Asus is well known for its all-in, everything-and-the-kitchen-sink gaming monitors. From the premium 32-inch Ultra HD category, I recently reviewed the PG32UQX with its mini-LED backlight at the eye-watering price of $2,900. While that may be the ultimate gaming monitor, it is out of reach for many users. For around $1,000, there are several good options, like MSI’s MPG321UR-QD and Aorus’ FI32U. Asus has no intention of staying out of this sub-category, so it’s added the more affordable ROG Swift PG32UQ to its lineup.
Though the ROG Swift PG32UQ doesn’t have a mini-LED, or even a Full Array Local Dimming (FALD) backlight, its edge array has zone dimming capability. And it runs at the highest speed currently available from any 4K monitor: 155 Hz. Adaptive-Sync with HDR 600 and a huge color gamut round out its core features. How close does it come to the top players at a third of the price? Let’s take a look and figure out if it deserves a spot on our best 4K gaming monitors page.
Asus PG32UQ Specs
|Panel Type / Backlight||IPS / W-LED zone-dimming edge array|
|Screen Size / Aspect Ratio||32 inches / 16:9|
|Max Resolution & Refresh Rate||3840x2160 @ 144 Hz|
|155 Hz w/overclock|
|Native Color Depth & Gamut||10-bit / Rec.2020|
|HDR10, DisplayHDR 600|
|Response Time (MPRT)||1ms|
|Brightness (mfr)||450 nits SDR|
|600 nits HDR|
|Video Inputs||1x DisplayPort 1.4 w/DSC|
|2x HDMI 2.1|
|Audio||3.5mm headphone output|
|USB 3.0||1x up, 2x down|
|Power Consumption||44.2w, brightness @ 200 nits|
|Panel Dimensions WxHxD w/base||28.7 x 18.1-22 x 11.5 inches (728 x 459-559 x 293mm)|
|Panel Thickness||3.43 inches (87mm)|
|Bezel Width||Top/sides: 0.3 inch (8mm)|
|Bottom: 0.8 inch (20mm)|
|Weight||21.3 pounds (9.7kg)|
The ROG Swift PG32UQ starts with a fast IPS panel capable of 1ms Motion Picture Response Time (MPRT). That metric is a bit more generous than the more traditional Gray-to-Gray (GTG) spec, but the PG32UQ is plenty fast. And it is the first Ultra HD monitor I’ve seen that can run at 155 Hz. My response and lag tests on the next page will reveal whether that makes a visible or measurable difference.
Adaptive-Sync comes in both forms, FreeSync and G-Sync, and the PG32UQ is certified by Nvidia as G-Sync compatible (operational range is 48-155 Hz). Asus’ ELMB Sync feature is included, which means this monitor is one of the few that can run its backlight strobe blur reduction in concert with Adaptive-Sync. It makes a subtle improvement in motion resolution, but will result in a 30 percent reduction to light output.
But there is plenty of light available. I recorded over 411 nits peak in SDR mode and over 660 in HDR mode. The PG32UQ is one of the brightest 32-inch screens I’ve seen to date. And it boasts excellent HDR contrast with a measured ratio of over 9,000:1.
Color is included in a large portion as well. The gamut is so large, I measured it against the Rec.2020 reference rather than DCI-P3, of which it covers over 115%. There’s an sRGB mode available too, but honestly, it’s hard to watch and play in anything but the PG32UQ’s fully saturated, uber-gamut glory.
Gaming features include multiple adaptive overdrive levels, aiming points, sniper mode, timers, LED lighting and a flexible menu system. The PG32UQ is built to last with a rugged chassis that sports Asus’ classic Republic of Gamers styling. It’s a package well-equipped to compete with the best premium screens in the around-$1,000 category.
Assembly and Accessories
The PG32UQ ships in a large, sturdy box with its solid metal base, beefy upright and chunky panel ready to be assembled with no tools required. Asus dispensed with the lighting in the base, so there are no delicate contacts to manipulate. The LEDs are all in the panel’s large ROG logo on the back. The accessory bundle comes in its own box within the larger carton and includes a power supply brick with HDMI, DisplayPort and USB cables. A set of large bolts accommodates aftermarket mounts for the 100mm VESA lug pattern, and you get a sheet of ROG decals to adorn your high-end gaming rig.
