Up until recently all 120Hz+ LCD monitor intended for gaming (regardless if for stereo 3D use or not) were using TN-based LCD panels due to the fact that this technology provides the best results in terms of pixel response and that is something you need if you want to have a higher refresh rate. TN LCD panels may be the fastest in terms of response, however they have other no so good aspects when compared to VA-based and IPS-based panels, but fortunately we now have what seems to be the first gaming oriented 120Hz LCD monitor with a VA-based panel from Eizo (it does not support stereoscopic 3D!). If you are not familiar with the name Eizo it is probably because up until recently the company was focused on professional monitors and it just recently started making monitors targeted at gamers.
EIZO Foris FG2421 is actually is not their first gaming monitor, but is the first one that is able to work at 120Hz refresh rate and as already mentioned it is nt with a TN panel. Eizo markets this monitor as a 240Hz gaming monitor, however this can be a bit misleading if you don’t read the details, in fact it is a 120Hz monitor that has a built-in processing to simulate 240Hz. Eizo calls this function “Turbo 240” and you can enable or disable it from the OSD menu of the monitor, what it does is doubling the frames (not interpolating, but doubling) and strobing the backlight in between them and the end result is a significant reduction in motion blur. This is pretty similar to how the 3D Lightboost technology on more recent 3D Vision-compatible monitors functions, although there is no frame doubling with them. Definitely an interesting thing to see as this Eizo monitor can turn out to be a great alternative to buying a 3D Vision-ready monitor that you may not use in stereo 3D mode at all, especially considering the fact that there are no other 120Hz displays out there that use better LCD panels than TN, so if you are not into 3D and hacking Lightboost to work in 2D mode you might want to check the EIZO Foris FG2421 out. Eizo also promises low input lag (less than 10ms) and no noticeable flickering with reduced brightness by using DC control and high rate PWM (Hi-PWM) control for driving the backlight instead just PWM.
– For more information about the EIZO Foris FG2421 gaming monitors…
– Additional information about how the Turbo 240 function works (PDF)…
Benq XL2411T is the latest 24-inch 3D Vision-ready monitor from BenQ, you can say that is the third generation of 3D-capable displays that BenQ releases with the first one (XL2410) having some issues with backlight bleeding at first and the second ones (XL2420T/TX) a bit more expensive and with limited availability of the TX version. Benq XL2411T comes as the successor of the Benq XL2420T with some improvements and with some extras removed, making the price much more attractive for a 120Hz gamer-oriented 3D-capable display that does not come bundled with integrated Ir emitter or 3D Vision glasses, so you need to buy them separately (a full kit, not just the glasses) or already to have them if you do plan to use it in stereo 3D mode. But how good is the XL2411T considering the fact that it is a gamer-oriented product and featuring some specially designed features for gamers, even though these re mostly available for 2D gaming, letus find out…
Benq XL2411T Specifications:
Panel Size: 24-inches
Monitor Type: TN TFT-LCD with LED Backlight
3D Technology: Active 3D, 3D Vision Ready
Pixel Pitch: 0.276mm
Brightness: 350 cd/m2
Contrast Ratio (typ.): 1000:1, 12,000,000:1 (dynamic)
Response Time (typ.): 5ms, 1ms GTG
Viewing Angles: 170° (H) / 160° (V) @ C/R > 10
Input: D-sub, DL-DVI, HDMI
Power Consumption: On Mode 22W (typ.); Sleep (Standby) <0.5W
Phys. Dimension (WxHxD): 420x652x251 mm
Weight with stand: 6kg
BenQ originally advertises the Benq XL2411T as a 120Hz monitor, however the display fully supports 144Hz refresh rate out of the box, this is actually one of only the three 144Hz-capable monitors currently available on the market. Have in mind though that the 144Hz refresh rate is only available for 2D, when you activate the stereoscopic 3D mode using 3D Vision you are going to be limited to 120Hz max as this is what is supported by 3D Vision. This is probably the reason that BenQ has decided to advertise the display as a 120Hz model, even though it supports 144Hz in 2D mode, however the 24Hz higher refresh in 2D mode is something that is going to attract the attention of gamers not interested in using the display for stereo 3D. The focus of this review is going to be mostly on the stereo 3D capabilities and performance of the monitor should you decide to go for it for using in stereoscopic 3D mode with 3D Vision. Unfortunately I’ve had access to the display for just a few hours, so I was not able to do a very thorough testing and I’ll have to get one unit later on for some extra testing, but I still have managed to test the most important aspects in order to be able to compare it with other 3D monitors I’ve already tested here.
