Asus PA32UCG monitor out-specs Apple's Pro Display XDR, at least on paper

The 4K HDR Asus monitor supports a 120Hz refresh rate, multiple connection types and more flexible color matching. And it's just as bright.

Lori Grunin Senior Editor / Advice
I've been reviewing hardware and software, devising testing methodology and handed out buying advice for what seems like forever; I'm currently absorbed by computers and gaming hardware, but previously spent many years concentrating on cameras. I've also volunteered with a cat rescue for over 15 years doing adoptions, designing marketing materials, managing volunteers and, of course, photographing cats.
Expertise Photography | PCs and laptops | Gaming and gaming accessories
Lori Grunin
3 min read

Asus' ProArt PA32UCG.


It's a paper battle between two professional monitors that haven't even shipped yet: the Apple Pro Display XDR and the 32-inch Asus ProArt PA32UCG. Both promise the world for video editing: a peak brightness of 1,600 nits (and sustained full screen of 1,000 nits), true 10-bit color covering at least 99% of P3, reference color profiles in hardware, support for major HDR flavors (like Dolby Vision, Hybrid Log Gamma and HDR10) and subnoticeable (Delta E < 1) color accuracy. 

But Asus adds 120Hz variable refresh support, throws in more reference color spaces and user color profiles storable in hardware, has HDMI and DisplayPort connectors in addition to Thunderbolt 3. Those features make it appropriate for a broader variety of tasks, such as game development, marketing and product packaging design, collaborating with people who don't necessarily have a $5,000 monitor and so on.

Perhaps most important, this isn't Asus' first rodeo with pro monitors. It's been corralling them for years.

The PA32UCG joins Asus' new ProArt Nvidia RTX Studio systems in their IFA debuts. It's a sibling to the PA32UCX, Asus' $4,000 pro 1,200-nit quantum dot 4K HDR display, which gives us some idea of what to expect. Asus hasn't provided pricing for the PA32UCG, but we can guess that it will be in the same ballpark as Apple's display, and that the stand won't be a $1,000 extra-cost option that doesn't even swivel. 

The Apple display is at a higher resolution at 6K and has an OLED-equal viewing angle of almost 90 degrees in any direction. And it's certainly thin and shiny to match all your Apple gear.

Watch this: Everything Apple announced from its WWDC 2019 keynote

But the PA32UCG uses the same full-screen mini-LED backlight as the 1,200-nit model, boasting 1,152 local-dimming zones -- twice as many as Apple's. More LD zones means better isolation of very bright spots from surrounding dark areas. 

It can support 120Hz variable refresh in 4K; Apple's TB3-only connections support DisplayPort 1.2 for a maximum supported refresh rate of 60Hz at its 6K resolution. Asus' monitor has three HDMI connectors and one DisplayPort in addition to two TB3 and an unspecified number of USB connections (probably three Type-A connectors, like the UCX). 

Asus lets you create custom color profiles and store them in hardware, with inexpensive calibrators from Datacolor and X-Rite, while Apple doesn't. According to X-Rite, while displays don't drift the way they used to, they can still lose up to 1 Delta E of accuracy every year. That means if you can't calibrate, even the best monitor can become insufficiently accurate in a couple of years. And Apple expects its colors to match... other Pro XDR monitors. But match really, really well. On the other hand, if you can calibrate and store profiles in hardware, you can match colors across a lot of different pro monitors; it won't be as precise, because of the different color gamut and brightness levels of the displays, but welcome to the real world.

Do you work in print as well as video? Asus supports Adobe RGB profiles, while Apple invented something called P3-D50 because it thinks "P3 is the future" and I guess existing workflows don't count. Asus not only supports all the big standard spaces -- DCI-P3, Adobe RGB, sRGB, Rec. 709 and Rec. 2020 -- if it's like the PA32UCX you'll be able to configure multiple input sources with different profile settings for side-by-side comparisons. You can only connect one computer to the Apple monitor without swapping cables or some other kludgy solution because it only has TB3.

And then there's a big concern for some people: The Asus has a three-year warranty, while Apple thinks you should buy AppleCare Plus if you want more than a year.

My sense is Apple narrowly defines its market for the Pro XDR Display. I think of it as the monitor for color grading Apple TV Plus shows, Marvel movies on the new Mac Pro, while monitors like the PA32UCG are for less glamorous and widely varied production work in more heterogeneous environments. Of course, this is all academic. I won't really know until I can get my grubby fingerprints all over them.

Pro Display XDR: Hands-on with Apple's new $5,000 6K monitor

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