Originally published 26 March 2023, last updated 20 June 2023
We can remember a time when many people were eagerly awaiting the arrival of 32″ 4K high refresh rate displays, seen as a sweet spot for 4K resolution and something many people wanted instead of the stream of smaller 27″ sized displays that were being launched. We have to go back all the way to May 2021 when we tested one of the first to be released, the very high end and expensive Asus ROG Swift PG32UQX. This had a 32″ IPS-type panel, 4K resolution, 144Hz refresh rate and a 1152-zone Mini LED backlight, and was one of the first to offer this screen size / resolution / refresh rate combo people were after.
Things have moved on quite a bit since then and there’s been a fair few other 32″ 4K 144Hz displays released. Some with simpler edge-lit backlights (e.g. Asus ROG Swift PG32UQ), some with higher end HDR Mini LED and FALD options. Some further minor improvements are appearing now in the market, and we have one of the new 32″ generation with us now for testing. It’s the Acer Predator X32 FP which keeps the 32″ screen size and 4K resolution, but uses a newer generation of IPS-type panel, with an increased refresh rate up to 160Hz, and even an improved contrast ratio spec of 1200:1. It’s still a high-end HDR option with a 576-zone Mini LED backlight, actually part of AU Optronics’ latest “AmLED” (Adaptive Mini LED) backlight technology designed to support dynamic HDR content and gaming better than previous generations.
The X32 FP also supports FreeSync Premium Pro VRR, Display HDR 1000 certification and has latest-gen-console-supporting HDMI 2.1 connectivity along with DisplayPort 1.4 and USB type-C. But how does this new generation of 32″ 4K high refresh rate displays perform?
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Updated Firmware Notes – Dated 12 June 2023
Acer have provided a new firmware for this screen that was released after our original review. We have now updated this review to include notes about what impact it has on some of our observations and results. Relevant sections that have been updated are marked below. The updates include:
- Auto HDR activation now works as expected – HDR mode should be activated automatically when an HDR input is detected, although local dimming remains independent as a global on/off setting for both SDR/HDR.
- Overdrive setting can be changed when adaptive-sync (FreeSync/G-sync) is active
- Some further OSD settings can be changed when HDR mode is active
- Fixed a specific user complaint with fuzzy image in the Witcher 3 game on PC
- 32″ scree size, flat format, 16:9 aspect ratio
- 3840 x 2160 “4K” resolution
- ‘Agile Splendor’ IPS panel technology
- 0.7ms G2G quoted response time
- 160Hz refresh rate
- Adaptive-sync for Variable Refresh Rates (VRR) including AMD ‘FreeSync Premium Pro’ certification
- 576-zone AmLED (Adaptive Mini LED) backlight
- VESA DisplayHDR 1000 certified with 1200 nits peak brightness
- Quantum Dot coating delivering wide colour gamut covering 99% Adobe RGB
- 1x DisplayPort 1.4, four (4) x HDMI 2.1 and 1x USB type-C (with DP Alt mode and 90W power delivery) video connections
- Tilt, height and swivel stand adjustments
- 2x 7W integrated speakers
Design and Features
The X32 FP comes in a black and silver design with a 3-side borderless panel. It has a thin plastic edge, but the normal black panel border giving a total edge of 9mm along the sides and top. The bottom edge has a thicker plastic bezel and a total 23mm border. The screen has a dark silver metal foot which provides a very strong and stable base for the screen.
The screen is encased in a matte black plastic rear, and unusually for modern gaming screens there are no RGB lights to be found here!
The OSD controls are located on the left hand edge when viewed from the rear, and are a bit higher up than we’re used to so take a bit of getting used to. There is a useful metal carry handle on the top of the stand, and the stand itself is of a nice design that looks smart for a gaming screen.
On the left hand side are two easy-access USB data ports which is useful. The stand has a fairly deep profile so make sure you have enough depth to your desk to accommodate it. The stand provides tilt, height and swivel adjustments but no rotation. Tilt is smooth but a bit stiff to operate, while height and swivel are both pretty smooth and easy to use. There’s a good range of adjustment available from all three. The screen remains very stable while it is adjusted or while you’re using the OSD menu thanks to the chunky and strong stand design.
The OSD is controlled primarily via a single joystick on the back of the screen which gives you quick and intuitive access to most settings. It was sometimes a little bit difficult to press the joystick button in to select something, and sometimes getting in and out of an active setting got confusing, but on the whole the menu was fine to navigate around. The software was responsive, and there were a good range of options to play with too. The use of the other physical buttons was sometimes a bit tricky, as it wasn’t always obvious which one was lined up to which setting shown on the screen.
We tested the screen in its default out of the box state. The screen operates in its full native colour gamut by default, and the only thing we changed in the OSD menu was to disable ‘adaptive dimming’ as we did not want the Mini LED backlight operational during these tests. That’s more useful and relevant for HDR content, and perhaps for some SDR gaming/multimedia, but for general desktop applications we wanted this turned off.
