BenQ ZOWIE XL2566K Review: 1080p 360Hz DyAc+ eSports Gaming Monitor

The BenQ ZOWIE XL2566K is a 24.5" 1080p 360Hz TN professional eSports gaming monitor with FreeSync and DyAc+.

Bottom Line

Thanks to its uncompromising performance, the BenQ ZOWIE XL2566K is the best monitor for competitive/professional FPS gaming.

Design:
(5.0)
Display:
(3.9)
Performance:
(4.9)
Price/Value:
(4.0)
4.5

BenQ’s ZOWIE gaming monitors are the most popular displays among professional eSports players and tournaments. The XL2566K model boasts a high 360Hz refresh rate, a fast TN panel with a rapid pixel response time speed and BenQ’s impeccable DyAc+ backlight strobing implementation for exceptional motion clarity.

Image Quality

A lot of gamers might be worried about getting a TN display, but there’s a good reason BenQ choose this panel technology – superior pixel response time speed.

What’s more, the BenQ XL2566K has a decent image quality for a TN panel with a 1,000:1 contrast ratio, a 320-nit peak brightness and around 90% sRGB color space coverage (~100% sRGB gamut volume).

BenQ XL2566K Color Gamut
Color Gamut Chart April 2024

In addition, the 1080p resolution looks decent on the 24.5″ viewable screen of the monitor with a pixel density of 90 PPI (pixels per inch). As a result, you get reasonably sharp details and text while the resolution is not too demanding on the GPU, allowing you to maintain high frame rates.

The biggest downside is the viewing angles (170° horizontal, 160° vertical), which cause the image to shift in color, brightness, contrast and gamma when looking at the screen from skewed angles.

However, given that the monitor is intended for competitive gaming, this is not an issue since the image looks vivid from a normal viewing position and thanks to the monitor’s ergonomic design, all gamers will be able to find that perfect angle.

Sure, an IPS panel would provide you with wider viewing angles and a bit wider color gamut, but the 1080p 360Hz models have a noticeably slower pixel response time speed – and the XL2566K is all about performance.

Let’s look at the image accuracy we get out of the box in the default FPS1 picture mode. We’re using the Datacolor SpyderX Pro colorimeter and DisplayCAL for our testing, calibration and profiling.

BenQ XL2566K and Datacolor SpyderX
BenQ XL2566K Out of the box accuracy
Image accuracy out of the box (FPS1 mode)

As you can see, the FPS1 mode is not very accurate. Gamma is too high and so is the color temperature at 8800K, which results in a cold bluish tint to whitepoint. The colors are also inaccurate with an average delta E of 5.98 and a maximum of 14.56 – but this is actually intentional.

The aim of the monitor is not to provide you with an accurate image, but with one that’s great for gaming, which includes manipulating the picture to make your enemies easier to spot, among other things.

The FPS1 mode is specifically optimized for CS: GO.

In fact, with BenQ’s XL Settings To Share feature, you can easily download and apply picture presets with settings optimized for a specific competitive game, such as CS: GO, Valorant, Overwatch, COD, Apex, and more.

Here’s how all picture modes perform in terms of image accuracy:

 Contrast
Ratio
(x:1)
Min. Brightness (nits)Max. Brightness
(nits)
Color Temp.(Kelvin)Delta E (avg.)Delta E (max.)Gamma
(avg.)
DyAc+ Max. Brightness (nits)
FPS18044730688005.9814.562.98283
FPS27454528878005.4314.792.76268
FPS39975937761007.1212.852.98332
Gamer 18184830689006.2513.553.03283
Gamer 27684528878005.6514.152.77267
Gamer 39746437762007.4813.832.97332
Movie9175534977005.728.982.74323
Standard9185434976005.789.112.75322
Standard
(CT: User Define,
Gamma1)
10596239464003.545.842.33352
Target6500< 1< 32.2

BenQ also provides you with a more accurate Standard picture mode for everyday use, which is what we recommend using for web surfing, watching YouTube videos, etc. For gaming, you should just pick whichever mode looks the best to you and remember to check out the available XL Settings To Share presets.

