I’ve been working freelance (part time) now for just over a year, and throughout most of that time I’ve been using a fairly old 23 inch iMac.
It did the job, but I knew I needed to upgrade as it was slowing me down… and, whilst previously I was happy to wait, suddenly that time was losing potential income, so… I needed more power!
Because of that, I’ve made the decision to upgrade, but my decision has been steered after I was kindly sent a super high resolution, 32 inch 4K BenQ monitor to review… the PD3200U. An exciting moment for sure!
Up until now I’ve been happy to use an iMac as my preferred choice of desktop. I’ve found them really practical, but… after using this new monitor as a second screen for a few weeks I was blown away by the sheer quality.
After using the monitor it was inevitable that I look to upgrade to a Mac Pro, so I could hook it up to this monitor so I could finally have both the power and working area that I’ve always dreamed of.
So… here’s my review of the PD3200U 4k monitor from BenQ. I’ve covered the things that matter to me as a designer, but if you do want to see all the technical specs you can check them out here.
Large Monitor & Super 4K High Resolution!
When the monitor arrived, the box was huge… so I was excited to open it up! I lifted out the foam wrapped screen, only to see the biggest monitor I’ve set my eyes on… Who on earth needs a 32 inch monitor like this, I though to myself… It’s almost as big as my TV!?
It turns out, once it was set up on my desk, the size was pretty incredible and not as impractical as I first thought. The size is simply amazing when working on design, video and audio editing for my podcast.
Do I need this size? No, but… I love it! I feel like a true professional, and I know everyone reading this will be envious 🙂
Not only is the screen large, the resolution is also beyond anything I’ve ever used. This monitor yields a 4K UHD 3840 x 2160 resolution, which is so crisp, the concept of ‘pixels’ has vanished… It’s a resolution that’s so high, you can actually view 300DPI printed artwork on the screen, and see it almost exactly as you would if you printed it out. The gap between print and digital has closed!
Seriously the quality is super amazing. I remember the jump in quality from VHS to DVD… then DVD to BluRay… and now we have 4K, and it’s leaps ahead once again! I’ve watched a few 4K YouTube videos on this monitor too, and… the quality is simply superb.
4k is definitely a game changer.
Accurate Colour & Viewing Angles
Have you ever used a monitor where the colour changes slightly when viewed at different angles? It drives me nuts.
This monitor has none of that! You can view at any angle, and see the colours accurately.
Out of the box the colour calibration was very accurate too. You could tell this monitor was designed and built for creative professionals like myself.
Fully Adjustable Screen
One thing I love about this monitor is how easy it is to adjust.
Not only does it swivel and tilt, but you can also adjust the height too without might effort.
I can either have the monitor lowered to sit about 2 inches from above the desk (which is how I have it set up now), or I can easily slide the monitor upwards by around 20cm, meaning when I want to work stood up, I have that option too.
Not only can it do that, but… it can also rotate 90 degrees. Wowza!
Yes… now, I can work in portrait mode if I wanted to.
Why do I need to work in portrait mode?… I’m not sure, but I love having that option, and the freedom to use the tools as I wish rather than being limited.
Great for Graphic Design at Night
Most designers I know end up working at night… either because they are short on time, or because they simply love design and lose track of time…
That’s the case for me anyway.
The only problem is that most monitors can cause eye strain, and can damage your eyes.
This monitor however makes use of low blue light, and is flicker free, making use of the monitor at night, or in low light, much more comfortable.
The monitor also comes with pre-set options too, one of which is Darkroom mode (others include CAD/CAM mode and Animation Mode). Modes can easily be switched thanks to a round removable control panel that sits nicely under the screen.
Lots of Space & Looks Great!
The monitor is surprisingly thin, with the back arm being positioned far back on the lower panel. This means that I can push the monitor fairly close to the wall to work at a comfortable distance, whilst also having plenty of desk space, which I need for my sketchbook/notepad when working on logo design projects!.
The screen also has a fairly thin minimal outer frame (about 15mm), meaning the monitor is both impactful, and looks pretty awesome too.
It Doubles as a TV
I have the monitor set up in my office, and in the room I also have a small sofa positioned in the room too. Originally that sofa was intended so I could relax whilst brainstorming or reading, but now I’ve moved my room around so the monitor can double up as a TV!…
It’s great for breaks when I want to watch Netflix (Game of Thrones time!), and because I can increase the height, it makes for a really practical screen for watching a movie later in the evening. I can also set up my PS4 here too if I wanted thanks to the sheer number of ports and options available.
The monitor also has built in speakers, which work automatically after plugging in the firewire cable. The only down side is that the sound seems to come from the back of the monitor, but… compared with previous monitors I used, this is the first where I’ve had this feature so I’m certainly not complaining!
How much does the BenQ PD3200U cost?
The price is very reasonable, being sold at around £800 in the UK.
I have it set up now with my Mac Pro, and… I feel like I now have a very advanced, professional set up.
I also feel that this will work perfectly for me for at least the next 5 years… if not more. It feels like a great investment, along side the Mac Pro, which has been a game changer for me.
I love this monitor, and have said a lot of great thing, but… does it have any negatives?
Running from my Mac Pro (which is 3.7GHZ with 64 gig of ram) the monitor is simply incredible. I have no issues at all…
But… When I had it set up with my iMac, or MacBook Pro the hardware was struggling with the 4k resolution. At times the monitor was flicker when using Photoshop on the iMac, and on the laptop it didn’t support the 4K resolution at all.
This is obviously a hardware issue, so if you do plan to purchase this monitor, you do need a powerful machine to use this.
It’s also possibly a little too large, but… I’m certainly not complaining, and BenQ also have a range of other sizes available at lower costs.
Summary: A Stunning Monitor for Creative Professionals
The BenQ PD3200U monitor is freaking incredible.
If you are a 3D artist, a movie editor, a sound artist or even a graphic designer like myself you’ll certainly be impressed by this monitor.
The sheer size and screen quality is extremely impressive, and being easily adjustable with flawless colour at viewing angles it’s certainly worth considering if you’re looking to upgrade your monitor or desktop set up as I have done. I love it!