ASUS ProArt PA32UCG Assessment: Like a Professional Show XDR for PC Customers

ASUS introduced plans for the ProArt PA32UCG way back in September of 2019. Based mostly on specs alone, this thrilling monitor would enhance on the already-impressive ProArt PA32UCX and tackle the Apple Professional Show XDR by providing the identical 1600 nits peak brightness out of a 4K panel, with a quicker refresh fee and wider coloration gamut. Almost two years later, the monitor is lastly accessible, and we’re right here to see if it could actually reside as much as the sky-high expectations we’ve constructed up over the previous two years.

By way of efficiency, the ASUS ProArt PA32UCG is in a league of its personal. Whereas it could actually’t match the 6K decision of the Apple Professional Show XDR, the ProArt monitor both meets or exceeds it in each different efficiency class: it’s received the identical insane peak brightness, twice the native dimming zones, a quicker most refresh fee, a lot better AdobeRGB protection, and it’s really usable if you happen to’re engaged on a PC.

Over the previous few weeks, we’ve gotten to check all of those options, in addition to the overall usability of the show, and we’ve come away with two main TL;DR conclusions:

1. The efficiency is phenomenal, with phenomenal gamut protection, nice uniformity, and higher HDR assist than anything in the marketplace.

2. The person expertise is irritating, starting from mildly annoying on the PC to significantly problematic on the Mac.

There’s clearly some nuance to those two factors, so learn on to be taught extra concerning the execs and cons of the ProArt PA32UCG — the so-called “god-king of monitors.”

Design and Construct High quality

The ProArt PA32UCG is a handsome monitor. The 32-inch 4K panel is surrounded by 1/4-inch bezels on three of 4 sides and a 1/2-inch silvery-black chin on the underside. All of this sits on an understated black stand full with gold lettering indicating that you just’ve bought a “ProArt Excessive Dynamic Vary” monitor with “Superior Colour Accuracy.” In comparison with most displays we’ve reviewed, this matte-black-everything aesthetic is a welcome nod to subtlety. I can’t fault the ProArt on appears.

Dimension is one other factor fully. In comparison with its major competitors — the aforementioned Apple Pro Display XDR and the Dell UP3221Q — the ASUS ProArt PA32UCG is comically thick and really heavy. It measures 2.25-inches thick at its thinnest level, with out the stand, and takes up a full 11+ inches in your desk from again to entrance when you’ve received all of it arrange. All of this collectively weighs in at a whopping 32 kilos, so if you happen to’re planning to arrange your $5,000 funding by yourself then I sincerely hope you didn’t skip leg day.

Happily, when you’ve received it up in your desk the big stand handles the burden of the show fantastically, providing very beneficiant tilt, swivel, pivot, and peak changes, with the power to rotate the monitor a full 90-degrees if you happen to’re going to be engaged on a bunch of photographs in portrait orientation. It’s not precisely adjustable with “one hand” just like the spring-loaded hinge within the Professional Show XDR stand, however this one offers you much more flexibility and it does so with out charging you $1,000 for the privilege.

When you’re up and operating, the monitor is managed by a multi-directional joystick and 5 buttons, all positioned on the right-hand facet behind the show. From the underside up you get an influence button, two programmable shortcut buttons which might be set to HDR and Brightness by default, a Fast Match shortcut that brings up on-screen guides for varied paper sizes and rulers, an Enter button, a Shut button, and the multi-directional joystick for navigating the complete OSD menus.

Like most displays on this value vary, you get fairly just a few preset coloration modes together with sRGB, AdobeRGB, DCI-P3, and Rec.2020, in addition to varied HDR modes, all of which will be {hardware} calibrated utilizing ASUS’ proprietary ProArt Calibration 2.0 software program (Home windows solely), Calman Studio, or Gentle Phantasm. You additionally get total controls for Brightness, Distinction, Saturation, Hue, Colour Temp, and Gamma, with further three-axis (Crimson, Inexperienced, and Blue) management of Achieve and Offset and six-axis (Crimson, Inexperienced, Blue, Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow) management of Hue and Saturation.

This solely covers a fraction of the full variety of choices accessible within the menus—there’s uniformity compensation, AMD FreeSync Premium Professional, Dynamic Dimming, an FPS counter, and extra—however suffice it to say that ASUS has included sufficient controls so you may dial in your white level, choose and calibrate your most well-liked coloration area, and make sure the monitor is operating as much as spec irrespective of which port you’re utilizing.

