Bottom line: If you're a graphic designer, photographer, or videographer, you're going to love the variety of display modes the BenQ DesignVue has to offer.
Two Thunderbolt 3 ports
Supports daisy-chain monitors
Comes with its own hotkey controller
Variety of screen filter options onboard
Connection ports are terribly positioned
Not as Mac friendly as LG's UltraFine 4K display
Poor quality speakers
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As Apple's launch of its $6K Pro Display XDR draws near, you've probably realized that you couldn't manage to save up enough money for this luxury expense, or maybe you just know your needs and the Pro Display is just more monitor than you want. BenQ makes a solid 4K UHD that doesn't even come close to being the ultra-pro display that is the Pro Display XDR, but takes care of a lot of most people's needs and then some.
As Mac users, we're always looking for external displays that look good, offer a variety of features, and just work. So does BenQ's DesignVue 4K Display meet those preferences? Let's find out.
Variety is spicy
BenQ PD2720U DesignVue 4K Display: The features
This particular model, the PD2720U is a 27-inch 4K monitor with multiple viewing angles. That's high/low, left/right, and portrait/landscape. It has a wide brushed aluminum base and the display chassis is made out of black plastic. It has an anti-glare coating, but is not a matte finish screen.
The PD2720U is designed with artists, graphics designers, and photo and video editors in mind. It has multiple display modes for Adobe RGB, REC.709, CAD/CAM, animation, and more. There are also a few "eye care" options to reduce blue light and flicker, which are very helpful because you can't use your Mac's built-in display options, like adjusting brightness or setting Night Shift.
It supports HDR10 and Display P3 in addition to the special display modes for various industries and multiple screens can be daisy-chained together for more productivity.
|Color Gamut||P3 wide color gamut|
|Thunderbolt 3||2 ports|
|USB-A||2X downstream 1X upstream|
This model BenQ supports the ability to daisy chain multiple screens with full resolution support, so you can connect your MacBook Pro across both screens and have the same image resolution all the way across. And, yes, you can use Sidecar in Catalina to connect your iPad for a third screen (though the resolution support won't be as good).
BenQ PD2720U DesignVue 4K Display: What I like
The BenQ DesignVue 4K Display is definitely meant for photo, video, and graphic design. It has impeccable color accuracy and a level of brightness and sharpness that certainly competes with the iMac's display.
It has a variety of display modes, including CAD/CAM, Animation Mode, and DarkRoom Mode. These different modes can also be split down the center of the screen so you can work in the BenQ's color accurate mode, while viewing what it looks like specifically with different programs.
Special care has been taken to ensure that this monitor meets the highest standards. The DesignVue has been certified by CalMAN and Pantone and each monitor comes with an individual calibration report.
You can also easily switch between sRGB and Display P3 using an included Hotkey Puck, which is ideal for Adobe fans.
As an Apple fan with a house full of Apple products, I appreciate the design of this display's stand. It's made with brushed aluminum in gray. It almost matches my Space Gray MacBook Pro exactly. It's so much better than the cheap plastic stands that some other monitors come with.
Not only does it look good, but the BenQ DesignVue 4K Display stand is incredibly versatile; the most versatile I've seen at this price point. It can be adjusted up or down about six inches and swivel left to right about 25 degrees either way. It can also be angled toward the ceiling about 15 degrees.
Did I mention that you can angle it in portrait mode? That's right. You developers out there will love this angle. It automatically flips everything into or out of portrait mode, so you can very quickly switch between angles.
The screen is almost bezel-less. There is a bit of a chin at the bottom, otherwise, the screen is only surrounded by its very thin frame. It makes the screen seem markedly larger than my 27-inch iMac screen while taking up less space on the desk.
The BenQ DesignVuew 4K Display also comes with a Hotkey Puck, which acts as quick switchers for three different display settings. There's a brightness dial right on top so you don't have to reach around to the back of the monitor to adjust it. The Hotkey Puck also acts as a general controller for all of the display options and filter functions. But where it really shines is in the shortcut mapping it does. You can map any three modes to the Hotkey Puck for quick access to your most important display filters.
Where's the ports?
BenQ PD2720U DesignVue 4K Display: What I don't like
Being a Mac user, it's always nice when a monitor is designed to just work with my Mac, like being able to adjust the monitor settings from my Mac's settings, not the monitor's controls. The BenQ doesn't support any of the Mac's built-in display settings, like Night Shift. You have to use the monitor's settings instead.
This monitor does come with speakers, but they are pretty much awful. They sound like they're about 1-inch in diameter and stuck inside a box. You will not want to watch movies without using external speakers. They're so bad that I switched from the monitor speakers to my MacBook Pro speakers instead.
My least favorite part of the BenQ DesignVue 4K display is the design of the port housing. I totally understand that the idea is to have a clean looking monitor without a bunch of cables sticking out of it, but it's difficult to plug things into their ports. You'd better only need to do it once in a while or you're going to face some headaches.
The port housing is recessed into the back of the monitor so deep that you actually have to flip it into portrait mode if you want to plug something in. The included Thunderbolt 3 cable is short enough that you'd risk pulling your MacBook off your desk when rotating the monitor if you're not careful.
The housing has a cover, and here's where the sleek look is supposed to come in. It hides all of those ugly cables sticking out of so many ports so that they all group together and come down through a single hole. Again, if your cables are too short, you're not going to get a lot of use out of the housing cover.
The idea is nice; a clean backside of your monitor so you look like a real pro. The execution is just a bit lacking. It's not flexible. If you plug things in and take them out regularly, like I do, it becomes a nuisance.
BenQ PD2720U DesignVue 4K Display: The conclusion
Graphic designers, photographers, and videographers win big with BenQ's DesignVue 4K Display. It's built for you. The variety of display modes are useful, and the incredibly easy way to switch between them, including split-screen, is an absolute pleasure to use.
The screen meets all your high-quality resolution needs. The blacks are deep, the reds are bright, and the whites are so bright you almost need sunglasses. I actually worked in Dark mode for a while, which reduced the brightness a bit, while still keeping the screen clear.
Though I understand the concept of the clean monitor look, I just don't think it was thought through for different circumstances. If you are the type of person that plugs in cables once and never touches them, you'll appreciate this minimalism look. If, however, you tend to plug and unplug cables from your monitor even once per week, know that you've got a bit of work cut out for you. My suggestion; leave the housing cover off so it's easier to get to those ports. Oh, and make sure you've got room to rotate.
Eye for Design
If you're a graphic designer, photographer, or videographer, you're going to love the variety of display modes the BenQ DesignVue has to offer.
Lory is a renaissance woman, writing news, reviews, and how-to guides for iMore. She also fancies herself a bit of a rock star in her town and spends too much time reading comic books. If she's not typing away at her keyboard, you can probably find her at Disneyland or watching Star Wars (or both).
By Tammy Rogers