Last month on Tweakers, we looked at three monitors for photo editing: premium 27-inch monitors priced between 1,200 and 1,500 euros, with support for hardware calibration and the AdobeRGB color gamut. So this trio was a broad fit, with one important omission: the ability to display HDR footage properly.
ASUS actually sent us the ProArt PA32UCR-K with the previous version, a monitor that costs around the same amount, but is HDR-capable. The 1300 Euro 32 “display has a small LED backlight with 576 zones and a promised peak brightness of 1000cd / m². Like the previously tested monitors, it also has a 4k resolution. The color gamut includes AdobeRGB as well as Display P3 and sRGB. It is an IPS monitor suitable for hardware calibration To that end, the box contains one X-Rite i1 Display ProColorimeter, so you can optimally adjust your screen without additional investment.
The PA32UCR-K’s specifications are similar to those of the PA32UC-K, which five years ago was ASUS’ top model in the ProArt series. that was then One of the first with screens Full local dimming system And real HDR, although at that time there was no question of a matrix of small LEDs. These have only been offered by ASUS in later ProArt monitors, including the PA32UCX-PK from 2020. Compared to the PA32UCR-K, this monitor has a higher peak brightness, several dimming zones (1152), Thunderbolt support and Dolby Vision HDR. . The current top model, the PA32UCG-K, also offers a 120Hz refresh rate, FreeSync and HDMI 2.1.
While the PA32UCX-PK costs at least three times as much as the PA32UCR-K, you pay more than four times the cost of the PA32UCG-K. Thus, the PA32UCR-K is attractively priced, both in relation to the ASUS range and in comparison to monitors from other brands.
housing and connections
Not only the specifications, but also the design of the ASUS ProArt PA32UCR-K shows many similarities with the PA32UC-K from 2018. The PA32UCR-K has the same three-sided borderless design, and the cabinet is almost the same thickness. That is to say: it is obviously thicker than most other screens, but it is clearly thinner than those of recent higher-end ProArt models, for example the PA32UCX-PK and PA32UCG-K.
With the PA32UCR-K, the back has the same curved shape with a brushed finish as the aforementioned ASUS monitors, but in keeping with the cheaper stance, looks a lot quieter otherwise. For example, gold accents such as the massively shiny ASUS logo on the back of the screen are missing and the PA32UCR-K has a simpler base. It’s a slimmer matte black shaft with no contrast at the bottom, resting on a rectangular base. Although the screen on it can tilt, swivel, and adjust its height, you cannot rotate the screen from left to right. The lens hood that is included with more expensive models is not included in the box with the PA32UCR-K.
Compared to the imaging monitors we reviewed in our previous roundup, the PA32UCR-K looks modern. The build quality doesn’t seem to be as good as the competition in every respect. The plastic on the back feels thin and feels hollow when tapped. The PA32UCR-K’s design still has some practical points of improvement. For example, the cabinet doesn’t have a recess for your fingers to move the screen easily, and a plastic ledge gets in the way of the connections. The joystick and buttons for operating the OSD are awkwardly placed on the back of the board, with the power button directly below the controls, so you can quickly select the wrong option or turn off the screen when browsing the menu.
The PA32UCR-K has no less than five video inputs: three HDMI 2.0 ports, DisplayPort 1.2, and a USB-C port. The latter isn’t Thunderbolt capable like the PA32UCX-PK and PA32UC-K, but it does support DisplayPort Alt Mode, with 80W power delivery for your laptop. The built-in USB hub is also active over the USB-C port, with two USB-A 5Gb/s and one USB-C 5Gb/s port. Unfortunately, they are all in a hard to reach spot next to the image inputs. The monitor does not have a second USB port for uploading. Audio features include a 3.5mm headphone jack and built-in stereo speakers.
The PA32UCR-K’s OSD contains the same functionality as the ProArt monitors mentioned earlier. There are no less than thirteen color presets available, with Rec.2020 mode, which is remarkably sufficient. Most monitors don’t have such a placement because they don’t get close to a very wide color gamut, but the PA32UCR-K does, as explained later in the article. Just like our previously tested photo-editing monitors, the PA32UCR-K has a uniformity compensation option, which local dimming and HDR are not compatible with this monitor. Local dimming can also be used in SDR; The menu provides options for backlight response speed, but there’s no control over compromise between high contrast and sharper transitions between bright and dark areas.
Also worth noting are the two cryptically described functions “Motion Sync” and “Ambient Effect”. With the latter, the light sensor is enabled, so the screen can adjust its brightness to the ambient light. Motion Sync makes the backlight blink in the image to make motion appear more visible. Some game monitors also have such background strobe, but photo editing screens almost never exist. The added value of this functionality is limited with the PA32UCR-K. While the image doesn’t look jittery due to the higher flicker frequency of 480Hz or 960Hz, the image definitely loses a lot in brightness with the second option and the motion picture doesn’t look much sharper in my opinion than with the standard setting.
To calibrate the PA32UCR-K with the built-in colorimeter, you can use ASUS’ ProArt calibration software, suitable for Windows and macOS. The interface has a lot of empty space, but also the necessary options for choosing color space, white point, gamma, and brightness. For some reason, only User Modes provides extensive setup options; Default presets for certain color spaces can be reset, but not with a custom calibration intent. On a positive note, ProArt Calibration has the option to calibrate HDR modes as well.
Calibration with ProArt Calibration takes about fifteen minutes, with no options for choosing a number of measurements. It takes significantly longer to write data to the screen after completing the measurement. It is also curious that during this process the backlight is periodically turned on in full force.
Like the Dell UltraSharp UP2720Q and some monitors in ASUS’ ProArt series, the PA32UCR-K can also be calibrated using Portrait Displays CalMAN. ASUS also promises support for the Color Space Light Illusion. Both packages cost hundreds of Euros and are therefore not included, but for those who already have a license having them set up the PA32UCR-K is a nice extra. These programs have broader support for measuring devices and provide more options during calibration.
“Lifelong zombie fanatic. Hardcore web practitioner. Thinker. Music expert. Unapologetic pop culture scholar.”