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Introduction

Asus' Republic of Gamers (ROG) Swift brand has been extremely popular in the monitor market over the last few years and we have their new PG329Q display with us now for review. This is a 32" sized screen offering a 2560 x 1440 Quad HD resolution that is typically seen in the 27" market, but now being stretched a little to fill a larger format display. The larger screen can provide some additional benefits for gaming and multimedia in terms of immersion and usage of the screen from a more distant viewing position, for those who like to game from a little further back. Thee PG329Q is based on an IPS-type panel and offers a 165Hz native refresh rate, boosted a little to 175Hz via an overclocking feature as well. This high refresh rate is supported by VESA adaptive-sync for variable refresh rates (VRR) from compatible NVIDIA and AMD systems. It has also been certified under NVIDIA's 'G-sync Compatible' scheme to give some reassurance around performance for VRR.

Other interesting specs and features include an advertised 1ms G2G response time, although this probably needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. Asus do however promote 'variable overdrive' as a feature of this screen, something that is usually reserved for Native G-sync hardware screens where this technology is integrated in to the G-sync module. It's very rare for this to be implemented by manufacturers on normal adaptive-sync screens (i.e. those without the G-sync module) and so it is interesting to see Asus invest time and money to include it here on the PG329Q. Variable overdrive should help dynamically control the response times and overdrive application at different refresh rates to ensure overshoot is controlled properly and performance is optimised across the refresh rate range, especially when this will vary when using VRR (G-sync and FreeSync).

Asus have also included their 'ELMB-sync' technology (Extreme Low Motion Blur) which is a strobing blur reduction backlight that many gamers like for its improved motion clarity. Most screens will only allow you to use such technologies at a fixed refresh rate but Asus' ELMB-sync allows you to use it at the same time as G-sync and FreeSync (hence the "sync" in the ELMB-sync name), meaning you can get the best of both worlds. The screen also carries the DisplayHDR 600 certification for HDR content meaning some basic backlight local dimming is available, along with a wide colour gamut (particularly wide here in fact) and 10-bit colour depth. All in all it offers a decent set of features so let's see how it performs.


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Specifications and Features

The following table gives detailed information about the specs of the screen as advertised:

Monitor Specifications

Size

32"

Panel Coating

Light AG coating

Aspect Ratio

16:9 flat

Interfaces

1x DisplayPort 1.2
2x HDMI 2.0
2x USB 3.0
1x Headphone output

Resolution

2560 x 1440 (QHD)

Pixel Pitch

0.2768 mm

Design colour

Black stand, edges and rear enclosure

Response Time

1ms G2G

Ergonomics

Tilt, height, swivel (no rotate)

Static Contrast Ratio

1000:1

Dynamic Contrast Ratio

n/a

VESA Compatible

Yes 100 x 100 mm

Brightness

600 cd/m2 max

Accessories

Power cable and adapter, DisplayPort, HDMI and USB cables

Viewing Angles

178 / 178

Panel Technology

AU Optronics AHVA (IPS-type)

Weight

with stand: 9.5 Kg

Backlight Technology

KSF LED

Physical Dimensions (WxHxD)

728.18 x (451.83 ~ 551.83) x 292.56mm

Colour Depth

1.07b (10-bit)

Refresh Rate

165Hz
175Hz via overclock mode
50 - 165/175Hz VRR range + LFC

Special Features

Adaptive-sync for VRR from AMD FreeSync and NVIDIA G-sync systems (NVIDIA 'G-sync Compatible' certified), factory calibration, ELMB-sync, DisplayHDR 600, Aura Sync RGB lighting, PiP and PbP modes

Colour Gamut

Wide gamut
98% DCI-P3 and 160% sRGB quoted

The PG329Q offers a reasonable range of connectivity with 1x DisplayPort 1.2 and 2 x HDMI 2.0 offered for video connections. There is no HDMI 2.1 offered, and that has yet to be used on any available desktop monitor. These are located on the back of the screen along with a headphone output and 2x USB downstream ports. For PC connectivity the DisplayPort is the most common option and required to support the maximum resolution and refresh rate of the screen, with HDMI being available then for connecting external games consoles or Blu-ray players potentially. The screen has an external power supply and the screen also comes packaged with the power cable and adapter that you need.

Below is a summary of the features and connections of the screen.

Feature

Yes / No

Feature

Yes / No

Tilt adjust

DVI

Height adjust

HDMI

Swivel adjust

USB type-C

Rotate adjust

DisplayPort

VESA compliant

Component

USB 2.0 Ports

Audio connection

USB 3.0 Ports

HDCP Support

Card Reader

Integrated Speakers

Ambient Light Sensor

PiP / PbP

Human Motion Sensor

Blur Reduction Mode

Touch Screen

NVIDIA G-Sync (native)

Factory calibration

AMD FreeSync

Hardware calibration

G-sync Compatible Certified

Uniformity correction

HDR 600 level or above



Design and Ergonomics

      
Above: front views of the screen, click for larger versions

The PG329Q comes in an all-black design and has a 3-side borderless panel. There is a thin 2mm black plastic edge along the top and sides, with an additional 7mm black panel border before the image starts (total edge is 9mm). Along the bottom edge is a thicker matte black plastic bezel measuring ~19mm thickness, with a thin 1.5mm black panel border before the image starts (total edge approx 20.5mm). There is a shiny silver ROG logo in the middle of the bottom bezel but no other labels or markings.

  
Above: rear views of the screen. Click for larger versions

The back of the screen is encased in a matte black plastic in keeping with other recently Asus ROG screens. The stand connects in the middle and can be removed for VESA mounting if you'd prefer. You can also notice the built in cable tidy hole on the back of the stand here. There is a familiar Asus ROG logo RGB lighting feature on the back of the screen here too which has a wide range of colour options and effects you can configure via the OSD menu or provided OSD control software. This can also be configured for Aura Sync with other compatible RGB devices. The stand has a wide and sturdy black metal foot which provides a strong base for the large screen. The OSD control joystick and buttons are located on the back left hand side (as viewed from behind) as you can see above.


Above: side view of the screen. Click for larger version

The screen has a fairly thick stand as shown above but it is also very stable. The stand offers tilt, height and swivel adjustments but no rotation option.

Tilt adjustment is smooth and fairly easy to operate and provides a wide adjustment range. Height adjustment is also very smooth and easy to move, but provides a fairly limited range. At the lowest adjustment the bottom edge of the screen sits very low, being 20mm above the desk edge. At maximum extension it is only 120mm and so a total 100mm adjustment range is provided here as advertised. This doesn't give you much flexibility to position the screen at a higher viewing position and so we found we had the screen at maximum height all the time with no further room to manoeuvre. This might be a little restrictive if you like a high viewing position or are particularly tall. Side to side swivel is smooth and fairly easy to move as well. The screen remains very stable when making adjustments with no wobble at all thanks to the sturdy and strong stand design.

A summary of the ergonomic adjustments are shown below:

Function

Range

Smoothness

Ease of Use

Tilt

Yes

Smooth

Fairly easy

Height

100mm

Smooth

Easy

Swivel

Yes

Smooth

Fairly easy

Rotate

No

-

-

Overall

Good adjustment range offered overall although height range is a little restrictive at the top end. Strong and stable stand with no wobble.

The materials were of a good standard and the build quality felt good. The whole screen remained cool even during prolonged use.

The back of the screen features all the connections as shown above. These are a bit tricky to get to given the restricted height adjustment of the stand so you won't want to be unplugging and re-plugging cables if you can help it.

The OSD is controlled primarily via a joystick control on the back right hand side of the screen (when viewed from the front). There are also a couple of pressable buttons that give quick access to the GamePlus (crosshair, timer etc) and GameVisual (preset modes) menus. These can also be configured to give quick access to other controls via the main menu. The OSD menu itself is split in to 8 sections and each contains a decent range of options and settings. Navigation was quick, easy and intuitive thanks to the joystick.



