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BenQ XL2730Z Review – What is FreeSync?
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BenQ XL2730Z Review – The Screen
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BenQ XL2730Z Review – Setup
BenQ stick with their standard on screen display for the XL2730Z, offering plenty of options such as profiles for various game genre’s, detailed tweaking of key aspects and the ability to enable manufacturer specific features such as blue light tweaks (reduces eye fatigue) and black eQualizer/dynamic contrast which enhance dark areas of our games to provide an advantage over other gamers. Blur reduction is also present however that is not compatible with FreeSync (an issue not specific to BenQ).
To enable FreeSync we first connect the screen to our graphics card with the BenQ bundled DisplayPort cable. Next we ensure that the AMD driver is installed, version 15.3 and newer required. After rebooting the software detects that a FreeSync compatible system is being used and prompts us to enable the technology. We do this by ticking a box in the control panel. Simple as that.
BenQ XL2730Z Review – Performance
When we first tested FreeSync we did so on a screen limited to 75Hz in FreeSync mode and tailored our game settings to best suit this refresh rate. For the BenQ screen we have tweaked the settings again, this time reducing Anti-Aliasing to allow for greater framerates. Performance was tested on AMDs 990FX platform (FX-9590) with 2x8GB DDR3-2133, the Radeon SSD and Windows 8.1. All latest Windows updates, drivers and game patches were installed.
There are four main modes which are available to us and they are created from the on/off status of FreeSync and VSync. they are:
Free on V on – Smoothest experience, refresh rate limited performance. (E.g. 75Hz on LG, 144Hz on BenQ. Theoretically, up to 240Hz is supported by FreeSync)
Free on V off – Benefits of FreeSync up to refresh rate. Framerate not limited so tearing can occur.
Free off V on – Display limited FPS, no FreeSync benefits.
Free off V off – Maximum FPS, no FreeSync benefits
For those who want the smoothest performance the On/On combination is the way to go. Why would we choose FreeSync On, VSync Off? Thats all about getting access to the lowest possible mouse latency. That said, AMD do note that with On/On latency is typical and not worse than a standard display.
What difference does the Hz rating of a display make to performance? That is shown in the char above where the 75Hz limit of the LG model limits our framerate to 75fps. BenQ allow the GPU to perform higher, hitting 144fps which drags the average and minimum framerate up too. Of course the LG screen does allow framerates at the higher level, we just loose the FreeSync benefits when above 75fps, just as the BenQ can hit over 144fps without FS benefits.
BenQ XL2730Z Review – Conclusion
When we first tested FreeSync this is what we had to say…
“Starting with FreeSync itself, quite simply it works great. Our gaming experience was smooth, we encountered no bugs and no real effort was required to set it up.”
Does anything change on the XL2730Z? Actually, yes. The higher refresh rate of the BenQ screen at 144Hz allows for a much wider range in which to have FreeSync benefits. The setup was also a touch easier as on this screen the settings are pre-set to enable FreeSync in software, rather than have to delve into the OSD.
The XL2730Z is also very much a gaming monitor. That starts with little touches such as the headphone holder and carry handle and continues on through the control pod, gaming features such as Black eQualiszer and 1ms GtG time. The viewing angles are good and the gaming profiles also make sense, though for desktop use we did tweak things a little for enhanced sharpness/contrast…thats just personal preference though. Brightness was also uniform across the panel and we noticed no significant ghosting during our gaming sessions. The inclusion of USB 3.0 ports and HDMI 2.0 is a nice bonus.
Summary: The BenQ XL2730z is one of the more expensive FreeSync enabled displays however it is packed with gaming features and future proof tech such as HDMI 2.0. Very much a case of you get what you pay for… including some class leading framerates under FreeSync conditions.