I want to get this out of the way right from the get-go. The BenQ Zowie XL2546 specifically targets E-sports, or at least competitive, players. And on that note it was absolutely fantastic. With a 250Hz refresh rate and BenQ’s proprietary DyAc technology, this monitor drastically reduces blurriness and lag to clarify the images when the action gets particularly hectic.
Despite being the latest model in the series, the XL2546 doesn’t do anything to switch up the aesthetics and functionality, though, in my books that is definitely a good thing. The box also includes two flaps to snap onto the sides of the bezel which, while useful, seems a bit redundant to me since gaming in a private area completely negates the need for this. This will, I imagine, be immensely useful at competitive events or LAN parties where focus is both harder to achieve and a lot more vital than simply playing alone in your house. It’s interesting that while other manufacturers are still getting used to the idea, BenQ is already manufacturing devices with E-Sports environments in mind.
The XL2546 comes in all black with red accents which adds that unmistakable ‘gamer’ vibe. Though personally, I’m still apprehensive about the idea that all gamer products need to be black with neon glowy bits. Although, if you want your gaming products to avoid having a utilitarian aesthetic, this is the product for you. The overall design is still minimalistic, emphasizing functionality over style, making it easier to mount both on the stand, as well as on the wall.
Though I don’t think anyone who buys this product will want to forego that gorgeous stand
The stand that comes in the box features tilt, swivel, pivot, and height adjustments, making it infinitely an infinitely more viable alternative to wall-mounting. The adjustments are smooth but still firm and hold together well. The device even has markings to make it easier to remember all your favourite viewing positions.
The base of the stand is wide enough, and has enough space for you to keep your phone, coffee mug, desk toys, or anything else you want handy on your desk. The most noticeable feature, however, is the little circular indent for the S-Switch Arc (heartbreakingly enough, that’s not a cup holder). The S-Switch, also included in the box, is basically a little console that lets you assign shortcuts to easily navigate and swap between filters or custom presets on the fly. Using it has a bit of a learning curve but once you get used to it, you won’t ever go back to the monitor buttons. On the left side of the monitor there are two USB 3.0 ports for charging or connecting your peripherals, as well as some audio jacks. Since the XL2546 doesn’t suffer from the connectivity limitations of G-sync, it comes with a healthy I/O layout. For video, you get DisplayPort 1.2, two HDMI slots, a DVI-DL connector, and two USB 3.0 receptacles. Take not that the S-Switch Arc with take up one of those permanently should you plan to use it (and why wouldn’t you?)
There’s even a subtle headphone hanger that pops out of the side at the push of a button, so your headset won’t clutter your desk. Why isn’t this a standard-issue feature in all gaming monitors?
Display and Performance
The BenQ Zowie XL2546 is a 25-inch 1080p screen with a 240Hz refresh rate, 1ms response time, and a 1000:1 contrast ratio. Due to the limitations of the screen tech, you have to expect certain restrictions and some tight viewing angles before the vibrancy and image quality starts degrading. When you turn it on for the first time, the screen is downright blinding and it takes a ton of tinkering with the settings before you can get the most out of what it offers. Once set up, the colour spectrum is fully fleshed out and your reds and greens appear amply saturated. I tested the monitor with Horizon Zero Dawn on PS4 as well as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on Switch (two of the most colourful games this year) and they both look absolutely gorgeous here.
Overall, however, the XL2546 doesn’t focus as much on image quality as it does on faster refresh rates and stutter-free performance. Replacing G-sync with BenQ’s proprietary DyAc technology, it aims to reduce blur and prevent you from losing focus.
BenQ hasn’t really explained how any of this tech works, but it’s an improved version of their Blur Reduction feature which seems to have had some problems in previous models. DyAc doesn’t function with adaptive Sync, which explains why this monitor doesn’t use G-sync. Older versions of this didn’t work with higher refresh rates, which meant gamers had to choose between unleashing an unlocked framerate or forcing a limit to prevent backlight strobing. Dynamic Accuracy works all the way up to 240Hz, which is good, but it’s a built-in feature that can’t be turned off.
Since the DyAc feature and all the benefits it entails are primarily used for competitive gaming, you won’t fine any utility for it outside of that ecosystem. As I said, I tested it out with Horizon and Breath of the Wild, and while they look great, I didn’t really feel much of a difference compared to my 42-inch LED. Switching over to Call of Duty: WWII on PS4 however, showed a marked improvement in accuracy and smoothness. Having those extra frames to line up your shots makes all the difference in the heat of battle. Titanfall 2 on the Xbox One showed similar results, but jumping into Planetside 2 on the PC was an absolutely transcendent experience with this device.
Long story short: DyAc tech, while annoyingly unexplained, is definitely not a mere marketing gimmick.
The BenQ Zowie XL2546 is an incredibly responsive and blur-free device that is bound to be a favourite among E-Sports purists. Dynamic Accuracy, while still kind of an unknown factor, changes up the game significantly, though whether or not gamers will be happy letting go of that Adaptive Sync they love so much is something only time will tell. The product exists purely in service of clarity, smoothness, and quick reaction times. Even if that focus comes at the cost of eye candy, at AED 1899, the XL2546 is easily one of the best E-sports monitors on the market right now.