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BenQ’s 27-inch monitor with docker

Posted: Jon Peddie 09.28.17
A monitor-docker for professional graphics users

A monitor-docker for professional graphics users

The BenQ PD2710QC is a feature rich monitor targeted at the graphics professionals and offers:

  • High-resolution QHD (2560 × 1440)
  • Super-thin bezel
  • 100% sRGB and/or Rec.709 color space with IPS technology
  • Wide angle viewing (178-degrees horizontal and vertical)
  • Powered USB-C docking station

If you were to put an ordinary commercial 27-in QHD monitor next to a BenQ 27-in QHD monitor, you probably wouldn’t notice any difference, at least not immediately. That’s because they’re built on the same platform, and usually have the same display panel. But in front of that panel is a sheet and in the consumer/commercial market, some genius thought it would be really cool to make it shinny. If you use your monitor for gaming or designer work, the last thing you want to see is your own reflection obscuring the scene. The BenQ PD2710QC has a flat (non-shinny) screen And, it’s not one that looks like it’s been sandblasted, it’s totally flat and smooth.

The second thing you might notice is there are a lot of holes in the PD2710QC. In the back of the monitor, where you’d expect them there is a mini-DisplayPort, a HDMI, and a DP-in and DP-out (RJ45).

The BenQ PD2710QC is designed to be a docking station for people wanting to work in professional graphics

And if you looked a little more closely you’d notice there are lot of holes in the base. It’s the base that differentiates the PD2710QC from all the other 27-in monitors.

The base is a docking station for notebooks that have USB-C (10 Gbps, USB 3.1 gen 2) ports and have implemented the VESA DisplayPort Alt Mode Standard, Version 1.0a (which was released Aug 10, 2015). With it the USB-C interface can carry DisplayPort signals using what is known as USB-IF (implementer Forum) which allows USB lanes on the USB-C connector to be repurposed (Alternate-modes). In some cases (but not all) the lanes can be repurposed to deliver native DP or HDMI. The BenQ PD2710QC monitor dock is doing just that.

For such a setup to work both sides of the link need to have the same Alternate Mode for connection success—the PC and the monitor-dock. The problem is, there’s no simple way to know for sure what you have at each end and the roll-out of various Alternate Modes has been spotty. Case in point is that the PC2710QC is targeting the 2016/2017 Macbook Pro Retina notebooks because MacBook use Thunderbolt protocol to deliver power, video, audio, data transmission thru USB-C interface. And even so, BenQ provide additional power with an external PSU that plugs into the base. We tested the unit with a Dell XPS notebook, and found it to work perfectly.

The docking base offers four USB Standard-A 3.0 (blue) ports, and a RJ45 LAN port enabled by the USB-C port. There’s also a 3.5mm headphone socket that is implemented by the laptop supplier and can provide audio from the laptop.

But wait! There’s more! This is DispayPort 1.2 compatible which means multiple monitors can be daisy-chained off the notebook. However, the number and the resolution of each one gets a little tricky because you have to share the bandwidth being delivered by the USB-C port.

BenQ has tried to make this as easy as possible for the user and put together a little table that shows what the trade-offs are:

Maximum image resolutions available for each connected monitor in MST with PD2710QC

So now you’ve got your notebook hooked up to a bunch of monitors, what can you see? As you may know, we just released a report on multiple monitors and the productivity gains one can get using them. But not all monitors are created equal, and if you’re into graphics, you need a lot of colors, and the colors have to be accurate.

Got ya covered says BenQ. The PD2710QC has a 100% coverage of sRGB color space Also known as Rec 709.

BT.709 primaries shown on the CIE 1931 x, y chromaticity diagram. Colors within the BT.709 color gamut will fall within the triangle that connects the primaries. Also shown is BT.709's white point, Illuminant D65 (Wikipedia)

BenQ says Each PD2710QC display is individually, factory-calibrated upon production to ensure the performance of the monitor in terms of Delta-E and Gamma curve. These results are then validated against industry color standards. And we did find the test sheet in the box.

The PD2710QC (and BTW, the “Q” in the suffix means QHD resolution and the “C” means this model with USB-C connectivity) has some great specifications:

  • Brightness 350 cd/㎡
  • Native Contrast(typ.) 1000:1
  • Viewing Angle (L/R;U/D) (CR>=10) 178/178
  • USB-C Docking Station

The MSRP is $599 which is more expensive that other monitors with similar specifications that can be found for as low as $349. However, those monitors don’t have a built-in docking station.

What do we think?
The ultra-thin bezel makes the monitor look cleaner, and compared to older monitors, smaller, even though the display area is the same. Actually, it doesn’t just look smaller, it is. Our Asus 27-in is 24.75-inches, and the new PD2710QC is only 24-inches.

2560 × 1440 QHD resolution, is now being referred to as “2K”. (HD is 2.0736 Mpix, QHD is 3.6864 Mpix, so actually it’s 1.77k).

Regardless of the marketing talk, this is a monitor docker you will want. And the only criticism that we can make is that it should be higher resolution, but then we say that about anything that isn’t 4k or greater. Anticipating that, BenQ also sent us a PD3200U, 4k UHD monitor to put through the paces, and we’ll tell you all about that real soon.