Panel and Backlighting

Panel

Backlight

Panel Manufacturer

AU Optronics

Backlighting Type

KSF LED

Panel Technology

AHVA (IPS-type)

Colour space

Wide gamut

Panel Part

M320DAN02.2

sRGB coverage spec

160% listed
(157.4% measured)

Screen Coating

Light anti-glare

DCI-P3 spec

98% listed
(116.0% measured)

Colour Palette

1.07 billion

Adobe RGB coverage spec

not listed

Colour depth

10-bit
(limited at some refresh rates)

Flicker free verified

It should be noted that while the screen supports a 10-bit colour depth, this is only actually available at some refresh rates due to the limitations of the DisplayPort 1.2 interface used. You can select 10-bit colour depth from your graphics card for refresh rates up to and including 120Hz, although that would need to be created as a custom resolution as well. Natively only the 60Hz refresh rate supports 10-bit. For refresh rates of 144Hz and above you are restricted to 8-bit colour depth.


Confirmation of flicker free backlight operation, shown above at calibrated brightness level. Horizontal scale = 5ms



Brightness and Contrast

This section tests the full range of luminance (the brightness of the screen) possible from the backlight, while changing the monitors brightness setting in the OSD menu. This allows us to measure the maximum and minimum adjustment ranges, as well as identify the recommended setting to reach a target of 120 cd/m2 for comfortable day to day use in normal lighting conditions. Some users have specific requirements for a very bright display, while others like a much darker display for night time viewing or in low ambient light conditions. At each brightness level we also measure the contrast ratio produced by the screen when comparing a small white sample vs. a black sample (not unrealistic full screen white vs. full screen black tests). The contrast ratio should remain stable across the adjustment range so we also check that.

Graphics card settings were left at default with no ICC profile or calibration active. Tests were made using an X-rite i1 Display Pro Plus colorimeter. It should be noted that we used the BasICColor calibration software here to record these measurements, and so luminance at default settings may vary a little from the LaCie Blue Eye Pro report you will see in other sections of the review.

OSD Brightness

Luminance
(cd/m2)

Black Point (cd/m2)

Contrast Ratio
( x:1)

100

346.01

0.37

935

90

318.55

0.34

937

80

292.21

0.31

943

70

264.62

0.29

912

60

237.52

0.26

914

50

211.24

0.23

918

40

180.56

0.19

950

30

152.99

0.16

956

20

126.11

0.14

901

10

97.22

0.10

972

0

67.09

0.07

958

 

Total Luminance Adjustment Range (cd/m2)

278.92

Brightness OSD setting controls backlight

Total Black Point Adjustment Range (cd/m2)

0.30

Average Static Contrast Ratio

936:1

PWM Free

Recommended OSD setting for 120 cd/m2

18

At the full brightness setting in the OSD the maximum luminance reached was a high 346 cd/m2 in SDR mode for which the manufacturer does not quote a spec. There was a decent 279 cd/m2 adjustment range in total, so at the minimum setting you could reach down to a luminance of 67 cd/m2. This was a decent adjustment at the lower end, and should allow you a low luminance option for working in darkened room conditions with low ambient light. A setting of 18 in the OSD menu is needed to return you a luminance as close to 120 cd/m2 as possible at default settings. Backlight dimming is achieved with a flicker free backlight (no need for PWM) which should avoid eye strain and headaches that PWM screens often cause.

   

We have plotted the luminance trend on the graph above. The screen behaves as it should in this regard, with a reduction in the luminance output of the screen controlled by the reduction in the OSD brightness setting. This is a linear relationship. The average contrast ratio of the screen was measured at 936:1 out of the box which was decent for an IPS-type panel and fairly close to the 1000:1 specification, just a little low.



Testing Methodology

 

An important thing to consider for most users is how a screen will perform out of the box and with some basic manual adjustments. Since most users won't have access to hardware colorimeter tools, it is important to understand how the screen is going to perform in terms of colour accuracy for the average user.

We restored our graphics card to default settings and disabled any previously active ICC profiles and gamma corrections. The screen was tested at default factory settings using our new X-rite i1 Pro 2 Spectrophotometer combined with LaCie's Blue Eye Pro software suite. An X-rite i1 Display Pro Plus colorimeter was also used to verify the black point and contrast ratio since the i1 Pro 2 spectrophotometer is less reliable at the darker end.

Targets for these tests are as follows:

  • CIE Diagram - confirms the colour space covered by the monitors backlighting in a 2D view, with the black triangle representing the displays gamut, and other reference colour spaces shown for comparison. Usually shown as a comparison against the common sRGB space

  • Colour space coverage volumes - we also measure using a piece of software called ChromaPure the colour space (gamut) volumes produced by the backlight in comparison to the sRGB, DCI-P3 and Rec.2020 colour spaces. sRGB is the most commonly used colour space so it is important to have a decent coverage from the screen here. If the colour space is >100% sRGB then the screen can produce a wider colour gamut, often reaching further in to the wider gamut DCI-P3 (commonly used for HDR) and Rec.2020 reference spaces.

  • Gamma - we aim for 2.2 which is the default for computer monitors

  • Colour temperature / white point - we aim for 6500k which is the temperature of daylight

  • Luminance - we aim for 120 cd/m2, which is the recommended luminance for LCD monitors in normal lighting conditions

  • Black depth - we aim for as low as possible to maximise shadow detail and to offer us the best contrast ratio

  • Contrast ratio (static) - we aim for as high as possible. Any dynamic contrast ratio controls are turned off here if present

  • dE average / maximum - we aim for as low as possible. If DeltaE >3, the color displayed is significantly different from the theoretical one, meaning that the difference will be perceptible to the viewer. If DeltaE <2, LaCie considers the calibration a success; there remains a slight difference, but it is barely undetectable. If DeltaE < 1, the color fidelity is excellent.



Default Performance and Setup

Default settings of the screen were as follows:

Asus ROG Swift PG329Q
Default Settings

 

 


Monitor OSD Settings

 

Preset mode

Racing mode

Brightness

90

Contrast

80

Color Temp

User Mode

Gamma

2.2

RGB

100, 100, 100

Luminance Measurements

 

luminance (cd/m2)

322

Black Point (cd/m2)

0.34

Contrast Ratio

937:1

Colour Space Measurements

 

sRGB coverage

157.4%

DCI-P3 coverage

116.0%

Rec.2020 coverage

83.3%


 

Initially out of the box the screen was set in the 'Racing mode' preset mode. The display was set with a high 90% brightness which was far too bright for general use and as with most displays will need to be turned down. Colours looked very vivid and saturated thanks to the wide gamut backlight but the colour balance and temperature felt good. We went ahead and measured the default state with the i1 Pro 2.

The CIE diagram on the left of the image confirms that the monitors colour gamut (black triangle) extends a very significant way beyond the sRGB reference space (orange triangle), mostly in green shades. We measured using ChromaPure software a massive 157.4% sRGB gamut volume coverage which corresponds to 116.0% of the DCI-P3 reference and 83.3% of the Rec.2020 reference. This is even more than the specified 98% DCI-P3 coverage. There is also an sRGB emulation mode available on this screen which we will test in a moment which should provide a way to reduce the colour gamut somewhat if you wanted to specifically work with smaller standard gamut content or prevent some of the saturated appearance. The wider gamut here in the default mode with more vivid colours is nice for gaming and multimedia which is the screen's primary target usage.

Key Quick Information Box

  • Default mode is with the native very wide gamut covering 116% DCI-P3

  • sRGB emulation mode available but inflexible for customisation

  • Decent enough gamma setup, and reliable white point

  • Factory calibration applicable in sRGB mode but is off for white point

Default gamma was recorded at a 2.3 average with a small 5% deviance from the target of 2.2 which was good, showing a little more deviance in the lighter grey shades. The default colour temperature was very good at 6479k, being basically spot on to our target which was excellent.

Luminance at the default 90% brightness level was recorded at 322 cd/m2 which was too high for prolonged general use, you will want to turn that down a lot to something more comfortable. The black depth was measured at 0.34 cd/m2 at this default brightness setting, giving us a decent 937:1 contrast ratio for an IPS panel and fairly close to the spec although a tad low. Colour accuracy measurements should be ignored here as they are comparing the produced wider gamut display colours against an sRGB reference which will always lead to errors. There was no sign of any colour banding at default settings when testing gradients which was good news, and smooth gradation across the range.

 


sRGB Emulation Mode

We also entered the sRGB preset mode which comes with a factory calibration report as shown above with our sample. This confirms achieved targets for dE (0.54 on our sample), colour space coverage of sRGB (99.3%) and gamma (2.22). While it's not listed as a figure, the grey scale tracking graph also implies calibration to ~6500k white point.

