Cooler Master GM32-FQ

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Introduction

Back in May and June 2020 we tested and reviewed the first two monitors released by the well-known PC case and cooling brand, Cooler Master. We reviewed their Cooler Master GM27-CF (27″ VA, 1080p, 200Hz) and Cooler Master GM34-CW (34″ ultrawide, 1440p, 144Hz) displays at the time and we now have their newest GM32-FQ display with us for review as well. This time the screen is 31.5″ in size and features a 2560 x 1440 Quad HD resolution IPS-type panel. This is combined with a 165Hz refresh rate, supported by adaptive-sync for variable refresh rates from both NVIDIA and AMD systems. It carries the AMD ‘FreeSync Premium’ certification as well.

Cooler Master tell us that this particular model is not all about ultimate gaming speed, and is positioned in between gaming and productivity as a more all-round monitor. There is additional focus on colour capabilities with the screen also offering a wide colour gamut with 95% DCI-P3 coverage quoted. The combination of 2560 x 1440 resolution and a larger 31.5″ screen size also positions the screen at those wanting a larger display than common 1440p 27″ models.

Key Specs and Features

  • 31.5″ IPS-type panel from BOE (flat format)
  • 2560 x 1440 Quad HD resolution (16:9 aspect ratio)
  • 165Hz refresh rate
  • Adaptive-sync VRR including ‘FreeSync Premium’ certification
  • 1ms Moving Picture Response Time (MPRT)
  • 1200:1 contrast ratio
  • 95% DCI-P3 wide colour gamut
  • 1x DisplayPort 1.4, 1x USB type-C (DP alt mode) and 2x HDMI 2.0 video connections
  • 2x USB ports and 2x 2W integrated speakers
  • Stand with tilt, height and swivel adjustments

Design and Features

The GM32-FQ comes in a black and dark silver design. There is a 3-side borderless panel design with a thin ~8mm black edge along the sides and top, and a thicker ~19mm black bottom edge. The stand has a fairly unique ‘halo ring’ foot design finished in a dark silver colour.

The back of the screen is encased in a matte black plastic as shown above. The stand has to be screwed in to the back, or can be removed in favour of VESA 100 x 100mm mounting if you’d rather. There is a fairly thin but sturdy metal arm that supports the screen with a detachable cable tidy clip on the back. The connections are tucked under the bottom part of the rear enclosure which you can hopefully make out from the above photo. They are pretty low down which means that it’s a bit tricky to tuck your cables fully out of sight which is a bit annoying.

The screen has a pretty thin overall profile as shown above, especially in the top half of the screen. There is an external power brick though to find a spot for. The stand offers tilt, height and swivel adjustments (no rotate). Tilt and height and both smooth but a bit stiff to operate, whereas side to side swivel is easy to use. We don’t really miss rotation.

There’s a decent enough range of connections on the back of the screen with DisplayPort 1.4, 2x HDMI 2.0 and 1x USB type-C connection (DP Alt mode). We would have liked to perhaps see HDMI 2.1 included here for the inclusion of features like HDMI-VRR and some power delivery from the USB type-C connection to make single cable connectivity better. There are also 2x USB 3 ports and a headphone jack on the back of the screen.

The OSD menu is controlled through 5 pressable buttons on the back right hand side of the screen, along with a power on/off button. The menu is split in to 6 sections and there’s a decent range of options to play with although sometimes it feels like they are in odd sections. The navigation is snappy, but it’s not always the easiest or most intuitive to use and you often end up fumbling trying to find the right button to press for the right section.

Default Setup

The GM32-FQ offers a wide colour gamut backlight which provides vivid and saturated colours well suited to a lot of gaming and to modern multimedia and HDR content. If you like that more colourful appearance then the screen does nicely here with a wide colour space. However, for a lot of normal desktop uses actually you want to work with a smaller SDR / sRGB colour space and that can be more difficult on a wide gamut screen. We will see how this screen handles that usage scenario shortly.

We first want to measure the accuracy of the default out-of-the-box setup relative to typical sRGB content, while also examining the screen’s suitability and accuracy for common wider colour gamut spaces such as DCI-P3, or for Adobe RGB which is used in the professional and photography markets quite often.

The screen is bright out of the box as with most screens so you will probably want to turn that down. We measured 272 cd/m2 at a brightness setting of 80. The maximum brightness at 100 was 373 cd/m2, and at 0 it could reach a minimum of 14 cd/m2 which was impressive. Plenty of adjustment range available including for use in darkened rooms. Backlight control was confirmed as flicker free which is good news as always.

