings and found some ways to improve them. However, we expect a monitor to look reasonably decent the first time it is connected. Increasing the gamma slightly improved both contrast and black, as did switching to "Photo" mode. Nevertheless, the results in these categories are closer to a budget gaming monitor like the Acer XF251Q than to a 4K display for professionals.

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When it comes to color, the BenQ does a little better. With 94 percent for sRGB and 74 percent for Adobe RGB, you can expect a sufficiently large color gamut for images to look natural. It's not the near-perfect results you get with a monitor that's twice as expensive (or even a high-end laptop), but it's good enough for photographers and videographers to trust it. The color accuracy is also decent with an average error rate of 2.56, which can be reduced during calibration. We also found that the 261 nits at maximum brightness are satisfactory in well-lit offices, although they are slightly below the 300 nits specified and are a little too low to properly use HDR.

HDR looks great in compatible games like Battlefield 1.

Yes, this monitor offers HDR support as well as some HDR-specific picture modes. As HDR becomes a marketable buzzword for computer monitors, it is increasingly being added to budget monitors like this. The feature offers a lot in compatible games like Battlefield 1 where colors really fall off the screen – although it's nowhere near what you'll enjoy on a super bright HDR TV. Also, Windows 10 still handles HDR poorly, so you'll want to turn it on and off when you enjoy HDR content.

However, this is one of the cheapest 4K HDR monitors available, and some buyers are only interested in these two specifications. BenQ integrated these big ticket features, but had to swap some of the basics of image quality to get them at this price.

Calibration is recommended

The problems encountered could not be drastically improved by calibrating the display. However, the average error rate was reduced to 1.36 and the gamma corrected. Both affect the general usability of the BenQ EL2870U.

Regardless of what you use the monitor for, we strongly recommend that you calibrate it based on these results.

Our opinion

If you want to upgrade to a 4K monitor, you might be tempted to buy a cheaper model like the BenQ EL2870U. It will work well enough for a player who wants to play 4K games. or just as a work monitor for creatives, but the poor contrast and black levels keep this from being the ideal 4K budget monitor.

Is there a better alternative?

There are many great 4K monitors on the market, although our favorite monitors are more expensive than the BenQ EL2870U.

However, there are some alternatives with almost identical specifications that are slightly cheaper. The Asus VP28UQG and the Dell 4K S2817Q are both over a hundred dollars cheaper. We don't know exactly how they test, but everyone uses TN panels and makes very similar statements about the display quality. However, they do not offer HDR support.

How long it will take?

The BenQ has a three-year warranty, which is standard for monitors. Features like HDR and high resolution mean that it will be a relevant product for many, many years.

Should you buy it

No. There are cheaper 4K monitors as well as monitors with better picture quality.

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