For a long time, photographers that do high-end printing or those working with images that have to accurately reproduce colors (such as product, fashion, or beauty photography for example) had to shell out serious moolah for professional-grade color-accurate monitors from companies like Eizo. These monitors are often prohibitively expensive, with price tags that easily rivaled the cost of some flagship camera bodies on the market.
BenQ aimed to bridge the huge gap (both in terms of price and performance) between consumer-grade monitors and high-end professional-grade displays by introducing their own line of competitively-priced, professional-grade monitors that won’t necessarily require photographers to take out a second mortgage. The BenQ SW270C is one such option. Featuring a large 1440p 27-inch matte anti-glare coated display, BenQ claims that the SW270C can cover 100% of the sRGB, 99% of the Adobe RGB, and 97% of the P3 color spaces. All this for only US $799.99, which is quite a bit more affordable than Eizo’s offerings which typically carry four-digit price tags. Is the BenQ SW270C too good to be true?
Pros and Cons
- Covers a wide color gamut
- Large screen real estate
- Loads of input options
- Integrated SD card reader
- The matte anti-glare coated display and shading hood does a great job minimizing glare
- Hotkey puck G2 allows you to make adjustments and switch between color spaces easily
- Significantly more affordable than similarly equipped competing offerings from Eizo
- Included hood is only compatible with X-Rite colorimeters
- Despite being more affordable than the competition, US $799.99 is still a good chunk of change
We tested the BenQ SW270C Photo Editing Monitor with a high-end custom-built PC running Windows 10 Pro (version 1909), an early 2015 model 13″ MacBook Pro running macOS Catalina, as well as Datacolor Spyder5 and SpyderX Colorimeters.
Tech specs for the BenQ SW270C monitor taken from BenQ’s official product page.
|Backlight Technology||LED backlight|
|Resolution (max.)||2560 x 1440|
|Viewing Angle (L/R;U/D) (CR>=10)||178/178|
|Response Time||5 ms (GtG)|
|Display Colors||1.07 billion colors|
|Color Gamut||99% AdobeRGB, 97% P3, 100% sRGB|
|Display Area(mm)||596.7 x 335.6|
|Pixel Pitch (mm)||0.2331|
|DCR (Dynamic Contrast Ratio) (typ.)||20M:1|
|Color Mode||Adobe RGB / sRGB / B&W / Rec. 709 / DCI-P3 / Display P3 / M-book / HDR / DICOM/Calibration 1 / Calibration 2 / Calibration 3 / Custom 1 / Custom 2|
|Display Mode||Full, Aspect Ratio, 1:1|
|Color Temperature||5000°K / 6500°K/ 9300°K / User Mode|
|Gamma||1.6 – 2.6, sRGB|
|OSD Language||18 Languages (English / Francais / Deutsch / Italiano / Espanol / Polish / Czech / Hungarian / Romanian / Netherlands / Russian / Swedish / Protuguese / Japanese / Chinese / S-Chinese / Arabic/Korean)|
|VESA Wall Mount||100 x 100 mm|
|Display Screen Coating||Anti-Glare|
|Delta E||<= 2 ( avg)|
|Video Format Support||Yes|
|Black & White mode||Yes|
|Hotkey Puck G2||Yes|
|Factory Calibration Report||Yes|
|HDMI||HDMI (v2.0) x 2|
|USB 3.1 Hub||USB Downstream x 2, Mini USB x 1|
|USB 3.1 Hub||USB Upstream x 1|
|USB Type-C||Yes (PD60W, DP Alt mode, Data)|
|Card Reader||SD/MMC type|
|Support Format: SD/SDHC/SDXC/MMC|
|Included Cables||mini DP to DP, USB Type B to USB Type A|
|Power Consumption (based on Energy Star)||36.1 W|
|Power Consumption (stand by mode)||0.5 W|
|Power Consumption (sleep mode)||0.5 W|
|Dimension and Weight|
|Dimensions (HxWxD mm) (w/o Base) (with shading hood)||372.2 x 626 x 238.04|
