It’s fair to say monitors haven’t advanced at the same pace as mobile phones or televisions, with OLED panels now commonplace in pretty much everything except gaming displays. It’s anyone’s guess as to when we’ll see these catch up – but until then, the ASUS ROG Swift PG32UQX is the very best of what gaming monitors have to offer: a 32-inch panel sporting 4K at 144Hz, and DisplayHDR 1400 certification.
The PG32UQX gives us a glimpse of what gaming will look like in a few years, when the mini LED technology powering this display is available at a reasonable price. Unfortunately, gazing into the future is something only Raven Baxter can do for free. For the rest of us, you’ll have to spend a whopping $2,990 / £3,299 to see what all the fuss is about. Trust me, I’ve owned an HDR1000 OLED TV for a few years now, and I have never seen HDR as good as this before.
If you’re in the market for the best gaming monitor, you’ll know just how difficult it is to find a display that ticks every box. There are 4K panels out there, but how many of them run at a high refresh rate? With the latest graphics cards, gaming at 4K is no longer an unattainable dream, it’s reality. Then you have to factor in HDR, and that’s when things get messy. Lots of modern monitors have HDR capabilities, but the peak brightness is too low to have the intended effect.
My secondary monitor is an Alienware AW2721D, which is a fantastic panel for competitive gaming that also features DisplayHDR 600 support. The problem with HDR in this LED panel is the number of dimming zones, coming in at just 32 edge-lit zones. On a dark background, you can clearly see blooming when moving your cursor on the desktop. This becomes so distracting in dark scenes that it’s simply not worth using HDR.
|Asus ROG Swift PG32UQX|
|Resolution||3840 x 2160p|
|Luminance (HDR)||1,400 cd/㎡|
|Ports||1x DisplayPort 1.4 DSC, 3x HDMI 2.0,
|Price||$2,990 / £3,299|
This problem is minimised on the PG32UQX because it uses a Full Array Local Dimming (FALD) backlight, giving the monitor a staggering 1,152 independent LED zones. Some blooming does occur on this monitor, but it’s most noticeable on purely black scenes and on the desktop. In movies and games, the blooming effect isn’t noticeable at all. The PG32UQX has a cooling fan that activates when using HDR for prolonged periods of time, though I couldn’t hear it while wearing headphones.
DisplayHDR 1400 makes a bigger difference than resolution and ray tracing
The PG32UQX delivers an HDR experience in games that is unrivaled by any display I’ve ever seen. The effect feels even more dramatic on a monitor compared to a TV because you’re so close to the action. In a vibrant game like Ori and the Will of the Wisps, HDR deepens the visuals by making bright objects pop out against the dark environments.
It’s difficult to explain the effect HDR has without seeing it in person, and the PG32UQX is such a leap from what monitors have been able to offer over the past few years. When implemented correctly, HDR makes a bigger difference than both resolution and graphics enhancements like ray tracing. Switching back to SDR feels like a massive step down, and that is the case with almost every HDR game available.
An area where the PG32UQX falls short is in competitive gaming, but that’s clear to anyone who saw the monitor’s refresh rate and response times. Playing a game like Apex Legends is a decent experience, but you’ll have to deal with ghosting effects and poor performance unless you’re willing to reduce the resolution. My familiarity with a 240Hz panel has spoiled me – it’s clear to see the PG32UQX wasn’t designed to be used by professional gamers.
Though this monitor excels when playing games, it also works very well for productivity. It may not offer as much screen real estate as an ultrawide display, but it’s not far off coming in at a chunky 32-inches. The PG32UQX has been factory calibrated out of the box, ready for any colour accurate work that needs to be done. Given that this monitor is related to the Asus ProArt PA32UCX (a reference monitor), it’s not too surprising to see the PG32UQX do well in this department.
Just like the Samsung Odyssey G7, the V-shaped stand on this monitor is bulky and takes up quite a lot of space on my gaming desk. Fortunately, the PG32UQX is VESA-compatible, so you can mount it to save some space. The stand features height, tilt, swivel adjustment, as well as a gimmicky light projection at the base to show off the ROG logo.
Speaking of gimmicks, there’s a ‘live dash’ OLED panel built into the frame of the display. You can use this panel to display a JPEG, or better yet, monitor your frame rate to keep that information off your screen while you play games. I actually like this feature quite a lot and it threads nicely with screen-clad CPU coolers, but it’s hampered by an OLED panel that forces the display to do a refresh animation every ten seconds.
The bezel on the screen is so thin that if you try to use the best webcams like the Logitech C920, the lip will cover some of the picture. To combat this, the PG32UQX comes with a tripod mount along with a USB at the top of the display. Now that everyone’s working from home, this is a great design choice. Streamers can also use the tripod port for extra lighting, or even to hold a small DSLR camera.
Asus has cracked the code with the PG32UQX with plenty of design elements I hope to see make their way to more affordable models. The smaller quality of life improvements like a tripod mount aren’t as grand as the industry-leading HDR, but it ties a bow on what feels like a complete package. Right now, though, it’s bogged down by a heavy price tag that keeps it just out of reach.