ASUS PA329Q ProArt Series monitor
The Asus ProArt PA329Q is a colour-accurate 4K/UHD monitor that will appeal to video and photo editors.
Despite its low contrast, the screen is bright without being glaring and it displays image colours with a fair simulation of ‘natural’ colours.
It’s usable with computers running the current ‘flavours’ of Windows and Mac operating systems, and its fast response times and negligible input lag make it well suited for video editing and graphic design work.
The Asus ProArt PA329Q is the company’s new flagship display for colour-accurate graphic design applications, which makes it a potential candidate for photo and video editing. This 32-inch LED IPS panel has a 10-bit colour depth plus a 14-bit look-up table that delivers a claimed 100% coverage of the Adobe RGB colour gamut. This is the first Asus monitor to be targeted at professional users, although the company has experience in making monitors for regular computers.
Angled view of the Asus PA329Q ProArt Series monitor. (Source: Asus.)
Each unit leaves the factory fully calibrated and comes with a unit-specific calibration report that includes data for both sRGB and Adobe RGB color gamuts along with gamma, grayscale and uniformity test results. The supplied CD contains the user manual and drivers plus a calibration application. Since this monitor can also be calibrated with i1 DisplayPro and Spyder5 colorimeters we were able to use the Spyder 5 Elite to measure the key parameters of the review screen.
The unit we were supplied with had obviously ‘been around the block a few times’ before we received it. The CD containing the calibration software and user manual were unreadable on our computer, although we were able to download a user manual from the Asus Global site. The HDMI cable was also missing so we had to provide our own cable.
The PA329Q comes in a large cardboard carton measuring 847 x 552 x 350 mm and weighing 15.7 kg. The screen and its stand are separately cradled in styrofoam for protection against impact. Also in the box are a support CD, quick start guide, warranty card and colour pre-calibration report, along with a Mini-DisplayPort-to-DisplayPort cable, a USB cable and an HDMI cable, plus a mains power lead.
Who’s it for?
The PA329Q’s specifications make it equally suitable for photo and video editing and viewing but the large size and high resolution of the screen commend it to graphic designers, video presenters and high-end gamers. With a maximum resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels along with support for all popular lower resolution settings (2560 x 1090, 1920 x 1080, 1600 x 1200, 1440 x 900, etc.), it can be used for soft-proofing and comes with the main printing industry colour certifications.
In order to appreciate the high resolution of this screen your computer will need a powerful graphics card, such as the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 series, the AMD Radeon R9 Fury X or the Asus Strix R9 Fury DC3. At four times the resolution of standard high definition, graphics cards processing 4K video must be able to handle four times the amount of data required for 1920 x 1080 FHD display resolutions. Many of the current models can’t.
For video editors, the screen has the ability to display multiple 4K UHD video inputs at up to 60 Hz. It can also support High Dynamic Range (HDR) and the larger colour gamut of Rec.2020, which is used in ultra-high-definition television (UHDTV).
However, the HDMI2 interface can only provide 10-bit colour at 4:2:0 chroma subsampling, which doesn’t match the capabilities of recently-released 4K cameras like the Panasonic GH5 or Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, which support 10-bit 4:2:2 output.
Design and Ergonomics
The display panel itself is impressive, measuring approximately 730 x 430 mm and just under 70 mm thick with a flat back that enables it to be wall mounted, if desired. It has an anti-glare overlay to minimise reflections and maximise clarity and is flicker-free. The bezel surrounding the screen is only 10 mm wide so you get a lot of screen real estate with minimal interference.
The stand clips onto a panel on the back of the screen, the top of which carries ventilation slots ““ and they are quite large and numerous. There’s also a pair of decent-sized speakers, which provide adequate sound levels and audio quality for gamers as well as video editors.
Most of the interface ports are located along the base of this panel. Here you’ll find the mains power connection and power switch, four HDMI 2.0 inputs (which provide HDCP 2.2 copy protection), two DisplayPort interfaces (one of which is a mini port), a headphone jack, a USB 2.0 A-type port for service use and upstream and downstream USB 3.0 ports. Aligned along the left side of the screen is a 9-in-1 card reader, with three more USB 3.0 downstream ports below it.
