BenQ EW3880R Review | PC Monitors

Author: Adam Simmons
Date published: February 7th 2022



34” 3440 x 1440 (21:9 UltraWide) models provide a range of benefits for both work and play. The BenQ EW3880R shares these benefits but scales things up, with a 37.5” 3840 x 1600 UltraWide screen. This IPS model sticks to a 60Hz refresh rate and is focused on productivity and general usage – including movie watching. It includes some interesting additions such as integrated 2.1 channel sound with integrated subwoofer and an IR remote control. We put it through its paces using our usual group of tests, focusing on these areas and more.


The monitor adopts a 37.5” LG Display IPS (In-Plane Switching) panel. This supports 10-bit (8-bit + FRC) colour, a 60Hz refresh rate and 21:9 UltraWide resolution of 3840 x 1600. A 4ms grey to grey response time is specified, but as usual don’t pay too much attention to this figure. Some of the key ‘talking points’ for this monitor have been highlighted in blue below, for your reading convenience.

Screen size: 37.5 inches

Panel: LG Display LM375QW2-SSB1 IPS (In-Plane Switching) LCD

Native resolution: 3840 x 1600

Typical maximum brightness: 230 cd/m² (300 cd/m² HDR)

Colour support: 1.07 billion (8-bits per subpixel plus dithering)*

Response time (G2G): 4ms

Refresh rate: 60Hz

Weight: 13kg

Contrast ratio: 1000:1

Viewing angle: 178º horizontal, 178º vertical

Power consumption: 36W (typical)

Backlight: WLED (White Light Emitting Diode)

Typical price as reviewed: $1050 USD (£1000)

*10-bit can be selected in the graphics driver when using a DP signal at any refresh rate and resolution. Using HDMI this 10-bit option is only available at up to 30Hz for the native resolution, or at 60Hz for lower resolutions. 12-bit can be selected using HDMI, too. The panel used is a 10-bit (8-bit + FRC) panel, but the 12-bit option via HDMI includes an additional dithering stage applied by the scaler of the monitor or GPU to facilitate work with 12-bit content.

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Features and aesthetics

The monitor has a homely and somewhat rustic look to it, with a matte black plastic stand neck and slightly contrasting bronze-coloured plastic for the ‘penguin foot’ stand base and bottom bezel. Despite the use of plastics rather than metal for the stand, it still has some reassuring weightiness and robustness to it, with the overall construction of the monitor feeling solid. The bottom bezel includes a central underhanging sensor unit with an IR sensor for the included remote control. And a light sensor used for the ‘B.I.+’ and ‘HDRi’ functionality of the monitor. Allowing it to make adjustments to aspects such as brightness and colour temperature according to ambient lighting as well as what’s being shown on screen. The bottom bezel essentially appears as a giant speaker grille (it’s composed of small circles rather than being a solid bar). It houses 2 x 3W TreVolo speakers as part of the 2.1 channel sound system, which we explore a little later. The bottom bezel is ~35mm (1.38 inches) thick, or ~42mm (1.65 inches) thick if you include the sensor unit. The top and side bezels are dual-stage with a reasonably slender panel border flush with the rest of the screen plus a slender hard plastic outer part. Including both components, they’re ~10mm (0.39 inches) thick. The main feature from the front is the large screen, with a relatively gentle curve to it and light to very light matte anti-glare finish. We explore both aspects deeper into the review. The top of the screen also includes a generous complement of ventilation slats for passive cooling.

Blended bronze and black

Switched on

The curve

The OSD (On Screen Display) is controlled by a joystick and buttons at the rear of the monitor, running down the right side as viewed from the front. Or alternatively by the included IR remote control. At the right side of the bottom bezel, there’s also a dedicated ‘HDRi’ button with a vinyl-textured bronze coloured label above it. This allows rapid activation of the feature and cycling through of associated modes. There’s a downwards-facing power indicator LED which glows white when the monitor is switched on and orange if it enters a low power state. This can be disabled in the OSD, if preferred. We explore this control system in the video below.

IR remote

From the side the screen is of moderate thickness at thinnest point, ~25mm (0.98 inches). It bulks out centrally towards the stand attachment point. The stand offers tilt (5° forwards, 15° backwards), swivel (15° left, 15° right) and height adjustment (120mm or 4.72 inches). At lowest height the bottom of the screen sits ~40mm (1.57 inches) above the desk surface, including the sensor unit underhang. In this position the top of the screen is ~460mm (18.11 inches) above the desk. The total depth of the monitor including stand is ~294mm (11.58 inches), with the centre of the screen sitting ~70mm (2.76 inches) back from the frontmost point of the stand. So not a massive desk depth hog given the overall size of the screen, though not the most compact design either.

The side

The rear of the monitor is mainly matte black plastic, with the stand attaching centrally. It is screwed in, attaching via 100 x 100mm VESA (screws included) – so an alternative 100mm VESA solution can be used if preferred. Things are neatened off where the included stand is used with a removable plastic cover, concealing the screws. The stand neck is quick chunky with a solid-feel to it, despite being plastic rather than metal. It has a cable-tidy loop towards the bottom. The ports face downwards beneath a removable plastic port cover and include; a 3.5mm headphone jack, 2 HDMI 2.0 ports, DP 1.4, USB-C (60W PD, DP Alt Mode, upstream data), 2 USB 3.0 ports and an AC power input (internal power converter).

Towards the top of the monitor a black speaker grille is found, which houses an 8W subwoofer to accompany the 2 x 3W front-facing speakers. This TreVolo 2.1 channel sound system offers an impressively dynamic and punchy sound – one of if not the most impressive we’ve come across in that respect on a monitor. A range of ‘Audio mode’ settings are available which apply various equalizer and sound processing settings. We found the ‘Live/POP’ setting to be the best balanced for a broad range of audio, including; music across a range of genres, movies and podcasts. We found the sound full and impressively (but not excessively) bassy with good clarity. Preferences vary and acoustics are also affected by your desk setup and room, so we’d recommend testing all modes to see which is preferred. The ‘Dialog/Vocal’ setting can help if you find some voices ‘boom’ too much and the ‘Game’ setting can provide greater directionality. We found that setting a bit hollow and found directionality severely limited, as you’d expect, compared to a headphones or surround setup anyway.

The rear

Press shot showing port cover

The ports

USB and power

The full capability of the monitor including 3840 x 1600 @60Hz plus HDR can be leveraged via DP 1.4 or HDMI 2.0. A power cable, USB-C cable and HDMI 2.0 cable is included as standard. The image below confirms that only 60Hz is listed for the native 3840 x 1600 (UWQHD+) resolution and some 16:9 alternatives such as 2560 x 1600 and 2560 x 1440 (WQHD or 1440p). These are categorised in the EDID of the monitor and listed here as ‘PC’ resolutions and is the same via both DP and HDMI.

Refresh rates UWQHD+ (DP and HDMI)

The image below shows the resolutions categorised in the EDID as ‘TV’ resolutions and listed in Nvidia Control Panel under ‘Ultra HD, HD, SD’; they can also be accessed by other devices such as the PS5 and Xbox Series X. The same resolutions and refresh rates are listed via suitable versions of both DP and HDMI. You can see a broader range of refresh rates can be selected here and that this list includes 1920 x 1080 (Full HD or 1080p). There’s also a ‘4k x 2k, 3840 x 2160’ downsampling mode, potentially useful for games consoles that don’t support the native resolution but would accept a 3840 x 2160 signal. Or for PC users who wish to use this, with the monitor’s scaling options available (as explored later).

