BenQ Zowie XL2546 Review
Serious gamers have known for a while now that a high refresh rate monitor is the way to go. When it comes to fast moving images you want to be able to follow the action fluidly and flawlessly. That’s why almost every pro player that we’ve analyzed uses a monitor capable of pushing at least 144Hz.
Zowie’s XL2546 is their ultimate gaming monitor; it makes no compromises, offers a stunning 240Hz refresh rate with a 1ms response time, and it comes with all the bells and whistles you could ever want if you’re a (pro) gamer, including Zowie’s proprietary DyAc technology, which promises to reduce blurring even further.
Is the XL2546 the endgame monitor for gamers? Is it worth your hard earned money? Is it worth the step up from 144Hz? Find out in our review.
"Once you start getting used to it, it's really hard to go back to a 144Hz monitor." Scott "Custa" Kennedy on 240Hz monitors
BenQ Zowie XL 2546 - Initial Impressions
The first thing that’s noticeable is that the XL2546 is a very subtly designed monitor. As with all Zowie products you don’t get any screaming logos or alien looking construction; this thing wouldn’t be out of place in an office setting.
It’s not all for looks though. The base of the monitor is (while sturdy and well-built, don’t take this as a negative) relatively small, which allows you to place your mouse and keyboard super close to the monitor. That’s not really a thing that I do, but I know a lot of people who like to sit as close to their monitor as possible, and with some of the more outlandish designs out there that can be a bit of a problem.
Included with the monitor is a DP cable, the S Switch (more on that later), two privacy shields, a power cable (duh) and a monitor cover. That last one is a nice touch. If you’re going away from your computer for a while or you have a monitor in a practice house or something like that you can just slip on the cover to protect it from dust and, God forbid, rain (since the cover is waterproof). The cover definitely isn’t the most beautiful thing in the world, but it does what it’s supposed to do.
On the left hand side of the monitor you’ve got two USB 3.0 ports, a mic and headphone jack, and a headphone hanger which you can pop out if you want to use it. The monitor is finished with a red Zowie logo towards the back and is VESA compatible.
Input and Output
Build and Operation
The XL2546 is all about enhancing your gaming experience, and that shows in multiple ways. One of these ways is the fantastically designed stand. In addition to being height adjustable the monitor can tilt, swivel and rotate. All of this is controlled via a mechanism that’s super easy to manipulate, making on the fly adjustments a breeze. Speaking of adjustments: the stand features markings on the important ‘adjustment points’, so if you’re sharing your monitor with other people or you have to pack it up to travel to a lan you can set it up just the way you like it within a couple of seconds, thanks to these markings.
The bezels on the monitor are quite thin and are designed so that there is no light reflection on the frame of the monitor. Supposedly that helps with concentration, but I have to say that I’ve rarely found myself bothered by the bezels on any screen.
The XL2546 also comes with two privacy shields. I personally don’t use them since my PC is in a room in my house without any distractions, but if you’re gaming in a ‘visually noisy’ environment (such as an event stage with a bunch of lights or a busy lan) I can imagine these two shields being a welcome addition. It’s much the same as with the headphone holder and the screen position markings; you might not find use for it personally, but if you need it, it’s there. Zowie really seems to have thought of every little detail when designing this monitor and seemingly small touches like these will go a long way for competitive gamers.
On the base there is a little indentation for the S Switch, which is a little controller that’s included with the monitor. You can save up to three profiles on this little thing, which will make switching between (for example) your productivity and your gaming settings an absolute breeze. In addition to that you can also use the S Switch to navigate the OSD.
Going through the settings of a monitor and setting everything up is usually an absolute nightmare for me. It’s a clunky and slow process, whereby I often manage to hit ‘exit’ or some other thing I didn’t mean to select. With the S Switch it’s a breeze to navigate the menus. It takes a very minimal amount of time (like 20 seconds) to get used to, but once you’re using the Switch to navigate the OSD you’ll want nothing else in the future.
To top it all off you can take your personal S Switch and plug it into any compatible Zowie monitor in order to quickly load your personal display settings. So if your gaming team or local lan has the same monitors as you have you can just take your S Switch, plug it in over there and be gaming on exactly the settings you’re used to at home with the press of just one button. Yet another amazing function that’s added to this product with esports in the back of the mind.
Image Quality & Settings
Obviously the most important aspect of a gaming monitor is the performance. Upon first booting the monitor you’ll be greeted with a slightly washed out image. This, however, is easily fixed by tweaking the settings though (which can be done super easily thanks to the aforementioned S Switch) and once you do you’ll find that, for a TN panel, the image is actually super nice.
