[Review] Play Like the Pros: BenQ Zowie XL2546K

BenQ Zowie XL2546K Gaming Monitor


I think we can all agree that esports players are on a different level from us regular gamers. As such, their needs will differ from the plebs, and this is something that BenQ has taken into account when designing their Zowie XL-K series gaming monitors.

Just a month ago, BenQ unveiled the XL2546K and the XL2411K monitors, which feature small but impactful upgrades from their best-selling predecessors. Today, we'll be taking a look at the larger XL2546K model.

Smaller base, more space to play

Esports gamers have this tendency to lean close to their monitors while gaming, like how we plebs tend to lean forward during tense moments (as if it helps us play better - or maybe it does, since pro players stick to their monitors most of the time :O). Anyway, Zowie has taken note of this common habit and reduced the size of the XL2546K's base stand to better accommodate the positioning of gaming peripherals, so they can fit in closer to the screen.

The angular shape of the base along with the ability to pivot the screen also contributes to the ideal positioning of peripherals. There's a running joke that only noobs play with the keyboard and mouse aligned parallel to the screen - pros have tilted keyboards for supposedly better ergonomics and bonus style points.

And of course, apart from pivoting, it has the usual range of movement, including swivel, tilt, and height adjustment. Not only does this allow you to adjust the viewing angle perfectly to your liking, it also allows for easier access to the ports on the back, which are admittedly a bit deeply set.

Quality of life design updates

Those who've seen the Zowie gaming monitors in action will easily recognise the detachable wings, which are supposed to act like horse blinders and allow players to focus on the screen, instead of trying to kap lui / kap zai during training. Now, BenQ has ditched the screw-on mechanism and opted for a much more user-friendly slide-and-snap locking mechanism instead. Tool-free assembly, ladies and gentlemen!

Also, BenQ has corrected a major oversight from the previous generation, which is the fact that the handy built-in headset stand jutted out from the left side of the monitor, conveniently overlapping with the aforementioned monitor flap. Now, the fold-out stand has been relegated to the back, which is quite a stretch to reach, but at least it's now functional!

Another feature that has been chucked to the back are the OSD control buttons. Apparently, BenQ claims that pro players find the buttons distracting, so they have moved it to the back for a completely clean front bezel. While I appreciate the minimalist design, personally I'd prefer having the buttons visible and within easy reach - but then again, I'm not the target audience of this product, so who cares about what I think? :')

In case you're not a fan of fumbling around in the dark, this is where the next feature comes in...

New and improved S-Switch

Another signature feature of Zowie monitors - the S-Switch. This little wired remote control plugs into the back of your monitor and brings all your settings within easy reach.

The buttons are pretty straightforward - top left is the 'back' button, top right is a programmable S-Switch key, and the bottom 3 correspond to 3 different profiles. The scroll wheel in the middle has also leveled up, and can now be used to scroll sideways, which is extremely convenient while trudging through layers of menus, which by the way, have been greatly streamlined in this model.

I also especially like the fact that the S-Switch key can be programmed to a variety of different things, including DyAc+ settings as well as input options, which is especially handy if you use this monitor for other things besides PC gaming. This is complemented by the generous 3 HDMI inputs, which you can use to hook up your Nintendo Switch and PlayStation, which you can easily switch between using the S-Switch.

Of course, there's also a DisplayPort 1.2 and an audio jack as well.