|Dimensions(HxWxD mm) (without shading hood)||Landscape: 504.5-611 x 613.8 x 213.4|
|Portrait: 733.4 x 380.7 x 223.2|
|Dimensions (HxWxD mm) (w/o Base)||368.9 x 613.8 x 62.65|
|Dimensions (HxWxD mm)||Landscape: 504.5-614.3 x 626 x 334.8|
|Portrait: 744.6 x 381.1 x 334.6|
|Net Weight (kg) (without shading hood)||9.5|
|Net Weight (kg) (without stand)||Landscape: 6.5|
|Net Weight (kg)||H: 10.6|
|Gross Weight (kg)||18.4|
|Tilt (down/up)||-5˚/- 20˚|
|Height Adjustment (mm)||150mm|
|Palette Master Element||Yes|
|Support Calibrator||X-Rtie i1 Display Pro / i1 Pro /i1 Pro 2 /i1 Studio , Datacolor Spyder 4/5|
|Video Signal Data|
|Hor. Frequency (KHz)||27~140Khz|
|Ver. Frequency (Hz)||24~76Hz|
|Video Bandwidth (MHZ)||600M Hz|
|Other Accessories||Shading hood (Landscape), CD, QSG, Factory Calibration Report, Hotkey Puck G2|
|Power Cable||Yes (1.8 m)|
|Signal Cable||mDP to DP cable (1.8 m), USB 3.1 cable (Gen 1) (1.8 m)|
|Operating Temperatur||0˚C – 40˚C|
|Operating Humidity (non-condensing)||10% – 90%|
|Windows® Compatible||Windows®10, Windows®8.1, Windows®8, Windows®7|
|Verified by CalMAN||Yes|
As the model name suggests, the BenQ SW270C is a 27-inch professional-grade monitor. With the included shading hood installed, the SW270C can look rather imposing in smaller workspaces. Be prepared for it to take up a decent chunk of your desk’s real estate. The BenQ SW270C is a sturdily built monitor with a minimalistic aesthetic. The bezels surrounding the display are quite thin. The power button along with five physical menu buttons are situated towards the right of the bottom bezel. The base of the SW270C has a decent amount of weight to it and does a good job of keeping the monitor firmly planted on your desk. You’re not going to have to worry about the monitor wobbling even when you’re adjusting the display’s height, viewing angle, or rotating it from side to side.
While the BenQ SW270C’s display features an excellent matte anti-glare coating, some glare can still be detected if you’re using the monitor sans shading hood. As you can see by comparing the above two images, the included shading hood does a great job of preventing off-axis light sources from hitting the display and causing glare.
If your workflow calls for it, the BenQ SW270C’s monitor arm allows you to pivot the display so that it functions in the portrait orientation.
The BenQ SW270C monitor comes equipped with a ton of connectivity options. Inputs include a headphone jack, a USB 3.1 upstream port, a USB Type-C port (which supports power delivery at up to 60 W as well as data and DisplayPort Alt mode), a DisplayPort 1.4, a pair of HDMI 2.0 ports, as well as a mini USB port (used to connect the included Hotkey Puck G2 dongle). For the photographers and digital techs out there that frequently shoot tethered while on location, you’ll be glad to know that the SW270C’s monitor arm features an integrated carrying handle making carrying the monitor from one location to the next a much more manageable affair.
The previously mentioned USB 3.1 upstream port is used to power the integrated SD card reader along with the pair of USB Type-A ports located on the left side of the BenQ SW270C’s rear. The SD card reader and the USB ports are recessed by a few inches but can be easily accessed when tilting the side of the monitor forward you.
When not in use, the Hotkey Puck G2 can be stored in the dedicated slot located at the base of the BenQ SW270C’s monitor arm. The Hotkey Puck G2 serves as an extension cord of sorts to the onscreen controls found at the lower right corner of the display.