Asus ROG Swift PG329Q
sRGB Emulation Mode Default
(Factory Calibrated)

 


Monitor OSD Settings

 

Preset mode

sRGB

Brightness

n/a

Contrast

n/a

Color Temp

n/a

Gamma

n/a

RGB

n/a

Luminance Measurements

 

luminance (cd/m2)

157

Black Point (cd/m2)

0.19

Contrast Ratio

815:1

Colour Space Measurements

 

sRGB coverage

95.2%

DCI-P3 coverage

70.2%

Rec.2020 coverage

50.3%

In this mode there is a decent emulation of the smaller sRGB colour space, cutting back on the very saturated and vivid appearance in the default Racing mode, and making the screen look a bit "plainer" as a result. This mode might be useful though for those wanting to do any colour critical or photo work, or for those who just like to use the screen in standard gamut mode. We measured a far more modest 95.2% sRGB coverage which was decent.

The problem with this factory calibrated sRGB mode though is that it is very inflexible, and you don't have access to change any of the 'image' or 'colour' menu sections at all, which includes brightness, gamma, and RGB controls. This means that you are entirely at the mercy of the factory calibration and cannot tweak it to your liking. We found that while the brightness had been reduced nicely it was still a bit bright, and the main problem being that you can't change it if you prefer a brighter or darker setup, or use the screen in different ambient lighting conditions. We really dislike it when something as basic as brightness gets locked in these otherwise-useful preset modes.

The white point was also too warm, being measured at 5660k and looking noticeably more red than our calibrated mode. Apart from this the setup seemed decent, with a reasonably good gamma and a low dE average. We would have just preferred access to the brightness control so we could set that to our liking, and to the RGB channels or colour temp modes so that the white point could be corrected or changed. The whole thing makes the factory calibration quite restrictive sadly. The other problem is that the contrast had also taken quite a hit, down to 815:1. This mode offers a decent sRGB colour space emulation but it's too restrictive in controls.



Optimal Settings Pre-Calibration

We also measured the screen after adjusting only the OSD controls, to obtain the optimal setup without a full calibration, and without the use of an ICC correction profile. This represents what could be achieved through just simple changes to the monitor itself, and also what you could expect when working with content outside of an ICC profile managed workflow. The early stages of our calibration software helped identity these optimal OSD settings.
 

Asus ROG Swift PG329Q
Optimal Pre-calibration settings


Monitor OSD Settings

 

Preset mode

User Mode

Brightness

17

Contrast

80

Color Temp

User Mode

Gamma

2.2

RGB

98, 100, 96

Luminance Measurements

 

luminance (cd/m2)

121

Black Point (cd/m2)

0.14

Contrast Ratio

874:1

Colour Space Measurements

 

sRGB coverage

157.4%

DCI-P3 coverage

116.0%

Rec.2020 coverage

83.3%

For this section we switched back to the 'User mode' preset mode where the full native gamut was used and where we had full access to the OSD controls again. Brightness control was also adjusted to make the screen more comfortable.

This has helped maintain a balanced white point at 6487k and reduce the brightness to a much more comfortable level. The contrast ratio remained close to the default setup but took a small hit down to 874:1. These optimal settings helped the screen look a bit better than out of the box, certainly helping with the brightness if nothing else although the colours were still very saturated and vivid. Great for gaming and for those who like accentuated colours, but perhaps not "accurate" for normal day to day use. Further calibration and profiling below can help improve things a bit further.

 


Calibration

We used the X-rite i1 Pro 2 Spectrophotometer combined with the LaCie Blue Eye Pro software package to achieve these results and reports. An X-rite i1 Display Pro Plus colorimeter was used to validate the black depth and contrast ratios due to lower end limitations of the i1 Pro device.

Asus ROG Swift PG329Q
Calibrated Settings


Monitor OSD Settings

 

Preset mode

User Mode

Brightness

17

Contrast

80

Color Tone

User Mode

Gamma

2.2

RGB

98, 100, 96

Luminance Measurements

 

luminance (cd/m2)

121

Black Point (cd/m2)

0.14

Contrast Ratio

872:1

Colour Space Measurements

 

sRGB coverage

157.4%

DCI-P3 coverage

116.0%

Rec.2020 coverage

83.3%

The OSD settings were adjusted as shown in the table above, as guided during the calibration process and measurements. These OSD changes allowed us to obtain an optimal hardware starting point and setup before software level changes would be made at the graphics card level. We left the  LaCie software to calibrate to "max" brightness which would just retain the luminance of whatever brightness we'd set the screen to, and would not in any way try and alter the luminance at the graphics card level, which can reduce contrast ratio. These adjustments before profiling the screen would help preserve tonal values and limit banding issues. After this we let the software carry out the LUT adjustments and create an ICC profile.

The default gamma curve deviation of 5% had been corrected now thanks to the profiling, reaching the 2.2 average with 0% average variation. The white point was maintained at the accurate 6528k (0% deviance) from the default setup. The brightness control adjustment had reduced the luminance to a comfortable level now and contrast ratio remained pretty good at 872:1, although a little below the spec of 1000:1. Colour accuracy of the resulting profile was very good, with dE average of 0.6 and maximum of 1.1. LaCie would consider colour fidelity to be very good overall. Gradients remained mostly smooth with only a little banding introduced in darker tones.

You can use our settings and try our calibrated ICC profile if you wish, which are available in our ICC profile database. Keep in mind that results will vary from one screen to another and from one computer / graphics card to another.

 

Setup Comparisons

The comparisons made in this section try to give you a better view of how each screen performs, particularly out of the box which is what is going to matter to most consumers. We have divided the table up by panel technology as well to make it easier to compare similar models. When comparing the default factory settings for each monitor it is important to take into account several measurement areas - gamma, white point and colour accuracy. There's no point having a low dE colour accuracy figure if the gamma curve is way off for instance. A good factory calibration requires all 3 to be well set up. We have deliberately not included luminance in this comparison since this is normally far too high by default on every screen. However, that is very easily controlled through the brightness setting (on most screens) and should not impact the other areas being measured anyway. It is easy enough to obtain a suitable luminance for your working conditions and individual preferences, but a reliable factory setup in gamma, white point and colour accuracy is important and some (gamma especially) are not as easy to change accurately without a calibration tool.

From these comparisons we can also compare the calibrated colour accuracy, black depth and contrast ratio. After a calibration the gamma, white point and luminance should all be at their desired targets.

Default setup of the screen out of the box pretty decent overall with a fairly good gamma and a reliable white point at 6500k. The contrast ratio was fairly good although a bit under the spec, and the screen certainly offered a very wide colour gamut, exceeding the spec by quite a bit in fact. The sRGB emulation mode, that carried the factory calibration, was good in many ways but disappointing in that it didn't allow for any customisation, leaving you with a set brightness level all the time, and an overly warm setup on our sample. The contrast ratio in the sRGB mode was also a fair bit lower. That mode was too inflexible really. Calibrated contrast ratio back in the wide gamut User mode was ok, but a bit lower than most modern IPS panels can reach sadly and certainly a lot lower than any VA panel can offer.

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Viewing Angles


Above: Viewing angles shown from front and side, and  from above and below. Click for larger version

Viewing angles of the screen were very good as you would expect from an IPS panel. Horizontally there was very little colour tone shift until wide angles past about 45. A slight darkening of the image occurred horizontally from wider angles as you can see above as the contrast shifted slighting. Contrast shifts were slightly more noticeable in the vertical field but overall they were very good. The screen offered the wide viewing angles of IPS technology and was free from the restrictive fields of view of TN Film panels, especially in the vertical plane. It was also free of the off-centre contrast shift you see from VA panels and a lot of the quite obvious gamma and colour tone shift you see from some of the modern VA panel type offerings.


Above: View of an all black screen from the sides. Click for larger version

On a black image there is a characteristic pale glow introduced to the image when viewed from a wide angle, commonly referred to as "IPS glow". This type of glow is common on most modern IPS-type panels and can be distracting to some users. If you view dark content from a normal head-on viewing position, you may see this glow as your eyes look towards the edges of the screen. The level of glow on this panel was a little more pink/purple in colour in these photos than some other IPS panels we've tested like the ROG Strix XG27UQ where it was a bit more white, but it still remained fairly typical for an IPS-type panel.

