- Very good hdr rendering for a monitor
- 4k and 144Hz remains a special combination
- G-Sync Scaler
- Extremely expensive
- No HDMI 2.1
- Disappointing viewing angles
- Feature set for non-gaming could have been more extensive
At CES 2017 , Nvidia presented ‘G-Sync hdr’ monitors for the first time, in the form of the ASUS ROG Swift PG27UQ and Acer Predator X27 . The duo, developed in collaboration with panel manufacturer AUO and both screen suppliers, was equipped with a high peak brightness of 1000cd/m², full array local dimming backlight (fald) with 384 zones, and a 4k panel at 144Hz. They were unheard of specifications, at a time when there were very few monitors with any form of support for HDR. They would be the first screens with the combination of 4k and 144Hz, even though the introduction time promised at the fair (‘later in 2017’) was pushed back by no less than a year .
Since most G-Sync screens can now handle some form of HDR, the G-Sync HDR label has been renamed G-Sync Ultimate in 2021. Screens with the Ultimate label should, as the name says, still offer the best experience in hdr, although Nvidia’s seal of approval has been subject to inflation lately. The initially very strict requirements were recently lowered , so that there are now also G-Sync Ultimate screens without false backlight and high peak brightness of more than 1000cd/m². ASUS proves that things can be done differently with its new ROG Swift PG32UQX, pretty much the top model in the manufacturer’s gaming line-up and the ultimate screen within the current G-Sync-Ultimate generation. You could see this screen as the spiritual successor to the PG27UQ. The PG32UQX also has a 4k IPS panel with 144Hz refresh rate, a Fald backlight with high peak brightness plus a quantum dot layer for a wide color gamut. The PG32UQX this consists of 1152 zones, exactly the same as with the ASUS ProArt PA32UCX-PK. ASUS uses minileds on both screens to achieve this. The PG32UQX is therefore the first gaming monitor with a mini LED backlight.
Although the monitor was not available at the time of shooting the video below, it should be available later this month. In line with the previous G-Sync Ultimate displays, its price is sky-high; no less than 3499 euros must be deposited for it. In this review we look at the extent to which the monitor is worth it.
A screen with a screen
The design of the ASUS ROG Swift PG32UQX is very similar to other ROG monitors. So you stand out with this screen. The back features a transverse stripe, different textures and a huge ROG logo that is of course provided with RGB lighting. The silver-grey base with bronze-colored accents is equipped with ergonomic options including height adjustment, swivel and tilt, and has a separate red illuminated logo at the top. Unfortunately, the rather bulky cabinet behind the panel doesn’t have an integrated power supply, so you’ll have to hide the hefty power adapter somewhere behind your desk. Like the ProArt PA32UCX-PK and PG27UQ, the PG32UQX features active cooling for the hardware behind the panel. In our office environment, the fan was not disturbingly audible, but your mileage may vary.
Controlling the PG32UQX’s OSD works differently than most other monitors, and also different from previous ROG monitors that featured a series of buttons on the back right of the screen. The PG32UQX has a fairly large rotary knob in the middle of the screen that allows you to quickly scroll through the menu, flanked by two buttons for ‘Back’ and ‘OK’. As far as we are concerned, more manufacturers should opt for this form of operation.
The PG32UQX is a screen with a screen: a monochrome OLED display is also hidden on the bottom bezel under the actual panel. You can show various animated logos on it, but you can also display the temperatures and clock speeds of components in your PC via the Armory Crate software. You can also put your own (animated) logo on the screen with the program. ASUS introduced the same concept to other ROG products, such as the Ryuo aio cooler from our roundup from earlier this year. Although we have our doubts about the usefulness of this addition, it is very ‘des ASUS’ to have a top model of strange extras to provide. For example, the PG27UQ had a projector in the base, with which you could project the ROG logo (or a logo of your choice) on your wall or ceiling.
Connections: another downer
Almost traditional for a G-Sync monitor, the connectivity of the PG32UQX falls short of the screen’s capabilities. For example, the PG27UQ still had outdated DisplayPort 1.2 connections, so the screen could not be driven at 4k and 144Hz without 4:2:2 color compression. With the PG32UQX (and other recent G-Sync displays), that problem has at least been solved, now that the G-Sync scaler is equipped with DisplayPort 1.4. Via display stream compression (dsc) the signal is compressed with practically no visible losses, where text on the PG27UQ became ugly if you used 4k/144Hz.
To be able to use dsc, you need a video card that supports this technique. An Nvidia card is not required, because the PG32UQX also supports FreeSync. As with G-Sync, the range starts at 1Hz, one of the benefits of the G-Sync scaler. You must have at least an AMD RDNA GPU (RX 5xxx) or Nvidia Turing GPU (RTX20xx / GTX16xx) to use the screen at 144Hz.
If you have a suitable video card, the PG32UQX can therefore be optimally controlled via the single DisplayPort input, but unfortunately that does not apply when you connect something to one of the three HDMI ports. They remain stuck at version 2.0, good for a maximum resolution of 2560×1440 at 120Hz or 4k at 60Hz. The new generation of consoles, and the RTX3000 and RX6000 graphics cards from Nvidia and AMD, feature HDMI 2.1 , which enables 4k/120Hz, plus a new form of adaptive sync called ‘HDMI Forum VRR’ or ‘HDMI vrr’. The PG32UQX therefore does not support this. That is very strange and also a shame, given the high price and the fact that the first HDMI 2.1 monitors of the competition will be on the market in the coming period.
Image quality (hdr)
The main reason to choose the PG32UQX over other gaming screens is the advanced local dimming implementation, which should lead to a much better HDR image quality than on the average monitor. That’s why we start with this part.