The PD32M is an incredible HDR monitor that’s perfect for all types of media
- Manufacturer: AGON by AOC, Porsche Design
- Model: PD32M
- Display Type: 32”, Mini-LED, IPS, HDR1400, FALD Gaming Monitor
- Resolution: 3840×2160 (UHD)
- Refresh rate: 144 Hz
- Price when reviewed: £1,750
- Supplied by: AOC
AOC AGON PD32M Review
The PD32M is the result of AOC’s newest collaboration with the Porsche Design gurus, and it has surpassed my every expectation. There are a lot of specs worth mentioning, but the main highlight is the incredible HDR performance. Carrying DisplayHDR 1400 certification, the PD32M peaks at a breathtaking 1670 cd/m², whilst the local dimming allows the monitor to display inky blacks in stunning contrast.
It’s not just a great HDR display, though. SDR picture quality is magnificent and the pixel response is rapid enough to cope with fast-paced games. I’ve had this monitor on my desk for the past month and can categorically state it is the best display I’ve had the pleasure of testing. I’ve been using it for all of my PC gaming, using the HDMI 2.1 connection with an Xbox Series X, and I’ve been blown away by the image quality when watching Stranger Things Season 4 and the new Obi-Wan series.
An unexpected feature that I’ve fallen in love with is that if you switch on HDR within Windows you can enjoy the benefit of the 1,152 local dimming zones when watching SDR content. This is especially useful when watching content at night or in a dark room, as it completely negates the light bleed that normally accompanies dark scenes on IPS panels. The colours are a little out as it uses the DCI-P3 colour space, but there is no excess colour saturation and it looks completely natural.
If you’re doing colour critical work, the AGON PD32M has an excellent factory calibration with an average sRGB DeltaE of just 0.46 (lower is better – less than 2.0 is considered imperceptible to the naked eye). You also get fantastic AdobeRGB coverage of 99%, making this a great monitor for creatives and gamers.
On the subject of colour gamut, the PD32M has the highest sRGB volume of any monitor I’ve tested to date, with an almost unheard of coverage of 172%. Unlike some cheaper displays that I’ve tested, the colour balance is handled superbly, with smooth gradients across the full range whilst still being able to display astonishingly deep colours at all brightness levels.
There would normally be a point where I’d discuss the various settings and suggestions for optimal picture quality, but for this display, it’s very simple; the out of the box presets are essentially perfect. The default gamma setting maps very close to the 2.2 curve, and the colour temperature using the default warm preset sits at an ideal 6500K. There is the usual selection of gaming presets and blue-light filters, which of course you can adjust to your personal preference, but I spent the entirety of my time using the out of the box defaults. I ran a calibration on it which marginally improved the recorded colour accuracy, but I couldn’t see any visible difference so I stuck with the AOC factory ICC profile.
At 32” it’s larger than some people may be used to, but at this size, the UHD resolution makes a lot of sense. The pixel density is such that even close up everything remains pin-sharp, and I didn’t need to use resolution scaling to make text readable as I do on 27” UHD displays. As always, you’ll need a pretty meaty rig or one of the new-gen consoles to make the most of the fast refresh rate at 4K, but even if you can’t max this display out it should be seen as an investment for the future. The quality of the PD32M is such that you’ll still be enjoying it when the new wave of GPUs and even the follow-ups to the PS5 and Series X drop, by which time the tech needed to fully utilise all these features will be far more affordable.
For me, image quality is king. You can have the best rig imaginable, but a quality display arguably improves enjoyment more than a few extra fps or visual flourishes. At £1,750 this is definitely an enthusiast-level monitor, but it’s very favourably priced against similarly specced displays from other manufacturers.
Design and build
For a monitor that has been styled by Porsche Design, I’m surprised I got this far without mentioning how it looks. Of course, that’s a testament to how good the image quality is, but the styling is equally impressive. Compared to the AOC AGON PD27 that I reviewed last year, with its roll cage-inspired stand, it’s far more subtle but no less impactful.
The front of the display is almost identical to AOC’s AGON PRO monitors, with slim bezels and a slightly larger lower bezel, though the PD32M has a Porsche Design text logo in lieu of the AOC logo. The similarities end there, though, as the trapezoidal stand and detailing at the rear are very distinctive.
