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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)

The MAG321CURV is an HDR monitor, meaning it will accept HDR10 signals and apply the proper tone map. It switches automatically and grays out all other picture options besides Color Temperature. 

HDR Brightness and Contrast

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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)

We measured max HDR brightness after calibration (see page 1 for our recommended settings). That means some light is lost from choosing User in Color Temperature. You could get a little more brightness -- but not more contrast -- if you use the Normal preset. However, using the Normal Color Temperature made the white point a little blue, flattening the image. The best picture came from our adjusted settings even though the max brightness is relatively low. 

As you can see, black levels and static contrast are mid-pack. Without a dynamic contrast feature like the Dell S3220DGF has, the rest of the monitors in our sample group can only offer middling HDR performance. Ultimately, the MAG321CURV isn’t the best HDR monitor. Its tone mapping and color are accurate, but the extra impact over an SDR monitor isn’t there. 

Grayscale, EOTF and Color

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MSI Optix MAG321CURV

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

You can access color temp options when the MAG321CURV is in HDR mode, but the settings will apply to SDR signals too. This isn’t a problem because the accurate grayscale tracking we measured earlier carries over for HDR content. There were no visible errors, and the EOTF luminance curve is almost perfect.

As an sRGB monitor, the MAG321CURV is under-saturated when measured against the DCI-P3 gamut, but its sRGB coverage is accurate. Saturation tracking is linear, which means MAG321CURV renders detail well and without significant hue errors.

MORE: Best Gaming Monitors

MORE: How We Test Monitors

MORE: All Monitor Content

  • burniemac
    The Philips 328E1CA is a curved 4K 32" VA monitor with adaptive-sync and it's going for $350 on amazon right now. Just a heads up for those interested in this form factor.
    Reply
  • cknobman
    Honestly surprised they would consider this a gaming monitor with a max 60hz refresh and no adaptive sync.
    Reply
  • Farkle333
    cknobman said:
    Honestly surprised they would consider this a gaming monitor with a max 60hz refresh and no adaptive sync.
    That was my first thought too....60hz ? why would you build a monitor with 1ms response time at 60hz makes no sense at least make it 75 is doable....First thing gamers look at are those 2 numbers.
    Reply
  • saunupe1911
    cknobman said:
    Honestly surprised they would consider this a gaming monitor with a max 60hz refresh and no adaptive sync.

    Yep! Any monitor or even TV for that matter that doesn't have adaptive sync isn't worth the purchase in 2020 unless you positively won't game on it.
    Reply
  • Leo-a-unique-username
    No point in this review :( 60Hz is not even considerable in 2020 unless it is dirt-cheap
    Reply
  • aarondr
    I've had this monitor for almost a year now. I don't trust the USB hub, which doesn't work with the USB-C port making it practically useless. The USB-C's power is weaksauce (10w) for anything but a tablet, and the OSD software works about 10% of the time. That said, don't be hard on it for lacking a higher refresh rate. 4k isn't there yet - only the most expensive monitors offer >60hz at 4k.

    I owned the Samsung UR590C which is the same panel this monitor is based on. The MSI monitor is cheaper, the stand is ridiculously better, port selection is better, and USB-C at least brings another DisplayPort input (to get 10-bit color). A back panel that has relatively unobtrusive light feature and is attractive is also a win over the UR590C which looks and feels cheap. You also get VESA mount compatibility with this display.

    I will say the lack of adaptive sync hurts. I expected it considering there are still marketing sites that list it as a feature for this panel (and was hinted at computex 2019 I think). Obviously I was hoping a firmware update might bring it, but I think it was just mis-marketed or the firmware wasn't ready at ship time. I had hope, as Samsung has brought freesync to other monitors, but the UR590C never got it, so I doubt this monitor ever will. I didn't get it for HDR (as it really does suck on this monitor - just a checkbox feature).

    There are still quite a few (although it's getting smaller) games out there locked at 16:9 and 60Hz where this monitor shines. Dark Souls, and StarCraft2 are 2 games I play frequently that are locked with these limitations - so this monitor is great for those - especially since framerate isn't a problem, even at 4k. The curve makes for a sublime experience - and I'm happy with my purchase (after selling the UR590C and grabbing this at $350).

    I would say the Phillips posted by @burniemac seems to be the real winner here, as it obviously is the same panel (I don't think anyone but Samsung is churning out 1500R 4K 32" panels) with adaptive sync, speakers, and lacks only the USB-C input and arguably useless hub. It's just a shame that MSI couldn't get adaptive sync in their variant, as it would make it better in my opinion if only for the port selection and excellent stand.
    If you're considering a 32" 4k curved monitor and you're locked (either due to console or game support) to 16:9, get one of these around $350 - you won't regret it. 4k at 32" is usable in Windows at 100% scaling - which is awesome. Otherwise, 27" 144hz adaptive sync monitors are better for your general gamer IMHO. Just be careful, I have a 27" 144hz, and hard to use despite being a better 'all around' monitor after getting used to the 32". Bigger is better in general use.
    Reply