Best 32″ 4k options

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Buying a monitor? Please refer to this post before purchasing.


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  • #61643
    Surgeon

    Hi PCM,
    Thanks for that news piece on the new LG 32UN500, that’s of interest as I’m another reader of this site (of many it seems) looking for a 32″ 4K VA monitor at the moment. I see it has an Amazon listing, so hopefully some stock is not too far away. Keep us updated when you know any more about it please.

    The Philips 328E1CA is top of my “might buy soon” list because of the recommendations it gets here, but it looks to be out of stock everywhere in UK at the moment. Do have any insight from Philips UK about the stock situation? I guess I’m after some reassurance that it hasn’t been discontinued….. If it’s not available in the next month or two then I may be biding my time until the November Black Friday to see if I can pick up something at higher price point (like the Philips VJRMB or the Benq 3280) on a deep discount.

    Couple of other questions:

    The new Dell S3221QS gets a mention earlier in this thread – can you clarify your comment about panel type this uses in comparison with the flat Innolux? (if known, I’m aware it’s not a monitor you’ve reviewed). I’m not sure what to make of it from the RTINGS review as they are much harder to interpret than yours! It’s likely to be inferior to the Philips 328E1CA? It’s fairly new so user feedback is also scant (and what there is, is fairly mixed)

    Also can I ask if you have heard any more about the potential release date of the Phillips 328M1R since your last news piece? That’s of interest for the HDMI2.1 compatibility as I have a PS5 console on pre-order, but I’m aware that it may mean waiting well until next year for HDMI 2.1 models and the price point may be a rather higher than I’m looking at for a monitor at the moment.

    Thanks for your help!

    #61647
    PCM2

    Hi there Surgeon,

    The Dell S3221QS uses a similar panel to the the Philips 328E1CA, with a key difference being a slightly shallower curvature. In practice the curvature difference makes little difference – I personally prefer the slightly steeper curve, but others may prefer the shallower curve. I adapt to either and soon forget I’m even using a curved monitor. Both models share similar key image characteristics, including those I was referring to when comparing to the ‘flat Innolux panels’. That’s the panel used on the BenQ EW3270U, U32J590, 32UK550 and a plethora of other similar models. Specifically, the Samsung SVA panel that thes curved Philips and Dell use offers much better colour and gamma consistency. When you sit in front of models with the Innolux panels from a ‘normal’ viewing position (let’s say 60 – 80cm and head slightly above centre), there are more significant saturation losses towards the edges and particular the bottom of the screen than on the Samsung panel. There are also more pronounced changes in gamma, meaning that you get more pronounced ‘black crush’ centrally (high perceived gamma) and you get more excessive detail peripherally (low perceived gamma) in comparison to on the Samsung panels. The way RTINGS assesses monitors doesn’t account for these differences, but they’re very clear to the eye and I’ve had several users notice this sort of thing themselves. The screen surface is also slightly grainier on the Innolux panels, but I feel this is something that people are usually more forgiving of or less sensitive to. I’m not trying to make generalisations here about Samsung vs. Innolux panels more broadly, just the observations based around the Samsung LSM315WR1 series and Innolux M315DJJ-K31 and similar panels.

    The Philips certainly hasn’t been discontinued, it’s simply that demand is very high at the moment. It’s a very competitively priced monitor for the size, resolution and overall performance and with more people working from home now is selling like hotcakes. I’m not sure when stock levels will stabilise in the UK, but the Dell S3221QS is a decent alternative that should perform quite similarly in most respects such as colour and contrast performance. Responsiveness is a bit better on the Philips (reference). It’s a shame the way RTINGS assesses these monitors didn’t pick up some of the key and in this case frankly profound differences between the two panel families. But it isn’t really something that’s easy to assess in a quantitative way. We’re unique in our subjective slant to testing and the sort of differences you can pick up here with your eye aren’t reflected by a colorimeter or other quantitative testing methodology. The SpyderCHECKR 24 system we now employ to give some visual indications of colour consistency would reflect some of the colour and perhaps gamma consistency differences – but it wasn’t used when we reviewed the 328E1CA or Innolux-based models. The descriptions in the reviews certainly give a deep insight into the differences and how they manifest themselves, though.

