The BenQ PD3220U DesignVue Designer Monitor delivers a winning combination of a large screen 4K UHD resolution, decent color accuracy and troves of convenience features for professional designers, videographers and photographers.
- Great colour accuracy
- 4K at 32-inch is the sweet spot
- Incredibly feature-rich
- Comes pre-calibrated
- Limited Adobe RGB coverage
- On the pricier side
Designed for photographers, videographers, and other graphic designers, the BenQ PD3220U is a 32-inch 4K monitor that offers troves of useful features at a lower price than the competition. Well, a monitor costing over $1,000 bucks isn’t something we’d call cheap, but the PD3220U occupies a rather unique niche in the PC monitor hierarchy that makes it tremendous value, even at this price point.
OK, there are only a handful of truly impressive monitors out there for creative works, and unfortunately, most of them cost a fortune. Take for instance, monitors like the Apple Pro Display XDR and the Eizo ColorEdge CG319X, both fantastic professional monitors but you’re looking at spending over $5000 for the Apple Pro.
Then there is the BenQ PD3220U, it costs much less but this pre-calibrated 4K display delivers much value just like its pricey peers. It checks all the right boxes for creatives, sacrificing only the not-so-vital feature to deliver more approachable propositions to folks who aren’t willing to shell overly hefty price of entry.
And, it still comes with a good share of strengths, including great out-of-the-box color accuracy and excellent colour coverage. It may not be as accurate as the Apple Pro Display XDR, and Benq makes a few tradeoffs to achieve that sweet price, but they won’t matter too much for graphics designers and photographers as well as video editors. And that price for the features is just killer value.
BenQ PD3220U Specs
- Panel size: 31.5-inch
- Panel type: IPS
- Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160
- Brightness: 300cd/m2
- Contrast: 1,000:1
- Pixel response: 5ms
- Refresh rate: 60Hz
- Vesa: 100x100mm
- Inputs: DisplayPort, 2x HDMI, 2x USB-C with Thunderbolt 3
Design – Inspired by Apple, Space Grey
BenQ describes the PD3220U as designed with the MacBook in mind, and sure the design takes cues from Apple’s designs, and the similarity is obvious. This monitor’s color is called explicitly “Space Grey,” and to a larger extent it lives up to that definition. The stand, base, and cabinet are sturdy and minimalist. The only hint that this isn’t an Apple product is a small BenQ logo in the corner of the base.
The base is crafted from aluminum, but the stand and cabinet are plastic to allow for impressive adjustability. The BenQ PD3220U can tilt, swivel, and pivot for upto a full 90 degrees of use in vertical orientation. For height adjustment, it is almost six inches, which is almost the same adjustment you get on the PD3200U, and gives lots of arrangement on your work desk.
This is the same ergonomic adjustment you get with the Dell UltraSharp U3219Q; the LG 32UD99-W comes close too, but it doesn’t provide pivot adjustment for alternate orientation.
Port Selection – With Thunderbolt 3
With excellent connectivity, the BenQ DesignVue PD3220U includes almost all the ports you’d need. That’s great news for the creative professionals who are the target for this monitor. Along the back, there are two HDMI 2.0 ports, DisplayPort, two USB-A 3.1 ports, a microUSB port, and two USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports. That right there is a monitor that you can easily turn into a USB hub.
Those two Thunderbolt 3 ports are great additions, allowing for video passthrough and power delivery up to 45 watts. Plugging your MacBook Pro via USB-C is certainly the only cord you need on your desk. However, those down-firing ports are not the easiest to access, and can sometimes make connecting a device awkward. The LG 40WP95C-W goes full out to include Thunderbolt 4, the first we’ve seen in a monitor.
Performance – Fantastic Color Fidelity
There’s just a long list of features and capabilities on the DesignVue PD3220U that will please content creators. First in the list is the quality 31.5-inch IPS panel with 3,840 by 2,160 pixels for the ultimate full UHD experience. Benq says the monitor is capable of 100 per cent of the sRGB spectrum and 95 per cent of DCI-P3, but that figure doesn’t quote Adobe RGB.
