For photographers and videographers alike, a computer display is a critical component of any editing workflow. In the past, a good quality monitor with a large display would cost a fortune, and only high-end pros could afford features like good color accuracy, contrast, and viewing angle.

Today, however, those features (and more) are affordable, and brands such as BenQ have been leading the charge in this regard. Offering a diverse range of computer displays for all types of users, we’ve been trusting BenQ displays for many years now in our portrait & wedding photography studio.

The DesignVue monitors in particular are an impressive value for working professionals, with excellent quality, impressive sizes, and good longevity and durability. In this BenQ PD3205A monitor review, we are going to dive into every detail about this display’s color, contrast, physical design & quality, as well as the customizations and accessories.

Simply put, the BenQ PD3205A is a very professional display, at a very affordable price. Whether you are a photographer or a videographer, it’s an excellent investment in your workflow, and would potentially enhance the quality of your work in a very noticeable way! With that being said, let’s get into this review.

BenQ PD3205A Monitor Specifications

DISPLAY SIZE: 31.5” (80cm)
COLORS: AQCOLOR technology, 99% sRGB, Rec.709, Delta ≤3
BRIGHTNESS: 350 nits / cd/m2 (Peak in HDR Mode)
250 nits / cd/m2 (Sustained in SDR Mode)
VIEWING ANGLES: 178° Horizontal, 178° Vertical
1x USB-C
1 x USB-C (Power/DisplayPort Alt Mode)
3 x USB-A 3.1/3.2 Gen 2
2 x USB-B 3.1/3.2 Gen 2
STAND: Desktop clamp, spring-loaded up, down, left, right movements; 90° portrait rotation
ACCESSORIES: Hotkey Puck (G2), built-in speakers
WEIGHT: 13.7 lb / 6.2 kg (without Stand)
PRICE: $699 (B&H)

BenQ PD3205A Monitor Review | Color Accuracy

Accurate, vibrant, clear colors are absolutely essential for a computer display to be usable for photo and video editing, of course. This can be measured and fine-tuned by simply using a calibration device on any monitor, of course, which every digital artist & creator ought to do! Still, however, not all displays are created equal, and the quality of the panel itself plays a very important role.

There are multiple factors we must consider when actually judging the real-world results from any computer display. Besides the “simple” question of, “are the colors accurate?”, for example, what about the evenness of colors across the entire surface of the display? Are colors, brightness, and contrast all the same whether you are looking in the center, edges, or corners? They better be! (In the case of the BenQ PD3205A, the answer is yes to all of the above!)

One important thing to note at this point is that the BenQ DesignVue monitor comes already calibrated, and the calibration results are clearly printed in an individual report. This gives any photographer the confidence that, right out of the box, their display should provide  “near-perfect” colors!

Additionally, what about the viewing angle, and the overall dynamic range of a monitor? Especially with larger displays; you cannot use a monitor for photo editing if the shadow tones look completely different depending on what angle you view the monitor from. (Again, the PD3205A delivers excellent results in this regard, with the professional standard of a 178° viewing angle both horizontally and vertically.)

BenQ PD3205A HDR Compatibility & RGB Coverage

These days, excellent colors and contrast also include good HDR compatibility, for both photographers and videographers. With more viewer experiences and editing software now offering HDR modes, having a display that can keep up with these new standards is important!

The BenQ PD3205A is HDR10 compatible, and VESA HDR400 compliant, thanks to the BenQ AQCOLOR technology. Building upon this HDR capability, the display offers 99% sRGB color space and Rec.709 gamut coverage, which is a good standard for an HDR display. (In our experience as full-time professional photographers, full Adobe RGB coverage is not as important as good, consistent sRGB quality, accuracy, and long-term consistency!)

BenQ PD3205UA Monitor & Stand Quality & Design

Physically, the BenQ PD3205A DesignVue offers an “Ergo Stand”, and it is one of the best display stands that we have ever used! It does require a sturdy desk to clamp onto, which is understandable considering its size and weight.

The desktop clamp design also includes an allen wrench/key for adjusting the overall height, by the way. Once installed, this Ergo Stand design allows users to maintain a clean, simple desktop organization. (See below! All cables are contained within the stand column itself, yet easily accessed using an ingenious clip-on cover. The cable mounts are similarly contained neatly within a clip-on cover on the display…)

BenQ PD3205UA Monitor Stand Flexibility & Range

Moving the display up/down/left/right to adjust its position is almost effortless, with a good quality spring-loaded up-down motion and a smooth side-to-side adjustments. The range of lateral  motion is impressive, thanks to the clamp-on design. 

The height adjustment is excellent as well, although we do wish that it could go just a little bit higher, especially if a vertical display orientation is desired.

Speaking of which, the vertical orientation and the versatile arm make it very easy to access all the ports on the display during setup!