Refresh rates Full HD (DP and HDMI)


Subpixel layout and screen surface

The image below is a macro photograph taken on Notepad with ClearType disabled. The letters ‘PCM’ are typed out to help highlight any potential text rendering issues related to unusual subpixel structure, whilst the white space more clearly shows the actual subpixel layout alongside a rough indication of screen surface. This model uses a light to very light matte anti-glare screen surface. Decent glare handling is provided whilst allowing for more direct emission of light than ‘stronger’ matte screen surfaces, better preserving vibrancy and clarity. In brighter conditions where light strikes the screen surface directly you may notice a ‘glassy’ appearance (sharper patches of glare or slight reflection), particularly when observing darker content. The screen surface texture is quite smooth without clear graininess and without the layering in front of the image that some stronger matte screen surfaces provide.

Subpixel layout

As shown above, the monitor uses the standard RGB (Red, Green and Blue) stripe subpixel layout. This is the default expected by modern operating systems such as Microsoft Windows. Apple’s MacOS no longer uses subpixel rendering and therefore doesn’t optimise text for one particular subpixel layout to the detriment of another. You needn’t worry about text fringing from non-standard subpixel layouts and won’t need to change the defaults in the ‘ClearType Text Tuner’ as a Windows user. You may still wish to run through the ClearType wizard and adjust according to preferences, however. The subpixels are very slightly ‘squat’ with slightly larger gaps above and below than you’ll see with some panels. They’re less squat than we’ve seen on some panels, though. In some cases having squat subpixels can contribute to ‘static interlace pattern artifacts’ and affect fine-edge clarity. Fortunately we did not observe such issues in this case. We therefore had no subpixel-related concerns related to sharpness or text clarity on this model.

Testing the presets

The BenQ EW3880R includes various ‘Color Mode’ presets; ‘Standard’, ‘Low Blue Light’, ‘Color Weakness’, ‘Rec.709’, ‘M-book’, ‘Racing Game’ and ‘User’. In addition, there are some ‘HDR Mode’ settings; ‘Cinema HDRi’, ‘Game HDRi’ and ‘HDR’. These ‘HDR Mode’ options are the only presets selectable if an HDR (High Dynamic Range) signal is detected. They can also be selected under SDR (Standard Dynamic Range) where various adjustments are made to the image – think of them as a sort of ‘filter’, but there’s nothing ‘HDR’ about the resulting image with an SDR signal. We touch upon these presets in the OSD video and explore some elsewhere in the review. For this section we’ll look at some of these presets with additional manual adjustments available elsewhere in the OSD. The table below includes gamma and white point readings taken using a Datacolor SpyderX Elite colorimeter alongside general observations.

Our test system uses Windows 10 and an Nvidia RTX 3090 connected using a DP cable. Additional testing was performed using an AMD Radeon RX 580 and using HDMI, although observations for this table didn’t vary significantly between GPUs or inputs. No additional monitor drivers or ICC profiles were specifically loaded. The monitor was left to run for over 2 hours before readings were taken or observations made. Aside from our ‘Test Settings’ where various adjustments are made, assume factory defaults are used. When viewing the figures in this table, note that for most PC users ‘6500K’ for white point and ‘2.2’ for gamma are good targets to aim for. Individual targets depend on individual uses, tastes and the lighting environment, however.

Preset Mode Gamma (central average) White point (kelvins) Notes
Gamma = 1.8 1.9 6752K Quite a vibrant look to some shades, clear lack of depth in places due to gamma handling and a slightly cool appearance.
Gamma = 2.0 2.1 6833K As above but a good dose of extra depth due to higher gamma.
Gamma = 2.2 (Factory Defaults) 2.3 6838K As above, superior depth and a vibrant and varied look overall.
Gamma = 2.4 2.5 6754K As above with extra depth. Quite a cinematic look in places, dark shades crushed together with lack of distinction.
Gamma = 2.6 2.7 6746K As above but even more depth, a striking but highly inaccurate look.
Rec. 709 2.5 6580K An sRGB emulation setting which clamps the gamut close to sRGB to tame saturation. Well balanced in terms of colour temperature, though green channel a bit weak. Gamma way above preferred ‘2.2’ target averaging ‘2.5’. A deeper than intended look overall, plus crushing together of dark shades. Brightness can be adjusted, controls such as ‘Gamma’ and colour channels locked.
Low Blue Light = Multimedia 2.3 6504K Slightly warmer look than factory defaults, actually brings things very close to our preferred white point target. Green channel also well-balanced.
Low Blue Light = Web Surfing 2.3 5899K A weak Low Blue Light (LBL) setting, reducing blue channel and blue light output slightly. Image appears warm with relatively strong red channel and neutral green channel to aid balance.
Low Blue Light = Office 2.2 5373K An effective LBL setting, warmer again with further reduction in blue channel, relatively strong red channel and neutral green channel.
Low Blue Light = Reading 2.2 5059K As above but even more effective. Still avoids clear green tint due to careful colour channel balancing. Brightness adjustable with all LBL settings – reducing brightness further minimises blue light output.
Low Blue Light = ePaper 3.2 4975K Similar to ‘Reading’ in terms of colour temperature, but greyscale. Designed to mimic an ePaper display.
Color Temperature = Reddish 2.3 5832K Similar to ‘Web Surfing’ with stronger red channel – a mild LBL setting.
Color Temperature = User Define 2.3 6761K Similar to factory defaults, slight weakness to green channel.
Test Settings 2.3 6498K A vibrant look to things with good variety and balance overall. Slight extra depth in places due to gamma handling, nothing major.

Straight from the box the monitor provided a vibrant image with a slight cool tint. The gamma averaged ‘2.3’ on our unit – there are various gamma settings but none matched ’2.2’ exactly in our case. There was a slight uplift in depth for some medium shades with the curve bowing a bit centrally. But gamma tracked close to ‘2.2’ at the high and low ends to avoid crushing together of shades. The overall balance was therefore quite respectable and we settled with the default gamma setting. The gamma curve for our ‘Test Settings’ is shown below, very similar to the results straight from the box.

Given the intended uses for monitor, inter-unit variation and respectable output following OSD tweaking alone we will not be using any ICC profiles in this review or including any measurements or graphs using them. We wouldn’t recommend using them unless created for your specific unit using your own calibration device. But we appreciate some users still like to use profiles and some aspects such as gamut mapping for colour-aware applications can be useful. You can download our ICC profile for this model, which was created using our ‘Test Settings’ as a base. You can also download our sRGB profile, created using ‘Color Mode = Rec.709’ (sRGB emulation mode). Amongst other things, this profile corrected gamma from ‘2.3’ to ‘2.2’ on our unit – but be aware of inter-unit variation. And note again that these ICC profiles are not used in the review.

The monitor includes a range of easily accessible Low Blue Light (LBL) settings, which can be set to various settings as covered in the table. The ‘Reading’ mode offers the strongest effect and is a particularly effective setting for reducing blue light output from the monitor – brightness is fairly low with this setting but can be further reduced to enhance the effect. The blue colour channel and hence blue light output from the monitor is reduced significantly. The red channel is also strengthened whilst the green channel is held at a neutral position, providing a warm look to things with a better visual balance compared to some LBL settings which impart a green or yellow tint. Our eyes adjusted to the warm tint quite readily, more readily than if a green or clear yellow tint is involved. Reducing blue light exposure is particularly important in the hours leading up to sleep as blue light is stimulating to the body and affects sleep hormones. It increases or state of alertness, making it more difficult to shut off and go to sleep. We used the strongest setting (‘Reading’) for our own viewing comfort in the evenings. But not for any specific testing beyond that involving the setting itself.