In addition to changing the picture mode to Standard, we recommend changing the color temperature from Normal (7600K) to User Define (6400K) and gamma from Gamma3 (2.75) to Gamma1 (2.33) for the most accurate picture quality. This brings the average delta E down to 3.54, and the maximum down to 5.84.

BenQ XL2566K Standard Mode
Standard Mode, Color Temperature: User Define, Gamma1
Color Accuracy Chart April 2024

We also measured a contrast ratio of 1060:1 and a maximum brightness of 394-nits in this mode, while the minimum brightness is 62-nits.

Max and Min Brightness Chart April 2024
Contrast Ratio Chart April 2024

With full calibration, we managed to get the average Delta E down to 1.04, and the maximum Delta E down to 2.76. You can download our ICC profile here.

Make sure you use the Standard picture mode with User Define color temperature and Gamma1 options. On our unit, we set Red to 96, Green to 98 and Blue to 100 to get a color temperature of 6500K, but these settings will vary between panels.

Further, after calibration, we got proper gamma tracking, a contrast ratio of 1050:1 at 126-nits (brightness setting 20/100), a minimum brightness of 59-nits, a maximum brightness of 375-nits and a peak brightness of 350-nits with DyAc+ enabled.

BenQ XL2566K Calibration
BenQ XL2566K after calibration

Image uniformity is okay for a gaming monitor with some contrast deviation in the upper right corner and brightness deviation in the lower left corner of the screen, but this isn’t noticeable in real use.

BenQ Zowie XL2566K Image Uniformity
BenQ XL2566K brightness and contrast uniformity

Finally, we found no excessive backlight bleeding, pixel inversion artifacts, image retention or frame skipping, but there is one stuck red pixel in the upper right corner of the screen, though it’s not noticeable in real use.

BenQ XL2566K Quality Control

Below you can see how brightness, contrast ratio and color temperature change across different brightness OSD (On-Screen Display) settings.

Performance

BenQ ZOWIE XL2566K OSRTT

The BenQ XL2566K has three response time overdrive presets: Off, High and Premium, as well as a Customize mode with user-adjustable overdrive from 0 to 30 in increments of 1.

You can find overdrive settings in the OSD menu under Picture and AMA (Advanced Motion Accelerator).

Here’s how the three preset options perform at different refresh rates. For pixel response time speed and input lag testing, we’re using OSRTT.

The BenQ XL2566K has an excellent pixel response time speed performance and it appears that the monitor is using some sort of variable overdrive as you don’t have to change the overdrive mode depending on the refresh rate.

Here’s how the pixel response time performance looks in Blur Buster’s UFO ghosting test. The tests (960 Pixels Per Sec) were done with the shutter speed set to 1/4 of the refresh rate with fixed focus, ISO and color temperature (6500K). Before the test, the monitor was calibrated and warmed up.

Both High and Premium overdrive modes offer a noticeably better experience than the Off mode. The Premium preset has a bit more overshoot than High (1.99ms), but it also has the fastest pixel response time speed (1.82ms GtG average).

Response Time Speed Chart April 2024
VRR Response Time Speed Chart April 2024

While you can detect minor inverse ghosting in the UFO ghosting test, we didn’t run into any noticeable overshoot artifacts while gaming, so we recommend sticking with the Premium mode.

Since a monitor’s pixel response time performance can vary depending on your room temperature and screen brightness (with higher brightness, the screen gets warmer so less overdrive is required) – if you do notice overshoot in games, just dial it back to High.

We played around with the Customize setting as well and found that 13 offered the best results in UFO ghosting tests with noticeably less ghosting than Off and less overshoot than High.

However, note that this setting doesn’t scale with the refresh rate. So, 13/30 might look great at 360Hz, but unlike the other presets, it will introduce overshoot at lower (fixed or variable) refresh rates.

Further, since we didn’t notice any inverse ghosting in games with the Premium preset, it’s the mode we recommend.

While fully customizable overdrive wasn’t necessary on this monitor thanks to its well-optimized presets, it’s still nice to see this option available as it can be useful in certain conditions.

