Asus ProArt PA32U review
A versatile monitor that offers strong - if not perfect - colour accuracy all the way across its 32in panel
The word "Asus" usually conjures up images of sleek laptops, enthusiast motherboards and gaming machines, but over the past few years its ProArt monitors have carved out a designer niche. The name says it all: these are colour-accurate displays aimed at people who need realistic colours to make their living.
The PA32U is Asus' largest such monitor yet, and comes in a suitably hefty box. While one person can carry its weight, its sheer bulk means your resident health and safety rep would look on with a nervous quiver of the lip. Once out of the box, it's stunning. Not only does the two-tone silver and black finish make it look stylish, it's the best-made monitor we've used.
Indeed, if it's possible to fall in love with a base, then somebody better book the church. The pillar may look dainty, but it supports the hefty frame with ease. It's incredibly flexible too: you can pivot the screen in either direction, while the screen rotates smoothly from side to side by up to 60, making it easy to share your work with colleagues. It's height adjustable by up to 130mm, with a tilt of up to 5 backwards and 23 forwards.
The ProArt PA32U comes pre-tuned for sRGB and Adobe RGB profiles, with two A4 print-outs in the box that show how your display performed in the calibration tests. Asus won't release a ProArt monitor unless it has suitably strong colour accuracy and uniformity: below 2 Delta E for accuracy, and below 4 for uniformity. You can also calibrate it yourself, and Asus includes an x-rite i1 Display Pro in the box, along with a CD to load its own Asus ProArt Calibration software. However, Eizo's 27in ColorEdge CG277 goes one better by having a colorimeter built into the bezel, which automatically calibrates the screen.
It should be no surprise that the ProArt performed strongly when we put it through our range of colour accuracy tests. It averaged 1.04 Delta E for colour accuracy in sRGB mode, although this rose to 1.87 in Adobe RGB. We also checked for variations in brightness and contrast across the screen, and in the main its results were encouraging: using a 5x5 grid, it proved incredibly consistent in the central 3x3 squares with the only real cause for concern being a brightness variance of around 8% in the corners.
Its other vital stats are equally impressive. According to our x-rite i1 Display Pro colorimeter, it covers 99.7% of the sRGB colour gamut, 97.5% of Adobe RGB and 94.3% of DCI-P3. Its gamma tracking proved strong too. Whether you're matching to print or intending to output video, you can have confidence this monitor will be accurate.
In sRGB mode, it isn't the brightest screen around at 290cd/m2, but we found it most comfortable at around 150cd/m2 in an office. Asus provides a number of presets with the monitor, but you may well decide you want to create your own. There are two user modes to choose from, or you can flick to sRGB, Adobe RGB, Rec.2020, DCI-P3 and HDR mode using the OSD controls.
Note that you won't want to fiddle with these controls much. They're all selected via a mini joystick on the rear of the screen, on the right-hand side. Scrolling through the options using this is fine: the problem is selecting which of the settings you want to control, because each are selected by a button that's also positioned on the rear of the screen.
This minor aggravation aside, the four different blue light settings will be a welcome inclusion for anyone who gazes at screens all day, while an alignment grid (complete with presets for A4 and B5, plus a ruler overlay) could come in handy for print designers.
Frankly, though, this screen is overkill for print due to its sheer size. With a 3,840 x 2,160 resolution across that 32in diagonal, it delivers a phenomenal amount of detail that's better suited to photographers and video editors. With Ultra HD Premium certification, it's well suited to anyone who wants to create HDR images and videos as well. That's in part due to 384 LED zones, which allow it to hit over 1,000cd/m2 brightness in certain situations.
Asus also covers every major connection, with two Thunderbolt 3 ports that can deliver up to 60W of power to connected devices. Add a DisplayPort, four HDMI inputs and a USB hub (with two Type-A ports and one Type-C), plus a respectable pair of 3W speakers, and in terms of features this monitor lacks for nothing. There's even Picture-in-Picture support, via Asus bundled software.
Against it? First, we can't ignore the price; you can buy the 27in Eizo ColorEdge CG277 for around 1,300. Second, its performance in colour-accuracy tests isn't as strong as the best Eizo and NEC screens, with the CG277 once again taking top honours. But then again the Eizo is smaller, only has a 2,560 x 1,440 resolution, and can't hold a candle to the Asus' range of inputs. And while you can buy the superb 32in Eizo CG318-4K, it will cost you close to 4,000.
In that context, the Asus starts to look like a bargain. For editing 4K, HDR material, this is the most affordable option going.
This monster 32in monitor is feature-packed, with a super-high resolution 4K panel and HDR support making it perfect for video editing. The price may seem steep, but for what you're getting, it's a downright bargain.
32in 3,840 x 2,160 IPS panel 120Hz 5ms response time DisplayPort 1.2 4 x HDMI 2 2 x Thunderbolt 3 USB-C USB hub (2 x USB 3, USB-C) Hardware calibration PiP/PbP 2 x 3W speakers -5° to 23° tilt Pivot 130mm height adjustment 727 x 229 x 470-600mm (WDH) 11.4kg 1yr RTB warranty
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