With the advent of technologies like G-Sync, FreeSync and fast refresh rates, gamers have plenty of reasons to upgrade to a new monitor. However, progress in the professional category has hit something of a plateau. After all, where do you go once perfectly accurate color is achieved? We’ve reviewed plenty of displays that can’t get any better when it comes to rendering precise color gamuts, white points and gamma curves.
The only two things left then are panel technology and resolution. IPS has pretty much become the de facto standard in every monitor category thanks to its superior viewing angles and more consistent color and uniformity over old-school TN. That tech still has a place in value-oriented products but as more choices become available, the price gap shrinks accordingly.
It is logical then that those shopping for a new pro screen will put Ultra HD atop their list of must-haves. We’ve seen a couple of 5K monitors from Dell and HP but the resolution sweet spot seems to be shifting from QHD to UHD thanks to many new product introductions.
Asus’ ProArt series provides several compelling choices for users needing factory-calibrated color and a rugged workaday tool that can get the job done reliably. Last December we looked at the PA328Q, which offers everything needed for color-critical applications except a wide-gamut option. Today we’re looking at the PA329Q, which adds Adobe RGB to the mix along with a bright 32-inch IPS panel and Ultra HD resolution.
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A quick check online reveals that the PA328Q is selling for just under $1,000 while the PA329Q comes in around $300 higher. That extra cash buys you an Adobe RGB gamut option and an internal lookup table that reaches a 14-bit depth rather than 12. Native panel bandwidth is still 10 bits. Of course you’ll need a 10-bit-capable video board to take full advantage of this feature. When editing the latest content however, you’ll have the ability to master for High Dynamic Range (HDR) and larger color gamuts like Rec.2020.
Our initial measurements reveal the PA329Q’s native gamut to be larger than Adobe RGB, particularly in the red primary. While we couldn’t create a full Rec.2020 spec through calibration, that extra red will get you closer than many other professional displays. DCI-P3 is also supported and since that gamut falls within the monitor’s native parameters, you can create a custom preset using Asus ProArt Calibration software which is included in the package.
Also in the box is a factory calibration data sheet for sRGB and Adobe RGB modes. These are fixed in the picture menu and provide an easy way for users to simply plug and play their desired color spec without further adjustment. Another notable feature is the four HDMI 2.0 inputs. Though this version has been standardized for nearly two years, it’s only just starting to appear in computer monitors. The extra bandwidth allows it to accept 3840x2160 signals at 60Hz.
With the addition of a great-looking Ultra HD IPS panel, the latest model in the ProArt line shows a lot of promise when compared to more expensive products like NEC’s PA322UHD and the 5K panels from Dell and HP. Can the PA329Q measure up to the competition? Let’s take a look.
Packaging, Physical Layout, And Accessories
The PA329Q’s carton is quite substantial and is well-qualified to protect its fragile and expensive contents. The base and upright are already assembled and need only to be snapped onto the panel to complete the package. Accessories include an IEC cord for the internal power supply plus USB 3.0, DisplayPort and HDMI cables. You also get an Asus-branded cable tie to keep things tidy behind the monitor. The factory calibration sheet is individual to each sample and shows data for both sRGB and Adobe RGB color gamuts along with gamma, grayscale and uniformity test results. A CD contains the user manual plus drivers and a calibration app.
Asus has upped the style quotient with a super-thin metal bezel that measures only 10mm. The bottom is accented with a gold trim strip and that finish is extended to the logo featured prominently around back. Controls are via push-buttons that are on the reverse side of the bottom right corner. Their positions are marked by small icons. Don’t worry if you can’t read them, large indicators appear on the screen when you press any key.
The anti-glare layer is fitted tightly to maximize clarity and results in a crisp image with no grain or softness. Reflections are virtually non-existent even in brightly-lit rooms and the screen has plenty of output to cope with sunny conditions.
The base and stand are solidly-built and feature a 5.25-inch height adjustment plus the pictured portrait mode. You also get 25 degrees rearward tilt, five degrees forward. and 60 degrees swivel in each direction. The hardware easily befits a monitor in this price category.
The panel is a bit thicker than most at nearly 2.75 inches. Its flat back makes wall mounting easy, however. In the side-view photo you can see three USB 3.0 ports plus a handy SD card reader. That slot also accepts MultiMediaCard and Memory Stick with an adapter.
The PA329Q’s backside is an example of ventilation overkill but we aren’t complaining. The internal parts are heavily shielded and through the upward-facing grill you can see two decent-sized speakers. They are driven by 3W amps so their volume is a little higher than most. The drivers present a reasonable frequency range given their small size, and distortion is minimal. To expose the 100mm VESA mount, simply unsnap the upright.
Asus has included four HDMI 2.0 inputs, which is a first in our experience. You also get two DisplayPorts (v1.2), one of which is the mini variety. Two more USB 3.0 downstream and a single upstream port plus a headphone jack round out the connection options.