This has been the year of the resurrection of stereoscopic 3D – apparently 3D movies, 3D TV broadcasts and 3D gaming is now all the rage. Whilst pop-out-of the-screen 3D is a nice capability for home entertainment devices to have the ‘small screen’ experience and goofy glasses haven’t won everyone over. Equally uninspiring is the price of the equipment itself. For the ‘proper’ stereoscopic gaming experience on a PC, for example, you need; a compatible Nvidia GPU, Nvidia 3D Vision kit, 120Hz monitor and enough computing horsepower to render twice as much as in the usual 2D mode.
The XL2410T is BenQ’s first attempt at a consumer 120Hz ‘3D’ monitor. Despite the native support for Nvidia 3D Vision and other stereoscopic ‘3D’ technologies this is not how BenQ are marketing the XL2410T. This monitor doesn’t care whether 3D gaming is revolutionary or just a passing phase; like other 120Hz monitors the XL2410T gains favour for a different and more two-dimensional reason. Developed with input (literally) from two infamous players of the popular FPS game CounterStrike, the XL2410T is aimed at competitive gamers for whom 120Hz LCD monitors can provide a smoother experience. This is down to the fact that 120Hz monitors are able to output double the frame rate natively whilst running with around half the input lag of their 60Hz counterparts.
In this review we will be focussing not just on the kind of difference this extra responsiveness makes to the entertainment experience but also focussing on other aspects that affect the experience; namely contrast and colour reproduction. Although the RRP of the XL2410T is in line with if not a little lower than competing 120Hz monitors it’s also competing with a selection of affordable IPS and VA panel monitors from the likes of BenQ, ViewSonic and Dell. Is the overall feature set and image performance of the XL2410T enough to justify its price tag? That will be the crucial question that this review will try to address.
The BenQ XL1410T’s specifications reveal that this monitor has a few tricks up its imaginary sleeves. Most notably that it supports a 120Hz refresh rate, which allows it to be used for stereoscopic 3D gaming and brings improvements to the responsiveness of 2D gaming. The XL2410T also features LED backlight which reduces power consumption – note that the 40W stated is a maximum value and is very unlikely to be reached under comfortable settings. Another thing to note is the rather hefty weight of the monitor – but this is part of the price you pay for this level of stand adjustability.
The BenQ XL2410T breaks from the tradition of the glossy bezel and style-over-substance approach adopted by most home-use monitors these days. Instead it offers a fully matte plastic bezel and stand as well as a fairly aggressive matte anti-glare coated screen. Whilst this type of screen coating minimises unwanted reflections it also scatters the light coming out from the screen – dulling colours and reducing contrast. Although we would have liked to have seen the semi-gloss coating that BenQ applies to many of their other new monitors we understand that reflections are the last thing serious gamers want to contend with.
The ‘control hub’ of the XL2410T features a no-fuss and no-frills line of ‘nobbly’ buttons running beneath the bottom right of the bezel. These are easy to navigate by ‘feel’ with pleasing tactile feedback as they’re pressed. Unfortunately the buttons lack any sort of illuminated or on-screen label system so operation is a bit difficult in the dark. The rounded rectangular power LED is the only source of illumination to be found. This functions purely as a fairly dim indicator of the monitor’s state – this means it isn’t distracting at all which is a bonus in a darkened room.
More visible than the black recessed button labels are the white ‘feature highlights’ above. These draw your attention to three key attributes that can help to distinguish the XL2410T from other monitors and serves as a useful reminder for you should you need it – ‘LED’, ‘120Hz motion blur free’ and ‘Senseye 3’. The latter ‘feature’ is perhaps the least welcome if past experiences are anything to go by, but we’ll get onto that later.
One peculiar attribute of the monitor base (pictured above), which is very rectangular in appearance, is a recessed area in the middle. We are curious as to the function of this (if it has one) but it could act as a small storage space – perhaps to keep a small notebook for your frag tally? Some of of BenQ’s previous monitors (namely the ‘Eco’ V-series) included a small note holder area so we wouldn’t put it past them.
