News piece originally published 4 September 2019 and updated most recently 29 April 2021
At IFA in Berlin all the way back in September 2019 Asus showcased their new ProArt PA32UCG display, a screen which has an incredibly impressive spec, but will no doubt carry a hefty price tag. It’s aimed at professional users and content creators looking for high levels of colour accuracy and is part of their ProArt lineup. Despite that market positioning there is also an interesting spec from a gaming point of view as well. The screen is 32″ in size and features a 3840 x 2160 “4K” resolution, 120Hz refresh rate, 1152 zone Mini LED backlight and the new VESA DisplayHDR 1400 certification.
HDR 1400 and Mini LED Backlight
HDR is obviously a key focus of this display, being the first screen announced (at the time) to carry the VESA DisplayHDR 1400 certification level. This requires at least 1400 cd/m2 peak brightness, with the PA32UCG actually offering 1600 /cdm2 peak, as well as a 1000 cd/m2 full screen sustained brightness. Asus talk about a 1 million:1 contrast ratio capability thanks to the 1,152 zone Mini-LED backlight for detailed local dimming support. This goes beyond what was possible from previous FALD backlights and offers the best local dimming potential in the LCD monitor market right now. This should help avoid halos and blooming more than on backlights with far fewer zones, although it will not be able to match the pixel level dimming of OLED technology.
Direct type LED backlight displays have narrow viewing angles, which can make collaboration with clients or colleagues on color-critical work challenging due to inaccurate colours being displayed to viewers seated to the side. Asus Off-Axis Contrast Optimization (OCO) technology solves this problem with a compensation layer that controls light transmittance around the edges, which according to their website reduces halo effects by up to 80% and providing a 7x contrast-ratio enhancement for dark parts of the image when viewing the screen from an angle. That is demonstrated in this video:
HDR Capabilities of the PA32UCG
The PA32UCG can support all three major HDR standards (HDR10, HLG, and Dolby Vision). Dolby Vision transforms the viewing experience with unmatched levels of brightness, contrast and colours. HLG allows users to view and create material for broadcast and satellite TV platforms such as BBC iPlayer, Japan NHK TV, and DirecTV. HDR-10 support ensures compatibility with existing streaming video services and a growing list of HDR-enabled games.
To provide the necessary colour enhancements to meet the HDR 1400 certification there is true 10-bit colour depth support and a DCI-P3 gamut which must be at least 95% under the new HDR 1400 scheme. In fact here it offers 97% DCI-P3 coverage thanks to the use of Quantum Dot coating.
Gaming on the PA32UCG
While this is certainly not aimed at the gaming market, the PA32UCG does offer some impressive specs that make it suitable for gaming and will probably attract users who need both the super high end reliability and colour capabilities, but who also want to do some gaming.
The screen is based on a 32″ IPS technology panel with 3840 x 2160 resolution and 120Hz rate capability. It supports adaptive-sync for variable refresh rates between 48 – 120Hz from both NVIDIA and AMD systems. It has also been certified to the AMD FreeSync Premium Pro level. Despite being part of their professional ProArt range, Asus are not shy about promoting it’s gaming capabilities on their website.
We should keep in mind here that this screen does not feature a Native G-sync module like the gamer-focused ROG Swift PG32UQX will, and so will not handle gaming in quite the same way. This means it lacks features like variable overdrive and it is not clear yet what lag will impact the screen. The most important difference is likely to be the control of the Mini LED backlight though. To get that operating effectively and fast enough in VRR situations is a real development challenge, and while NVIDIA have worked hand in hand with Asus to get that working via their hardware G-sync module on the PG32UQX, that module is not being used here. The Mini LED backlight should of course handle content creation and HDR video fine, but may struggle more when it comes to high refresh rate and VRR gaming.
PA32UCG Colour Capabilities
Asus says it puts each monitor through a three-level factory pre-calibration process, so the monitor’s colors should be as accurate as possible when they reach you with a dE of <1 advertised. Hardware calibration of the monitors internal LUT is also supported as with other ProArt professional displays. Hardware calibration can be achieved via Asus’ ProArt Calibration 2.0 software, Calman and Light Illusion ColourSpace CMS hardware calibration software. Asus even list the screen as being packaged with an X-rite i1 Display Pro colorimeter if you purchase the PA32UCG-K package.
The spec offers a wide gamut backlight with 97% DCI-P3, 100% sRGB, 99.5% Adobe RGB and even 89% Rec.2020 which is a very wide gamut, made possible by the use of Quantum Dot coating.
Other Specs and Features
In other specs there is a 5ms G2G response time, 1000:1 contrast ratio, 178/178 viewing angles. 2x 3W speakers are also built in to the screen and there is a headphone jack provided.
For connections there are 2x Thunderbolt 3 ports, 1x DisplayPort 1.4, 1x HDMI 2.1 (added to the spec in Feb 2021) and 2x HDMI 2.0 ports provided as well as a built-in 3x USB 3.0 port hub. A full range of tilt, swivel, pivot and height adjustments are offered from the stand. The onscreen menu even rotates automatically to display information correctly when the monitor is used in portrait orientation- which is handy when working with websites or longer documents.
PbP modes are supported as well and you can view two to four different settings simultaneously by placing multiple input sources onscreen side-by-side; and configure each individual window’s color settings with sRGB, Adobe RGB, DCI-P3, Rec. 2020, User Mode 1 or User Mode 2.
A detachable hood is provided with the screen and efficiently blocks out ambient light and reflections, allowing for more accurate and realistic colours onscreen.
Availability and Pricing
It was originally expected to be released in Q1 2020 but this was obviously missed.
In late April 2021 the ProArt PA32UCG has started to appear on some retailers, although some of the pricing looks as if it might be place-holder as it doesn’t seem to align well between different stores. It’s listed today on Amazon (affiliate link) in the UK at £4,999 GBP, and on Amazon France at €7,087 for instance (which is about £6,170 GBP). It’s also listed on Australian retailer Mwave at $4299 AUD (which is about £2400 GBP so again very different to the Amazon UK listing). It’s not yet in stock and is expected soon.
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