The default appearance of the screen was warm overall, with a definite orangey tone to grey and white shades. You could tell the screen had a very wide colour space, with reds and greens looking very saturated and vivid. Screen brightness was very modest though which is unusual for a default monitor setup. There’s a reason for that which we will explain in a moment.
Gamma was too high overall at 2.42 average, being especially high in mid to light grey tones and causing some washing out of bright grey details which was not very good. The other main issue with the default setup was that the screen was set in the ‘warm’ colour temp mode, which lead to an overly warm greyscale (5625K average) and white point (5451k), leaving a 16% deviance from our target of 6500K. This also lead to a poor greyscale accuracy with dE 8.1 average.
On a more positive note, the default luminance was ~120 cd/m2, even though the screen was set at an 80% brightness level. The reason for this modest (but comfortable) luminance was the ‘maximum brightness’ setting available in the OSD. This is turned ‘off’ by default as it’s an environmental and energy saving measure introduced presumably to fudge some kind of energy compliance certification. You need to turn this maximum brightness setting ‘on’ to achieve the full brightness range of the screen. With the setting turned off (default) the luminance range possible from the screen was only 23 – 147 cd/m2, but with it turned on you could reach a much larger range of 4 – 474 cd/m2 which was impressive, including a very low adjustment at the bottom end. The contrast ratio was strong for an IPS-type panel at 1242:1, living up to the spec of 1200:1 for the display.
You can see from the CIE diagrams on the left that the colour gamut of this display is very wide indeed. It has a 148.3% relative coverage of the sRGB space, over-extending significantly in green and red shades and causing their vivid and very saturated appearance. Combined with the overly warm colour temp, the accuracy of sRGB colours is therefore very poor here at 8.8 dE average. You’d expect that from a wide gamut screen though really when trying to work with SDR / sRGB content.
There is very good coverage capability for wider gamut spaces like DCI-P3 (98.3%) and Adobe RGB (99.9%), but there’s still some significant over-coverage of both by default. This means that you could in theory work with these wide colour gamut spaces for content creation, photography etc, but you’re still going to need a way to clamp the native colour gamut back more closely to the desired target space, ideally via a calibration tool. We’ve provided comparisons in the bottom section against the Adobe RGB reference space, commonly used in the professional and photography market. You can see there’s still a 127.1% relative coverage, with large over-coverage in red shades. This, combined again with the overly warm colour temp, still leaves us with poor accuracy for Adobe RGB colours at 6.0 dE average. It’s capable of being used for Adobe RGB content but will need correct profiling.
The out of the box mode isn’t very accurate at all, we will need a good way to improve this through setting adjustments or calibration really.
Note: we left ‘maximum brightness’ turned on in this testing, as it was better to have full access to the screen’s brightness capability. This is the mode that carries the factory calibration, although the printed sheet was missing from our sample, but is supposed to be calibrated to a 6500K white point and dE <1. Let’s see how it performs.
We switched to the sRGB colour space mode which provides an emulation of the smaller colour space, useful for those wanting to work with SDR and standard gamut content more accurately, and avoid the large over-saturation caused by the screens native colour gamut. Gamma was unfortunately still too high in mid to light grey shades in this mode, causing some wash out of lighter greys. The colour temp was also still warm, although a little better than the default wide gamut mode. We had a 5935K average greyscale temp, and a 5711K white point (12% deviance). There’s no access to adjust the colour temp mode or the RGB channels while using the sRGB emulation mode preset unfortunately, so you’re stuck with this too warm setup, unless you can calibrate and profile the screen yourself separately. This left us with high errors again in the greyscale with dE 6.7 recorded.
Thankfully unlike many screens, you do still have access to the brightness control in the sRGB emulation mode. It’s set at 30 by default, delivering a modest 140 cd/m2 luminance, but maintaining the high IPS contrast ratio of 1254:1 we’d seen in the default mode before.
Good news about this mode though is that the emulation of the smaller sRGB colour space was very good, with 98.5% absolute coverage, and only some minor over-coverage (104.6% relative) in red shades measured. The colour accuracy of sRGB colours was now much more accurate than before of course, but still only what we’d call moderate at 4.1 dE average. This is caused by that still-too-warm colour temp primarily. It wasn’t living up to its supposed dE <1 disappointingly.
We would have liked a more accurate colour temp and gamma in this sRGB mode really, especially if you’re going to lock access to the settings that might allow you to tweak things yourself. The emulation and clamping of the colour space was very good, and it’s likely to still be a useful mode to many when working with SDR content or in general applications over the native wide gamut mode.
DCI-P3 Emulation Mode
Acer also provide a DCI-P3 emulation mode within the menu, labelled as “DCI” in fact and designed to clamp to this target colour space, often used in HDR content creation and multimedia.
You may notice that the gamma in this mode has seemingly been targeted to 2.6, instead of 2.2. This is applicable for DCI-P3 for cinema/theatre (as opposed to ‘display DCI-P3’) which uses this 2.6 gamma curve. Even so, we still have problems with the gamma being far too high again in lighter grey shades here. The colour temp was now a bit cooler than before, but still a bit too warm compared with our target of 6500K. We had a 5825K white point which left us a 10% deviance still, and overall left us with poor greyscale accuracy at 4.8 dE average.