The stand of the XL2410T, intriguing though it may look, affords the monitor tilt, swivel, height and rotation adjustments. This is a nice feature for viewer comfort, especially during extended gaming sessions. In the picture above you can see the monitor ‘swivelled’ to the right and rotated 90° into portrait mode. The rotation of the screen isn’t as smooth as most other monitors we’ve tested with similar stands – but we’re sure things will loosen up with age, as they often do. It should also be noted that whilst it can be useful to put a screen into portrait mode for certain tasks, the inconsistencies across the screen seem to become amplified due to the poor relative vertical (now horizontal) viewing angles of TN panel displays. The swivelling and height adjustment functionality of the stand is of course very welcome although it is, again, slightly less slick than on other monitors we’ve tested. This is most probably down to the relative light weight of the base and stand and moreover; plastics replacing oiled metals for the sliding and swivelling mechanism.
The XL2410T isn’t overly interesting from the side but you can see a headphone socket towards the bottom of the left side of the monitor (picture above). The XL2410T isn’t as thin as most other LED-backlit monitors, reaching a maximum depth of 54mm excluding stand. This is partly to offer space for the VESA mount screws of the stand (or alternative solution if you prefer) and also to house the internal power converter.
From the back you see yet more matte plastic, some ventilation slits at the top and of course the thick neck of the stand. Inputs are relatively scant but the essentials are there – AC power in, DVI-D, D-Sub (VGA) and HDMI. BenQ includes a VGA cable and a DVI dual-link cable with the package – the latter of which is required for 120Hz output at the monitor’s native 1920 x 1080 resolution. The HDMI specification of the monitor is 1.3, meaning that ‘HDMI 3D’ and indeed a 120Hz refresh rate is not supported at the native resolution due to insufficient bandwidth.
To calibrate the XL2410T at a fairly basic level we used the Windows 7 ‘Display Color Calibration’ procedure coupled with familiar desktop backgrounds and icons as well as the Lagom black level tests. Adjustments were made via the XL2410T’s OSD (on-screen display) as adjustments made on the software level using ICC profiles are generally ignored by games and video applications. Because the XL2410T is LED-backlit it isn’t necessary to wait for 30 or more minutes for the backlight to warm up and the colour temperature to stabilise; but we did so out of habit. More information about the XL2410T’s OSD and the adjustments that are possible can be found in the XL2410T user manual.
Under default settings (FPS mode, 100% brightness, 63% contrast) the image could only be described as disgusting. It was overly bright, bleached and sharp with areas of noticeable over-saturation. We had a fiddle around on the OSD but couldn’t get the image to look satisfying in any way using the FPS mode. As it happens the gamma is locked at a rather truncated ‘1.8’ (default standard on a PC is ‘2.2’) and the colour balance adjustments are also locked. Thanks BenQ, but no thanks.
Thankfully, almost instantaneous relief could be achieved by activating ‘standard mode’ and tweaking some settings. sRGB mode also gave relatively pleasing results but the ability to control colour balance via the OSD is lost. In the end we settled for a contrast of ‘56’ and a brightness of between ‘48’ and ‘56’ (depending on ambient lighting and intended use). We also adjusted the colour balance slightly to 95, 92 and 90 for ‘R’, ‘G’ and ‘B’, respectively. Although we expect the balance to vary between units, our particular review sample was too strong in blue, slightly too strong in green and also a bit heavy on reds (making for heavy saturation, overall). Interestingly the XL2410T seemed very sensitive to small changes in contrast levels, regardless of colour settings. Even a slight reduction from ‘56’ led to greys taking on a teal cast and whites appearing a murky pond-water colour. Much above ‘56’ and the image became bleached with a major loss of detail. The image was not perfect using these settings, as some colours appeared a tad oversaturated whilst some areas of the image appeared ‘dull’ at the same time. There was a fine line between the image appearing oversaturated and ‘dull’, however, and these settings produces the best balance between the two on our unit.
