Originally published 27 August 2021, last update 18 November 2021
It’s been a long wait in the monitor market for 32″ sized, high refresh rate 4K screens to arrive and we are expecting to see a flurry of these models arrive in the latter part of 2021. This 32″ screen size is an attractive option for many people, providing a larger and more practical screen area for a “4K” 3840 x 2160 resolution than existing 27″ sized monitors. Combine this larger size then with a high refresh rate like 144Hz, along with the usual variable refresh rate support and you’ve got a potentially very attractive gaming screen.
Many people are also now looking at these kind of monitors for use with not only their PC, but also with their latest generation PS5 or Xbox Series X games console. Those consoles can now support up to 4K with 120Hz refresh rate too, along with new features like VRR. Nowadays many buyers want a screen that can comfortably handle both PC and console gaming, and in a lot of cases that means you also want HDMI 2.1 connectivity. HDMI 2.1 is the latest version of this popular video connection and has the necessary bandwidth and capabilities to handle these features and high refresh rates at 4K. We have recently reviewed the first 32″ 4K 144Hz gaming monitor in the form of the very high-end and expensive Asus ROG Swift PG32UQX, which also offers a premium HDR experience thanks to its Mini LED backlight. Other models with more modest HDR capabilities are being released in the coming months at a far more affordable price.
We have with us now for review the latest Gigabyte gaming screen, their Aorus FI32U. This is a 32″ class screen (31.5″ actual size) and offers that all-important 4K @ 144Hz refresh rate. It features adaptive-sync for variable refresh rates from both NVIDIA and AMD systems, including the AMD FreeSync Premium Pro certification. There is a wide colour gamut with 90% DCI-P3 coverage quoted, along with 10-bit colour depth support too. And one of the most important features for many will be in the inclusion of 2x HDMI 2.1 connections, supporting games consoles with 4K @ 120Hz, along with VRR. It will be the first screen we’ve actually had chance to test with HDMI 2.1 and one of the first to market with this new connection, certainly in the 32″ 4K 144Hz area. Other familiar Gigabyte Aorus features are included for gamers too, including their latest ‘Aim Stabilizer Sync’ which combines a blur reduction backlight with VRR.
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Specifications and Features
Design and Ergonomics
The FI32U has an all-black design with a 3-side borderless panel. There is a thin 2mm black plastic edge along the sides and top, with an additional 7mm black panel border before the image starts. Along the bottom is a thicker black plastic bezel with a maximum ~25mm thickness. The stand is a sturdy and heavy black metal design with a two-pronged foot that you need to screw in to place when you unpack the screen. This provides a wide and stable base for the screen although it is quite deep (283mm max) so you need to have a pretty deep desk to accommodate it. There is a cable tidy hole in the back of the stand, and the top also has a useful carry handle as pictured below.
The back of the screen is encased in a matte black plastic as well. You can see from the images above that there are some RGB lighting sections on the back as “wings”, as well as an Aorus logo on the back of the stand and an additional RGB strip on the side of the stand. When viewed from behind the RGB lighting looks nice, but if you’re using the screen from the front and have a wall or something behind the screen, it won’t really offer you much. It’s not large or bright enough to cast a significant glow behind the screen or provide any down-firing ambient light, it’s more for rear view aesthetics. RGB Fusion 2.0 is explained in more detail on Gigabyte’s website here.
The stand provides a full range of ergonomic adjustments. Tilt provides a very wide range of adjustment but is stiff to operate. The height adjustment is a bit easier to move and offers a total (measured) 125mm adjustment range just a bit less than the advertised 130mm. At the bottom position the bottom edge of the screen (in the central slightly protruding part) is ~40mm from the surface of the desk. Side to side swivel is fairly easy to us, as is the rotate function. The stand is strong, heavy and stable and so provides a nice sturdy base for the screen during use. There is a bit of wobble to the screen as you move it around or use the OSD controller (or knock the screen).
A summary of the ergonomic adjustments are shown below:
|Function||Range||Smoothness||Ease of Use|
|Rotate||Yes||Fairly smooth||Fairly easy|
The connections are located on the back of the screen as pictured above. There are a very good range of modern connectivity options provided here with DisplayPort 1.4, USB type-C and the all-important (to some people) 2x HDMI 2.1. The full 4K 144Hz 10-bit (at 4:4:4 RGB chroma) was supported from a PC over both DisplayPort 1.4 (thanks to DSC as long as your graphics card supports it) and via HDMI 2.1. VRR FreeSync and G-sync work from both as well, as does the Aim Stabilizer Sync mode.
We just wanted to touch on the USB type-C port here as it was not initially clear what this supported, as it’s not listed in the “signal input” section of the Gigabyte spec table, but is listed as an input in the OSD menu. As far as we can tell from our testing, this input will support video and data from a laptop or a PC which has a specific USB type-C output. It does not however seem to feature ‘DisplayPort Alt mode’ on the connection, which means you cannot use a DP > USB C adapter or cable (we tried both) to connect from a DP output on your graphics card. Only really an issue if you had multiple systems you wanted to connect that only had DP outputs. If you have a USB C end to end connection then the screen can support 4K 144Hz as listed in the Gigabyte manual. We were unable to confirm if adaptive-sync worked but see no reason why it wouldn’t. We are double checking with Gigabyte on the support over USB C and DP Alt mode too so will report back.
There are also 2x USB 3.0 ports, a mic input, headphone output and audio output. We will talk more about the benefits and capabilities of the various video inputs later in the review.
The OSD is controlled via a single joystick toggle on the bottom edge of the screen. There are a very wide range of options and settings available to play with and configure including lots of preset modes (including 3 custom modes available). Navigation is intuitive and easy thanks to the joystick controller, although slightly laggy in places.
Panel and Backlighting
|Panel Manufacturer||Innolux||Backlighting Type||LED|
|Panel Technology||AAS (IPS-type), Super Speed IPS||Colour space||Wide gamut|
|Panel Part||M315DCA-K7B||sRGB coverage||123% listed|
|Screen Coating||Light anti-glare||DCI-P3||90% listed|
|Colour Palette||1.07 billion||Adobe RGB coverage||not listed|
|Colour depth||10-bit (8-bit + FRC)||Flicker free verified|
It should be noted that the 10-bit colour depth is available even at 4K 144Hz thanks to the inclusion of Display Stream Compression (DSC) on the DP 1.4 connection, and also over HDMI 2.1 thanks to the increased bandwidth of that interface. DSC is lossless from a visual point of view which means that unlike older 4K 144Hz models you don’t need to sacrifice colour depth or chroma levels to reach the maximum refresh rate. You need a compatible DSC graphics card though of course. The main take-home here is that you don’t need to drop to 8-bit colour depth which is great if your content or game is HDR and supports 10-bit. More importantly you don’t need to drop from 4:4:4 full RGB chroma here, which does cause some visual loss in clarity but was a necessary step in earlier generation of 4K 144Hz displays before DSC was adopted.
