BenQ EX3203R monitor review: Solid 1440p gaming with HDR support

Windows Central Recommended Award

BenQ makes a ton of PC monitors, ranging from budget numbers to high-end models designed for professionals. I have here a 31.5-inch curved gaming monitor, which I've been using regularly for a couple of weeks to see how well it's suited for a life of entertainment. This monitor certainly looks like it costs as much as it does, but do performance and picture match?

BenQ EX3203R technical specifications

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Size31.5 inches
Resolution2,560 x 1,440 (QHD)
Refresh rate144 Hz
Response time4 ms
Brightness300 nits
400 nits (HDR)
Aspect ratio16:9
Native contrast3,000:1
Dynamic contrast20,000,000:1
Colors16.7 million
PortsTwo HDMI 2.0
DisplayPort 1.4
Two USB-A 3.0

BenQ EX3203R design and features

The BenQ EX3203R is an absolute beauty from top to bottom. It rests on a dual-prong stand that adjusts tilt between 5 and 20 degrees and height up to 2.4 inches, plus it has a cutout to feed cables through for neat organization. The stand is sturdy, and it doesn't take up a lot of space on the desk, which is usually at a premium with a monitor this size. On the back edge is a decent selection of ports, including two HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort 1.4, two USB-A 3.0, and a single USB-C, which altogether provides users with more than a couple ways to connect to a PC. There's likewise a 3.5 mm audio jack in lieu of any built-in speakers, which most gamers won't mind.

The EX3203R comes stocked with features that gamers will love.

The monitor is primarily silver with some black accents, which makes it seem more on the professional side than the gaming side. There's no extra lighting or aggressive design to make an impact here, and instead, it lets the picture speak for itself. There's almost no bezel around the sides and top — placing two or three of these monitors next to each other is certainly feasible — with the bottom having about an inch to hold controls and a light sensor for adaptive temperature control. If you're looking for a gaming monitor with a design that's more sophisticated than a lot of other options out there, this one will certainly do.

There are six control buttons and a lit power button on the bottom-right corner of the monitor, and controlling the on-screen menu is simple. There's a shortcut menu that gives you quick access to a bunch of different picture presets (including HDR and Cinema HDR), plus there's a more thorough menu containing advanced picture and system settings.

BenQ EX3203R picture and performance

The $600 price tag might seem a bit steep, but the EX3203R has the goods to make up for it. A 2,560 x 1,440 resolution is the sweet spot between 1080p and 4K and is well suited for the 31.5-inch size, offering a clear picture that doesn't have the same PC demands as 4K. It has a Vertically-Aligned (VA) panel that offers deep 3,000:1 contrast and a 4 ms response time, which, when added to a 144 Hz refresh rate, translates to a respectable gaming experience.

Out of the box — note that there's absolutely no assembly required — even with the regular picture preset selected, the monitor is a real looker. The size, the resolution, and the slight curve graded at 1800R come together for an impressive mix, and I played more than a few games without tweaking any settings.

This monitor is VESA-certified DisplayHDR 400, which is essentially the baseline standard next to HDR 600 and HDR 1000. This means it must be capable of reaching up to 400 nits brightness, it must have at most a 0.40 cd/m2 black level, and it must hit at minimum 95 percent of the Rec.709 (BT.709) color gamut. The monitor brought back 100 percent of the sRGB color gamut and 87 percent of the AdobeRGB color gamut. It also hit 90 percent of the DCI-P3 color gamut.

It's certainly not as eye-popping as some HDR displays, but I was able to get it set up to a point where I could immediately tell a big difference moving between regular displays. Contrast is stellar, with deep blacks and vibrant colors, and playing something modern like Battlefield V on the EX3203R was a treat, even when not using an AMD graphics card (GPU). Yes, those with modern AMD GPUs can take advantage of FreeSync 2 compatibility. This relatively new technology is a sort of update to the original FreeSync — which allows for an adaptive monitor refresh rate to match what's being put out by the PC for tear-free visuals — but adding HDR support that's designed to handle the advanced performance needs of games.

One thing to keep in mind related to PC hardware is that you're going to get the most out of this relatively expensive monitor if you also have a powerful (and expensive) PC. Even with the gentle curve, at 31.5-inches you might find the monitor is a bit overwhelming for certain games if your PC can't handle a high enough field-of-view (FOV) and framerate at native 1440p.

Should you buy the BenQ EX3203R gaming monitor?

BenQ's EX3203R is inarguably a well-made monitor. The primarily plastic build has a sophisticated look that could no doubt fit in just about anywhere, it has a sturdy stand that adjusts for tilt and a bit of height adjustment, and around the display, there's almost no bezel at all, save for along the bottom where controls and brightness sensor are housed.

HDR 400 support is the baseline for HDR, so those who really yearn for a huge improvement will want to look at something else. Still, the image difference between standard and HDR 400 is clearly evident, and it makes games look great. Casual users shouldn't have any issues with the performance of the EX3203R, though truly competitive gamers will likely want to stick with a more traditional option with lower response time.

The price, which is competitive for this type of monitor, is geared toward those who have the money to spend on performance hardware, and you will undoubtedly get the most out of it if you have a powerful AMD GPU. Those with NVIDIA graphics or those with a more budget-oriented PC build should check out other great gaming monitors to get the best bang for their buck.

Cale Hunt
Senior Editor, Laptop Reviews

Cale Hunt is formerly a Senior Editor at Windows Central. He focuses mainly on laptop reviews, news, and accessory coverage. He's been reviewing laptops and accessories full-time since 2016, with hundreds of reviews published for Windows Central. He is an avid PC gamer and multi-platform user, and spends most of his time either tinkering with or writing about tech.