BenQ claims the XL2410T is capable of producing brightness in the 300 cd/m2 range and a static contrast ratio of 1000:1. We have no reason to doubt these claims although we very much doubt both values could ever be achieved simultaneously. Going through this scenario and setting the brightness as high as possible – unlike dynamic contrast, whereby the backlight intensity is varied depending on the level of black vs. white on the screen, the backlight would remain on even if a totally black screen was to be displayed; the inevitable bleed through would raise the luminance of the black and therefore decrease the possible contrast ratio. Because the backlight can be turned off to display a black screen and turned on fully for a white screen in a dynamic contrast scenario, you get much higher contrast ratios which allows manufacturers to state absurdly high numbers. BenQ doesn’t like to buck the trend, so they went for nice 10m:1 dynamic contrast ratio for the XL2410T.
To test these claims we picked up our well-respected light meter to record some values for the brightness (luminance) of an entirely white image, an entirely black image and the resulting contrast ratio using various settings on the XL2410T. The results are shown in the table below with significant values highlighted in blue and discussed in the proceeding section. For ‘Standard’ mode results assume a contrast level of 100% unless otherwise stated – other preset modes may vary contrast.
|Monitor profile||White luminance (cd/m2)||Black luminance (cd/m2)||Contrast ratio (x:1)|
|Standard, 100% brightness
|Standard, 80% brightness
|Standard, 60% brightness||231||0.58||398|
|Standard, 40% brightness
|Standard, 20% brightness||150||0.41||366|
|Standard, 0% brightness||110||0.23||478|
|Standard, 56% brightness, 56% contrast (RGB-adjusted test settings)
|Full dynamic contrast (Photo preset)
From the table above you can see that BenQ’s claimed 1000:1 contrast ratio could not be achieved under any setting. At ‘100% brightness’ the black level is quite poor with a noticeable blue tint throghout the image – the resulting contrast ratio of 342:1 is not entirely unexpected given the poor black levels under these settings . Excess backlight bleedthrough is also evident at the bottom of the monitor, in particular, but is far from the worst we’ve seen. Whites are fairly bright but uniformity is poor as they appear to take on a warm (red) tint towards the top and a cool (blue) tint towards the bottom, looking quite ‘dirty’ overall. The peak luminance value recorded by the XL2410T of 304 cd/m2 is quite good and suggests that the 300 cd/m2 luminance stated by BenQ is a maximum rather than typical value. This value is itself is perhaps a little low for a ’3D monitor’. Remember that shutter glasses ‘dull’ the image so that a higher than usual brightness is required. Since the overall image is very bleached using these settings you will most likely have to lower the brightness to achieve an acceptable image – and remember 304 cd/m2 represents the white luminance and not the average luminance of the image.
By setting the brightness to ‘0’ we achieved a peak contrast ratio of a fairly mediocre 478:1, which is roughly half of the 1000:1 specified by BenQ but the highest we could achieve under any settings. Excess backlight bleed-through is evident at the bottom of the monitor although the blacks look fairly inky at this setting. Unfortunately the image is far too dim at “0% brightness” even for desktop work to be comfortable and the 110 peak white luminance no doubt pulled down the contrast ratio significantly. Moreover; the image still manages to look bleached and washed out and it is clear that the contrast setting of ’100%’ is too high for the XL2410T to handle.
Although the white luminance was a fairly comfortable 203 cd/m2 under our test settings the black luminance was a little high at 0.52 cd/m2 and hence the contrast ratio suffered. Importantly, however, the overall image looks much better using these settings and this add weights to our opinion that the BenQ’s default values leave a lot to be desired. The presets are also pretty poor as we explored in the calibration section of the review, but something else cropped up when we were testing ‘movie mode’. A bright dithering streak could be seen through the blacks and this adversely affected the black level – the black luminance reading of 0.98 cd/m2 was the highest we encountered despite the overall brightness being somewhat reduced under these settings. The resulting contrast ratio of 287:1 on ‘movie mode’ wouldn’t really do any Blu-ray film justice – even Sex and the City 2 would be screaming out for more contrast.
