Gigabyte M32U monitor in the test: 4K gaming without fluff
RRP $ 800.00
"The Gigabyte M32U doesn't have much competition, but it still feels hard to beat for $ 800."
One of the few 32-inch 4K monitors with a high refresh rate
Excellent color accuracy after calibration
Two HDMI 2.1 ports
Built-in KVM switch
Bad HDR performance
Below average status
Poor color accuracy before calibration
If you look for a 32-inch 4K monitor with a high refresh rate in Newegg, you will find three options: two listings for the Gigabyte Aorus FI32U and one for the Gigabyte M32U. Large 4K monitors with a high refresh rate are still a largely untapped space, with the world's LGs and Asus sticking to the tried and tested 27-inch format.
However, Gigabyte is quickly capitalizing on the as-yet unclaimed ground with these two new gaming monitors that have some unique features.
It's hard to separate the Gigabyte M32U from the Auros FI32U even if you ignore the identical specifications. They both use the same panel and offer largely the same features, but the M32U costs $ 200 less. It has the comfortable price of around $ 800 that many 4K 27-inch displays like the Acer Nitro XV273K or LG 27GN950 have settled on.
The case for the purchase of the M32U then looks tidy – it offers a high refresh rate at 4K for the same price as its 27-inch counterparts, but with a little more screen space. However, the story has a little more to offer. So if you're not using a 32-inch display over a 27-inch display, don't add the M32U to your cart just yet.
Gigabyte monitors aren't known for their innovative design, and the M32U doesn't change that either. It's basically a stretched version of Gigabyte's budget 1440p monitors like the M27Q, with an identical stand but without the gamer flair normally associated with high-refresh rate 4K displays like the Asus ROG Swift PG32UQX.
Basically there is no RGB or branding associated with games. For that, you'll have to spend $ 200 more on the FI32U, which is exactly the same panel but from Gigabyte's Aorus line of products. It has a more angular look suitable for gaming, with some RGB accents on the back. In the case of the panel, however, it is identical to the M32U.
Panel and performance aside, the M32U doesn't feel like a well-spent $ 800. There's just a bit of metal in the base to break up the plastic monotony. The top of the back is a bit glossy, but otherwise it's a matte plastic finish all around that feels like function over form. And given the cost savings compared to the FI32U, that is what the M32U's focus is on.
The stand offers a few adjustments, including 130mm height adjustment, 25 degrees tilt, and 60 degrees swivel, but I was never able to adjust the monitor the way I wanted. The stand just doesn't allow enough height adjustment for my setup, as only the top third of the screen occupies my field of view at its highest point.
The size of a 32-inch panel makes up for it, but I wanted to throw the stand away almost as quickly as I set it up. Using the VESA 100 mounting holes on the back with a monitor arm transforms the M32U from a cheap-feeling monitor with a bad stand into a subtle display that is all about performance.
Connections and controls
The port selection on the M32U is excellent, largely thanks to two HDMI 2.1 ports. Even newer high-end monitors like the LG 34GN850-B have stayed with HDMI 2.0 and limit the 4K output to 60 Hz. With HDMI 2.1 you have access to 4K at 120Hz or 8K at 60Hz.
DisplayPort is still better for PC gamers – and I'll get into why in a moment – but HDMI 2.1 was a delight during my time with the M32U. I used the HDMI ports on my PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X and switched between them and my PC via the DisplayPort connection without the refresh rate loss in mind.
In addition to the two HDMI ports, you have access to a single DisplayPort 1.4 port, which offers a slight increase to a refresh rate of 144 Hz at 4K. Honestly, this is the dream port setup right now. DisplayPort 2.0 is a better option, but it's still not there after suffering some long delays.
Otherwise you can use USB-C as an input, as well as the three USB 3.0 ports on the back of the display. The M32U even has one more USB 3.0 port than the FI32U.
This is the dream port setup right now.
You can make good use of all of these ports too. Like its more expensive Aorus brother, the M32U has an integrated KVM switch. In short, you can control multiple computers with a single keyboard and mouse connected through the monitor. The switch was a lifesaver for switching between my main machine and the test bench, and it saved me space and time on my desk when hopping between two machines.
Unfortunately, you have to use the on-screen display (OSD) to configure the KVM switch and that's not great. The OSD runs with a significantly lower resolution, which makes it look smeared on the otherwise sharp 4K panel. Navigating through the menu isn't bad, although the rotary wheel takes a bit of getting used to.
It's high up on the back of the monitor, and even after weeks of using the M32U, I'd have to search blindly to find it. It's a four-way toggle with a middle click, and I would push it in one direction many times while trying to use the middle click. You shouldn't spend too much time using the OSD, but I wanted a better controller.
The M32U doesn't look great out of the box, but it's hard to expect much from a $ 800 32-inch 4K monitor with a high refresh rate. Typical of IPS panels, the contrast ratio isn't high and the display doesn't get too bright, which makes the panel feel like the budget option it compares to some of the higher quality 4K displays.
Still, Gigabyte is promoting 123% coverage of sRGB and 90% coverage of DCI-P3. Testing with my SpyderX Elite clorimeter found a slightly lower 87% coverage of DCI-P3, although that's not too far from what Gigabyte claims. I also measured a contrast ratio of 950: 1, which is only slightly different from the 1000: 1 ratio typical for IPS panels, as well as a peak brightness of 366.5 nits (Gigabyte lists 350 nits).