Test Settings

Our ‘Test Settings’ involved slight brightness reduction and some colour channel adjustment. Although we used ‘User’ mode here, ‘Standard’ could also be used to the same effect. Note that individual preferences and units of the same model vary, so these settings should just be considered a suggestion. They aren’t going to be optimal for all users. We’ve also included our preferred ‘AMA’ setting, just for reference. Note that these settings apply to SDR, which is used for the bulk of the review. HDR has separate settings associated with it and is explored in the relevant section of the review – our preference there was to set ‘HDR Mode’ to ‘HDR’.

Monitor Setup (defaults used for remaining settings)

Color Mode= User

Brightness= 72 (according to preferences and lighting)

R= 97

G= 100

B= 95

AMA= High

Contrast and brightness

Contrast ratios

We used an X-Rite i1Display Pro Plus to measure white and black luminance levels, from which static contrast ratios could be calculated. The table below shows this data, with various settings used. Assume any setting not mentioned was left at default, except for the changes already noted in the calibration section. Black highlights indicate the highest white luminance, lowest black luminance and maximum contrast ratio recorded (HDR disabled). Blue highlights indicate the results with HDR active and under our ‘Test Settings’.

*HDR measurements were made using this YouTube HDR brightness test video, running full screen at ‘2160p 4K HDR’ on Google Chrome. The maximum reading from the smallest patch size (measurement area) that comfortably covered the entire sensor area and colorimeter housing was used for the white luminance measurement, which was ‘4% of all pixels’ in this case. The black luminance was taken at the same point of the video with the colorimeter offset to the side of the white test patch, equidistant between the test patch and edge of the monitor bezel.

The average contrast ratio with only brightness adjusted was 899:1, excluding the result at ‘0%’ brightness where the black luminance reading is not precise enough. This falls slightly short of the specified 1000:1, though similar to other IPS UltraWides. The peak contrast recorded was just a touch higher at 913:1 using the ‘Rec.709’ mode, whilst we recorded 868:1 under our ‘Test Settings’. A bit shy of what some IPS models would achieve, though not the worst we’ve seen. The ‘Low Blue Light’ settings reduced contrast, as low as 450:1 using the ‘ePaper’ setting. These settings make significant adjustments to colour channels (and other adjustments in the case of ‘ePaper’) and are designed to promote viewing comfort whilst retaining better image balance than some LBL settings. Reduced contrast can potentially enhance viewing comfort by minimising the time spent by the eyes accommodating changing light levels from the monitor, too. The highest white luminance recorded under SDR was 217 cd/m², whilst the minimum white luminance recorded was 34 cd/m². This gives a luminance adjustment range of 183 cd/m². The top end is rather limited, though the minimum is nice and dim. Most users will set their monitors to 100 – 200 cd/m² so this is accommodated, but some people will prefer higher levels or view in a bright environment where that would make sense, so it would’ve been nice to see more headroom there.

The monitor offers no local dimming and therefore doesn’t confer any contrast benefit under HDR. The peak luminance recorded was 293 cd/m² under HDR using the ‘HDRi’ settings (‘very bright room’) and 288 cd/m² with the regular ‘HDR’ mode, which exceeds the maximums under SDR but is really very limited by HDR standards. The brightness was reduced slightly using the ‘HDRi’ settings in a ‘moderately bright room’ (258 cd/m²) and significantly in a ‘dark room’ (123 cd/m²). Here, a bright room is defined as sunlight streaming into the room freely and some striking the sensor unit directly. A moderately bright room has a good amount of natural light but without direct light striking the screen or sensor unit. A dark room is as it sounds, with no significant additional sources of light aside from the monitor. Sustained luminance levels were similar to this and were not documented. A ‘Dynamic Contrast’ setting is included for use under SDR but not HDR, available in some presets (including ‘User) if ‘B.I.+’ is disabled. This can be set between ‘1’ and ‘5’ with higher numbers being more reactive to changes in scene brightness. The backlight is adjusted as a single unit (global dimming) according to levels of light and dark with the brightness control locked off. Things edge towards relatively high brightness levels even for mixed content with quite a few dark elements. As usual such settings are a compromise and we prefer manual brightness control.

PWM (Pulse Width Modulation)

The EW3880R does not use PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) to regulate backlight brightness at any level. Instead, DC (Direct Current) is used to moderate brightness. The backlight is therefore considered ‘flicker-free’, which will come as welcome news to those sensitive to flickering or worried about side-effects from PWM usage.

Luminance uniformity

Whilst observing a black background in a dark room, using our ‘Test Settings’, we observed moderate backlight bleed and some clouding, mainly towards the corners of the screen. It’s important to note that individual units vary when it comes to backlight bleed and clouding. The image below shows the results on our unit, taken a sufficient distance back to eliminate ‘IPS glow’. This is most noticeable towards the bottom corners of the screen, from a normal viewing position, though can also appear further up given the size of screen and depending on viewing position. It appears as a cool-tinted haze towards the bottom with a warmer slightly green-gold haze near the top. It ‘blooms out’ from sharper viewing angles with its tint depending on the angle, as demonstrated in the viewing angles video later.

Monitor displaying black in a dark room

The SpyderX Elite was used to assess the uniformity of lighter shades, represented by 9 equidistant white quadrants. The luminance of each quadrant was measured and compared to the brightest measured quadrant. The table below shows these values as well as the percentage deviation between each quadrant and the brightest point measured.

The luminance uniformity was variable. The brightest point recorded was ‘quadrant 6’ to the right of centre (170.8 cd/m²). The greatest deviation from this occurred at ‘quadrant 2’, above the central region (136.3 cd/m², which is 20% dimmer). The average deviation between each quadrant and the brightest point was 10.13%, which is moderate. It’s important to remember that uniformity varies between individual units and you can also expect variation beyond the points measured. The contour maps below show these deviations graphically, with darker greys representing lower luminance and hence greater deviation from the brightest recorded point than lighter greys. Percentage deviations between each quadrant and the brightest point are also given.

The SpyderX Elite was also used to analyse variation in the colour temperature (white point) for the same 9 quadrants. The deviation between each quadrant and the quadrant closest to the 6500K (D65) daylight white point target was analysed and a DeltaE value assigned. A DeltaE >3 represents significant deviation that most users could readily notice by eye.

The colour temperature uniformity was moderate, with significant deviations recorded towards the top right and bottom corners of the screen. The highest deviation was DeltaE 3.6 towards the bottom right, which is not extreme but still significant. It’s again important to remember that individual units vary when it comes to uniformity and that deviation beyond the measured points should be expected.

