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Lifewire / Zach Sweat
Packed with features
Great calibration out of the box
Controller for settings is awkward
Boring and drab design
This is an excellent monitor for professional users, but gamers and hobbyists will find the more advanced features to be a little too niche, so they should look elsewhere.
We purchased BenQ's PD3200U DesignVue 32-inch 4K IPS Monitor so our expert reviewer could thoroughly test and assess it. Keep reading for our full product review.
BenQ isn’t quite as well-known as some of the big tech giants like Samsung or LG, but the Taiwanese company has been producing solid monitors and projectors since 1984, gaining some die-hard fans over their history. As the company has made its foray into the 4K space in recent years, BenQ has put out some very nice displays for both professionals and gamers alike.
We took an in-depth look at BenQ’s PD3200U— a 32-inch UHD monitor packed with great features for professionals to utilize and enhance their work. While it’s not a bad choice for regular consumers or gamers, there may be better alternatives out there, so let’s dig into why that’s the case here.
BenQ also has a line of gamer-oriented monitors, so it’s no surprise that this monitor (being for pros) is a bit more toned down and a bit dull. That’s not always necessarily a bad thing, as the PD3200U has a nice plain look that won’t create an eyesore in the office. It’s built fully from a dark grey plastic with a slight textured feel. From stand to back to front borders, it’s all the same uniform plastic.
The stand itself is quite wide to support the beefy display, and it’s sufficiently stable even when adjusting the ergonomics, which are also excellent. You can tilt, swivel, and move the screen up or down to suit your needs (also can be used in portrait). Another prominent design feature is the “Hockey Puck” controller that rests in a recessed space on the monitor’s stand. This allows you to adjust settings and add hotkeys for different picture modes via the on-screen display. While a nice idea, this controller can be finicky at times and we personally didn’t opt to use it much. It’s quite easy to accidentally change settings to the wrong mode.
Moving up to the display, the front bezels are on the thicker side, about half an inch and then a bit over three-quarters of an inch at the bottom. Here, there’s also a proximity sensor with some nifty features. This sensor can switch your monitor on or off automatically when it detects you’ve left your desk, and it can also sense the light in the room to adjust the backlight. For added adjustments, there are some touch controls located at the bottom right that are backlit if you want to change settings. While we are often wary of touch controls, these work pretty darn well actually.
The PD3200U is a 32-inch UHD monitor packed with great features for professionals to utilize and enhance their work.
Lastly, at the back of the PD3200U you’ll find the inputs and also probably notice how beefy it is. This is definitely not an ultra-thin monitor, but the added VESA mount is nice if you want to attach it to a different stand. Two of the ports are clumped together on the right side of the PD3200U with a third at the base. The right side features two USB (3.0) ports for accessories and a headphone jack.
A really handy inclusion here is the SD card reader for things like quickly pulling photo or video files onto your computer. Ports like this further cement this monitor as a professional display that’s great for photo or video editors. Closer to the center at the right side are the two HDMI ports, a mini DisplayPort and a standard DisplayPort. It’s worth noting here that the HDMI are both HDCP 2.2 for copy protection—meaning they are perfect for newer UHD AV sources (something like a Blu-ray player/streaming box).
The final group of ports is found near the bottom left. Here there are some additional USB plugs—two downstream and two upstream—for even more utility. An analog audio jack (3.5mm) is also here for connecting headphones or speakers, and there’s a mini-USB to connect the included hockey puck.
Overall the build quality is decent and the sheer number of inputs makes this such a good monitor for professionals who need to have lots of things connected to a display for quick use. Sure, it could look a little fancier, but the cost-saving methods here help to drop the price.
Setting up the PD3200U is a little more involved than some monitors, but it’s still quite easy for anyone to achieve. Once your new BenQ display is out of the box, attached to the stand, and the cables are unpackaged, it’s time to hook up this hefty boy to your computer. The stand uses a locking disk to attach to the base, so don’t be like us and spend 10 minutes trying to figure out how to get it centered. Put it all together and then turn the display itself to make it centered with the base.
While the BenQ has superb out-of-box settings, you can find an ICC profile online to fine-tune your setup here that’ll enhance it a bit more. If you want to do this, just look up your specific monitor online and adjust the settings to their specifications.