This type of glow is common on most modern IPS-type panels and can be distracting to some users. If you view dark content from a normal head-on viewing position, you may see this glow as your eyes look towards the edges of the screen depending on your viewing position. It will also be more noticeable in darker ambient light conditions and if you're viewing a lot of dark content. Some people may find this problematic if they are playing a lot of darker games or watching darker movies. In normal day to day uses you couldn't really notice this unless you were viewing darker content. If you move your viewing position back, which is probably likely for movies and games keep in mind, the effect reduces as you do not have such an extreme angle from your eye position to the screen edges.



Panel Uniformity

We wanted to test here how uniform the brightness was across the screen, as well as identify any leakage from the backlight in dark lighting conditions. Measurements of the luminance were taken at 35 points across the panel on a pure white background. The measurements for luminance were taken using BasICColor's calibration software package, combined with an X-rite i1 Display Pro colorimeter with a central point on the screen calibrated to 120 cd/m2. The below uniformity diagram shows the difference, as a percentage, between the measurement recorded at each point on the screen, as compared with the central reference point.

It is worth noting that panel uniformity can vary from one screen to another, and can depend on manufacturing lines, screen transport and other local factors. This is only a guide of the uniformity of the sample screen we have for review.


Uniformity of Luminance

Luminance uniformity of the screen was mediocre on our sample, with only 51% of the screen within a 10% deviance of the centrally calibrated area which was not great. The upper edge and the right and left hand sides showed a fairly significant drop in luminance down to 97 cd/m2 in the most extreme example (-23.71% deviance). Results may vary of course from one sample to another. This shouldn't present any major problems for gaming or multimedia, or day to day usage, but could be an issue for colour critical or photo work if you wanted to do any.


Backlight Leakage


Above: All black screen in a darkened room. Click for larger version

We also tested the screen with an all black image and in a darkened room. A camera was used to capture the result. There were a couple of areas where the backlight shone through a bit more brightly in the lower corners, but they were hard to see in normal usage.

Note: if you want to test your own screen for backlight bleed and uniformity problems at any point you need to ensure you have suitable testing conditions. Set the monitor to a sensible day to day brightness level, preferably as close to 120 cd/m2 as you can get it (our tests are once the screen is calibrated to this luminance). Don't just take a photo at the default brightness which is almost always far too high and not a realistic usage condition. You need to take the photo from about 1.5 - 2m back to avoid capturing viewing angle characteristics, especially on IPS-type panels where off-angle glow can come in to play easily. Photos should be taken in a darkened room at a shutter speed which captures what you see reliably and doesn't over-expose the image. A shutter speed of 1/8 second will probably be suitable for this.



General and Office Applications

The PG329Q offers a 2560 x 1440 resolution on a 32" sized panel. This resolution has been used for many years on 27" sized screens and provides a crisp and sharp image. How does it fair on a larger 32" sized screen though? We expect some people might be a bit put off by the idea, but in truth the resolution is still pretty comfortable even on this larger screen, and some people may even prefer it. The pixel pitch (a useful comparison indicator for how large the text will look) is 0.2768mm on this model, which is the same size as a 24" model running at 1920 x 1080. Those screens have been used for a very long time and many people are perfectly happy with the text size and sharpness there. Some people may well prefer the slightly smaller text and improved sharpness of 1440p on a 27" model (0.2335mm) but some people also find this a bit too small if they are more used to common 24" sized screens at 1080p. The good thing about this 32" sized screen is that you retain that same text size from a 24" 1080p model, but have a much larger screen and a much larger desktop resolution area to work with. This makes it far better for split screen working and multi-tasking, but if you were worried about moving to a 27" model where text would be smaller, this is a good answer. We should note also that the text size is still smaller and sharper than a 27" model running at 1080p (0.3113mm) which is often criticised for being too large, although again many people are perfectly happy with that option too. All in all we don't really have a problem with 2560 x 1440 on a 32" screen for normal desktop and office use. Text is a bit bigger than on a 27" model of the same resolution, but it's by no means too big or becomes unclear.

Text Size of 2560 x 1440 on a 32" display = same as 1920 x 1080 on a 24" display

The light AG coating of the panel is welcome, and much better than the grainy and dirty appearance of older IPS AG coatings. The wide viewing angles provided by this panel technology on both horizontal and vertical planes, helps minimize on-screen colour shift when viewed from different angles. The default setup of the screen was pretty good as well, offering an accurate gamma curve and white point and a pretty decent contrast ratio for an IPS panel. By default the screen operates with a very wide 116% DCI-P3 colour space which gives you bright, vivid colours but may not be particularly "accurate" for normal sRGB content viewing or general office-type work. It's nice for gaming and multimedia, but a bit more problematic for other uses. There is an sRGB emulation mode which works very well at restricting the colour space and carries a factory calibration too, but we were disappointed that it was very restrictive in its customisation and doesn't allow you to change the brightness level even, or correct the overly warm setup.

The brightness range of the screen was wide with the ability to offer a luminance in SDR mode between 346 and 67 cd/m2. This should also allow you to get fairly dark if you want to use the screen in lower ambient light conditions. A setting of 18 in the OSD brightness control should return you a luminance close to 120 cd/m2 out of the box. The brightness regulation is controlled without the need for the use of Pulse-Width Modulation (PWM), and so those who suffer from eye fatigue or headaches associated with flickering backlights need not worry.


Spectral distribution graph showing calibrated mode at 6500k


Spectral distribution graph at maximum Level 4 low blue light mode

There are settings for a Low Blue Light filter available in the OSD menu on this display, with 4 levels being selectable. At the maximum level 4 setting the colour temperature was a fair bit warmer at 5650k, and produced a lower blue light peak as you can see from the spectral distribution graphs above.

There are 2x USB 3.0 ports provided on the back of the screen which are not very easy to access given the limited stand height adjustment, and sadly there are none available on the sides of the screen for really quick use. There are also no other extras like ambient light sensors, motion sensors or card readers on this screen which are sometimes useful for office-type uses. There is a headphone jack but that's about it. There is also a good range of adjustments offered overall from the stand which provided a stable and sturdy base, with smooth and easy adjustments. Height adjustment was a bit limited at the top end of the range, so the screen does sit quite low down on your desk.


 
Response Times

 

Response Times

Panel Manufacturer

AU Optronics

Panel Technology

AHVA (IPS-type)

Panel Part

M320DAN02.2

Quoted G2G Response Time

1ms G2G

Quoted MPRT Response Time

Not quoted

Overdrive Used

Variable Overdrive supported

Overdrive Control Available Via OSD Setting

'Variable OD'

Overdrive OSD Settings

Level 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

The screen uses overdrive technology to boost pixel transitions across grey to grey changes as with nearly all modern displays. The part being used is an AU Optronics M320DAN02.2 AHVA (IPS-type) technology panel. Have a read about response time in our specs section if you need additional information about this measurement. Our thanks to NVIDIA for hooking us up with an RTX 3090 for all our testing.

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Variable Overdrive

Unlike the majority of adaptive-sync screens Asus have taken the time to include variable overdrive on this model. Variable overdrive is a feature you may be familiar with from Native G-sync hardware screens, those featuring a special NVIDIA G-sync chip inside the screen. One often-touted feature of this chip is support for variable overdrive, which is basically a matrix of timings for the overdrive impulse that are mapped to different refresh rates and provide different overdrive levels depending on the pixel transition and depending on the refresh rate. This creates a "variable" level to the overdrive impulse depending on the active refresh rate at any given time, and helps to control and limit overshoot levels and optimise response time behaviour on the screen. Basically as the refresh rate lowers, the overdrive impulse reduces a little to avoid overshoot becoming a problem in practice and so you avoid any nasty dark or pale halos or artefacts. This slows the pixel transitions down a little at the same time, but this is not really an issue as the frame rate is reducing too. Looking at it from the other angle, the overdrive impulse is increased as the frame rate increases to help the panel keep up with the increased frame rate demands and drive them as fast as they can without noticeable overshoot appearing. So variable overdrive helps optimise response times to meet high refresh rates, while also optimising overshoot levels across the whole range.

