Friday, September 17, 2021

BenQ SW321C PhotoVue professional monitor review

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One-minute evaluation

A growing variety of photographers are recognizing the significance of a devoted picture monitor for picture modifying and print preparation, however, the expense of pro-level shows has put many off. BenQ has emerged because the champion of affordability in this class and the PhotoVue collection SW321C is its new 32-inch, 4K UHD providing. That is a more and more fashionable mixture of show dimension and backbone, with the pixel density of 137 balancing enhanced detailing with comfy viewing traits.

BenQ SW321C PhotoVue professional monitor review

With every new technology of its picture screens, BenQ is delivering enhancements inefficiency and the SW321C incorporates a variety of vital upgrades. There’s a brand new micro-fine anti-reflection coating known as ‘Superior Reflectionless Know-how’ (ART) and a remodeling of the ‘Uniformity Know-how’ to handle earlier problems with coloration and brightness variations. Particularly aimed toward photographers is ‘Paper Coloration Sync’ which is a bit of software program that allows the creation of a devoted coloration setting based mostly on the printer mannequin, paper sort, and the color house.

The SW321C’s 10-bit IPS-type panel has a large coloration gamut, reproducing 99% of the Adobe RGB coloration house (so, clearly, 100% of sRGB/Rec.709) and 95% of DCI-P3, which is the cinematographic coloration house that’s taking up from Rec.709 and has a wider coloration gamut. Along with the brand new ‘Paper Coloration Sync’ setting, there are 13 others which cowl all the principle nonetheless and video coloration areas together with ‘M Guide’ (to copy a MacBook Professional display) B&W, HDR, a customized setting, and provisions for loading as much as three calibration settings.

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on [relevant Amazon Site(s), as applicable] at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.

The SW321C arrives with manufacturing facility calibration after which permits for {hardware} calibration – which is unbiased of the PC’s video card – with a 16-bit LUT to extra exactly handle the next coloration correction curves. For video-makers, the monitor has CalMAN help for LightSpace video calibration and in addition, helps HDR10 and HLG video enter for post-production coloration grading.

In operational phrases, the SW321C gives a helpful set of connections (and comes with no fewer than 4 cables), together with USB-C with 60W energy, which additionally means you solely want a one-cable connection to the pc when performing {hardware} calibration. You additionally get a modular hood and the ‘Hotkey Puck G2’, a wired distant controller that bypasses the on-panel menu buttons and has customizable keys. Most likely the best comfort this gives is the straightforward toggling between pre-assigned coloration areas. Equally handy is the ‘GamutDuo’ show which reveals mirrored photos in two completely different coloration areas (i.e. by way of two completely different inputs).

BenQ SW321C PhotoVue professional monitor review

Most notably, the SW321C’s uniformity of each brightness and coloration are the very best we’ve seen but on a BenQ picture monitor and on par with what we’d count on from a way more costly mannequin. The brand new anti-reflection coating could be very efficient certainly and ensures glorious coloration accuracy and distinction are seen at their finest. Bodily, this can be a very well-built monitor with a variety of conveniences that translate into elevated operational efficiencies. Shifting as much as a 32-inch show with 4K decision won’t ever be an inexpensive train, however, BenQ has simply made it an entire lot extra reasonably priced.

BenQ SW321C value and availability

BenQ introduced the 32-inch SW321C picture monitor in January this yr and the display started to ship not lengthy after. It is stocked in shops now in most areas and can you again $2,000 / £1,599 / AU$3,199.

This value consists of the Hotkey Puck G2, modular shading hood, and a set of cables (USB-C, USB 3.1, HDMI, and Show Port/mini Show Port).


  • Fast and simple to assemble
  • Second-gen Hotkey Puck
  • Predominant connection bay not simple to entry

On the bodily facet, the SW321C is styled like all BenQ’s present SW collection screens with a darkish gray end, an ultra-thin bezel, an easy-to-assemble stand. For a 32-inch show, the bottom plate is definitely fairly small so it doesn’t take up a lot of house on the desktop, however, clearly, the panel wants some room to maneuver. You want to view the house too, however not as a lot as would have been the case without this display’s very efficient anti-reflection coating. 

Don’t fear, it doesn’t take long to get very comfy with a 32-inch show when you’ve been utilizing one thing smaller. And the 4K UHD decision is arguably the ‘candy spot’ when it comes to the crisp replica of positive detailing and the legibility of smaller textual content.

BenQ SW321C PhotoVue professional monitor review

BenQ’s second-generation Hotkey Puck

After unboxing, the meeting takes solely a matter of minutes, and the unit is provided with a seven-piece modular hood, a beneficiant set of connection cables (together with USB-C and HDMI), a two-page calibration report, and the newest G2 model of BenQ’s Hotkey Puck. The beefy stand gives a top adjustment vary of 15cm and permits each tilting and swiveling plus a full 90-degree pivot for a portrait orientation. Total stability is superb.