The white balance felt good and not too warm or cool, measured at 6507k white point, and with an average of 6555k across the greyscale which was very good. Gamma was also pretty decent, being close to the target of 2.2 across the greyscale, and with an average of 2.16. No real issues in any of these areas, and this resulted in a good accuracy of grey shades with a dE 1.5 average. Contrast ratio was also strong for an IPS-type panel at 1120:1, a little lower than the advertised 1200:1 but higher than many other IPS panels on the market, which often achieve 900 – 1000:1 or so. This represented a good default factory setup in gamma, colour temp and contrast which was pleasing.

From a colour point of view you can see from the top left CIE diagram that the colour space of the monitor extends quite considerably beyond the sRGB reference spec. There was a very good coverage of sRGB with 99.6% measured, but it extended natively beyond this in many shades. This led to a 131.9% relative coverage measurement. As a result of the wide colour space, sRGB colour accuracy is only moderate with a 3.2 dE average. This is to be expected, as green, red and blue shades are all over-saturated to a degree. We will look at the sRGB emulation mode in a moment.

You can see from the bottom section that the screen’s colour space is close to the DCI-P3 reference space, with just a bit of over-coverage in red and blue shades. We measured a 96.7% absolute coverage of DCI-P3 which was good, and a little above spec (105.2% relative coverage). If you are working with DCI-P3 content, then the accuracy of those colours in this native mode is much better with an average dE of 1.8.

Adobe RGB coverage is a little limited at only 92.8% so while it might be ok for some wide gamut work in this colour space (often used for professional and photography uses), it cannot cover the space fully and so will be a bit restrictive which was a shame. You need an even wider colour gamut backlight to offer fuller coverage of Adobe RGB.

sRGB Emulation

The GM32-FQ also provides an sRGB emulation mode in the OSD that can allow you to restrict the colour gamut back to the more common sRGB / SDR reference space. These modes can be useful if you want to avoid the over-saturation in the native wide gamut mode or specifically work with and view SDR content, although it’s also possible to use other methods such as graphics card clamping, or of course calibration and ICC profiles. Having a usable and working sRGB emulation mode from the monitor itself is the easiest method though, and can be used for all different applications, inputs and modes.

There is a specific ‘sRGB’ preset mode available in the menu for this which we enabled. In this mode you can see a reduction in the colour vividness and saturation with the naked eye. The brightness setting jumps to a default of 100, but thankfully you can change this yourself while in the sRGB mode. Access to most other settings like contrast, colour temp etc are unfortunately not available in this mode, so we will be reliant on Cooler Master’s default factory calibration. We measured a 369 cd/m2 brightness so you will want to turn that down to something more comfortable for your environment. Contrast remained strong as before for an IPS-type panel at 1145:1 which was good news.

In this mode there were a few problems with gamma and greyscale unfortunately. The gamma was more variable, being too high in darker grey shades and potentially losing some shadow detail, and then being too low in lighter grey shades which loses some detail there as well. The average colour temp was measured at 6500k across the grey scale (spot on!) but was a little too warm for white at 6269k (4% deviance from our target). The balance of the red, green and blue channels was not as good here, and we saw some high errors in the greyscale dE up to 5.6 average. This sRGB mode was not as well configured as the default mode of the screen.

From a colour point of view the sRGB mode does restrict the colour gamut a bit, but it is not getting close enough to the sRGB reference space unfortunately. We saw a drop from the native 131.9% relative sRGB coverage down to 112.0%, but there is still some over-coverage especially in red shades and in some blue shades. This means that there’s still some problems with sRGB colour accuracy, with an average dE 3.7 measured. We would have liked to have seen a tighter and more accurate clamping of the sRGB gamut here that could have made this mode more accurate. To get a better sRGB emulation you are probably going to need to rely on proper calibration and profiling.


We should also note that you can also activate this sRGB colour space another way when using other preset modes like ‘standard’ or the ‘game’ modes. It’s available in the Color Adjust > Color Space menu under the option for ‘BT.709’, which is the same colour space reference as sRGB. There is also a DCI-P3 mode here which has a small impact on the screen’s native colour gamut, reducing it from 105.2% relative DCI-P3 coverage, down to 100.9%, although at the same time it reduces the absolute coverage of that space from 96.7% to 94.9%, so overall it’s not really doing much of value. If you’re wanting to work with DCI-P3 content, just stick with the native mode.