Talking of which…

By way of inputs, you get one DisplayPort 1.4 port with show stream compression (DSC) assist, one HDMI 2.1 port, two HDMI 2.0 ports, three USB-A downstream ports, and two Thunderbolt 3 ports that present a DisplayPort stream, upstream information switch, and 60W of energy supply. I’m principally pleased with these choices, particularly since you may daisy-chain the 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports, however I do have two complaints.

First, I want the monitor might push greater than 60W of energy. My 13-inch MacBook Professional charged simply advantageous when plugged into Thunderbolt, however high-powered laptops with power-hungry CPUs and GPUs profit from the extra 30W of energy you get from a few of ASUS’ rivals. And second, the dearth of accessible USB ports is a bummer. Your entire USB hub is positioned on the again of the show subsequent to the show inputs, which makes them actually annoying and troublesome to succeed in. Even one or two ports on the facet or underside of the monitor is best than three ports I can’t be bothered to really use.

Total, design and construct high quality of the ASUS ProArt PA32UCG is on par with different displays in its $4,000-$6,000 value vary. It’s just a little thicker and heavier than you in all probability anticipate, and the understated look received’t attraction to everybody, however it’s clear ASUS prioritized efficiency over design sensibility, and efficiency ought to all the time be the highest precedence while you’re charging 5 grand for a monitor.

Gamut Protection and Uniformity

In our testing, the ASUS ProArt PA32UCG covers 99.9% of AdobeRGB (left) and 94.4% of DCI-P3 (proper).

The ASUS ProArt PA32UCG takes a barely totally different strategy to paint than different high-end HDR displays. Most different DisplayHDR 1000+ displays know that their major goal market is video editors, and they also prioritize the DCI-P3 coloration gamut. Protection of AdobeRGB drops off in consequence, leaving you with monitor for video modifying that’s is probably not suited to pictures/printing workflows.

The ProArt PA32UCG flips the script. In our testing, the monitor was in a position to cowl 99.9% of AdobeRGB and 94.4% DCI-P3 with a most Delta E 2000 of simply 0.61. That’s a tiny bit worse than the marketed DCI-P3 protection of 98%, however it’s an distinctive outcome that places it far forward of each the Apple Professional Show XDR (100% DCI-P3 and 89% Adobe RGB) and the Dell UP3221Q (100% DCI-P3 and 94% AdobeRGB) if you happen to’re modifying photographs as a substitute of video.

It’s additionally simply plain uncommon that we see a monitor with a Delta E that’s this low.

Unsurprisingly, uniformity was additionally stable. Though it could actually’t compete with essentially the most intense picture modifying displays on the market from firms like NEC and EIZO, each patch in our 9×5 uniformity check handed “nominal” tolerance as soon as Uniformity Compensation was turned ON within the menus. With Uniformity Compensation turned to OFF, just a few extra of the middle patches had been in a position to move the extra stringent “really useful” tolerance, however 4 of the patches across the edge dropped under “nominal” tolerance, so we might suggest leaving this setting turned on.

You possibly can see the outcomes of this check, each with and with out Uniformity Compensation, under (click on to enlarge):

Uniformity check outcomes with Uniformity Compensation set to OFF.
Uniformity check outcomes with Uniformity Compensation set to ON.

Lastly, the HDR efficiency was additionally stable, in some circumstances outperforming the monitor’s spec sheet.

Utilizing the i1Display Pro Plus, I measured a staggering peak brightness of over 1700 nits on a small middle patch of the display in HDR mode. And whereas the 1,152 dimming zones aren’t sufficient to utterly get rid of so-called “blooming” when viewing brilliant objects in opposition to a black background, the problem is minimal when consuming nearly all of HDR content material or enjoying an HDR recreation.

Sadly, we now not have a Professional Show XDR or Dell UP3221Q readily available to check blooming side-by-side in opposition to the ProArt, but when reminiscence serves me proper, the PA32UCG’s HDR blooming efficiency falls about midway between the Dell UP3221Q (with 2,000 native dimming zones) and the Apple Professional Show XDR (576 native dimming zones), which we in contrast beforehand:

Aspect-by-side check of blooming on the Dell UP3221Q (left) and the Apple Professional Show XDR (proper). The ASUS ProArt PA32UCG falls midway between these two displays.

Every thing concerning the monitor’s specs and efficiency makes it a incredible selection for photographers who additionally edit HDR content material. The place most high-end HDR displays just like the Dell UP3221Q and Apple Professional Show XDR prioritize the DCI-P3 cinema coloration area, the ProArt PA32UCG prioritizes AdobeRGB with out sacrificing an excessive amount of of DCI-P3 within the course of.

It makes it an excellent all-around monitor for professionals who want good assist for each print and digital, whether or not you’re working with video or photographs, in HDR or SDR.

