When I got the Zowie XL2540 the first thing I did was open up Blurbusters UFO and motion tests and got straight into it. It’s the most feature rich and easily accessible testing suite for motion that I’ve come across and is the easiest way to spot a motion centric monitors strengths and weaknesses. Obviously if you’re after a colour accurate monitor you’ve got other forums and testing suites but for this review we can just say that colour quality was more than adequate for our use case.
In my first impressions I showed the immediate visual improvement when jumping from 144Hz to 240Hz. That comparison was made by simply changing the refresh rate on the XL2540 itself. Today we’ll be looking at how it compares to my trusty old BenQ XL2420G and the Zowie XL2735 (expect an in depth look at this model soon).
Comparison with AMA overdrive settings on High
Taking a look at the image above we see a few things quite clearly. The old 144Hz BenQ model on the left has the same smearing that the XL2540 has at 144Hz. This confirms that the extra 96Hz clears these artifacts up. The XL2735 on the right uses Zowie’s Dynamic Accuracy technology which is a new spin on BenQ’s old Blur Reduction feature. It allows greater brightness but is actually less tweakable (the XL2420G can strobe down to 60Hz to suit console gaming but this new one doesn’t) which is a huge bummer. In the rightmost image above we can see it has horrendous amounts of inverse ghosting. This is present at all overdrive levels and, being less tweakable than the old blur reduction technology, it can’t be balanced to your liking. I’ll cover this more in my XL2735 review.
In the end the XL2540 at 240Hz has the cleanest image I’ve seen on a high refresh rate monitor. But there’s one HUGE caveat. You MUST be able to hit a consistent 240FPS or above to get images that clean. As soon as you start dropping below ~230FPS you will see steady increases in ghosting and haloing. If you are playing games that don’t allow you to hit that 240FPS target (even moreso if you’re struggling to even reach 120-144FPS), you won’t be getting any benefit from this monitor. Quake Live and CS:GO players on the other hand will have a blast. Most hardcore players of CS:GO will drop settings and resolution to get higher FPS and monitor is perfect for them. Overwatch was also playable at a consistent 240FPS and above at lowest settings (using an i5 6600K @ 4.2GHz, GTX1080) so even the new generation of competitive first person shooters can benefit from it.
Naturally, with the visual side of things looking as good as they do, you’d expect that to translate into response times. Let’s take a look at the theoretical frame times for different refresh rates.
- 60Hz: 16.67ms
- 144Hz: 6.94ms
- 120Hz: 8.34ms
- 240Hz: 4.16ms
That’s all theory so I used a Blurbusters test to see if I could measure the same response time with my eyes. My results were a white background score of 5.1ms and a black background score of 3.1ms averaging out to a 4.1ms measurable response time. That’s a damn near perfect match.
I decided to try one last test to see if there was any excess processing time being used on this model. I connected all the monitors on hand via the 3 display ports on my graphics cards using the same settings (144hz and 1920×1080), and ran a millisecond timer cloned across all screens.
The strobing XL2735 was predictably behind due to the added latency of strobing. The other results were a big surprise. The above image is the best representation I could show. The old model is on its way to showing .984 on the timer while the XL2540 is still transitioning to 974. This was consistent on multiple shots, shuffling around of cables and switching the old XL2420G between G-Sync on and off and it’s classic engine over DVI.
Of course there could be more factors involved, but these results are showing that there may be more processing going on in the newer Zowie models than the old BenQ gaming line. Give or take around 8ms by the looks of it. Keep in mind this was at 144Hz and at 240Hz the XL2540 would still be faster.
So should you get this monitor? At $699 AUD it’s not cheap but well worth it for those who play competitive Quake Live, CS:GO, Overwatch or other high frame rate titles exclusively. If you are playing something that struggles to reach that maximum refresh rate though, we can only hope BenQ releases a G-Sync version.
Price: $699AUD RRP
Where to buy: MWAVE
Disclaimer: A review sample was provided by BenQ Zowie | Respawn Ninja is owned by Mwave Australia, however we retain editorial control over reviews.