BenQ Continues to Shine with DesignVue PD3220U 31.5" 4K HDR Monitor


Monitors are getting bigger and better. And I’m loving it. The latest monitor to make its way to my desk is the BenQ DesignVue PD3220U 31.5" 4K HDR Monitor, and it is one of the best I’ve seen so far. Not only does it display fantastic colors and support for plenty of color spaces, it offers many of the latest features, including Thunderbolt™ 3, USB Type-C, HDR10, and an easy-to-use OSD that makes setup a breeze.

Classified as a DesignVue monitor for designers, the same features that make it good for designers make it good for photographers and video editors. The most important is the color accuracy. The PD3220U is a 10-bit panel boasting a gamut of 95% DCI-P3 and 100% sRGB and Rec.709, as well as support for Display P3. Very impressive. It will even come factory-calibrated with a ∆E of <2. Ours came with an average of 1.2138 and, after calibrating it ourselves, there was practically no perceptual difference between the pre- and post-calibration. It was very good.


This monitor also renders UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) resolution and 60 Hz refresh rate. It’s sharp, with 140 ppi density, and the maximum brightness of the LED-backlit display is 300 nits. Being 31.5" means that you have a notable benefit in the added resolution, and yet you can still make out extra-fine details at the pixel level when you need to. This resolution also helps when you do video editing because you can audition your footage and finals at full resolution. It makes everything look good and sharp, which is greatly appreciated. And, it’s a matte IPS display with viewing angles of 178º/178º, so you don’t lose anything if you are slightly off axis.

I used to be a two-screen guy. A couple of 24" monitors was more than enough and gave me good organizational space for working on photos, video, or just regular administrative work. Ever since 27" and bigger screens became more common (and affordable) I have since moved to a single-screen setup. The PD3220U is a perfect example of how a nice, single screen can be a more comfortable experience, in part because of its ultra-slim bezels and the Hotkey Puck G2 that makes it easy to switch up color modes.

This Hotkey Puck is a very useful tool—surprising to me, since I’m usually skeptical of these types of add-ons that clutter my desk. It is completely programmable and has a dial, as well as three shortcut keys. Right now, I have this configured with audio volume as the dial for the two 2W speakers or 3.5mm audio out, and three different color spaces for the buttons. This lets me audition images quickly under different spaces, say, Adobe RGB for print and sRGB for Web. Also, I have a DCI-P3 option for video work.

There is a DualView setting, as well, that splits the screen between two different settings and, while I didn’t have a specific use for it I’m sure designers out there will find something, especially with CAD/CAM Modes. It does make it possible to go with one monitor for your setup. Numerous other modes are available too, including an Animation Mode that brightens dark areas without blowing out highlights and a Darkroom Mode for operating in dim lighting. It is set up very well for designers to work.

As an HDR display, it would make sense to spend time talking about its implementation. It is worth pointing out that the maximum brightness of the PD3220U is 300 cd/m2, so while it doesn’t hit the target of a true HDR display (that would require 1,000 cd/m2), it does still achieve the needed 1,000:1 contrast ratio. And it looks good. Going from DaVinci Resolve and an external card, I output HDR10 footage for editing and was very pleased with the look of the HDR. I’d feel comfortable using this as an inexpensive grading monitor for uploading HDR clips to the Web. On a side note, there is an HDR Mode in the color space settings, which does a decent job of boosting contrast of the standard SDR image without going overboard.

Something I greatly appreciate from BenQ is an excellent I/O for its displays. I’ve had a few recent monitors come in that nailed everything except having the latest ports and features. The PD3220U I have no complaints with, in part because of the Thunderbolt™ 3 implementation. A main Thunderbolt™ 3 input provides 85W of power delivery, perfect for power-hungry MacBook Pros, and gives a single cable connection for all the other USB ports and hubs on the monitor. You can even daisy-chain to another display or device if you want, though the second Thunderbolt™ connection offers just 15W of power delivery. 

Other inputs include a DisplayPort 1.4 and two HDMI 2.0 with HDCP 2.2 support. Beyond that there are three USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports and one USB Type-C port. Two of the USB Type-A ports are found on the back, while one USB Type-A and the USB-C port are available on the side for easy access. The display can handle Picture-in-Picture, Picture-by-Picture (side-by-side), and four-way Picture-by-Picture. These inputs also enable a built-in KVM Switch function so that you can move between two computers easily using the same display(s), keyboard, and mouse. To make the most of all these features, you will need to use the Display Pilot software available for Windows. This software also enables the ICC Sync function so you can keep all your display profiles synced—even when switching computers.

Physically, the PD3220U is quite simple, though that isn’t a complaint. The bezels are thin, the buttons and joystick on the rear of the display are fine, and the stand works well. It offers plenty of height, can pivot 90° if you want, and doesn’t stick out on the desk. The display does offer Low Blue Light Technology and ZeroFlicker so that you can protect your eyes when working for long periods of time.

If I were looking for a new monitor, I would certainly trust BenQ’s latest releases. Not only are they feature-rich, with outstanding color, they have clean designs and forward-looking interfaces. The PD3220U is perhaps one of the best yet.

Have you ever worked with BenQ displays? Would you ever consider purchasing one, or is there another brand you favor? Let us know what you think in the Comments section, below!