    The latest information on the Philips 328M1R can be found in the news piece, so nothing further to add on that one at this stage.

    #61668
    swebs

    I’m excited to see the 32UN500 uses a different VA panel. Is this the first monitor using that panel?

    #61670
    PCM2

    As far as I’m aware, yes. I don’t know of any other models that use that or indeed a similar AUO VA panel.

    #61705
    Raspibit

    Hello there, I’ve just registered on this helpful forum to know more about the LG 32UN500-W, which is currently on Amazon Spain at €319. What it I like about it is that comes with a flat panel instead of the typical curved VA but I don’t know if a DCI-P3 >90% is enough for non creative usage neither if the response time on this AUO panel (yes, it’s only a 60 monitor but you know). I know about Philips’ models but the equivalent to this LG still costs around €400.

    #61715
    PCM2

    Hi Raspibit,

    I’m afraid I can’t add any more colour to the 32UN500 beyond what’s presented in the news piece. I have no experience with it and LG aren’t forthcoming with review samples so I don’t see that changing. I’ve been pretty happy with AUO’s VA technology and have used many AUO VA models before even if not this one. So I feel it would be a good choice at that price. I would expect it’s more similar to the Philips (aside from curve) than it is to the Innolux panel models. If you do go for it your thoughts would be much appreciated!

    As an aside, your avatar and name looked very familiar. Then I realised – I think I accidentally blocked you on Twitter (you did the same to us) a while back. There was a posting robot with a similar account to yours that kept spam Tweeting us. You’re now unblocked, just FYI. Sorry for the confusion.

    #61875
    matjmau

    Hi all.

    Firstly, Thanks for a great site. The reviews on this site are really detailed and useful, and these discussion threads are well moderated and maintained – this particular thread has been of great assistance to me in my search for a good 4k 32 inch monitor. My main requirements are good visibility for reading and watching movies, good contrast and viewing comfort. I have narrowed down my search to the Philips 328E1CA or the Dell S3221QS, thanks to this site and Adam’s advice over email. I have no need for higher HDR, and I think this site shows that the two models I have noted here have the edge over the higher HDR models when it comes to the fundamentals of readability, static contrast, colour, etc. as far as VA goes. No need for anything more than 60Hz either – so these two models hit the sweet spot for me.

    The difference between them that I can see is that the Philips has a slightly steeper curve, while the Dell has a height adjustable stand, pip functionality and a 2 port USB 3.0 hub – features that the Philips lacks. The Dell also appears to have slightly more powerful speakers – 5W vs 3W – though I have no idea how much difference this makes in practice. The Philips has audio in and out, while the Dell has audio out only. And on looking at the options available in the OSD, it appears that the Dell lacks a few options that the Philips has – including smart uniformity and smart contrast, gamma adjustments etc (I am not sure what the Dell equivalents are for these). I have no idea if the Dell edges out the Philips in terms of anything else like colour space etc. The Dell is also a bit more expensive. For me, the stand does not matter as I am planning to get a monitor arm (they both have VESA mounting capability). I am now trying to work out whether the difference inn features can help decide. If I am right about adjustability of the colours and settings, then the edge may go to the Philips. Any insights on this would be welcome.

    I have decided to be neutral or positive towards the curve, as I think that a slight curve may assist with viewing angles on a VA display, and in my case, I sit quite close so the curve will be of some assistance there too. As for flat screens, I did consider the LG 32UN550 or the Samsung F32TU87, the latter having a USB hub, thunderbolt 3 ports and a more adjustable stand but no speakers, while the LG has an external power brick which may mean that it is a bit thinner than the others which all have internal power supplies. However, I have not seen any good reviews of these to compare with the reviews on this site. Given they are all 4k 60Hz, there is no need for anything more than DP 1.2 or HDMI 2.0 so TB3 is not going to be the thing that makes the difference for me.