The stand is a major focal point of the PD32M, and I love the design, but I was most impressed by how stable it is. Constructed of aluminium with a gunmetal grey finish, it sits flush with the desk. You can use the opening at the base of the stand for cable management, but this could block the logo projector that shines either the PD or AGON logo onto the base. As I have my monitors against a wall, I just hooked my cables over the top of the stand which kept them out of the way nicely.
Although the stand is quite chunky and extremely sturdy, it’s more compact than many of AOC’s usual stands. From back to front (including the stand) the PD32M has a depth of 30cm measured at the ends of the feet, and just 19cm from the back of the stand to the front of the screen. At 59cm peak width between the legs, the footprint is quite large, but there’s sufficient space to accommodate a full-size keyboard without pushing everything towards the front of your desk.
The stand is provided fully assembled, and simply clips into the back of the monitor, making it a breeze to set up. The PD32M is VESA mount compatible, but that kind of negates the point of buying a Porsche Designed monitor, right?
Ergonomic features are very good on the PD32M: Height can be adjusted by 150mm, the display can be tilted by -5°/+21°, swivelled +/- 30° and rotated into portrait orientation. Additional features include headset hangers on either side of the display and customisable RGB lighting across the rear. The hangers are useful, but they are quite short, so if your headset has a wide headband like the Audeze LCD-GX it won’t be properly supported (it’s perfect for the AOC GH401, however).
As is the case with many of AOC’s monitors, the RGB isn’t quite bright enough to provide bias lighting behind the display, so it’s not as impactful as it could be unless the display is on an open desk. The RGB effect is decent, but I’m not convinced by the fuzzy effect as it passes the mesh at either side of the panel.
The menu system is arranged similarly to other AOC AGON PRO monitors, but it has a distinctive Porsche Design UI. It’s a clear arrangement that I quickly got to grips with, and it’s fast and responsive. Switching between the menus takes a bit of getting used to, as there is no dedicated back button, but it’s a very short learning process.
Switching between inputs is a little slow, taking a good few seconds, and it’s similar when activating HDR where there’s a slight delay. It never felt problematic, and I only mention it because there’s almost nothing else to dislike about this monitor.
The addition of PBP (picture by picture) is welcome, as is the seamless KVM switch. KVM can be used when you have a laptop with DP over USB-C connectivity along with another device plugged into the integrated USB 3.2 Gen 1 hub. The automatic KVM switch worked perfectly in regular use, and when utilising PBP it only takes a few button presses to manually switch between USB-C and USB-Up.
There’s a joystick at the rear-right of the monitor for controlling the menus, but the included remote is definitely my preferred option. Styled on the centre console of Porsche cars, the wireless remote is not only convenient, it’s gorgeous. You can control all features of the PD32M with it, as well as have quick access to the three gamer presets.
Finally, the user manual and ICC profile, instead of being on a CD or needing to be downloaded from the AOC website, are stored on a beautiful metallic 8GB USB thumb drive. Totally unnecessary, but I love the attention to detail, and it reinforces that this is a premium bit of tech.
Connectivity and Supported Resolutions
The AOC AGON PD32M has a comprehensive suite of connectivity options. You get two HDMI 2.1 ports, along with a DisplayPort 1.4 input and a USB TypeC port supporting power delivery (up to 90W depending on HDR brightness) and DisplayPort over USB-C. There is also a 3.5mm audio out for headphones, a 3.5mm line-in for microphones, and a USB-B upstream port to connect your PC to the USB hub, which has 4 downstream USB-A 3.0 ports, one of which supports fast charging (coloured yellow).
The PD32M supports the following optimum resolutions:
HDMI 2.1: 3840*2160 @ 144Hz
DisplayPort: 3840*2160 @ 144 Hz (DSC)
USB-C: 3840*2160 @ 120 Hz
The PD32M has adaptive sync support with Freesync Premium certification, but it is also compatible with Nvidia G-Sync. The adaptive sync window is active from 48-144Hz, so although it’s not as impressive as G-Sync ultimate’s full refresh range sync, it’s sufficient to keep the majority of your gaming smooth and tear-free.
