Benq has made a name for itself in recent years by delivering pro-quality monitors for photographers at great prices. Its new SW270C is no exception. For $799.99, you get a 27-inch monitor that covers 99 percent of Adobe RGB and 100 percent of sRGB. Unlike its sibling, the SW271, the SW270C isn’t 4K, but other than that it includes essentially every feature you’d find on a monitor costing twice as much. It also adds USB-C connectivity and features Benq’s AQColor technology for improved color accuracy. In testing, I found it delivers exactly what it promises.
Unboxing the Benq SW270C
You get your first sense of build quality of the SW270C when you lift the shipping box. It’s heavy. A good chunk of that is the substantial and well-designed stand. You’ll also find the monitor itself, a power supply, the newly designed Puck G2, a monitor shade, and cables.
The stand and monitor snap together in a few seconds. They work together really well, allowing easy raising, lowering, and tilting of the monitor. I’ve been using a stand of the same design for the last year on my personal Benq SW320 and love it. The upright is a single column, while the base is flat enough that you don’t notice it, but heavy enough that you can raise, lower, and swivel the monitor without fear of knocking it over or having it move around. The monitor itself uses a standard VESA connector, so you can easily wall-mount it or attach it to a different stand that has a 100 mm pattern if you prefer.
The monitor shade is also a nice design, with an opening for a colorimeter, although I couldn’t find a way to use both the shade and my Benq bar light, so I ultimately just went with the light. Once you’ve assembled the monitor, you simply plug it in to power and your computer and attach the puck. Then you’re ready to go. The monitor has plenty of connectivity options: HDMI, DisplayPort, USB-C, and a headphone jack. You can even feed the monitor from two sources for Picture-in-Picture or Picture-beside-Picture if you want.
The package also includes a CD-ROM with the monitor driver and some color management tools, but you can just as easily get these online. HDMI, DisplayPort to mini-DisplayPort, and USB cables are also included. In addition to your video connection, if you also connect the monitor to USB you get an SD card reader and a couple of downstream USB ports that support Power Delivery.
Out of the factory, the monitor is pre-calibrated (you get a full report in the box), so it should be essentially spot-on for Adobe RGB, sRGB and monochrome if you simply use the preset options available on the Puck. But for best results, I always use a hardware calibration and profiling tool. With the SW270C you have a couple of options. If you already own a supported colorimeter you can use the included Palette Master Element software with it to calibrate and profile your monitor.
In my case, I used a SpyderX Elite to calibrate the monitor and Datacolor’s StudioMatch feature to have the SW270C render color the same as my high-end Dell laptops. With that setup, I could do editing in the field and in the studio with consistent color. You can also ask the monitor to show Rec. 709 or DCI-P3 (although it doesn’t provide 100 percent of DCI-P3). For AdobeRGB and sRGB you can also choose either 5000K or 6500K as your white point.
The SW270C supports HDR10, although you still need to sort out how to get HDR through your entire imaging pipeline for that to be useful — something that is much easier said than done on Windows. Unlike some of its more expensive siblings, the SW270C doesn’t support 4K. Instead, it runs at up to 2560 x 1440 at 60 Hz. That’s probably the biggest tradeoff with this model. If you really want to view your 4K footage at native resolution, then you’ll need to look elsewhere.
Using the Hotkey Puck G2
One of the delightful innovations with newer Benq monitors has been the addition of a puck. Using a puck to change settings is definitely faster and easier than having to tinker with a row of hard-to-see-and-reach buttons on the monitor itself. For the SW270C, Benq has updated its puck design to make it even easier to use. The new G2 puck has a raised dial in the middle, which is perfect for raising and lowering settings like brightness. Like the original puck, it offers user-configurable buttons. By default, the three function buttons are set to Adobe RGB, sRGB, and monochrome.
As you use the puck, the available commands also appear on-screen next to the monitor buttons for them, so you can use either the puck or the monitor buttons to change settings or re-configure your monitor.
Overall, I found working on the SW270C to be just as rewarding as on my SW320. Obviously, it doesn’t offer the same real estate, but it has all the same features and a better-designed puck. In my case, though, I shoot a lot of 4K video, so I missed being able to preview that in full resolution.
Should You Buy a Benq SW270C?
The SW270C delivers a lot of monitor for $800. If you want a pro-quality monitor, but don’t need a monster like the 32-inch PD3220U ($1,200) or the 270’s 4K sibling, the SW271 ($1,100), then the SW270C is a perfect choice. If $800 is a stretch, you can trade down to the 24-inch SW240 ($400). If you don’t need the puck or shade, Dell’s UP2716D is also an interesting option, with similar color gamut specs for only $600.