The BenQ EX3203R is a large, 32” QHD 144Hz curved gaming monitor with AMD FreeSync 2 support. 144Hz QHD monitors are nothing new, however, BenQ’s inclusion of AMD FreeSync 2 technology and their unique BI+ Sensor technology helps to make this monitor stand out in a somewhat saturated market.
Design & Ergonomics
The BenQ EX3203R is easy to set up and begin using as it comes ready-to-use out of the box – no assembly required. The EX3203R has a sturdy build using matte plastics to house the display with mainly a grey finish. The included stand is also housed in grey plastic along with a “chrome-look” base which has a metal structure and feels quite strong and durable. The stand has height and tilt adjustments meaning it was pretty easy to set it at a comfortable position, which is good because unfortunately there is no VESA mounting option. Instead, BenQ offers a VESA adapter that can be purchased separately.
My standard monitor is 27” 4K 60Hz IPS panel, so I immediately noticed the lower density QHD panel, especially on a larger 32” display. Being limited to 2560 x 1440 may mean that those wanting to use this for productivity may struggle. Enabling 144Hz in the NVIDIA Control Panel, I immediately noticed the high-refresh rate. Simply interacting with the Windows Desktop environment felt much more smooth at 144Hz. Firing up some games and the 144Hz becomes even more noticeable and this is where the QHD resolution is in-fact, a positive. If you have said a GeForce GTX 1080 (or similar) as I do, trying to run 144Hz at 4K resolution is a struggle. QHD resolution means you will be able to take advantage of the high-refresh rate and games will look so much more smooth. For me, racing games in particular, such as Forza Horizon 4, looked silky smooth and frankly, the lower pixel density wasn’t apparent when I was engrossed in playing my favourite games.
BenQ’s product page for the EX3203R clearly shows they are proud about the inclusion of AMD FreeSync 2 support so I tried enabling FreeSync on the monitor and switching to G-SYNC Compatibility Mode in the NVIDIA Control Panel. Enabling G-SYNC Compatibility mode made competitive titles such as Overwatch and CSGO experience virtually no tearing and made more demanding games such as Battlefield V feel more smooth and responsive.
Being a VA panel means that the monitor can produce deep, inky blacks and isn’t susceptible to the “glow” that is present in many IPS display. However, being a VA panel also means that colour accuracy overall isn’t quite at the level of IPS panels. Something else really bothered me though, the trailing. For the first couple of weeks of use, it seemed extremely obvious in games that had fast-moving scenes containing bright and dark textures. For me, this was noticeable in rally racing games, such as DiRT Rally, where driving fast through dark forests with sunlight breaking through exaggerated the trailing effect. After a few weeks of use, I did become used to the effect, and it didn’t bother me anymore.
BenQ showcases their BI+ technology with this monitor, which you can read more about inthis article. BI+ optimises HDR performance by adjusting the screen brightness. BI+ achieves this by detecting ambient light levels along with the content being viewed on the display. When enabling this on the EX3203R, it was a little distracting in the Windows desktop environment, but in movies and slower paced games, it helped with immersion making dark scenes darker and bright scenes brighter. From my experience, BI+ changes the backlight luminosity gradually as to not distract from the media. Due to the gradual backlight changes, BI+ is best left disabled on fast-paced games as the backlight changes cannot keep up with fast lighting changes.
You may be wondering why I added “VA Panel” as both a Pro and a Con – well while being a VA means deep, inky blacks, it is susceptible to trailing and smearing which may put off some people. In the future, I’d like to see BenQ follow up with a 4K variant of the monitor as using 4K on a 32” monitor would make more sense and could entice people to upgrade from their 1440p monitors. In addition to this, I’d like to see BenQ add a VESA mount so customers can use their own monitor arm and/or wall-mount it to free up desk space. Overall, the BenQ EX3203R is a solid option if you want a large 32” gaming display with some of the latest and unique features.