Brightness and Contrast
This section tests the full range of luminance (the brightness of the screen) possible from the backlight, while changing the monitors brightness setting in the OSD menu. This allows us to measure the maximum and minimum adjustment ranges, as well as identify the recommended setting to reach a target of 120 cd/m2 for comfortable day to day use in normal lighting conditions. Some users have specific requirements for a very bright display, while others like a much darker display for night time viewing or in low ambient light conditions. At each brightness level we also measure the contrast ratio produced by the screen when comparing a small white sample vs. a black sample (not unrealistic full screen white vs. full screen black tests). The contrast ratio should remain stable across the adjustment range so we also check that.
Graphics card settings were left at default with no ICC profile or calibration active. Tests were made using an X-rite i1 Display Pro Plus colorimeter paired with the Calman Ultimate software for very high levels of accuracy.
Note that we disabled Local dimming from the OSD menu for these measurements. At the full brightness setting in the OSD the maximum luminance reached was a high 379 cd/m2 in SDR mode which was a bit higher than manufacturer quoted spec of 350 cd/m2. There was a very good 332 cd/m2 adjustment range in total, so at the minimum setting you could reach down to a luminance of 46 cd/m2. This was a good adjustment at the lower end, and should allow you a low luminance option for working in darkened room conditions with low ambient light if you need. A setting of 21 in the OSD menu is needed to return you a luminance as close to 120 cd/m2 as possible at default settings. Backlight dimming is achieved with a flicker free backlight (no need for PWM) which should avoid eye strain and headaches that PWM screens often cause.
We have plotted the luminance trend on the graph above. The screen behaves as it should in this regard, with a reduction in the luminance output of the screen controlled by the reduction in the OSD brightness setting in a linear relationship. The average contrast ratio of the screen at default settings was measured at 982:1 out of the box which was decent for an IPS-type panel and very close to the manufacturer 1000:1 specification. We will re-measure contrast ratio after calibration later as well.
Default Performance and Setup
Before we carried out these tests, the only thing we turned off within the OSD was the ‘local dimming’ option, so as not to interfere with the measurements. We will talk about that feature later in the review in the HDR section.
Initially out of the box the screen was set in the ‘Green’ preset, that being ‘Green’ for eco benefits as opposed to anything to do with the colour. This initially had a locked brightness control although you can edit this if you want after accepting a warning that it would change the default ‘green’ performance of the screen. Anyway, in this mode we measured a reasonable gamma set up, a little low at 2.1 average but not too far away from the target 2.2 apart from some variation in lighter grey shades. Colour temperature was good with an average greyscale temp of 6567k, leaving only a small 1% out from the target, and white point was also pretty good at 6373k (2% out, being slightly too warm). The resulting greyscale dE was moderate with 2.4 average, showing the best performance in darker tones where the gamma was a bit better, but deviating quite a lot in lighter shades and especially at white. We had a reasonable default brightness of the screen at 161 nits in this ‘green’ mode which was pretty comfortable for general use, and the contrast ratio was measured at 989:1, being very close to the 1000:1 spec.
You can see from the CIE diagram on the left that the colour space of the screen extends a reasonable way beyond the sRGB reference gamut, giving rise to a measured 123.5% relative coverage. Good news was that it can cover pretty much all of the sRGB space (99.8%) but you will need some way to tame that wide colour gamut if you want to work with standard sRGB / SDR content only, as the over-coverage leads to some over-saturation, most noticeably in red shades. The wide gamut delivered a decent 95.5% DCI-P3 absolute coverage, a bit higher than the 90% spec in fact which was good. We triple checked these results as we’ve seen some other reviews comment on the gamut being a bit below 90%. Perhaps this varies by measurement method or instrument, but using our high end spectroradiometer and a very accurate calculation method this is what we measured. This is also using the CIE 1976 reference which is more appropriate and accurate than older CIE 1931. For what it’s worth the corresponding DCI-P3 coverage relative to CIE 1931 was 88.7%.
With the screen operating by default in its wide gamut mode, when considering sRGB colours we had a reasonable accuracy with 2.2 dE average recorded. Not terrible, but you’d want to be able to more closely map that sRGB colour gamut if you’re only working with SDR / sRGB content really. It is a wide gamut screen after all. The boosted wide gamut colours are nice though for gaming and multimedia, helping the colours look more vivid and bright, and helping reach a bit more of the colour space used for HDR content too. Many people not as bothered by the accuracy will probably prefer the appearance in this mode.
sRGB Emulation Mode
The FI32U includes an sRGB emulation mode preset which is designed to more closely match that standard gamut reference space and “clamp” the colours back to sRGB. In this mode a lot of the picture settings are locked and greyed out, although thankfully you do have access to adjust the brightness control which is good news. Sometimes that gets locked on other screens which can make these modes unusable.
Performance in the sRGB preset is pretty good overall. The gamma is perhaps the most problematic area, measured at 2.06 average here. It looks like Gigabyte have set the gamma curve to sRGB instead of 2.2 which is sometimes the case for sRGB modes and has a different curve nearer to black. That is fair enough to use that gamma instead. We also measured the gamma relative to sRGB curve but you can see it is still too low:
The colour temp was very good though as it had been in the default wide gamut mode (6577k average greyscale with 1% deviance), as was the white point (6644k, 2% deviance this time slightly too cool). The resulting greyscale was also good with a 1.6 dE average. The contrast ratio had taken a bit of a hit in this preset though, measured now at 872:1, about 100:1 lower than the native mode which was a shame.
The most noticeable difference with this mode is that the colour gamut is reduced as intended, now much more closely matching sRGB and removing the over-coverage in the native mode. It wasn’t a perfect emulation, we measured 95.9% sRGB with a bit of under-coverage in blue shades. This shouldn’t represent any major problem though for most people. With an sRGB gamut now in use, the colour accuracy was improved a reasonable amount and we had a 1.7 dE average which was very good. Some shades, like blue where the gamut wasn’t perfectly matched, showed higher errors up to 3.4 max. Still, this sRGB mode should be useful for those wanting to work with sRGB/SDR content in a more accurate way. A slightly better coverage emulation and access to the other OSD controls would have been an improvement.
We carried out a software profiling of the screen, where optimal OSD adjustments were obtained, gamma and greyscale were corrected, and an ICC profile was created which can be used for colour-aware applications. This was profiled using the screen’s native wide gamut but with the profile created relative to the sRGB colour space. This profile can be used by colour-aware applications (e.g. Photoshop) to accurately map the wide gamut colours back to the common sRGB colour space.
The OSD settings were adjusted as shown in the table above, as guided during the calibration process and measurements. These OSD changes allowed us to obtain an optimal hardware starting point and setup before software level changes would be made at the graphics card level. These adjustments before profiling the screen would help preserve tonal values and limit banding issues. After this we let the software carry out the further corrections and create an ICC profile.
Gamma had now been nicely corrected to 2.18 average, as had RGB balance and the colour temperature which was measured at 6547k (1% deviance) across the whole greyscale, and basically spot on at the white point 6501k. This resulted in a very low greyscale error as well, with dE average of 0.4. The contrast ratio remained strong for an IPS-type panel at 972:1 after calibration which was good. ITt seems to be only the sRGB emulation mode where it drops a bit further.