In the box is a DisplayPort and high-speed HDMI cable, as well as a USB-C to USB C/A cable (with a handy integrated adapter). The PD32M utilises a sizeable (huge, actually) power brick rated at 329.6 W – that’s a huge amount of power for a monitor, though a part of that power is dedicated to up to 90W USB-C laptop charging and quick-charge USB-A ports. Even so, if you run this at full power daily, expect a noticeable increase in your energy bills.
With excellent gamut coverage and high peak brightness, the PD32M is an incredible mixed-use display. The 4k resolution and HDMI 2.1 connectivity make it ideal for those with new-gen consoles, as well as those who are gaming on PC.
As I mentioned at the start of the review, the out of the box settings are ideal. Colour temperature, contrast and gamma couldn’t be improved by changing any settings, so all of the following results are based on the default settings using the included factory ICC profile.
A quick note for those who prefer working in a locked sRGB colourspace; Unfortunately brightness can’t be adjusted in sRGB mode, but the fixed brightness of 253 cd/m² is certainly usable, and the colour temperature and accuracy are suitable for mid-range creative work.
Viewing our ghosting and response tests at 144Hz with overdrive off, there is barely any noticeable motion blur. With overdrive set to weak, any blur was rendered imperceivable. I’m used to strong overdrive implementations causing significant overshoot, however, on the PD32M overshoot and inverse ghosting were visible when using the medium setting, too. As such, weak is the best setting to use here, regardless of refresh rate.
Pixel response is very good on the PD32M, and comparable with other AGON PRO monitors I’ve tested. It’s not as impressive as some of the new wave of 300Hz panels that are on the market, but it’s more than good enough for most competitive games and above average for a 4K 144 Hz display.
Brightness, contrast and colour
The peak brightness of the PD32M in SDR is exceptional, peaking at over 630 cd/m², though this is offset by a black level of 0.61 cd/m² at full brightness. This is common for IPS displays, however, and the PD32M turns in a respectable contrast ratio of 1050:1.
If you’re using a PC and run the monitor in HDR mode, this allows SDR content to maintain the same brightness, but local dimming of the full-array backlight allows the black level to drop to 0.01 cd/m² (essentially pitch black), with a resultant contrast ratio of over 45,000:1. There’s a slight transition as the display shifts from full brightness to darkness, but it’s only really noticeable when images rapidly alternate bright objects against a dark background.
If you’re in a brightly lit room then I’d stick with the superb SDR picture quality, but for viewing at night I can’t stress enough just how much better it is viewing SDR content with the HDR local dimming enabled. It’s transformative, especially if you’re like me and enjoy viewing content at full brightness.
Of the various colour temperature presets available, the default warm setting had the white point at the ideal 6500K, needing no adjustments, which is outstanding.
The out of the box colour accuracy is excellent and, personal preference aside, you can comfortably use this monitor without ever needing to adjust any settings. The PD32M has an average DeltaE of just 0.46 and a maximum of just 1.25, which means all colours are highly accurate and within the limits of human perception.
Display gamma was also very accurate, measuring 2.2 with the default Gamma 1 setting, and it followed the 2.2 gamma curve very closely. I also tested the gamma at varying brightness levels, and the results were identical throughout. We can see from the grey ramp that the colour temperature also stays very consistent.
The panel in the AOC AGON PD32M has 10bit colour depth, allowing it to display up to 1.07 billion colours, and the gamut coverage* is phenomenal:
- sRGB has 100% coverage with a volume of 172.7%
- AdobeRGB has 99% coverage with a volume of 119.0%
- DCI-P3 has 93% coverage with a volume of 122.3%.
*Coverage is how much of the gamut is covered, whilst volume includes any colour that extends beyond the defined gamut.
Colour saturation and coverage are excellent, with the PD32M covering the entirety of the sRGB gamut and beyond. AdobeRGB coverage is outstanding, though I was expecting slightly higher DCI-P3 coverage. 93% DCI-P3 coverage is still very good of course, especially with a total volume of over 122%.
I was particularly impressed with the vibrancy of colour, but also in how well the PD32M handles more muted tones, keeping images natural and appealing.
These results are exceptional, befitting of a monitor in this price range.
