Gigabyte M32U Gaming Monitor
We found the Gigabyte M32U monitor easy to assemble and, despite the difference in screen sizes, it integrated quite well with a 27-inch screen in our dual-screen configuration.
The review screen was bright and easy to view and its colour balance appeared quite natural looking. Moving images showed smooth motion transitions, even at frame rates of 24 fps, thanks to the screen’s fast refresh rate. We also found we could use the screen for extended periods without experiencing eye strain.
The M32U is an affordably-priced, large-screen monitor with a fast IPS panel and high pixel density suitable for image and video editing.
Many photographers and videographers consider buying gaming monitors for editing because they offer high enough resolution and a fast enough refresh rate to meet most users’ needs. They also include many imaging-related features and screen adjustments that support calibration, so they appeal to budget-constrained buyers. These are the main reasons we agreed to review the Gigabyte M32U screen and subject it to our usual testing regime. On paper, at least, it seems to tick many boxes so we’ll be interested in comparing how it squares up against other monitors we’ve reviewed.
Angled view of the Gigabyte M32U monitor set up for image editing. (Source: GIGABYTE ANZ.)
The M32U is an update to the smaller M28U screen and a sibling to the company’s AORUS FI32U, which has similar specifications but boasts a higher-featured headphone output and noise-cancelling technology on its microphone input. It also costs a few hundred dollars more than the M32U.
A key feature of the M32U screen is its wide viewing angles, which makes it easy for two people to collaborate on a task. It also comes pre-calibrated from the factory (although no calibration report is provided) and claims to deliver good sRGB performance straight out of the box.
But its main selling point is its fast 144Hz IPS panel, which ensures excellent motion handling performance plus low input lag. It also comes at a competitive price for a large, 32-inch 4K screen – although it’s not without a few basic flaws, the most serious being that it can’t be pivoted for vertical viewing.
Who’s it for?
Buyers of this screen will be in one of the following categories: single-screen users who want more space for displaying features like Picture-in-Picture (PiP) and Picture-by-Picture (PbP) and accommodating editing tools panels or those with dual-screen setups who want larger displays for viewing and editing images, particularly videos. Either way, a 32-inch screen takes up a lot of desktop space so you need room to accommodate it.
This screen could work well for content creators who use today’s stills cameras with 4K video recording capabilities. Videographers who edit their footage will probably find it can meet most of their needs, although it’s not quite up to professional standards for colour grading.
It’s worth noting the screen has a few limitations. For starters it’s 8-bit only; the Frame Rate Control only simulates 10-bit performance. It does this by flashing two alternating colours so quickly they seem to merge, creating a billion colour ‘experience’. It’s adequate for amateur use, but below par for professionals
In addition, on the rare occasions when a user might need to power the screen via the USB Type-C interface, it only delivers 18 W of power. This is inadequate for stand-alone use with a laptop on location – although it’s doubtful anyone would want to use a screen of this size away from mains power.
There are also only16 zones of brightness adjustments, which may be inadequate for HDR editing. Kelvin colour temperature adjustments are not provided, which means a lack of precision when setting colour balance parameters.
Physically, the M32U is about 1.5 kg lighter than the BenQ SW321C monitor we reviewed in June 2020 and also substantially cheaper. But the BenQ screen is a genuine 10-bit model with more adjustments plus a 90-degree pivot as well.
The review unit came with a printed multilingual ‘installation’ guide with diagrams showing how to assemble the stand and fit the screen to it as well as for attaching the necessary cables, which are all provided. Verbal instructions are pretty scanty so, otherwise you’re on your own.
The screen and stand were securely packed with neat cardboard compartments and soft foam plastic covers protecting the screen and stand components. The stand came in two pieces – the base and the pedestal, the latter clicking into posts on the base and being secured with a screw.
Side view of the M32U monitor showing its slim lines. (Source: GIGABYTE ANZ.)
The screen has a low-gloss coating that appears to be relatively immune to reflections and the bezel surrounding it is very narrow and unobtrusive. All the controls are at the back, with the power on/off switch in the same area as the input ports, which include two HDMI ports and one each for a Display Port, two USB-3 and a USB-C port plus a headphone jack.
The interface ports and power on/off switch on the rear panel of the M32U monitor. (Source: GIGABYTE ANZ.)
Unlike most photo-capable monitors, the M32U can’t be rotated through 90 degrees into a ‘portrait’ position. But it can be tilted forward through five degrees or backward through 20 degrees. Horizontal swivelling extends from 30 degrees to the left through to 30 degrees to the right and its height is adjustable through about 130 mm.
No shading hood is provided but the screen comes with a standard power cable, HDMI cable, DP cable, USB cable, Quick Start Guide and Warranty card.
For gamers, the M32U provides the following features:
- Onscreen timer for tracking the elapsed game time.
- Gaming counter to help you calculate the time more easily.
- Customisable Crosshairs for improving the user’s aim in the shooting game.
- Aim Stabliser Sync for reducing motion blur and enabling V-Sync technology at the same time!
