Design and Build - 9/10
Display - 8/10
Software and Features - 8/10
Hot Key Puck G2 - 8/10
- Large and wide screen
- 4K UHD resolution
- Great color accuracy
- Easy multi-device switching
- Thunderbolt 3 connectivity (simultaneous charging)
- HotKey Puck G2 controller included in-box
- Does not cover the full Adobe RGB color space
- Thunderbolt 3 issues while playing media on the monitor without external speakers
- Hot Key Puck G2 uses Type B Mini-USB cable
With hundreds of monitor options available today, it turns into an ordeal to pick the right one. Especially when you are a creative professional like me. If you too enjoy editing videos, content creation, photography, or graphic design the BenQ DesignVue PD3220 monitor offers breathtaking and smooth visual experience. Furthermore, the monitor comes pre-built with a M-book mode that makes pairing your MacBook a breeze.
The monitor also offers Thunderbolt 3 connectivity with a wide range of ports, easy-to-assemble stand, a feature-rich software, and an exclusive benQ HotKey Puck that has programmable shortcuts keys. With the exciting set of goodies that this monitor packs, it sounds like a bang for your buck. However, to find out if it is, let me take you through this detailed review of the 32-inch BenQ PD3220 DesignVue Monitor.
Design & Build
The BenQ PD3220U comes in a sleek design with tones of black and grey (which appears more metallic-matte silver in my opinion). It is designed to seamlessly fit into any desk setup while making your content the focus. The monitor measures 28 x 7.3 x 24.7 inches or 71 x 18.5 x 64.7 cm in width depth and height respectively, when fully extended on its stand. The space-grey base features enough weight and sturdiness to support the 10.4 kg weight of the monitor.
The shaft of the BenQ PD3220U stand is designed well, extends to your desired height with enough give, and is very easy to attach to the monitor. In fact, it also allows the monitor to swivel to 90 degrees for portrait viewing. Coming to the display itself, all four sides feature some of the thinnest bezels that I have seen in a monitor. They fade out quickly as you get used to the monitor. This impressive display is combined with the ability to switch between multiple computers connected to it, allowing for seamless transitioning between workflows.
The BenQ PD3220U screen stretches 31.5 inches (80 cm) diagonally, and features a 16:9 aspect ratio, providing a widescreen viewing experience. The 10-bit IPS panel features 300-nit luminance and a decently high contrast ratio of 1000:1. Given the large scale of the display and the resolution it features, it naturally brings down the pixel density to 140ppi, which is a decent amount, but not a match against smaller sized competition (which is natural since the smaller size allows for higher density).
The BenQ PD3220U features an impressive array of ports that make connecting I/O and multiple devices a breeze. The monitor features two thunderbolt ports, two HDMI 2.0 ports, one DisplayPort 1.4, a USB 3.0 upstream port (that receives power/data from devices connected), three USB 3.0 downstream ports (that sends power/data to devices connected to it), one USB Type-C port, and a Mini USB Type-B port at the bottom meant solely to connect the HotKey Puck G2 (which we will talk about later in this review).
Given that it is 2022, and Mini USB Type-B ports are outdated, I would have appreciated if the BenQ DesignVue PD3220U featured a USB Type-C based HotKey Puck G2. Also, as you would expect with the Thunderbolt 3 ports, they support data and power exchange with the device connected to it, which means, not only can you charge your laptop at up to 85 watts but also transfer data at 15 watts, while your screen is still mirroring. This feature is a lifesaver, made my workflow seamless.
Furthermore, being able to exchange data meant I could directly connect my USB receiver wireless mouse and keyboard and any other accessories directly to the monitor, and it will automatically work with my MacBook. What a breezy way to switch from a laptop to a desk setup, I instantly fell in love this feature.
However, one of the biggest issues I faced was playing any audio or video on the monitor while my MacBook was connected through the Thunderbolt 3 ports. YouTube, Spotify or any other media services would just glitch, the audio plays for a few seconds and then glitches, then causes my browser or app to freeze. Despite trying to troubleshoot this issue with changing ports, browsers, settings, etc., the only solution I came up with was to attach external speakers, which I believe most of you with a desk setup use anyway.
Talking about speakers, I appreciate BenQ adding a 3.5mm headphone jack to easily connect any speakers you might have. This jack, along with one of the USB-C ports and a USB 3.0 port, are placed on the side of the monitor – a rather efficient position.
When it comes to the rest of the ports, they are placed at the bottom of the back of the monitor; the I/O section is designed well allowing for easy cable management. Nonetheless, this placement is rather inconvenient for users to reach. This would have been an issue with the BenQ PD3220U if the pivot mode didn’t exist. The 90-degree swivel does not only allow for portrait viewing (I see you, web designers), but also to easily access those I/O ports.
The monitor also comes with a cover for the I/O ports, however, I chose not to touch it at all, given how inconvenient and flimsy it was to attach – or perhaps I am a tad lazy. Either way, great to have it included in the box.
While there are detailed color accuracy, brightness, black-level, contrast, and other display tests available online, I find it difficult to communicate with numbers to readers, the actual viewing experience that a monitor provides.
The monitor fairs well when it comes to brightness. Making content visible during bright daylight, the monitor delivers effective amounts of brightness. Several tests that other reviewers have conducted online show that the BenQ PD3220U exceeds its 300-nit rating, therefore, if you want a bright display, this monitor is definitely a bang for your buck.