This variable overdrive technology control takes quite a lot of development to implement as you are talking about mapping different timings across a very wide range of refresh rates and pixel transitions, which all need to behave properly in variable refresh rate (VRR) situations, where the active refresh rate fluctuates during your gaming. It's been developed already as part of the Native G-sync hardware module as so when that chip is used, it is somewhat easy for manufacturers to include it - indeed it's an integrated feature of the chip. It's still a popular feature on Native G-sync module displays and one of the reasons many people still opt for those screens over more widely available, and usually cheaper, adaptive-sync screens. On adaptive sync screens additional development and funding is needed to introduce variable overdrive to the monitor, and that is what Asus have done here on the PG329Q. Let's hope this becomes a more widespread practice as it's often a very useful feature.

The alternative and easier approach on adaptive sync screens is to pick an overdrive level that offers consistent response times across the refresh rate range, and try to ensure that it is at a level where overshoot doesn't become too much of a problem at lower refresh rates. We have seen some screens where this has been well balanced, like for instance the LG 27GN950 we tested recently. We had the same response times across the full refresh rate range, and while overshoot crept up a little at the lower end, it never became a major issue. This was well balanced. We have however seen many adaptive-sync screens where the overdrive level seems to have been selected to optimise response times at the maximum high refresh rate end, and then as the refresh rate lowers the overshoot becomes problematic. This results in the need to change the OSD menu overdrive level in many cases, depending on your active and achievable refresh rate which is a pain and often not very practical day to day. When a manufacturer can get a good balance (like on the 27GN950) variable overdrive isn't necessarily required, but on most adaptive-sync screens this isn't the case and you are left with sub-optimal performance and problems with overshoot.
 

Testing the Overdrive Modes

We use an ETC M526 oscilloscope for these measurements along with a custom photosensor device. Have a read of our response time measurement article for a full explanation of the testing methodology and reported data.



We first of all carried out some response time measurements at the native maximum 165Hz refresh rate (we will test the overclocked mode later). Through some visual tests we were able to determine that there was only small differences in motion clarity as you increased from Level 0 to level 3, and in the Level 3 mode we saw no sign of any overshoot artefacts in practice at this refresh rate. We started there for our measurements rather than measure all the modes unnecessarily. In the Level 3 mode we measured a 4.4ms G2G average and only some minor overshoot on one transition from this sample set.

Pushing up to Level 4 improved the response times slightly to 4.2ms G2G but overshoot started to creep up, and you got some small dark halos on moving content. Level 5 (maximum) showed some high overshoot and this resulted in some obvious pale halos in moving content which were distracting (shown below in the pursuit camera photos). It looks like realistically the 1ms G2G spec is only close to being achievable in the maximum Level 5 mode where it's not really usable in practice because of the high overshoot levels, which is fairly typical for modern IPS panels. We would recommend sticking with the Level 3 mode. Motion looked smooth and clear, aided of course by the high refresh rate of 165Hz. Further measurements and motion clarity pursuit camera photos to follow a bit later.

  Level 3                                           Level 5
    
Above: pursuit camera test at 165Hz in Level 3 and Level 5 overdrive modes

 

 
Refresh Rate

 

 

Refresh Rate

Maximum Refresh Rate DisplayPort

165Hz native
175Hz with overclocking

Maximum Refresh Rate HDMI

144Hz (at both 1440p and 1080p)

Variable Refresh Rate technology

 

VRR technology

Certification Level

AMD FreeSync

None at time of writing

NVIDIA G-sync

G-sync Compatible

FreeSync over HDMI

(HDMI 2.0 available)

HDMI-org VRR

(Missing HDMI 2.1)

Variable Refresh Rate Range

50 - 165Hz (DisplayPort native)
50 - 175Hz (DisplayPort with overclock)

50 - 144Hz (HDMI at 1080p and 1440p resolutions)

  

The screen supports VESA Adaptive-sync and so can support variable refresh rates from both AMD FreeSync and NVIDIA G-sync systems. The VRR range supported is between 50 and 175Hz (with overclocked refresh rate). The screen has also been officially certified by NVIDIA under the 'G-sync Compatible' scheme which should give reassurance to the level of performance in VRR, although at the time of writing it has not been certified under any of AMD's recent FreeSync schemes. Expect that to come in due course. It does work from an AMD graphics card for FreeSync, it just hasn't been certified. The support for G-sync and FreeSync will be very useful given the significant system demands of running a screen at 1440p resolution and at high refresh rate. It was of course very good to see it included here. You might also want to read our detailed article about Variable Refresh Rates here for more information.



Overclocking

The PG329Q supports a small overclock up to 175Hz refresh rate when connected over DisplayPort. This needs to be enabled from the OSD menu where you can also specify if you want the overclock to be only 170Hz maximum, in case you experience any stability of flickering issues at the maximum setting. We enabled 175Hz and saw no problems during our testing at the maximum overclock.

This becomes available from your graphics card control panel as a selectable refresh rate.


We measured the response times in this mode as well which showed that the overall response times remained very similar to 165Hz refresh rate, when running at the same optimal Level 3 overdrive mode. The overshoot reduced a little bit but overall the performance was pretty much the same. You do get an extra 10Hz so there are very minor improvements in motion clarity and frame rate support, but as long as you don't experience any flickering or issues, then why not push to the maximum refresh rate here?



Response Times and Refresh Rate

There's various things you need to consider when it comes to response times and gaming, particularly on a display with high refresh rate support. Gaming screens invariably give you a control for the overdrive impulse in the OSD menu which can help you tweak things, but response time performance and overshoot levels can vary depending on the active refresh rate. This behaviour is often different depending on whether the screen is a traditional G-sync screens (with hardware module) or whether it's an adaptive-sync screen as well, and not all screens behave in the same way. We always try to test each variable in our reviews but the key considerations you need to make are:

  1. Performance at 60Hz - this is important if you want to use an external games console (or other device like a Blu-ray player etc) which typically run at 60Hz. Response time performance may well be different than at the higher refresh rates supported, and you may need a different overdrive setting for optimal experience.
     

  2. Performance during VRR (Variable Refresh Rate) - bearing in mind that the refresh rate will fluctuate anywhere from 1Hz up to the maximum supported by the screen (e.g. 1 - 144Hz on a 144Hz display). It's important to understand if the response times and overshoot will vary as the refresh rate changes. There may be a need to switch between different overdrive settings in some cases, depending on your usually attained refresh rate output and graphics card capability. This can sometimes become fiddly if your refresh rates fluctuate a lot, especially between different games, so it's always easier if you can leave a display on a single overdrive setting which is suited to the whole range. Some screens also feature "variable overdrive" which helps control the response times and overshoot depending on the active refresh rate. This is particularly apparent with traditional G-sync module screens.
     

  3. Performance at fixed refresh rates including maximum - this is important for those who have a powerful enough system to consistently output a frame rate to meet the max refresh rate capability of the screen. They may want to run at max refresh rate without VRR active, or even is VRR is active they may know they will be consistently at the upper end of the range. Many gaming screens show their optimal response time performance at the maximum refresh rate. Knowing the performance at high fixed refresh rates may also be applicable if you want to use any added blur reduction backlight which typically operate at a fixed refresh rate.
     

  4. Whether the response times can keep up with the frame rate - you will also want to consider whether the response times of the panel can consistently keep up with the frame rate. For instance a 144Hz screen sends a new frame to the display every 6.94ms, so the pixel response times need to ideally be consistently and reliably under this threshold. If they are too slow, it can lead to added blurring in practice and sometimes make the higher refresh rates unusable in real life. We consider this in our analysis.
     




We measured the response times in the optimal Level 3 mode across a range of refresh rates. Note that we had to manually create the 90Hz mode through a custom resolution so that we could measure something in between 60Hz and 144Hz. Natively the screen only has timings for 60, 144 and 165Hz as well as any enabled overclocked refresh rates. You can see here that the response times were slowed a little as the refresh rate was reduced, for instance from 4.4ms G2G at 165Hz down to 5.6ms G2G at 90Hz. This helped ensure that the overshoot did not become a problem which was great news.