Calibration

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. If you want you can also try our calibrated ICC profile out.

General Usage

The GM32-FQ offers a 2560 x 1440 resolution on a 31.5″ sized panel. This resolution has been used for many years on 27″ sized screens where it provides a nice crisp and sharp image. We expect some people might initially be a bit put off by the idea of using this resolution on a larger screen size, but in truth the resolution is still comfortable even on this larger screen, and some people may even prefer it. The pixel pitch (a useful comparison indicator for how large the text will look) is 0.2724mm on this model, which is approximately the same size as a 24″ model running at 1920 x 1080 (0.2767mm). Those screens have been used for a very long time and many people are perfectly happy with the text size and sharpness there. Some people may well prefer the slightly smaller text and improved sharpness of 1440p on a 27″ model (0.2335mm) but some people also find that a bit too small if they are more used to common 24″ sized screens at 1080p.

The good thing about this 32″ sized screen is that you retain that same text size from a 24″ 1080p model, but have a much larger screen and a much larger desktop resolution area to work with. This makes it far better for split screen working and multi-tasking, but if you were worried about moving to a 27″ model where text would be smaller, this is a good answer. We should note also that the text size is still smaller and sharper than a 27″ model running at 1080p (0.3113mm) which is often criticised for having text that is too large, although again many people are perfectly happy with that option too. All in all, we don’t really have any problem with 2560 x 1440 on a 32″ screen for normal desktop and office use. Text is a bit bigger than on a 27″ model of the same resolution, but it’s by no means too big or becomes unclear. It’s still sharp and crisp. This resolution and screen size combination is also nice when it comes to gaming and multimedia that we will talk about later in the relevant sections.

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. The contrast ratio is strong for an IPS-type panel at around 1100:1, but still not as good as VA panels. The off angle “IPS glow” was fairly typical here with a pale bluish glow to it. The backlight adjustment range (14 – 373 cd/m2) is excellent, especially at the lower end for adjustment in darker room conditions.

The wide colour gamut provides flexibility to work with a range of different colour spaces if you need to. The native wide gamut is useful for gaming, HDR and multimedia where you might well prefer the more saturated and vivid colours, and especially for HDR content which is mastered in this wider colour space anyway.

There is a good setup in terms of gamma, colour temp, white point and greyscale accuracy in the native mode which was great to see. If you are working with DCI-P3 content, where the colour space of the monitor is closely aligned, provides accurate colour rendering. Being wide gamut it does mean that standard sRGB gamut content is over-saturated, and unfortunately the sRGB emulation mode isn’t very good. The gamma is more variable in that mode, leading to some high errors with the greyscale, and the clamping of the colour gamut isn’t strict enough, resulting in colour accuracy still being moderate-to-poor. It’s a shame this sRGB mode wasn’t a bit more accurate as otherwise the screen was nicely set up. The colour space of the screen isn’t really wide enough to offer full support for Adobe RGB content either.

Spectral distribution at 6500k, blue peak is at 447 nm wavelength

The spectral distribution at a calibrated 6500k is shown above, with the blue peak measured at 447 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 ‘Blue Light filter’ setting in the OSD menu which can be accessed via the ‘picture mode’ section, under each of the preset modes (where supported). This is a slider from 0 to 100, and makes the image progressively warmer, and therefore reduces the blue peak. You can change it in increments of 1, but we measured a white point of 5367k at 50, and 4512k at the maximum 100 setting to give you an idea of the impact.

The screen has a decent range of ergonomic adjustments with tilt, height and swivel available. There are no other productivity enhancing extras like KVM switches or PiP/PbP modes which you may or may not want, but that can be found on other screens. Along with the common DisplayPort and HDMI inputs, there is a USB type-C with DP Alt mode which might be useful for some devices although there is no mention in the specs or manuals of this offering any power delivery unfortunately, only data and video. There are also 2x USB ports and some basic integrated 2x2W speakers for the odd “office” sound or YouTube clip, and a headphone jack too.

Gaming

The GM32-FQ is based on an IPS-type panel from panel manufacturer BOE (their ‘ADS’ technology) with a quoted 1ms MPRT (moving picture response time). This is indicative of a blur reduction backlight mode which we will test later, but Cooler Master do not provide a normal G2G response time spec for this screen so we will have to see how it performs in our independent testing.