For instance, if you’re gaming in a particularly cold room and want to jump straight into a game as soon as you turn on your PC without allowing your display to warm up, cranking up the overdrive can provide slightly better results until the monitor properly warms up.

Now, let’s have a look at DyAc+ (Dynamic Accuracy).

This Motion Blur Reduction (MBR) technology uses backlight strobing to reduce perceived motion blur.

Motion Blur Reduction Explained
LG’s demonstration of their “1ms MBR” technology. DyAc+ works on the same principle

Regardless of how fast the pixel response time speed of an LED or OLED display is, our eyes are still going to see blurring behind fast-moving objects due to the way these displays create an image (the sample-and-hold method).

This is why even OLED displays, which have instantaneous pixel response time speed, have motion blur – and why backlight strobing (or Black Frame Insertion in the case of OLED displays) exists.

The downside of MBR is that introduces flickering, which is invisible to the human eye but can cause headaches after prolonged use to those sensitive to screen flicker.

Further, MBR decreases screen brightness while active and most implementations can’t be used at the same time as variable refresh rate (VRR). You can also get strobe crosstalk (image duplications) in some parts of the screen.

Here’s how the BenQ XL2566K compares to the ASUS PG27AQDM with a 240Hz OLED panel. You can see how a 360Hz refresh rate with fast pixel response time trades blows with a 240Hz OLED panel with instantaneous response time, as well as how DyAc+ improves motion clarity as you can more easily make up the details on the UFO (lines and lights on the spaceship, eyes on the alien, etc.).

BenQ XL2566K vs ASUS PG27AQDM UFO Test

The best thing about BenQ’s DyAc+ implementation is the minimum impact on screen brightness (we measured a maximum of 352-nits, which is more than most MBR technologies) and minimum strobe crosstalk.

MBR Brightness Chart April 2024

While it cannot work at the same time as VRR, we have yet to see a monitor that offers simultaneous VRR and MBR performance with actually good reduction in motion blur. Note that DyAc+ doesn’t work at 60Hz as it flickers at 120Hz instead.

Here’s how DyAc+ performs at different refresh rates.

BenQ XL2566K DyAc Performance

Note that there are two DyAc+ options: High and Premium, but we didn’t notice any difference between the two when it comes to ghosting/overshoot, strobe crosstalk and brightness. You can also change brightness and overdrive in this mode – we found that Premium works best here as well.

Finally, here’s a look at strobe crosstalk.

BenQ XL2566K 360Hz Strobe Crosstalk

You can notice some image duplications at the bottom of the screen, which is a good result – it’s hard to completely eliminate this visual artifact with backlight strobing. You’re good to go as long as it’s not visible in the middle of the screen (where your crosshair is and where you focus the most in games).

Here’s a closer look at the DyAc+ performance in the middle of the screen at 360Hz.

BenQ XL2566K 360Hz DyAc

The BenQ Zowie XL2566K supports variable refresh rate.

To enable it, go to System settings in the OSD menu and turn on Adaptive-Sync. Although it lacks AMD FreeSync and NVIDIA G-SYNC Compatible certifications, VRR works without any issues for tear-free gameplay up to 360FPS as long as you have a compatible graphics card.

Maximum Refresh Rate Display Lag Chart April 2024
120Hz Display Lag Chart April 2024
60Hz Display Lag Chart April 2024

Lastly, we measured an average display lag of 2.27ms at 360Hz, which makes for imperceptible delay between your actions and the result on the screen.

We also measured an average display lag of 13.30ms at 60Hz and 5.64ms at 120Hz – both great results.

Features

At the rear of the monitor, there’s a directional joystick for quick and easy navigation through the OSD menu. Next to it, you’ll also find a power button and two additional hotkeys.

Pressing the joystick or moving it in any direction opens up the mini menu from which you can enter the main menu or adjust four quick settings. You can assign these four settings to other options in the OSD menu.

Besides the standard image adjustment tools (brightness, contrast and color temperature), the BenQ XL2566K also has a few advanced settings, including sharpness, five gamma presets and Input Auto Switch.