Starting off with contrast, the PD3200U performs very nicely here with the ability to show deep blacks even in dark rooms (1,000:1 native contrast ratio). There is no local dimming, so that should be noted. As for brightness, this BenQ has a respectable level that’s pretty on par with other 32-inch 4K displays in the class, coming in at 350 cd/m2 peak brightness. Those looking for HDR will not find it here, unfortunately.
Color gamut is also a big factor for professionals, and the PD3200U really excels without any real adjustments.
Viewing angles are acceptable, but not uncommon to the IPS-panel family, which shouldn’t even impact most users since you’ll probably be parked right in front anyways. Overall the grey response time (4ms) is top-notch—a great strength to have. Color gamut is also a big factor for professionals, and the PD3200U really excels without any real adjustments. If you want a monitor that performs without needing to fuss with settings, it’s a perfect choice. Both color purity and uniformity are big strengths of this display.
For some of the features this monitor packs in to assist professionals, there are modes like CAD/CAM mode for specific use cases that bolster the PD3200U’s diverse capabilities. That said, regular users will find these very niche.
Starting off with contrast, the PD3200U performs very nicely here with the ability to show deep blacks even in dark rooms (1,000:1 native contrast ratio).
The PD3200U isn’t for gamers either, but that doesn’t mean it’s horrible in this department. Despite a lack of either G-Sync or FreeSync, the response time is solid at a 4ms pixel response time. This will keep ghosting down, but some screen tearing will happen, which we did notice while testing.
Most monitors these days don’t even include speakers built into the frame, but the BenQ PD3200U has two 5-watt speakers. Typically these are pretty bad, and that’s why they’re simply left off. The PD3200U’s are decent enough for some basic things, but won’t ever measure up to a dedicated speaker system or quality headphones. They’re fairly loud, but underwhelming for bass and a bit tinny. It’s nice to have baked in, but definitely not anything high-quality.
This monitor is definitely packing some nice software and features for pros to mess with, so let’s take a closer look. As mentioned earlier, there are a number of ways to interact with the OSD. You can use the included puck or the touch controls on the frame to access these.
Inside, you’ll gain access to PIP modes (picture-in-picture) for having multiple windows, menus for image calibration options, RGB sliders, hue and saturation, and even more under the Picture Advanced menu. Most people won’t need to mess with these, but some fine-tuning can enhance the monitor if you want to go down that rabbit hole. One cool feature is Display Mode, where you can virtually make any screen shape on the display. This could be a nifty tool for developers and editors working on things such as games, photos, or videos.
The PD3200U offers a perfect professional 4K display with superb out-of-box settings and calibration for work.
There are also some audio settings and controls within the OSD, allowing you to change volume or sources quickly. If you’re someone who flips between two different computers on one monitor, there’s also an option for that here.
The last two major sections here are System and Ergonomics menus. System will give you the ability to create custom functions for the bezel controls you want to access more quickly and you can also program the puck keys. Ergonomics has options to set the auto backlight adjuster (that uses the sensor at the base of the display), and the auto-off function to power it off when you walk away from the monitor.
The BenQ PD3200U display is an excellent value, typically costing about $650 to as high as $900. You’ll definitely need to do some comparisons between merchants to get a good price, but at $650, the PD3200U offers a perfect professional 4K display with superb out-of-box settings and calibration for work. There are better alternatives out there for gamers, but if you find it on sale, it’s not a terrible idea either.
One good competitor is the ASUS PA328Q—a similarly priced and specced display also coming in at 32 inches. Depending on where you purchase, the BenQ is roughly $100 less than the ASUS, so if the price is the biggest decider, that might be all you need to hear.
Each of these monitors are pretty close in performance, with good color accuracy, grey-scale, and have tons of packed in features for professionals to boost their workflow. Both of them also have comparable built-in speakers and options for inputs, as well as advanced settings for color tuning. Because they’re so similar, we recommend going with whichever you can get the best deal on — or the brand you prefer if that’s your thing.
An affordable, professional-grade monitor for stunning 4K.
The BenQ PD3200U is an ideal choice for professionals who need a big 4K display to develop, edit or work on. While it might not be ideal for other more casual users, if the price is right, it isn’t a bad choice.
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