One area where BenQ seems to have made improvements, welcome or otherwise, is in the handling of Dynamic Contrast. The XL2410T’s dynamic contrast reacts very quickly to changes in screen brightness, taking a split second to reduce its black level in an all-black scene to < 0.01 cd/m2. We are not fans of dynamic contrast for several reasons (discussed in many of our previous reviews) and no matter how good the implementation is the idea of rapidly adjusting the entire backlight to suit the overall image is simply distracting and a flawed idea. Still – we recorded a contrast ratio in this highly artificial pure black and then pure white scenario of > 30,500:1 which certainly leaves the static contrast ratio in the dust. This value is limited by the accuracy of our light meter and is no doubt considerably higher – but BenQ’s 10m:1 stated ratio seems a bit outlandish. For those of you interested in this feature but not so interested in anything resembling decent colour reproduction you can activate it in the ‘Photo’, ‘FPS’, ‘Movie’ and both ‘User Game’ modes.
A number of people have voiced their disappointment and disbelief at the figures presented in the table. Please read this comment for more information about how they are derived. Moreover; focus most of your attention on the text below which helps paint a picture of the contrast in real-world applications.
Sticking to static contrast and our preferred test settings we tested out the contrast performance of the XL2410T in a number of applications. First up was the visual feast that is Battlefield: Bad Company 2. As we had expected the contrast performance on Bad Company 2 could have been a bit better. Desert glare, fire and explosions didn’t really jump out as they sometimes do (we are aware we weren’t playing in stereoscopic 3D) but such elements were pretty bright nonetheless. Snow was bright but slightly varied in colour temperature with some bits appearing overly ‘warm’ in tone. Overall the snowy areas also appeared a bit bleached which compromises fine texture detail such as the ‘graininess’ that is sometimes shown. The monochrome display of the UAV also proved a bit difficult to use as the distinctions between people and their backgrounds was lacking somewhat. This lack of distinction and contrast also proved detrimental to the experience in our second test title – Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising. The most noteworthy issue here was some significant loss of detail in dark areas and a noticeable blue glow (from the backlight) towards the bottom of the screen. Obviously the latter problem only really manifested itself in particularly dark scenes and it was reasonably minor; but it’s certainly off-putting to some people and it does affect the contrast. Other noticeable ‘problems’ included artificial lights that were not as bright as we would have liked at night, although explosions remained pretty bright and intense.
Moving on from the explosions and gunfire and onto some driving, we fired up the XL2410T’s engine and took it for a spin on Colin McRae: Dirt 2. We found that during the daytime glare was never overpowering, which is nice for the playability of the game but is also a sign of slightly subdued contrast. Dark and shaded areas appeared to lose a bit of detail but this was fairly minor and not as crucial to daylight gameplay as in some game genres. This relatively poor contrast certainly had repercussions elsewhere, however, such as in reducing colour distinctions as we explore in the proceeding section of the review. Night time gameplay was also affected by the restrained contrast. Artificial lights around the track and the lights of other cars lacked that in-your-face quality we know and love from other monitors. More importantly, though, is that the loss of detail at the low end is more widespread during the night and seemed to affect playability slightly.
Games are of course not the only ‘entertainment use’ people have in mind for the XL2410T. We also tested the contrast performance on a Blu-ray movie title; The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Nothing in the film really stood out, although it’s not exactly an action movie. Artificial lights and roaring flames during the night did lack a certain flair and some loss of detail was observed in dark areas. Generally the watchability of the film was not impeded by this. To try to highlight specific weaknesses in contrast performance we also ran through some of the Lagom LCD tests. Results from these contrast tests were a bit mixed, but they often are:
The black level results were fairly poor. The top row of 5 boxes blended into the background and the first 3 boxes of the second row were just barely visible. No amount of contrast adjustment could correct this, although scrolling to the top of the page (so that the upper row of boxes appeared at the bottom of the screen) would faintly reveal the fourth and fifth box. This goes to show the viewing angle dependency of the monitor and the shift in gamma across the screen. Some of the lighter grey shades exhibited temporal dithering but this was fairly subtle and well handled by the XL2410T.
