Brightness And Contrast
To read about our monitor tests in-depth, please check out Display Testing Explained: How We Test Monitors and TVs. Brightness and Contrast testing is covered on page two.
Uncalibrated – Maximum Backlight Level
Today’s comparison group includes all previously-reviewed IGZO screens: Asus’ PQ321Q, Sharp’s PN-K321 and Dell’s UP3214Q. We also have NEC’s EA244UHD, one of the most accurate screens ever tested on Tom's Hardware. Rounding out the group is a value-oriented entry, BenQ’s BL3201PT, the least-expensive 32-inch UHD monitor available.
NEC rates the PA322UHD at 350cd/m2. It almost gets there in the High Bright mode. If you choose sRGB or Adobe RGB, the monitor tops out around 317cd/m2. Though it lands in fifth place, all of these monitors are plenty bright for any application.
We’re happy to see a low black level from an IGZO-based monitor. Previously, only Dell delivered decent contrast. NEC's effort results in a .3078 cd/m2 max value.
NEC's PA322UHD takes the crown as the highest-contrast Ultra HD screen we’ve tested. To achieve this, you have to forgo uniformity compensation. We’ll have more on that below.
Uncalibrated – Minimum Backlight Level
NEC typically specifies its monitors to a low brightness level at the minimum backlight setting. An image that dim is not terribly useful in our opinion. Fortunately, the brightness control is ticked in 1 cd/m2 steps, which match our measurements. For example, to set 50 cd/m2, move the slider to 50.
Of course, the minimum black level is extremely low as well. While this test result is impressive, it’s not really practical. It's a good thing the PA322UHD has great contrast at all backlight levels.
Minimum contrast takes a 12-percent hit when you turn the backlight down all the way. If you set it to our recommended level of 50 cd/m2, the contrast ratio rises to 1023:1.
After Calibration to 200cd/m2
This is where we see the effects of uniformity compensation. Turning it to the highest level raises black luminance by almost 25 percent. NEC still beats the Sharp and Asus screens, though.
Is uniformity compensation worth using? Check out our screen uniformity tests on page eight to find out.
With uniformity compensation turned off, we record an excellent calibrated contrast ratio of 1002:1. NEC's offering is edged out ever so slightly by Dell, though you'll never be able to tell the difference. Both screens offer superb dynamic range, even when they're calibrated.
ANSI Contrast Ratio
The PA322UHD is a seriously well-built monitor, and for $3000, it should be. We rarely see ANSI contrast ratios over 1000:1. Not surprisingly, then, NEC handily beats the Dell in this test. The only way to get better performance is with a VA-based panel.