There is a pretty high 165Hz native panel refresh rate and the screen features adaptive-sync for variable refresh rates (VRR) from both AMD and NVIDIA systems with a range of 48 – 165Hz supported with LFC as well. The screen has been certified under the AMD ‘FreeSync Premium’ scheme, but not under NVIDIA’s ‘G-sync Compatible’ scheme according to NVIDIA’s website at this time although, Cooler Master talk about its compatibility with NVIDIA systems.

A summary of the GM32-FQ gaming features and performance is included here for quick reference, but is discussed in a lot more detail below.

The 31.5″ screen size with 1440p resolution is an interesting middle ground here in terms of system demands. Obviously you remove the strain that a higher 4K resolution would bring, and the 1440p res is certainly a nice step up from 1080p resolution. It’s a good balance we think for gaming, providing a sharp and clear image but also a larger screen size for increased immersion compared with common 27″ 1440p displays.

Response Times and Motion Clarity

Important note: Before we get in to the measurements we wanted to highlight that we are in the process of switching all our response time measurements in these sections over to an improved ‘gamma corrected’ method. You may want to read through our article from Feb 2021 about Response Time Testing – Pitfalls, Improvements and Updating Our Methodology which talks about this a lot more. Basically this is an improved method for capturing G2G response times and overshoot, providing figures in these tables that are more reflective of real-world visual results. The measurements take in to account actual RGB changes and are closer to what you would see visually helping to analyse the visual performance more closely. The overshoot measurements are also improved dramatically, again to be more reflective to what you see visually. Our article linked above talks through why this is better and how we arrived at this improved method in much more detail.

We have been using this method for the last year but only really for our main measurement section (optimal refresh rate and overdrive mode) in the gaming part of our reviews, as taking the measurements was extremely time consuming and complicated. The other measurements in these sections where we examine the different overdrive modes and the different refresh rates were instead based on the “traditional response time” method, which is quicker and easier for us to capture considering there are loads of modes to measure. This is fine for quick comparisons and evaluation, and something that had been used for many years in the market, but not as “corrected” as the updated method.

We are in the process of switching over to using a new measurement device and software which helps massively to automate these measurements and calculations for us and makes it possible to now use this improved gamma corrected method for all the measurements. We will write a separate article about the new device and software in the future, but we have been testing and validating it against our existing equipment for the last 6 months and are happy with the accuracy and results it is producing. We will of course continue to provide pursuit camera photos which will help give you a view of real-world perceived motion clarity, to be compared alongside the device measurements.

Anyway, on to the measurements…

With the screen running at its maximum 165Hz refresh rate we tested each of the 4 overdrive modes available in the OSD menu in both visual, practical tests and with our measurement tools. These overdrive modes are available in the ‘picture mode’ menu within each of the presets, under the ‘Response Time’ setting. At 165Hz there is actually very little difference in the performance between the standard, advanced and ultra fast modes. Visually they all look pretty similar with only some minor improvements in motion clarity as you increase the setting. There is some small improvements in our measurements, and the response times measured dropped from 11.9ms G2G (standard mode) down to 9.9ms G2G (ultra fast mode).

There was no overshoot at all in any of these modes which was good, so we had no distracting pale or dark halos or artefacts. The problem though with these modes, even the so-called “ultra fast” mode is that the response times just weren’t particularly good. 9.9ms G2G average is slow for a modern IPS gaming panel, and can’t keep up properly with the refresh rate of 165Hz either. That’s not even a top-end refresh rate nowadays with plenty of 240Hz and even 360Hz panels available on the market. In fact overall the pixel response times could probably only keep up with around 100Hz in theory.

Because of the slow response times you get some noticeable smearing and blurring on moving content, particularly on changes from light to dark shades. This is a result of those particularly slow transitions in the bottom left hand portion of the tables above, reaching up to 22.5ms even in ‘ultra fast’ mode. You can see from our pursuit camera photos above that the smearing is most evident behind the paler parts of the UFO where the backgrounds are darker, and it’s a shame this is a problem even in this ultra fast mode. The low refresh rate compliance (40%) also means you get some added smearing where the panel can’t keep up with the refresh rate demands of 165fps.