    I hope this post may have assisted some people in terms of the features that set these apart. I would be grateful for anyone’s experiences so far as to comparing the Philips to the Dell in terms of adjustability or anything that would edge one over the other. And, any insights into the LG or Samsung from anyone who has decided to go for either of these would also be welcome.

    #61878
    PCM2

    Hi matmau and welcome,

    Great first post and I appreciate the kind words. Glad you’ve found the content helpful.

    You’ve nailed the key differences between the models really, in terms of their featureset and design. The lack of gamma adjustment on the Dell is potentially problematic. Although from feedback I’ve seen so far the Dell seems well tuned in terms of gamma, that isn’t guaranteed to be the case with all units. There is no way to adjust the gamma in the OSD – a flexibility that’s all too often missing from Dell monitors. You’d more likely than not find such a setting redundant given how decent the gamma calibration tends to be, but it’s still a nice flexibility to have just in case. Or to adjust according to personal preferences as well. The pixel response settings are more flexible on the Philips as well, the Dell only really has one useable setting and it isn’t as well-tuned as the optimal setting of the Philips. I prefer the slightly steeper curve of the Philips as it’s not steep enough to feel unnatural but I feel it offers a bit more of a feeling of depth. It’s a bit more of a ‘feature’ than on the Dell, but I wouldn’t base the entire decision on the depth of curve and everyone will have their own preferences with respect to that. There’s not a dramatic difference either way and you’d most likely get used to either.

    #61879
    matjmau

    Thanks again for that information. It has helped me decide.
    I think I will go for the Philips. The extra OSD control may prove useful, and I think the slightly steeper curve will be better for viewing angles when up close. I don’t think the USB hub on the dell or its larger speakers are a deal maker for me as I will be using usb 3.2 gen 2 devices which would need a better hub anyway, and in the long run I will be getting external speakers.

    But… there is also another reason.
    I am about to buy a desk that comes with a free monitor arm and cable tray for a limited time from people local to me. That monitor arm is vesa 100 compatible but it is rectangular and I was told that monitors with recessed vesa mounting holes will not work.
    When I look online and read the manuals I think the Philips appears to have vesa holds on the back flush – but the dell appears to have a vesa cover that means the holes are recessed. If this is the case, then the mount I am going to use will not work. If the holes are flush with the body, then the rectangular part will stick out a little but still will work.
    I wonder if you can confirm – when you looked at the Phillips and/or the Dell, did you notice whether the holes were indeed recessed or not? It may not have been something you remember…

    It would probably not be an issue for others who purchase an arm with a square shaped mounting solution, but in my case, the arm is free, so this helps make the decision. It is an odd factor to be the one that is the deciding factor, but because these two screens are so close in quality, it has come down partly to this. But as already noted, I think the Philips would be my choise now anyway.

    This highlights an issue that some people might need to think about – if you are going to mount a screen on an arm, you should check to ensure that the bracket on the arm will fit the monitor. Just because it is vesa compatible does not mean that it will always work – it depends on the design of the casing around the holes and other factors so this is something people should check before jumping in.

    #61881
    PCM2

    That’s a good point to bring up about the VESA hole location. The Philips has them flush with the rear of the screen as you can see in the review. With the S3221QS they are recessed. But that’s always the case if the included stand attaches to that central point, as it almost always will if it offers anything beyond simple tilt adjustment. VESA mounting is universal and very flexible. There are all sorts of alternative screws and if necessary adaptor brackets you can get that would mean the recessed hole location is a non-issue – but it would still be simpler and neater on the Philips with a flat surface surrounding the holes already here.

    #61899
    arcs

    Hey, I’m the guy who asked about the EW3280U a few weeks ago, I ended up getting it but I only received it a few days ago due to circumstances with amazon. Just wanted to say that it’s pretty good, I’m happy I made this choice, the colors even in Rec. 709 mode do look noticeably different from the Asus but I wouldn’t say they are bad. With the EW3270U that was definitely the case, but it’s not an issue here. They’re not oversaturated.

    Just wanted to thank you for your recommendation.