Lined up down the right side of the screen are the main controls, which consist of a tiny joystick and seven buttons. Pressing any of these buttons displays a quick menu that shows which buttons to press for instant access to the Input Select, QuickFit. Brightness and Blue light Filter settings. The bottom button is the monitor on/off switch.
The main menu selections.
The monitor stand and base are solidly constructed providing a height adjustment range of 130 mm plus tilts of 25 degrees to the rear and five degrees forward. The screen can be swivelled through 60 degrees in each direction. The monitor is also compatible with VESA wall mounts.
The QuickFit button is a hotkey that provides an easy way to preview page layouts directly on the screen without having to print test copies. It contains five types of patterns including alignment grids for A4 and B5 paper sizes for documents and photos as well as a ruler display. The frame sizes are also customisable with measurements in millimeters for high precision.
Below the QuickFit button are two Shortcut buttons, the upper one of which defaults to a Brightness sub-menu, while the lower one adjusts the BlueLight Filter. These buttons can be programmed by the user.
The BlueLight Filter has four levels, including zero for off. It is used to reduce the amount of blue light from the screen to make it easier on your eyes. It’s best not to tinker with it until you have calibrated the screen, after which you can set the compensation level to suit your vision.
Picture-in-Picture (PIP) and Picture by Picture (PBP) displays are also supported. The former opens an inset window on the main screen in which another source is displayed, while the latter splits the screen in two to display output from two different sources. Each window can run a different image mode.
There are six picture modes plus the factory-calibrated Adobe RGB and sRGB settings, which are not adjustable. Among them are two user modes that can store pre-set colour adjustments. Pressing the Menu button opens the OSD (On-Screen Display) menu in which they are located and enables you to make parameter adjustments.
The Standard mode is used for document editing and includes SplendidPlus Video Enhancement, a technology developed by Asus to provide sharper, more colourful images with better contrast, brightness, skin tones and colour saturation for video applications. SplendidPlus Video Enhancement is also applied in the Scenery mode, which is recommended for displaying photos of all types.
The Reading mode is used for book reading. It disables the colour temperature, contrast, saturation and hue adjustments and only permits adjustments to brightness and gamma (contrast). The Darkroom mode provides full access to the colour and greyscale adjustments. This mode should be used when calibrating the monitor with a colorimeter. (If you don’t plan to calibrate the monitor, choose either the sRGB or Adobe RGB mode for editing photos and video clips.
Colour adjustments cover settings for brightness, contrast and saturation, each with a 0 to 100 value adjustment range. Hue adjustments shift the displayed colours between green and purple, while the Colour Temperature setting has four modes: 9300K, 6500K, 5500K and 5000K.
The Image sub-menu contains the following settings: Sharpness, TraceFree, Aspect Control, Uniformity Compensation, VividPixel and ASCR. Sharpness is best left at the default setting to avoid artefacts. TraceFree is used to minimise motion blur, while Aspect Control selects from the Full, 4:3 and OverScan modes, the latter stretching a smaller image to the width of the screen (at the expense of resolution). Uniformity Compensation is only accessible in the Standard mode, which is strange since it would be more useful in the sRGB and Adobe RGB modes.
VividPixel increases the contrast between light and dark objects on screen, while ASCR provides a more dynamic contrast adjustment that increases the tonal range from dark to bright at the expense of shadow and highlight detail.
Because we weren’t the first to use the review unit, we had no knowledge of whether it had been calibrated before we received it so we opted to assume it was supplied with the factory calibrations unchanged. We carried out our standard tests with the Spyder5 Elite and associated software. This enabled us to compare its performance with other monitors we have reviewed in the past year or so.
Once our tests were completed we checked a couple of overseas reviews, which we assumed had been done on brand new models with their factory calibrations intact. The close correspondence between the results we obtained and those obtained by other reviewers suggested our assumptions were essentially correct and reflected the performance of the monitor as it would be out-of-the-box.