There is an additional mode called “Dynamic” which we also tested and that is included in the table and pursuit camera photos above. In practice this seemed to add some moderate levels of pale overshoot in certain situations, most evident in the photos above on the middle image. Motion clarity improved a little, but at the cost of this overshoot. The response times still only got down to a moderate 8.3ms G2G so it was hardly a big improvement there anyway, and you still have the slower transitions from light > dark which results in pale smearing in practice still in many places. This mode does tell us though that even when pushed, and with a more aggressive overdrive impulse applied, the BOE ADS panel used here isn’t very fast at all. Sure, it could be pushed further to bring the G2G figure down, but only at the expense of more overshoot so this is about as good as you can get it. We prefer the ‘ultra fast’ mode though anyway to eliminate that overshoot and also for a better VRR experience.

We stuck with the ‘ultra fast’ mode and tested response time performance across the refresh rate range in a VRR situation. If you’re using G-sync or FreeSync then it’s important to know how the screen will perform as your refresh rate and frame rate changes. Like nearly all adaptive-sync screens the G2G response time performance was pretty consistent across the VRR range with only minor changes to the 9.3 – 9.9ms G2G figure. Unlike NVIDIA G-sync module screens where ‘variable overdrive’ is used, this means that as the refresh rate lowers the overshoot level increases, and so by the time you reach the lower levels the overshoot is more noticeable. It’s not terrible even at 60Hz, but you will get some moderate pale halos and trails. We would class this display as at least having a ‘single overdrive mode’ experience at least, and you can just use the same mode for VRR comfortably. It’s just a shame that the response times are never particularly good and it’s a pretty slow panel.

We would say that the panel response times are probably ok for some slower paced RTS / strategy type games, but the screen is not really well suited to faster competitive, FPS or racing games. There are certainly faster 32″ IPS panels out there if your main focus is on faster paced gaming.

Lag

We should note here that we measured a super low input lag on the GM32-FQ. There was a total display lag of only 2.75ms and with ~2.48ms of that accounted for by pixel response times, that leaves a signal processing lag of only ~0.28ms which is excellent. As a result the screen is perfectly fine for fast paced competitive games if you need from that point of view, just not from a response time point of view.

Console Gaming

The screen features the older generation HDMI 2.0 connectivity and capabilities with 2x ports provided. There is a native 1440p panel resolution which is supported by the Xbox Series X, and this will make it easier than 4K to prioritise refresh rate and frame rate, so you should be able to push the 120Hz nicely where the games support it. The screen will also accept a “Virtual 4K” input signal too from our testing (not advertised), and so from PS5 you can choose to input either 1080p or 4K as 1440p is not supported, although 1080p will probably be best so you can push for higher 120Hz refresh rate instead of trying to drive a “fake” resolution. The support for ‘virtual 4K’ also means that you can run in HDR mode from an Xbox if you want, not that the screen has any real HDR capabilities.

We confirmed also that the screen supports FreeSync over HDMI, giving VRR support for Xbox that supports that mode. Sony have recently added HDMI-VRR which is available via HDMI 2.1 inputs, but it is unlikely Sony will ever add FreeSync over HDMI for the PS5 sadly so that cannot be used here.

For lots more information about the latest consoles and finding a suitable monitor for them, see our in depth article here.

Blur Reduction Mode

The GM32-FQ also includes a blur reduction backlight mode, available via the ‘motion clearness’ setting in the OSD menu. Once activated, the brightness control is locked and you cannot change it. We measured a luminance of 157 cd/m2 in this mode. We would have liked to have seen access to the brightness control still so that the user can adjust the brightness to their liking, although this 157 cd/m2 is the maximum it can achieve, relative to the 373 cd/m2 possible when ‘motion clearness’ is turned off.

The screen strobes the backlight off and on in sync with the refresh rate and is designed to help improve the perceived motion clarity in moving content. Because the backlight is being strobed off and on rapidly, this can produce some flicker and it’s not recommended to use this outside of motion content.

Backlight strobing at 165Hz with the ‘motion clearness’ blur reduction mode enabled

You can see above that the strobing is in sync with the refresh rate of the screen. The setting is only available once you have disabled ‘adaptive sync’ in the menu, and so cannot be used at the same time as VRR unfortunately. It’s a bit annoying to have to manually turn adaptive-sync off, then enable this, and then reverse all of that if you want to return to normal mode with VRR available.

