AOC CQ32G2S 165 Hz Gaming Monitor Review: A Lot of Screen and Performance for the Money

32-inch QHD VA Curved panel with 165 Hz, Adaptive Sync, and wide gamut color

Editor's Choice
(Image: © Tom's Hardware)

Tom's Hardware Verdict

The AOC CQ32G2S misses HDR support but has little else to complain about. It delivers versatility and a good gaming experience in a 32-inch screen for less than $300. That’s a combination that’s hard to beat.


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    High contrast and color saturation

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    Three-dimensional image

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    Versatile for both gaming and work

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    Solid build quality

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    Terrific value


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    No HDR

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    Weak overdrive means lower motion resolution

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Large monitors come in two major size categories, wide or tall. Ultra-wide 21:9 screens are great for immersive gameplay and multi-tasking. But height is useful too, not just for gaming but for photo editing or working on musical scores. For those seeking altitude, a 32-inch display delivers a lot of real estate for whatever one needs or wants to do.

A few of these almost-jumbo screens have found their way into the value genre. It is possible to buy a 32-inch QHD monitor for less than $300 if you choose AOC’s new CQ32G2S. And it offers a bonus, a 1500R curvature. It works well for gaming with a 165 Hz refresh rate and Adaptive-Sync. It won’t do HDR, but it does include a wide color gamut. And its VA panel boasts a true 4,000:1 contrast ratio. Put all of these together and you have a screen that competes with the very best curved gaming monitors.

AOC CQ32G2S Specifications

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Panel Type / BacklightVA / W-LED, edge array
Screen Size / Aspect Ratio32 inches / 16:9
Row 2 - Cell 0 Curve radius: 1500mm
Max Resolution & Refresh Rate2560x1440 @ 165 Hz
Row 4 - Cell 0 FreeSync: 48-165 Hz
Row 5 - Cell 0 G-Sync Compatible
Native Color Depth & Gamut8-bit / DCI-P3
Response Time (MPRT)1ms
Brightness (mfr)250 nits
Brightness (mfr)3,000:1
Speakers 2x 5w
Video Inputs1x DisplayPort 1.2
Row 12 - Cell 0 2x HDMI 2.0
Audio3.5mm headphone output
USB 3.0None
Power Consumption37w, brightness @ 200 nits
Panel Dimensions WxHxD w/base27.9 x 18.6-22.5 x 9.6 inches
Row 17 - Cell 0 (709 x 472-572 x 244mm)
Panel Thickness3.4 inches (86mm)
Bezel WidthTop/sides: 0.3 inch (7mm)
Row 20 - Cell 0 Bottom: 0.9 inch (22mm)
Weight16.5 pounds (7.5kg)
Warranty3 years

I’ve been spending time with AOC’s latest G-Line displays which all sport an excellent price/performance ratio. The CQ32G2S starts with a VA panel which puts it ahead of many premium IPS panels in terms of contrast. AOC claims 3,000:1 but my sample measured over 4,000:1 which is a significant boost to image quality. It not only delivers deep blacks, but color is well saturated. Gamut coverage is an average-for-the-genre 87% of DCI-P3. For the money though, $280 at this writing, that’s a solid number. Accuracy is good too with only minor adjustments required to achieve a high standard. The only thing missing is HDR support, but AOC includes three HDR emulation modes if you want a different look.

Users on a quest for speed will find happiness in the CQ32G2S’s 165 Hz refresh rate and support for both FreeSync and G-Sync. Though the monitor is not certified by Nvidia, I confirmed flawless G-Sync operation in my tests. You also get a backlight strobe for blur reduction if you’d rather go that route. QHD resolution means you won’t have much trouble maxing frame rates at 165fps. Pixel density is reasonable at 93ppi.

The AOC CQ32G2S features a solid build with an ergonomic stand, five-watt internal speakers and all the necessary video inputs. Only USB has been left out there. The screen’s radius is 1500R so the curve is somewhere between subtle and significant. It brings some additional immersion to gaming without causing any image distortion that would distract in productivity applications.

The CQ32G2S’s positives could end with the fact that you’re getting a 32-inch QHD monitor for $280. But there is enough here to recommend it over more expensive alternatives. And you won’t pay much less, if anything, for a similarly spec’d 27-inch monitor.

Assembly and Accessories for AOC CQ32G2S

The cartons for all of AOC’s G-Line monitors are colorful and attractive. They’re just the thing that stands out at big box stores. The CQ32G2S is packed securely in crumbly foam and comes in three parts. The base, upright and panel mate without the need for tools into a solid package. DisplayPort and HDMI cables are included along with an IEC cord for the internal power supply.