Further, you can enable or disable Deep Sleep, the LED indicator and Buzzer (makes a sound with each OSD button press), and set automatic power off (10, 20 or 30mins). The monitor also supports DDC/CI, allowing you to make adjustments to the screen via a desktop application, such as ControlMyMonitor.

Next, you get the S. Switch hotkey puck that plugs into the monitor via the provided mini-USB cable. It can be used to quickly change between three Gamer picture presets, navigate the OSD menu and as an additional hotkey (for 3 more modes, DyAc and AMA settings or input source selection).

Other useful gaming features include Color Vibrance (increases color saturation) and Black eQualizer (improves visibility in dark scenes by altering the gamma curvature).

BenQ Black eQualizer
Black eQualizer
BenQ Color Vibrance
Color Vibrance

You’ll also find various Display Modes (simulates aspect ratio and screen size):

  • 16:9 – 21.5″, 23″, 23.6″, 24″
  • 4:3 – 17″, 19″
  • 16:10 – 22″
  • 5:4 – 19″

With this feature, you can use the 4:3 aspect ratio and use GPU scaling to stretch the image to fill the screen – some gamers prefer playing this way as it helps them with precision.

The backlight of the monitor is flicker-free (unless DyAc+ is enabled) and there’s a low-blue light filter (adjustable from 0 to 10, in increments of 1).

Note that there are no crosshair overlays (as this feature can be considered cheating). There are also no on-screen timers or a refresh rate tracker.

Design & Connectivity

The monitor’s design has a premium feel to it and offers a good range of ergonomics, including up to 155mm height adjustment, -5°/23° tilt, +/- 45° swivel, 90° clockwise pivot and 100x100mm VESA mount compatibility.

As you can see, it has a bit thicker bezels (13mm at the top and sides, 16mm at the bottom), but this is an intentional design in order to reduce backlight bleeding and increase screen durability. The bezels also have venting holes to keep the display cool and a slight angle to them to minimize reflections.

Unlike it’s the case with “borderless” displays, which have a small ~5mm thin black border before the image starts, the image on the XL2566K is edge-to-edge.

The stand has a small footprint yet it’s very sturdy and allows you to place your keyboard and mouse very close to the screen. There’s also an indicator on the stand for the swivel range and a small plastic label on the screen riser to mark your ideal height adjustment.

Furthermore, the BenQ XL2566K has a detachable headset hanger, a carrying handle and a cable management hole. It comes with the already mentioned S.Switch device, detachable side flaps to minimize distractions and a screen dust cover.

Next, it has a medium matte anti-glare coating that adds a bit of graininess to the image (only noticeable on solid colors), but it’s very effective at eliminating reflections.

In the box, along with the monitor and its accessories, you get DisplayPort and HDMI cables, a power cable and a quick start guide.

BenQ ZOWIE XL2566K Ports

Connectivity options include one DisplayPort 1.4 input, one HDMI 2.0 port (limited to 240Hz), a headphone jack and a mini-USB port for the S.Switch device. The monitor has an integrated power supply.

Price & Similar Monitors

The BenQ ZOWIE XL2566K goes for $650, which is a reasonable price for a professional e-Sports gaming monitor. Remember, this display is intended for serious competitive and/or professional players.

BenQ ZOWIE XL2546K

BenQ ZOWIE XL2546K

If you cannot maintain steady ~360FPS, there’s also the 240Hz version with DyAc+, the BenQ ZOWIE XL2546K, which can be found for $430 – $500.

ViewSonic XG2431

ViewSonic XG2431

In case you’re looking for something similar but cheaper, consider the ViewSonic XG2431 with Blur Busters 2.0 Approved certification. It’s a cheaper 24″ 1080p 240Hz model with an IPS panel, and it can be found for ~$300.

While it also has exceptional backlight strobing performance with plenty of customization (including 60Hz strobing), it has a slower response time and a lower brightness, so it’s not as good as the DyAc+ models.

Acer XV252QF & 25XV2QF

Acer Nitro XV252QF 390Hz Monitor

The Acer XV252QF is also worth mentioning. It’s a 24.5″ 1080p 360Hz IPS model with a great backlight strobing implementation up to 360Hz (or 390Hz when overclocked). While it can maintain high brightness while strobing, its slower pixel response time speed in comparison to the XL2566K results in more ghosting.