We have provided some pursuit camera photos above at 165Hz in the Ultra Fast mode, with blur reduction turned off and on. You do still have access to the response time setting if you want, although we found Ultra Fast to be optimal as we discussed earlier. The ‘motion clearness’ mode does help remove some of the blurring on the moving image, but you do get some ghost trails instead as the response times are not particularly good. This looks largely the same across the whole screen, and the extent of the trailing really depends on the colour transition being made. Much like with this mode turned off, the changes from bright to dark are the worst, producing some more noticeable blurring (‘off’ mode) or ghosting images (‘on’ mode). There are no additional controls for things like strobe timing or strobe length, in case that’s something you like to have control over.

The blur reduction mode works reasonably well here, but the image is not particularly clean in many places because of the underlying slow response times.

Conclusion

The Cooler Master GM32-FQ provides what we would consider an acceptable, reasonable overall performance for both gaming and more general uses. The 32″ sized screen and 1440p resolution are a nice balance and provides a bit more size and immersion for gaming than common 27″ 1440p models, without the picture quality dropping too severely and without the system strain of going to 4K. For gaming it was a bit of a mixed bag in terms of screen performance. The fairly high refresh rate of 165Hz with VRR support is useful for motion clarity as always, but the main issue was that the response times were slow. We had some issues with pale smearing and blurring, and the panel was not fast enough to keep up with this high refresh rate properly either. There was at least no overshoot as long as you stick to the recommended response time mode, a single overdrive setting experience for VRR, and very low input lag too. It makes the screen suitable for some gaming, slower paced genres like RTS and strategy, but not well suited to anything faster paced unfortunately. The blur reduction mode adds a useful additional feature, although it’s not very flexible and is again constrained by the response times of the panel when it comes to motion clarity.

Away from gaming the screen has a wide colour gamut which some people may prefer, although this does make it a little trickier for common SDR / sRGB content. The default setup for gamma, colour temp and greyscale was very good and we were pleased with the higher-than-usual contrast ratio for an IPS-type panel. However, colour accuracy will be restrictive in native gamut mode unless you have a good way to profile or clamp the colour space, and unfortunately the built-in sRGB emulation is not very reliable or accurate. It should be fine for a lot of general use, but for anything more colour critical you will need to do more, and you can get much better results and flexibility if you can calibrate the screen yourself. The inclusion of USB type-C and even some basic integrated speakers may be useful to some, although productivity enhancements like this felt a little limited compared with more office-focused screens where KVM switches, PiP/PbP, USB-C power delivery etc are common place.

The Cooler Master GM32-FQ is available now from most regions via Amazon (affiliate link) so you can check the availability and pricing for your region here. If you want to stay up to date with our latest reviews and content, you can activate the browser alert by clicking the bell icon in the bottom right hand corner. Come and follow us on Twitter and our new YouTube channel as well for updates and new content. If you’d like to help support the site or say “thanks”, you can do so here.

Check pricing and availability in your region
ProsCons
Good default setup for gamma, colour temp and greyscaleResponse times are slow for a modern high refresh rate IPS panel
Above average contrast ratio for an IPS-type panelsRGB emulation mode is not strict or accurate enough
Included blur reduction mode usefulSomewhat limited with productivity enhancement features

Testing and Results Explained

We will test and measure a range of aspects of these displays. By way of a brief explanation of what some of the results mean we thought we’d include this short guide:

Results Round-up section

  • Maximum and minimum brightness – the full range in which the backlight can be adjusted using the monitor’s brightness control. At the upper end this can be important for gaming from a further distance, especially in brighter rooms and the daytime. At the lower end this can be important if you are using the screen up close for more general office-type work, especially in darker room conditions or at night.
  • Recommended brightness setting – to achieve approx 120 cd/m2, which is the recommended luminance for LCD monitors in normal lighting conditions
  • Flicker free – independently tested and confirmed whether the screen is flicker free or not and without PWM at all brightness settings

Setup and Measurements Section

Performance is measured and evaluated with a high degree of accuracy using a range of testing devices and software. The results are carefully selected to provide the most useful and relevant information that can help evaluate the display while filtering out the wide range of information and figures that will be unnecessary. For measurement we use a UPRtek MK550T spectroradiometer which is particularly good for colour gamut and spectrum measurements. We also use an X-rite i1 Pro 2 Spectrophotometer and a X-rite i1 Display Pro Plus for measurements in various ways. Various software packages are incorporated including Portrait Displays Calman Ultimate package. We measure the screen at default settings (with all ICC profiles deactivated and factory settings used), and any other modes that are of interest such as sRGB emulation presets. We then calibrate and profile the screen.