Validation of the created profile was excellent . We had left the screen in its native full wide gamut mode as you can see from the CIE diagram on the left, where the colour space of the screen extended a fair way beyond the sRGB reference, especially in red shades. A reminder of the colour gamut coverage for common reference spaces is included below that again. The ICC profile was created relative to sRGB and when validating that profile against sRGB colours we had an excellent accuracy with a dE average of only 0.3 and a max of 0.7. This profile can be used in colour aware applications to correctly map the wide gamut colour space to sRGB for accurate SDR work and offer excellent accuracy.
You can use our settings and try our calibrated ICC profile if you wish, which are available in our ICC profile database. Keep in mind that results will vary from one screen to another and from one computer / graphics card to another.
The comparisons made in this section try to give you a better view of how each screen performs, particularly out of the box which is what is going to matter to most consumers. We have divided the table up by panel technology as well to make it easier to compare similar models. When comparing the default factory settings for each monitor it is important to take into account several measurement areas – gamma, white point and colour accuracy. There’s no point having a low dE colour accuracy figure if the gamma curve is way off for instance. A good factory calibration requires all 3 to be well set up. We have deliberately not included luminance in this comparison since this is normally far too high by default on every screen. However, that is very easily controlled through the brightness setting (on most screens) and should not impact the other areas being measured anyway. It is easy enough to obtain a suitable luminance for your working conditions and individual preferences, but a reliable factory setup in gamma, white point and colour accuracy is important and some (gamma especially) are not as easy to change accurately without a calibration tool.
From these comparisons we can also compare the calibrated colour accuracy, black depth and contrast ratio. After a calibration the gamma, white point and luminance should all be at their desired targets.
Viewing angles of the screen were very good as you would expect from an IPS-type panel. There were some small contrast shifts as you moved to a wider viewing position but they were minimal here. The screen offered the wide viewing angles of IPS technology and was free from the restrictive fields of view of TN Film panels, especially in the vertical plane. It was also free of the off-centre contrast shift you see from VA panels and a lot of the quite obvious gamma and colour tone shift you see from some of the modern VA panel type offerings.
On a black image there is a characteristic pale glow introduced to the image when viewed from a wide angle, commonly referred to as “IPS glow”. This type of glow is common on most modern IPS-type panels and can be distracting to some users. If you view dark content from a normal head-on viewing position, you may see this glow as your eyes look towards the edges of the screen. The level of glow on this panel was more white that some IPS panels where it can be more purple in colour, but it was pretty typical for this technology.
This type of glow is common on most modern IPS-type panels and can be distracting to some users. If you view dark content from a normal head-on viewing position, you may see this glow as your eyes look towards the edges of the screen depending on your viewing position. It will also be more noticeable in darker ambient light conditions and if you’re viewing a lot of dark content. Some people may find this problematic if they are playing a lot of darker games or watching darker movies. In normal day to day uses you couldn’t really notice this unless you were viewing darker content. If you move your viewing position back, which is probably likely for movies and games keep in mind, the effect reduces as you do not have such an extreme angle from your eye position to the screen edges.
We wanted to test here how uniform the brightness was across the screen, as well as identify any leakage from the backlight in dark lighting conditions. Measurements of the luminance were taken at 35 points across the panel on a pure white background. The measurements for luminance were taken using BasICColor’s calibration software package, combined with an X-rite i1 Display Pro colorimeter with a central point on the screen calibrated to 120 cd/m2. The below uniformity diagram shows the difference, as a percentage, between the measurement recorded at each point on the screen, as compared with the central reference point.
It is worth noting that panel uniformity can vary from one screen to another, and can depend on manufacturing lines, screen transport and other local factors. This is only a guide of the uniformity of the sample screen we have for review.
Luminance uniformity of the screen was good on our sample, with 83% of the screen within a 10% deviance of the centrally calibrated area which was pleasing. The left hand area seemed to be a bit darker than the right hand, dropping down to 103 cd/m2 in the most extreme example (-16.5% deviance) but nothing too major. This shouldn’t represent any major issues for general usage, and is certainly fine for gaming and multimedia.
We also tested the screen with an all black image and in a darkened room. A camera was used to capture the result. There were a couple of areas where the backlight shone through a bit more brightly in the upper corners and left some clouding, but they were hard to see in normal usage. Nothing serious here.
Note: if you want to test your own screen for backlight bleed and uniformity problems at any point you need to ensure you have suitable testing conditions. Set the monitor to a sensible day to day brightness level, preferably as close to 120 cd/m2 as you can get it (our tests are once the screen is calibrated to this luminance). Don’t just take a photo at the default brightness which is almost always far too high and not a realistic usage condition. You need to take the photo from about 1.5 – 2m back to avoid capturing viewing angle characteristics, especially on IPS-type panels where off-angle glow can come in to play easily. Photos should be taken in a darkened room at a shutter speed which captures what you see reliably and doesn’t over-expose the image. A shutter speed of 1/8 second will probably be suitable for this.
General and Office Applications
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 31.5″ 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.
The light AG coating of the panel is fine, and much better than the grainy and dirty appearance of older IPS panel 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.
The out of the box setup was good overall and offered a pretty good gamma, a reliable colour temp, and on-spec contrast ratio as expected. The screen offers a wide colour gamut by default which leads to some over-saturation of SDR/ sRGB content, but it’s not as wide as some other screens on the market so it isn’t too crazy or neon in appearance. There is thankfully also a pretty good sRGB emulation mode with reliable greyscale, colour temp and better colour accuracy thanks to the closer sRGB gamut mapping. However, the gamma is a bit low, the contrast ratio takes a bit of a hit (872:1) and while you do thankfully still have access to the brightness control, the other OSD settings are unavailable and locked. Calibration and profiling can produce some pleasing results though if you have the means.
The brightness range of the screen was good, with the ability to offer a luminance between 379 and 46 cd/m2 which gives you flexibility even in darker room conditions and low ambient light conditions. A setting of 21 in the OSD brightness control should return you a luminance close to 120 cd/m2 out of the box. The brightness regulation is controlled via a flicker free backlight, without the need for Pulse Width Modulation (PWM), and so those who suffer from eye fatigue or headaches associated with flickering backlights need not worry.
Low Blue Light Eyesafe
There is a focus from this screen on low blue light capabilities, but not in the usual way you see from many displays. There are no specific low blue light modes or settings from the screen which are usually just ways to make the image warmer and reduce the peak of the blue light as a result. The problem with that method is that of course the overall image is affected, and you get a warmer image as a result. Instead the focus is on providing a backlight where the blue light spectral peak has been shifted to a reportedly less harmful frequency, away 415 – 455nm area. We are in the process of looking in to this situation in more detail for a future article on blue light, but if you want more information then Eyesafe provide some background thinking on why they believe this is important on their website.
The screen has been certified under the ‘Eyesafe’ program, who provide more information on the whole thing. On the FI32U the blue light peak was measured at 458 nW/nm which successfully avoids the claimed problem area without impact the colour temp or any other aspects of the image. We will provide further information on Low Blue Light methods in a future article for those interested.
KVM and Connections
There are 2x USB 3.0 ports provided on the back of the screen along with a USB type-C port which are tucked out of the way with the video connections and not very easy to get to. It would have been nice to have a couple of easier access ports on the side of something. The screen includes KVM functionality which allows you to control multiple devices via one set of keyboard, video and mouse. Gigabyte provide more information about that feature on their website here if you are interested.