The PG32UQ keeps it clean and simple in front with a flush bezel that’s just 8mm wide around the top and sides. A 20mm bit of trim on the bottom carries a small ROG logo and a tiny power LED at the right. The anti-glare layer performs well, keeping the image free of stray reflections. There is no visible grain or softness; the image is sharp, clean and bright.
Asus’ usual spaceship hull styling is molded lightly into the thick plastic on the back. It’s finished in a matte texture that won’t pick up light or fingerprints easily. A set of keys and a joystick form the menu controls. OSD navigation is simple and intuitive. There is also a large ROG logo on the back which can be lit hundreds of ways with colors and effects chosen in the OSD under the Aura RGB options. You can also coordinate the light show with other Asus ROG components using the Aura Sync app on your PC. A USB connection is required to enable this feature.
The side view shows the substantial upright, which offers full ergonomics: 25 degrees swivel to either side, 5/20 degrees tilt and a 100mm height adjustment. Movements exude the quality I’ve come to expect from all Asus gaming monitors. Once positioned, the PG32UQ stays solidly in place.
The input panel is tucked well up and under and includes two HDMI 2.1, one DisplayPort 1.4 with Display Stream Compression (DSC), USB 3.0 (one upstream, two down), and a 3.5mm audio jack. There are decent built-in speakers, five watts each, that play at comfortable volumes without distortion. There isn’t much bass, but the mid-range frequencies are clean and clear. To utilize the 155 Hz overclock, you’ll need to use DisplayPort. The HDMI ports work up to 144 Hz for PCs and 120 Hz at 4:4:4 color depth with consoles. FreeSync works over all three video inputs, while G-Sync is limited to DisplayPort only.
Pressing the PG32UQ’s joystick brings up a quick menu with access to the picture modes (Game Visual), gaming aids (GamePlus) and the full OSD.
Gaming is first up and has everything one could need to adjust video processing, access picture modes and employ gaming aids. The Overclock runs over DisplayPort only and works reliably up to 155 Hz. Variable OD (overdrive) has five levels and works effectively at reducing blur up to setting four. ELMB Sync can be engaged along with Adaptive-Sync to reduce blur even further. There is a 30% light output reduction, but turning up the brightness slider can compensate for this. There is plenty of headroom available.
GamePlus brings aids like aiming points, timers, frame counter, sniper mode and multi-display alignment marks to the table. Sniper mode magnifies the center of the screen, making long-distance targets easier to spot. The crosshairs come in three designs, appearing in red or green. The frame counter displays the current refresh rate in real-time so you can monitor system performance.
Game Visual contains the PG32UQ’s eight picture modes. Racing is the default and can be calibrated to a high standard. All modes except sRGB use the monitor’s full color gamut, which is oriented towards Rec.2020. It covers nearly 84% of that huge color space. In HDR mode there are three additional presets: Cinema, Game and Console. They cannot be adjusted, but their color accuracy is solid.
In the Image menu is a Dynamic Dimming option, which turns on the zone-dimming feature for the edge backlight. It puts the PG32UQ’s HDR contrast in between the best FALD screens and more rank-and-file monitors that don’t offer dynamic contrast. Dynamic Dimming can increase dynamic range for SDR content too. It does so effectively without masking highlight or shadow detail.
Calibration options include three color temp presets plus a user mode with RGB sliders. You also get three gamma settings. The color saturation slider is unlocked in some picture modes but not Racing, where I performed my tests.
The Aura RGB lighting offers a number of effects in all colors of the spectrum. Only the ROG logo in back lights up. You won’t find the projectors or base lighting seen in older ROG gaming monitors (and we don't miss it). If you have the Aura Sync app installed and an active USB connection, you can synchronize the lighting of all Asus components compatible with Aura Sync, like power supplies motherboards, RAM and video cards. With all these LEDs engaged, you can be sure that low-flying aircraft will see your gaming system from miles away.