BenQ’s Hotkey Puck is a wired distant controller – circular-shaped, clearly – which bypasses the assorted mode buttons on the monitor’s bezel, permitting for simpler navigation of the on-screen menus in addition to – in all probability extra conveniently– faster switching between assigned coloration modes. It has its personal recess on the base of the stand’s help arm, however will be positioned anyplace and works as a mouse besides with a most important rotary-type controller and a set of three user-assignable perform keys. 

The principle connection bay is a bit exhausting to succeed in

Predominant connection bay is positioned alongside the underside of the monitor and consists of twin HDMI ports, USB Sort C and Sort B, and Show Port. This association makes for tidier cable runs – there’s even an aperture within the decrease part of the stand to maintain everything collectively – however, entry isn’t fairly really easy. In following although, these are prone to be connections that aren’t going to be modified all that usually. 

Simpler to get to is the second set of ports inset on the facet of the monitor – two USB 3.1 and an SD card reader – which you might be more likely to be accessed frequently.

There are a few USB ports and an SD card on the facet of the monitor as properly 


  • BenQ ‘AQCOLOR’ show know-how
  • ‘Paper Coloration Sync’ for media base tint matching
  • Subsequent-generation ‘Uniformity Know-how’

BenQ constructed its repute on reasonably priced high-performance screens for video and gaming, however just a few years again it turned its hand to picture screens and is now gaining a powerful following on this sector. A number of product design awards have helped, together with the newest from TIPA (Technical Picture Press Affiliation) for Finest Skilled Photograph Monitor for the SW321C. Given how hotly this class has been contested within a final couple of years, that is fairly an achievement.

However, BenQ has been working exhausting to load its latest-generation with goodies particularly aimed at the photographer, similar to ‘Paper Coloration Sync’, a helpful little bit of software program that replicates the bottom tint of inkjet media to present an extra correct matching of the display to printer. This was a print-making issue that was beforehand fairly tough to handle successfully. 

Moreover, the SW321C arrives with manufacturing facility calibration by way of BenQ’s ‘AQCOLOR’ – a coloration show know-how designed to optimize coloration constancy – with a 16-bit 3D LUT (look-up desk) to handle enter knowledge accordingly and sustaining display uniformity and consistency. 

One other little bit of BenQ-developed know-how is at work right here and it’s known as, logically, ‘Uniformity Know-how’, though it’s the next-generation model on this mannequin. It really works by fine-tuning each color and brightness of lots of sub-regions or areas throughout the panel to attenuate any variations which might in any other case present up as coloration shifts. Likewise, there are not any noticeable variations in brightness both. 

An essential facet of a devoted picture monitor is the minimization of reflections and glare on the display. The SW321C comes with a modular hood, however extra essential is its ‘Superior Reflectionless Know-how’ (ART), a particular micro-fine matte floor coating designed to defuse mirrored ambient mild with much better effectivity than beforehand.

Because of this readability, coloration and distinction are all extra precisely displayed, which BenQ sees as being significantly essential for Paper Coloration Sync to work successfully… given we’re speaking such small and delicate variations in coloration and distinction right here. 

In follow, we discovered ART to work so properly we mustn’t unpack the test monitor’s hood (though BenQ recommends that you just do when utilizing Paper Coloration Sync and we actually would with longer-term use). By the way, a particular display cleansing curler additionally comes within the field, presumably higher suited to the brand new floor coating.

In a bit extra element, Paper Coloration Sync – which runs from a free software program downloaded to your laptop – permits the entry of the printer mannequin, paper sort (model, floor end, and so forth), and the color house that are then all configured right into a coloration setting… so it’s basically a tender proofing perform. 

BenQ SW321C PhotoVue professional monitor review
(Image credit: TechRadar)

Since BenQ is creating these profiles itself (it has to, be able to take into consideration the monitor’s traits properly), the listing of supported printers and papers is not at all exhaustive, however, future software program upgrades will add newly-released printers and media. Eizo’s ‘Fast Coloration Match’ performance is an extra refined implementation, however, that nonetheless begins on a photograph monitor at this value level. The brand new Paper Coloration Sync setting is one in all 14 out there on the SW321C, which incorporates all the principle nonetheless and video coloration areas, B&W, HDR, one customized setting, and provisions for loading as many as three calibration settings.

One other very helpful function is ‘GamutDuo’ which works within the monitor’s picture-by-picture (PBP) show and supplies mirrored photos in two completely different coloration areas (i.e. by way of two completely different inputs). Every picture can be totally adjustable independently, and this can be a facility that might ordinarily want two screens side-by-side.