There are no other extras like human motion sensors or card readers on this screen which are sometimes useful for office-type uses. There is also a good range of adjustments offered overall from the stand which provided a stable and sturdy base, with smooth and easy adjustments.
HDR (High Dynamic Range)
|HDR Capability Summary|
|VESA Display HDR Certification level = HDR 400|
|Certified to the lapse HDR 400 standard, although thankfully in this case Gigabyte have included some form of local dimming for the backlight, a wide colour gamut and 10-bit colour depth support, even though these aren’t required to earn this certification.|
|HDR Technical Capabilities|
|High number of local dimming zones||16 vertical zones|
|Increased peak brightness||494 cd/m2|
|Increased dynamic range (contrast) max||–||~2750:1|
|Increased “local” HDR contrast ratio max||–||~1500:1|
|Wide colour gamut >90% DCI-P3||95.5%|
|10-bit colour depth support||8-bit+FRC panel|
Normally we would barely discuss “HDR” on screens that are certified under the lowly HDR 400 standard, as they don’t have any local dimming (needed to improve the dynamic range / contrast) and don’t even need to have wide colour gamut or 10-bit colour depth support. As we’ve said many times, it’s a really lapse and pointless standard in our opinion. While the FI32U is rated as an HDR 400, this is the first model we’ve tested that actually makes an effort to enhance the performance and adds some form of local dimming to the backlight. It is quite limited, with (as far as we can tell) 16 dimming zones arranged vertically. This isn’t great but it is better than nothing (like nearly all other HDR 400 screens).
As well as some limited local dimming capabilities the screen also supports a wide colour gamut (95.5% DCI-P3 coverage measured) and 10-bit colour depth to offer the colour enhancements associated with HDR content.
There are 3 selectable HDR modes in the OSD once an HDR signal is detected.
- HDR 400 where all picture settings are locked and brightness is at its maximum. Local dimming is always enabled in this mode
- HDR Game where settings are now available, brightness is set at 75 default but can be changed, and you have access to the local dimming control
- HDR Movie where brightness is locked at 70 but you have access to other settings including local dimming.
The HDR Game and HDR movie modes allow you access to other HDR settings in the menu like ‘dark enhance’, ‘color enhance’ and ‘light enhance’ so there are a few extra options to play with there if you want. We measured a peak brightness capability of ~494 cd/m2 which is decent, and a bit beyond the spec as well. The limited number of local dimming zones means that the local contrast ratio (between areas close to one another) is not improved much, and we measured a small bump to about 1500:1. Across the whole screen (measuring a dark area further away from the bright test area) the total contrast ratio was improved a bit more to about 2750:1. There are fairly large areas of blooming because of the limited number of dimming zones, with large strips being quite noticeable in certain circumstances. Sometimes the whole screen seems to be lit up as normal too, so it’s far from a great HDR experience. Arguably better than other HDR 400 screens though! We applaud Gigabyte for at least adopting a system that allows some local dimming, and also for providing the colour enhancements which helps improve things if nothing else.
Response Times and Gaming
|Panel Technology||AAS (IPS-type), Super Speed IPS|
|Quoted G2G Response Time||1ms G2G|
|Quoted MPRT Response Time||1ms MPRT|
|Variable Overdrive supported|
|Overdrive Control Available Via OSD Setting||Overdrive|
|Overdrive OSD Settings||Off, Smart OD, Picture Quality, Balance, Speed|
The screen uses overdrive technology to boost pixel transitions across grey to grey changes as with nearly all modern displays. The part being used is an Innolux M315DCA-K7B AAS (IPS-type) technology panel that Gigabyte refer to as ‘Super Speed IPS’ in their marketing. Have a read about response time in our specs section if you need additional information about this measurement. Our thanks to NVIDIA for hooking us up with an RTX 3090 for all our testing.
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Overdrive Modes and Response Times
We carried out various visual tests combined with detailed response time measurements to establish what the optimal overdrive setting was for this screen. Note that the initial measurements taken here were using a traditional G2G measurement technique which is quicker and easier to complete and provides a good overview for now while we test different modes. We will take a more thorough look at response time behaviour later on using our improved gamma corrected response times as well to provide a more accurate representation of real-life experience for gaming.
We tested the five overdrive modes at the maximum 144Hz refresh rate first of all. The off mode was free from all overshoot but the G2G response times were not fast enough to keep up with the 144fps frame rate, and so there was a reasonable amount of smearing and blurring on moving content. The ‘Picture Quality’ mode seemed to offer the best balance here, with much improved response times (down from 8.0 to 4.5ms G2G compared with the ‘Off’ mode), and only small amounts of overshoot being measured. This was not visible in visual tests at this refresh rate.
The other modes all showed high levels of overshoot unfortunately, which includes the ‘Smart OD’ mode which is apparently supposed to offer some kind of ‘variable overdrive’ feature but seems to behave like the ‘balance’ setting. Even at max 144Hz refresh rate the overshoot was too high, and you had some moderate pale halos in practice too. The ‘Picture Quality’ mode seemed to be optimal here, at least at 144Hz.
|(at native resolution)||Refresh Rate|
|Maximum Refresh Rate DisplayPort||144Hz (at 10-bit RGB 444 chroma thanks to DSC)|
|Maximum Refresh Rate HDMI||144Hz (at 10-bit RGB 444 chroma thanks to HDMI 2.1)|
|VRR range||48 – 144Hz with LFC|
|VRR capabilities and Certification|
|AMD FreeSync certification level||FreeSync Premium Pro|
|Native NVIDIA G-sync module|
|NVIDIA ‘G-sync Compatible’ certified|
|HDMI-org VRR (consoles via HDMI 2.1)|
The FI32U can support variable refresh rates from both AMD FreeSync and NVIDIA G-sync systems via adaptive-sync. It has been certified under the AMD ‘FreeSync Premium Pro‘ scheme, but not under the NVIDIA ‘G-sync Compatible’ certification programme. The support for G-sync and FreeSync will be very useful given the significant system demands of running a screen at such a high 4K resolution and at high refresh rate up to 144Hz. It was of course very good to see it included here. You might also want to read our detailed article about Variable Refresh Rates here for more information. The 4K resolution provides a sharper and crisper image than 1440p would on a screen in this approximate size range and enhances the detail and clarity in gaming very nicely. Everything looks super-sharp and crisp. On this model you don’t have to sacrifice resolution from 4K down to 1440p to reach 144Hz refresh rates, you can have the best of both worlds.
We should also also make a point here that this screen supports Display Stream Compression (DSC) over DisplayPort 1.4 if you have a modern graphics card that supports DSC. Hopefully you will have a modern card, you’re going to need it for 4K 144Hz gaming! The use of DSC means that even at the max 4K 144Hz you can run at 10-bit colour depth and full RGB chroma. You don’t need to sacrifice chroma and image quality at all like you did on earlier generation 4K 144Hz screens, like the 27″ Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ for instance which was one of the first. That’s great news. The same applies over HDMI 2.1 which actually here also uses DSC (not that it really matters) but can support 4K 144Hz 10-bit 4:4:4 content without issue. We should also point out that DSC is lossless from a visual point of view and so provides a very good method for extending the bandwidth capabilities of DisplayPort 1.4.