There was a good clamping of the colour space back to DCI-P3 here again which was pleasing, cutting down on the over-coverage in the native mode (which had 118.2% relative coverage). We still had access to the brightness control here, but not to any other gamma or colour settings. The accuracy of DCI-P3 colours was unfortunately poor though at 5.9 dE average.
This is not really a very well configured mode other than the colour space clamping, and so if you want to work specifically with DCI-P3 content you’re probably going to need your own calibration device so you can profile the screen and correct gamma, colour temp and map the colour space more accurately in colour-aware applications.
Optimal OSD Settings
Having experienced a poor overall default setup, we made some adjustment to the OSD settings to see how much we could impact the results with just some simple configuration changes in the menu, that everyone should have access to. We left ‘maximum brightness’ turned on, but kept ‘adaptive dimming’ disabled for this. We adjusted the brightness control and RGB channels and saw major improvements to the accuracy in all areas. We had a much better gamma now at 2.23 average. A much better white point at 6506K, being basically spot on to our target. Greyscale was every so slightly too cool on average, but not by anything major, and we had a very good greyscale accuracy now with dE 1.2 average. Contrast ratio had been maintained around the advertised spec of 1200:1, at 1169:1, dropping slightly because of the re-balancing of the RGB levels.
While you can improve gamma, white point, colour temp and greyscale accuracy easily with simple OSD adjustments, you cannot change the fact that the native wide gamut leads to inaccurate sRGB colours, caused by that over-saturation. We’d improved the accuracy a bit now that the colour temp was corrected, but you’re going to need to profile and calibrate the screen (or maybe try our calibrated profile below) if you want to improve sRGB colours in colour-aware applications and content any further. Unfortunately we can’t use the screen’s built in sRGB emulation mode to improve this, as we lose access to other settings in that mode.
Calibration and profiling can produce very good results if you have a suitable calibration device and software. This was profiled to 2.2 gamma, 6500K colour temp and to the sRGB colour space. The screen was left in its native wide gamut mode, but this profile will be used in colour-aware applications (e.g. Photoshop) to map back to sRGB in this instance. You can see the recommended OSD settings above that go along with this profile. Our calibrated ICC profile for this display is available now for our Patreon supporters and will be added to our main database in the coming months.
SDR Local Dimming
Acer provide the option to enable the local dimming backlight even in SDR mode via the ‘adaptive dimming’ option in the OSD menu. This could potentially be useful for gaming and multimedia. It does not increase the maximum brightness beyond what is achievable with it turned off, and we measured a max SDR brightness of around 447 nits using this mode. What it does do is allow for darker areas to be dimmed where appropriate, making use of the 576-zone Mini LED backlight and improving the contrast ratio in many situations.
Keep in mind SDR content is mastered to a much lower brightness level (actually 100 nits), so you will need to try and get to a comfortable brightness for your uses, ambient light conditions and content in the same way you would for general use. You don’t have to get it to 100 nits, many people find that too dark, but you will need to customise the brightness control in the OSD to get something comfortable. With local dimming enabled you can then still benefit from the local dimming to improve black depth and darker content, while improving the contrast ratio significantly.
We measured a local contrast ratio between adjacent white and black areas of a test pattern as reaching around 3275:1, a decent improvement over the native ~1200:1 contrast ratio. We also measured a maximum contrast ratio of ~30,000:1 measuring a black area further away from the white test area. This is because the Mini LED backlight can more effectively dim those areas which it knows are supposed to be black, while it has to be more modest when dark areas are close to light areas. Overall this was a good result, and could be useful for SDR multimedia and gaming. Nice to see the option available from the screen.
General and Office
One of the key features of this screen is its high 3840 x 2160 Ultra HD (“4K”) resolution. This 4K resolution is possibly still a bit too high to use at native scaling (100%) on a screen even of this pretty large 32″ size although some people may find it ok. Text is small but if you’ve got good eye-sight and are up close then it’s still reasonable and does provide you then with a massive screen real estate and very sharp picture. It’s certainly viable unlike on a 27″ model like previous 4K 144Hz+ screens. Other people will probably want to use operating system scaling to ensure fonts and text are a more sensible and readable size though. 150% is unnecessarily large, with 125% scaling offering a nice balance on a screen of this size we think. That gives you comfortable text size which is very similar to a 27″ 1440p screen, but does give you the equivalent desktop real-estate area of a 3072 x 1728 resolution. So that’s quite a nice jump up from common 2560 x 1440 resolution screens in this approximate size range. The extra pixel density of the 4K resolution will provide a very sharp and clear image for all uses including office and general applications. Just make sure that your software will support scaling effectively as it can sometimes be a bit difficult to get it right.
