Review: Asus PA32UCX Mini LED 4K HDR monitor

A big thanks to Asus Singapore for sending a loan unit for the ProArt PA32UCX monitor for this review.

A little intro

The PA32UCX is a reference monitor designed specifically for creatives who need a colour accurate display to work with HDR, Rec 2020 and Dolby Vision. This is a 10-bit IPS panel that supports, as advertised, up to 89% Rec. 2020, 99.5% Adobe RGB, 99% DCI-P3 and 100% sRGB. If you're not working with Rec 2020, you can get a colour accurate AdobeRGB monitor for less money.

The other selling point is this monitor uses Mini LED. Mini LED are much smaller LEDs. Because they are smaller, more of them can be fitted onto the display. As a result, this monitor can be really bright. Typical advertised brightness is 600 nits and I measured 639 nits with my calibrator. With HDR signal, the maximum possible brightness is 1,200 nits which is almost blinding. That's why this monitor can support HDR-10.

The official retail price for this monitor us US $3999 or SGD $4999. Here in Singapore, this monitor is not sold off the shelf and you have to order it through ASUS distributor is Avertek Enterprises Pte Ltd (Tel: (65) 6341 7839), and there's a waiting time of 6 to 8 weeks.

Do not mistake the PA32UCX with the PA32UC which is less than half of the price. The PA32UC also supports HDR but does not have all the HDR modes, Dolby Vision. Maximum brightness is 1,000 nits. And there are 384 vs 1,154 dimming zones on PA32UCX.

There's also another model, the PA32UCX-K which comes bundled with a X-rite i1 Display Pro.

By the way, to see the full list of features, specifications, just visit
https://www.asus.com/Monitors/ProArt-PA32UCX/

Things included

These are the things included:

  • Thunderboltâ„¢ 3 Cable
  • Power cord
  • DisplayPort cable
  • USB-C cable
  • USB-C to A cable
  • Quick start guide
  • HDMI cable
  • Warranty Card
  • Color pre-calibration report
  • Monitor hood

All the cables are sufficiently long which is great. The Thunderbolt 3 cable is 1.5m.

Build quality and design


This is a 32-inch display that supports 4K resolution. It's a huge monitor.

The design looks simple, functional. Bezels are thin. The pixels look like they are directly on the display's surface which is nice.


4K resolution on a 32-inch monitor is just nice. It makes everything look sharp. There's plenty of desktop space or resolution to work with, and the user interface elements are still sufficiently big and comfort to see.


The display has a matte surface with some anti-glare feature. When reflecting a strong light source, the lights will diffuse into a white haze. If you're looking at the display from the front, it looks fine unless you have light source behind you. The shading hood will minimise light from the top and sides.


It's 6cm thick on the side which is way thicker than other monitors. That's probably because of the fans that are built into the display. When the monitor is first powered on, the fans will spin and rev down to be silent. With typical usage, the fans will not turn on. The fans turn on when the monitor becomes hot, such as when it's playing HDR content.


This is a massive stand with a hole in the stand for cable management.


There's adjustability for height, tilt and swivel. Monitor can also be used in portrait mode.


The base is even bigger compared to my wireless keyboard without the numpad.


Design of the back is clean and simple. There's horizontal brushed texture across the whole back.


The ports included are

  • 2x Thunderbolt 3 USB-C x2 (one IN, one OUT)
  • 2x HDMI 2b
  • 1x DisplayPort 1.2
  • 3.5mm audio jack
  • 3x USB3.0 Type-A

There's also a power switch just above the 3.5mm audio jack on the left.


Note that HDMI 2b supports HDR but DisplayPort 1.2 does not. Goes without saying your computer needs HDMI 2b ports.


One of the TB3 ports has 60W power delivery which may not be enough to charge certain laptops that require more power.


This monitor can be VESA mounted. The dimension is 10 by 10cm.


These are the OSD buttons.


There's a toggle at the top for navigating through the menus. One thing I don't like is the power button at the bottom is designed too similarly to the other buttons. I've lost count at the number of times I had pressed the other buttons by accident instead of the power button.


A shading hood is provided but unfortunately the quality is not befitting of a monitor at this price range. The shading hood is not solid and feels flimsy.


Interior of the shading hood is dark gray rather than black. The material is also not the type that absorbs light. I mean it doesn't reflect light but it doesn't absorb it either compared to the BenQ shading hood that uses black velvet on the insides. In the photo above, you can see my mousepad is even darker compared to the shading hood.