Advanced Analysis of measurements taken with the Spyder5 Elite showed this monitor to be a good performer overall, with a perfect score for the colour gamut and 4.5 out of a possible 5 each for colour accuracy and uniformity. Tonal response and white point were rated at 3.5 out of 5.
The main weaknesses were contrast (with a rating of 2) and luminance uniformity (rated at 1.5). These ratings reduced the overall rating of the review unit to 3.5 out of a possible score of 5.
The overall rating shows the PA329Q to be a good performer in some parameters but relatively poor in others. Whether the latter will be important will depend on the use to which this monitor is put.
The results of the individual tests are presented below.
1. Colour Gamut
The review monitor performed very well in this test, as shown in the graph above. The green triangle shows the boundaries of the sRGB colour space, while the purple triangle delineates the Adobe RGB colour space. The red triangle shows the measured colour space for the monitor, which is slightly shifted in the green wavelengths and is significantly larger than sRGB. Our tests showed it covered 97% of the Adobe RGB colour space.
Gamma plots show the relationship between the brightness of a pixel as it appears on the screen, and the numerical value of that pixel. They are a good indicator of how mid-tones are reproduced. If gamma is set too high, mid-tones appear too dark.
The graph of the measured gamma (above) shows it to be virtually identical to 2.2, the recommended gamma for image editing with Windows PCs.
3. Colour Accuracy
Colour accuracy was also very good, with only minor deviations from the ideal theoretical values.
4. Brightness, Contrast and White Point
Contrast and white point measurements were remarkably consistent across all brightness settings from zero to 100%.
5. Screen Uniformity
The two Screen Uniformity tests check the brightness and colour consistencies of the display in nine sections of the screen, at various luminance levels. Separate graphs are provided for luminance (brightness) and colour measurements across four luminance levels. We present the upper and lower graphs for each category.
5a. Luminance Uniformity.
Luminance uniformity was generally poor, with a distinct central hot spot found at the measured brightness levels.
5b. Colour Uniformity
Colour uniformity measurements showed distinct variations between the left and right sides of the screen.
6. Before and After Views
The ‘before’ (top) and ‘after’ (below) displays produced by the Spyder5 Elite showing the effects of calibration. The close similarities between these displays shows the ASUS PA329Q ships with excellent colour settings.
Subjective evaluations of the monitor confirmed the results we obtained in our objective tests but suggested a slightly warm bias. We found a need to select the correct mode to access enough settings to overcome some of the flaws in brightness uniformity and contrast. Unfortunately, Asus has placed some restrictions on the range of adjustments it permits.
You can only access the full range of brightness in the Standard and Scenery modes. The Darkroom setting (which supports almost all of the adjustments) can only display at about 220 candelas/square metre (cd/m2), while the sRGB and Adobe RGB modes can’t go much above 170 cd/m2. Yet the screen claims a maximum brightness of 350 cd/m2.
So, although it displayed images quite nicely, the flaws in brightness uniformity and contrast were apparent when compared with our much smaller Eizo monitor, regardless of which mode we selected. There wasn’t much difference in colour reproduction but the images looked punchier and more vibrant on the Eizo, even though its resolution was lower and it was only a 22-inch screen.
If you can’t afford an Eizo monitor and you need a really large screen, choosing the Asus PA329Q will provide the colour accuracy you need for photo and video editing, along with decent response times for viewing and editing 4K movie clips. Some of the issues associated with poor contrast can be corrected through adjustment of internal settings.
Unfortunately, uniformity compensation can only be adjusted in the Standard mode, while it would be more useful in the Adobe RGB and sRGB modes. And, while it’s nice to have the ability to calibrate the screen, we’re not so happy at the lack of adjustments available in some of the pre-set modes.
The built-in speakers are much as you’d expect. Their location prevents them from delivering the best audio quality but they’re adequate for the tasks most people will use this monitor for.
