Originally published 8 January 2021 – now updated 2 April 2021
The race seems to be on to be the first to market with a new display option that is attracting a lot of interest from gamers. We have seen over the last couple of years the combination of super-high 3840 x 2160 (“4K”) resolutions and high 120 – 144Hz refresh rate offered in the 27″ sized monitor market, allowing people to have the best of both Worlds. With super-sharp and crisp images and a high refresh rate for smooth gaming and excellent motion clarity.
The issue with these initial 27″ models is that the 4K resolution is really too big for a screen that size, and by the time you’ve factored in the need for OS scaling to make text a sensible size, you end up with the same desktop area as a 1440p model, albeit with some small improvements in picture quality and sharpness. Buyers have been crying out since for a larger format screen with these same specs, with something in the region of 32″ expected to be the sweet spot. They will likely still need to be used with scaling, perhaps at a lower level to leave you with more desktop space, but it’s likely that the benefits of 4K resolution are more pronounced than on a smaller 27″ screen.
So far, several monitors have been announced with this hotly anticipated combination, but not have appeared to buy yet. This news piece will take a look at the models announced so far along with what we know at the moment about release dates.
Display Panel Plans
We should start perhaps by looking at the latest information we have about the actual display panels that will be needed for these monitors. By considering the panel roadmaps and schedules, we can draw some conclusions about when the monitors might appear, or if their announced release dates seem realistic. We need to keep in mind that with the global COVID-19 pandemic these production dates could well be impacted and delayed, and shipping and availability could be limited.
According to the latest display panel roadmaps we published back in October 2020 each manufacturer had the below timelines for mass production of their 31.5 – 32″ panels with 4K resolution and high refresh rate. All these panels are IPS-type technology by the way, that is the current focus of manufacturers in this space:
AUO – 32″ sized panels. Dec 2020 for their edge-lit “standard” backlight option, and Oct 2020 for their top-end 1152 zone Mini LED backlight version. All the 32″ sized monitors discussed below should be based on these panels from AUO.
BOE – 31.5″ sized panel. Jan 2021 for their standard backlit panel.
Innolux – We haven’t had an update on Innolux’s panel plans since Dec 2019 and so a lot of the information we had back then about timelines is likely to be impacted by COVID delays. We do know that they are producing a 31.5″ sized panel with a standard backlight type. This was originally expected to go in to production in June 2020 but we are not sure if this has slipped or not.
There are other similar panels with advanced multi-zone HDR backlights (a 10,000 zone Mini LED and a >2M ‘MegaZone’ option) are in the works although their original production dates have certainly slipped and it’s not clear when these might arrive now. They were originally listed as Q3 and Q2 2020 respectively, but that was back in Dec 2019’s update. All currently announced 31.5″ sized panels should be based on the standard backlit panel mentioned above from Innolux or perhaps more recently from BOE.
LG.Display – 31.5″ sized panel. Not until Q4 2021. We wouldn’t expect any monitors to be planned using this panel until much later in the year as a result.
So based on the information we have at the moment it seems like the 32″ AUO MiniLED backlight version will have gone in to mass production first, so we would probably expect to see those high-end and very expensive models appear on the market first, likely during Q1. The other standard backlit panel should also be in production around now, so it’s likely to be maybe early Q2 before we see those screens released we expect. BOE’s 31.5″ panel should also be going in to production this month (Jan 2021), so the 31.5″ models will likely appear slightly later in Q2 it seems.
A selection of displays have been announced so far in this 31.5 – 32″ size bracket with 4K resolution and high refresh rate. Here are some of the models we know about so far along with any detail we have on their expected release date (in alphabetical order):
Acer Predator XB323QK NV with 31.5″ 4K IPS Panel and 144Hz Refresh Rate – according to the latest Acer press release on 7/1/21, the monitor will be available in North America in May 2021 starting at USD $1,199.99; in EMEA in May 2021 starting at EUR 1,199.00. That’s creeping up fast and we have not seen any more official information about it yet or even a spec page.
Acer Predator X32 with 32″ IPS Panel, 4K Resolution, 144Hz, G-sync Ultimate and HDR 1400 – This model uses the AUO Mini LED backlight panel discussed above. No official release date, but we expect H1 2021 and likely slightly behind the Asus ROG Swift PG32UQX listed below.
Asus ProArt PA32UCG with 32″ 4K IPS Panel, 120Hz VRR, 1152 zone MiniLED backlight and HDR 1400 – this is not a gamer-oriented screen but nevertheless it offers a 32″ panel with 4K resolution and 120Hz refresh rate. It’s going to be super expensive though no doubt. We don’t have any information on pricing or availability yet.
Asus ROG Swift PG32UQ with 32″ IPS Panel, 4K, 144Hz and HDMI 2.1 – no confirmation yet on release date, it was only announced at CES 2021 on 12th Jan – we are working to get an early sample from Asus but with COVID and various shipping delays this is taking a little longer than normal. We think given we are in April now, this is probably going to appear on the market in Q2.
Asus ROG Swift PG32UQX with 32″ IPS Panel, 4K Resolution, 144Hz, G-sync Ultimate and HDR 1400 – This model uses the AUO Mini LED backlight panel discussed above. No official release date but we are expecting Q2 2021 given where we are now in the year. We are working to get an early sample from Asus but with COVID and various shipping delays this is taking a lot longer than normal.
Gigabyte Aorus FI32U Expected with 31.5″ IPS Panel, 4K and 144Hz Refresh Rate – there’s no official information about this but early rumours are that this will be another 31.5″ 4K 144Hz model. No word on release date or pricing yet.
Philips 329M1RV with 32″ IPS Panel, 4K Resolution and 144Hz Refresh Rate Details Emerge – release date unknown but considering the panel used it’s likely to be Q2 we believe.
Philips Momentum 328M1R for Console Gaming, with HDMI 2.1 Now Included – 31.5″ in size with 120Hz. Expected according to Philips in “early 2021”, likely to be Q2 given the panel used.
ViewSonic Elite XG320U with 4K Resolution, 144Hz Refresh Rate and HDMI 2.1 Included – 32″ in size. This was originally listed to be available worldwide in Q1 2021 but their press release page was later edited (around April) to suggest Q3 2021 instead.