Before going on to the tests I should make one thing clear, and that is the fact that the BenQ does not have support for HDMI 1.4 and thus no 3D frame packaging mode will be available die to the fact that there is no IR emitter for the 3D glasses built in. The monitor can only be used in 3D mode via the Dual-Link DVI port and in frame sequential mode and is only supporting the Nvidia 3D Vision technology. The fact that it does not have built-in emitter and glasses bundled makes it available at a more attractive price for people that already have an older 3D Vision monitor and want to upgrade to a newer one and already have 3D Vision kit that they can use with it.
Now, let us move into the tests of the BenQ XL2411T. I’m starting with the usual check of the default color accuracy of the display which isn’t very good, something that I’ve noticed even before measuring the color performance. The monitor does seem very bright and the colors are looking washed out with the factory settings, even though the measured maximum brightness is just a bit over 300 cd/m2. I’ve seen 3D displays with higher brightness perform better than this one and the BenQ has the potential to go even higher in terms of maximum brightness as the factory settings are far from bringing it to maximum.
What has surprised me even more was the fact that after trying to calibrate the color reproduction of the display the results were far from great, even though there was a significant reduction of the brightness (the image above shows the best achieved results). Even playing with the advanced settings such as the RGB sliders didn’t help much in improving the situation. I’ve even tried different inputs and different systems with various hardware as I was expecting to be able to get more accurate results after a calibration, even though we are talking about a TN panel. I’ve seen many 3D-capable TN-based LCD displays get surprisingly good color accuracy after calibration, but I’ve also seen others that could be even worse than the results shown by the BenQ. I suspect that some of the extra features available in the menu of the BenQ could be influencing badly the color reproduction such as the Black eQualizer or the AMA mode (Advanced Motion Acceleration) set to High by default (essentially a control for the monitors Overdrive to make the pixel response faster), but I did not have enough time to play with them to see.
I was pleasantly surprised that the BenQ XL2411T did not have issues with backlight bleeding, and the screen’s backlight seems quite even, at least to the naked eye, though there are some slight variations when measuring it. The extreme crosstalk/ghosting test to black and white I’m using to compare 3D monitors also did show very good results, perfect on the white and very good on the black. I was a bit surprised to see that the BenQ XL2411T has the Contrast level set to a value of just 37 by default when in stereo 3D mode, it is a very bright panel, so this does not make it a problem and apparently it could help to drive down the level of crosstalk/ghosting as we’ve seen in other 3D monitors where lowering the Contrast value can help.
The sailboats crosstalk/ghosting test is also showing very good results with very faint traces of ghosting that you may not even see normally, so we can consider the result here to be really good indeed.
The test for crosstalk/ghosting with the game Tomb Raider Underworld reveals some interesting results, the top of the screen has not problems with the crosstalk, however the bottom part shows the familiar color ghosting/crosstalk that is a direct result of too aggressive Overdrive leading to the inversion of the image. And playing with the Contrast level has little effect of the strength of this effect, so it can be effected only by playing with the Overdrive if possible on the BenQ XL2411T. In fact you don’t need to have very aggressive overdrive when running in stereo 3D mode at 120Hz like you may need in 144Hz 2D mode, but unfortunately many of the additional functions for controlling the monitor are locked out when you are in stereo 3D mode and you have no control over them.