Everything checked, but the bigger problem is color accuracy. Out of the box I measured a Delta-E (difference from real) of 2.32, which is outside the typical range for color work and reflects the poor out-of-the-box performance of the Eve Spectrum 4K. You are looking for a Delta-E value of less than 2 for a color-accurate representation. Calibrating the display with the SpyderX, however, cleaned up a lot and lowered the Delta-E value to 0.5.
This is an exceptional achievement for the price and more than acceptable for photo or video work. The color performance after calibration outperforms the LG 27GN950, a monitor for the same price as the Gigabyte M32U but five inches smaller.
The brightness uniformity wasn't great right away either, with up to 10% difference in the lower left corner which was 83% brightness. A quick glance at a black screen showed why, with the lower right corner showing just a hair of the backlight. Still, consistency was never a problem for me, and with the most sensitive work happening in the center of the screen, the M32U is still set up for creative work after calibration.
In terms of specs, the M32U is on par with competing 27-inch 4K displays like the Asus ROG Strix XG27UQR, only with a larger screen size. However, the Eve Spectrum 4K and LG 27GN950 show what can be gained by foregoing the screen size. Although smaller, both displays are the same price and have higher peak brightness.
With HDR enabled, the monitor looks like it is trying to cram too much dynamic range into too little space.
This is important for HDR. The M32U carries DisplayHDR 400 certification from VESA, not the DisplayHDR 600 certification of the Eve Spectrum and LG 27GN950. With HDR enabled, the monitor looks like it is trying to cram too much dynamic into a space that is too small, which is typical for DisplayHDR 400 monitors.
Worse, using HDR enables the M32U's local dimming function. There aren't too many dimming zones and they are slow to respond to changes. I shot a dimming test video that produced some notable stuttering as a white dot moves to different parts of the screen, showing that the dimming zones are slowly keeping up.
I ended up leaving out HDR when using the M32U with my consoles. It's not a bad picture, but I've never looked at the dimming zones or the eye-burning contrast that comes from a mediocre HDR implementation. IPS panels just aren't good for HDR, and the M32U doesn't break that shape.
Still, the M32U looks good with HDR turned off. Although 4K stands out a little more on a smaller screen size, at 32 inches, the pixel density is still high enough to produce crisp images and clean lines in text. Even when I held my face inches from the screen, I couldn't see pixels of black text on a white background.
Pixel peeping is one thing, but when you take the M32U into games, it shows where it really shines. It just expanded my Destiny 2 habit and offers super sharp images at high frame rates. The 144Hz panel isn't as fast as the 360Hz Asus ROG Swift PG259QNR, but this monitor is limited to 1080p. Plus, I don't need an even higher refresh rate to know how bad I am at Valorant.
And 144 Hz is the gold standard for gaming monitors for good reason. Like jumping from 30 frames per second (fps) on an Xbox One to 60 fps on an Xbox Series X, you can't go back to 60 Hz after trying 144 Hz. It's particularly smooth. Even games on my PS5 felt choppy after a few hours playing at 144Hz on my PC.
Defeating champions in Destiny 2 looked great in 4K, especially with the ultra-smooth refresh rate.
Just because the M32U offers 144 Hz doesn't mean you can enjoy it in games. Native 4K is still a killer for most PC hardware. Even with an RTX 3090 and an Intel Core i9-10900K, I couldn't achieve more than 60 fps in Control or Assassin's Creed Valhalla when all the sliders were turned up.
The high refresh rate is more relevant in games like Destiny 2, which are less demanding. Defeating champions and melting down Gambit bosses looked great in 4K, especially with the ultra-smooth refresh rate.
Still, you need powerful hardware to use a display like the M32U. You should have at least an RTX 3070 or RX 6800 XT if you want to play the latest AAA games in native 4K. Or you can always cheat the resolution a bit with a feature like Nvidia Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS), which lets the high refresh rate shine through in a game like Control.
Unless you're spending $ 3,000 on something like the Asus ROG Swift PG32UQX, you won't find another high-refresh rate 32-inch 4K gaming monitor. It's in a class of its own, but that doesn't make it the best by default. There's a far larger selection of 27-inch displays for the same price, many with better HDR and higher peak brightness.
However, if you have chosen 32 inches, there is no other option. The Aorus branded model is aesthetically better, but that's hard to justify with an extra $ 200 on the table. Gigabyte created a monitor that ticks the boxes in an area where there are very few monitors, and at an affordable price.
Just make sure to attach a Spyder to it before using the M32U for any serious work.
Are there alternatives?
No, except for the Aorus FI32U and Asus ROG Swift PG32UQ, which are both $ 200 more expensive. Many high refresh rate 4K gaming displays are fixed at 27 inches, including the Eve Spectrum 4K and the LG 27GN950. However, you can get higher brightness and better HDR performance if you sacrifice screen size.
How long it will take?
Given how demanding 4K still is for modern PC hardware, the M32U will last for years. The M32U will keep up until 8K becomes the norm or midrange GPUs can achieve high frame rates at 4K. HDR throws the bill, however, so you may need to upgrade in a few years if you want to use HDR in games.
Should I buy it?
If you need a 32-inch 4K gaming monitor, yes. The Gigabyte M32U is in a class of its own by default. However, you can get a better 27-inch 4K monitor for the same price, which is what I would recommend to most people.