Keep in mind that not all Operating Systems and applications handle scaling the same. More recent versions of Windows tend to handle it all better, and recent versions of Mac OS are pretty solid as well. Some applications and games don’t handle scaling correctly and so you can end up with some things with very minute text and fonts and some things which don’t scale completely in every place. Keep this in mind if you’re selecting any super high resolution display as it could be an important factor. You need to ensure you have the necessary operating system and applications to handle scaling effectively for your needs. It does make life a bit more complicated than if you just ran at a native resolution and 100% scaling. If you have the necessary software and operating system then the 4K resolution provides a very sharp and crisp image though.
The IPS panel used for this screen offers some solid all round performance including wide viewing angles and a stable image quality that you’d expect from this technology. You get some IPS glow on dark content when viewed from an angle although it’s not as obvious as some other IPS panels we’ve seen. Rather than it being obviously pale or white, it’s more of a darker pink/purple hue. Overall this means it has less glow appearance than some competing IPS screens.
The contrast ratio is very good for an IPS-type panel at around 1200:1 after calibration which is a pleasing small step up from common ~1000:1 IPS panels. It is still not as good as VA panels or next generation IPS Black panels though which can reach 2000:1 and above. The backlight adjustment range (4 – 475 cd/m2) is amazing, including very dark adjustment for darker room conditions if you need. This is all confirmed as flicker free too.
The light AG coating of the panel is fine, and much better than the grainy and dirty appearance of older IPS AG coatings. The wide viewing angles provided by this panel technology on both horizontal and vertical planes, helps minimize on-screen colour shift when viewed from different angles.
There are 2x USB data ports provided on the back of the screen which are tucked out of the way with the video connections and not very easy to get to. But there are also 2x extra ports on the left hand side of the screen which are great for easy access. A headphone connection is also provided on the back for audio, and the display also includes some modest (for a monitor) 2x 7W stereo speakers. These are ok for the odd mp3, YouTube video etc. There’s no other office-type extras like ambient light sensors, motion sensors or card readers included here. The screen has a decent range of ergonomic adjustments with tilt, height and swivel provided.
With a built-in KVM switch you can easily control an extra device such as a laptop, another desktop, tablet, or a phone using only a single set of a keyboard and mouse. Along with the common DisplayPort input, there are 4x HDMI 2.1 ports and also a USB type-C with DP Alt mode and 90W power delivery which might be useful for some devices for single cable connectivity. Nice to see that included here as with many other modern monitors.
The spectral distribution at a calibrated 6500K white point is shown above, with the blue peak measured at 450 nm wavelength. This means it is not part of the Eyesafe certified range of products, as it does not have a blue peak that is outside of the supposed harmful range according to Eyesafe which is 415 – 455nm. There is a ‘Low Blue Light’ setting in the OSD menu which can be accessed via the ‘picture’ section. This has 4 levels where the colour temp gets progressively warmer, and also the brightness has a preset value which decreases a little with each step. Brightness can still be manually adjusted in each mode if you want.
The colour temp gets warmer and more yellow with each level, and we measured 5209K (level 1), 4811K (2), 4469K (3) and 4266K (4). They are all useable modes really if you want a warmer setup, although there is annoying OSD memory bug when you then want to switch low blue light back off. Let’s assume you’ve altered the standard mode using our recommended settings earlier. The screen is now in the ‘user’ mode then with customised brightness, RGB levels etc and the low blue light mode is off (set to ‘standard’ in the menu). When you enable low blue light, the colour temp setting switches to low blue light mode, and brightness changes with each level to a preset value. However, when you switch back to ‘standard’ low blue light mode (turning it off) the screen reverts back to the original OSD settings for brightness and in the ‘warm’ colour temp setting, so it hadn’t remembered what you had it on before. If you want to use the low blue light modes at all, you’d be best saving your normal user settings to one of the 3 game modes, so you can quickly and easily switch back to it when you turn low blue light off.
The X32 FP is based on an IPS-type panel from panel manufacturer AU Optronics, their AHVA technology which Acer have branded “Agile Splendor”. The screen has a quoted 0.7ms minimum G2G response time spec which should be taken with a pinch of salt on any LCD panel. The screen has a fairly high 160Hz refresh rate, being a small step up from some of the original 32″ 4K gaming screens available at 144Hz. Lower resolution monitors with 1080p or 1440p can reach higher refresh rates though, up to 360Hz quite commonly now, and soon 500Hz+. Still, the combination of a high 4K resolution with a very sharp image, and a pretty high refresh rate is very attractive. The high resolution enhances detail in graphically focused games and provides an excellent image quality.
To help support this 4K @160Hz combo, the screen supports adaptive-sync for variable refresh rates (VRR) from compatible NVIDIA and AMD systems with a VRR range of 48 – 160Hz over both DisplayPort and HDMI connections. It’s also been certified under the AMD ‘FreeSync Premium Pro’ scheme to give you some reassurances around VRR performance, although unlike Acer’s older X32 model it doesn’t seem to have been certified under NVIDIA’s ‘G-sync Compatible’ scheme at this time.
