I’ve been doing more video these days and realizing that as good as my 5K iMac screen is, the device is limited and for serious color accurate work, I needed something better.
While I will eventually get the new expensive (reference) monitor for the MacPro – I needed something right now. There are a lot of monitors in the $3000-$4000 range. The $2000 monitors are harder to find, specced out the way I want one anyway.
Then I Found ASUS …
ASUS has long been a player in the high-end computer monitor space. The ASUS ProArt PA32UC 32″ 16:9 Wide Gamut IPS Monitor is its latest release and offers 4K / HDR / Thunderbolt 3 capability to serious photographers and video editors alike.
Here are the basic specs…
- 32″ In-Plane Switching (IPS) HDR Panel
- Thunderbolt 3 | DisplayPort | HDMI
- 3840 x 2160 @ 60 Hz Native Resolution
- 1000:1 Static Contrast Ratio
- 1000 cd/m² Brightness
- Hardware Pre-Calibrated ΔE < 2
- 178°/178° Viewing Angles
- 5 ms Response Time (GtG)
- Adobe RGB, sRGB, DCI-P3, and Rec. 2020
- 384 Zone Dynamic Local Dimming
Let me start by saying – this thing is HUGE! At 32″ it obviates the need for dual monitors (at least in my opinion.) It is a little heavy and smaller people may need a hand in setting it up. To put it in perspective, (remember I am old) I was in my 30s before I owned a TV that was as large as this monitor.
Once I clear off my desk, It should easy to find a place for the monitor despite it’s very large size. It’s slim and has an ergonomically designed stand that offers tilt, swivel, pivot, and height adjustments. Its onscreen menu even rotates automatically to display correctly when the monitor is used in portrait orientation.
I am pleased to say that the stand (which is free) works extremely well. Unlike other monitors I’ve used that rotate between horizontal and vertical axis, this one is VERY easy to pivot. Its design is strictly brilliant.
As someone who spends a lot of time editing photographs on a computer monitor, I can tell you that finding such a monitor that offers the ability to rotate is valuable. Next up – hook ups.
The hookups for the monitor are located on the back, behind a removable panel. Normally I don’t like this kind of set up because it requires you to be double-jointed to reach around and plug everything in. In the case of the Pro Art monitor, I actually liked the design, because since I am able to easily rotate the monitor, hookups are a breeze. When finished, you put the panel on and everything is nicely hidden. Very clean look.
I hooked this beast up to both my MacBook Pro and my 5K iMac. The Thunderbolt 3 port guarantees both expandability and ultra fast connections. This display has two Thunderbolt 3 ports (one upstream, one downstream), one DisplayPort 1.2 port, and four HDMI 2.0b ports, as well as an upstream USB 3.0 Type-B port, two USB 3.0 Type-A ports, and a USB 3.0 Type-C port. The HDMI ports also support audio input and audio can be output using the dual integrated 3W stereo speakers.
The Thunderbolt connection supports data transfer speeds of up to 40Gbps. I am glad to see the USB 3.1 connector with power delivery that offers 60W power to your USB 3.1 accessories.
While I didn’t have a second monitor to test this myself, the company claims you can daisy-chain two of them through a single port without the need for hubs or switches. Nice.
When I fired up the monitor, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it was pre-calibrated and properly to boot. I can say that this monitor offers more calibration options than I could ever need. I look at calibration a little differently than most. I simply use it as a benchmark. The point behind calibration is to reliably predict how colors will render in the output media. I don’t try to take it beyond that. So when I tested the stock calibration, I got all I would personally need to make this unit work.
My first photography-related tests of the new Asus monitor involved using Photoshop, Lightroom and Luminar to edit a variety of large photographs. The monitor didn’t feel particularly fast, (or slow) but was deadly color accurate. The color fidelity was amongst the best I have ever seen on a computer monitor and certainly the best at this price range. I should also mention that the images look very sharp and lifelike on this big screen.
Compared to other monitors I have used, this one offers the deepest blacks and the brightest whites at an affordable price.
I don’t have a lot of scientific equipment to test monitors and frankly, I don’t find such tests helpful. I am always happiest when testing in real world situations, using my own eye as the benchmark. I’ve been using computer monitors for as long as there have been computer monitors. I know a good one when I see it.
This monitor’s anti-reflective screen and high contrast ratio is very addicting. I also liked the built-in blue light filter. Why don’t all monitors come with one of these? One of my complaints with the 5K iMac monitor is that it suffers from glare and its contrast ratio, while very good, doesn’t quite stand up to scrutiny when I am trying to color match bird feathers for images to be used in guidebooks.
I typically look for image quality/rendition in two places – dead center and at the edges. In a reference monitor (think Apple’s new $12k MacPro monitor) you should see no difference between color in the center and at the edges. Because this monitor offers pro-quality at a compromise, I.E. less than $2000.00 price, I saw a tiny bit of degradation at the corners, but nothing to stop me from enjoying the experience of using it.
For video editing, this monitor is absolutely a step up compared against the iMac screen. Because the Pro Art monitor offers nearly 100% sRGB color space, it provides a very lifelike HDR experience that high-end video editors will appreciate.
I also liked the ProArt’s ability to do Picture-in-Picture (PIP) mode. This allowed me to hook up multiple input sources.
Stuff I Never Heard Of
The ProArt monitor comes with a really cool technology that I have never seen before. Maybe this is commonplace and I’ve just never heard of it, but the ASUS QuickFit Virtual Scale is really cool. It allows you to save time with an onscreen grid overlay that lets you align and preview documents in their actual sizes, prior to printing. An intuitive 5-way navigation joystick makes it easy to access and switch settings using the onscreen menu. I tried this and found it to be very helpful when designing prints that would fit within the 32″ boundary of the monitor.
This monitor comes bundled with the Asus ProArt Calibration software CD which can be used with hardware calibrators such as X-rite i1 Display Pro, etc. It saves all the color profiles on the ProArt monitor’s internal scaler IC chip instead of the computer.
This lets you connect your monitor to different devices without needing to continuously change existing settings. It also reduces the signal distortion between the IC and the LCD optical spectrum.
I don’t have a working colorimeter so I didn’t test this feature, but I will say that I probably don’t need to. Based on the calibration performed at the factory, this thing is spot on colorize.
The ASUS PA32UC monitor looks and operates like a premium product. It’s very well built, and the stand is one of the best I have ever seen. The matte screen is also amongst the best I have ever seen.
Whether or not you will want this monitor has a lot to do with how you plan to use it. If you just want a high-end photo-editing monitor, this one is surely on the high end of the price spectrum. If you do stills and video, then it’s an easier yes.
Essentially, I think a lot will depend on how you plan to use this monitor and whether you would make the required adjustments.
Its $2000 price tag may scare some people, but if you’ve spent any time looking at the price of the best monitors, it’s not at all outrageous.
As for me and my recommendation – HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
AVAILABILITY & PRICING
The ASUS ProArt PA32UC is available now at B&H Photo Video at an MSRP of $1999.99 USD.