BenQ PD3205UA Display Controls

The physical controls for the BenQ display are on the rear of the display. This is very common for many displays because it maintains a clean visual for the front of the display, but honestly it’s not our favorite feature. We would rather just have display controls either visibly on the bottom edge or even the front of the display, with labels. This is likely not the most popular preference, however.

Since there are only four physical controls, and the user’s right hand fingers can naturally find all of them at once, it only takes a little muscle memory (and maybe a short time with a sticky note on the front to remind you which button does what) …its easy enough to memorize the buttons’ functions.

Again, this is a common complaint that we have with virtually all displays. Also, having said that, this BenQ display offers one of the best physical control features (accesories) on the market, and we’re getting to that next!)

Monitor Accessories & Customizations

For a few years now, BenQ has offered the best-in-the-business “hotkey puck” device, with incredibly useful buttons (four) and a control dial. This is an essential accessory for any creator who needs easy access to different display settings, and/or multiple computers easy (KVM) switching.

It is also important to note that this is not an add-on or aftermarket accessory, it is included with the BenQ DesignVue PD3205UA 31.5″ 4K HDR Monitor.

Last but not least, the monitor does have a pair of built-in speakers. Routing your music or audio to them is automatic through the HDMI cable, and of course you can configure your own computer however you want, if you’d prefer to use other speakers. They offer decent sound, though it is not necessarily adequate for high-quality audio mixing. Like any built-in display speakers, they are perfect for general content watching & background office music, etc.

Monitor Connectivity & Compatibility

There is a full array of connection ports, neatly contained within the “cage” on the lower back of the display. Additionally, there is a clear label for KVM pairing, which we’ll go over next. There is a large host of different USB options, including USB-C with a 90-Watt Power Delivery (USB-PD) option which makes it capable of charging any device, including a laptop.

(We weren’t able to test this, however, the specs should indicate that the USB-C port on the BenQ PD3205UA is capable of charging, and even directly powering, a Canon EOS R5 or R5C!)

BenQ HotKey Puck & KVN Switching

The combination of KVM pairing and the BenQ HotKey Puck is definitely one of the key advantages for this display. How does it work? It’s rather simple, actually:

Essentially, you plug two computers into the same display, and simply ensure that the keyboards and/or mice for that display are plugged into the appropriately paired USB port. Then, you can customize the Hotkey Puck’s buttons so that, with a single tap, you can switch the same monitor, keyboard, and/or mouse to all be connected to a different computer!

This is a very useful setup for anyone who might use both a desktop and laptop computer, or simply two separate desktop computers; possibly even a Mac + PC environment!

BenQ DesignVue Designer Monitor Review | Value

For any photographer or videographer, making a substantial investment in your craft needs to “pay off”, whether you are a working professional or a hobbyist. What does this mean? There are a number of factors to consider: How long of a lifespan will you get out out of the purchase? How much easier will it make your creative process? Will it allow any completely new, previously out-of-reach possibilities?

In the case of the BenQ PD3205UA, all of those criteria are met and an impressive value is achieved for the sub-$700 price tag. Obviously this is the newest model of their display, so we can’t speak to its actual longevity, but we can say that we’ve used numerous BenQ monitors for many years, including other DesignVue displays, and they have all had excellent longevity with minimal need for re-calibration.

Furthermore, the hotkey puck accessory is incredibly valuable, especially at the numerous times in recent years that we have had to jump between a Mac and PC, and/or a laptop and desktop, for our various work requirements.

All in all, here’s the bottom line: in terms of value, we are simply surprised that this thing doesn’t cost a lot more! It’s worth a lot more, and that is the gold standard for any gear review’s “value” category.

We could also mention that, if you are on a tighter budget and/or you simply would like a smaller display, BenQ does offer a 27-inch version of this display, and with a simple height (only) adjustable stand, the price tag drops down to $549. With basically the same display specs and performance, this is an even more incredible value, of course.

BenQ DesignVue Designer Monitor Review | Conclusion

All in all, we can best sum up this BenQ PD3205UA Review with the statement from our Value section: “We’re surprised that this thing doesn’t cost a lot more!” The quality is excellent, both in terms of the display image and physical design + durability. The interface, and the overall user experience, is our favorite of any display we have in-suditio, especially with the hotkey puck.

Therefore, we strongly recommend the BenQ PD3205UA DesignVue 4K HDR monitor!

BenQ DesignVue Pricing & Options

The current BenQ DesignVue PD series of 4K HDR monitors are available in 31.5” and 27” models, and either model can be paired with either a basic height-adjustable stand or the Ergo Arm stand. The Ergon Arm seems to be a $50 price difference, while the size difference runs $100. Hence the full price range from $549 (27” with HA stand) …to $699 for the 31.5” version with the Ergo arm. All options include the BenQ Hotkey Puck G2.