Response Times and Refresh Rate
There’s various things you need to consider when it comes to response times and gaming, particularly on a display with high refresh rate support. Gaming screens invariably give you a control for the overdrive impulse in the OSD menu which can help you tweak things, but response time performance and overshoot levels can vary depending on the active refresh rate. This behaviour is often different depending on whether the screen is a traditional Native G-sync screens (with hardware module) or whether it’s an adaptive-sync screen, and not all screens behave in the same way. We always try to test each variable in our reviews but the key considerations you need to make are:
- Performance at 60Hz – this is important if you want to use an external games console (or other device like a Blu-ray player etc) which typically run at 60Hz. Response time performance may well be different than at the higher refresh rates supported, and you may need a different overdrive setting for optimal experience.
- Performance during VRR (Variable Refresh Rate) – bearing in mind that the refresh rate will fluctuate anywhere from 1Hz up to the maximum supported by the screen (e.g. 1 – 144Hz on a 144Hz display). It’s important to understand if the response times and overshoot will vary as the refresh rate changes. There may be a need to switch between different overdrive settings in some cases, depending on your usually attained frame rate/refresh rate output and graphics card capability. This can sometimes become fiddly if your refresh rates fluctuate a lot, especially between different games, so it’s always easier if you can leave a display on a single overdrive setting which is suited to the whole range. Some screens also feature “variable overdrive” which helps control the response times and overshoot depending on the active refresh rate. This is particularly apparent with traditional Native G-sync module screens.
- Performance at fixed refresh rates including maximum – this is important for those who have a powerful enough system to consistently output a frame rate to meet the max refresh rate capability of the screen. They may want to run at max refresh rate without VRR active, or even is VRR is active they may know they will be consistently at the upper end of the range. Many gaming screens show their optimal response time performance at the maximum refresh rate. Knowing the performance at high fixed refresh rates may also be applicable if you want to use any added blur reduction backlight which typically operate at a fixed refresh rate.
- Whether the response times can keep up with the frame rate – you will also want to consider whether the response times of the panel can consistently keep up with the frame rate. For instance a 144Hz screen sends a new frame to the display every 6.94ms, so the pixel response times need to ideally be consistently and reliably under this threshold. If they are too slow, it can lead to added smearing and blurring of the image in practice and sometimes make the higher refresh rates unusable in real life. We consider this in our analysis.
We took some further response time measurements and carried out additional visual tests at different refresh rates to see what impact that had on the performance. Without ‘variable overdrive’ being used here (a feature normally reserved for Native G-sync module screens), we have a consideration to make when it comes to choosing the best overdrive mode, that is impacted by refresh rate. It became obvious that the only two modes worth consideration were the ‘Off’ mode and the ‘Picture Quality’ mode. The other overdrive settings had too high overshoot, even at the maximum 144Hz and only made worse as refresh rate lowered. That resulted in noticeable and obvious pale overshoot trails on content, especially as refresh rate lowered.
The ‘Picture Quality’ mode delivered the optimal performance at 144Hz for sure, being fast enough to keep up with the frame rate demands easily, offering a nice low G2G (4.5ms average) and with only low levels of overshoot that were not visible in practice at all. The response time remained consistent as refresh rate lowered, but that meant that the overshoot level increased at the same time. This is what ‘variable overdrive’ on Native G-sync screens looks to avoid by the way, as it tones down the overdrive and reduces the G2G response times as refresh rate lowers in order to control and avoid the overshoot. On the FI32U here we had moderate to high levels of overshoot starting to appear by the time you get down to 100Hz or so. Some pale trails were visible in practice too. If refresh rate went much lower, especially if it got down to 60Hz or below, then the overshoot became far too noticeable sadly.
For these lower refresh rates of 100Hz and below, the ‘Off’ mode removed that overshoot problem although G2G response times were now quite a bit slower (~7.6ms average). This was perfectly fine for 100Hz and below, including for 60Hz fixed input sources (games consoles, Blu-ray players etc). But it did mean that for VRR situations you wouldn’t really want to stick with ‘off’ mode as when the refresh rate went above ~100Hz, some additional smearing and blurring appeared because the response times were no longer keeping up.
This behaviour is pretty typical for an adaptive sync screen. We would recommend using the ‘off’ mode for 60Hz fixed input sources. For VRR if your frame rates are typically <100Hz, you will probably also want to stick with ‘off’ mode. If you can drive frame rates consistently >100Hz then switching up to the ‘Picture Quality’ mode will bring about nice improvements, and should dodge most of the overshoot too. This does make the screen a bit inconvenient for VRR gaming, as with most FreeSync displays to be fair. We would much rather have a single overdrive mode experience to rely on where you can set the correct level and leave it at all times.
Detailed Response Times
|Optimal Refresh Rate||144Hz|
|Optimal Overdrive Setting (for above)||Picture Quality|
|Optimal Overdrive Setting for 60Hz||Off|
|Optimal Overdrive Setting for VRR||Picture Quality (>100Hz)|
We also measured the response times of the screen using our updated and more accurate method. This provides measurements that are even more representative of real life experience, helping identify areas of strength and weakness. It’s a more thorough method for taking response time and overshoot measurements that should provide a great view of what you can expect from any given screen.
Using this updated method we measured an average 4.5ms G2G response time which was actually exactly the same average as the legacy method at 144Hz in this overdrive mode. There were no major issues with the response times at all here, and overshoot was at low levels with nothing visible in practice at this high refresh rate. Even if we considered the ‘total response time’ (discussed in more detail in our article) then the average is still only 5.8ms G2G which was excellent. A solid performance here.
We have also captured the perceived motion clarity using a pursuit camera setup to show how the moving image looks in practice. You can see that the ‘off’ mode is still pretty good, but shows some additional smearing on the moving object as the response times are not fast enough to keep up with the frame rate. With the ‘picture quality’ setting used, the image is sharper, cleaner and better in practice. There is no visible overshoot in either example at 144Hz.
Further recommended reading
Refresh Rate Compliance
In this section for our reviews we look at the response time behaviour across the range of supported refresh rates and consider whether they are sufficient to keep up with the frame rate demands of the screen. The grey line on the graph shows the refresh rate threshold, that being the average G2G response time that the panel needs to be able to achieve to keep up properly with the refresh rate and frame rate. For instance at a 60Hz refresh rate the response times need to be consistently and reliably under 16.67ms, while at 144Hz refresh rate the response times ideally need to be under 6.94ms to keep up with the frame rate demands. If they are not then this can lead to some additional smearing and blurring on moving content as the pixels can’t keep up. For these tests we will plot the average G2G figure at a range of measured refresh rates, while operating at the optimal overdrive control.
The table to the right then explains whether that overdrive control needs to be adjusted by the user depending on the refresh rate (not ideal), or whether adaptive overdrive is utilised to keep things simple. Ideally you’d want to be able to stick with a single mode for all refresh rates especially when you consider how these will vary during VRR. We also include a measurement of the % of the overall response time measurements that were within the refresh rate, as well as a slightly more lenient measurement of how many were within the refresh rate window within a 1ms leeway.