Additionally, it’s hard to find in stock and at its $500 MSRP, we recommend just investing in the XL2566K for better results.

There’s the Acer Aopen 25XV2QF variant (same monitor, different sub-company branding) that can be found for $300, making it a good cheaper alternative along with the XG2431 (depending on your frame rate, brightness requirements, etc.). It’s only available in Micro Center though.

ASUS PG27AQN & Acer XB273UF

ASUS PG27AQN vs Acer XB273UF

The only model that trades blows with the XL2566K is the ASUS PG27AQN (or the Acer XB273UF alternative) 27″ 1440p 360Hz monitor with AUO’s UltraFast Dual-Layer Voltage Driver IPS panel and NVIDIA’s ULMB2 backlight strobing implementation.

However, these models are more expensive ($900 – $1,050) and 1440p is more demanding on the GPU, so you will need a better graphics card to maintain ~360FPS.

They have wider viewing angles and a wider 98% DCI-P3 color gamut, which can help make your enemies stand out more in certain environments.

Further, the higher resolution offers sharper details, but a lot of professional FPS gamers find the 27″ screen size to be too big as you have to move your neck/eyes more than you would on a ~24″ sized display. They have a “25-inch Mode”, but it adds input lag.

Overall, the choice between these two models (XL2566K and PG27AQN/XB273UF) will come down to personal preference, your budget, the type of games you play and your PC rig. The 27″ 1440p IPS panel also has the upper hand if you want a single display that’s also good for other use.

When it comes to the backlight strobing performance though, there are a few things to keep in mind.

First of all, the PG27AQN uses a KSF backlight that will have some red fringing artifacts and it cannot get quite as bright as the XL2566K. It has a maximum of 250-nits, while DyAc+ goes up to 350-nits.

The PG27AQN requires an NVIDIA GPU for the ULMB2 firmware update and ULMB2 doesn’t work with AMD graphics card unless the GPU drivers are uninstalled. We hope this will be addressed in a future firmware or driver update.

500Hz+ Monitors

500Hz Gaming Monitors

Finally, there’s the Dell Alienware AW2524H with a 500Hz IPS panel, but it doesn’t have a fast enough pixel response time speed to keep up with its refresh rate, resulting in noticeable ghosting.

You may also want to consider the ASUS PG248QP with a 24″ 1080p 540Hz TN G-SYNC panel and ULMB2 support. However, it doesn’t support backlight strobing at refresh rates below 360Hz.

Alternatively, consider waiting for the ZOWIE XL2586X model. It has a 24.5″ 1080p 540Hz TN panel and DyAc 2 backlight strobing implementation. No word on pricing and availability yet though.

Conclusion

BenQ ZOWIE XL2566K Shielding Hood

Although it might look expensive for a 1080p TN display, the BenQ ZOWIE XL2566K is the best monitor for competitive FPS games thanks to its low input lag, rapid response time, impeccable backlight strobing implementation and plenty of useful features.

Specifications

Screen Size24.5-inch
Resolution1920×1080 (Full HD)
Panel TypeTN
Aspect Ratio16:9 (Widescreen)
Refresh Rate360Hz
Response TimeNot specified
Motion Blur ReductionDyAc+
Adaptive-SyncFreeSync (48-360Hz)
PortsDisplayPort 1.4, 2x HDMI 2.0
Other PortsHeadphone Jack, mini-USB
Brightness320 cd/m²
Contrast Ratio1000:1 (static)
Colors16.7 million (6-bit + FRC)
VESAYes (100x100mm)

The Pros:

  • Low input lag, quick response time
  • Plenty of gaming features, including VRR up to 360Hz
  • Exceptional backlight strobing implementation
  • A fully ergonomic design with helpful accessories

The Cons:

  • Narrow viewing angles
  • Expensive
  • Inferior image quality to IPS and VA panels

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Rob Shafer

Rob is a software engineer with a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Denver. He now works full-time managing DisplayNinja while coding his own projects on the side.