Bold styling and a stunning display make this monitor easy to recommend.
- Manufacturer: ASUS
- Model: ROG Strix XG32VQR
- Price when reviewed: £470 (Amazon)
- Supplied by: Reviewer
This is our first ASUS monitor that we’ve had the opportunity to review. If this is indicative of the quality that they are putting out, I can’t wait to get my hands on more of their displays!
The XG32VQR is a curved, 32”, 1440p/144Hz, FreeSync 2 HDR400 certified display, that utilises a stunning VA panel, delivering excellent black performance. On paper at least, this monitor ticks all the boxes that prospective buyers will be looking for.
Design and build
The ROG Strix XG32VQR is an updated version of the well-received XG32VQ, and it shares a lot of design cues from its predecessor. Keeping the subtle 1800R curved screen, this monitor is as attractive as it is practical.
If you’re at all familiar with ROG products, you won’t be surprised to find this monitor has gone all-in on the gamer styling. Featuring sharp, angular lines and bedecked with RGB lighting, it’s a divisive look, but for those who buy into the gamer aesthetic (like me), it’s stunning.
An RGB ring at the rear circles the point where the monitor connects to the stand, which also features an illuminated ROG logo on the rear. You can connect this via ASUS Aura Sync to keep all of your compatible ASUS products synced together. My favourite albeit wholly unnecessary feature, though, is the customisable light signature. The base of the tripod style stand has a downward-firing light that projects light through an interchangeable cover that displays an image on your desk.
The sculpted rear surface of the monitor features an asymmetric design, sporting a circuit board-esque pattern. Thanks to some nifty integrated cable management within the stand, and concealed IO ports, it gives the rear of the monitor a very clean look. If you frequently change input cables, it’s not that practical, but I imagine for the majority of users this is a far more preferable solution to the trailing cable problem.
Speaking of IO ports, there are dual HDMI 2.0 inputs, along with DisplayPort 1.2, USB 3.0 ports and a 3.5mm headphone jack. There’s nothing particularly noteworthy here, but it should provide sufficient connection options for most users to connect their main rig along with an extra input for a gaming console or laptop if needed.
Moving to the front of the display, bezels are suitably thin. In contrast to the rear of the screen, ASUS has sensibly kept the styling tasteful and minimal. A sole ROG logo is the only thing adorning the gunmetal grey strip along the base of the display. Considering the light show at the rear, it’s actually not very distracting, and is far more complementary to viewing in a darkened room. In much the way Philips Ambilight displays blend into the background, you don’t really notice it until it’s gone.
Something missing from a lot of monitors these days is the ability to swivel the display. The XG32VQR comes with the obligatory +20°/-5° tilt, while also letting you adjust the height and swivel the display too. Movement of the screen is easy to carry out, and it retains enough tension to prevent the screen shifting if you accidentally bump your desk. You can’t pivot the screen, but that kind of negates the reason for buying a curved screen monitor anyway, so we’ll allow it.
The buttons you can see on the rear of the monitor aren’t the primary inputs for controlling the settings, they are hotkeys for some of the game functions. For OSD navigation, ASUS has included a mini-joystick that is reliable and far more intuitive to use than multiple buttons.
I tested the ROG Strix XG32VQR connected to both my PC and an Xbox One X console. Results on both were exceptional, with the added advantage that this monitor, despite running at 1440p, will still be able to take advantage of the higher frame rates of the next generation of consoles when they arrive.
PC gaming was superb. The curved display really helps on a monitor of this size, bringing the edges of the display into your peripheral vision.
As is widely acknowledged, 1440p is the butter zone for gaming on PC. Even on a display this size, 4k resolution often means you need to rely on some form of display scaling to prevent you from having to lean in and squint to read some of the smaller text. At 1440p text is large enough to read easily at a normal distance, while still having sharpness and clarity.
It’s also more GPU friendly: What’s the point in picking up a higher refresh screen, if you can only push out half of the frames needed? Even mid-range cards can muster up the horsepower to push out 144Hz frame-rates, which makes this ideal for competitive gaming.
I did detect a minor amount of blurring during high-intensity gameplay, but not so much as to deter us from enjoying this display. Using in-built motion handling improvements did improve performance but at the expense of introducing some unwanted artifacts. The response rate was still excellent though, and we didn’t detect any input-lag affecting gameplay.
Colours are vibrant, and thanks to the excellent contrast from the VA panel, dark screens capture lots of detail without any of the undesirable glow you get from IPS panels. With the peak brightness of 450cd/m2, it’s not as profound an effect as it is on an HDR1000 display, but on a monitor that you will be sitting close to it still provides excellent brightness even in a brightly lit room.
As with any HDR panel that doesn’t utilise local dimming, the true benefit of HDR comes from the extended colour gamut. The extra range of colour available not only looks gloriously saturated and bold, but it eliminates banding that can occur between subtle changes in colour. The result is a beautiful looking display that holds its own against panels far more expensive.
Unfortunately, the results from FreeSync 2 with Windows HDR aren’t as good. That is not because of anything ASUS have done, it’s just because Windows HDR is a hot mess. In testing, I found the colour to look somewhat washed out, which is the same as on the LG monitor in the office. Thankfully, ASUS has an ace up its sleeve. The XG32VQR comes with multiple HDR modes to choose from. FreeSync 2 HDR, Display HDR and ASUS HDR modes.
Display HDR is touted as their gaming mode, whilst ASUS HDR is meant for media creation and consumption. I found the Display HDR setting to be the best, as it offered much better contrast with deeper blacks, while still allowing the brighter parts of the image to (literally) shine. When used on PC, it’s far superior to the FreeSync 2 HDR, however, we had occasional issues where we couldn’t select from the ASUS options. I can only assume that this is down to Windows HDR handling, as I never had this problem with the Xbox.
As always, though, if you are buying a screen exclusively for its HDR capabilities, then you need to look beyond HDR 400 displays. Ideally, you would need multi-zone local dimming or a FALD setup and at least 600nits brightness to get the full effect. For the increased vibrancy of colour alone, though, it’s still a welcome feature here, and it is one of the better HDR 400 panels we’ve tested.
Additional display features
In addition to the HDR settings and custom modes, you can also assign preferred screen settings to individual games or apps with App Sync. You can have a setup for watching movies, with deepened contrast and richer colours, and have another optimised for gaming with adaptive sync and reduced input lag. In use, it is seamlessly integrated and only takes a few steps to assign it when you first start playing a new game.
Shadow Boost, in theory, sounds great, but as in most displays that utilise this type of tech, you end up forgoing visual quality in exchange for seeing a little better in darkened areas. It works, but on a personal level, I far prefer the visual experience with it off. The VA panel, as mentioned, produces some excellent contrast, and this mode negates the impact considerably.
You can pick one of these monitors up for around £470 (£509 RRP) which is very competitive for a 32” monitor. It represents great value for money at this price point. Considering the whole host of features and great RGB lighting effects, there’s not much more bang you can get for your buck.
The ASUS ROG Strix XG32VQR is an exceptionally good monitor. The HDR performance is middling, as is the case with any HDR 400 display, but it more than makes up for it with its excellent contrast, vivid colours and stunning curved display. Bold styling and AURA Sync lighting make this a great pairing for any ASUS rig setup, while still offering excellent performance on consoles.