Contrast in games and movies

On Battlefield 2042 the monitor provided a reasonable contrast experience. Static contrast sat at 868:1 under our ‘Test Settings’, so fairly standard for an UltraWide panel of this type but weaker than some IPS models. This wasn’t sufficient to give a deep or atmospheric look to darker scenes or an ‘inkiness’ to the darkest shades, particularly if observed in dim room lighting. There was also a moderately high amount of ‘IPS glow’, within our expectations for a large UltraWide panel like this. It created a ‘bloom’ or haze emanating from the corners of the screen, particularly the bottom corners from a normal viewing position. But also visible from the top corners, depending on viewing position. It appeared as a mainly cool-tinted bluish grey, particularly lower down the screen. This ‘IPS glow’ ate away at detail and atmosphere. If you sit closer to the screen, use a higher brightness setting or have a unit with significant clouding or backlight bleed it can be brought out more strongly. The screen surface had a relatively smooth appearance without clear graininess or distinct layering in front of the image.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider provided a similar experience. This title has many dark interior locations, such as caves and passageways that may be illuminated by a few point sources of light. In line with our previous observations, the monitor wasn’t able to provide strong depth to dark shades or an atmospheric look to the plentiful dark scenes on this title. ‘IPS glow’ was again observed, at a moderately high level. A strength of the IPS panel, though, is the strong gamma consistency. Although there is some detail loss peripherally due to ‘IPS glow’ and the contrast itself is far from stellar, you don’t get the same shifts as you’d see on TN or VA panels. With TN and VA models you can observe that some areas of the screen are too heavily masked, whereas others might show excessive detail or have a ‘blocky’ or ‘banded’ look. The screen surface again provided a relatively smooth appearance without clear graininess or layering in front of the image.

We also observed contrast on the film Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. As with Tomb Raider, this looks its best on models with a strong contrast performance. There are plenty of scenes with dark backdrops lit up by pulses of energy, light sabers and suchlike. The monitor didn’t give a cinematic look here, particularly when observed in a dim room. And ‘IPS glow’ was again a feature – because this film was presented in an UltraWide aspect ratio there weren’t black bars above and below the image as you’d observe on a 16:9 model. On the flipside, undistorted and uncropped viewing of 16:9 video content will present black bars at the sides as explored in our relevant article. The strong gamma consistency was again beneficial, whilst the screen surface provided a relatively smooth look to brighter content and relatively direct light emission without clear layering in front of the image.

Lagom contrast tests

The Lagom tests for contrast allow specific weaknesses in contrast performance to be identified. The following observations were made.

  • The contrast gradients were displayed well overall, with distinct brightness steps in most cases. The darkest blue band was perhaps just a touch more blended than it should be.
  • Performance on the black level test was pleasing. The first few blocks blended into the background readily, as expected for a monitor tracking the ‘2.2’ gamma curve correctly for darker shades. Elsewhere distinct steps up in brightness were observed, whilst there was no noticeable dithering.
  • Performance on the white saturation test was very good. All but the final pattern was distinct against the background. The final pattern was still visible, which isn’t always the case, though a touch fainter than it could be.
  • The greyscale gradient appeared smooth without obvious banding or dithering.

Colour reproduction

Colour gamut

The colour gamut of the EW3880R (red triangle) was compared with the sRGB (green triangle) and DCI-P3 (blue triangle) reference colour spaces using our ‘Test Settings’, shown in the image below. The gamut fully covers sRGB with significant extension beyond. We measured 94% DCI-P3 coverage, with a touch of extension beyond in the red to blue region. This coverage provides good potential for fairly accurate output within the DCI-P3 colour space. Although not shown in the graphic, we recorded 86% Adobe RGB coverage which isn’t high enough for accurate reproduction there regardless of calibration. The generous gamut provides a fair dose of extra saturation and vibrancy for standard sRGB content outside of a colour-managed environment.

The monitor also offers an sRGB emulation setting, switching ‘Color Mode’ to ‘Rec.709’. This clamps the colour gamut very close to sRGB – brightness can be adjusted but quite a few other settings including ‘Gamma’ and colour channels are locked off. With this setting we recorded just a mere sliver of under-coverage and over-extension (99% coverage), as shown below. This setting is useful for more faithful representation of content within the sRGB colour space even in non colour-managed applications and without profiling of the monitor. As covered earlier gamma was significantly above the preferred ‘2.2’ target using this setting on our unit at ‘2.5’ average and the lack of flexibility isn’t ideal. To maximise colour accuracy within the sRGB colour space, for colour-managed workflows, full calibration and profiling with a colorimeter or similar device using the full native gamut is recommended. The fairly generous DCI-P3 coverage would also make the monitor suitable for work within that wider colour space. You may try the ICC profile featured in the calibration section which includes gamut mapping for colour-aware applications, but best results are always obtained by calibrating your own unit with your own hardware.

AMD Color Temperature Control disabled

The gamut below shows results using our ‘Test Settings’ with this driver tweak applied. The colour gamut covers 99% sRGB with no real extension beyond, very similar to the gamut provided using the ‘Rec.709’ mode of the monitor. This setting offers excellent tracking of sRGB and helps to cut down on the colour gamut without profiling, including in applications that aren’t colour managed. And you don’t have to put up with restrictions associated with the monitor’s sRGB emulation setting. Remember not to use this tweak under HDR, though, or the image will appear significantly oversaturated.

Whilst Nvidia doesn’t have a similar option in their graphics driver, a third party tool called ‘novideo_srgb’ can be used. This provides a similarly effective GPU-side gamut clamp to the AMD driver option. The resulting gamut was very similar to that shown above with the AMD tweak – this is expected given it uses the same data from the EDID of the monitor. The tool and its usage is covered in our sRGB emulation article.

Colour in games and movies

On Battlefield 2042 the monitor gave a vibrant look to things with good variety. As with most content you view, games (running under SDR) are designed around the sRGB colour space. That’s what the developers have in mind, so where the gamut extends beyond this on a monitor it imparts extra saturation and gives a more vibrant look. The generous extension beyond sRGB in the green region gave vegetation a rather eye-catching look, with extra yellowing to yellowish greens and some shades appearing a bit neon. Though not to the extent of models with even more generous extension to the gamut in the green region (e.g. strong Adobe RGB coverage). A nice range of quite lush-looking deep greens were also presented. Some oversaturation was also apparent for sky blues, but not an extreme degree or a cartoonish look there in our view. Reds were also brought out strongly, giving some woody and earthy tones a bit of a rich red appearance. Fires also looked ‘lively’ because of this, with some yellows verging on orange and some oranges on reds – but a good variety of shades were still maintained.

Similar observations were made on Shadow of the Tomb Raider, where things were again presented with extra vibrancy and saturation. With some good deep and lush-looking forest greens, but some yellowish greens brought out too strongly and some green shades appearing a touch neon. Some browns appeared richer and redder than intended, which was also reflected with some character skin tones. Lara Croft’s skin shade, for example, appeared a touch sun-kissed. Not to an extreme degree, but still more saturated than intended. Some will like this more vibrant and saturated look to things, but for others sRGB emulation (such as setting ‘Color Mode’ to ‘Rec.709’ in the OSD) will be appealing to tone things down and provide a look truer to the original intentions of the developers. Whether viewing with the native gamut or a gamut clamped to sRGB, the strong colour-consistency of the IPS panel was evident on both titles. The richness and saturation was maintained well throughout the screen, without the significant shifts you’d see on a TN or VA alternative. Even for a screen significantly smaller than this one.

We also made observations using the animated TV series Futurama. This features large areas of individual shade, so is an unforgiving test for colour consistency. The monitor again performed well here, with strong consistency. It was free from the sort of shifts you’d observe on TN or VA models and actually better than some IPS models that would show shades like the red of Dr Zoidberg in a slightly dimmer or less saturated way towards the extreme edges. There were minor shifts to some shades such as pastel purples and pinks, but these were primarily due to uniformity on our unit and were relatively subtle shifts. The content was again presented with strong vibrancy and saturation, with muted shades appearing less pastel than intended though still muted relative to some of the rather lively-looking neon shades or full and deep shades. Bright pinks, electric blues and deep reds were amongst the shades that appeared particularly vivid or ‘full’.

