Well, we’re back in the studio yet again and this time, to take a look at yet another monitor. This is the BenQ EW2880U and in essence, it’s a 28-inch 4K monitor that will pretty much handle anything you would want to do with it. Which yes, that statement will apply to almost any other monitor of this class. But this has a slight twist. If you’re looking to get a secondary monitor for your MacBook Pro or perhaps the latest Mac Studio but don’t want to fork out that amount of cash for that new Apple Studio Display, this is a very good option to consider and we’ll explain why.
So you’re looking for a new monitor to expand your MacBook Pro setup, or perhaps you just need a monitor for your Mac Mini, the brand new Mac Studio or perhaps even a secondary monitor for your Mac Pro. But the moment you take a look at the Apple Store and look at what options you have, you might be thinking twice. At least, I reckon most of us would. Now yes, this isn’t a 5K display like that of the Apple Studio Display or the LG Ultrafine 5K. But those two cost 1,599 US Dollars (2,299 SGD) and 1,299 US Dollars (~1,800 SGD) respectively. Whereas this BenQ EW2880U cost just about 450 US Dollars or about 580 Singapore Dollars.
That is a huge difference and will definitely help keep your wallet thick. Now you might be thinking that there has to be a reason this is so affordable and the other two monitors are so much more expensive. Which, yes you’ll be right. But when you actually think about it, do you really need to go with the more expensive monitors? Let’s break it down.
With the LG Ultrafine 5K, you’ll be getting a 27-inch display, it’s an IPS panel, the 5K resolution of 5,120 x 2,880, a max refresh rate of 60Hz, 500 nits max brightness, 10 bit, and 99% DCI-P3. With the Apple Studio Display, you’ll also be getting a 27-inch display, it’s also IPS, the same 5K resolution at 60Hz, a slightly higher max brightness of 600 nits and the same 10-bit and DCI-P3 support. In all regards, these two monitors are very very similar in performance with the exception being that the Apple Studio Display can hit a higher max brightness which might be useful in a brightly lit office environment.
Now let’s look at the BenQ EW2880U. You’re getting a slightly larger 28-inch display, it’s also an IPS panel, a slightly lower resolution of 4K at 3,840 x 2,160 at 60Hz, a much lower max brightness of 300 nits, same 10-bit support and just about 90% DCI-P3. So in essence, you’ll be losing out on resolution, max brightness and slightly less color coverage. These are the 3 factors, and it is but just these 3 factors alone that really makes up the bulk of the difference in price.
So you have to ask yourself, are you willing to pay so much more just for those 3 factors? For some of you, it might be well within reason. An example might be creatives out there where that last 9 to 10% of color coverage might make a huge difference in your professional work. Or perhaps you work in an environment where you can’t really control the amount of ambient light and you require that higher max brightness. But I daresay that is but the minority out there. For the majority of us, we don’t need the best of the best and keeping our wallets thick is a legitimate concern. For that reason alone, the BenQ EW2880U is honestly worth taking a look at.
Now design wise, it isn’t going to win you any awards, and it doesn’t quite live up to the clean look that the Apple Studio Display provides, that’s for sure. And of course, it’s primarily a plastic build like most other monitors out there. Even so, I would say it looks clean enough and unassuming. It’s basically perfect to be placed in a studio, your own desk setup and the likes. The bronze accents also serve to give it a little bit of character to make it stand out ever so slightly. This monitor still looks great, no doubt about that. There’s also one huge advantage that the BenQ will have over Apple, and that’s ergonomics. You adjust the height, swivel, tilt, even put it to portrait mode with the included stand. And if you want even more versatility, you can simply mount it on a VESA monitor arm.
With Apple, the stand that comes included along allows for tilt adjustment. If you want height adjustment, you’ll have to fork out even more cash just to get that. And that’s just height, you still don’t get swivel. Apple being Apple as usual.
And then we can come to the panel itself, that 28-inch 4K IPS panel that’s honestly really good, especially if you’re coming from a 1080p monitor, a 1440p monitor, or perhaps even from your MacBook Pro itself. 27 or 28-inch is honestly quite the perfect size of a 4K monitor. At a comfortable viewing distance, everything is sharp and just a joy to look at. And despite only covering 90% of the DCI-P3 color space, it is still 90%. You’ll enjoy all your cinematic content, be it on Netflix, Youtube or the likes and it’s still going to be plenty fine for most creators out there. And at 28-inches, you can also easily multi-task with two windows split-screen side-by-side. It’s honestly great.
The only thing we felt lackluster compared to the other two more expensive offerings would be the HDR experience. This monitor can only hit a max brightness of 300 nits, which means it’s far from even the basic HDR400 certification. But you do get BenQ’s implementation of HDRi which makes use of the ambient light sensor to adjust the brightness of the panel to achieve a better HDR image quality. Supposedly at least. In practice, it isn’t as fantastic and can’t be compared to LG or Apple. But now let’s talk about why this is a great monitor to pair with your Mac, especially a MacBook Pro, and there are two main reasons.
The first is the inclusion of a USB-C port which will not only support DisplayPort input and data transfer, but it’ll also support 60W charging as well. With just one cable, you can charge your MacBook Pro relatively well while also enjoying the full use of the monitor itself.
The second reason would be the inclusion of a unique M-Mode. Using the OSD, you can toggle on M-Mode and this essentially tunes colors of the monitor to match that of the MacBook. Now of course, there are still slight visual differences due to the coating of the display but all in all, we would say it is really similar and just simply useful.
These two reasons really make this a fantastic monitor to pair with your Mac and the experience is just as seamless. In addition, you can also easily hook up other devices such as your gaming console or perhaps another PC should you want to do so as the BenQ features two HDMI 2.0 ports and DisplayPort 1.4. Granted, you can do the same with the other monitors as long as you have the right USB-C connector or adapter, but this would arguably be much easier. And in the end, as we’ve said from the start, it comes down to price.
For what you’re getting, the BenQ EW2880U is just really really affordable and it isn’t really too far from in performance either. You’re getting a properly great 4K IPS monitor. If you’re in the market looking for such a monitor to complement your Mac but don’t want to break the bank? We would say this is definitely worth checking out. It’s solid.