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ASUS ProArt PA32UC 32" Monitor: 4K UHD HDR for the Professionals

Author:
Subject: Displays
Manufacturer: ASUS

Overview

While we tend to focus on PC Gaming-oriented displays here at PC Perspective, they don't necessarily represent the highest-end of the PC monitor market. Often professionals working in photography and videography areas have stricter requirements for the displays they use.

Just imagine, if you are mastering video in wide gamut color spaces like DCI-P3 for HDR playback, you need to be assured that the source image on your PC is being accurately represented on your display. While the highest-end production use reference displays that can cost upwards of $20,000, there's a growing market for more modestly priced displays for prosumers that can also provide reasonable assurance of color accuracy.

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This is the type of consumer that ASUS targets with their "ProArt" lineup. Today, we are taking a look at the ASUS ProArt PA32UC, a factory-calibrated 32" 3840x2160 display capable of 99.5% AdobeRGB coverage.

Click here to continue reading our review of the ASUS ProArt PA32UC!

ASUS ProArt PA32UC
Panel Type 32" IPS
Color Saturation 85% Rec.2020, 99.5% Adobe RGB, over 95% DCI-P3 and 100% sRGB 
Resolution 3840x2160
Response Time  5ms (Gray to Gray)
HDR Support

HDR10

Peak Brightness 1000 cd/m2
Variable Refresh Adaptive Sync (DisplayPort and Thunderbolt 3)
Connections Signal Input : Thunderbolt™ 3 USB-C™ x2 (In x1, Out x1), HDMI(v2.0b) x4, DisplayPort 1.2
Earphone jack : 3.5mm Mini-Jack 
USB upstream : USB3.0 Type-B x1
USB downstream : USB3.0 Type-A x2, USB3.0 Type-C x1
Price $1799

Based around a 32" IPS panel, the PA32UC features a 384-zone Full Array Local Dimming backlight capable of reaching a peak brightness of 1000 nits, similar to its ROG sibling the PG27UQ. While it appears the ProArt display was not certified to DisplayHDR 1000 like the PG27UQ, it certified to Ultra HD Premium, which is a similar standard focused more towards TVs.

While ASUS mentions adaptive sync support in their specifications, there is no information on what refresh ranges the display supports in this mode. Regardless, this is very likely to go unused by professionals in the current software ecosystem.

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From a design perspective, the visual aesthetic of the PA32UC is quite paired down from high-end gaming monitors like the new ROG Swift.

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Instead of RGB LEDs, we find a simple base and stand made of aluminum and a panel with thin bezels. While this monitor is essentially designed to go unnoticed in a workstation environment, it provides a nice blend of subtleness while still feeling like a high-end product.

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The stand is versatile, providing swivel, pivot, tilt, and height adjustments, as well as featuring 100mm x 100mm VESA mounting capability.

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The PA32UC features a plethora of connection options, including 4 HDMI 2.0b ports, a DisplayPort 1.4 connection, as well as Thunderbolt 3 with device passthrough. In addition, there is a 3-port USB hub.

I took the opportunity to test out the Thunderbolt 3 functionality with a 2018 MacBook Pro. While this worked great, with display, power, and USB functionality traveling over the one connector, I wish there was an option to somehow disable the power delivery capability so that my notebook wasn't always charging, potentially shortening the longevity of the battery.

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As we noticed with the PG27UQ, this ProArt display is thicker than most modern monitors, due to the Full Array Local Dimming backlight array vital to high-end HDR performance.

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Speaking of HDR, enabling this feature from within Windows was easy. While we've seen some displays have issues within the Windows desktop with HDR, the PA32UC performed great once the "HDR and WCG" switch was enabled from within Windows display settings.

Likewise, HDR performance on this display was great, paralleling our experiences with the ASUS PG27UQ. With a peak brightness of 1000 nits, HDR video playback and gaming was clear and vibrant.

Color Calibration

In order to provide a smooth experience and setup, the PA32UC is provided from the factory with precalibrated profiles for sRGB and AdobeRGB.

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As part of this, ASUS provides a calibration report with every display, showing the color accuracy of the exact monitor against sRGB and AdobeRGB color spaces.

Using the ASUS ProART software and our X-Rite i1 Display Pro, we were able to verify these calibration claims.

sRGB

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AdobeRGB

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Looking at the color gamut triangles, we see strict conformance to both the sRGB and AdobeRGB color spaces. Likewise, the average deltaE for this monitor in both of those color spaces was around 0.8, an impressive feat.

Pricing

At $1,800, the ASUS ProArt PA32UC is one of the most expensive displays we've ever reviewed and squarely targeted towards professionals.

Compared to the slightly older ASUS ProArt PA329Q, which offers 99.5% AdobeRGB coverage but lacks HDR, there is an almost $700 price premium. Given the lack of high-performance HDR monitors in the market, the price premium is understandable.

The other main comparison point would be the ASUS PG27UQ display, which contains similar specs but in a 27" G-SYNC-sporting form factor. While you could use the PG27UQ for content creation, the extra features like G-SYNC, higher refresh rates, and RGB lighting might not be worth the $200 price premium over the larger PA27UC.

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For professionals that need to work with HDR content, or see themselves needing to work within an HDR workflow in the future the ASUS PA32UC is a solid investment that should remain a viable option for many years to come.

Review Terms and Disclosure
All Information as of the Date of Publication
How product was obtained: The product is on loan from ASUS for the purpose of this review.
What happens to the product after review: The product remains the property of ASUS but is on extended loan for future testing and product comparisons.
Company involvement: ASUS had no control over the content of the review and was not consulted prior to publication.
PC Perspective Compensation: Neither PC Perspective nor any of its staff were paid or compensated in any way by ASUS for this review.
Advertising Disclosure: ASUS has purchased advertising at PC Perspective during the past twelve months.
Affiliate links: This article contains affiliate links to online retailers. PC Perspective may receive compensation for purchases through those links.
Consulting Disclosure: ASUS is not a current client of Shrout Research for products or services related to this review. 

August 6, 2018 | 05:58 PM - Posted by Anonymousism (not verified)

This isn't really competing with reference monitors. For one thing, you don't calibrate reference monitors. That's a big part of the cost of the monitor.
The brightness is also way higher than needed, and it doesn't call out support for the expected smpte standards.
It does look to be a great monitor for creatives.

August 7, 2018 | 04:35 AM - Posted by Anonymouse (not verified)

"For one thing, you don't calibrate reference monitors."

Are.... you serious? Not only are reference monitors calibrated, they are calibrated regularly. Serious monitors (e.g. colour timing for film/TV) will be calibrated before each use.

August 6, 2018 | 06:08 PM - Posted by Godrilla

Microcenter is selling the hdr gsync model for the $1799 currently fyi.

August 7, 2018 | 03:02 AM - Posted by Funkatronis

Does this monitor actually have a 10 bpc panel or is it using 8bpc with dithering? I've read and heard the gamer variant uses the dithering method to reach 10 bit. The other question that I have is the spec sheet you have posted above calls it DP 1.2 but in the review you write that there is a DP 1.4 connection. I'd assume the later is true due to HDR, but are they calling it 1.2 because it probably doesn't support DSC?

Thanks.

August 7, 2018 | 05:36 AM - Posted by Power (not verified)

"I took the opportunity to test out the Thunderbolt 3 functionality with a 2018 MacBook Pro. While this worked great, with display, power, and USB functionality traveling over the one connector, I wish there was an option to somehow disable the power delivery capability so that my notebook wasn't always charging, potentially shortening the longevity of the battery."

This sentence is clearly out of place.

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