Shade representation using SpyderCHECKR 24

The image below shows a printed reference sheet of 24 ‘sRGB’ shades, included as part of the Datacolor SpyderCHECKR 24 package. The screen is displaying reference photographs of this printed sheet, in both the same order as printed (right side) and reverse order (left side). The camera is mounted slightly above centre so that the image is representative of what the eye sees from an ergonomically correct viewing position. This, coupled with the inclusion of a flipped version of the shade sheet, allows both accuracy and colour consistency to be visually assessed. Bracketed numbers in our analysis refer to shades on the printed sheet or right side of the screen if they’re ordered consecutively from top left to bottom right. Interlaced lines visible in some places on the image are moiré from the camera, not observed on the monitor itself.

Note that there is always some disparity between how emissive objects (monitor) and non-emissive objects (printed sheet) appear. The representation of shades in this image depends on the camera and your own screen, it’s not designed to show exactly how the shades appear in person. It still helps demonstrate some of the relative differences between the original intended sRGB shade and what the monitor outputs, however. Full profiling and appropriate colour management on the application would provide a tighter match, our intention here is to show what can be expected in a non colour-managed environment.

SpyderCHECKR 24 'Test Settings'

The monitor presents colours in a vibrant way. Most shades appear with a degree of oversaturation, with a punchier and more ‘neon’ representation to some shades. The generous extension in the red region of the gamut candy apple red (14) look more neon than intended with extra ‘pop’, whilst tango pink (11) shows a bit of extra depth. Light chocolate brown (24) appears richer than intended with an extra red hue, particularly towards the bottom right where it appears even warmer due to a uniformity issue on our unit here. Green-biased shades also have extra pop due primarily to the gamut, with dark lime green (18) and yellow green (19) appearing more vivid than intended and a touch neon. This is less striking and extreme than the extra saturation of some models, with greater Adobe RGB coverage. Some blue shades such as Persian blue (7) and grey blue (16) also appear a touch lively. The colour consistency was strong, though, without the clear saturation shifts you’d observe on VA or TN models depending on the on-screen shade position. Some of the discrepancies here are due to slight uniformity issues on our unit or slight extra glare at some points. Illuminating the printed sheet properly whilst entirely avoiding glare on the screen is challenging. The image below shows how things appear using the sRGB emulation mode (setting ‘Color Mode’ to ‘Rec.709’) in the ‘Color’ section of the OSD.

SpyderCHECKR 24 'Rec.709'

Saturation levels are reduced overall, though as explored earlier gamma is too high which adds a bit of extra depth in places. The overall representation of shades is still more appropriate in most cases compared to using the native gamut. A touch of undersaturation is apparent for some shades including medium orange (3), Persian pink (6) and aquamarine (4). Though not to the extent we often observe using sRGB emulation on a monitor – perhaps due to the particularly good sRGB coverage here and the gamma handling. Dark lime green maintains some extra ‘pop’, though this is reduced compared to natively. The remaining shades assessed here were represented well. Quite a few shades not included in this analysis showed a bit of extra depth due to the gamma handling using this setting, but the reduction in gamut and more appropriate saturation in many cases was still very apparent. As usual, we’d recommend profiling the monitor with your own colorimeter or spectrophotometer using the native gamut with all adjustments (including colour channels) available if you require the highest level of colour accuracy.

Viewing angles

Lagom’s tests for viewing angles help explore the idea of colour consistency and viewing angle performance. The following observations were made from a normal viewing position, eyes ~70 – 80cm from the screen.

  • The purple block appeared a pinkish purple throughout the screen. The pink hue was a touch stronger towards the bottom right, but this was due to the uniformity of our screen rather than being related to viewing angles. Consistency was far superior to VA or TN models, without the same flashes of strong pink hue which can also shift with a little head movement.
  • The red block appeared a strong and vivid red throughout the screen. Consistency here was pleasing without the shifts you’d see on VA or TN models and without the slight dulling peripherally some IPS-type panels will show.
  • The green block appeared a consistent saturated green chartreuse throughout the screen without the extra peripheral yellowing observed on models with weaker consistency.
  • The blue block appeared a consistent royal blue throughout the screen.
  • The Lagom text appeared largely a blended grey with a slight green striping to the text throughout. There were no clear flashes of saturated red, orange or green or shifts between these with a bit of head movement. This indicates a low viewing angle dependency to the gamma curve of the monitor, as expected for a capable IPS panel.

Lagom Text Test

The video below shows the Lagom text test, a mixed desktop background, game scene and dark desktop background from a variety of viewing angles. You can see some shifts in contrast and colour for the mixed desktop background and game scene. These shifts are less pronounced than you’d see on TN or VA models and also some IPS-type models. There’s ‘hazing’ (contrast loss) at sharper viewing angles, which is at a level we’d expect to see from this panel type. The dark desktop background showcases ‘IPS glow’, which casts a sheen or haze across the screen which becomes clearest as viewing angles steepen. The glow is generally cool-tinted but takes on a slightly warmer appearance in places with a slightly green golden appearance.

Interlace pattern artifacts

On some monitors, particularly but not exclusively those with high refresh rates, interlace patterns can be seen during certain transitions. We refer to these as ‘interlace pattern artifacts’ but some users refer to them as ‘inversion artifacts’ and others as ‘scan lines’. They may appear as an interference pattern or mesh or interlaced lines which break up a given shade into a darker and lighter version of what is intended. They often catch the eye due to their dynamic nature, on models where they manifest themselves in this way. Alternatively, static interlace patterns may be seen with some shades appearing as faint horizontal or vertical bands of a slightly lighter and slightly darker version of the intended shade. We did not observe either artifact type on this monitor.


Input lag

A small utility called SMTT 2.0 was used alongside a sensitive camera to analyse the latency of the EW3880R, with over 30 repeat readings taken to help maximise accuracy. Using this method, we calculated 3.75ms (under 1/4 of a frame at 60Hz) of input lag. The input lag measured here is influenced by both the element you ‘see’ (pixel responsiveness) and the main element you ‘feel’ (signal delay). It indicates a low signal delay which most users should be happy with. Note that we don’t have the means to accurately measure input lag with HDR active in an HDR environment.

Perceived blur (pursuit photography)

Our article on responsiveness explores the key factors related to monitor responsiveness. Chief amongst these is the concept of ‘perceived blur’, which both the pixel responses of the monitor and the movement of your eyes as you track motion of the screen contribute to. The second factor is generally dominant on modern monitors, though both factors play an important part. A photography technique called ‘pursuit photography’ is also explored, which uses a moving rather than stationary camera to capture motion on a monitor. Unlike static photos or videos, this reflects both elements of perceived blur rather than simply reflecting weaknesses in pixel responsiveness.

The images below are pursuit photographs taken using the UFO Motion Test for ghosting, with the test running at its default speed of 960 pixels per second. This is a good practical speed to take such photographs at, highlighting both elements of perceived blur well. The UFOs move across the screen from left to right at a frame rate matching the refresh rate of the display, 60fps and 60Hz in this case. All three rows of the test are analysed to show a range of pixel transitions and all ‘AMA’ (Advanced Motion Acceleration) pixel overdrive settings were tested. Reference shots are included in the final columns for comparison, set to their optimal pixel overdrive setting. The first reference is the Philips 288E2UAE (288E2E), a decent 60Hz IPS-type performer. The second reference is the Philips 328E1CA, a relatively well-tuned ‘4K’ VA model.