The SW321C has CalMAN help for LightSpace video calibration and Pantone certification for graphic designers. It helps HDR10 and in addition, HLG video inputs and – due to a quicker processor – will show native 24/25fps video without distortion or ‘pull down’ (additionally supporting uncompressed 10-bit 4:4:4, 4:2:2, or 4:2:zero coloration). After all, it will probably deal with native 4K UHD too.

The underside of the monitor displaying the principle connection bay


  • 10-bit inside coloration processing
  • Huge coloration gamut, as much as 99% of Adobe RGB
  • {Hardware} calibration with 16-bit coloration processing

As with the opposite PhotoVue collection screens, SW321C’s show is an IPS panel with LED backlighting. It has a show space of 708.48mm x 398.52mm which, with the 4K UHD decision of 3840 x 2160 pixels, provides 137ppi. It has 10-bit coloration processing delivers a palette of 1.07 billion, leading to smoother shading, coloration transitions, and tonal gradations. In-Airplane Switching permits a quick response time of 5.0ms – a key spec for video-makers specifically – and a large viewing angle of 178 levels. 

By way of reproducible colors, and as talked about earlier, the SW321C delivers 99% of the Adobe RGB coloration house and 95% % of DCI-P3 which is a cinematographic coloration house. It’s taking up from sRGB – or, somewhat, its video equal, Rec.709 – as the usual for coloration replica on transmissive shows, together with tablets and smartphones.

Every SW321C monitor is delivered to you individually calibrated and comes with a printed manufacturing facility report, however, the {hardware} calibration – by way of an exterior colorimeter – will be subsequently carried out by way of BenQ’s proprietary Palette Grasp Factor software program (which is provided on a CD-ROM). The worth of {hardware} calibration on a photograph monitor is that it bypasses the PC’s video card and coloration administration with, on this occasion, a lot higher coloration precision of 16-bit processing (giving 65,536 ranges per coloration). Consequently, {hardware} calibration is mostly thought of superior to software-based calibration (which additionally requires a colorimeter), however, the latter will nonetheless be sure that the monitor is saved inside specs over time. 

The monitor’s connection bay features a USB-C port which, amongst different issues, supplies the comfort of a one-cable connection to the pc when performing {hardware} calibration (and has 60 watts energy out there).

To test this monitor’s efficiency we ran software-based calibration utilizing the SpyderX Elite colorimeter from Datacolor (which can be supported for {hardware} calibration within the present model of the PME software program). DisplayCal’s scores for coloration gamut, tone response, white level uniformity, distinction, luminance uniformity, coloration uniformity, and coloration accuracy have been glorious. Most notably, the uniformity of each brightness and coloration are the very best we’ve seen but on a BenQ picture monitor and on par with what we’d count on from a way more costly mannequin.


There are nonetheless some good arguments for utilizing HD/QHD res screens for picture modifying, however, 4K mixed with an expanded coloration house replica represents an enormous step up when it comes to extra correct rendering with finer tolerances and, in flip, entry to extra exact modifying management. 

BenQ builds on this with the SW321C’s considerably improved uniformity of each coloration and brightness – and throughout an enormous show space too – plus the very efficient ART anti-glare coating. It additionally gives glorious repeatability and reliability by way of {hardware} calibration, the comfort of USB-C connectivity and the potential for much more from the nascent Paper Coloration Sync perform.

BenQ has already indicated its intention to be a severe participant within the picture monitor enterprise, and the SW321C is essentially the most convincing proof of this up to now. From the bodily construct high quality to the shown efficiency, it qualifies as a pro-level reference monitor on each stage, besides one… it’s nonetheless affordably priced.

Ought to I purchase the BenQ SW321C picture monitor?

Purchase it if…

You’re able to undertake a color-managed workflow

A calibrated monitor is an important ingredient for guaranteeing your prints to seem like the picture you’re seeing on-screen and the SW321C has all the important thing parts for this, together with Paper Coloration Sync.

You’re able to step as much as 4K for picture modifying or video manufacturing

The SW321C’s mixture of a 32-inch show and 4K UHD decision is the ‘candy spot’ for imaging modifying, giving plenty of well-defined detailing that’s simple to precisely consider.

You’re able to improve to a 32-inch show, however, have a decent price range

BenQ picture screens have all the time had affordability on their facet, however, now the efficiency parts are more and more aggressive too, with the SW321C simply a match for its pricier rivals.

Do not buy if…

You may have a small workspace

A 32-inch monitor not solely takes up loads of house on the desktop, however, you additionally want loads of room to maneuver for viewing. If the house is tight, attempt BenQ’s 27-inch SW270C and even the 24-inch SW240.

You don’t do loads of picture modifying or printing

Investing in a colorimeter to calibrate your laptop’s monitor may very well be a greater possibility… besides many of those shows have a really poor coloration gamut and even calibration received’t be a lot of an assist with print preparation.

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on [relevant Amazon Site(s), as applicable] at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.

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