At 60Hz we noticed a bit of an oddity in that the response times seemed to be boosted up a little faster again, to 4.7ms G2G. The overshoot was not as aggressively applied as at max refresh rate, but it was a bit higher than at 90Hz. This resulted in some low to moderate levels of overshoot being introduced in practice, and you could spot some slight dark trails behind moving objects. We would have expected the variable overdrive to slow the response times a little further relative to 90Hz to avoid this overshoot. Perhaps though Asus have been a little more aggressive with the overdrive at 60Hz in order to improve performance for fixed 60Hz input sources like games consoles and Blu-ray players? The overshoot is still pretty low, so it's not a major issue. Overall the variable overdrive worked well across the refresh range and performance looked largely free from any overshoot problems.
 


If for any reason you are using the 60Hz mode for an external device and find the slight dark trails too noticeable, you need to drop all the way to level 0 in the overdrive OSD menu to eliminate them. Levels 2 and 1 don't really look any different to Level 3. At Level 0 the response times were slowed a little to 6.3ms G2G but overshoot had now been completely eliminated. Had the variable overdrive been used across the entire refresh rate range, this is perhaps the kind of performance we'd have expected to see at 60Hz level to be honest.

 


Console Gaming

 

Console Gaming

Native resolution

2560 x 1440 (1440p)

Virtual 4K support

Native TV timing modes

4K at 60Hz
1080p at 120Hz
(1440p not available)

HDMI connection version

2.0

FreeSync over HDMI

HDMI-org VRR (over HDMI 2.1)

We will also touch on support for the latest generation games consoles like the PS5 and Xbox Series X. The screen has only an HDMI 2.0 input and so cannot support HDMI-org VRR, but it can support FreeSync over HDMI at least. This allows refresh rates up to 120Hz at 1080p and 1440p resolutions. You will need to check if your games console can support FreeSync over HDMI if you want to be able to use VRR on this monitor. At the time of writing this is supported from the Xbox Series X, but not from PS5.

Also keep in mind that the screen is only a 1440p resolution model, so again from these modern games consoles you won't be able to make use of a true 4K resolution as the panel cannot support it. The Xbox Series X can support 1440p output, so you might be able to use that although even that might be problematic as there is no native TV timing for this resolution (shown in the graphics card control panel labelled "Ultra HD, HD and SD"). 1440p is only available in the 'PC' supported resolutions. It's not clear whether you'd be able to select 1440p output from the Xbox Series X or not on this screen given the native TV timings it reports to the console. The PS5 doesn't even support 1440p output at the time of writing, so you don't even have that option to try currently.

There is however 1080p at up to 120Hz, and also Virtual 4K support at 60Hz. The latter allows you to input a 4K resolution from the games console and the screen will then scale that down to the native 1440p resolution of the panel. This should provide a better quality picture than inputting 1080p and letting the screen scale that up from there. Although if you input 4K, you will be limited to 60Hz refresh rate maximum. If you have a game that supports high 120Hz refresh rate you'd probably be better going for 1080p at 120Hz input than 4K at 60Hz.

See our How to Buy a Monitor for Playstation 5 or Xbox Series S/X article for more information about this which we will also keep up to date on these elements.



Gaming Summary

Recommended Settings

Optimal Refresh Rate 

175Hz (Overclocked)

Optimal Overdrive Setting (for above) 

Level 3

Optimal Overdrive Setting for 60Hz 

Level 3 / Level 0

Optimal Overdrive Setting for VRR 

Level 3


     Detailed Measurements at 175Hz

We carried out some further response time measurements at 175Hz which is the maximum refresh rate of the screen with the overclock feature enabled. This slightly extended refresh rate gives you a little boost over 165Hz and seemed to work well, so why not use it if you can? We measured an average 4.2ms G2G response time here which was slightly better than the figure we had from our smaller sample set earlier (4.4ms G2G). There was very little overshoot at all, save for one transition where there was a very small 10.7% overshoot measured. The higher refresh rates supported by the screen helped improve motion clarity and reduce perceived  blur, making the screen far better for gaming than 60Hz-only models. You get higher frame rate support as well. ]

Thanks to the variable overdrive feature the response times are slowed a little as the refresh rate drops in order to limit any overshoot problems. That seemed to work well, although at 60Hz it seemed to creep back up a little and response time were a little faster. You do start to see a little dark tailing at the lower refresh rates but nothing significant or problematic really. If for any reason you find it annoying and you're using a 60Hz fixed input (like a games console or Blu-ray player) you can switch to the Level 0 mode to completely eliminate it.


Above: pursuit camera photos at Level 3 mode at 175Hz showing very good motion clarity

This was a very good performance from the PG329Q with very fast response times and very good motion clarity. We should also touch on the resolution here as well, as some people may be put off by the screen only offering 1440p resolution, normally used on a 27" screen, but now on a larger 32" screen. In general day to day usage the image isn't quite as sharp and text is obviously a bit bigger than on the 27" models, but for gaming it's unlikely to be much of an issue we think. If you want a bigger screen for improved immersion, or want something larger so you can sit further back from a typical close-up desktop viewing position then this is an interesting new format option.

We are sure many people would love to see 4K available at 32" screen size (us included), and that is expected to appear soon, likely early 2021, but initially only on high end and very expensive screens. 1440p is for now a lower cost option, still offering a decent enough resolution and decent enough screen real-estate, just now on a larger sized display. Don't forget that driving a screen at 1440p and up to 175Hz is going to be a big drain on your system, so having that lower resolution here is likely easier for many systems anyway and means you don't necessarily need to worry about forking out for the latest and greatest graphics card. And don't forget it also helps to keep the retail price of this display down relative to if it had been a top-end 4K model.

 


Refresh Rate Compliance

In this section for our reviews we look at the response time behaviour across the range of supported refresh rates and consider whether they are sufficient to keep up with the frame rate demands of the screen. The grey line on the graph shows the refresh rate threshold, that being the average G2G response time that the panel needs to be able to achieve to keep up properly with the refresh rate and frame rate. For instance at a 60Hz refresh rate the response times need to be consistently and reliably under 16.67ms, while at 144Hz refresh rate the response times ideally need to be under 6.94ms to keep up with the frame rate demands. If they are not then this can lead to some additional smearing and blurring on moving content as the pixels can't keep up. For these tests we will plot the average G2G figure at a range of measured refresh rates, while operating at the optimal overdrive control.

The table to the right then explains whether that overdrive control needs to be adjusted by the user depending on the refresh rate (not ideal), or whether adaptive overdrive is utilised to keep things simple. Ideally you'd want to be able to stick with a single mode for all refresh rates especially when you consider how these will vary during VRR. We also include a measurement of the % of the overall response time measurements that were within the refresh rate, as well as a slightly more lenient measurement of how many were within the refresh rate window within a 1ms leeway.

The response time behaviour of the PG329Q is very good across the entire refresh rate range. There is excellent compliance to the refresh rate as a result, meaning no additional smearing or blurring is introduced. At maximum 175Hz refresh rate 100% of the measured transitions were within the refresh rate window which was excellent.

 

    
Gaming Comparisons

We have provided a comparison of the display against many other gaming screens we have reviewed in a similar size range and across a range of panel technologies. This table is now split by panel technology to make life a bit easier and for quicker comparison.

 


ELMB-sync

 

Blur Reduction

Motion Blur Reduction Backlight

ELMB (Extreme Low Motion Blur) mode

Blur reduction available also when using G-sync/FreeSync VRR

ELMB-sync mode

Strobe length control

'Clarity level' setting - levels 1 to 5

Strobe timing control

'Clarity position' setting (top, middle and bottom settings)

 

Max brightness at max refresh rate

187 cd/m2 (level 1)
155 cd/m2 (level 3)
96 cd/m2 (level 5)

Max brightness ELMB-sync

127 cd/m2

The PG329Q features Asus' 'ELMB' (Extreme Low Motion Blur) technology which provides a strobing blur reduction backlight option that can be activated to help reduce perceived motion blur in gaming. This rapidly strobes the backlight off/on in time with the refresh rate and can have a marked impact on motion clarity. You might want to read our detailed article on Motion Blur Reduction Backlights for more information on how these work and what they can offer. Note that this feature should only be used for gaming and fast moving content, and should be disabled for general desktop use so as not to cause eye strain.

The great thing about this option on the PG329Q is that it can also be enabled when using G-sync/FreeSync VRR, as it is Asus' ELMB-sync technology on this model. This is unlike most blur reduction modes that can typically only be used at a fixed refresh rate without VRR active. Asus also provide some additional setting controls in the OSD menu for this mode to control the strobe length ('Clarity level' option) and the strobe timing ('Clarity position' option). We will talk about those in a moment.