The results presented can be interpreted as follows:

  • Greyscale dE – this graph tracks the accuracy of each greyscale shade measured from 0 (black) to 100 (white). The accuracy of each grey shade will be impacted by the colour temperature and gamma of the display. The lower the dE the better with differences of <1 being imperceptible (marked by the green line on the graph), and differences between 1 and 3 being small (below the yellow line). Anything over dE 3 needs correcting and causes more obvious differences in appearance relative to what should be shown. In the table beneath the graph we provide the average dE across all grey shades, as well as the white point dE (important when considering using the screen for lots of white background and office content), and the max greyscale dE as well.
  • RGB Balance and colour temperature – the RGB balance graph shows the relative balance between red, green and blue primaries at each grey shade, from 0 (black) to 100 (white). Ideally all 3 lines should be flat at the 100% level which would represent a balanced 6500k average colour temperature. This is the target colour temperature for desktop monitors and the temperature of daylight. Where the lines deviate from this 100% flat level the image may become too warm or cool. Beneath this RGB balance graph we provide the average correlated colour temperature for all grey shades measured, along with its deviance from the 6500k target. We also provide the white point colour temperature and its deviance from 6500k, as this is particularly important when viewing lots of white background and office content.
  • Gamma – we aim for 2.2 gamma which is the default for computer monitors. A graph is provided tracking the 2.2 gamma across different grey shades and ideally the grey line representing the monitor measurements should be horizontal and flat at the 2.2 level. Depending on where the gamma is too low or too high, it can have an impact on the image in certain ways. You can see our gamma explanation graph to help understand that more. Beneath the gamma graph we include the average overall gamma achieved along with the average for dark shades (0 – 50) and for lighter shades (50 – 100).
  • Luminance, black depth and Contrast ratio – measuring the brightness, black depth and resulting contrast ratio of the mode being tested, whether that is at default settings or later after calibration and profiling. 
  • Gamut coverage – we provide measurements of the screens colour gamut relative to various reference spaces including sRGB, DCI-P3, Adobe RGB and Rec.2020. Coverage is shown in absolute numbers as well as relative, which helps identify where the coverage extends beyond a given reference space. A CIE-1976 chromaticity diagram (which provides improved accuracy compared with older CIE-1931 methods) is included which provides a visual representation of the monitors colour gamut as compared with sRGB, and if appropriate also relative to a wide gamut reference space such as DCI-P3.
  • dE colour accuracy – a wide range of colours are tested and the colour accuracy dE measured. We compare these produced colours to the sRGB reference space, and if applicable when measuring a wide gamut screen we also provide the accuracy relative to a specific wide gamut reference such as DCI-P3. An average dE and maximum dE is provided along with an overall screen rating. The lower the dE the better with differences of <1 being imperceptible (marked by the green area on the graph), and differences between 1 and 3 being small (yellow areas). Anything over dE 3 needs correcting and causes more obvious differences in appearance relative to what should be shown
     

Gaming Performance Section

We first of all test the screen visually in each of its available overdrive modes and at a range of refresh rates from 60Hz, all the way up to the maximum supported. This allows us to identify what appears to be optimal setting for each refresh rate and we can then measure the response times across a range of grey to grey (G2G) transitions using our oscilloscope setup, including correcting for gamma to improve accuracy as we described in our detailed article. This helps provide measurements for response times and overshoot that are even more representative of what you see in real use. In the summary section the small table included shows the average G2G response time measured at several refresh rates (where supported), along with the optimal overdrive setting we found. The overshoot level is then also rated in the table at each refresh rate. We will explain in the commentary if there are any considerations when using variable refresh rates (VRR) as well as talking about the overall performance our findings during all these tests.

At the maximum refresh rate of the screen we will also include our familiar more detailed response time measurements, which includes a wider range of transition measurements as well as some analysis of things like the refresh rate compliance. This identifies how many of the measured pixel transitions were fast enough to keep up with the frame rate of the screen. Ideally you’d want pixel response times to be consistently and reliably shorter than this refresh rate cycle, otherwise if they are slower it can lead to additional smearing and blurring on moving content.

In this section we will also include the measured input lag and look at any blur reduction backlight feature if it’s available. The commentary in each section will provide more information if a blur reduction mode is available and how it operates.

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