Today we are talking about the BenQ Zowie XL2731 — a newly released TN panel Esports monitor priced at $329 USD. It’s important to note that this is a tournament quality monitor and is designed with performance first in mind. Our review score will be based on the monitor’s impact on Esports performance. You will find these monitors at tournaments like Intel Extreme Masters, Dreamhack, Evo (Evolution), Halo World Championships, World of Warcraft Arena World Championship, and according to BenQ Zowie 86% of CS:GO pro players use them.
We had the opportunity to spend some legitimate time with these monitors and use them extensively on the PlayStation Pro, Nintendo Switch, and of course PC. These monitors are designed to appeal to “aspiring Esports Professionals” and the stats corroborate this with a 27” 1080p 144hz 1ms TN panel. I was also able to test these monitors while attending Evo 2019 on a PlayStation.
On a console, you’re always going to miss out on framerate in this current generation of hardware. Nonetheless, every game at EVO 2019 was played at 60hz on a PlayStation. More importantly, at 1080p on the PlayStation the XL2731’s will give you the highest possible response time on the market for console eliminating almost all input lag. If you speak with pro players, they will always emphasize input lag is the most important component of playing on LAN, and the difference between LAN and online is miles apart.
On PC, we were able to max out performance on a KabyLake I7 at 4.5hz a 1080TI and 32Gbs of RAM at 3200hz. Without question, a PC will always be the most responsive when compared to a console. We are not reinventing the wheel here; TN panel technology is still the fastest, I believe for at least another generation. You are getting exactly what you pay for here. The XL2731 performed exactly as it should at these settings. BenQ Zowie knows what they are doing, and they have a track record in Esports to prove it! No lag on PC in fighting games and no screen tear in FPS at 144hz.
I mentioned earlier that this will be the meta for Esports monitors for at least another generation. Well, there’s no question about it. The IPS panel monitors are superior in quality of color and viewing angles as TN panel monitors tend to be a bit duller in color. IPS panel technology will catch up with Esports performance eventually. I believe we will even compete in 4k one day as the hardware catches up and becomes more cost effective. If your goal is to play at a high level on ladder or LAN tournaments, you’re safe with a TN panel monitor like this for years to come.
I think the best part of this specific monitor is the design! I was extremely happy with all the features built-in. It takes only minutes to assemble with your bare hands. You have a cable management port at the base of the monitor, and a headphone jack in the back along with a hook for your headphones with a handle right above it to grab so you can easily move it. I think by far my favorite feature is the ability to turn the monitor vertical. It’s virtually adjustable in a full 360 degrees, height, pitch, and orientation. It’s compatible with pretty much everything — including a display port, 2 HDMI ports, and a DVI port.
Initially, the backlight was pretty bright. This is common with TN panels, but we were able to adjust it so it was easier on the eyes. I think the software was fairly easy to use, and the buttons beep when they are hit which makes it easier to navigate through the menu. I think the black equalizer is a nice feature as it helps you see people in the dark better (I prefer this around the 12 setting). It has a simple color vibrance adjustment as well. I prefer around the 10 setting since anything higher is just too much and makes the colors look off. Additionally, it is FreeSync compatible. We did encounter some issues installing the contents of the provided CD, but we were able to get it easily online (people still use CDs? Lol).
I’d like to add that I think these monitors are great for streamers as well. Buy them in a pair and use the vertical feature for chat, discord, giveaways, etc. Get great gameplay and match the resolution of major platforms like Twitch, Mixer, or Facebook. At this price point, you can’t ask for more in performance and quality. I can tell you personally these monitors are ready to run it back!
Testing the BenQ Zowie XL 2731 Esports monitor was a delight. It performs exactly to its specs and offers a bit more in design than most Esports monitors. The headphone hook, cable management port, and adjustability are top notch. It’s absolutely a tournament-quality monitor and what you want to be practicing on if you want to compete or play at a high level on the ladder. I believe at this price point, they are great monitors for streamers to buy in pairs with the vertical orientation. It has to be one of the best TN panels on the market!
|XL2731 Spec Sheet|
|Product LxWxH (in.)||21.46*24.90*9.32|
|Carton LxWxH (in.)||27.76*8.98*20.35|
|Net Weight (lb.)||16.98|
|Gross Weight (lb.)||22.71|
|Screen Size (in.)||27|
|Refresh Rate (Hz)||144|
|Response Time||1ms (GTG)|
|Dynamic Contrast Ratio||12M:1|
|Input Connectors||DVI-DL;HDMI2.0x2;DP1.2;Headphone Jack|
|Included Accessories||DP Cable|
|Display Settings||Black eQualizer; Color Vibrance|
|Eye-Care||Low Blue Light; Flicker-Free|
|Additional Features||Smart Scaling; Display Modes, Free Sync|