These are the pins included to attach the shading hood to the monitor.


You're supposed to have the shading hood go between the pins.


Then push the pins into those small holes on the sides of the monitor.

Unfortunately, the pins don't really attach the shading hood tightly to the sides. The pins can hold the shading hood in place, but if you hit the shading hood, it will move, and if you hit it hard enough accidentally, the pin may come out with part of the shading hood.

Colour calibration


That's the X-Rite i1 Display Pro colour calibrator included with my review unit. Personally I prefer to use my Spyder5Pro.

Both the i1 Display Pro and Spyder5Pro colour calibrators are supported by the ASUS Colour Calibration software that you can download online.


You can choose the brightness, gamma, colour temperature, black levels and colour space before you calibrate.


There's also a 3x3 or 5x5 grid calibration to get uniform brightness.


With the Spyder5Pro, I measured 98% AdobeRGB, 100% sRGB, 92% NTSC and 88% P3.

OSD menus

There many options for cu

These are the different colour spaces to work with.


HDR and Dolby Vision are only available depending on the signal source.


Blue light filter.


Various colour attributes.


Sharpness


If you use the 3.5mm audio jack, you can set the volume here.


Picture in Picture and multi-source video input are only available when there are more video sources detected.


Input sources

Workflow


This monitor is way out of my league for the type of work I do which is to create for print, web and video. I don't edit HDR for a living so I really comment on just how good this monitor is with authority. But based on the specs, what I've seen so far are using it intensively for two weeks, it definitely performs, as in, the colours look great.

I connected the Apple TV which can output HDR and the monitor was able to detect it automatically. HDR content looks amazing although the contrast levels is definitely not as good compared to those from OLED displays.

So how does this compare to the Apple Pro Display XDR? I've not used that Apple displays so I can't say much. All I can say is this ASUS works well on both Mac and Windows.

Backlight bleed


Backlight bleeding is non existent. When the screen is black, it looks like the monitor is not on except for the mouse cursor and power light indicator which are visible.

Uniformity looks great.


The only visual flaw I discovered is when looking at the display from the side, you can see glow around areas of high contrast. In the photo above, you can see the glow from the palette. It seems like the LCD wasn't able to block out the light when you're viewing from an angle. This issue is more noticeable when working in a dark environment, eg dark room.

Having said that, if you're looking at the display straight on, the glow is not going to be noticeable because it's not there when viewing the display from the front.

Conclusion

The build quality is great (except the shading hood), colour accuracy is fantastic. Just to emphasize again, the main selling points for this monitor is the support for the various HDR modes, Dolby Vision and Rec 2020. So with the ASUS PA32UCX, you can now not only edit HDR content, but also view and check your work on the same display. High end reference monitors are significantly more expensive, so I guess you can consider this PA32UCX as an entry level model.

Only the designers and creators who work with those colour spaces will know whether this monitor is worth the money. All I can say is this monitor is way out of my league for the type of work I do, basically to create for web, print and online video.

Pros and cons at a glance
+ Build quality
+ 600/1200 nits brightness
+ No backlight bleed
+ Great colour accuracy
+ Up to 89% Rec.2020, 99.5% Adobe RGB, over 95% DCI-P3 and 100% sRGB
+ True 10-bit
+ 1152 zones local dimming
+ Lots of display controls via OSD
+ HDMI 2.0b x 3
+ 2x USB A, 1x USB-C 3 with PD
+ 2x Thunderbolt 3 USB-C, cable included, 60W
+ Calibration software included supports various calibrators
+ Full physical adjustability
+ Good matte anti-glare
+ Can check HDR
+ Good size and resolution
+ Fans included. Silent with normal use
+ 3 years warranty
- Glow from edges when display is viewed at an angle
- Flimsy shading hood
- Easy to press the wrong button when reaching for the power button
- DisplayPort 1.2 don't support HDR

Where to buy

If you're in Singapore, you can order the display from
Avertek Enterprises Pte Ltd
25 Kallang Avenue #03-03
Singapore 339416
Tel: (65) 6341 7839
Fax: (65) 63417739

If you're elsewhere, maybe Amazon. Direct affiliate links below:
Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.de | Amazon.fr | Amazon.it | Amazon.es

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