Like many professional monitors, the Asus ProArt PA32UC isn't cheap at $ 2,000. And yet it could be the ultimate professional monitor, and I'm not saying that lightly. Pro-grade monitors must be of first-class quality in order to receive a recommendation, and the PA32UC offers almost all the functions that a developer needs for SDR and HDR work. We'll go into the specs and output in a moment, but we know right now that this is a serious hardware problem.
It should be mentioned that Asus allowed me to borrow this monitor for a few weeks. This review is the culmination of my considerations of using it and integrating it into our creative workflow for some time.
Asus has integrated almost all functions of the ProArt PA32UC. It is a 32-inch IPS panel [3840 x 2160] with 60 Hz and adaptive synchronization. It offers 100% sRGB color space coverage, 99.5% Adobe RGB and 95% DCI-P3 and is suitable for all of these areas. It is fully HDR compatible with 384-zone FALD backlighting, features Thunderbolt 3, and is equipped with a hardware calibration tool that makes getting accurate results a breeze for all buyers, not just those who already have calibration tools use hand.
I'm not a big fan of Asus' previous gaming monitor designs, especially their ROG line, but the ProArt is a whole different story. Sleek and simple lines, thin bezels that allow the panel to dominate the front, a simple silver stand with a slimmer column than expected, and a minimalist brushed plastic back. The display area of the monitor is pretty bulky to accommodate the FALD backlight, but I think this beast looks fantastic from the front.
The stand is highly adjustable and supports tilt, height, pan and pan settings, so you can use the monitor in portrait mode if necessary. The screen display is controlled by a change of direction that is impressive and there are a lot of features that professionals may find useful. We'll discuss some of these later in the test.
Asus has four HDMI 2.0 inputs, a single DisplayPort 1.2 and two Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports, one for the input and one for the output. There is also a USB 3.0 hub with two Type A ports and one Type C port. Yes, there is basically every modern connection on this monitor. Oh, and the Thunderbolt 3 port offers up to 60W of power, which should be enough to charge many laptops when connected to this beast.
When a professional monitor lists HDR support, I expect real HDR support, and that's exactly what the PA32UC does. This monitor marks every box in my HDR monitor checklist with 1000 nits of peak brightness, about 650 nits in duration, local dimming with 384 zones, almost complete DCI-P3 color gamut and a 10-bit panel via FRC.
Some professionals may be disappointed that the panel is not a real 10-bit panel, but the FRC implementation is one of the best I've seen, with much, much less banding than other 8-bit + FRC panels, which I checked when looking at our panel 10-bit gradient stress test.
In terms of brightness accuracy, the PA32UC is within 10% of the exact nit target when viewing HDR content, which is a good result. The panel can hold up to 1200 nits with a window size of up to 25%. After that, it falls back to its sustained value of 650 nits. Unfortunately, the PA32UC cannot produce a 1000-nit full-frame flash, which in turn exceeds around 700 nits. However, the lowest backlight level of just 0.012 nits is the lowest I've seen from a local dimming HDR monitor. In the best case, this creates a contrast ratio of up to 98,000: 1. The gamut coverage is also 96% DCI-P3, so that the monitor can display colors far outside a normal SDR range.
Overall, this monitor has an excellent HDR implementation, which is one of the best for HDR monitors on the market thanks to the 384-zone FALD backlight. The low black levels in dynamic backlighting are particularly impressive.
Not every aspect of HDR implementation is perfect. However, due to the use of an IPS panel, there is a little glow in some situations where only a few FALD backlight zones are activated. In the worst case, I observed a contrast ratio of 2500: 1 due to this glow, but it is somewhat ugly optically. Fortunately, this is only a big problem when thin white lines on a black background or white text on a black background appear in movies or games that are practically invisible. And for content creators who don't work with HDR, the default behavior is to disable dynamic backlighting so that the problem with SDR work is completely resolved. However, you can also activate the function for SDR work if you want.
However, I would say that this special HDR monitor is not suitable for HDR games because the FALD backlight responds somewhat slowly. After displaying a bright picture, the backlight turns off gradually and takes about 1 to 2 seconds. This can cause you to run in extremely fast movements, such as is the case with a dark, fast-paced shooter with bright pistol flashes. I would have liked a faster backlight option that Asus offers with its PG27UQ for gaming. From what I've seen for video work, this is not a problem.
I should also mention that there are two HDR modes, which are annoyingly referred to as HDR 1 and HDR 2 and do not provide information about what they are doing. However, the standard HDR 2 is the right mode. If you switch to HDR 1, the brightness output appears to be limited to only about 350 nits.
On the next page, the reaction times, the input delay and the calibrated sRGB performance of the ProArt are examined in more detail. If you want to skip all of this, go to our conclusion to find out who this monitor is best for.