The response time behaviour of the FI32U was mostly very good across the refresh rate range, although as we talked about earlier you do really need to change the overdrive setting depending on your active refresh rate which is a bit of a pain. This is common on most adaptive-sync screens though. Our recommended setting is ‘off’ for <100Hz and you can see that response times are fast enough easily to keep up with the frame rate. As you get to 100Hz and above, that setting would start to become too slow, and so it’s necessary (or preferred at least) to change to the ‘Picture Quality’ mode to ensure the response times keep up and to avoid added smearing. In that mode, 144Hz is fine, with 90% of all measured transitions within the refresh rate window, 100% if we added a reasonable 1ms tolerance leeway.
Console Gaming and HDMI 2.1
|Native panel resolution||3840 x 2160|
|Maximum resolution and refresh rate supported||4K at 120Hz|
|PlayStation 5 support||4K 144Hz at 4:2:0 chroma|
|Xbox Series X support||4K 120Hz at 4:2:0 chroma|
|Virtual 4K support||Not needed|
|4K at 24Hz support|
|4K at 50Hz support|
|HDMI connection version||2.1|
|HDMI-org VRR (over HDMI 2.1)|
|Adaptive-sync (FreeSync) over HDMI|
|Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM)|
|Display aspect ratio controls||Aspect / Full|
|High speed HDMI 2.1 cable provided|
One of the biggest selling points for many right now is the inclusion of HDMI 2.1 on this screen (x2 ports in fact), and this is actually one of the first to market to feature this modern connection option. So why all the fuss?
From a PC perspective HDMI 2.1 isn’t really necessary. Yes, the most modern graphics cards including the NVIDIA RTX 30 series feature HDMI 2.1 output, but it’s not really needed here necessarily. Those cards will also include DisplayPort 1.4 and that is just as capable of delivering the necessary bandwidth for 4K at 144Hz, 10-bit and RGB chroma as long as DSC is used, which it is on the FI32U. DSC is becoming pretty standard now on monitors wherever it might be needed. There are also older generation graphics cards before HDMI 2.1 appeared that still have DP 1.4 with DSC, and so we expect for PC connections and PC gaming, that will still be the primary connection. Some might argue that HDMI 2.1 provides more bandwidth than DP 1.4 and so in theory you don’t need to even rely on DSC. That is true for HDMI 2.1 as a standard, but with DSC being lossless from a visual point of view, there is no visual or real benefit in using HDMI 2.1 from your PC compared with DP 1.4 with DSC.
Actually to add to the complications with the FI32U, the way the HDMI 2.1 is implemented here on this screen, that also relies on DSC anyway, so you can’t even technically avoid DSC like you might think. You might as well save those HDMI 2.1 ports (and the provided high speed HDMI 2.1 cable) on the screen for connecting other things.
So while it is not really of much benefit for PC connectivity, it is regarded as very useful for modern PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X games consoles. HDMI 2.1 as a connection type can in theory support 4K 120Hz with 10-bit colour and 4:4:4 chroma, along with features that come as part of that interface standard like VRR and ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode). Those are all capabilities of the HDMI 2.1 standard. We need to consider here though which features are available on this screen, how it works, and what value those bring. Don’t assume that they are all available on the FI32U just because it has HDMI 2.1 – they’re not!
HDMI 2.1 ports are 24Gpbs with DSC needed to deliver the full bandwidth
To start with we should say that the HDMI 2.1 ports here are not actually set to use the full 48Gbps bandwidth and instead operate at 24Gbps with DSC being used. We reached out to Gigabyte to clarify the reasoning and background for this and this is apparently because at the time of designing the display (including other 4K gaming displays in their range), it was expected that both Xbox and PS5 would support DSC and so this wouldn’t matter. See below on the impact this has though as it appears they don’t! It also has other knock on impacts to HDMI 2.1 functionality like VRR.
PlayStation 5 limited to 4:2:0 chroma for 4K 120Hz Gaming
So with that in mind this brings about a limitation for PS5 unfortunately, although not a huge one relative to the consoles capability and probably not something you’d see in real use. PS5 has a maximum HDMI 2.1 output capability of 32Gbps and so that translates back to a maximum 4K 120Hz 10-bit 4:2:2 chroma, no matter what the display. Because the PS5 cannot support DSC this is reduced a little further on the FI32U and you will be limited to 4:2:0 chroma only. Had Gigabyte instead used the full 48Gpbs capacity (or indeed anything of >32Gbps) then we’d be able to use 4:2:2 chroma from the PS5 which is the console’s limit.
Chroma sub-sampling is noticeable in PC desktop use but becomes pretty hard to see in gaming, which is of course pretty much all you’d be doing from a console anyway. You can see our section about chroma sub-sampling from our older review of Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ for more information about what it is, and the image impacts it has. On that screen, 4:2:2 sub-sampling was needed for PC usage over DisplayPort as well to get to the maximum 144Hz refresh rate. It is not a major sacrifice in practice for dynamic content like games. And on the FI32U you’re dropping to 4:2:0 chroma for 4K 120Hz, but the PS5 could only manage 4:2:2 at best anyway. It’s a shame to have to drop that additional step, but it’s not a major sacrifice in real use. Add to this the fact most games that run at 4K 120Hz will probably be mastered at 4:2:0 anyway, it might become irrelevant.
Xbox Series X seems to support 4K 120Hz 4:2:0 chroma too
At the time of launch the Gigabyte website suggests that the Xbox Series X is limited to the same 4:2:0 chroma for 4K 120Hz but according to Gigabyte at the time of the review in August 2021, that console can actually support DSC over HDMI 2.1 so in fact 4:4:4 should have been possible. At the time of this review Gigabyte were testing it in their lab for us, but we have not heard anything back and nothing has changed on their website spec. We have access to an Xbox Series X as well now which has allowed us to uncover some other limitations and odd behaviour discussed below, but it is not easily possible to identify from the display whether it’s operating in 4:4:4 mode or 4:2:0.
As best we can tell, it operates in the same was as a PS5, being limited to 4K 120Hz and 4:2:0 chroma presumably for the same reasons as before, and the capped 24Gbps bandwidth of the HDMI 2.1 port (without DSC). This would probably also explain why the Gigabyte website remains unchanged.
One thing to keep in mind in all this is that even being able to use 4K at 120Hz from a console is going to be a massive challenge with game support right now, as if you want to use 4K resolution you pretty much have to use 60Hz anyway. 4K at 60Hz is supported with full chroma on both consoles by the way.
So with 4K explained above that leaves us with 1440p and 1080p options. The support for these outputs might vary by console, with PS5 being a bit more limited than Xbox One X, but both resolutions are supported by the FI32U at 60Hz and 120Hz fine. To get 120Hz in console games you’re normally going to have to drop to the lower resolutions anyway.
Interestingly this 4K 120Hz 4:2:0 chroma is actually the same as Asus managed to squeeze out of the older HDMI 2.0 connection on their Asus ROG Swift PG32UQX by the way, so the inclusion of HDMI 2.1 doesn’t bring about any real benefit in bandwidth/colour support here on the FI32U. It does however allow the screen to support Variable Refresh Rates (VRR) which was not possible on the PG32UQX or with HDMI 2.0 keep in mind so it still has a benefit.
VRR support for Xbox Series X, but not PS5 and probably never will be!