Perceived blur with various settings

The UFO appears soft and unfocused without clear internal detailing. This reflects a moderate amount of perceived blur due to eye movement, observed as well with the reference shots. Varying degrees of trailing is also evident behind the UFOs, due to weaknesses in pixel responsiveness. With ‘AMA’ set to ‘OFF’, the monitor already comfortably outperforms the VA reference (328E1CA) and is a touch faster than the IPS reference (288E2UAE). Particularly if you consider the dark background (top row). The ‘High’ setting reduces the already slight ‘powdery’ trailing behind the UFOs. At this point it’s very faint for the dark background and you can see that it’s virtually eliminated for the medium background (middle row). For the light background (bottom row) it’s removed entirely, but a bit of overshoot (inverse ghosting) is introduced – ‘halo’ trailing that’s a touch lighter than the background shade. This is only slight overshoot, however. The ‘Premium’ setting as good as eliminates this small amount of ‘powdery’ trailing that remains, but the overshoot is increased significantly. In addition to ‘halo’ trailing you can see some inky-looking overshoot for the dark and medium backgrounds. Based on this testing and indeed broader analysis we consider ‘High’ the optimal setting. Some may prefer ‘OFF’ if they’re highly sensitive to overshoot, but it’s really not a major issue on this model in our view using the faster ‘High’ setting.

Note that we will not be including a section on overclocking, as the monitor skipped frames when set much above 60Hz.

Responsiveness in games and movies

On various Battlefield titles, with the game running at a consistent 60fps to make the most out of the monitor, we observed a moderate amount of perceived blur. The vast majority of this was caused to eye movement and linked to the 60Hz refresh rate. There were only very minor weaknesses due to slight pixel response time weaknesses in places. A very small amount of faint ‘powdery’ trailing for example, which was never much more significant than it appeared with Test UFO earlier – with a very minor impact on perceived blur. There was also a touch of overshoot in places, generally as ‘halo’ trailing that’s just slightly lighter than the background shade. This was certainly not strong overshoot, was well-blended and didn’t jump out at us. It’s not something most users will notice, even those quite sensitive to overshoot. Overall, the monitor put in a solid 60Hz performance here with suitably snappy and well-tuned pixel responses.

This was echoed on Shadow of the Tomb Raider. Despite this title having many ‘high contrast’ transitions involving particularly dark shades and significantly lighter ones, which some IPS models struggle with, the monitor performed well here. The weaknesses were again on the very minor side, reflecting the pursuit photography analysed earlier. With less ‘powdery’ trailing than observed on the IPS reference screen (288E2UAE) and significantly less than the VA reference (328E1CA). And just a touch of overshoot in places. We also observed video content at a range of frame rates, including ~24 – 30fps Netflix content and 60fps content on YouTube. For the higher framerate content things were very similar to our in-game observations at 60fps, so very minor weaknesses which most users won’t notice at all. For the lower frame rate content the pixel response requirements for a solid performance are reduced. There were no observable weaknesses, perhaps very small traces of overshoot in places but nothing that stood out at all.

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HDR (High Dynamic Range)

On an ideal monitor, HDR (High Dynamic Range) involves very deep dark shades and brilliantly bright light shades being displayed simultaneously. Alongside a very broad range of shades between these extreme, including highly vibrant and saturated shades alongside much more muted ones. Ideally, per-pixel illumination would be provided (e.g. self-emissive displays such as OLED), or for LCDs a very large number of precisely controlled dimming zones used. A solution such as FALD (Full Array Local Dimming) with a generous number of dimming zones, for example. With this, some areas of the screen can remain very dim whilst others are outputting very high brightness. Colour reproduction is also an important aspect under HDR, with the ultimate goal being support for a huge colour gamut, Rec. 2020. A more achievable near-term goal is support for at least 90% DCI-P3 (Digital Cinema Initiatives standard colour space) coverage. Finally, HDR makes use of at least 10-bit precision per colour channel, so its desirable that the monitor supports at least 10-bits per subpixel. HDR10 is the most widely supported standard used in HDR games and movies and what is supported here.

For most games and other full screen applications that support HDR, the BenQ EW3880R automatically switches to its HDR operating mode if an HDR signal is provided. Some game titles will activate HDR correctly when the appropriate in-game setting is selected. Others that support HDR will only run in HDR if ‘Use HDR’ is turned on in Windows, too. Related Windows HDR settings are found in the ‘Windows HD Color settings’ (Windows 10) or ‘HDR’ (Windows 11) section of ‘Display settings’ (right click the desktop). If you want to view HDR movie content, ensure ‘Stream HDR Video’ (Windows 10) or ‘Play streaming HDR video’ (Windows 11) is active. Also note that there’s an ‘HDR/SDR brightness balance’ (Windows 10) or ‘SDR content brightness’ (Windows 11) slider that allows you to adjust the overall balance of SDR content if HDR is active in Windows. This is really just a digital brightness slider that only makes changes for SDR content, and you lose contrast by adjusting it. The settings in the OSD are greatly restricted under HDR, even though the image balance is better than some models when viewing SDR content under HDR. We’d recommend only activating HDR in Windows if you’re about to use an HDR application that specifically requires it.

Windows 10 HDR settings

Windows 11 HDR settings

For simplicity we’ll just focus on Shadow of the Tomb Raider, a title we’ve tested on a wide range of monitors under HDR and know it to be a good test for HDR capability. The experience we explore here is very much dictated and indeed limited by the screen itself and will be reflected by other HDR content as well. Although our testing here focuses on HDR PC gaming using DisplayPort on an Nvidia RTX 3090, we made similar observations when viewing HDR video content on the Netflix app. There are some additional points to bear in mind if you wish to view such content. We made similar observations using HDMI, which would be used when viewing HDR content on an HDR compatible games console for example. Testing on both our Nvidia and AMD GPUs showed that the HDR implementation was similar in both cases, too.

The monitor includes three ‘HDR Mode’ settings; ‘Game HDRi’, ‘Cinema HDRi’ and ‘Display HDR’. As noted earlier, these settings act as ‘emulation modes’ (quite a misnomer) under SDR but act as distinct HDR settings when an HDR signal is detected. ‘Game HDRi’ and ‘Cinema HDRi’ incorporate the light sensor, as used for ‘Brightness Intelligence +’ (B.I. +) under SDR. This adjusts the image based on the content being displayed as well as ambient lighting. As we covered earlier, it will adjust brightness such that it will limit brightness from maximum unless the room is very bright. In a moderately bright room it retains most of this brightness, but in dimmer conditions it limits things significantly. Bringing down brightness to distinctly ‘un HDR-like’ levels, from the already limited maximum supported here. Further adjustments are made to colour temperature gamma and other elements as well.

