"It will be difficult for you to find better value among professional 4K monitors."
Pitch-accurate color accuracy
Narrow AdobeRGB color gamut
Professional monitors are a strange group, at least compared to standard desktop or gaming monitors. They are not defined by lightning-fast refresh rates or wafer-thin frames. These are powerful displays that offer unprecedented image quality and color rendering – often clad with simple black plastic.
The BenQ PD3200U is the epitome of a high quality monitor. It's sturdy, unassuming, and despite an enormous size of 32 inches, with a crisp 4K display, it's almost unassuming.
How does a professional monitor stand out from the crowd? Easy. It delivers a great picture without fuss. His job is to get out of the way and take a back seat. However, during our test with the BenQ PD3200U we found that it can do even more.
It is remarkable how normal the BenQ PD3200U looks when you take it out of the box for the first time. It's big – at 32 inches it's almost the size of a small TV – but simple and unassuming. It has no wafer-thin bezels or a dramatic silver aluminum stand. It is black and dark gray. The display is also matt.
The BenQ PD3200U is simple, straightforward and practical. There are no design elements that serve no purpose, and that makes sense. This is a professional designer monitor. It's supposed to spend all of its life on a desk or drawing table, and it definitely looks that way.
The base is rock hard and correspondingly heavy, and the display doesn't wobble, even if you really give your desk a jerk. In addition to this stability, it is adjustable vertically, up and down, horizontally and from side to side. It even leans forward and backward quite a bit, so you can adjust it to your liking regardless of your desk configuration. A VESA compatible bracket is included. If the stand supplied by BenQ does not meet your requirements, you can find a suitable holder for you – or attach it to the wall and simply use it as a television. It is certainly big enough.
A design that is so reserved may not be for everyone. Compared to the sleek and elegant LG 27UD88-W 4K monitor, the BenQ PD3200U is not as striking or dramatic. With its ultra-thin frame, matt silver stand and glossy white shell, it won't turn heads like the LG.
Many ports in the right places
We appreciate the port layout of the BenQ PD3200U. On the right side is the single HDMI 2.0 connector above the two DisplayPort 1.2 connectors. These are easily accessible by simply swiveling the monitor on its highly adjustable stand.
The design is functional and understated, but may not be for everyone.
Two USB-A ports, an SD card slot and a headphone jack are located directly below the HDMI and DisplayPort.
Tilt the monitor back so that the lower "chin" protrudes forward and you find another set of ports – two more USB-A ports, two USB-B ports and a micro-USB slot. The micro USB is for the aptly named "hotkey puck" that comes with the monitor. More on that in a moment.
Overall, this is a standard arrangement of ports for a professional monitor, but the layout is practical and well thought out.
The BenQ PD3200U's screen controls come to life as soon as you touch one of the four small LED touchpads in the lower right corner of the monitor. To be clear, these are touch-enabled and not hardware buttons. The quick menu allows you to adjust the brightness and picture mode, or open the full menu, which is filled to the brim with presets, adjustable options for color, contrast and sharpness and much more.
The menus are clear and easy to navigate, and the touch buttons are quick and responsive. Going to the option you want to change, making changes, and exiting the menu is a quick and easy exercise without having to scroll through the buttons on the back of the display.
Bill Roberson / Digital Trends
Bill Roberson / Digital Trends
Do you remember the “hotkey puck” mentioned earlier? Once you plug it in, changing the settings becomes even easier. There are four buttons around the outside of the puck, each of which corresponds to an image preset. These presets can be changed by pressing and holding one of the four preset buttons. This allows you to switch between modes such as darkroom mode, sRGB mode or CAD mode, which is optimized for use with Autodesk's AutoCAD suite, at the push of a button.
You can also use the puck to navigate through the entire display menu. So if touch buttons are not really your thing, you can completely avoid them. It is not a completely new idea and there are some competitors who offer similar solutions, but it is always a good addition to a professional monitor. If you can switch between presets at the push of a button, you can save yourself a lot of headaches if you work with several color profiles at the same time.
Quality before calibration
This monitor is ready to use – for several reasons. First, it's just huge.
The text is sharp and sharp, and the images are remarkably deep.
It's hard to overdo what a 32-inch monitor looks like up close. It completely fills your field of vision and saturates it in vivid, lifelike colors. At 4K, text is inky and sharp, images have a remarkable sense of depth, and 4K games seem to appear straight from the display. It's no surprise that 4K content looks great on a 4K display, but that's certainly the case here.
Loading our tester to play Destiny 2 at 4K was spectacular. Likewise, 4K video looks incredible on this display. Even at 60 Hz, the maximum refresh rate, everything looks silky smooth and rich in detail.
However, this is not just a monitor for media consumption. It is a monitor for media creation. In this regard, it can stand up to more expensive rivals, but it's not the most impressive professional monitor we've ever seen.
