Fstoppers Reviews the BenQ SW320 and PV3200PT, Two Fantastic 4K Monitors

For many photographers and videographers, editing and post-production are a vital part of the process. For this reason, it's crucial to have an accurate and effective display to work on in order to produce the best results. 

BenQ SW320 

Having a wide gamut monitor can be really important and very useful for many creatives, and the BenQ SW320 does not disappoint. This monitor has been designed specifically for photographers and the large 31.5-inch, 4K, IPS display is definitely something you can get used to. When it comes to color, the SW320 covers 99 percent of both Adobe RGB and DCI-P3, which is very useful for those of us who are color-conscious. Although most content that is currently being viewed on the Internet is probably in sRGB, having that wider gamut is extremely useful if you're printing or simply want more effective control when editing. I can tell you first hand that since using the BenQ monitors, the difference in what I see and the end result has had a very noticeable improvement. Wide gamut monitors allow you to see more colors and the shades between colors more effectively, helping with the editing process. Although this monitor is an 8-bit display, it uses something called Frame Rate Control, allowing it to produce 1.07 billion perceivable colors. Having a true 10-bit display would have been great, however, it's relatively difficult to see a difference between a true 10-bit display and 8-bit with FRC in most circumstances. Using FRC also keeps the cost of the monitor down; therefore, it's more practical that it's not true 10-bit for most people. 

BenQ PV3200PT

As a YouTuber, editing video is an important part of the process. For a long time, I've struggled a little with colors in several of my videos ,with some appearing a little too green or purple once I uploaded to YouTube. Part of this was down to how my old monitor displayed these colors, and even after I calibrated that monitor, the results weren't much better. Fortunately, the BenQ PV3200PT has been designed specifically for video editing, and it has had a significant impact on the colors for my YouTube videos. This monitor has a 32-inch 4K display that covers 100 percent of Rec 709. When it comes to bit depth, this monitor is also an 8-bit display that uses FRC to "upscale" to 1.07 billion colors. I use this monitor with the SW320 as a second display, and personally, I think this is the best combination. When working on a project in Premiere Pro, I can perform my edits and have the interface opened on the SW320 and then use the PV3200PT to view the clips in full resolution. This isn't necessarily possible or as easy to do if you're using a single monitor.

Design and Usability

The design of both monitors is relatively understated, with gray, thick bezels and standard rectangle bases. Both monitors can operate in landscape and portrait, and switching is quite easy to do. The SW320 does also come with a shading hood that I find to be very useful; this helps to prevent any unnecessary glare. The PV3200PT does not utilize a hood; however, both monitors do have a matte finish. This is great, because it means that even if light is hitting the display from certain angles, it's diffused quite effectively, preventing any issues. Glossy displays really do frustrate me and I'm really glad these monitors are understated. The monitor is also quite big, as you'd assume.

When it comes to connections, both monitors have extra USB 3.0 slots and SD card slots too. Although I have not used them so far, extra slots are obviously very useful to have.

Both monitors also come with a Hotkey Puck, which is one of my favorite things. This little puck makes going through the menus in the monitors much easier than the buttons in the bottom right corner. I always find it a little awkward trying to navigate menus using those buttons on monitors. You also have three custom buttons you can program for specific color profiles. If you regularly use two color spaces, such as sRGB and Adobe RGB, you can switch back and forth between the two very easily. 

Colors and Calibration

Straight out of the box, both monitors were actually very good when it comes to colors. Due to the fact that both of the monitors are pre-calibrated, to some extent, you can trust what you see when you first switch them on. Both monitors have the ability to switch between color spaces depending on your requirements. The SW320 has more color options due to its much wider gamut whereas the PV3200PT is more specialized for video and therefore has a limited number of color spaces to work in. One of the features I really like about the SW320 is that you can have dual color modes on your screen. Basically, you can view an image in two color spaces at the same time, which is useful if you're posting images in (for example) sRGB and Adobe RGB. 

Although these monitors are calibrated when you receive them, I would still strongly recommend you perform a hardware calibration on them. The reason for this is because your working environment may not be the exact conditions they were calibrated in. I used the X-rite i1 Studio to calibrate them, and once calibration was complete, there was a noticeable difference. 

Final Thoughts

Having a dual monitor setup can be very useful for a number of reasons. The extra screen real estate is especially useful if you edit videos in 4K and want to view your footage in full resolution while editing. The SW320 is a brilliant monitor for a number of reasons. For one, it's feature-filled for a relatively reasonable price. It's a 4K, UHD 31.5-inch display with a massive color gamut. Many displays that you can buy these days will only offer 100 percent sRGB, which is fine for some; however, if you're working on anything more color critical or if you're printing your images, then you do need the extra colors. Adobe RGB is a significantly larger color space, and the fact that the SW320 covers 99 percent of it is extremely useful. If you're a professional photographer, then I highly recommend this monitor; the gorgeous colors and the huge screen will definitely make an impression. 

The PV3200PT has really and truly improved my videos for YouTube, and for that reason, I'm very happy. On the surface, this monitor only offers 100 percent coverage of Rec 709 and that may seem limiting; however, due to its 1.07 billion perceivable colors and 14-bit LUT, this monitor is genuinely fantastic. This monitor is all about color accuracy, and for that particular purpose, it performs very well. Since I started editing my videos on this monitor, the colors from start to finish are very consistent and pretty much the same. I'm sure you can appreciate how useful it is to have a monitor that properly and accurately displays your images and videos. 

What I Liked

  • High quality monitors perfect for professionals
  • Color accuracy
  • Lots of features, yet a reasonable price
  • Non-glossy screen which prevents reflections
  • Shading hood 

What I Didn't Like

  • The SW320 only came with a mini display cable 
  • The boxes are super huge

Purchase

Ultimately, I think this is a fantastic combination of monitors for hybrid shooters. If you shoot photos and video, then these two monitors might be the right choice for you. The SW320 and the PV3200PT are two of the best large screen UHD displays you can buy. You can purchase the SW320 here and the PV3200PT here.

Log in or register to post comments

4 Comments

I liked the SW320 specs and price, I just wish it had Thunderbolt 3 so I can leave my laptop's AC adapter elsewhere.

Usman Dawood's picture

Thunderbolt support would definitely be useful. Could an adapter work at all?

Milos Martinovic's picture

So, do you still need to have a professional graphics card like Nvidia Quadro or AMD Radeon Pro with full 10bit support even though the monitor is 8bit with FRC?

https://www.benq.com/en/monitor/photographer/sw320/specifications.html

I don't see any FRC on their specs page. Where did you find out that it's 8 bit + FRC?