The HDR10 pipeline has a rather specific set of parameters which a monitor would ideally follow closely. The HDRi modes make changes based on the image and ambient lighting that works against what the HDR metadata demands. We found the image generally too dim and cool-tinted using these ‘HDRi’ modes, particularly the ‘Cinema HDRi’ setting which gave an extreme cool tint regardless of lighting. We also observed oversaturation of some shades, including overly yellowish greens and oversaturated sky blues for example. The ‘Cinema HDRi’ setting also gave things a more cinematic look by increasing gamma, again detracting from the intended HDR appearance. We therefore preferred the standard ‘HDR’ setting and will focus on that for the rest of this section. Some may like the ‘HDRi’ modes, subjectively, and if so should feel free to use them. Many settings are locked off under HDR, as usual – including brightness, gamma and colour channels. You can adjust ‘Sharpness’ or ‘Super Resolution’ (an alternative sharpness filter) according to taste in the ‘Picture’ section of the OSD.

The BenQ EW3880R falls short of even the lowest level of VESA DisplayHDR certification, so only a basic HDR experience is offered. On the colour gamut side alone the monitor did pretty well – we measured 94% DCI-P3 as shown in the representation below. Remember that the red triangle shows the monitor’s colour gamut, the blue triangle DCI-P3 and green triangle sRGB. There isn’t as much extension beyond the DCI-P3 boundaries and hence encroachment towards Rec. 2020 as some models, including those with Quantum Dot LED backlights that provide extra extension in the green to blue region. That would also coincide with a higher Adobe RGB coverage than the 86% measured here. The good DCI-P3 coverage certainly allowed for some good flashes of vibrancy where the developers intended them, including some impressive bright oranges, deep reds and fairly lush greens. Because the developers have Rec. 2020 in mind as their ultimate goal and good DCI-P3 coverage as a more achievable near-term target, the oversaturation we observed under SDR was greatly toned down. This helped skin tones, earthy browns and muted vegetation appear more appropriate on both titles. Roaring flames showcased vivid deep oranges that didn’t verge too much on red and appropriate bright yellows that didn’t verge on orange, too. Whilst vibrancy levels were good overall, it’s not only a more generous colour gamut that could further have improved things there but also more precise luminance control. Which would add extra depth to some shades and extra ‘pop’ to others.

The HDR10 pipeline makes use of 10-bits per colour channel, which this monitor also supports via 8-bit + FRC. This enhanced precision not only helps the monitor put its generous gamut to appropriate use, it also aids the nuanced shade variety for both bright and dark shades. There’s a natural uplift of detail due to a greater variety of closely matching dark shades. Very different to the ‘flooded’ look a gamma enhancement under SDR could provide. The greater variety of closely matching bright shades helped provide smooth gradients and gentler more natural-looking weather and particle effects. In both cases, greater luminance range and precision would really have helped hammer home these differences. The image below is taken from one of our favourite scenes to test HDR on Shadow of the Tomb Raider. Remember that the photo is purely for illustrative purposes and in no way represents how the monitor appeared running HDR in person.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider HDR

Whilst the scene highlighted the 10-bit advantages well, the monitor doesn’t include local dimming for the backlight. It’s also very limited by HDR standards due to its ~290 cd/m² peak luminance. It’s unable to provide impressive brightness to bright elements such as the glint of light hitting the water surface or steaming in from above. Such elements should showcase a range of bright to very bright luminance levels to help provide definition, but that’s not the case here. The screen is also unable to dim some of the darker or even mid-dark shades as much as they ideally would be. The monitor doesn’t use Dynamic Contrast, either, so the backlight brightness remains high (or is linked mainly to room lighting with the ‘HDRi’ settings) even if a lot of dark content is displayed. Dynamic Contrast is never a substitute for effective local dimming and the constant shifting of the entire backlight can be annoying, so some won’t miss it. But it can still help retain superior atmosphere for predominantly dark shades, rather than the black depth and depth of dark shades being lifted up unnecessarily with ‘IPS glow’ also in full effect. Darker content looked rather flooded here, even under ‘HDRi’ in a dim room there was a definite lack of depth – whilst brighter shades were not remotely as they should look under HDR. The section of video review below runs through the HDR experience using various scenes in Shadow of the Tomb Raider.

The 37.5” 3840 x 1600 curved ‘UltraWide’ experience

The 3440 x 1440 resolution and 21:9 aspect ratio offers a range of benefits for both work and play. Our related article covers the specific resolution as it applies to a 34” screen and the aspect ratio more generally. With its 3840 x 1600 resolution, 37.5” screen size and what is rounded to a 21:9 aspect ratio (2.41:1), the BenQ offers a ‘scaled up’ version of this experience. The pixel density of 110.93 PPI (Pixels Per Inch) is very similar to a 34” 3440 x 1440 screen or a 27” 2560 x 1440 (WQHD or 1440p) screen. You get a little extra vertical screen space and significantly more width compared to a 27” WQHD model in this case – Display Wars is a useful site to visually compare this. The significant screen area and high pixel count provides excellent ‘desktop real estate’, with a particular focus on an expansive horizontal work space. This is particularly useful for multi-tasking with side by side windows or for applications which make good use of horizontal work space (such as video editing, music composition or spreadsheet software).

The large size of the screen will take some getting used to if you’re coming from a much smaller screen, but we soon adapted and didn’t find it overwhelming from our usual desktop viewing position ~70 – 80cm from the screen. Instead, we found it provided an enjoyable immersive experience. We also adapted to the 2300R curve, which is relatively gentle – after a few days usage we forgot the curve was even there most of the time. It drew us in a little bit and provided a viewing experience that felt rather natural given the size of screen. There are potential viewing comfort benefits as well. Some users, such as graphic designers, may prefer the geometric predictability of a flat screen, but most users should find the curve just fine and actually quite enjoy the experience it provides. The images below are purely for illustrative purposes, they exaggerate the curve by making the screen seem to have a ‘pincushion’ effect which you don’t notice in person.

The UltraWide desktop

Some multi-tasking

When gaming we certainly found the immersion from the large screen and slight curve enjoyable. The pixel density was sufficient to provide a good level of detail and clarity to objects and edges in the game worlds – not compared to a 32” or smaller ‘4K’ UHD model, but at a level most will be very happy with. The 21:9 aspect ratio also provided an engrossing experience for movie content of an appropriate aspect ratio, with a good range of such content available via the Netflix app for example. The 21:9 aspect ratio also provided significant Field of View (FOV) advantages for games, with both aspects explored in our article on the 3440 x 1440 resolution. Because both are 21:9 resolutions and most games use ‘HOR+’ scaling, you gain the same extra horizontal FOV (can see more of the game world at once) compared to a 16:9 model whilst vertical FOV remains the same. This really added to the sense of immersion in our view and could be considered a competitive advantage in some respects.

The article also explores compatibility concerns – most titles will natively support this resolution and will more generally support 21:9 and work in a similar way for both 3840 x 1600 and 3440 x 1440. A minority may have minor issues such as HUD placement being weird and there are some titles which simply don’t support 21:9 so would have to be run at an alternative aspect ratio such as 16:9 (something we explore in the following section). One title we tested didn’t support 21:9 – The Outer Worlds. We tested a range of titles that worked exactly as they should, including; Battlefield 2042, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Call of Duty: Vanguard and Cyberpunk 2077. Cut scenes and in some cases the menu system before you enter the main game were sometimes presented with black borders. But there were no issues for the main game. The photos below are again for illustrative purposes and exaggerate the curve, whilst in no way indicate the image quality observed in person. They show a range of titles running in the native 3840 x 1600 with 21:9 aspect ratio as well as at 3840 x 2160 with a 16:9 aspect ratio to give you an idea of the difference the extra horizontal FOV makes.