If you look at the contrast and color gamut, you can see that this monitor does well, but doesn't quite compete with the top competitors in this arena. The HP Dreamcolor z32x offers a larger color gamut and reaches 98 percent of the sRGB storage space and 92 percent of the AdobeRGB color space. Even the LG 27UD88-W beat our BenQ PD3200U with 77 percent of the AdobeRGB storage space to 75 percent of the BenQ.
As mentioned earlier, it's not a bad result, but for a professional monitor, it's not as high as we would expect. With the naked eye, however, the BenQ display appears lively and detailed. The dark is reasonably dark and the highlights are sharp and bright, and our tests confirm this. The contrast ratio of 670: 1 at maximum brightness is not the highest we have ever seen, but it is slightly higher than that of the competition. The HP Dreamcolor, for example, came with 520: 1 and the LG 27UD88-W with 620: 1.
Bill Roberson / Digital Trends
Bill Roberson / Digital Trends
In terms of color accuracy, the BenQ managed to steal victory from the jaws of defeat with an almost perfect result. With an average color error of 1.23 to 1.68 of the HP Dreamcolor and 3.97 of the LG 27UD88-W, the BenQ clearly wins.
This means that the BenQ can reproduce colors almost perfectly. Any score below 1.0 is considered perfect, so BenQ comes terribly close at 1.23. Let's see if we can shave it with the calibration.
Quality after calibration
Calibration does not always radically change the performance of a monitor. In some cases, however, you get extra mileage and can better describe some of your monitor's errors. Imagine a calibration like honing your kitchen knife. It won't make them better, but it will make them sharper. With the BenQ we see exactly that after calibration.
Contrast, brightness and color gamut remained unchanged, but there was an important improvement: the color accuracy became even better. We saw that the pre-calibration value of the BenQ PD3200U dropped from 1.23 to 0.93 and pushed it just over the edge into a perfect area.
There was a major improvement: the color accuracy became even better
To be fair, that's the kind of improvement we saw on the HP Dreamcolor z32x, which improved its initial 1.68 core by hitting 0.84. It is important to point out that the deviations are rather small, although the overall color error of Dreamcolor is less than that of BenQ as soon as they are below 1.0. The LG 27UD88-W has also improved from 3.97 to 2.34, but that's still slightly outside of what you'd expect from a professional monitor.
If you've picked up the BenQ PD3200U hoping to fix this color error and don't have access to a professional colorimeter like a Spyder5 or Spyder4, just read our guide to calibrating your monitor.
The BenQ PD3200U is backed by a three-year standard warranty that covers manufacturing defects, shipping damage, and devices that arrive dead – provided you report the DOA device within 30 days. This is a typical guarantee period for this category. You get three years with the HP Dreamcolor z32x, but only one year with the LG 27UD88-W.
4K is more common today than it was a few years ago, but that doesn't make it any less impressive. With the right display, 4K content only sings. It's rich and elaborate, with details that aren't even on the sharpest 1080p or 1440p display.
Prices have dropped, but it is still an expensive market segment – especially in the professional monitor market. Here the BenQ PD3200U really shines. It's no easy task to compete against monitors that cost three to four hundred dollars more, but it definitely looks like this with the PD3200U.
Is there a better alternative?
Yes, but not for this price. At $ 800, the BenQ PD3200U isn't exactly a budget monitor, but with its impressive 4K performance and perfect color accuracy, it offers a lot for this price. As a professional monitor, it clearly undercuts the competition. The HP Dreamcolor z32x starts at $ 1,326, and BenQ's high-end sibling, the BenQ PV3200PT, starts at $ 1,300.
While the Dreamcolor offers a wider range of colors, both displays offer almost perfect color accuracy, rich, high-contrast displays and simple, professional designs. The BenQ PD3200U lacks the quality of the Dreamcolor to look out the window, but it is much cheaper.
If you don't need professional color accuracy or want something more elegant, the LG 27UD88-W is a compelling alternative. It starts at $ 700, so you save a little bit of money, but keep in mind that you won't get the perfect color accuracy that you'll find with the BenQ PD3200U.
How long it will take?
It's hard to say exactly how long this monitor lasts, but it's built like a tank. The stand is absolutely stable and the plastic frame around the display protects the edges of your screen from bumps and scratches that can occur when moving.
And did we mention that it's 4K?
Hardware, especially gaming hardware, hasn't fully met 4K's demands on modern desktop computers, but is rapidly gaining importance, which means 4K content is becoming more common and accessible.
This means that the monitor will outlast your current desktop hardware and be hard at work for at least a few years.
Should you buy it
Yes. If you're a professional looking for a display for creative use, you can't do it much better than the BenQ PD3200U – not without spending a few hundred dollars more. At this price, the BenQ is a bargain. If you need a new workhorse monitor and are ready to move up to 4KB, give this screen a serious look.