This is an unusual behaviour that we only uncovered when testing the screen (and other 4K 120Hz monitors) with the Xbox Series X. In theory HDMI 2.1 should have access to HDMI-VRR, this is the main VRR technology that the Xbox wants to use, and will likely be the only one available from the PS5 too as and when Sony enable it. On the FI32U this HDMI-VRR doesn’t seem to be supported, only normal adaptive-sync/FreeSync over HDMI. That’s fine for the Xbox as that will support adaptive-sync as well, it doesn’t need HDMI-VRR necessarily. At the moment the PS5 supports neither, but it’s very likely Sony will add HDMI-VRR later on, but likely also that they will not bother with adaptive-sync. Which means that VRR may never work for PS5 on this display as it doesn’t support HDMI-VRR. Time will tell, but basically the FI32U doesn’t support HDMI-VRR.
We know this by the way because if you disable FreeSync from the monitor’s OSD, VRR is no longer available to select from the Xbox. On other HDMI 2.1 monitors where HDMI 2.1 is delivered fully and properly, it doesn’t matter if you disable FreeSync from the OSD menu, the Xbox still allows you to use VRR as it switches to the HDMI-VRR standard instead.
Note by the way that there is no need to use ALLM here which is a feature supported over HDMI 2.1 and mainly for TV’s to switch to their lower input lag Game mode. Since this is a monitor, and all modes on this model carry the same low lag, it’s not needed or used. It’s not supported at the moment, as confirmed on the Xbox.
Gigabyte helpfully include an HDMI 2.1 ultra high speed cable in the box so you are ready to connect your latest gen console and make the most of the capabilities.
Blur Reduction – Aim Stabilizer Sync
The FI32U features Gigabyte’s latest ‘Aim Stabilizer’ technology (referred to here for ease as “A.S.” in the following section) which is their strobing motion blur reduction backlight system. Actually this is their latest ‘Aim Stabilizer Sync’ which allows you to use this feature at the same time as VRR (but we thought we better not go with the abbreviated A.S.S.!). This setting is available for refresh rates above 100Hz, including for fixed 120Hz and 144Hz inputs, and including when VRR (FreeSync/G-sync) is also active. It is enabled through the OSD with a simple On/Off setting, but there are no further controls for things like strobe timing or length. The strobing is in sync with the frame rate, and if used at the same time as VRR that is controlled dynamically. The strobing turns off when frame rate drops below 100Hz in those situations although there’s obvious change to the image brightness or anything thankfully.
This mode worked well to reduce perceived motion blur and provide a sharp and easy to track moving image. In the central area of the screen where most of your attention is focused during gaming it had nice low levels of strobe cross talk and ghosting to the image as you can see from the pursuit camera photos above. You still have access to the response time control, but the modes we discussed earlier are still optimal depending on your refresh rates. The screen is also capable of being pretty bright if needed with this mode enabled, at ~218 nits max. Note that the OSD brightness control is not available when A.S. is enabled though. We did notice a bit of red fringing in some situations caused by the slower red phosphor decay from the backlight that we discussed in more detail in our ViewSonic Elite XG270QG review last year. Nothing too noticeable though in practice.
We wanted to cover a reader question we had here as well as best we can. The OSD settings remain the same when you switch input modes, so if you are using the ‘Custom 1’ mode for instance when connected via DisplayPort, and then switch to USB C, that same ‘Custom 1’ mode is still active. If you switch to something else like ‘Movie’ for instance, when you move back to DisplayPort input that will also be on ‘Movie’ mode, and so on. Each preset mode remembers the status of the A.S. setting mode as well, so if you turn Aim Stabilizer ON for one input and then switch to a different input, then this is remembered and A.S. stays on. If you don’t want A.S. turned on for that other input you’d need to either switch it off there, then switch it back on when you move back to the other input, or switch between preset modes perhaps.
One oddity we noticed with this though was that when you enable A.S. the brightness setting gets locked at 100. So we enabled A.S. while connected over DisplayPort at 144Hz which was fine. We then switched to the USB C input from a laptop that could only manage 4K 60Hz. A.S. doesn’t work at 60Hz, so that got disabled from the menu (and confirmed it was no longer active through motion tests), but the brightness is still locked at 100%, and you cannot change it.
Additional Gaming Features
- Aspect Ratio Control – the screen offers has loads of aspect ratio control options including ‘full’, ‘aspect’ and a 1:1 pixel mapping mode. There are also a range of different options to match different sized screens and resolutions if needed. The ‘aspect’ option is useful to support non-native aspect ratio inputs, although with the screen being 16:9 that is pretty common for external devices anyway.
- Preset Modes – There are quite a few gamer-oriented modes available in the preset mode menu including VS mode, FPS, RTS/RPG and 3 custom modes. You can set these up to your liking for different gaming uses.
- Black Equalizer– in the ‘Gaming’ section of the OSD there is a ‘black equalizer’ option designed to tweak gamma in darker content.
- Audiophile sound by Audio ESS SABRE HiFi – as Gigabyte’s website states, “the screen adopts the concept of a high-end audiophile sound system design into a micro system on the monitor. The embedded ESS SABRE chip provides a pure yet powerful sound, resonating classical orchestral sounds or blasts in your virtual warzone.” This applies to the audio output connections on the screen, there are no integrated speakers on this model.
- Game Assist menu – this includes customizable crosshairs, onscreen timer, onscreen counter, refresh rate display and display alignment options. These are given their own quick launch section from the OSD control too.
- OSD Sidekick software – The exclusive AORUS OSD Sidekick allows you to quickly set the display options with keyboard and mouse. It’s even better now you can enjoy the up-to-date gaming experience through the latest exclusive Auto-Update function!
Read our detailed article about input lag and the various measurement techniques which are used to evaluate this aspect of a display. The screens tested are split into two measurements which are based on our overall display lag tests and half the average G2G response time, as measured by our oscilloscope. The response time element, part of the lag you can see, is split from the overall display lag and shown on the graph as the green bar. From there, the signal processing (red bar) can be provided as a good estimation of the lag you would feel from the display. We also classify each display as follows:
- Class 1) Less than 8.33ms – the equivalent to 1 frame lag of a display at 120Hz refresh rate – should be fine for gamers, even at high levels
- Class 2) A lag of 8.33 – 16.66ms – the equivalent of one to two frames at a 120Hz refresh rate – moderate lag but should be fine for many gamers. Caution advised for serious gaming
- Class 3) A lag of more than 16.66ms – the equivalent of more than 2 frames at a refresh rate of 120Hz – Some noticeable lag in daily usage, not suitable for high end gaming
The total lag measured was a very impressive 2.33ms. The pixel response times account for basically all of that at ~2.25ms, and so we can say that there appears to be ~0.08ms of signal processing lag on this screen which is excellent. A solid result from this display and making it suitable for fast and competitive gaming. We should note that we found no difference in our measurements when enabling ‘local dimming’ from the OSD menu (in SDR mode, we didn’t have a sensible way to test in HDR mode), despite reports in some places that it adds lag. If you find any additional lag in HDR use with local dimming enabled, it’s probably best to just disable that setting, you won’t lose much anyway in terms of HDR capability given it’s very limited local dimming.