Example strobing at 175Hz fixed refresh rate (VRR off). Horizontal scale = 5ms

If you want to use ELMB at a fixed refresh rate then it is available by default at 144Hz, 165Hz and the overclocked 170/175Hz refresh rates as well. It is not available at 60Hz fixed refresh rate. The strobing is synced with the fixed refresh rate as you would expect. The 'Clarity level' option controls the "on" period of the strobe and so has a small impact to the clarity of the display, but also to the brightness it can reach. This option is available in Levels 1 - 5. At Level 1 the screen is the brightest and reaches around 187 cd/m2 with ELMB enabled which is pretty bright for one of these blur reduction backlights. Note that this isn't really impacted much at all if you lower the refresh to 144Hz compared with 175Hz. If you increase the Clarity Level option then the screen goes a bit darker with each step, but the appearance of moving content looks a little cleaner and sharper. You can see other brightness levels recorded in the table above for Levels 1, 3 and Level 5. Really you can customise this option to get to your desired brightness level for your game and ambient light conditions, and it's useful to see a bit of flexibility here.


Pursuit camera photos capturing motion clarity at the top, middle and bottom areas of the screen with ELMB active
'Clarity position' set at default middle level. 175Hz refresh rate

We captured some pursuit camera photos at 175Hz with ELMB enabled to try and capture the perceived motion clarity at various levels of the screen, top, middle and bottom. You can see that by default the image is clearest in the middle region of the screen, and tracking of moving objects is easier and clearer than with ELMB turned off. The ELMB feature seems to work pretty well at reducing perceived motion blur. You can see that in the top and bottom areas of the screen there is some ghosting (aka strobe cross-talk) visible on the moving object, which is caused by the strobe timing. Asus do also provide a 'Clarity position' option in the OSD menu that basically allows you to change the strobe timing and move the clearest part of the screen to be either at the top, middle or bottom. By default (and captured above) it is set to the middle area, but this works well if you want to move that to focus the clarity at the top of bottom instead. It's not possible to completely eliminate the strobe cross-talk across the whole screen though.

We should note here as well that we did not see any issues with slow red colour decay on this backlight like we had seen from LG.Display's Nano IPS panels with KSF LED backlight. For instance we had seen that issue on the ViewSonic Elite XG270QG where ULMB had been added, despite having been left off LG's own equivalent displays using the same panel. This led to additional ghosting and red coloured fringing in tests on that screen, but it was not a problem here. The red phosphor decay was as quick as the blue and green phosphors.


Example strobing at 175Hz with VRR turned on (ELMB-sync mode). Horizontal scale = 5ms

With VRR also active in the OSD menu the ELMB setting behaves slightly differently when it is in 'ELMB-sync' mode. You lose access to the 'Clarity levels' setting (strobe length impacting brightness and clarity), and from our brightness tests it seems to be set at the equivalent or around Level 3.5 (if that had existed!) at maximum refresh rate. We measured a brightness of 127 cd/m2 with this enabled at 175Hz refresh rate. This brightness levels should be maintained across the refresh rate range though in VRR situations. You can see that the strobing behaves slightly differently with VRR active but in practice this has no visual impact. Motion still looks sharper and clearer and easier to track. You can still change the strobe timing (Clarity position) setting if you want to, to focus the clear section of the screen at the top, middle or bottom.


Example strobing at 90Hz with VRR turned on (ELMB-sync mode). Horizontal scale = 5ms


Example strobing at 60Hz with VRR turned on (ELMB-sync mode). Horizontal scale = 5ms

With ELMB-sync active (VRR turned on as well) we were able to record the strobe behaviour at lower refresh rates too. At 90Hz, created via a custom resolution, you can see an unusual double strobing occurring which does lead to a bit of added ghosting in practice. At 60Hz in ELMB-sync mode the backlight doesn't appear to be strobing at all any more, probably because at that low refresh rate the flickering would become too noticeable. The ELMB benefits were really better at the higher refresh rates above 100Hz we felt, where it helped improve things quite nicely. If your frame rates are regularly dropping below 100HZ we would suggest maybe disabling ELMB-sync and instead stick to plain old VRR mode, as the benefits of ELMB are much lower and the added ghost images from the double strobing are not worth it.



Additional Gaming Features

  • Aspect Ratio Control - the screen offers five modes for aspect ratio control. These are 'full' (which will stretch whatever the input aspect ratio is to fill the screen), 4:3 aspect, 16:9 aspect (24" sized area), 16:9 aspect (27" sized area) and even 21:9 (27" sized area) available. There was unfortunately no "original" aspect ratio option or 1:1 pixel mapping mode for those who like to use that, which could have been useful.

  • Preset Modes - There are quite a few gamer-oriented modes available in the GameVisual' preset mode menu including Racing, RTS/RPG, FPS and MOBA modes. There is also a customisable User mode and some other presets for things like cinema, scenery and sRGB modes. So it should be easy to set the screen up to your liking for different uses if you want.
     

  • Additional features - there are a couple of added features in the OSD which are a 'shadow boost' control, to help boost gamma in darker content and bring out details. There is also a 'cross hair' graphic option, timer, FPS counter and sniper option available.

 


Lag

Read our detailed article about input lag and the various measurement techniques which are used to evaluate this aspect of a display. The screens tested are split into two measurements which are based on our overall display lag tests and half the average G2G response time, as measured by our oscilloscope. The response time element, part of the lag you can see, is split from the overall display lag and shown on the graph as the green bar. From there, the signal processing (red bar) can be provided as a good estimation of the lag you would feel from the display. We also classify each display as follows:

Lag Classification

  • Class 1) Less than 8.33ms - the equivalent to 1 frame lag of a display at 120Hz refresh rate - should be fine for gamers, even at high levels

  • Class 2) A lag of 8.33 - 16.66ms - the equivalent of one to two frames at a 120Hz refresh rate - moderate lag but should be fine for many gamers. Caution advised for serious gaming

  • Class 3) A lag of more than 16.66ms - the equivalent of more than 2 frames at a refresh rate of 120Hz - Some noticeable lag in daily usage, not suitable for high end gaming

For the full reviews of the models compared here and the dates they were written (and when screens were approximately released to the market), please see our full reviews index.

(Measurements in ms)

 

Total Display Lag (SMTT 2)

2.20

Pixel Response Time Element

2.10

Estimated Signal Processing Lag

0.10

Lag Classification

1


 Class 1

The total lag measured was a very impressive 2.20ms total. The pixel response times account for basically all of that, and so we can say that there appears to be around 0.10ms of signal processing lag on this screen which is super low. A solid result from this display and making it suitable for fast and competitive gaming.



Movies and Video

The following summarises the screens performance for videos and movie viewing:

Category

Display Specs / Measurements

Comments

Size

32" widescreen

Fairly typical for a desktop monitor nowadays and smaller than TV's by a lot

Aspect Ratio

16:9

Well suited to most common 16:9 aspect content and input devices

Resolution

2560 x 1440

Can support 1080p content natively, but not Ultra HD 4K

HDCP

Yes v2.2

Suitable for encrypted content including the latest v2.2

Connectivity

1x DisplayPort 1.2
2x HDMI 2.0

Useful additional 2x HDMI input for external Blu-ray players or games consoles. Does not feature the latest HDMI 2.1 though for next gen games consoles (no desktop monitor does yet)

Cables

DisplayPort and HDMI

Useful to have both included in the box

Ergonomics

Tilt, height, swivel

Easy to use adjustments with smooth and stable stand. Height adjustment range is a bit restrictive

Coating

Light Anti-glare

Provides clear image with no graininess, but avoids unwanted reflections of full glossy solutions

Brightness range

67 - 346 cd/m2

Good adjustment range offered including a decent max brightness (SDR) and good darkened room adjustment range. Backlight dimming is free from PWM and flicker free.