Within the OSD menu are a few additional gamer settings for refresh rate number display and an ‘aim point’ crosshair. There are also three customisable ‘Gamer’ preset modes available for you to set up and save as you like.
Response Times and Motion Clarity
As discussed in our detailed article about Response Time Testing – Pitfalls, Improvements and Updating Our Methodology we are using an improved and more accurate method for capturing G2G response times and overshoot, based on figures that are more reflective to what you see visually on the screen in real-World usage. Our article linked above talks through why this is better and how we arrived at this improved method in much more detail.
Updated 20 June 2023 – One thing to note immediately when we tested the screen originally was that with adaptive-sync turned on, there was no user control for the overdrive setting. It was locked in ‘normal’ mode. Acer released a firmware update in June 2023 that now allows you to change this setting when using adaptive-sync VRR, discussed a bit more below.
For these initial tests, we turned adaptive-sync OFF and tested the 3 overdrive modes – off, normal and extreme. We carried out a range of measurements and visual tests at different refresh rates, with the 160Hz results shown above.
With overdrive turned off we had moderate response times with a 6.5ms G2G average, but they were not really sufficient to keep up with the frame rate of the screen (50% compliance), and so some moderate levels of blurring and smearing were visible. There was no overshoot at all though in this mode which was pleasing. Moving up to the middle ‘normal’ mode showed decent improvements in G2G times, down now to 4.1ms average and keeping up nicely with the refresh rate (87% compliance). There was however some moderate overshoot starting to appear, and you can see this in the table. In practice at 160Hz it was fairly minor, with only some slight pale halos and trails in certain situations. If you move up to the ‘extreme’ overdrive mode the G2G figure reduces again to 3.4ms average, but at the cost of some much higher overshoot. This results in very noticeable and distracting halos in practice, with pale trails being very obvious. In this mode we reached close to the advertised response time with a minimum of 1.0ms measured, but as usual with LCD panels and these very low specs, it’s at the cost of very high overshoot, making it largely meaningless. The middle ‘normal’ mode seemed to be optimal.
At other fixed refresh rates like 60Hz and 120Hz the G2G figures for each mode remained pretty much the same, but the overshoot increased as it normal when using lower refresh rates on a screen like this. Even at 120Hz we felt the ‘normal’ mode started to show a bit too much pale overshoot and might be a bit of a problem to some. Certainly at 60Hz it was very noticeable in this middle mode, and so we would recommend switching overdrive to ‘off’ for lower refresh rates if you’re using a fixed input device like a Blu-ray player or older 60Hz games console. Experiment with ‘normal’ mode too if you want, but we felt the overshoot was too high at lower refresh rates.
Section updated 20 June 2023 to account for new firmware
We then turned adaptive-sync back on in the menu, which on the older firmware (before June 2023) resulted in the overdrive setting being locked to ‘normal’. At 160Hz the performance was basically the same as we’d seen in the tests above, no surprises there. Overshoot was moderate in measurements but only minor in visual tests and in practice. As with most adaptive-sync screens the G2G figure remains consistent across the VRR range, as there is no “variable overdrive” available here. That’s something normally reserved for screens using NVIDIA’s Native G-sync module, or a couple of gaming screens where they’ve attempted to add something similar separately. Variable overdrive is designed to reduce the overdrive impulse a bit as refresh rate lowers, making the G2G a bit slower but helping to limit and control the overshoot.
It’s not featured at all here which means that G2G remains constant across the VRR range, but unfortunately as a result the overshoot increases as the refresh rate lowers. By the time you reach around 120Hz, the overshoot is becoming pretty noticeable in practice and distracting, with quite a lot of pale halos and trails. At lower refresh rates like 60Hz it’s becoming really bad.
It’s the same pattern we’d seen when testing with adaptive-sync turned off. Normal mode is fine for the higher refresh rates like ~130 – 160Hz, but starts to show too much overshoot for lower levels, at which point we’d normally recommend switching down to the ‘off’ overdrive mode. That can be done for fixed refresh rate operation, and thanks to the newer firmware in June 2023 can also be done when using adaptive-sync. That makes switching the overdrive off a viable option even during VRR if you want. If you’re going to be able to achieve frame rates in the upper end of 130 – 160Hz ish, then using the ‘normal’ overdrive setting should be fine, with a bit of minor overshoot in some situations. If you can’t drive that kind of frame rate then you might be better turning overdrive ‘off’ to avoid significant overshoot problems. This doesn’t give you a single overdrive mode experience though which is a shame.
We have provided some motion clarity pursuit camera photos above which are designed to capture real-world perceived motion clarity. These are comparing the normal and extreme overdrive modes on the left, at the max 160Hz refresh rate. You can see some slight pale halos in normal mode, but more obvious overshoot halos in the extreme mode which (as usual) make this top mode unusable in practice.