Product 360

The CQ32G2S is touted as bezel-free but there is a 7mm frame around the image’s top and sides. When screens get large, a thin border makes a smaller impact, and you’ll barely notice this one. The bottom is a bit wider at 22mm and is trimmed with bright red. That accent is continued on the back of the panel and upright as well as the large and solid base which is finished in a dark silver. This contrasts the black matte surfaces of the other parts.

You’d almost think there are LEDs in back when you see the photos but that’s just the red trim picking up light. It’s shiny enough to create a convincing glow without the release of actual photons. Also in back is a thin grill that compliments the chevron accents and the letters AOC finished in gray at the top. Sadly, there is no OSD joystick back there. Like the other G-Line monitors, menu control is handled by a row of buttons at the bottom right.

The stand is a solid affair with 5/23 degrees tilt, 30 degrees swivel and a four-inch (100mm) height adjustment. There is no portrait mode. Movements have a firm and premium feel that makes you forget how inexpensive the CQ32G2S is. AOC doesn’t cut corners in its build quality here.

The input panel includes two HDMI 2.0 and one DisplayPort 1.2. Bandwidth is enough for 165 Hz operation over DP and 144 Hz for HDMI. You can hear sound through the five-watt internal speakers which are on the tinny side with decent volume. Or plug headphones into the 3.5mm audio jack. The CQ32G2S does not include any USB ports.

OSD Features

The CQ32G2S includes the same ribbon-based menu of its G-Line counterparts. It appears at the bottom center of the screen, but you can reposition it if you wish. Four tiny keys navigate the OSD and though they work fine, they aren’t as good as the joysticks I’ve become spoiled by in other monitors.

In the Luminance menu, you’ll find brightness and contrast along with three gamma presets and the three HDR emulation modes. They don’t support HDR10 signals, but rather, they approximate the look of HDR through gamma manipulation. They also add varying levels of edge enhancement which ultimately reduces perceived resolution. I recommend avoiding them. The CQ32G2S has plenty of native contrast already.

In Color Setup, there are three color temp presets plus an accurate sRGB mode and a User memory with RGB sliders. The CQ32G2S can be calibrated to a high standard, and I’ll show you how to do that below. You also get AOC’s unique Picture Boost feature which highlights a sizable and moveable portion of the image with its own set of brightness and contrast controls.

In Game Setting, you can toggle Adaptive-Sync, engage the MBR backlight strobe, set one of three overdrive levels and turn on a frame rate indicator. To use MBR, you must turn off Adaptive-Sync first. The overdrive is too weak to completely eliminate black trail artifacts but on its Strong setting, they are minimized. MBR improves motion resolution but the artifacts from the overdrive’s undershoot remain.

Calibration Settings for AOC CQ32G2S

I have reviewed a lot of AOC monitors and have learned that they don’t all react the same way to image adjustments. The default Standard mode is reasonably accurate but minor green errors are visible in grayscale test patterns. Gamma runs a bit light out of the box and my initial attempts to adjust grayscale resulted in no improvement.

When I switched the gamma preset from 1 to 3 however, I saw a clear improvement. Grayscale tracked much better and the slightly darker gamma improved color saturation. My settings are below. Note that there is no HDR10 support. The three HDR emulations provide a different look but are not true HDR. They also add edge enhancement which I found distracting in both gaming and productivity.

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Picture ModeStandard
Brightness 200 nits95
Brightness 120 nits37
Brightness 100 nits22
Brightness 80 nits6 (min. 75)
Color Temp UserRed 46, Green 51, Blue 50

 Gaming and Hands-on with AOC CQ32G2S

The CQ32G2S is a very satisfying monitor for gaming. Though its motion resolution and pixel density aren’t particularly high, high contrast and superb color saturation adds a lot of that sharpness back in. The overdrive is a bit weak as it undershoots the mark causing black trail artifacts. But I still found true and accurate aim when playing Doom Eternal.

Distant detail was well resolved which made long shots and sniping easy. Response and input lag are plenty quick for someone of my average skill. A more talented gamer will want to up the fps count to 240 or more. But for most of us, the CQ32G2S is an excellent gaming monitor, especially for the price.