Contrast

959:1 after calibration

Decent enough contrast ratio for an IPS technology panel close to spec and better than other Nano IPS panels we've tested before, although still not as high as you can get from VA panels of course

Preset modes

None

There are no specific preset modes for movie viewing in the menu but you can easily set up one of the other modes to your liking

Response times

5.0ms G2G with low/moderate overshoot fast mode (60Hz)

5.9ms G2G with no overshoot in normal mode (60Hz)

Response times are very good on this panel. For 60Hz content and external devices the 'Fast' mode showed low levels of lag, nothing really obvious in practice. Dropping to the 'normal' mode is also viable and removes all the overshoot problems, without major impact to response times

Viewing angles

Very good

Thanks to the IPS panel technology, suitable for viewing from a wide range of positions. Pale IPS glow on dark content could present a problem from some wider angles especially in darker room conditions

Backlight bleed

No bleed

No noticeable bleed or leakage on our sample. Will vary from sample to sample

Audio

Headphone output

No integrated speakers on this model but a headphone jack is provided

Aspect Ratio Controls

Full screen, original and just scan options

The default 16:9 aspect ratio is likely to serve most needs here anyway but the provided 'original' mode should then cover anything else nicely

PiP / PbP

Neither supported

n/a

HDR support

See below

see following section

 


HDR (High Dynamic Range)

HDR Capability Summary

HDR Technical Capabilities

VESA DisplayHDR Certification level

HDR 600

Local Dimming

16 zones

Certified to the moderate HDR 600 standard which at least offers some kind of potential HDR benefit (unlike HDR 400). Fairly simple local dimming is included though with minimal benefits overall to dynamic range. It does at least have a very wide colour gamut and 10-bit support for colour improvements though.

High number of local dimming zones

No

Increased dynamic range (contrast) max

>31,000:1

Increased "local" HDR contrast ratio

1,411:1

Increased peak brightness

 621 cd/m2

Wide DCI-P3 colour gamut

116.0% DCI-P3

10-bit Colour Depth

Supported

 

Gamma setup in HDR mode

2.3 (2% deviance)

 

Colour temp default in HDR mode

6577k (1% deviance)

The screen can accept an HDR10 input signal and supports the moderate HDR 600 standard. Thankfully unlike the pretty pointless HDR400 level, this does necessitate some form of local dimming, so it is at least capable of improving the dynamic range (contrast) when used in some ways. The number of dimming zones is limited though so don't expect miracles. Once HDR is enabled from Windows the screen automatically enters the HDR mode. In the OSD menu you still have access to a few of the options but many are not unavailable including the brightness control and the colour menu. We measured the setup and confirmed gamma was pretty good at 2.3 average (2% deviance from our 2.2 target) and white point was also very good at 6577k (1% out).

The PG329Q is one of those screens that looks fine with HDR enabled in Windows actually, at least in our testing, with other screens often looking terrible. You probably only want to enable it for HDR content though as it is too bright otherwise and you cannot change the brightness control in this mode.

Anyway, we then tested the HDR function and local dimming. There is a setting for 'dynamic dimming' in the OSD which you can turn on or off once in HDR mode. There are a limited number of local dimming zones on this screen so the HDR effect is pretty limited. They are arranged in, we believe, 16 vertical zones. This means you can often see each zone light up or dim as content on the screen changes, and certainly during local dimming tests like this one. It creates large vertical bands of brighter regions and doesn't really produce a very pleasing HDR effect to be honest. We measured a peak brightness up to 621 cd/m2 which was decent and a little beyond the 600 cd/m2 spec, and a good way beyond the max 346 cd/m2 in SDR mode. The screen can reach high peak brightness for HDR content at least, even if the local dimming doesn't offer massive improvements to overall contrast or appearance.

Because the dimming zones are large and limited in number the "local HDR contrast ratio" (i.e. measuring a black area next to the white test area) was not much better than the native screen contrast ratio at 1411:1. If you measured a black area further away from the white test area, where the dimming zones could dim it a lot more, the black depth reached below the 0.02 cd/m2 limit of our measurement device and the contrast ratio was therefore much greater reaching up to over 31,000:1 which was better. The local dimming isn't sufficient enough to make a big difference in local HDR contrast, but it helps a bit across the screen as a whole. The screen does also features the necessary colour enhancements for HDR content including a very wide 116.0% DCI-P3 colour gamut, and support for 10-bit colour depth content.

It should be noted that while the screen supports a 10-bit colour depth, this is only actually available at some refresh rates due to the limitations of the DisplayPort 1.2 interface used. You can select 10-bit colour depth from your graphics card for refresh rates up to and including 120Hz, although that would need to be created as a custom resolution as well. Natively only the 60Hz refresh rate supports 10-bit. For refresh rates of 144Hz and above you are restricted to 8-bit colour depth.

 


Conclusion

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The PG329Q is primarily aimed at gamers and it performed very well in this area, offering a great range of features and options along with the familiar ROG Swift branding and design. The high refresh rate is always welcome for vastly improved motion clarity and frame rate support relative to 60Hz-only models, and 165Hz is a decent refresh rate option here. The small overclock to 175Hz seemed to work well to squeeze a bit more out of the panel as well. We were very pleased to see Asus invest the time and money to include variable overdrive on this model too, which seemed to work very well to manage the response time performance and avoid overshoot across the range. We would have perhaps liked a little bit of a tweak at the lower end like 60Hz where the variable overdrive seemed to not operate in the same way, but the VRR performance was very good overall, and refresh rate compliance of the panel response times was excellent. Input lag was non existent and there is a decent range of gaming options and settings available from this screen which is always good to see.

One of the other significant benefits of the PG329Q relative to most other gaming screens is that it includes Asus' ELMB-sync blur reduction mode, which allows you to benefit from the strobing backlight option to improve motion clarity in games, but at the same time as using G-sync/FreeSync. That ELMB-sync mode worked well with some decent additional control options too, and so those who like blur reduction backlights will be pleased with that here we think.

One topic that is bound to come up in conversations about this screen is the resolution  - is 2560 x 1440 too low for a 32" sized screen? In our opinion, no it's not. 1080p on a 27" model is arguably too low, and we agree with the masses that the text size is too big in those instances for most people away from gaming. Here though, 1440p on 32" isn't quite as big, and in fact it's the same as a 1080p 24" model which many people find perfectly fine. If you're coming from a 27" 1440p screen you might find the screen doesn't look as crisp and sharp at first but after a couple of days you get used to it. If you're coming from a 24" screen or something else, chances are you will find the text size and picture quality perfectly adequate here. Sure, we would have loved to see 4K available but let's be realistic; we wouldn't be talking about the same price as we are here at 1440p! Not to mention that would have been a much higher drain on system resources and would probably mean you need to fork out for a new graphics card too. For most people the text size should be perfectly fine, and you do then get a nice big screen area for gaming and movies, making it easier to use from a further viewing position distance too. It also gives you a larger desktop area than a 24" 1080p screen of course with the same text size.

Away from gaming the backlight offered a super-wide gamut which produced vivid and saturated colours. That was great for gaming, multimedia and for those who like that kind of appearance, but the screen was let down a bit by it's limited and restrictive sRGB mode. It had a factory calibration in that mode but because you cannot change even simple things like the brightness control, it wasn't very usable. That was a bit of a shame. Contrast ratio was a little on the low side, although not bad for an IPS panel, but the screen does offer the general all-round benefits of that panel technology that we have come to expect. The stand was generally good - strong and stable with decent adjustments, except the height that we found to be rather limiting at the upper adjustment range.

Overall as a gaming screen it's a very good new addition to the ROG Swift family, and we expect some people will really like the new larger screen size and the wealth of gaming features on offer. The PG329Q is available now including to pre-order from Overclockers in the UK at 698.99. Affiliate links to check the latest availability and pricing are below.

 

Pros

Cons

Excellent all round gaming performance with great response times, variable overdrive, low lag and high refresh rate

Stand height adjustment is limited so the screen sits pretty low

Decent blur reduction mode including ability to use at the same time as VRR (still very rare)

sRGB emulation mode offers good emulation of smaller colour space but is inflexible so you cannot change brightness of colour temperature

Text size and resolution is still decent on 32", and increased size is useful for gaming and immersion

Some people might have liked 4K resolution on a screen this size

 

Check Pricing and Buy - Direct Links

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TFT Central Awards Explained

We have two award classifications as part of our reviews. There's the top 'Recommended' award, where a monitor is excellent and highly recommended by us. There is also an 'Approved' award for a very good screen which may not be perfect, but is still a very good display. These awards won't be given out every time, but look out for the logo at the bottom of the conclusion. A list of monitors which have won our awards is available here.

 

 

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