With VRR enabled we have shown the normal overdrive mode, which is largely fine at the upper refresh rate end but starts to creep up as refresh rate lowers. By 120Hz we think the overshoot is too noticeable, and it’s certainly a problem at anything lower like 60Hz or the bottom end of the refresh rate range. It probably makes sense to switch to the off mode if you’re generally operating in the lower refresh rate end of VRR, or for any fixed low refresh rate inputs (60Hz and 120Hz included). One other note here is that the screen does not unfortunately include any blur reduction mode at all.
We measured a super low input lag on the X32 FP. There was a total display lag of only 1.50ms and with ~1.08ms of that accounted for by pixel response times, that leaves a signal processing lag of only ~0.43ms which is excellent. As a result the screen is perfectly fine for fast paced competitive games if you need from that point of view. There was no change to this lag result with local dimming enabled by the way.
The screen features offers a 4K resolution and support for high refresh rates including 120Hz, making it well suited to modern games consoles like the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5. Acer have included four full-bandwidth HDMI 2.1 ports, delivering 48 Gbps speed and therefore supporting the max bandwidth capabilities of the two consoles. The support for 4K resolution (natively here) means you can make use of HDR from the Xbox where that mode is only available at 4K, which is of course one of the key capabilities of this screen. The Mini LED backlight comes in to its own here for HDR gaming, providing an excellent image quality and HDR experience. More on HDR in a moment.
|Native panel resolution||3840 x 2160 “4K”|
|Maximum resolution and refresh rate supported||4K @ 120Hz|
|Virtual 4K support||Not needed|
|4K at 24Hz support|
|4K at 50Hz support|
|HDMI connection version||2.1|
|HDMI connection bandwidth||48 Gbps|
|HDMI-VRR (over HDMI 2.1)|
|Adaptive-sync (FreeSync) over HDMI|
|Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM)|
|Display aspect ratio controls||Full, Aspect, 1:1|
We confirmed via an Xbox Series X that 4K 120Hz works fine which means you have access to HDR gaming from that console, which is great news. There is no support for 24Hz or 50Hz though, or any HDR format other than HDR10, but that’s fine for most HDR gaming anyway. VRR was supported even when you had ‘FreeSync Premium Pro’ turned off in the monitors OSD, which shows that HDMI-VRR is supported regardless. This should mean VRR support from both Xbox and PS5. The Xbox reported that ALLM was supported, although it didn’t seem to trigger anything as such on the monitor, so presumably isn’t necessary anyway.
HDR (High Dynamic Range)
One of the key benefits of the X32 FP is its 576-zone Mini LED backlight which sets it apart from common edge-lit local dimming monitors, which only have a very limited number of dimming zones, commonly 8 or 16. This is actually one of AU Optronics’ new “AmLED” (Adaptive Mini LED) backlights, designed for dynamic content like gaming and something AUO have been promoting widely in their panel development roadmaps.
AUO explained in some previous press material that: “AUO’s AmLED display technology, thanks to the enhanced mini LED backlight design, has achieved revolutionary performance in gaming displays. With adaptive local dimming technique, brightness, contrast ratio, colors, refresh rate and power consumption can be precisely adjusted in real time based on the images, environment, as well as users’ needs, therefore providing lifelike gaming visuals and immersive experience to meet gamers’ and content creators’ stringent demand for image quality and smooth operations.”
Mini LED backlights like the one used here provide a much better control over the image on the screen, being able to dim smaller parts of the image while brightening other areas to improve the contrast and dynamic range. Dark areas can often be dimmed so low that they are basically being turned off, while bright highlights can often be brightened to very high peak brightness levels. That’s one of the key benefits in using a direct lit backlight with many zones like this.
Each zone on this screen is responsible for around 14,400 pixels given the high 4K resolution which obviously isn’t as finite in control as something like OLED which has per-pixel level dimming control. Having said that, a Mini LED backlight is capable of reaching much higher brightness levels, including sustaining those brightness levels for larger screen areas, so each technology has its advantages and limitations. The 576 zones used here is very good though on a screen this size in the LCD market. This helps reduce blooming and halos in practice relative to screens with fewer zones. There can still be challenges on very specific content like star fields for instance, or scenes with very small bright areas, but that’s going to be hard for any FALD screen to handle and you really need something like OLED to avoid all halos.
- Related content: Here’s Why You Should Only Enable HDR Mode on Your PC When You Are Viewing HDR Content
Normal use HDR content looks very impressive, with images that pop with nice colours, some very bright areas, and very low levels of blooming and halos from what we could see. We tested the local dimming in both SDR mode (where it is available to use if you want) and HDR, and the blooming was consistently low. Halos were small and the Mini LED backlight did a very good job of brightening light areas, and darkening dark areas. The ‘Fast’ mode offers the quickest adaptation to changing content and is probably going to be suitable for gaming, while the average or low modes may offer more subtle changes and be more suitable to movies or slower paced games.
