It was not too long ago that I sat down at this same desk, powered up my computer, and was taken totally aback by the power of the XL2735. That was a huge beast of a screen. It had 144hz which wow’d me as I shot my way through legions of enemies. Now, thanks to BenQ ZOWIE, I have been given the opportunity to take another of their competitive monitors for a spin. This is the XL2540; proof that good things can come in quite large packages.
As with all good monitors, opening the box was a simple and intuitive affair. The front comes out and the top goes up. All the main components are then presented directly for you to get your hands on. Even though it has more than 5 main components, (not including cables and all that jazz) working out how to assemble was extremely straight forward; twist in the base, twist the thumbscrew and then clip in the monitor. All together, this set up took no more than a minute. The fiddliest bit was plugging in the additional cables into the back on my computer. Even plugging them into the monitor was simple. Either you can tilt the screen forward, which exposes the various ports (DVI, 2x HDMI and DP), or you can attack it from the side.
Included in the box are not just the cables that you will need to get started, there are also the Shields and the S-Switch. These two features will either be loved or ignored by most people. First up, the shields are a nifty add-on which aims to provide a distraction free gaming experience. These have two great uses; in competitive gaming they assist in reducing the number of distractions which may appear behind the monitor, for the home they make an excellent anti-glare tool. The S-Switch experiences much the same type of reception, you will either love it or you will not notice its presence. It stores the profiles and settings for specific monitor layouts, which you can then both switch between in a single button press, or take them with you to other places where you will be using the same monitor. Once again, this makes it great for some, and a nice to have for the others. It is this attention to detail which really ensures that professional gamer’s have the most to gain from such a well thought out piece of equipment, by including it in the box to start off with enables all players to really understand the purpose of these monitors.
While the facilities around the monitor itself are well thought-out and planned, in the end it is the panel itself which is central to the whole experience. This 24.5″ monitor runs at a native 1920 x 1080 resolution with an absolute staggering 240Hz. For comparison, most games on console are locked to 30-60 FPS, for many gamers their monitors would be lucky to cope with 120Hz or 144Hz. The XL2735 was 144Hz and that displayed a staggering difference compared to my regular screens. 240Hz enables the player to get a significantly more responsive experience across a significant number of titles. I did most of my testing between Overwatch, CS:GO, and Dota 2, and I have to say that I noticed the difference. While I am not the best of gamers (but I still would happily consider myself above average), I saw how this kind of refresh rate can really help good players become great.
You do have to have a little grunt under the bonnet to achieve these kinds of refresh rates though. The minimum recommended video cards that are recommended to get the most out of this monitor are the GTX980 for NVIDIA users and RX480 for those who use AMD. Of course, it is important to remember that while you may meet these requirements, the title itself will be the ultimate dictator of how well the game runs. If it is locked at 30fps, then you will never get anything better than that. Fortunately, for competitive titles, there is rarely a lock in place and you will generally be able to push your rig to the limits and get the most out of the screen.
The size of the screen also greatly assists in allowing your computer to perform at its best. It is not too big, it is not too overpowering. It does not force your computer to work as hard to produce more frames across a large resolution, and I find this resolution particularly easy to use. The flexible mount, which allows for both the height and angle to be adjusted, enables users of any type to easily create a gaming environment which suits them. It doesn’t try to be overbearing, it just wants to allow the user to get in and game.
The XL2540 is more than just a pretty, and technologically functional monitor. There are also some nice little technological tricks that it has hidden away. First up, as part of the built in Gaming mode, it has a range of different preset configurations which account for different games and different genres. Not every game looks the same, so it makes sense that the configuration changes to accommodate the different titles.
Along side that, there is also a feature called Black eQualizer. This tool realises that too many games go a overboard with the black; significantly reducing the contrast ratio for areas in shadow, as such making it extremely difficult to see what is going on. The eQualizer aims to improve the situation, and as such what you see on the screen, to something which reflects a much more natural and normal display. When combined with the Colour Vibrance features, which increase the brightness and contrast across the screen to suit the type of game, it is possible to achieve some extremely crisp and bright gameplay.
If you are after a monitor which performs at a gaming standard unmatched by any in it’s class, then the ZOWIE XL2540 would not be a screen to walk past. It is smooth, it is sleek and it does things that few other screens even dare to claim. The image is sharp and responsive, and the colours are bright and clear. When competition beckons ZOWIE’s attention to detail enables players to focus where it is most important, on the game and on the prize.