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

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(Image: © Tom's Hardware)

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When shopping for monitors in the budget category, buyers want a lot of bang for the buck. For gaming, performance is king, but a budget implies that you also get a display that can function in the workplace, and serve as a TV & movie machine. Versatility could be considered equal to speed.

If you want a curved screen but don’t want to give up the extra height afforded by the 16:9 aspect ratio, a 32-inch panel like the AOC CQ32G2S is ideal. It has immersive qualities for gaming but doesn’t distract when work needs to get done. And it’s a 32-inch monitor for less than $300. That alone will put it at the top of many buyers’ short lists.

(Image credit: Future)

By using a VA panel, AOC ups the image quality tremendously. With over 4,000:1 measured contrast, the CQ32G2S has a picture that pops better than a lot of expensive IPS screens. It also beats many VA panels for dynamic range and color saturation. Though its gamut coverage is average at 87% of DCI-P3, that extra contrast makes it more colorful. It is further enhanced after calibration thanks to improved gamma and grayscale tracking. I wish it supported true HDR operation but if you want a different look, there are three HDR emulation modes available.

For gaming, video processing is adequate for gamers of average skill. The 165 Hz refresh rate takes it out of the hyperactive competition genre; players will be wanting at least 240 Hz there. But since resolution is QHD, it won’t be hard to drive the CQ32G2S to its maximum speed.

Response and input lag are quick enough to provide a solid gaming experience. If AOC were to improve the overdrive by eliminating the undershoot, motion resolution would be higher. As it stands though, it’s a satisfying gaming monitor that I thoroughly enjoyed playing on.

Ultimately, the AOC CQ32G2S delivers balance. It’s excellent for gaming, work or entertainment because it has everything you need and nothing you don’t. You’re getting a 32-inch 165 Hz monitor with high contrast, wide gamut color and Adaptive-Sync for less than $300. What more do you need to know? Budget-conscious shoppers should definitely check it out.

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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.