White saturation test results were meagre – the bottom row of checkerboard patterns (last 4 of 12 patterns) was invisible. You could just about make out the fourth last box by reducing the contrast to below ‘20’, but this dulls the entire image to unacceptable levels. The only way to reveal all but the final checkerboard was to lower your head so that your eyes are looking up at the monitor from below. Let’s not even discuss the impracticalities of this method of viewing, but it does show once again the viewing angle dependencies of the XL2410T’s TN panel.
Using the 80% contrast setting determined by our preferences and calibration resulted in poor performance on the white saturation test. With the contrast lowered to 60% only the final 2 squares were invisible although you’d have to strain to distinguish the checkerboard patterns from the background of the third-last square. Increasing the contrast beyond the default level of 75% resulted in all but the very first square’s checkerboard being difficult to distinguish against the background white. Again, the white saturation test was heavily influenced by viewing angle. If you lower your head so that your chin is roughly level with the bottom of the XL2370’s bezel all but the last square has a distinguishable pattern. In reality the white saturation test results will make little difference to your experience; especially considering how brilliantly bright the whites are.
The greyscale gradients were surprisingly smooth, although this was achieved using some degree of static and temporal dithering. The mid and low tones appeared to ‘crawl’ slightly although the dithering algorithm seems much improved over earlier BenQ models.
Starting again with Bad Company 2. Colours on this title were displayed with a decent level of vibrancy overall with some areas of the game looking a bit more subdued than we would have liked. Greens lacked the varied lushness that we’ve seen on this title whilst subtle textures (different coloured woods, for example) blend into a bit of a grey-brown mess. A nice touch was the orange glow from the sunlight on some levels which seemed more noticeable than usual. You would have thought that the more subdued look would suit the gritty aesthetic of our second test title, Dragon Rising, quite well. Unfortunately the overall image was not very natural looking. Some green areas in particular appear too heavily saturated, whereas other areas appear barren and slightly washed out. Subtle pastel shade variety is never the strong point of a panel of this type, however, so this criticism is not wholly specific to the XL2410T. If we were to be even more pedantic we would also say that reds on the game weren’t quite deep enough. Using the red marker smoke demonstrates that the viewing angle has a significant effect on this, however, as the depth of the red varies across the screen and is slightly more impressive towards the very top.
Another colour reproduction test involved that bright, colourful and dashing racing experiencing that Dirt 2 can provide. The XL2410T showed pretty pleasing vibrancy in places which brought some flair to the all-important car paintjobs and advertising boards around the tracks. Unfortunately this vibrancy was largely achieved through oversaturation in some areas which diminished the colour range and brought about a slightly unnatural look to the environments. Utah, for example, showed browns in place of the preferred dusty khaki tones. This extra gaudiness is better suited to the lush green forests of Malaysia – but the overly yellow tint to greens and lack of variety meant that the image here was slightly unsatisfactory.
We also tested the XL2410T’s colour reproduction on two distinctly different Blu-ray films. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo should ideally have quite a natural look, but this was tarnished slightly by oversaturation in places – this was most noticeable on skin tones. Despite this the image did look reasonably natural overall. The second film title we tested, Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder, lends itself well to bold and dashing colours but also more subtle colours and is an excellent test for the colour handling of a monitor. We noticed fairly poor subtle shade variation and noticeable inconsistencies across the screen. The colour of the character skins, in particular, changed across their body and depending on the character’s position on screen. This is related to the viewing angle dependency of the XL2410T’s gamma curve and is the same for all TN panels. On the positive side some fairly vibrant neon colours (pinks and purples in particular) were evident in some scenes.
