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MSI Optix MAG321CURV 32-Inch 4K Gaming Monitor Review: Budget-Friendly

No-frills 4K gaming monitor with a curve

MSI Optix MAG321CURV
(Image: © MSI)

To read about our monitor tests in-depth, check out Display Testing Explained: How We Test Monitors and TVs. We cover brightness and contrast testing on page 2.

Uncalibrated – Maximum Backlight Level 

The MAG321CURV is somewhat unique in its feature set, so comparisons are a challenge. In price, the Asus TUF Gaming VG289Q comes closest with its 4K resolution and HDR support. Other screens in the 30-35-inch range are the Dell SG3220DGF, BenQ EW3280U, Viotek GNV34DBE and AOC CU34G2X. All of the monitors in the comparison group are VA, except for the BenQ, which uses an IPS panel. 

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MSI Optix MAG321CURV

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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MSI Optix MAG321CURV

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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MSI Optix MAG321CURV

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

None of the monitors here are particularly bright in SDR mode. Still, 300 nits brightness is enough for any indoor environment, though users would be wise to avoid the sunniest windows. The MAG321CURV delivered decent black levels with a third-place finish, and its static contrast is good enough for a second-place score of 2,607.3:1. It’s the best of the rest after the Dell, which is well ahead of the sample group at over 3,780:1. Obviously, the IPS panels, though good for their category, lag behind the VA displays in our contrast test. 

After Calibration to 200 nits 

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MSI Optix MAG321CURV

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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MSI Optix MAG321CURV

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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MSI Optix MAG321CURV

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Calibration (see our recommended setting) costs the MAG321CURV a little contrast (2,607:1 versus 2,120:1), but the improvement in grayscale accuracy is worth the sacrifice. Black levels were still low at just 0.0954 nit. Our sample showed some slight uniformity issues, which cost it in the ANSI test. Yes, 1689.9:1 is still a respectable score, but the Dell and Viotek screens kept their intra-image contrast closer to 3,000:1.

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Christian Eberle is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He's a veteran reviewer of A/V equipment, specializing in monitors.