|HDR Technical Capabilities|
|VESA DisplayHDR certification level||HDR 1000 certification pending|
|Multiple HDR formats supported||HDR 10 only|
|Local dimming||576-zone AmLED (Mini LED) backlight|
|High number of local dimming zones||576-zones|
|Increased peak brightness||1126 nits measured (25% APL)|
|Reaching advertised peak brightness||Surpassing advertised 1000 nits|
|Increased dynamic range (contrast) max||~35,000:1 measured|
|Increased “local” HDR contrast ratio max||~2200:1 measured|
|Wide colour gamut >90% DCI-P3||98.3% absolute DCI-P3|
118.3% relative DCI-P3
|10-bit colour depth support||Supported|
Poorly thought out HDR Activation and Operation (now fixed)
When we first reviewed the screen before the June 2023 firmware update, here are our observations about HDR operation
When you enable HDR first of all in Windows, the screen looks very washed out and pale. Colours look really dull and you can tell something isn’t quite right. This is because oddly, the screen does not switch automatically in to the HDR mode, you need to do this manually. There is a single HDR preset mode available which you have to switch over to, moving over from your normal working mode (like standard or user). Once you do, the screen looks a lot better, far less washed out and colours look normal again. Nearly all other settings in the OSD are now locked, like brightness (at 100) and all the colour settings. The ‘color space’ setting does switch over automatically to ‘HDR’ mode although oddly you still have access to change this in the menu. You need to leave alone, otherwise it moves you back out of the HDR operation and you get the washed out and pale look again.
The other thing you might need to do is enable the adaptive dimming (i.e. the Mini LED backlight) as that seems to remember the mode you were running in before for SDR / desktop use. It’s a single setting so unless you had this turned on for SDR, you will need to enable that when you enable HDR separately. And then turn it back off when you revert back to SDR.
The whole process of moving between SDR and HDR modes is very cumbersome and frankly seems to be poorly thought through. Why not just have the screen detect the HDR signal and switch in to HDR mode automatically like nearly all other monitors do? Why not also enable adaptive dimming when it does, or at least remember that setting independently between SDR and HDR mode, or by preset mode. Assuming you’re using a normal preset mode for general desktop use and do not have local dimming turned on, then right now you have to enable HDR in Windows, change the preset mode in the OSD menu, go in and turn adaptive dimming on. Then reverse all of that when you want to return to SDR desktop use.
Some people might ask why you can’t just leave HDR enabled all the time in Windows, but that’s not recommended or optimal. HDR should only be enabled for HDR content – if you run it all the time you end up with less accurate setup, loss of most of the OSD controls and other problems we will discuss in a future article.
This HDR mode operation has apparently been fixed in the new June 2023 firmware and the screen should automatically switch modes when it detects an HDR input. Well done Acer for fixing this annoying issue. The local dimming is still a global on/off setting though for both SDR and HDR so you will need to manually enable that for HDR if you didn’t have it turned on before in SDR mode.
HDR Mode Measurements
We measured the HDR mode to see how accurate it was. When we tested the screen originally we didn’t have access to many controls at all, so we were really at the mercy of the factory setup here. We are told that the new June 2023 firmware allows access to more settings in HDR which may allow some tweaking. Adaptive dimming was set to ‘fast’ mode, likely the preferred choice for handling HDR gaming and dynamic content.
There were some issues with the HDR mode setup. Firstly in the middle section you can see that the screen is a bit too cool in mid to light grey shades and for white. We measured a 6924K white point, which was 7% too cool. Not massively cool though like you will see on some HDR screens, often on OLED monitors as a cheat to get to a higher peak brightness. The balance of the RGB channels was weighted towards blue and red though, with green under-represented. The PQ curve on the right shows that most grey shades were rendered a bit darker than intended, with the monitors PQ grey line being below the yellow reference line. Overall the accuracy of the greyscale was poor at 7.8 dE average.
Brightness was a strength of this screen though thanks to the Mini LED backlight. We’ve seen the same pattern before on other Mini LED backlit screens, but different to OLED panels, the maximum brightness is actually reached for some of the larger APL’s, reaching it’s maximum levels for 10% APL and above. In the best case we measured 1126 nits for the 25% APL which was very good, and lives up to the 1000 nit spec from Acer. The reason the smaller APL measurements are lower, especially for 1% and 2% APL is down to the backlight. Because there are “only” 576 dimming zones here, and you need to try and avoid halos and blooming wherever possible, these smaller areas cannot be as bright as the larger areas, because you also need to be able to try and dim adjacent darker areas. We still reached 654 nits for 1% APL so small highlights can still look pretty bright. A full white screen 100% APL at 1065 nits is very bright and uncomfortable though.
The X32 FP does have a nice wide gamut with an impressive 86% Rec.2020 coverage. Colour accuracy was moderate overall with a dE 3.2 average. Some of the inaccuracies related to the slightly too cool grey scale as well. Still, in general the HDR mode looks decent enough from a colour perspective. It provides a bright and colourful image on the whole.
