Big and Brilliant: the ASUS ProArt PA32UC 32" 4K HDR Display

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By the numbers, the ASUS ProArt PA32UC 32" 4K HDR Monitor has some of the best specs you could ask for in a modern professional display. An Ultra HD Premium certification and factory pre-calibration ensure that, the second you plug it in, you are going to be looking at a brilliant image. The other benefit is its massive set of features, a benefit of ASUS's years of experience, which includes the ability to run quite precise calibrations as needed. Read on if you want to know how this display performs in the real world.

Spec Rundown

UHD 4K in a 32" IPS panel. That gives you a detailed 3840 x 2160 16:9 image at 138 ppi, which is perfect for both watching videos casually or doing design and image-editing work. The major advantage of this display over others is the use of full-array local dimming, with 384 LED zones and ASUS LED Driving technology, allowing it to reach a peak brightness of 1000 nits for true HDR presentation. Color gamut is very good with its 10-bit panel and 14-bit internal LUT able to display 1.07 billion colors, allowing for 100% sRGB, 99.5% Adobe RGB, 95% DCI-P3, and even 85% of Rec.2020. Gamma values from 1.8-2.6 are available, and it has a contrast ratio of 1000:1.


ASUS ProArt PA32UC 32" 16:9 Wide Gamut IPS Monitor

So, it has good color, good contrast, and good resolution. What more could you want? Good connectivity, for one. The PA32UC sports four HDMI v2.0b ports, one DisplayPort 1.2, and two Thunderbolt™ 3/USB-C ports (one input and one output). There is a USB hub with two USB 3.0 Type-A and one USB 3.0 Type-C port for extra connectivity, something quite useful if you are using a laptop with limited ports. There is even up to 60W of power delivery over the Thunderbolt™ 3/USB Type-C connector for keeping your device powered up and transmitting data all from a single cable. There are a couple of audio outputs, as well as two built-in 3W speakers for quick setup and playback.

To guarantee performance right out of the box, the monitor comes pre-calibrated to a ∆E of <2. It comes with the documentation to back this up. ASUS provides calibration software with the display, which works with the X-Rite i1Display Pro or Datacolor Spyder5. It has plenty of options and is very straightforward to use. You can choose between simple or advanced operation and each will provide different options, including uniformity compensation.


X-Rite i1Display Pro

There are plenty of other goodies available in this unit, including Eye Care, PbP and PiP, on-screen grids, flicker-free tech, and a good design. The bezels on the side and top are very thin, making it a nearly all-screen experience. The stand is sturdy and has plenty of movement, such as being able to go quickly from landscape to portrait orientation. The buttons are tucked away on the back-right side, accessible still by touch alone.

In Use

Plugging in the display is as simple as ever, especially when making use of the Thunderbolt™ 3 connection. Using a 2018 Mac mini, I took the one cable and plugged it in, getting access to the USB hub, as well. Choosing the Adobe RGB mode and checking it with my existing monitor indicated that it was very close right off that bat, if possibly a little blue. Opening the software, one very quickly can re-profile the display, and it saves the profiles to an integrated chip, meaning the calibrations remain with the display even if you move to a different computer. I simply re-profiled the Adobe RGB setting and found that, yes, the white point did need to be warmed up a little (measured at around 7500K, well off the 6500K target) but, otherwise, the colors were spot on. The same seemed to be the case for other available profiles, and switching between them was a breeze using the OSD.

I generally keep my monitors to relatively low brightness because my working conditions are quite dim, and it helps keep color as accurate as possible. I was curious about HDR performance, however. Getting HDR content is one of the tougher things still on computers because one needs a device that can output it. I went with a Blackmagic Design Mini Monitor 4K to output a 4K HDR image to see if it could handle it. I was very happy with it; if you wanted to use this display as more than just a computer monitor, its audio outputs could make it quite viable for gaming consoles or streaming devices. I would even consider using it as an HDR grading option, though I would want to run it through more intense calibrations—since it looks even better than my HDR TV at home—due to the fact that it has way more LED zones at 384.

More about the HDR: I set up DaVinci Resolve to monitor a 4K HDR signal using the PQ function and with HDR metadata being transferred over HDMI. The PA32UC quickly ID’d it and went into the proper HDR mode. Choosing a 1000-nit max (as the monitor is rated for) everything ran smoothly, only blowing out when I breached that figure. Compared to other relatively inexpensive HDR grading solutions, this is one of the most enjoyable because its size, color, and brightness are all very good for a desk-based option—though you should run it through a serious calibration if you want to use it in this way, as I would with any display being used in this manner. One thing it did not do is recognize an HLG signal coming directly from a camera. I wasn’t quite expecting it to, but it means to stick to HDR10 signals for this display.

Talking about brightness—uniformity was good by my eye. The very edges seemed to have a little dimming, but nothing that would interfere with your work or be distracting. ASUS claims uniformity of greater than 95% and, after calibration, I have no doubt about that claim because very little changed. I ran some other measurements of the display using third-party software and could confirm the gamut, and everything came back just as expected by ASUS’s specs.

During general use, the monitor is very nice. The size is just right for its resolution, though it can appear a bit sharp if you don’t take the time to tune your settings—I noticed many included profiles, such as Adobe RGB, come with sharpness set to 50. Naturally, this does make a lot of everyday content look better, but if you are doing professional graphics or image work, you should be calibrating and adjusting your displays to get them looking perfect for your working space. Plenty of settings are available via the OSD for adjusting color, with six-axis hue and saturation control, as well as gain and offset.

The buttons on the back and joystick are also quite easy to use. It’s easy to feel for them and make selections in the menu, and I appreciate the use of physical buttons. Some monitors now feature touch buttons instead of real buttons, and I do not care for them. Now, when I am working and looking at the screen, it looks great. It is something that is hard to complain about when it is sitting on your desk.

If you are looking for a beautiful display for everyday use, watching movies, and some design or image work, the PA32UC may be the right choice. For demanding professionals, this display is quite good, though you must take the time to customize it to your liking and perform needed calibrations, especially due to some standard settings the monitor applies to its built-in color modes. It’s also among the most affordable options with the serious features it has, such as 4K HDR support and Thunderbolt™ 3.

Any questions about the ProArt PA32UC’s capabilities, or a specific feature? Looking for a new display and need some additional guidance? Make sure to leave a comment below!

3 Comments

Thank you Shawn for this article! Did you use the Decklink Mini Monitor 4k with the Mac Mini 2018? I was wondering how you would connect the card to the Mac Mini?

Thank you very much for the information! Its good to hear that the Mini Monitor works this way.