We Review the BenQ PD3205U Monitor: Affordable, Yet Spectacular

A studio monitor is a great companion for any creative workflow. Without a doubt, the BenQ PD3205U is one of those monitors that combines the right amount of features, while being affordable for a creator who doesn’t want to spend thousands on a studio monitor. After testing the BenQ PD3205U, here is our opinion.

When I switched from editing on a 15-inch MacBook to a proper monitor, I was in heaven. The colors were better, the screen was bigger, and I was finally able to build a proper workstation. As of now I work on a laptop connected to a monitor. Hopefully that will change as I look to buy a used Mac Mini M1. Still, if you want to treat yourself to a good gift that will make a noticeable change to your workflow, get yourself a monitor.

You might want to consider the BenQ PD3205U, and for good reason. The unit I received first went into the “long drawer of gear to review” as I reluctantly unplugged the cables from my perfect setup. Eventually the PD3205U became my primary monitor and I love using it. Okay, enough of my ramblings, let’s dive in and see where it shines and where it falls behind.

Manufacturing quality

While I don’t care as much about how my camera looks as long as it’s practical, I do care about my desktop setup. Although my desktop is a far cry from what you see on Pinterest, a well-designed monitor is a step in the right direction. In my case, it was the only step I took in the right direction. Nevertheless, the visual design of the monitor is extremely pleasing. The monitor stand, which comes with the monitor (and doesn’t cost $999), is a nice cone, with a neat cable holder on the back. It would be nice if the cable holder was removable so bringing it closer to the wall wouldn’t be a problem. Many height, pan and tilt adjustments are available.

The front of the monitor is very clean and has no excess marks. For me, that’s a huge plus, because I like to see my images, rather than a mark at the bottom. Speaking of looks, the monitor’s bezels are thinner than other monitors, making the experience more immersive than ever. It really feels like looking into a curved monitor.

There is a shortcut puck that comes with the monitor, it allows you to control the monitor itself. I defined the three hotkeys to switch between color profiles: sRGB, MacBook and low blue light. Most of the time I use the third because it’s not as bad for my eyes. The center dial is set to volume, because unfortunately I can’t control the volume on my MacBook without downloading third-party software. The shortcut puck cable is slightly long, but that’s not a problem as cable management is excellent here.

Cable management deserves applause. Most monitors don’t have it and I wish they did. A simple tray to cover all ports and hide excess cable length. If you like neat cable management, this feature is for you. It looks very clean.

Ports

On the port side, I was not disappointed. Behind the monitor, you’ll find two USB 3.1, two USB-B, one HDMI 2.0, one USB-C, DPI.4, and a port for the shortcut puck. This is enough to connect certain peripherals such as a Loupedeck or a Wacom tablet. I use the USB-C port to connect and charge my MacBook. On the side, there is a USB-C (downstream), a USB 3.1 and a headphone jack. While not a game changer, they are nice keys that allow me to charge my phone or watch. I wouldn’t suggest connecting drives or other bandwidth-intensive devices. For these purposes, I use a Kingston workstation, a review of which you can find here.

Overall, I’m happy with the design and look of the monitor, as well as the number of ports. It’s above and beyond for a monitor that’s affordably priced.

Performance

Let’s talk about performance, because that will be the deciding factor for people. As well-designed as the monitor is, there are some things about performance that put people off. Before we talk about what it can’t do, however, let’s talk about what it can do.

It comes pre-calibrated, and if you know BenQ, you’ll know they take it very seriously. BenQ’s biggest selling point is color accuracy, which means you can take the monitor out of the box and get perfect colors right away. It even comes with a calibration chart. Of course, it is advisable to use a calibrator from time to time, such as the SpyderX. A calibrated monitor goes a long way in helping you see true colors.

The monitor is 4K and comes in at 3840×2160 UHD, at 16:9 HDR 10 IPS. It covers 99% of sRGB and Rec.709 color spaces and has a contrast ratio of 1000:1. The 60Hz refresh rate might be a bit slow for gaming, but it’s enough for photography and creative work. All the while, the pixel density of 140 PPI is enough to create sharp on-screen images. Ultimately, the viewing experience won’t leave you disappointed.

P3

One thing not mentioned is the P3 range spaces. Many high-end monitors have P3 color spaces, and BenQ is no exception, however, they will cost more. One question you need to ask yourself is if you even need the P3 range in your monitor. Although Rec.709 is still pretty much a standard for most applications, the creative industry is slowly moving towards P3. It is becoming a more popular option as Apple uses P3 on all of its products. So overall, while it might not be the top-of-the-line 4K monitor with P3 color gamut, it still performs very well.

What I liked

  • Impressive specs for the price
  • Cable management
  • Price tag

What could be improved

Final Thoughts

Priced at $749, this monitor is a good choice for those who want a better viewing experience at a reasonable price. Although it lags behind professional studio monitors in P3 support and contrast specs, it still delivers a great end-user experience. Frankly, I doubt everyone cares what color space they’re using, so sRGB or Rec.709 will be fine. The monitor is suitable for most people, falling between professional and affordable. So if you need a monitor, this will be a monitor to strongly consider.

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