What do you say when a gaming monitor gets it almost all right? From its sturdy base to its RGB lights, the Gigabyte Aorus FI32Q is a display that knows what it brings to the table and has a $799.99 price to match (though we've seen it for as little as $579.99 online). But your money buys you a hell of a lot of monitor, featuring the best all-around combination of features that we've seen in PC Labs in 2021. While artists and creators looking for out-of-the-box color accuracy should consider alternatives like Dell's $769.99 Alienware 27, the Aorus FI32Q offers an extensive feature set that puts it a step above that display in a way that no other brand has to date. It easily wins an Editors' Choice award as an outstanding high-end gaming monitor.
All the Right Moves
The Aorus FI32Q is a 31.5-inch, 2,560-by-1,440-pixel display with a 165Hz refresh rate (170Hz overclock), featuring what Gigabyte calls a Super Speed IPS 8-bit panel. This is just one of many that have made their way into the market over the past couple of years, all with increasingly marketable names like Fast IPS and Nano IPS. Underlying the advertising boasts is a panel type launched by LG back in 2019 which has arguably become the gold standard in the battle among VA, TN, and IPS, combining fast response times, low input latency (like, really low, more in a minute), and vibrant colors that can support HDR ratings as high as HDR 1600.
Gigabyte put this panel in its premium Aorus line of displays and priced it in league with options like the $699 Razer Raptor 27 or abovementioned Alienware, considering the FI32Q's larger screen size. Lack of compromise comes at a price, I guess!
Some might consider the monitor heavy at 33.5 pounds, but its all-metal base feels as substantial as it is weighty, and during our limited testing we experienced virtually no screen shake while typing only a few inches away. The stand is alternative-gamer-friendly as well, with a V shape that angles upward near the center, allowing for almost any keyboard positioning that's most comfortable for you to play with.
The display pivots 90 degrees between landscape and portrait modes, which is a nice perk though this Aorus is a little over the top as a programming platform. Those gaming or watching media on it will find a range of adjustment options including a 40-degree swivel span, tilt between -5 and 21 degrees, and wide 178-degree viewing angles.
Going through the PI32Q's onscreen display (OSD) menu, which is controlled by a five-way joystick in the middle of the unit, we discovered a massive number of customization options. These include a complete six-way color customization and calibration suite, controls for each of the monitor's built-in profiles (FPS, Racing, Cinema, and so on), and unlocked settings that let users tinker with every conceivable gaming feature. The Aorus even has a Magnifier feature that lets you blow up a small portion of the display to get a better view. Stick it at the end of your gun and suddenly those headshots aren't so hard to hit anymore. This could be considered cheating, though, so just to get ahead of any potential scandals in the esports world; PhonespySoftware24 does not condone the use of Monitor Enhanced Features (MEFs) to increase your kill count during that next Valorant match.
The monitor features two strips of RGB lighting arranged in a V along the rear of the unit, while the stand contains an illuminated Aorus logo. All of these can be customized or programmed using Gigabyte's RGB Fusion 2.0 software or the OSD.
The monitor's ports are lined up under a lip along the right rear, and they're extensive. First up, the display stuff: two HDMI 2.0 ports, a DisplayPort 1.4b input, and a USB 3.0 Type-C port. Next there's a 3.5mm headphone jack for audio pass-through via a USB 3.0 upstream port, which sits next to a mic-in port and two downstream USB 3.0 slots. Why so many ports, you ask? For the onboard KVM, of course!
A KVM (keyboard/video/mouse) switch allows you to connect the same keyboard and mouse to multiple machines, while Gigabyte's PIP and PBP (picture in picture and picture-by-picture) features make it easy to control at least two PCs from the same monitor. The headphone jack is attached to an ESS Sabre Hi-Fi active-noise-canceling DAC (digital-analog converter) audio amp, which made my Sennheiser HD580 over-the-ear open-backed headphones sing. I use a pretty puny DAC myself, and the Sabre HiFi that Gigabyte crammed under the hood here puts this monitor yet another peg above the rest. It's not like anyone was asking for active noise canceling from their monitor, but Gigabyte decided to throw that in, too!