I’ve been spoiled by many VA panels in the past but the AOC CQ32G2S’s 4,000:1 contrast puts it ahead of most of them. The difference between it and any IPS panel not running a zone dimming feature is significant. Though I have been impressed by Mini LED monitors, a good VA screen with high native contrast like this is just as good or better for image depth and dimension. I had no issues with the CQ32G2S’s relatively low brightness. It is capable of 200 nits which is where I set all the monitors I review.

I did miss HDR support a bit though. The CQ32G2S covers almost 88% of the DCI-P3 gamut so there was no lack of color saturation. But true HDR adds some extra pop. I tried the three emulation modes, and they did some things well. Highlights came forward a bit more and I saw more color vibrance. But the added edge enhancement reduced motion resolution. Coupled with the 93 ppi pixel density, it made for a less immersive gaming experience. I don’t recommend using the HDR modes here.

Video processing was average for the category. I’ve already noted the overdrive’s undershoot issue. In practice, it isn’t a huge problem but there is room for improvement. Adaptive-Sync worked without issue on both AMD and Nvidia platforms (see FreeSync vs G-Sync to decide which is better). My GeForce RTX 4090-based PC had no problem keeping the frame rate maxed at 165.

I tried out the MBR backlight strobe feature and found that it offered some improvement in motion resolution. Faster mouse movements brought out the phasing artifact that is common to this technology, but overall, it was a six-of-one half-dozen-of-the-other proposition. Some users will prefer Adaptive-Sync, and some may opt for MBR.

In productivity, the AOC CQ32G2S excels. Its curve is a non-factor for word processing or spreadsheets and there is no visible image distortion. The stand and screen height allow one to set the panel vertically so the eyepoint is centered. This ensures that the entire image is in focus from edge to edge. With my calibration in place, color accuracy was well suited for photo editing and graphics work. The high contrast made Word documents easy to read at the smallest text sizes.

Takeaway: The AOC CQ32G2S’s 16:9, 32-inch screen makes it ideal for both work and play. Though there is some upward potential in its video processing ability, it is a satisfying and fun gaming screen. I missed HDR support but with so much native contrast and saturated color, it’s a worthwhile sacrifice to put a 32-inch QHD monitor on your desk for just $280.

MORE: Best Gaming Monitors

MORE: How We Test PC Monitors

MORE: How to Buy a PC Monitor

MORE: How to Choose the Best HDR Monitor

Christian Eberle
Contributing Editor

Christian Eberle is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He's a veteran reviewer of A/V equipment, specializing in monitors. Christian began his obsession with tech when he built his first PC in 1991, a 286 running DOS 3.0 at a blazing 12MHz. In 2006, he undertook training from the Imaging Science Foundation in video calibration and testing and thus started a passion for precise imaging that persists to this day. He is also a professional musician with a degree from the New England Conservatory as a classical bassoonist which he used to good effect as a performer with the West Point Army Band from 1987 to 2013. He enjoys watching movies and listening to high-end audio in his custom-built home theater and can be seen riding trails near his home on a race-ready ICE VTX recumbent trike. Christian enjoys the endless summer in Florida where he lives with his wife and Chihuahua and plays with orchestras around the state.

  • Roland Of Gilead
    I like AOC. My first gaming monitor was the AOC 24G2U 144 FHD IPS. I still have it and it's a beauty! Subsequently, I wanted to upgrade to 1440p, and decided to go with the little brother of the one in the review. The AOC CQ27G2U/BK. I was very excited. Sadly, it suffered from horrendous flicker, and ghosting. After RMA'ing it I went for the MSI MAG G27. 1440p IPS, 165hz. It's amazing. Even better than I had hoped. I would gladly recommend it.

    AOC have some lovely monitors, and although I was let down by the last product, I would still order from them.
  • Dr3ams
    A curve in an ultra wide display is useful, but to put a curve in a monitor just lame.
  • Roland Of Gilead
    Dr3ams said:
    A curve in an ultra wide display is useful, but to put a curve in a monitor just lame.
    Funnily enough, even the 27in Curved version, is actually quite immersive. But your right, Ultra wides are what these curved monitors should be. At the smaller size, it's just a gimmick.
  • RichardtST
    Staring at a pair of these right now. Can confirm. They are very nice.
  • PEnns
    $248 at Amazon?? That's one amazing deal for such a monitor!!
  • jessterman21
    Been using this one for a year now, it's great for the price. The only downsides are very infrequent flicker around 75Hz/fps when using Adaptive Sync, and black-level smearing even on the Strong Overdrive setting. The curve is a little too pronounced IMO, and I think 1800R would've been perfect.