HDR performance is, quite simply, brilliant. The PD32M’s Mini-LED display, with DisplayHDR 1400 certification and a full array backlight, produces some of the best HDR imagery I’ve seen, and it’s by far the best HDR performance of any monitor I’ve tested. Sustained brightness is maintained at around 850 cd/m², but it is capable of brief peaks of up to 1,600 cd/m², which is dazzling and hugely impactful. HDR images are flooded with sumptuous colour, free from oversaturation, but it’s the way the PD32M handles extremes of contrast that impresses the most. Thanks to the local dimming, the PD32M achieves a stunning level of contrast that really does justice to the best HDR content.
Although there are over 1,000 dimming zones (1,152 to be precise), there is still a minor amount of haloing around bright objects, most noticeable when viewing objects like stars set against a black backdrop. Aside from that, it’s hard to fault the HDR experience the PD32M provides. I’ve been tracking down every HDR game and movie that I could find, and I’ve loved every second of it. If you want to experience proper HDR and still enjoy all the benefits of the best gaming monitors, the PD32M is a perfect choice.
There are a few HDR presets to choose from. DisplayHDR has a slightly warmer colour temperature, but it’s the only mode that allows the PD32M to max out the brightness. The gaming and movie presets are much closer to 6500K colour temperature, and the colours appear a lot more saturated (noting that they don’t over-saturate any colours), but the bright highlights are less intense. I did notice a very slight improvement in response when using the HDR Game preset, but it wasn’t significant enough to tear me away from the incredible picture quality and brightness of DisplayHDR. Everyone is different, of course, and having these additional usable options is most welcome.
Viewing angles and uniformity
Brightness and contrast uniformity is very consistent across the display, with no visible deviation. Even at full brightness, the maximum deviation is just 2% (15 cd/m²) in the upper left corner of the display. Contrast deviation is also ideal, with a maximum deviation of just 3%, again in the upper left. This is undetectable to the naked eye, of course, and had it not been for my colourimeter I would not have been able to notice.
Viewing angles on IPS panels are always good, but the PD32M is definitely above average, with contrast and brightness remaining constant even at extreme angles. Although there is a minor amount of light bleed when viewing SDR content, it’s consistent across the display and IPS glow is very slight.
The sound quality on the AOC AGON PD32M is much better than what you’d expect from a typical gaming monitor. The additional thickness of the PD32M that accommodates the backlight has allowed AOC the space to fit in some very competent speakers. Peak volume is sufficiently loud with excellent clarity, and there’s no distortion at higher levels. Although the bass response is only average, the sound still has some warmth, but it’s definitely lacking at the lower end. As I’ve found with other high-end monitors, the sound is on par with modern flat-screen TVs by way of comparison. You’ll always be better served by some affordable desktop speakers with a sub or quality headphones, but I was pleasantly surprised by the PD32M.
A quick side note; The minimum volume is still relatively loud. It’s not often you’ll hear anyone complain speakers won’t go quiet enough, but even at its quietest setting, the PD32M was loud enough to disturb my kids sleeping upstairs.
The AGON by AOC PD32M Porsche Design is an incredible HDR monitor. Thanks to the 1,152 dimming zones and insanely high peak brightness, this is a true HDR experience that you won’t be able to get enough of. The out of the box colour accuracy of the ultra-wide gamut display is good enough for all but the most serious professional creators, and the default settings are essentially perfect. If you like the simplicity of plug and play tech, you’ll love the PD32M.
I’ve tried my hardest to find anything to complain about, but I’m struggling. At a push, if I was into competitive/esports games I’d like the responsiveness to be just a hair faster, but there are other displays specifically designed for that task. A more prominent negative is the massive amount of power this display uses, especially with the recent energy cost increases (in the UK, at least). Although, after using this display for a month, I have to say I didn’t notice any excess usage above my monthly average, so it shouldn’t be of much concern.
Where the PD32M excels is in how well it performs across virtually every conceivable use-case scenario. Whether you love watching HDR movies and shows or taking in the stunning vistas of the latest cinematic gaming masterpiece the AOC PD32M is simply sublime. It’s not hyperbole when I say that this is the best monitor I’ve had in for testing. It’s staggeringly good – so much so that the money I’m saving towards a new RTX 40 series GPU is rapidly becoming the PD32M fund.