However, when using it to produce some high-contrast graphic design works, I certainly faced issues with replicating the amount of contrast my MacBook Pro 16” delivered. The difference is not huge, but minute. To a person who pays a lot of attention to detail, it is a minor setback, but might not be a big deal for the rest of you.
When it comes to colors, BenQ claims that it covers 100% of sRGB colors, 95% of DCI-P3 and Display P3 color spaces, and no clear mention of how much of the Adobe RGB space is covered. Given that this monitor is meant for creatives, it is definitely strange not to have an Adobe RGB space rating. If you are a photographer or designer that relies on Adobe RGB space you might want to look deeper into this.
Coming to other color spaces, Apple uses DCI-P3 color spaces for MacBook screens. It is a color space standard designed for video editing and cinema-level content. The standard is developed by a group of leading cinema studios in the world coming together, known as DCI – Digital Cinema Initiatives. BenQ calls their monitor MacBook friendly and comes equipped with a MBook mode, now we know why.
Based on several reviews and tests online, the actual numbers appear close to the claims BenQ makes, however, if you are a creative that likes to work in the Adobe RGB space, the 85-87% coverage might be a hold back for you. In my testing, most colors appear accurate with my graphic design work, over 98% of the times, I trusted the monitor to produce accurate results. The 1-2% of the times I was unsure, I switched back to my MacBook screen to confirm.
Coming to photo editing and video production (wink-wink, yes, you will see some new cinematic, video content soon), the monitor performed very well. All the pictures on this review were edited on Lightroom with my MacBook connected to the BenQ PD3220U monitor.
Editing videos was a breeze too, with my wired speakers attached to the monitor. Colors grading was a breeze, with the monitor exceeding my expectations with how well it reproduced the video or photo tones, brightness, and contrast.
Editing 4K content on this monitor was a stunning experience; a big upgrade from my now outdated 38” LG monitor. The monitor also handles Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign well for my print and web collateral design work, nonetheless, 1-2% of the times, like I mentioned, I do have to confirm if the colors are accurate. However, that is a very low number, the monitor does great overall.
To my fellow readers who are reading this review to purchase the monitor for gaming purposes, hold your horses. I know the sleek design and pivot mode are attractive features and allows for the monitor to fit in very well with your setup, however, the monitor does not offer any remarkable gaming features.
The PD3220U comes locked in at 60Hz refresh rate. Given that I am not a heavy gamer, and don’t have access to a PC to game on or pair with the monitor, I cannot certainly affirm that this monitor is good for gaming. However, if 60Hz refresh rate is not a dealbreaker for you, you can still consider this monitor.
Software and Features
The BenQ PD3220U packs a bunch of features including a fluid software to easily switch between inputs, and seamlessly tweak and control monitor settings. The software works well with the plethora of ports that the monitor comes with and handles multiple inputs with ease (except the audio issue I described with my MacBook earlier).
As a Graphic Designer, I certainly was excited to test this monitor, especially with how easy it is to embed it into my setup and connect my MacBook directly. Charging while mirroring my laptop means I don’t need the charger around.
Furthermore, the large and wide screen, ergonomic and sleek stand that rotates freely, decent color accuracy and other vital features, the BenQ PD3220U is a great pick for creatives. My only concern is the lack for full Adobe RGB color space, which leaves out a few niche creatives working in that spectrum. Other than that, the monitor is definitely loaded with features to attract all creatives like me.
Hot Key Puck
The BenQ PD3220U is a monitor that has some tricks up its sleeves, but it also comes with a companion: the Hot Key Puck, to add extra features to the monitor. While the monitor has basic buttons and joystick toggle on the back of the monitor, BenQ also packs in the Mini USB Type-B-based controller that attaches straight to the monitor.
The Hot Key Puck is small yet very functional. The sturdy dial on the puck allows you to easily control brightness by default, however, you can change it to control other settings such as the volume. Furthermore, the puck allows you to change color modes and toggle between different display modes irrespective of your laptop’s operating system.
If you are a Mac user like me, it also has one of the keys predefined to set it to the M-book mode, which helps switch to the mode designed to work best with a MacBook. Other modes it allows you to define to the keys include: HDR, sRGB, Adobe RGB, Blue Light, M-book, DCI-P3, Display 3 and many more.
Overall, the Hot Key puck is a welcome addition to the BenQ PD3220U monitor. However, my only complaint is the mini–USB Type-B connector that comes with it. I would have appreciated seeing USB-C given how modern this monitor is overall
Full photo gallery:
Overall, the BenQ PD3220U offers a great viewing and usage experience for creatives, content creators, photographers, and designers alike. At its price, the PD3220U contends well with its competitors. It offers a good pixel density (although not the best), a flexible stand that has pivot and other modes to swivel it to 90 degrees, industry-defying bezels, and great integration with Macs and other computers.
However, if you are someone who finds Adobe sRGB a deal-breaker in their workflow, or if you are a gamer, I would advise against getting this monitor and looking. While you won’t notice any major issues, there are better options for your specific needs in the market. For any creative individuals like me, I definitely recommend the BenQ PD3220U DesignVue Monitor! You can check it out on the BenQ website or purchase it from leading tech stores such as BestBuy or Amazon.
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