    #61901
    PCM2

    You’re very welcome. I appreciate the feedback and I’m glad you’re enjoying the monitor. 🙂

    #61935
    NicBathgate

    Hi PCM2, I’m still here, checking this thread daily for updates on flat VA 32″ monitors 😅

    Outside of the nasty innolux panels, the flat options still seem to consist of the 3 new contenders:

    • AOC U32E2N – seems to only be available in Europe (eg Netherlands amazon)
    • Samsung F32TU872VN – Most expensive of the 3, and the only real advantages over the others are adjustability and connectivity as far as I can tell
    • LG 32UN500-W – The most available and cheapest of the 3

    Have you seen any reliable reviews on any of these 3 yet? The LG is looking like a well priced option, but I just can’t bring myself to trust in only Amazon reviews 😑

    #61940
    PCM2

    Unfortunately I haven’t. I’m quite disappointed that the U32E2N hasn’t seen wider release as it was definitely listed on the US site initially. It might still reappear and perhaps get released at a later date. I’m itching to review something from AOC, but if the products aren’t available in a way that supports our work or they aren’t major releases that have a lot of hype around them then it isn’t worth my time reviewing them. LG and Samsung aren’t forthcoming with samples so it’s unlikely I’ll be taking a look at either of those models. It’s a shame, they used to have excellent PR teams – but LG does things in-house (badly) now and Samsung switched to another agency.

    #62103
    sayhejcu

    I’m out of the loop. Haven’t followed monitor world recently. I’m thinking an upgrade over my 27chg70 monitor. What i want:

    32 inch 4k
    Minimum 120hz
    HDR is not important.
    Flawless gsync.
    Preferably VA.
    Curve doesn’t matter
    Preferably capability of using gsync and ulmb(bfi) at the same time

    Are there any monitor for me ?

    We know good old 1440p 144hz gsync ips monitors pg279q and alike. They are released in 2015-2016 i guess. I’m basically wanting it’s 32 inch 4k VA version. Reliable raw performance without hdr or 10 bit.

    #62105
    PCM2

    You need to wait as there aren’t any ~32″ 120Hz+ ‘4K’ UHD models currently available. The Philips 328M1R and I suspect some others using that or a similar panel will be coming next year, hopefully earlier rather than later. And some IPS-type alternatives such as the ViewSonic XG320U. Still no product page up for the ViewSonic, but it’s expected Q1 2021 along with the Philips. Some more basic options with less of an HDR-focus will probably be coming later on, but the manufacturers will be pushing models with decent HDR capability first.

    #62126
    sayhejcu

    Thanks. Those two looking good. Viewsonic always overpriced though. Can gsync module work with 4k 144 8 bit ? It’s pretty much abandoned.

    Do you think gsync module has any advantage with these latest ips monitors ? Most modern monitors have overdrive setting which works perfect at all refresh rates. No overshoot and very low response times around 4ms for 16ms refresh window.

    #62132
    PCM2

    Whilst the ViewSonic XG series tends to fetch a premium compared to some other brands, the same can be said for Acer Predator models, Gigabyte AORUS models and ASUS ROG models. These brands have no issue selling their products at the price they set. Simple market dynamics. I disagree that “most modern monitors have overdrive setting” which works perfectly at all refresh rates. Not the case at all, the optimal setting for the highest refresh rates of the monitor is often different to the lowest refresh rate. There’s sometimes (not always) a setting which gives acceptable performance throughout the range, but ‘acceptable’ is subjective. And it doesn’t mean it’s optimal and indeed some users won’t find it acceptable just sticking to that setting. Variable overdrive is still an advantage to some.

    Also note that just being inside the refresh rate window doesn’t mean performance is optimal – as covered in our article on the subject of monitor responsiveness. Whilst it goes a good way to providing respectable performance, you can actually observe perceived blur due to pixel response time weaknesses unless the response time is ~ half the refresh cycle. Which means you’re looking for ~8ms at 60Hz ideally. This concept is poorly understood by some users and reviewers who become overly fixated on this refresh window and treat it like some sort of holy grail. Mark Rejhon of Blur Busters is well aware of this fact, but unfortunately some reviewers have falsely drilled it into people’s heads that the ‘refresh window’ is the be all and end all.

