BenQ's PD3420Q Delivers Great Value and Performance

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If you are a content creator shopping for a pro-grade monitor that can fully support your workflow without obliterating your bank account, the PD3420Q monitor from BenQ might just be the affordable screen of your dreams. Featuring a gorgeous IPS panel with 10-bit color support, this monitor has plenty of connectivity options and more than a few panel-specific features, making it a solid professional monitor at a reasonable cost.

BenQ PD3420Q
BenQ PD3420Q

BenQ PD3420Q: Specs

The PD3420Q features a 34" IPS panel with 3440 x 1440 resolution and true 10-bit color depth. Yes, this is a 2K monitor, which might be a bit of an adjustment if you are coming from a 4K display—but don't let that discourage you. The PD3420Q supports 100% of the sRGB and Rec. 709 color gamuts, as well as 98% of the DCI-P3 and Display P3 color gamuts, which is better color support than you find in many 4K monitors.

The gamut coverage alone bodes well for professional-level editing. While you can expect most higher-end monitors to feature a high percentage of DCI-P3 support, they also tend to come with a steeper price tag that can be prohibitive for newer creatives. Of course, this needs to be backed with supportive specs to be a seriously good color-grading display, but I was impressed with the PD3420Q from the jump.

Also impressive is the display's brightness rating for standard work, locking in at around 350 cd/m2. For most editing, 100-200 cd/m2 suits me just fine, depending on the ambient light of my workspace, but the ability to crank it up when the situation demands it feels luxurious at this price. The 400 cd/m2 for HDR mode gave me pause because it would only just be sufficient, but I was interested in giving it a shot.

BenQ PD3420Q: Setting up

First, it is worth noting that the PD3420Q is a big monitor. At 34", it weighs around 21.2 lb with the base plate stand and consumes a decent amount of desktop space. The monitor can accommodate an articulating arm via the 100 x 100mm VESA mounts—just make sure your mount can handle between 15-20 lb of weight.

On the underside of the back panel are two HDMI inputs, one DisplayPort input, and a multitude of USB-C, USB-A, and USB-B ports. Outputting 65W of power, I found peripheral support on this display to be decent. It didn't charge my laptop like a 90W output might've, but it kept the party flowing and is, overall, diverse enough to suit a variety of configurations.

The PD3420Q does support audio via either the 3.5mm headphone jack or the 2.5W integrated speakers, but I only found the speaker system to be passable, at best. Of course, audio isn't really the priority when it comes to a good editing monitor, but I thought it was worth mentioning if you are looking for a multipurpose display.

Initial controls are located behind the monitor and are toggleable via joystick. I took the time to set up the included Hotkey Puck to avoid constantly reaching behind the screen, and I am glad that I did. Creating shortcuts on the puck was fairly standard, having worked with these gadgets before, and made a big difference in my editing. While I don't think the puck is essential to the monitor's functionality (the controls on the monitor are intuitive and easily accessible), the puck is worth setting up to make your workflow more seamless.  

BenQ PD3420Q: Color

As I touched on above, the PD3420Q has solid gamut coverage and wide-ranging support for multiple color spaces and presets. Each monitor has been individually calibrated for Delta E and Gamma performance, demonstrating how BenQ has gone above and beyond in guaranteeing color accuracy for grading and editing.

These monitors are additionally Calman-verified and sport Pantone-validated certifications. The PD3420Q achieves Delta E ≤ 3 when working with the touted color gamuts—a refined color differential that is essentially undetectable to my untrained eye, but impressive, nonetheless.

Selling points aside, I was very impressed with this monitor's out-of-the-box calibration, as well as its color accuracy and consistency when I tested it in a multi-monitor setup. Once calibrated, the PD3420Q was able to match my existing monitor's color to near-identical levels, and it delivered uniform color and brightness levels across the panel.

The attention paid to certifications and other quality-promising measures indicated to me that other users can also expect a stellar performance from this monitor. BenQ has deployed unique technologies like AQCOLOR and Uniformity Technology to achieve a baseline performance of objectively great color accuracy that also adheres to current standards.

From getting the monitor out of the box, to the setup, and finally the calibration, each step was made unbelievably simple because of experience-enhancing features. I believe most users would have a similar out-of-the-box experience.

BenQ PD3420Q: HDR Support

Depending on the type of work or application you intend to use it with, the PD3420Q is either a good monitor or a great one. The difference, in my opinion, boils down to HDR performance.

First, let's talk about the pros: The PD3420Q offers support for HDR, and it works. I had no problem processing HDR input or outputting an HDR signal via HDMI. Viewing it on the large screen yielded an enjoyable experience, and HDR-enabled media was incredibly clear.

The potential con pertains to something we touched on earlier: the brightness. While I don't regularly work with video content, 400 cd/m2 isn't bright enough for true HDR rendering, and you're going to need something higher than what the PD3420Q currently supports for the best results.

However, this monitor is a perfectly viable option for basic HDR grading if you can tolerate the dimness. While the brightness is impressive for standard editing, you might need to spring for something brighter (and potentially more expensive) if you are serious about HDR work. 

BenQ PD3420Q: Unique Features

Along with the monitor-specific software and calibration tools mentioned above, the PD3420Q has a few unique functions that I feel are worth mentioning. The first feature is the ability to split the screen, displaying two different color profiles side-by-side. This ability is made possible thanks to the PD3420Q's massive display area and wide 21:9 aspect ratio. I found it incredibly useful to jump between modes via my split screen and compare my images under different profiles. Overall, this is a thoughtfully integrated tool that improves the precision of the editing process and might be enticing to the nitpicky editor.

I also happen to like the build quality of this monitor. A well-constructed baseplate stand is always appreciated over the space-consuming crescent shape or other fanciful design choices that decrease the usability of a display. The stand sports a wide range of angles and height adjustments for multiple viewing angles without light bleeding. This is mostly handy in offices where you might be frequently showcasing your work to others, but I enjoyed being able to adjust with ease in my at-home setup all the same.

In a similar vein, the 34-inch screen is a truly luxurious upgrade for me over my usual display. Uncurved ultrawide displays are few and far between when it comes to color critical monitors, especially at this price point. This is a noteworthy characteristic if you are looking for something large without yielding an inaccurate viewing experience while you edit.

BenQ PD3420Q: Verdict

In total, I would say this is a very good display that continues BenQ's ever-upward trajectory of delivering professional-grade monitors at a competitive price that only enhances their value. If you are hobbyist or semi-professional editor in any medium, I have no problem confidently recommending the PD3420Q. The wide color support and range of connectivity options should fit nicely into your current workflow, while the overall performance and quality will definitely get the job done.

I think the 2K resolution throws a wrench in the works when you enter professional territory. Especially if you are a retoucher, anything less than 4K significantly impedes the ability to pixel-peep. When you factor in the peak brightness for HDR work, this monitor might not perform at the level you require in certain fields. 

For my own uses, the PD3420Q more than did the trick, and taking advantage of its unique features on the big screen was a blast.

What do you think of the PD3420Q? Join the conversation below, in the Comments section.

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