- Related content: Here’s Why You Should Only Enable HDR Mode on Your PC When You Are Viewing HDR Content
Updated 20 June 2023 after firmware update improvements
Monitors with this 32″ size, a 4K resolution and a high refresh rate are always popular, and this latest generation offering follows on pretty nicely from previous models released to market. The performance of the screen was on the whole good, and thankfully Acer listened to our original feedback and have made some nice firmware updates to address a few areas that were previously lacking attention to detail. The X32 FP is aimed primarily at gaming and HDR content, and on the whole it performs nicely. The 4K resolution provides a very sharp and crisp image and works nicely on a 32″ screen size, while the IPS panel provides the usual excellent picture quality and all round performance too. The 160Hz refresh rate is decent for a 4K screen, providing a minor bump from the older generation of 144Hz screens of this size giving you a minor boost in motion clarity and frame rate support.
Response times were good at the maximum refresh rate, but the screen could not provide a single overdrive mode suitable for VRR situations across the refresh rate range. Thankfully Acer have updated the firmware to allow access to the overdrive mode so that you are not locked to a single mode, but it does mean that you have to really choose between normal mode (for upper end of refresh rate range) or off (for lower end). That’s pretty typical for an adaptive-sync screen where variable overdrive is not used, but a shame for a high-end gaming monitor. Switching to the off mode gives you some better performance for lower refresh rate inputs like games consoles. Speaking of consoles, the HDMI 2.1 ports provided full support for 4K 120Hz and VRR which was great to see – there’s even 4 of them giving you loads of ports to connect all your devices to.
Lag was very low, and there’s a few gaming extras and settings included; although it was a shame to see a blur reduction mode omitted. One strength of the X32 FP relative to many other 32″ 4K gaming screens is that it does very well for HDR gaming thanks to its Mini LED backlight. Contrast is vastly improved, and bright areas can reach very high brightness up to over 1100 nits. There’s also a wide colour gamut so colours look vivid and bright. Blooming and halos appeared low, and the AmLED backlight responded well to fast moving content. This is one area it sets it apart from all the edge-lit screens out there, and so if HDR gaming/movies is a primary use-case for you, this is a difference maker compared with most of the models in this size. HDR setup was mostly pretty good, but could have been a little more accurate we felt. Thankfully Acer have now addressed our main gripe with HDR mode originally which was the poorly thought out activation of relevant settings. That’s a great update and should make this mode far more usable.
Away from gaming the setup of some of the modes was also not ideal, and again with a bit more attention to detail could have offered a more accurate performance. Default out of the box modes are often not great, so we won’t criticise the X32 FP too much there – and at least brightness adjustment range was excellent (once you’ve enabled the ‘maximum brightness’ setting), and contrast ratio was decent for an IPS panel at ~1200:1. It’s things like the sRGB emulation mode which were a bit disappointing though, as they could have been much better. This is supposed to be a factory calibrated mode with dE <1 quoted, but we found inaccurate gamma, a too warm colour temp and only moderate colour accuracy in our testing. sRGB colour space emulation was very good though, but with a more reliable factory configuration this could have been better. Same story really with the DCI-P3 emulation mode. It’s quite easy to improve the native mode setup with a few tweaks at least, but we’d have liked to have seen better sRGB and DCI-P3 modes, and perhaps even an Adobe RGB mode provided given the colour gamut is wide enough to cover that space easily.
|Check pricing and availability in your region via Amazon for these 32″ 4K high refresh rate screens|
|Acer Predator X32 FP|
Asus ROG Swift PG32UQ
Asus ROG Swift PG32UQX
ViewSonic Elite XG321UG
Samsung Odyssey Neo G8
While still obviously an expensive purchase at ~$1500 USD (affiliate link) at time of writing, it sits at a middle range price point in the 32″ 4K IPS high refresh rate monitor market. There’s quite a wide range of models available with just simple edge-lit backlights, not being well suited to HDR content at all as a result. Models like the Asus ROG Swift PG32UQ and Gigabyte Aorus FI32U spring to mind and are in the ~$700 – 900 USD price range along with quite a few other offerings. Then at the top end you’ve got some of the earlier models released like the Asus ROG Swift PG32UQX and ViewSonic Elite XG321UG which have high-end 1152 zone Mini LED backlights and offer vastly superior HDR performance to the edge lit model. These displays still retail for ~$2500 though. There’s some 4K VA panel models available at a lower price point like the Samsung Odyssey Neo G8 for instance which retails for ~$1400 at the time of writing, but nothing else in that kind of price range in the IPS space.
The Acer Predator X32 FP is one of the first to offer the pros of a Mini LED backlight, at a significantly reduced cost. Sure, they’ve cut the number of dimming zones in half, but 576 zones still provides a very strong HDR experience and you can save ~$1000 USD as a result. If you’re looking for a step up from the edge-lit models and want something which will properly handle HDR content, then the X32 FP is definitely worth considering in that middle ground.
|32″ screen size with 4K and 160Hz is a great combination||sRGB and other modes could have been more accurately set up|
|576-zone Mini LED backlight provides high end HDR experience||No single overdrive mode experience for VRR, but at least Acer have now added access to the overdrive setting|
|Good games console support including HDMI 2.1 and relevant feature support||Poorly thought out activation of the low blue light modes|
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