So what is the conclusion for the Benq XL2411T 3D-capable monitor? The monitor comes at a very reasonable price unlike the previous XL2420T for example that was more expensive due to some extras that you could easily live without, it performs quite well in both 2D and stereo 3D mode, feels very responsive with minimum input lag, something that is a must for a gamer-oriented product such as the XL2411T. What I did not like that much was the color accuracy, not that this monitor would be used in color critical applications anyway, but it could’ve been better and calibration should’ve helped more as well as the fact that the Overdrive could be more aggressive at times without the need for that resulting in more crosstalk/ghosting. There is a possibility that these two negatives for the display could be improved, but I’ll need some more time with the BenQ playing with it and tweaking it to figure out if it is possible to further improve the results. Another thing that could be just a bit annoying is the slower transition time in and out of the stereo 3D mode, something that is probably related to the activation/deactivation of the 3D Lightboost technology (the advanced control of the backlight), not a problem if you force the 3D Lightboost to be always on even in 2D mode to reduce the motion blur. The monitor has high brightness and has the potential to use the 3D Lightboost technology while in 2D mode as well, though this will limit you to 120Hz maximum refresh, but the combination of 3D Lightboost in 2D mode at 120Hz could prove better than 144Hz in 2D mode without the 3D Lightboost active (also a matter of preference really). In the end the Benq XL2411T 3D Vision-ready monitor can turn out to be a quite good choice for 2D gamers switching for a 60Hz monitor and for stereo 3D gamers that are using an older 3D Vision-ready monitor already an need to upgrade (pre-Lightboost model). If you however already use a 3D-capable monitor with 3D Lightboost support for gaming in either 2D or stereo 3D, then you can safely skip the BenQ and wait for something even better.
With the release of the first LCD monitors capable of running at 144Hz refresh rate that are also 3D Vision-ready there has been some confusion going on around regarding the stereoscopic 3D support that these displays can provide. There are already a few models on the market using 144Hz-capable TN LCD panels and these are: ASUS VG278HE, ASUS VG248QE and BENQ XL2411T. All of these are apparently targeted at 2D gamers as they do not have a built-in IR emitter or bundled 3D Vision glasses, but they do support 3D Vision if you have a 3D Vision kit and plug in an IR emitter for the glasses in your PC. The catch here is that these monitors can only work in 144Hz refresh rate when used in 2D mode (or plain 3D mode), but not in stereo 3D mode. If you use 3D Vision you will be limited to 120Hz as apparently 3D Vision does not support higher refresh rates yet, though it is not sure if it is just a software limitation or a hardware one like the glasses not being able to work at he higher refresh rate. Another variant is that the 3D Lightboost technology cannot function at the higher refresh rate, though that probably isn’t the case.
Nevertheless buying one of these tree models so far of 3D monitors supporting 144Hz you should be well aware of the fact that using them in stereo 3D mode will be forcing maximum refresh rate of 120Hz. Even if you are able to select 144Hz refresh and the game seems to be running at the higher refresh rate in stereo 3D, it will be forced back to 120Hz and you can easily check that from the monitor’s OSD menu in the Information panel where you can see the current input resolution and refresh rate. Now, for non stereoscopic 3D gamers the fact that stereo 3D works on up to 120Hz also means that you will not be able to take advantage of the 3D Lightboost technology at 144Hz in order to reduce motion blur. Playing at 120Hz in 2D mode with the 3D Lightboost enabled can bring significant reduction of the motion blur, making the moving images on the screen much smoother and going for 144Hz without the 3D Lightboost technology available may not be able to bring comparable results. So if you already have a more recent 120Hz-capable 3D monitor with 3D Lightboost technology support and you are considering of replacing it with a more recent 144Hz-capable solution you might want to reconsider about that, regardless if you are using it for 2D or stereo 3D gaming.