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NEC PA322UHD 32-Inch Ultra HD Monitor Review

We haven’t seen any new IGZO UHD panels for a while, but NEC surprised us with its PA322UHD. Priced at the level of a precision instrument, it promises accuracy with a factory calibration. Today we test it in our labs.

NEC PA322UHD, Ultra-Performance, Ultra HD

Obviously there aren’t legions of computer users willing to spend $3000 on a monitor, regardless of its quality or performance. But if you're familiar with the audiophile’s “one-percent rule”, then the PA322UHD makes perfect sense.

In a majority of electronics categories, it’s possible to purchase 99 percent of the best performance for a reasonable amount of money. You won’t get that 99 percent from the value-oriented products, but step up a bit and you'll find it. Our monitor reviews reflect this phenomenon pretty well. If you look at screens in the $500 to $1000 range, you’ll find great-performing monitors with excellent accuracy, contrast and features that come fairly close to the top professional models.

The big jump in price happens when you go after the final one percent. There are computer users (and audiophiles, myself included) who are willing to pay just about anything to achieve as much of that last percentage point as possible. It often comes at a premium of two or three times the median cost. In this review, for instance, comparisons between BenQ's BL3201PT and NEC's PA322UHD are inevitable. In terms of accuracy, contrast and build quality, they’re really close. The NEC has a slight edge, but for three times the money. What does that extra $2000 get you? Well, a wide gamut for starters, plus a precise calibration engine that is pretty much unrivaled. You also get a four-year warranty and a monitor that’s built like Fort Knox.

The closer comparison should be to Dell's UP3214Q. Until now it was the only wide-gamut option available in a 32-inch form factor. And though it’s a first-gen product, it still outperforms newer monitors (it even edges out this NEC in a few areas). Overall though, the PA322UHD delivers a tiny bit more contrast, better out-of-box grayscale accuracy and roughly the same level of color quality. It also provides greater flexibility, more precise calibration controls and build quality that’s second to none.

So if you’re after that last one percent and need the absolute best money can buy (at least for now), the NEC PA322UHD is the clear choice. We’ve been impressed with every NEC product we’ve reviewed so far, and this new jumbo Ultra HD screen is no exception. For its exceptional performance, solid engineering, physical quality and feature set, we’re giving it the Tom’s Hardware Recommended award.

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Christian Eberle is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware, covering Monitors and TVs.

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