The BenQ SW270C is a well-built monitor the features a utilitarian design aesthetic. The matte anti-glare coating on the display and the detachable shading hood work well together to keep distracting reflections to a minimum. Although the display is housed within a plastic enclosure, everything feels solid thanks to the precise tolerances with which everything fits together. The MONITOR arm and base that come included with the BenQ SW270C are quite well built as well. They do a great job of keeping the monitor firmly planted on your desk. Height, pivot, and tilt adjustments can all be made to the display effortlessly to ensure that you are always viewing the monitor at a comfortable angle. You can even rotate the display to be used in a portrait orientation as well if your workflow calls for it. The physical power and menu buttons on the SW270C adds to the great overall user experience of the monitor, with no annoying mushiness when pressed, something that is often the case with buttons on cheaper monitors. If I really had to nitpick, the one area that BenQ could improve upon in the future would be to include a rigid, single-piece hood rather than the current one which requires joining multiple plastic panels together.
Ease of Use
Getting the BenQ SW270C up and running is fairly straight forward. Simply unboxed the monitor, connect the monitor arm to the base, mount the display onto the arm, and you are ready to connect the monitor to your computer using the variety of included inputs (via HDMI 2.0 ports, DisplayPort 1.4, or USB Type-C). The SW270C comes factory calibrated out of the box, but you should also remember to re-calibrate the display on a monthly basis once you begin using it.
The shading hood that comes included with the BenQ SW270C features an opening from which you can pass a colorimeter through to calibrate the display. Unfortunately, this opening is only large enough to accommodate colorimeters from X-Rite. If you’re using Datacolor’s Spyder colorimeters like we are here at The Phoblographer, then you’ll need to first remove the entire hood from the BenQ SW270C first before you can begin calibrating the display. While this isn’t the end of the world, it’s an annoyance nonetheless. As of press time, the free Palette Master Element calibration software provided by BenQ also didn’t support Datacolor’s latest SpyderX Elite colorimeter, so we had to dig up an older Spyder 5 in order to use the program. Hopefully, BenQ will redesign the hood to feature a larger opening in the future, and patch in support for the latest colorimeters with future versions of Palette Master Element.
The Hotkey Puck G2 basically serves as an extension cord for the SW270C’s various physical controls. All of the options within the SW270’s menus are also accessible via the Hotkey Puck G2, and you can customize the puck’s various buttons to suit your needs. The rotation dial at the center of the puck allows you to adjust the monitor’s brightness by default but can be customized to make adjustments to the monitor’s contrast or your computer’s volume. The 1, 2, and 3 buttons are assigned to Adobe RGB, sRGB, and Black & White color modes by default, but you can also customize them to switch between different input devices. The back button should be self-explanatory, which the button with the three dots icon, which BenQ calls the “Rotation Key”, cycles through inputs by default, but can be customized to switch between color modes or serve as a volume mute button.
In terms of color accuracy, the SW270C review unit that BenQ sent over achieved an overall Delta E of less than 2 across the board (with an average Delta E of 1.14 and the maximum Delta E of 1.78) when measured using BenQ’s own Palette Master Element software paired with a Datacolor Spyder 5. This indicates that the colors reproduced by the BenQ SW270C to be highly accurate. We also verified the monitor’s color accuracy independently using a Datacolor SpyderX Elite colorimeter as well:
- Large display area
- Color accuracy
- Glare resistance
- Sturdy build quality
- Shading hood requires assembly
- Hood’s opening too small to accommodate Datacolor Spyder colorimeters
While there are plenty of low-cost monitors on the market, they lack the color accuracy that professional-grade color-accurate monitors can reproduce. Their build quality also doesn’t come anywhere near what you’ll find with the BenQ SW270C. Although US $799.99 is not an inconsequential sum, the BenQ SW270C provides an excellent value for photographers working with color-critical workflows in search of a comparably affordable workhorse monitor. Unless you’re after a monitor that’s larger than 27″ in size that supports 4K or above resolutions, the BenQ SW270C performs similarly to much more expensive offerings from competitor Eizo. If you do a lot of printing, work with images that require accurate colors, or just prefer working on displays larger than what’s available on your laptop, you’ll want to give the BenQ SW270C serious consideration.
The BenQ SW270C Photo Editing Monitor earns Four out of Five Stars. You can pick one up for yourself from Amazon.