However, going by the DCI-P3 claim, it will likely be some way short of 100 per cent. Simply said, this 4K screen has solid but not spectacular support for most colour spaces used by professional creatives.
Just to note, further colour space profiles include Rec. 709, along with an HDR mode and CAD/CAM, Animation, low Blue Light and Darkroom modes among others. It also offers 10-bit channel colour mode. BenQ says that the PD3220U has HDR10 ‘content support’, which is a more reasonable way to put content that isn’t true HDR, not with a maximum brightness of 300cd/m2 and no local dimming.
For the most part, the BenQ PD3220U monitor delivers pretty much the level of performance you’d expect from this class of display. Which is to say it’s not far off from being a gorgeous display.
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Modern professional IPS panels like this usually have a few weak spots and that’s much present here. BenQ dropped the anti-glare sparkle and off-angle glow that affects even good IPS monitors is gone. This piece of kit just looks pure and clean and rich and precise.
Similarly, the viewing angles are just splendid and the overall effect of the bust basic image quality combined with the minimalist design and the supple touch of the chassis makes for a very satisfying display. Yes, you’re spending over $1,000 for this monitor, but the sense is that it’s worth every penny.
Additionally, thanks to those comprehensive colour space presets, you can get working straight out of the box. Just in case you’re looking for weaknesses, they domiciled on elements that are obvious on the specification sheet. For starters, with 3,840 by 2,160 pixels fired across a 31.5-inch panel, you’re staring at a pixel pitch of around 140DPI. That’s a good monitor by PC standard, but is miles behind the 200-plus DPI of Apple’s Retina displays.
Also, at 300cd/m2, the BenQ PD3220U is once again far from the brightest displays out there and isn’t capable of true HDR visuals. But then, that’s not what this monitor is designed for. You’re buying it for content creation, not content consumption, in which context burning the back of your retinas is neither required nor desired.
That consideration also applies to the mere 60Hz refresh rate. While the PD3220U will holds its own handily in gaming, assuming your graphics system is powerful enough to push all those pixels, lacking 144Hz-plus refresh rate is a painful sacrifice given the pro remit.
BenQ PD3220U Review: Verdict
From a value perspective, you can vouch for and against the DesignVue PD3220U. On the one hand, it costs much less than the likes of Apple’s Pros Display XDR. On the other hand, there are several 4K 32-inch monitors available in the market that cost far less cash. Indeed, BenQ has some of those affordable display as well.
What you won’t get by spending less money is the same features, performance and quality that’s on offer from the BenQ PD3220U. You’re spending around $1,000, not cheap or a monitor, but you’re getting very high features like Thunderbolt connectivity, daisy chaining support, and great colour quality among other features that make the whole thing ooze quality.
If we were to have any reservation, it would be that the colour space is just good rather than excellent at this price point. While the range of preset is OK, the extent to which DCI-P3 and, we suspect, Adobe RGB is covered could be a tad better. That minor caveat aside, the DesignVue PD3220U is an expensive but satisfying screen.
Are there any alternatives?
The 4K monitor space is filled with lots of monitors, and many of them are half the price if the BenQ PD3220U. Even its predecessor, the BenQ PD3200U cost much less, and despite not having a Thunderbolt 3 port or the MacBook-specific color mode, it’s still a better option for most people.
The same applies for options such as the LG 32UN880-B or the Dell UltraSharp U3219Q , both which are hundreds of dollars less. Both of these monitors lack the MacBook-specific color mode, but still provide the kind of excellent image quality people are looking for at a cheaper price.
Should you buy the BenQ PD3220U?
Yes. You should buy the BenQ PD3220U especially if you need the MacBook-specific color mode for your work. It’s not for Windows users – there are more cheaper options mentioned above – but dedicated Mac fans should give the BenQ PD3220U a serious consideration.
Last update on 2022-12-09 at 13:41 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API