    #62137
    sayhejcu

    Whilst it goes a good way to providing respectable performance, you can actually observe perceived blur due to pixel response time weaknesses unless the response time is ~ half the refresh cycle. Which means you’re looking for ~8ms at 60Hz ideally. This concept is poorly understood by some users and reviewers who become overly fixated on this refresh window and treat it like some sort of holy grail. Mark Rejhon of Blur Busters is well aware of this fact, but unfortunately some reviewers have falsely drilled it into people’s heads that the ‘refresh window’ is the be all and end all.

    Thanks for the information. I didn’t know this.

    By the way is LFC flawless with these gsync compatible monitors ? How they behave when fps constantly jump between 40-60fps since their sync range start from 48hz. CHG70 sync is pretty much disaster and it flickers when LFC kick in.

    #62139
    PCM2

    You’re veering too far off topic for this thread, sayhejcu. You quoted a list of average response times for a number of 27″ WQHD models and I removed it because it’s irrelevant for this thread. Furthermore, the data is pretty meaningless on its own as you’re just looking at mean averages. That’s not the issue here. You need to look at outliers and the slowest response times, not just averages. The LG 27GL850 for example performs best using its ‘Normal’ setting at 60Hz. The ‘Fast’ setting provides moderate to strong overshoot at 60Hz whereas ‘Normal’ is fast enough for a good experience. At 144Hz the ‘Fast’ setting is preferred because the ‘Normal’ setting isn’t fast enough for an optimal performance there. Some of the pixel responses with the ‘Normal’ setting provide more ‘powdery’ trailing than some users would like – even the ‘Fast’ mode produces some and with 100% refresh rate compliance if looking just at the refresh window. Pay attention to the pursuit photographs in the TFT Central review, they can be a lot more telling than average response times.

    You also need to consider a wider spread of pixel responses – there are 255 grey levels so don’t just dismiss what appears to be a few slow pixel responses that occur where a shade level of ‘0’ (black) is involved. If the next measurement point is ’50’ that’s a large gap. There are many (and I mean many) examples of high refresh rate Adaptive-Sync monitors that show the same thing. Why not take a look at the pursuit photographs from some of our reviews and see for yourself? It’ll help more than fixating on average pixel response time measurements, sometimes over a fairly small selection of grey levels at that. There are also some issues to be aware of with the common measurement methodologies as they don’t consider the full transition, but I won’t get into that as this is already completely off-topic for this thread.

    LFC is not flawless at all, there’s a momentary stuttering when it kicks in and you pass over the boundary. On VA models this can be accompanied by flickering, this occurs during significant fluctuations in refresh rate and that occurs if the monitor suddenly goes from say 48Hz to 94Hz due to the game going from 48fps to 47fps. We actually cover all of this in our reviews so if you’ve missed that as it appears you have, you should spend a bit of time reading them and absorbing the excellent information they contain. That’s another advantage of an actual G-SYNC module. The reason we point out some intricacies that other reviewers don’t is because we actually game on the monitors. This reveals certain issues that wouldn’t necessarily manifest during more methodical objective testing. Both testing types have their place, but there are reasons I prefer detailed subjective analysis and pursuit photography to a numerical fixation. It’s broad and unambiguous and less open to being misinterpreted.

    But having said all of that, I completely agree that natively fast IPS-type models like the LG 27GL850 can deliver a nice experience with just Adaptive-Sync. The sort of ‘issues’ I’m talking about here in the absence of the G-SYNC board are relatively minor. Too minor to bother most users, really, or to justify the common cost difference between those and models with native G-SYNC. But still worth pointing them out so that sensitive users can make an appropriate assessment. To keep things on-topic, I’m not aware of any native G-SYNC models that are ~32″ ‘4K’ with 120Hz+ in the pipeline that aren’t also ‘G-SYNC Ultimate’ and therefore come at a massive price premium. We maintain a decent list on our G-SYNC article.

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