- PIP / PBP functions to allow users to view different video sources and game guides simultaneously using only one monitor.
- Dashboard showing real-time hardware information including CPU voltages, clock speed, temperatures, etc. This display won’t be blocked by any games.
- Black Equaliser boosts details of the dark side without overexposing the bright side.
- Six Axis Control provides individual adjustments for six colours (red, green, blue, cyan, magenta, and yellow) to improve the colour gamut on the monitor.
- Auto-Update installs the latest features and upgrade while giving extra protection to your monitor.
The OSD Sidekick app provides an on-screen display panel that lets you adjust monitor settings with your regular keyboard and mouse, which is very convenient. It works from the user’s computer and has to be downloaded from the company’s website.
Different display panels are provided for each of the five pages, as shown below.
The Display Setting page covers adjustments for brightness, contrast, sharpness, black equaliser, colour vibrance, low blue light and ‘super resolution’ settings as well as accessing other functions, which are outlined below:
Gamma pre-sets- five presets are provided, along with an Off mode. The default gamma is level 3, which we used for our initial tests, although we also made measurements with this setting at level 2.
Colour temperature adjustments do not use Kelvin values; four options are provided: Normal (the default), Warm, Cool and User Define (which has sliders for adjusting the red, green and blue channels).
Four Overdrive adjustments are provided, along with an Off option. They are Smart OD (the default), Quality, Balance and Speed.
The Quality mode is interesting since it is designed to speed up pixel response time performance a bit at a cost of some minor overshoot. However, we couldn’t see much difference when it was switched on since performance was already pretty good in the Off mode.
Interestingly, the Gamma and Colour Temperature settings as well as the Overdrive settings are locked in sRGB mode. This influenced our choice of the Standard mode for all our testing.
The remaining settings in the Standard mode are gaming related and include settings for the aim stabiliser, FreeSync, Crosshair, PIP refresh rate, gaming time and gaming counter. We left them all on the default settings for our tests.
The Hot Key page (shown above) allows the users to assign different functions to ‘hot keys’ on the keyboard and/or number pad. Functions covered include the timer, refresh rate, Super Resolution (separate settings for + and -) and Picture Mode, which has three custom settings plus settings for FPS, RTS/RPG, Movie, Reader, Standard and sRGB). There is also a Contrast adjustments plus separate plus and minus settings for Sharpness, Colour Vibrance and Low Blue light adjustments and volume (Mute), Input (HDMI 1/2/DP/Type-C) and KVM (USB B/Type-C).
The General Setting page (shown above) contains settings for the input selection, OSD transparency, OSD display time, Resolution, Frequency and Quick Switch modes for the Black Equaliser, Picture Mode, Volume and Input.
The KVM+ page (shown above) opens a dialog with the KVM (Keyboard, Video and Mouse) switch on the back of the monitor panel. This switch allows the user to control multiple computers from a single keyboard, monitor and mouse or switch from one computer to another. It is mainly used for multi-participant gaming.
The final page (shown above) provides basic details about the monitor including the firmware versions installed. It also has a Browse button that can be used to access folders on the user’s computer plus an Update button for accessing firmware and software updates.
If you have a multi-screen set-up you can ‘park’ OSD Sidekick on the screen you’re not using for editing and tweak settings as you go. We didn’t have any major issues with either downloading or using OSD Sidekick and found it very convenient when carrying out our normal measurements of screen performance. However, we used it almost entirely in the Standard mode, since that mode provided the most frequently-used controls for image and video editing.
We found the screen very pleasant to use for reading and writing text and viewing images. It was quite impressive for its size and the amount of detail it can display and its matte surface was effectively non-reflective.
Super-fast response times were a noteworthy aspect of our experiences when using the review monitor. As expected, however, there were occasional short delays when moving the mouse pointer between screens in our dual-monitor set-up.
Because no factory calibration was provided, we had to calibrate the screen with our SpyderX Elite colorimeter and Datacolor software. As you can see from the uncalibrated and calibrated views shown below, no significant adjustments were required to use the screen with the original factory calibration.
The before (top) and after (below) calibration views of the screen, from Datacolor’s SpyderProof software.
Once the screen was calibrated we were able to carry out our normal analysis using the Datacolor software. The results are presented below.
The overall Monitor Rating graph shows the Gigabyte M32U obtained perfect scores for gamut and contrast and obtained a 4.5 out of 5 score for colour accuracy and white point. A score of 4 was achieved for colour uniformity, while tone response scored 3 out of 5. However, the overall rating was dragged down to only 4 out of a possible 5 by a score of 2 out of 5 for luminance uniformity.
The overall results represent the sum of individual parameter tests. Individual data graphs and tables are presented below.
Based upon its specifications, the review monitor performed much as we expected in this area. As shown in the graphs below, it comfortably encompassed 99% of the sRGB colour space, which is overwhelmingly dominant for video gamers. It was no surprise to find it only managed 82% coverage of the Adobe RGB colour space and 86% of the DCI-P3 colour space, which is used mainly for cinema applications and is 25% larger than sRGB, Foir a purely gaming monitor, this performance is actually pretty good.
