BenQ XL2420G G-Sync Gaming Monitor Review
Come for the G-Sync, stay for BenQ's niche-bound but smartly crafted features.
Behind The Screens
As you might expect, the BenQ XL2420G (MSRP $799.99) performs almost identically to the XL2420Z, except for the addition of the G-Sync functionality. Nvidia's proprietary GPU synchronization not withstanding, the 20G is a respectable performer for the price, though it shies away from the image quality of comparable IPS displays.
The 20G wields a TN (Twisted Nematic) panel, meaning it offers fast response times (invaluable for gamers) but only average color/grayscale accuracy and contrast. If you want the most beautiful possible image from a 24-inch display, this isn't the one to buy—it's essentially a tool for pro gamers, and in its quest for maximum speed it sacrifices a bit in the other areas. This is par for the course.
A color gamut is a visual representation of all of the millions (or sometimes billions) of colors a display can produce. We measured the 20G's color performance against the sRGB standard for digital color, and found that it's a decent contender, but suffers some of the same inaccuracies of color saturation/hue as most other TN panel monitors.
Overall, however, the color presentation is pretty good. The monitor's primary production (red, green, and blue) are spot-on, as is the secondary color yellow. The white/gray point is tinged with a bit of blue, however, as are the secondary colors cyan and magenta. This makes for an image with less color vivacity and "pop" than a brighter, more accurate IPS panel, but for most games it's perfectly tenable.
Grayscale Error & RGB Balance
A display's grayscale elements are neutral tones, such as light blacks, midtone and bright grays, and whites—shades (ideally) lacking color. Our grayscale tracking test measures just how closely a computer monitor comes to producing color-free, truly neutral grayscale elements. Because they use additive color, displays produce neutral tones by combining three sub-pixels or color filters: red, green, and blue.
When these elements are emphasized properly, they produce a specific "color" of white known as D65, because it correlates to a color temperature of 6500K. Over-emphasizing a sub-pixel can skew the neutrality of these shades, however, and error is generally reproduced at every shade from highlights to murky shadows. Error within the grayscale are expressed in a collective called "DeltaE," where a DeltaE of 3 or less is ideal, in this case.
The XL2420G tested with a grayscale DeltaE of 8.01, which isn't terribly high, but is certainly more than the ideal amount.
We can measure the source of this error and get a better idea of the 20G's pitfalls by observing that actual sub-pixel emphasis that makes up the grayscale production. Ideally, a display will produce red, green, and blue at equal 100% parts of the signal.
The XL2420G performs decently at the lower (darker) part of the grayscale, emphasizing blue at around 105% of the signal and de-emphasizing red and green to about 97% and 98%, respectively. This worsens as the display grows brighter, however, and by peak white blue is receiving almost 115% of the signal emphasis.
Gamma is a measurement of how much luminance a display adds at digital signal steps from black (no signal) to 100% of the luminance signal. Think of it as a measure of subtlety, wherein midtone luminance is of tantamount importance to analog eyes like ours. Generally, computer monitors aim for a gamma of around 2.0 or 2.2, where higher numbers mean more shadow detail and more gradual increases between luminance steps.
The XL2420G performed erratically here. While its total gamma sum was 2.33, not a bad result, the transitions lacked a particular smoothness. Steps 10-30 IRE are too bright (compared to black), while the remaining steps (40-90) do not grow bright quickly enough.
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