Asus PG32UQ Calibration Settings
The PG32UQ has a slightly cool-toned image in its default Racing mode but can easily be calibrated to a high standard. A few tweaks to the RGB sliders renders perfect grayscale tracking. The gamma preset defaults to 2.2 but measures a little lighter than that. I preferred the picture on the 2.5 setting, which measures around 2.3. This gives a bit more depth to the image and tames the massive color saturation. You’ll have to use the full gamut for SDR content unless you engage the sRGB mode, which looks a little flat. My recommended SDR settings are below.
When an HDR signal is input, the PG32UQ switches automatically and opens up three additional picture modes: Game, Cinema and Console. They look pretty much the same to the eye and measurements revealed only subtle differences. They cannot be calibrated but are fairly accurate.
|Brightness 200 nits||33|
|Brightness 120 nits||11|
|Brightness 100 nits||50 (min. 82 nits)|
|Color Temp User||Red 100, Green 95, Blue 97|
Gaming and Hands-on
My usual pitch about the advantages of a 32-inch monitor stands for the PG32UQ. This screen size in Ultra HD resolution is great for both work and play. You can sit at a comfortable distance of three feet and work on documents and graphics without seeing the screen’s pixel structure. Density is ample at 138ppi, so even the tiniest text is rendered cleanly without jaggies. I prefer font scaling set to 150% for readability’s sake. Those with better eyes than mine might be fine with 125 or 100%. You’ll get more on the screen that way. At 150%, I can view most of a full page in Word. Excel spreadsheets show 68 rows and 40 columns without scrolling. And a 32-inch 16:9 monitor will fit on the average desktop.
Working in Photoshop is easy, with plenty of room for toolbars on the sides and top and the image occupying about 75% of the screen. If you need color management, profiles are the best way to go. The PG32UQ’s sRGB mode is reasonably accurate but cannot calibrate to a higher standard. And the monitor’s native gamut is larger than both DCI-P3 and Adobe RGB.
I was anxious to try out the 155 Hz overclock feature in a few games, so I started with Doom Eternal. This title has a bug where it does not come up at the correct resolution when first loaded on a new monitor. This meant I had to perform multiple restarts to engage 155 Hz. Once I got it running, the PG32UQ’s motion processing looked the same as what I’ve observed from other premium 144 Hz monitors. My GeForce RTX 3090 had no problem hitting 144 and 155fps with HDR engaged, but I could not see a difference from the extra 11 Hz. I would not buy this monitor solely for that feature.
What I would buy it for is its stunning color. Doom Eternal is a great test of the color red, and here, I saw deep hues only visible on a handful of monitors. The PG32UQ’s HDR color is among the very best I’ve seen. And though it is extremely saturated, there is no loss of detail. All intensity levels have the same fine detail and texture. The extra dynamic range of HDR makes highlights pop and creates a completely believable 3D effect that you want to reach out and touch.
I also tried out ELMB sync, which required me first to turn off HDR. I didn’t see enough improvement in motion smoothness to make me want to give up HDR’s extra color and contrast. The difference in image impact was night and day. Though ELMB sync is a unique and useful feature, you’ll need to try it on a game-by-game basis. It’s not always better.
I also enjoyed killer HDR in Call of Duty WWII. This title focuses more on earth tones like green and brown, and they too looked more vibrant than I’ve seen on most monitors. The added contrast was plain to see and even though highlights were bright, the overall image was never harsh or fatiguing. The PG32UQ delivers HDR on par with the very best displays.
Though I have experienced and enjoyed faster monitors at the 240 Hz level and beyond, there’s something special about Ultra HD mixed with great HDR and a large color gamut. Though the differences between the PG32UQ and other premium UHD 144 Hz displays are small, they are there. Short of an OLED like the Aorus FI48U or FALD screen like the Asus PG32UQX, you will not find a better picture at any price.