The BenQ EW3880R seeks to find a place among the best gaming monitors not with a blisteringly quick fresh rate, but through the screen quality itself. Make no mistake, either. The BenQ EW3880R is a big monitor with an equally large price tag of $1,050 / £1,030, which positions it at the upper echelon of panels up there with the best from the likes of Samsung and Alienware.
While it's been promoted heavily on its media potential, due in part to the aspect ratio and panel tech used, it's attempting to be a bit of a jack of all trades and doesn't quite strike every box with confidence.
BenQ EW3880R review: Design and features
The first thing that's going to catch your eye with the BenQ EW3880R is its substantial size, especially when set up on one of the best gaming desks. Even compared to similar ultrawide displays and the best curved gaming monitors, it's fair to say that this monitor is an absolute unit; and that 38-inch panel really gets to stretch itself out over the 2300R curve. The BenQ EW3880R is an attention-grabbing display though it might be the leanest monitor that you can have in front of you. I won't go so far as to call it bulky, but it has some meat on its bones so to speak, which is most noticeable when taking a closer look at the bezels themselves, because they, too, are on the thick side.
Turning your attention to the bottom of the BenQ EW3880R reveals two of its most exciting inclusions, namely, the built-in audio bar (2.1 channel sound with a 3w speaker and 8w subwoofer) and the dedicated HDRi button. The HDR modes themselves are split into three distinct categories which can be toggled on the fly depending on the task, with an all-arounder HDR mode as well as "Cinema" and "Game" options. The differences between them may not seem too large at first, though, extended use of the display revealed the specifics well, but more on that later.
On the more technical side, the BenQ EW3880R utilizes a 21:9 WQHD+ IPS panel (with a DCI-P3 rating of 95%) to deliver deep blacks and vibrant colors, which you would expect for a monitor marketed on its entertainment prowess. I found that the viewing angles were consistently strong sat up close to the display, as one would expect from a curved computer monitor, and when a fair distance away, too.
BenQ EW3880R review: Performance
Let's get one thing straight out of the gate, the BenQ EW3880R is built with multimedia in mind first and foremost over its raw gaming potential. This can be evidenced by its 60Hz refresh rate, which is definitely going to be on the slower side, especially if you're someone that enjoys the latest titles running at their silkiest. With that said, I found that gaming in 1440p on this monitor to be enjoyable despite the low refresh rate, with FPS games and racing titles benefiting from that ultrawide display the most.
Ride 4 was a particular highlight, especially when enabling the title's supported HDR modes across the 21:9 Ultrawide display. The subtle curve of the BenQ EW3880R allowed for decent visibility on the tracks as well as lending an immersive feel when in first-person on some of the more challenging circuits available. It was a similar story with both Cyberpunk 2077 and Halo Infinite, especially with the Game HDRi mode enabled.
Screen size: 38-inch
Resolution: 3840 x 1600 WQHD+
Panel type: IPS
Refresh rate: 60Hz
Response time: 4ms
Aspect ratio: 21:9
Contrast ratio: 1,000:1
Ports: HDMI 2.0 (x2), DisplayPort 1.4 (x1), USB-C (x1), USB 3.0 (x2)
The former of which looked especially dazzling stretched with all the screen real estate in play; whether driving through Night City or getting into gunfights. If you're considering a monitor for competitive titles, such as Valorant or Apex Legends, then the BenQ EW3880R isn't going to be able to give you the kind of frame rate that you need. With that in mind, should you be after a display for action/adventure games, RPGs or single-player games where max FPS isn't too important, then you've got a decent option here.
The main draw is how the BenQ EW3880R handles multimedia, and that really is where it shines the brightest. The 21:9 aspect ratio was built with premium viewing in mind, and I can safely say that it delivers on all fronts in this respect. In order to put this monitor through its paces, I consumed a lot of movies over my time with the monitor. If you're after a panel to make the most of the pictures old and new, then I can say hands down that this is the nicest screen I've ever seen for cinema.
The HDRi Movie option was stellar at bringing out the colors, contrast, and saturation of many movie scenes which was especially noticeable in a film's darker moments. The blacks looked incredible during one of the final shootouts of John Wick: Chapter 2, with the BenQ EW3880R being the only display I've ever used to accurately display contrast in the shadows when moving into light, especially when a muzzle flash cuts through the darkness. Venom: Let There Be Carnage was just as strong here as well, considering how much of that movie takes place at night. Black and white movies were equally as striking on this display, though with black bars at each side as you may expect. Everything from Seven Samurai, Dr. Strangelove, and The Lighthouse looked spectacular with prominent, and faithful, contrast where needed.
Productivity is another strong suit of the BenQ EW3880R. As someone who spends an awful lot of time in front of screens, both for work and leisure, the big and bright panel here made working as painless as possible, as text and images were especially crisp. If you're someone that's ever had to zoom in on your browser windows to see everything well enough, then it's highly likely that this screen will eradicate the issue. It's also easy on the eyes over extended periods of time, both through specified eye-care options and when adjusting the HDR to dull the dazzling of white-on-white displays.
BenQ EW3880R review: Should you buy it?
The BenQ EW3880R is one of the nicest panels I've ever had my hands on and is fantastic for both consuming media and being productive. However, if you're purely after something geared towards gaming first and foremost then this really isn't the panel for you. The 60Hz refresh rate gets the job done, and games do still look good on this display, but it's clearly not the main focus here and it shows overall. While it's amazing for movies, it's just decent for gaming. Ultrawide QHD alternatives from the company, such as the EX3501R or EX3203R may prove to be more up to the challenge with higher refresh rates built for more specifically for gaming.
If you're looking to go big but have gaming in mind first and foremost, then you'll need one of the best gaming TVs, best TVs for PS5 and Xbox Series X, or best 4K monitors for gaming.