To emphasise the idea of shifting colours across the screen and the confines of the XL2410T’s viewing angles we used the viewing angle tests http://www.lagom.nl/lcd-test/viewing_angle.php of Lagom. The purple block appeared to transition between pink and purple across the screen and flashed through additional blue shades at times if you also moved your head around the screen. The red block appeared pink at the bottom and a significantly deeper shade at the top. The green block appeared the usual bright and somewhat garish citrus green but appeared to suffer from a yellow tint that was reduced towards the top. As usual the blue block was pretty solid with only a minor (barely perceptible) brightness between the top and bottom. The extent of the gamma curve’s viewing angle dependency on the XL2410T is also shown by the ‘Lagom text test’; as expected this confirmed from its various pink and green flashings that the gamma curve of the XL2410T is highly viewing-angle dependent, much like other Twisted Nematic offerings. This does of course mean that colour accuracy suffers but professional users will be able to find superior colour accuracy and consistency in In-Plane Switching or Vertical Alignment models that are available at a similar price.
We can say quite confidently that the XL2410T is a very responsive LCD monitor. With the image refreshing around 120 times a second even moving the mouse around the screen feels a lot smoother on the XL2410T than on a 60Hz LCD monitor. The best way to describe it is as if the mouse is on ice and it suddenly feels lighter and ‘glides’ across the screen. The technology is not flawless, however; you can see a small amount of inverse ghosting (slight black trail) if you move the mouse cursor quickly across a moderately dark background. This is caused by aggressive overdrive, which in the case of the XL2410T is BenQ’s AMA (Advanced Motion Acceleration). This is designed to improve the response time of grey to grey pixel transitions and in many ways is essential to get that smooth feeling that gamers crave from a gaming monitor such as this one. That said it is possible to disable the ‘AMA’ and get rid of the mild inverse ghosting – but this is replaced, instead, by an increase in more noticeable orthodox trailing. The pictures below were taken using an excellent tool called PixPerAn PixPerAn (Pixel Performance Analyser). PixPerAn is favoured by professional review websites such as TFT Central – so if you would like to compare the results of our tests to the monitors in their reviews feel free. We tested the XL2410T at 60Hz and 120Hz with AMA enabled and AMA disabled for each – this illustrates the difference that the refresh rate and overdrive both make to the pixel transitions and the appearance of fast-moving images. All of the images were taken using a high shutter speed and with the ‘tempo’ in PixPerAn set to the highest setting – these are therefore to be considered ‘worst case scenarios’ are far as PixPerAn testing goes.
The first image (below) was taken with the XL2410T at 60Hz and BenQ’s AMA overdrive disabled. You can see a reasonably bold secondary trail behind the image and even a faint tertiary trail indicating a level of trailing that would be quite visible under normal viewing.
The second picture (below) shows the results at 60Hz with AMA overdrive enabled. The usual trailing is as good as eliminated, but instead it is replaced with a noticeable inverted trail artifact that has been introduced by the AMA feature.
Increasing the refresh rate to 120Hz and disabling AMA gives a level of trailing that is quite similar to the 60Hz equivalent setting. The tertiary trail is reduced somewhat and at slower movement speeds the secondary trail will be significantly reduced compared to the 60Hz results.
By enabling AMA at 120Hz the results are much better. The inverse ghosting (overdrive trail) is still there but is significantly less visible. It must be stressed that this test involves very rapid transitions between a red and blue pixel state and capture using a high-sensitivity camera. Under normal viewing conditions the scene is more complex and the pace of action more varied – in any case it should be clear from this testing that a 120Hz refresh rate, with AMA enabled, provides optimal settings for gaming on the BenQ XL2410T.
To put these settings into practice in more realistic scenarios we fired up some of our favourite game titles. First up was Dragon Rising, providing a moderately fast FPS experience indicative of many other games on the market. During daylight on the game trailing was difficult to see and was generally restricted to tiny ‘vibrations’ on some edges during rapid motion. Such effects are often the result of the aggressive overdrive employed by 120Hz monitors such as the XL2410T. As we experienced on this title and as confirmed by the PixPerAn tests, however, disabling the overdrive leads to more noticeable trailing. During dark scenes the monitor has to deal with relatively high-contrast transitions between ‘very dark’ and ‘very light’ transitions which are generally slower on LCD monitors regardless of overdrive. The night time on Dragon Rising is actually not particularly dark so the effect is more subtle. Nonetheless, trailing was slightly more noticeable at night with more heavy edge vibration effects but this did not really prove to be distracting.