Testing the Aorus FI32Q: Fair Color Accuracy, Excellent Everything Else
As mentioned, this 1440p display features what Gigabyte calls a Super Speed IPS panel with a native refresh rate of 165Hz that overclocks to 170Hz. The monitor is rated for HDR 400 and supports AMD's FreeSync Premium Pro anti-screen-tearing technology.
We put the FI32Q through our standard gaming monitor test regimen using a Datacolor SpyderX Elite colorimeter, a Murideo SIX-G signal generator, and Portrait Displays' CalMAN 5 software. Here's what we saw.
In the default picture mode, we tested with an SDR signal. The Aorus showed a peak brightness of 369.4 nits (it's rated for 400 nits) and a black level of 0.42 nit, which works out to a contrast ratio of 860:1, a bit further below its rated 1,000:1 than we're comfortable with. (See more about how we test monitors.)
As an HDR400-rated monitor, we should have known what to expect, but Gigabyte's inclusion of three different HDR implementations—HDR 400, HDR Game, and HDR Movie—made testing a bit more interesting. Of the three, HDR Game delivered the highest brightness, with a recorded peak of 532.9 nits.
When it came to color fidelity, the Aorus FI32Q came in a bit lower than advertised at 100% of the sRGB gamut (the company claims 120%) and 91% coverage of DCI-P3 (versus 95%).
With so many color customization options available, we imagine that the out-of-the-box delta-E result of 1.73 could come down a bit with some careful tuning, but it's still high compared with, say, the 0.91 dE of the MSI Optix MAG274R2.
Media and Gaming Performance
Now, on to the performance benchmarks. This is an area where display technologies like Super Speed IPS are meant to make up for their higher cost, combining both scorching speeds with stellar image quality to deliver the best of what gaming monitors can do today.
In HDR, our 4K Costa Rica test footage (output at 1440p to match the monitor's native resolution) looked predictably gorgeous, something that's become less and less surprising as Nano IPS displays mature in both tuning and tech. Because it looked so good, I switched over to some movies and TV shows in HDR, specifically the HDR Movie setting. This set the colors off even more, coming close to what I've seen from monitors with more than twice the Aorus' HDR brightness and contrast ratio. Then it came time to see how the monitor performed at its branded purpose: gaming.
To start, I booted up Red Dead Redemption 2 with HDR alternately turned on and off to see how the monitor handled it. Like the Costa Rica footage, it looked spectacular in every HDR mode I tried, with each providing a different color profile that could be customized to fit your personal tastes.
For testing traditional input lag (the amount of time between when a monitor receives a signal and the screen updates), we use an HDFury 4K Diva HDMI matrix. With a 60Hz test signal, the FI32Q joined the growing number of displays we've tested lately that land somewhere below 1 millisecond, though by how much our detector can't tell.
Finally, to test the FI32Q's gaming prowess and speed, I put the monitor through its paces with several popular esports titles: Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Valorant, Overwatch, and League of Legends. Through all this testing, the Aorus performed above and beyond the call of duty, feeling extremely fast and responsive while showing minimal ghosting. AMD's FreeSync Premium Pro remains competitive with the best that Nvidia G-Sync Ultimate has to offer these days.
Gigabyte Brings Out Big-Screen Boldness
The Gigabyte Aorus FI32Q joins the ranks of near-perfect 1440p IPS displays like the ViewSonic Elite XG270QG as one of the best all-around hitters to appear in years. But unlike that 27-inch model, which straddles the esports and AAA fence for gamers, anyone who wants both a cinematic gaming and movie-watching experience will find there's no other way to go than 32 inches and above.
To be honest, the FI32Q is the first monitor we've tested in a while that feels like it was actually designed by gamers to fulfill what they want, not just what's going to look impressive on a spec sheet. Its LG panel may be the same one used by about five other manufacturers, but so far the Gigabyte is the only one we've seen that really lets it shine with a host of added features we didn't even know we wanted until we saw them here. The deeply customizable menu combined with pleasant surprises like the integrated KVM and a magnifying glass built into the OSD put this monitor well above the competition. Rivals like Acer (which we formerly thought one of the best when it came to add-ons and OSD customization) will have to start piling a lot more into the package to keep up with the Aorus brand.
Gigabyte Aorus FI32Q
The Bottom Line
Ultra-fast refresh freaks may want to look elsewhere, but for those on the hunt for the best-balanced all-around gaming monitor, the Aorus FI32Q nears perfection on every feature front.
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