Colour-accurate displays command a high premium, with the top-of-the-range Eizo ColorEdge CG318-4K 31-inch Widescreen LED Backlit IPS Monitor selling for around AU$7500. So at an RRP of AU$2199, the Asus PA329Q introduces some good competition into the large-screen 4K display market. Asus also makes a cheaper model, the PA328Q, which has a slower a response time of 6ms (grey-to-grey) and fewer interface ports but is otherwise similarly specified.
BenQ, Dell and LG also have similarly-sized monitors in a similar price range to the PA329Q, and Eizo offers a cheaper competing model, the FlexScan EV3237, which is about $500 more expensive at AU$2595. So the cost of the PA329Q is very reasonable for its specs and, while it’s not cheap, for its size and specifications, it is price-competitive.
Despite its low contrast, the screen is bright without being glaring and it displays image colours with a fair simulation of ‘natural’ colours. It is usable with computers running the current ‘flavours’ of Windows and Mac operating systems and its fast response times and negligible input lag make it well suited for video editing and graphic design work. With some tweaking and regular calibration, it could be good for image editing.
Because it was released more than a year ago, you should be able to find the PA329Q at a discounted price, although since it’s a specialised product, the discounting won’t be substantial. The cheapest local online price we found in a Google search was AU$1999, with the PA328Q at $1499.
Panel Size: Wide screen 32-inch (81.28 cm) 16:9
Active Display Size (H ø— V): 708.48 x 398.52 mm
Panel Type: In-plane switching LED
Viewing Angles (H, V): 178 °(H)/178 °(V)
Brightness(Max) : 350 cd/m2
Contrast Ratio: 100000000:1 (ASUS Smart Contrast Ratio [ASCR])
Response Time (Typical): 5 milliseconds (grey to grey)
Native Resolution: 3840 x 2160 pixels
Pixel Pitch: 0.1845 mm
Display Colours: 1073.7M (10-bit)
Wide Gamut Coverage: 99.5% (Adobe RGB), 100% (Rec. 709), 100% (sRGB), 90% (DCI-P3), Rec. 2020 support
Look-Up Table: 14-bit
Gamma Adjustment: Yes (Support Gamma 1.8/2.0/2.2/2.4 )
Colour Adjustment: Î”E< 2
Colour Temperature selection: 4 Modes
Preset Modes: 8 Modes (Adobe RGB Mode/sRGB Mode/Scenery Mode/Standard Mode/User Mode 1/User Mode 2/Reading Mode/Darkroom Mode)
Other Settings: QuickFit modes (A4/B5/Alignment Grid/Ruler/Customisation), Picture-in-Picture, VividPixel
Video Input Terminals: HDMI (v2.0) x4, Mini DisplayPort 1.2, DisplayPort 1.2
USB Ports / Standard: 5x USB 3.0
Other terminals: 3W x 2 Stereo RMS speakers, 3.5mm mini-jack (earphones)
Signal Frequency: 30 ~ 135KHz(H)/ 24 ~ 76Hz(V)
Power Consumption: <138.3W (power on), <1.4W (power saving), 0W (power off)
Height Adjustment Range: 0 ~ 130 mm
Tilt / Swivel / Pivot: +20 ° ~ -5 ° tilt, +60 ° ~ -60 ° swivel, 0 ° ~ +90 ° pivot
Dimensions (W x H x D): 735 x 615 x 240 mm with stand
Net Weight: Approx. 12.5 kg with stand
Compliance & Standards: Energy Star ®, BSMI, CB, CCC, CE, CEL level 0, C-Tick, CU, ErP, FCC, J-MOSS, KCC, Mac Compliance, PSB, PSE, RoHS, TUV-Ergo, TUV-GS, UL/cUL, VCCI, WEEE, WHQL (Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7), TUV Flicker-free, Ukraine, eStandby, TUV Low Blue Light
Supplied Accessories: Cable tie, Mini-DisplayPort-to-DisplayPort cable, USB cable, HDMI cable, Support CD, Quick start guide, Warranty Card, Colour pre-calibration report.
Distributor: ASUS Australia Pty Ltd www.asus.com.au
RRP: AU$2199; US$1299
- Build: 8.9
- Ease of use: 8.7
- Viewing quality: 8.7
- Versatility: 8.8