I want this evaluation might finish right here, as a result of to this point the monitor has lived as much as most of our expectations. Sadly, getting the ASUS ProArt PA32UCG to work correctly and ship the efficiency talked about above was much more irritating than we had hoped, leaving us with just a few usability caveats that we’ve to say if we’re going to provide this monitor a good shake.

Usability Points

We don’t normally embody a full part on usability in our monitor evaluations, however the PA32UCG threw a whole lot of bugs our means.

Let’s begin with utilizing this monitor on a Mac. In brief: you in all probability shouldn’t. Whether or not you’re utilizing an M1-based or Intel-based machine, there is no such thing as a strategy to regulate any of the core settings of this show — bit depth, refresh fee, and pixel encoding — from inside the MacOS working system. That wouldn’t be a lot of a problem if the monitor was “locked” to max settings from the beginning, however that wasn’t the case on both of the 2 Macs we use for testing.

Sadly for Apple customers, the ProArt PA32UCG does NOT play good with MacOS.

At first, my M1 Mac mini didn’t even ship out a sign over Thunderbolt. I needed to plug in a unique laptop, change the DisplayPort Stream setting within the monitor’s OSD menus to “DisplayPort 1.4 (DSC),” after which it labored. Properly… it kind of labored. As soon as I received it up and operating over Thunderbolt, the monitor offered itself as an 8-bit tv, producing a 120Hz YCrCb sign with no strategy to activate HDR. If I gave up and linked the show by way of HDMI 2.0b port on my Mac mini as a substitute of Thunderbolt, I received assist for HDR and the proper RGB output, however the HDMI 2.0 port can solely deal with 60Hz at 4K and the sign was nonetheless caught on 8-bit.

This isn’t restricted to M1. I had an analogous expertise when utilizing my Intel-based MacBook Professional. Though I used to be instantly in a position to entry HDR over Thunderbolt, I used to be by no means in a position to pull a 10-bit sign.

Ultimately, I labored round these points on the Mac mini by manually editing the .plist file that encodes the Mac’s show settings, making certain that monitor was recognized as RGB, 10-bit, and 120Hz when getting used at full decision over Thunderbolt, however this isn’t a step that the typical person ought to have to take with a view to get the monitor to carry out in spec. A $5,000 monitor — any $5,000 monitor — ought to work with each Home windows and PC flawlessly, and if we’re going to knock the Professional Show XDR for being a crap monitor for PC customers, we should be trustworthy concerning the limitations of this ProArt show if you happen to’re making an attempt to make use of it with a Mac.

One other challenge is {hardware} calibration, which isn’t accessible for Mac until you personal the (very costly) Calman Studio or Gentle Phantasm calibration software program. The principle (free) {hardware} calibration resolution marketed by ASUS on its web site — the most recent model of ProArt Calibration 2.0 — is Home windows-only with no point out of a Mac model coming any time quickly.

The expertise is certainly higher on the PC, although nonetheless not bug-free. You can change your refresh fee within the settings, and if you happen to’re plugged instantly into your GPU you may change settings like pixel encoding, bit depth, and so on. out of your GPU’s management panel. Nonetheless, after updating the monitor’s firmware to the most recent model, ProArt Calibration 2.0 all of the sudden stopped working for me. I used to be in a position to calibrate it after I first arrange the monitor, however no extra; as of this writing, the most recent model of the software program is aware of a PA32UCG monitor is linked, however after I go to begin the calibration it asks me to “join the appropriate monitor.”

Different glitches come up while you activate HDR. More often than not it really works advantageous, however now and again the sign defaults to 8-bit + Dithering as a substitute of 10-bit, and while you go to show off HDR it doesn’t all the time flip HDR off on the monitor itself, leaving you with two choices: maintain flipping the Home windows settings swap on and off till it really works, or unplug and re-plug the monitor into your laptop to see if that works.

All of that is workable, even the intense limitations on Mac will be fastened if you happen to’re prepared to roll up your sleeves and get technical, however the usability points positively tempered my enthusiasm for this monitor. Hopefully ASUS can proceed updating each the firmware and software program over time in order that the PA32UCG stops glitching out in Home windows and truly performs nicely with MacOS; till then, our conclusions about this otherwise-exceptional monitor need to be just a little muted.

Distinctive Efficiency, Irritating Expertise

When you’re on the lookout for a professional-grade 4K HDR monitor that may do 120Hz and covers 100% of the AdobeRGB coloration gamut, that is actually the one recreation on the town. Nothing else can attain this stage of brightness, with this many dimming zones, at this decision and refresh fee… and the displays that come shut all prioritize the DCI-P3 coloration area as a substitute of AdobeRGB, prioritizing video on the expense of print.