Note that Cyberpunk 2077 enforced full screen (stretch to fit) GPU scaling, distorting the image as shown when running at a resolution that has a non-native aspect ratio such as 16:9.

Battlefield 2042 in 21:9

Battlefield 2042 in 16:9

Shadow of the Tomb Raider in 21:9

Shadow of the Tomb Raider in 16:9

Call of Duty: Vanguard in 21:9

Call of Duty: Vanguard in 16:9

Cyberpunk 2077 in 21:9

Cyberpunk 2077 in 21:9

Interpolation and upscaling

Due to graphical demands or incompatibility with a certain system (e.g. games console) or game, it might be necessary to run the monitor at a lower resolution than 3840 x 1600. The monitor supports an interpolation (scaling) process to display resolutions such as 1920 x 1080 (Full HD or 1080p) and 2560 x 1440 (WQHD or 1440p). To ensure the monitor rather than GPU is handling the scaling process, you need to make sure the GPU driver is set up correctly. For AMD GPU users the monitor will handle the scaling by default, when gaming at non-native resolutions. Nvidia users should open the Nvidia Control Panel and navigate to ‘Display – Adjust desktop size and position’. They should ensure that ‘No Scaling’ is selected and ‘Perform scaling on:’ is set to ‘Display’ as shown below.

Nvidia scaling options

The monitor offers various scaling options in the OSD, listed under ‘Picture’ – ‘Advanced’ – ‘Display Mode’. There’s ‘Full’ which scales the image so it fills the entire screen, causing geometric distortion if the source resolution isn’t also 21:9. There’s an ‘Aspect’ option which scales the image to fill up as much of the screen as possible whilst keeping to the correct aspect ratio (no geometric distortion). And ‘1:1’ which will only use the pixels called for in the source resolution. This section of the OSD video runs through these scaling settings. The main ‘standard’ resolution you’d select to maximise screen space is 2560 x 1600, which has a 16:10 aspect ratio. This will fill up your vertical screen space and present you with black bars at the sides without any distortion or interpolation being used. The monitor doesn’t support scaling for this resolution, it will be handled by the GPU.

The monitor can provide interpolation for resolutions including Full HD and WQHD, allowing things to be displayed in the correct 16:9 aspect ratio with black borders at the sides but not above and below. The ‘Aspect’ option provides this experience. With this, the monitor presented things in a somewhat softer way than you’d see on a ~30” screen running these resolutions natively. This can be offset to a degree by using the ‘Sharpness’ and ‘Super Resolution’ controls in the ‘Picture’ section of the OSD. This is a good flexibility to have and we found things presented quite well with ‘Sharpness’ set to ‘8’, particularly the WQHD resolution. Preferences for these sharpness settings will vary. The ‘Aspect’ option is automatically used and remaining settings unavailable with the 3840 x 2160 (‘4K’ UHD) resolution, which is higher than the native resolution of the monitor and is therefore a downsampling mode. The image naturally isn’t the same as a native ~30” ‘4K’ UHD display – the monitor simply doesn’t have that many pixels or the same pixel density. But the setting worked as well as we’ve seen from such a setting and you can again adjust the sharpness controls in the OSD if you want to fine-tune according to preferences.

As usual, if you’re running the monitor at 3840 x 1600 and viewing lower resolution content (such as a 1920 x 1080 Full HD video) then it is the GPU and software that handles the upscaling. That’s got nothing to do with the monitor itself – there is a little bit of softening to the image compared to viewing such content on a native Full HD monitor, but it’s not extreme and shouldn’t bother most users.

Video review

The video below shows the monitor in action. The camera, processing done and your own screen all affect the output – so it doesn’t accurately represent what you’d see when viewing the monitor in person. It still provides useful visual demonstrations and explanations which help reinforce some of the key points raised in the written piece.

Features & Aesthetics
Colour reproduction
HDR (High Dynamic Range)


The 37.5” 3840 x 1600 screen of the BenQ EW3880R provides benefits for immersive gameplay and movie watching, whilst providing a good pixel density and excellent ‘desktop real estate’. The gentle curve draws you in a little, but is a subtle addition you should quickly get very used to and forget it’s even there. Despite lacking metal elements on the stand, the monitor had a sturdy feel to it and opted for a bronze colour in place of the more usual palette. In practice this was subtle and well-blended on our wooden desk. The monitor also offers USB-C functionality and includes a feature-rich OSD with accompanying IR remote for easy navigation. Useful if, like us, you frequently access the menu. Integrated speakers are often a largely forgettable addition to a monitor and best avoided if at all possible. In this case the 2.1 channel system, with integrated subwoofer, provided a surprisingly rich and full-bodied sound that was a pleasure to listen to.

IPS panels are known for strong colour consistency and this was no exception, coupled with quite a generous colour gamut (94% DCI-P3) providing extra vibrancy to sRGB content. An sRGB emulation mode was included that cut that down effectively with adjustable brightness, though gamma calibration and to a lesser extent colour temperature was a bit off-target with the setting and couldn’t be adjusted in the OSD. The wide gamut was useful for HDR content where good DCI-P3 coverage is desirable as a minimum. Aside from that the HDR was decidedly lacklustre, owing to limited luminance and a lack of local dimming or even Dynamic Contrast. The HDRi settings allowed the screen to adjust to ambient lighting, but this simply unbalanced the image whilst serving as a limiter to an already limited HDR brightness. Outside of HDR the contrast was in-line with our expectations for an UltraWide of the panel type. With a static contrast a touch shy of 1000:1 and moderately strong ‘IPS glow’, this was certainly not a strength of the monitor. The maximum luminance of 217 cd/m² is rather limited, though sufficient for most, and the 34 cd/m² minimum is nice and low.

In terms of responsiveness the monitor offers no VRR technology such as Adaptive-Sync and runs at a maximum static 60Hz refresh rate. Within those confines it performed well, though, with low input lag and well-tuned pixel responses. We found it very enjoyable for immersive single player gameplay (and a bit of Battlefield 2042 on the side). If you’d prefer a small boost to refresh rate and Adaptive-Sync support, there are various alternatives at this price point from the likes of LG, ASUS and Acer. But they use a slightly older panel with significantly narrower colour gamut. The LG 38WP85C is a notable exception as it shares the panel and gamut, but it comes at a price premium. Options with significantly higher refresh rate and superior HDR support (VESA DisplayHDR 600) are also available, but they come at a massive price premium. For those who are satisfied with a static 60Hz refresh rate, this monitor is a compelling choice in our view as it delivers a vibrant and immersive experience and is priced well in the segment. The BenQ extras such as remote and integrated sound system you’ll actually want to use are also welcome additions.

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Positives Negatives
Vibrant and consistent colour output with quite generous gamut and sRGB emulation with adjustable brightness
Gamma a touch high on our unit, Adobe RGB coverage insufficient for accurate output there and sRGB emulation lacks flexibility with high gamma
Light to very light matte screen surface provides fairly direct light emission without clear layering or strong graininess Mediocre static contrast, moderately strong ‘IPS glow’ and unimpressive HDR brightness without local dimming
Solid 60Hz responsiveness with low input lag and well-tuned pixel responses Limited to 60Hz with no VRR
Large and immersive with high resolution, excellent integrated sound system, feature-rich OSD with remote and good ergonomics No KVM functionality

The bottom line; vibrant colour output in a highly immersive screen format with a capable integrated sound system and good 60Hz responsiveness.PC Monitors

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