Ultrawide curved gaming monitors have been becoming more common in recent years, but none of them are quite like the BenQ XR3501. As the world’s first curved monitor with a 2000R curvature, it’s the most “curvaceous” monitor out on the market now. This basically means the XR3501 should provide a more immersive experience as it has a more extreme degree of curvature than its competitors. That being said, with a retail price of RM3,999, is it worth the money?
Specification-wise, the XR3501 is well-equipped. It has a VA panel which promises higher contrast ratio than IPS and TN panels, a grey-to-grey response time of 4ms, and most impressively, a 144Hz refresh rate. Thanks to the high refresh rate, gaming on this monitor is a blast; everything is fluid and smooth. In terms of connectivity options, it has two HDMI 1.4 ports, one DisplayPort, a Mini DisplayPort, audio line in and out, as well as a 3.5mm jack.
However, not all is good with the XR3501. For one, it only has a resolution of 2560 x 1080. On a monitor this big, you’d be wanting a more pixel-dense display for better viewing pleasure. Other than that, it also doesn’t come with NVIDIA’s G-Sync or AMD’s FreeSync technology. For RM3,999, you’d expect BenQ to include either one of these features. Especially since more affordable curved monitors such as the Acer XR341CK supports FreeSync.
That being said, not many ultrawide curved gaming monitors out there has the XR3501’s high refresh rate of 144Hz. Thanks to the high refresh rate, it somewhat makes up for the lack of G-Sync and FreeSync on this monitor; so long as a high frame rate can be maintained to mask any screen tearing. The high refresh rate also improves panel response time, making it ideal for gaming enthusiasts.
Now that we’ve covered the XR3501’s specifications, let’s move on to the most important question: how is it like to use this display? Quite frankly, pretty darn awesome. Colours are bright and vibrant, the on-screen display is pretty intuitive to navigate around, and most of all, gaming on it is very enjoyable.
I tested the XR3501 curved monitor with two games, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Grid 2. In both games, the monitor offers something regular flat panels simply cannot give: a heightened immersive experience. The 2000R curved display of the XR3501 is able to fill up my peripheral vision, giving me the sense of actually being in the game. Oddly enough, I notice that I’m actually performing better in CS:GO with this monitor – though I’m pretty sure it was just a placebo effect.
Gaming experience aside, the XR3501 isn’t a perfect monitor. While it’s a joy to game with, there is no way to adjust the monitor’s height; you can only tilt the display upwards or downwards. Other than that, while there are cable management hooks beneath the ports on the back of the RX3501, the ports are located inside a recessed area. Needless to say, thicker cables will have to be bent to fit into the area, which could damage the cable in the long run.
Ultimately, it’s the price of the BenQ XR3501 that is its main disadvantage. For RM3,999, the monitor doesn’t come with NVIDIA’s G-Sync or AMD’s FreeSync, which could be a big deal to gamers. Although the high refresh rate somewhat makes up for this exclusion, the fact that the XR3501 has a 1080p panel only adds to the list of potential deal-breakers.
For what it’s worth, I really enjoyed using this curved monitor. It’s a joy to game with, and I love the panel’s bright and vibrant colours. Whether or not you’re keen to get this curved gaming monitor from BenQ, it’s worth checking out physically before you make a decision to cop it.