Knocking the action up a notch we then tested the XL2410T on Bad Company 2. Results were very similar to Dragon Rising which is to say the experience was very smooth. One particularly noteworthy example of how the extra responsiveness affects gameplay was an Apache gunship flying about and rapidly manoeuvring. The metal panels on the Apache and the pilot inside were all sharp and distinctly visible even as the Apache darted across the screen. Sharpness was also retained for the most part when quickly moving the character or zipping about in an ATV – although the latter did produce some more noticeable (but still fairly minor) trailing if turning sharply. It should also be stressed at this point that all of these observations apply to an in-game frame rate of a consistent 120fps. At times where the frame-rate dipped to around 90fps or below trailing became more noticeable in all instances. There is no hard and fast rule as to a particular frame-rate that represents a turning point between ‘smooth’ and ‘not smooth’ and it varies between game titles, scenes within a game and the individuals susceptibility to trailing. Nonetheless it is important to realise that your system needs to be capable of maintaining 120fps for the optimal experience on the XL2410T and in some modern game titles with the graphics cranked up this is asking quite a lot.
Such performance-related questions didn’t even arise on Dirt 2, the final game title we tested. This was because the refresh rate seemed to be limited to 60Hz on Dirt 2 despite us supposedly setting it to 120Hz. Testing responsiveness on this title was therefore a bit limited, but nonetheless the game ran very smoothly with little trailing. The only distracting trailing could be found during the aforementioned ‘high contrast’ transitions at night on Battersea Bridge. Even this was pretty minor and only mildly distracting – no doubt if the refresh rate wasn’t limited on the title this would be improved upon. It is also a bit difficult to realise the true potential of the XL2410T on Blu-ray film testing as they seem to be quite limited by the low native frame rate of the film. In Futurama, for example, we could observe only a mild improvement over most TN panel monitors we’ve tested. The film was still very watchable and noticeable trailing was confined to a minority of scenes. Similar results were observed on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, again pertaining to the frame rate at which the film was shot. Minor ‘juddering’ was evident throughout the film but trailing seemed to be reduced in some fast-paced scenes (at night in particular) compared to even decent 60Hz monitors.
The responsiveness of a monitor is not only affected by the pixel transition times (response time), but also by the internal processing done by the monitor itself before the image is displayed. This delay between the graphics processor outputting data and the monitor displaying it is often referred to by the all-encompassing term ‘input lag’. It is possible to get a rough idea of the level of input lag of an LCD monitor by following a methodology such as this one. This involves using a camera at high shutter speed to measure the number of ‘frames apart’ that an LCD monitor and CRT monitor are, in a ‘clone mode’ setup, at a given point in time. Working on the assumption that a CRT exhibits negligible input lag, it is possible to work out the input lag of the LCD monitor relative to the CRT monitor. Some simple mathematics tells us that at a 120Hz refresh rate and under optimal conditions the XL2410T will display one frame 8.33ms after the other (1/120 = 0.0083s). By following a similar methodology to the one outlined by Lagom, but using a modified counter and a splitter cable, it is possible to measure the input lag of the XL2410T in terms of ‘frames behind’ our high-end reference CRT. Because there is no way of accurately measuring fractions of frames you must rely on best judgement to work out the nearest whole-frame value that is displayed if the camera catches the LCD on the transition between frames – hence you are limited to an accuracy of 8.33ms for each reading. If the frame difference between both monitors is ‘2 frames’ at a given point, for example, the input lag would be recorded as 16.66ms (2×8.33 = 16.66).