You shouldn’t buy these monitors to get the most beautiful or accurate color representations (other technologies and monitor types are far more suited for that) but I was pleasantly surprised by the image I managed to get out of the XL2546 after a bit of tinkering. Prior to getting this display I used a BenQ XL 2411Z 144Hz monitor (and I’ve seen quite a bit of other high refresh rate monitors elsewhere) and it seems to me that the image on the XL2546 beats out other displays in this category quite handily on this front.
The viewing angles aren’t great and the image easily starts to change quite drastically once you move to the side or above or below the display, but that is of no issue to me. This is a gaming monitor, which means I’m using it when sitting directly in front of it, so viewing angles really won’t be a factor for this monitor’s intended user base. If you for some reason feel the need to slouch during a long gaming session or drastically change your position you can adapt the screen’s position super easily thanks to the great stand either way.
The XL2546 is a gaming monitor, which means it also comes packed with settings which will enhance your gaming experience and give you a competitive edge. One of these is the ‘Black eQualizer,’ which will work to light up darker areas in the game without overexposing the lighter areas, thus making it easier to spot that nasty camper sitting in a dark corner of the map.
Another neat built in feature is that you can change Color Vibrance in the monitor settings. A lot of CSGO pro players like to turn up the color vibrance in the game, since the default color palette of CSGO is kind of drab and grey-ish. Turning up the vibrance makes individual ‘pieces’ of the game stand out more and thus makes it easier for you to spot enemies and so on. This isn’t only useful in CSGO obviously, but it’s an example of a game where tinkering with the vibrance does have a real effect on your performance. It’s great that you can change the vibrance on the monitor as opposed to having to download or use software.
The monitor also comes with a Low Blue Light setting, which mutes the harsher (blue) colors in the spectrum. These are known to have an effect on sleep quality, so being able to set the screen to a warmer tone for late night sessions is definitely something that’s a nice addition. If you don’t want any of that stuff you can obviously also turn off Low Blue Light entirely.
Aside from these you’ve got the usual settings; brightness, contrast, color temperature.
I’ll answer a common question first: do I notice the difference between 144Hz and 240Hz? Yes I do. It’s definitely not as drastic as the difference between 60 and 144, but the difference is certainly there and noticeable. If your machine is capable of pushing 240 FPS you’ll definitely notice that the XL2546’s image is just so buttery smooth.
The XL2546 doesn’t have FreeSync or G-Sync like some of its brethren, but it does have Zowie’s proprietary DyAc technology, which is meant to remove performance limiting blur from your game even more. While it might sound like a gimmick at first, the difference really is there. I’ve been messing around in a few games, turning DyAc on or off, and with it turned on the game feels smoother. While I don’t think DyAc will make you a better player or anything like it the technology does work, and it’s nice to know that this isn’t some sort of marketing gimmick.
In particular, I was able to notice a clearer image while spraying in CS:GO and using weapons with 'screenshake' in other shooters like PUBG or Overwatch.
The input lag of the monitor was excellent in our testing and will ensure that the actions on your desk get translated to the game instantly. There is also no ghosting, flickering, smearing, or noticeable backlight bleed, which, combined with the XL2546’s ability to push 240 frames per second, makes this pretty much the perfect gaming display in my opinion.
Overwatch is my main (competitive) game and tracking a spastic Genji during an intense teamfight is made much easier on the XL2546 when compared to my old 144Hz monitor, and there’s definitely a world, nay a galaxy, of difference between a regular 60Hz monitor and the XL2546. Due to its super swift response time and superb gaming performance I could really feel myself being more comfortable with high paced games. Does that make me a better player? Probably not, but there is something to be said for the ability to smoothly track fast moving players or projectiles, and following the onscreen action during a hectic fight is definitely way easier on this 240Hz monitor.
All in all the Zowie XL2546 does what it sets out to do perfectly. As a gaming monitor its performance is way up there with the best of the best.
Image courtesy of Blurbusters.com
Conclusion & Recommendation
The BenQ Zowie XL2546 is, without a doubt, one of the best gaming monitors money can buy right now. From the careful attention to detail (the monitor position markings, the headphone holder, …) aimed at esports enthusiasts to the absolutely superb performance in games; the XL2546 is a complete package for anyone who wants to up their game with a rockstar monitor.
It still is a TN panel, so the image you get out of this product won’t be the most beautiful around, but that’s not the purpose of this monitor. If you want to improve your gaming experience you should definitely look at the XL2546.
The jump (and accompanying eye opening ‘wow’ feeling) from 144Hz to 240Hz isn’t as high as it is when you’re going from 60 to 144, but the difference is definitely there and I could notice that the games I was playing felt and played way smoother, partially thanks to Zowie’s DyAc technology, which for all intents and purposes works the way it’s advertised.
In short: in my opinion, the XL2546 is a beast of a monitor, aimed at and designed for Esports, and it hits the mark on almost all fronts. If you’ve got the money to spend and you want to get a top tier gaming monitor you cannot go wrong with this one.