This graphic shows the colour gamut profile for the sRGB colour space (green triangle), which fits almost entirely within the boundaries of the monitor’s gamut (red triangle).This means the monitor can display all of the colours used in Web applications. The purple triangle delineates the Adobe RGB colour space, while the blue triangle outlines the DCI-P3 colour space. Both these triangles extend beyond this monitor’s range and the DCI-P3 triangle is slightly skewed, resulting in a loss of greens. This could limit its use for editing both stills and video footage for professional use, although it need not necessarily deter photo or video enthusiasts.
We carried out this test twice, with Gamma setting 2 and Gamma setting 3. Each measurement assessed two parameters: the Tone Response, which shows the Gamma (the relationship between the brightness of a pixel and its numerical value) for the display and the Grey Ramp, which shows how the display performs across the different gradations between black and white. Together, they are a good indicator of how mid-tones will be reproduced. If gamma is set too high, mid-tones appear too dark; if too low, they will be too light. Ideally, the grey ramp should show a smooth transition from left to right.
The measured gamma at the Gamma setting 2 (above) was slightly above the 2.2 gamma recommended for image editing with Windows PCs. The grey ramp graph was nice and smooth, indicating even tonal transitions.
The measured gamma at the default Gamma setting 3 (above) was very close to the 2.2 gamma recommended for image editing with Windows PCs. The grey ramp graph was similar to the graph at the Gamma setting 2, although a little smoother, indicating this settings is the better option for image editing.
This table shows the review monitor’s colour accuracy was very good, although not quite perfect. While most hues scored less than 1.00, the black, cyan, violet and dark skin hues strayed across the boundary between 1.00 and 2.00, although not by much. Cyan is the outlier with a score of 1.51. Overall, this is a respectable result for a gaming monitor and indicates it could provide accurate colour depiction for image and video editing.
The two Screen Uniformity tests check the brightness and colour consistencies of the display in nine sections of the screen (a 3×3 matrix), at various luminance levels. As usual, we’ve only published the upper and lower graphs for each category.
Unfortunately, this parameter was where the M32U screen fell short of ideal performance, although this need not necessarily make it unsuitable for consumer-level image and video editing.
Luminance uniformity plots show a distinct hot spot in the upper left corner of the screen and a dark area in the bottom right corner, which persisted at all measured brightness levels. There was also a strong hot spot in the centre of the screen at 100% brightness, which became less intense as overall brightness was reduced while the dark area became even darker. These readings account for the score given for this parameter.
The colour uniformity plots appear worse than the actual screen performance, with higher variability in colour reproduction towards the lower third of the screen, which coincides with the measured patterns for luminance. This pattern persisted at all brightness levels, although the amount of variability was less at lower screen brightness levels. Given the score of 4 for this parameter, these results should present few problems when the screen is used for image and video editing or graphic design.
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Panel size: 31.5 inches diagonal
Active display size (h × v): 697.3056 x 392.2344 mm
Panel type: IPS (flicker free) with LED backlight
Viewing angles: 178 degrees horizontal and vertical
Brightness: 350 cd/m2 (typical)
Contrast ratio (typical): 1000:1
Response time (typical): 1 millisecond MPRT (motion picture response time)
Native resolution: 3840 x 2160 pixels (4K UHD)
Pixel pitch: 0.181 µm
Display colours: 8-bit with Frame Rate Control
Wide gamut coverage: 123% sRGB, 90% DCI-P3
Built-in Calibration Sensor: No
Refresh rate: 144Hz
Gamma adjustment: 5 pre-sets plus off
Colour adjustment: 6 axis Colour Control
Preset modes: Standard, FPS, RTS/RPG, Movie, Reader, sRGB, E-sports Customise
Video input terminals: Two HDMI 2.1 (support 4K 144Hz 4:4:4 @ DSC enabled or 4K 144Hz 4:2:0), one Display port 1.4 (DSC), one USB Type-C
Adaptive Sync support: AMD FreeSync Premium Pro
Certification: VESA Display HDR400, TÜV Flicker Free, TÜV Low Blue Light
USB ports / standard: 3x USB 3.0
Audio: 2 x 1 W (stereo), RMS
Power consumption: Energy Rating -180 kWh/year
Tilt / Swivel / Pivot: Tilt angle: -5°~+20°; Swivel angle: -30°~+30°; Pivot – N/A; height adjustment – 130mm
Accessories: Power cable, HDMI cable, DP cable, USB Cable, Quick Start Guide, Warranty card
Dimensions (w x h x d): 715.3 x 585.3 x 244.3 mm with stand: 715.8 x 423.8 x 68.2 mm without stand
Net weight: 10.35 kg with stand; 7.25 kg without stand
Distributor: Gigabyte Technology Pty. Ltd; (03) 8542 9000
RRP: AU $1099
- Build: 8.5
- Ease of use: 8.8
- Viewing quality: 8.8
- Photo/video editing suitability: 8.8
- Versatility: 9.0