Movies and Video
The following summarises the screens performance for videos and movie viewing:
|Category||Display Specs / Measurements||Comments|
|Size||31.5″||Fairly large for a desktop monitor nowadays but smaller than TV’s by a lot|
|Aspect Ratio||16:9||Well suited to most common 16:9 aspect content and input devices|
|Resolution||3840 x 2160||Can support Ultra HD “4k” content and1080p content natively|
|HDCP||Yes v2.2||Suitable for encrypted content including the latest v2.2|
|Connectivity||1x DisplayPort 1.4|
2x HDMI 2.1
|Useful additional 2x HDMI input for external Blu-ray players or games consoles. This is the latest HDMI 2.1 for next gen games consoles as well, see our section earlier on about that|
|Cables||DisplayPort, USB type-C and HDMI||Very useful to see an HDMI 2.1 cable provided as you may not have one of these high speed cables already, they are different to older HDMI cables|
|Ergonomics||Tilt, height, swivel, rotate||Reasonably easy to use adjustments with a wide range, and with smooth movement. The stand remains very sturdy and stable although there is a bit of screen wobble|
|Coating||Light Anti-glare||Provides clear image with no graininess, but avoids unwanted reflections of full glossy solutions|
|Brightness range||46 – 379 cd/m2 (SDR)|
494 cd/m2 (peak HDR)
|Good adjustment range offered including a high max brightness (SDR) and good darkened room adjustment range. Backlight dimming is free from PWM and flicker free. HDR discussed in the earlier section but there is an increased peak brightness in that mode too, up to ~500 nits.|
|Contrast||972:1 after calibration||Decent enough contrast ratio for an IPS technology panel close to spec, although still not as high as you can get from VA panels of course. Some improvements when using local dimming in HDR although limited by the low number of zones.|
|Preset modes||Movie||There is a specific preset modes for movie viewing in the menu which you can easily set up to your liking.|
|Response times||7.7ms G2G with no overshoot with overdrive turned off (60Hz)||Response times are good on this panel overall at 60Hz for movie viewing and external devices. No overshoot as long as you leave overdrive turned ‘off’.|
|Viewing angles||Very good||Thanks to the IPS panel technology, suitable for viewing from a wide range of positions. Typical pale IPS glow on dark content may become problematic from some wider angles|
|Backlight bleed||No major bleed||No major backlight bleed and nothing along the edges. Some clouding in the upper corners may be noticeable on a lot of dark content in a dark room. Will vary from sample to sample|
|Audio||Headphone and audio outputs||No integrated speakers on this model but a headphone jack and audio output is provided. As Gigabyte’s website states, “the screen adopts the concept of a high-end audiophile sound system design into a micro system on the monitor. The embedded ESS SABRE chip provides a pure yet powerful sound, resonating classical orchestral sounds or blasts in your virtual warzone.” This applies to the audio output connections on the screen, there are no integrated speakers on this model.|
|Aspect Ratio Controls||Full, Aspect and 1:1 along with many specific screen sizes and resolutions||The native 16:9 aspect ratio is very common for external Blu-ray players or DVD players anyway but there is an ‘aspect’ mode available for non-native devices if needed|
|PiP / PbP||Both supported||Both supported with a wide range of configuration options available|
|HDR support||HDR 400 certification||See earlier section|
|Overall Recommended Settings|
|Refresh Rate (Graphics card)||144Hz|
|Overdrive Setting||>100Hz = Picture Quality|
<100Hz inc 60Hz inputs = Off
|Preset mode||Custom 1|
|Colour Temp setting||User Define|
|RGB values||91, 92, 100|
|Black Equalizer||Set to taste in gaming|
|Local dimming backlight mode||Off in SDR/normal|
On in HDR
If you enjoyed this review and found it useful, please consider supporting our site and future content. The Gigabyte Aorus FI32U is the first of a range of new 32″ 4K 144Hz models to be released in the more mainstream and affordable bracket, without the massive price hike that is caused by top-end HDR Mini LED backlights like on the Asus ROG Swift PG32UQX we tested recently. These models without that kind of backlight will be more widely popular and available to more people as a result of their cost (still a high price of course, but saving you a couple of thousand $), and we expect to see competing models emerge from Asus, Acer, ViewSonic and others in the coming months.
In our opinion the 4K resolution is a lot more beneficial on a screen in this size range than it is on 27″ models, providing a still very sharp and crisp image, but allowing you to operate at either 125% or perhaps even 100% scaling to give you more desktop space. 32″ is likely to be the sweet-spot for many users for 4K. It’s great to see 4K high refresh rate options appear finally in this size bracket after a lot of waiting. The FI32U is aimed at gamers and carries a very wide range of features, settings and options that demonstrate Gigabyte’s commitment to packing as much in to the display as they can. Familiar ‘tactical’ options are likely to be useful to some, and even additional features like USB C, a KVM switch and boosted sound capabilities are a nice addition.
From a gaming performance point of view we’ve already talked about the benefits of this screen size for 4K 144Hz. The response times of the panel were very good, especially >100Hz and motion clarity was very good as a result. Like most FreeSync screens it’s a shame you have to worry about messing around with the overdrive control, and don’t have a single setting you can stick with for all refresh rates. That’s always a bit of a hassle. Support for FreeSync/G-sync is useful as always, Input lag was super-low, the Aim Stabilizer blur reduction mode worked nicely, including when using VRR which is welcome.
Console support is a key area for this screen, especially compared to other current 4K 144Hz displays as people are looking now for HDMI 2.1 to be included. It is here, so you benefit from simple support for 4K 120Hz and also importantly for VRR from both PS5 and Xbox X consoles. It was a shame that the HDMI 2.1 port bandwidth was set up in a way that causes PS5 to be limited from 4K 120Hz 4:2:2 down to 4:2:0, but that’s a fairly small change anyway. Having 2x HDMI 2.1 ports, and even an included ultra high speed cable in the box, will be important to many people looking for a screen they can use from their PC as well as from their latest generation console.
Away from gaming the IPS-type panel offered the usual solid all-round performance with a stable image and wide viewing angles. Default setup was decent overall, and there’s wide gamut modes and an sRGB emulation mode available too that worked pretty nicely. Contrast ratio was as expected from the spec so that was decent enough for an IPS panel. The focus on low blue light via an Eyesafe certified panel is a nice touch, and we’d like to see more of that from manufacturers instead of just dumbed down “low blue light modes” that impact the colour temp and make things warmer but don’t do much else. Despite commendable effort to provide at least some HDR capabilities with basic local dimming, an improved peak brightness and colour enhancements, it is never going to compete of course with models like the Asus PG32UQX which have high-end “true” HDR. If HDR is important to you then you might need to consider spending even more if you want to do it properly.
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Overall the FI32U is a solid screen we felt and a nice first look at what more mainstream 32″ 4K 144Hz gaming monitors can offer. There’s a few gaps, and it will be interesting to see how other screens perform, but it’s definitely worth looking at. It’s available at the time of writing to order in most regions from Amazon, and in the UK from Overclockers UK. Further availability and pricing can be checked from the links above.
- Further reading – if you’re after a different gaming screen you should also check out our TFTCentral Recommendations List for Gaming Monitors
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