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Sharp PN-K321 32-Inch Ultra HD Monitor Review: More 4K!

Our Verdict

The PN-K321 is certainly a well-built high-end product, but it comes at a higher price than the competition. Without a wide-gamut option, it won’t satisfy professional needs. If sRGB is sufficient for your needs then it represents an alternative to Asus' PQ321Q. They are pretty much the same monitor, so a decision between the two would likely come down to price.

For

  • Solid build and image quality, excellent calibrated grayscale performance, plenty of light output, excellent field uniformity

Against

  • Expensive, middling contrast and color gamut accuracy, average input lag and screen draw time, no wide-gamut option

Sharp PN-K321 32-Inch Ultra HD Monitor Review

Just over a year ago, the first Ultra HD desktop monitors appeared on the market. First Sharp, then Asus and Dell shipped models based on 32-inch IGZO panels. Like any bleeding-edge tech, prices were astronomical at around $3500. We reviewed the Asus and Dell versions last fall and, after a long wait, we finally got a Sharp PN-K321 in the lab.

We've already published several reviews and articles on the subject of 4K monitors both for gaming and productivity. It’s well-known that you need some serious 3D horsepower in your PC to drive an eight-megapixel display in any sort of first-person game. That topic was discussed in-depth in Gaming At 3840x2160: Is Your PC Ready For A 4K Display?

Now that the necessary graphics hardware costs a little less, 4K gaming is a bit more feasible. But the prices of Ultra HD monitors have not come down significantly, at least in the 32-inch size. We’re hoping this changes as more of the new 28-inch TN-based screens infiltrate the market. They’re selling for around $500 and make a compelling option for users seeking the highest possible pixel density.

Brand & ModelSharp PN-K321
Street Price$3100
Panel Type & BacklightIGZO / W-LED, edge array
Screen Size & Aspect Ratio31.5-in / 16:9
Max Resolution & Refresh3840x2160 @ 60Hz
Native Color Depth & Gamut10-bit / sRGB
Response Time (GTG)8ms
Brightness350cd/m2
Speakers2 x 2W
Video Inputs1 x DisplayPort, 2 x HDMI
Audio1 x 3.5mm in, 1 x headphone
Control1 x RS-232
USBnone
Media Card Readernone
Panel DimensionsWxHxD w/base29.5 x 19.5-25 x 10.1in743 x 491-630 x 255mm
Panel Thickness1.2in / 31mm
Bezel Width1in / 25mm
Weight28.7lbs / 13kg
WarrantyThree years

Sharp currently lists six IGZO panels in its parts catalog. All have a 31.5-inch viewable area with brightness ratings from 350 to 800cd/m2. They are native 10-bit panels capable of receiving and processing a 10-bit signal from an appropriate graphics board. Five of the six, like this one, have a native sRGB color gamut. The sixth, found in Dell’s UP3214Q, covers the wider Adobe RGB gamut.

Dell and Asus have cut their 32-inch UHD panel prices to around $2300, but Sharp still asks over $3000 for the PN-K321. Like its two high-end competitors, the signal handling is somewhat unique. In order to achieve a 60Hz refresh rate at 3840x2160, two scalers are used. They are linked by either DisplayPort 1.2 MST or dual HDMI connections.

The best solution is to use a DisplayPort 1.2 interface. Then you only need to enable MST support in the monitor’s menu, and you can utilize the 60Hz refresh rate at full native resolution. You can also achieve the same thing by using a video card with two HDMI outputs and enabling the HDMI Dual feature.

With a fairly new GeForce GTX 780 from EVGA, the DisplayPort MST input worked without issue on the first try. If you’re OK with 30Hz, you can use HDMI or DisplayPort for that configuration. If you do a lot of video editing, the PN-K321 will also accept a 24p signal, which is very handy for working with film content. If your requirements extend to the full DCI spec of 4096x2160, that's compatible. The monitor either scales the image or simply cuts off the extra width in its Dot-by-Dot mode.

Since Sharp actually makes the panel upon which the PN-K321 is based, we’re anxious to see if it outperforms the competition in our tests. Let’s take a look.