By repeating this measurement 30 times we were able to gauge a rough but representative value for the average input lag on the BenQ XL2410T of 9.16ms. BenQ also includes an ‘instant mode’ which bypasses some of the internal processing done by the XL2410T and hence reduce input lag. According to our measurements it succeeded in doing this, lowering the already exceptional input lag to an average of 6.76ms. Both of these readings are limited by the inaccuracies outlined above but they are both very low values indeed for an LCD monitor. Needless to say the XL2410T was a brilliantly responsive monitor in our ‘real world’ testing with imperceptible levels of input lag. Even the most demanding gamers are likely to appreciate the responsiveness on offer here from BenQ.
The XL2410T represents BenQ’s flagship entrance into the world of 120Hz monitors, and being marketed specifically as a ‘gaming monitor’ BenQ have been keen to thrust it into the lives of gaming enthusiasts. Knowing that two ‘legendary’ Counterstrike players (SpawN and HeatoN) were consulted at most stages of the monitor’s development was also reassuring to the hardcore crowd and needless to say there has been a bit of a buzz surrounding the XL2410T’s launch.
The XL2410T distances itself from many other ‘entertainment’ monitors by proving a fully adjustable stand and a bezel as ‘matte’ as the rest of the screen. It is certainly a substance-over-style approach and it is just one of the many things about the monitor that is clearly directed at making the gaming experience as comfortable as possible. Other little details such as the very dim power LED and lack of any sort of button illumination prevents any unnecessary distractions but coupled with a lack of on-screen button labels makes adjusting the OSD settings in the dark a bit of a no go. Adjusting the OSD settings, as it happens, proved essential to improving the image quality that the XL2410T displayed – owing largely to the poor default settings and restrictive presets.
Adjustment or no adjustment, the contrast performance and to a lesser extent colour performance of the XL2410T was certainly not amongst its strong points. There was noticeable loss of detail in many dark areas whilst colours appeared slightly oversaturated in places whilst overly dull in others -with considerable variability across the screen. The peak luminance was also a little low if you were to achieve acceptable black levels and contrast ratios; especially if you intend to use this as a 3D monitor with ‘dulling’ stereoscopic glasses. Although in many respects this image performance is in-line with many TN panels we’ve come across recently this one does happen to cost considerably more. Given its position on the market it is priced above some of the best 60Hz TN panels out there, such as the Samsung XL2370 and BX2450 and also exceeds the cost of great all-round IPS panels such as the U2311H, it’s note one for the image quality connoisseur.
The real strength of the XL2410T is not its image quality, which whilst not great is certainly acceptable – it is the outstanding responsiveness of the panel. With exceedingly low input lag, a high refresh rate and a good amount of aggressive pixel overdrive the experience that the XL2410T provides is amongst the smoothest you will currently find in LCD form. Whilst we never have problems fragging away and driving about on slightly less responsive monitors the difference in responsiveness was very palpable and also very welcome. It should be stressed, yet again, that the truly smooth experience requires your system to be capable of sustaining a frame-rate of around 100-120fps – so have a careful think about where your performance lies at your preferred graphics settings in your favourite games. If your system is up to the task and you’re looking for a highly adjustable monitor with buttery smooth responsiveness, the ability to handle stereoscopic 3D content and pretty decent overall image quality then the XL2410T should certainly be a consideration. At an RRP of £270, however, you may want to have a think about the other options available to you that can provide a richer visual experience for even less of your hard-earned cash.
|Very low input lag, further reduced by the special ‘instant mode’
||Fairly business-like and plain look not to everyone’s taste
|LED backlit for increased energy efficiency, longer backlight lifetime and lower heat output
||Weak contrast for a panel of this price – some excess backlight bleed-through also upsets colour balance and affects detail at the low end
|Highly adjustable stand and thoughtful features for gamers such as a dim power light and matte screen
||Matte screen has a negative impact on the image contrast and colour vibrancy
|120Hz refresh rate coupled with aggressive overdrive provides a smooth experience with very little trailing and offers support for stereoscopic 3D glasses||Some ‘overdrive trailing’ present at times (the ‘AMA’ option being the lesser of two evils)
|Decent overall image quality with a reasonable level of vibrancy and an image that isn’t washed out
||Sub-par colour reproduction for a panel of this price – better options available for less money in this respect|