In truth, when it comes to efficiency there’s little or no to complain about. The place the ASUS PA32UCG is missing is within the person expertise division.

Professionals

  • 4K 120Hz
  • DisplayHDR 1600 Licensed
  • 1600nits peak brightness
  • Over 1,000 miniLED dimming zones
  • Assist for {hardware} calibration
  • 99.9% protection of AdobeRGB
  • Delta E below 1 with nice uniformity

Cons

  • Horrible expertise on MacOS
  • Buggy efficiency when switching between HDR and SDR
  • Solely 60W charging via USB-C
  • USB hub is difficult to succeed in
  • Huge, heavy and thick
  • Buggy calibration software program

The downsides of this monitor come down fully to a buggy interface that doesn’t all the time behave the best way that it ought to. When you’ll enable me to beat this useless horse one final time: a $5,000 monitor ought to ship a pristine person expertise that’s nearly bug-free it doesn’t matter what working system you’re working in. That’s not what we’ve gotten with the ASUS ProArt PA32UCG.

As a substitute, we’ve a spectacular performer that, usually as not, refuses to cooperate, forcing you to wrestle with it till you get the efficiency you paid for. On the Mac, that requires a stage of technical acumen that I don’t anticipate from any normal person. On PC, it principally manifests as irritating little bugs which might be solely actually “fixable” with a software program or firmware replace from ASUS.

All in all, the ASUS ProArt PA32UCG reminds us of Apple’s Professional Show XDR, however constructed for PC customers. It churns out distinctive efficiency, with assist for all the most recent bells and whistles, however it actually solely appeals to half the viewers. Most PC customers will like it. Most Mac customers ought to in all probability keep away.

Are There Options?

There are three major options to the ASUS ProArt PA32UCG: the Apple Professional Show XDR, the Dell UP3221Q, and ASUS’s personal ROG Swift PG32UQX. Every of those displays qualifies for a minimum of a DisplayHDR 1400 certification, with numerous native dimming zones for correct HDR distinction and minimal haloing, true 10-bit coloration, and stable gamut protection.

One of the best direct competitor might be the Dell, which provides extra miniLED native dimming zones (2,000 vs 1,152), a built-in colorimeter, and out-performs the ASUS when it comes to DCI-P3 protection for $1,000 less on the time of publication (unique MSRP was $5,000, however now it’s $4,000). Sadly, it could actually’t match the ASUS when it comes to refresh fee or AdobeRGB protection, doesn’t assist HDMI 2.1, and comes with that tough little Dell brand that so many PetaPixel readers appear to hate.

For Mac customers, the 6K Apple Pro Display XDR provides extra decision, a seamless person expertise, and top-shelf construct high quality that we liked when we tested the monitor, however it has the worst AdobeRGB protection of the bunch, provides solely 576 native dimming zones, and is actually unusable on the PC regardless of being the most costly of the 4 choices talked about right here.

Lastly, the ASUS ROG Swift PG32UQX is a really intriguing possibility. Regardless of costing $2,000 less than its ProArt sibling, it provides the identical variety of native dimming zones, similar measurement, and similar decision at a barely quicker peak refresh fee of 144Hz. The commerce offs are decrease peak brightness (1400 nits vs 1600 nits), no point out of AdobeRGB protection, and a barely decrease marketed Delta E of Ought to You Purchase It?

When you’re a PC person: sure. When you’re a Mac person: no.

In the end, the query you’ll wish to ask your self earlier than making a purchase order choice is: how do I really plan to make use of this monitor?

When you don’t work with HDR content material, skip this subset of displays fully and take a look at the NEC MultiSync PA311D for a killer picture modifying expertise that cuts zero corners in its quest for skilled coloration and uniformity. When you do plan to edit in HDR, learn over our review of the Dell UP3221Q and choose the monitor that gives the appropriate mixture of specs in your workflow. Do you want the excessive refresh fee and AdobeRGB protection of the ProArt monitor, or would you like the extra native dimming zones, built-in colorimeter, and $4,000 price ticket of the Dell?

Lastly, if you happen to’re a Mac person who edits in HDR and you actually need to select up a DisplayHDR 1400 or 1600 licensed monitor, you’ll both wish to go for the Dell or look ahead to Apple to replace the Professional Show XDR with the identical miniLED backlight know-how present in the latest iPad Pro. The ASUS is just too cumbersome to dial in correctly. Except you’re content material with giving up {hardware} calibration and manually modifying a .PLIST file to make sure you get each ounce of promised efficiency from this monitor, we suggest you look elsewhere.

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