Not long ago I reviewed another BenQ monitor; the EX3501R 35-inch UltraWide Curved Monitor. Now that I have spent some time with the smaller brother of that monitor, the EX3203R 32″ 16:9, does my love for the original carry over? In the original review, the screen real estate was key as I am constantly multitasking, and while it was a good monitor, the ultrawide aspect ratio made some games a hassle to set to the right aspect ration, or I would just have to deal with the black bars. Now that I am dealing with a 16:9 2560×1440 Resolution monitor, does the trade-off in width make up for the more gaming focused screen?
The short answer comes down to what you are looking for. The aspect ratio of this monitor (16:9) is what is supported by most games, be it PC or console, which is a huge plus if you are looking for a gaming monitor. You also get a 144Hz refresh rate and AMD FreeSync 2. All of that is great to a gamers ears, but as a higher end monitor, the thing better blow you away to justify opening your wallet.
First, let us get into the nitty-gritty details for the techno-files out there.
- 31.5″ Display
- 16:9 Aspect Ratio
- HDR10 Support – This is what makes games prettier. A high dynamic range makes a better image that feels more natural. Bright lights are brighter and dark areas are darker.
- 90% DCI-P3 Coverage – This is a reference to the optimal color performance which will cover 90% of the DCI-P3 standards to make sure that the colors are as close to what content creators envisioned and wanted you to see.
- 144Hz Refresh Rate – For that hot, hot frame rate.
- AMD FreeSync 2 – Allows users with AMD graphics cards to see fewer screen tears.
- USB Type-C Compatible
- VESA Wall Mount Compatible with a special transfer kit sold separately.
- 1800R Curvature – This is the curvature of the display which gives an optimal viewing angle from a traditional desk.
- BenQ Eye-Care Technology – I’ll talk more about this in the rest of the review, but this is what makes it easier to sit in front of the computer for longer periods of time.
Now, this review is targeted more at the hardcore gamer that knows just enough to be dangerous but doesn’t sit up at night counting pixels and worrying about every technical detail of their monitor. This is a review for those that just want a good gaming monitor and would like to know what some of the buzzwords mean. However, it would be unfair to not lay out the main technical aspects of the monitor before getting into the feel of the product.
From the review for the EX3501R, here is an explanation of what the curvature means:
The human eye sees at 1000R and the number before the “R” is essentially where it would sit on a circle. So the farther out the number, the less of a curve you will get. For a living room set, you will likely want a higher number, a 3000 or 4000R as the curvature will be easier from multiple angles. As a computer monitor, the 1800R works best as the curve isn’t all that much of a curve, and sitting close, you want the sides to come in a bit more so that you can see the entire screen without putting your head on a swivel.
I Don’t Want Numbers, I Want to Know if it is Good
Here is the thing about BenQ monitors; I haven’t found one I didn’t like. The 3203R continues that tradition. Compared to the 35″ UltraWide, the 3203R excels at gaming. While I prefer to use the UltraWide for some work stuff, especially design and editing (when I need multiple programs opened all at once) the 3203R is my go-to for less intensive work and my only monitor for games. This is primarily because the monitor is the correct aspect ratio to just launch a game and get going, and the higher refresh rate gives a slightly smoother experience.
Gaming feels wonderful and looks amazing. The screen is built for gaming, of course, but it really shows once you start playing on it. Where the 3501R was a good gaming monitor, the 3203R is an amazing monitor. This is partly due to the fact that the former is a gaming monitor and a multimedia monitor. While you can enjoy movies and other forms of media on the 3203R, it is clearly made for gaming. There is no question that this is the go-to if you are looking for a screen that will be used primarily as your gaming display.
What About Non-Gaming?
This is where the review gets a little difficult as I feel that I am just rehashing what the previous review already said. The two monitors are very similar in how they work, so you can expect the same Eye-Care Technology and B.I.+ or Brightness Intelligence Plus that the other monitor brought along first. Essentially, if you notice strain on your eyes, or you use the monitor in a room where the light changes throughout the day (near a window for example), the monitor is built to relieve those issues. The first part, eye strain, is handled by the BenQ Eye-Care Technology which gives Flicker-Free and Low Blue Light options. The latter (B.I.+.) is in place to adjust the brightness of the monitor based on ambient light in the room.
How well does all of this stuff work? Wonderfully. I work near a large window that sits near a large shade tree. Light still trickles in and on sunny days I’ll often have to close the shutters to make sure I can see the monitor clearly. With this monitor, that isn’t an issue. Those beams come shining through and the monitor adjusts the brightness to keep the display easily viewable. At night, it darkens. Before enabling these features, the monitor was so bright it would like up the room. With the features on, the monitor is appropriately bright without slowly burning my eyes out.
So Which Is Better?
The difference in the EX3203R and the EX3501R ultimately come down to size and shape. While the refresh rate is higher on the EX3203R, it doesn’t offer the same ultrawide display. That is a good or bad thing depending on what you are using the monitor for. You are not going to find a better monitor for gaming in my opinion. BenQ is knocking it out of the park right now with multimedia monitors that are good for gaming and focused gaming displays that showcase what developers work so long and hard on, that the choice is ultimately up to what you expect to use the monitor for most.
If you are looking for a great gaming monitor for your current build or one you are currently assembling, this is the best choice. I have seen, and used, plenty of other monitors and I can’t think of one that came close to what the EX3203R accomplishes. When it comes down to looking at the competition, I don’t think there is much. BenQ has put a lot of thought into their monitors, and just like in my previous review, I was completely blown away by this particular display.
For a few details that I did not cover deeply in this review, make sure to also read the EX3501R review as I explain a few finer points in more depth. I left those out of this review since, in my experience, you are likely reading multiples to find the right display for your next purchase and I prefer to keep reviews more concise if possible. I will say one last thing, the curvature of the display is fantastic for a multi-monitor set-up. I have both monitors mentioned here side by side and my wife calls it my space station. The curvature makes for an easy to view experience that is worth picking up multiple monitors if you are able.