NEC MultiSync PA322UHD review
As we marvel at the ever-decreasing prices of 4K monitors, some manufacturers still resolutely have the high-end market in their sights. Costing more than many 60in 4K TVs, the NEC MultiSync PA322UHD provides the kind of image quality that will keep the most discerning professionals happy. If your desk is big enough, that is. See also: The best monitors from £200 to £2,000
No two ways about it, this is an absolute beast of a monitor. Weighing a smidgen over 20kg, just hauling the MultiSync PA322UHD out of its box takes a monumental effort. It’s well worth limbering up for, though.
Planted to the desk with its hugely over-built stand, the NEC tilts easily back and forth, swivels, provides 150mm of height adjustment and rotates around into portrait mode. And thanks to the stand’s wide base and solid-build, the NEC feels solid and stable throughout its range of movement, without a hint of wobble.
A word of caution, though: the monitor only just clears the base in portrait mode, even with the stand at full extension, so it’s necessary to pivot it carefully into position to avoid denting or scratching the stand.
NEC MultiSync PA322UHD review: specifications
NEC hasn’t skimped on the essentials. It has employed a cutting-edge 32in, 3,840 x 2,160 IPS panel which uses the latest IGZO semiconductor technology. The panel uses white LEDs for its backlighting, which NEC says helps the MultiSync PA322UHD cover a claimed 99.2% of the Adobe RGB colour space. What’s more, full 10-bit colour input is supported via the DisplayPort and HDMI inputs, and the 14-bit LUT promises smooth gradations across every corner of the colour spectrum.
We hooked up the NEC to a Dell workstation equipped with a Quadro K5200 graphics card delivering a 60Hz, 3,840 x 2,160 signal via DisplayPort, and it’s fair to say that the results were stupendous. It’s obvious right off the bat that the NEC’s panel and backlighting are right up there with the best displays, and the combination of a 4K resolution and a huge 32in panel make for a massive amount of desktop space.
Flicking the NEC into its factory calibrated sRGB, Adobe RGB and DCI colour modes is as easy as dabbing the cursor keys on the monitor’s bottom corner: with that done, all that’s required is to activate the matching profile in the operating system.
Whichever you choose, the NEC serves up sterling image quality. With the Adobe RGB mode enabled, our X-Rite i1Display 2 colorimeter measured the monitor as covering 100% of the Adobe RGB colour gamut. Colour accuracy was good, too, with an average Delta E of 0.78 and a maximum Delta E deviation of 3.09. The measured contrast ratio of 741:1 is a solid result, too, but it isn’t absolutely top drawer: the very best panels now push up to and past the 1,000:1 mark. The Maximum Delta E is just a tiniest bit out of whack, too; we suspect the factory calibration is driving the darkest greys into black just a tad too eagerly.
Impressively, though, there’s no visible backlight unevenness. We measured no more than a 5% deviation in brightness across the whole panel; exactly what we’d expect from a good-quality professional display.
It’s worth bearing in mind that it’s necessary to switch off the screen’s Metamerism function to achieve a perfectly accurate onscreen image, especially when measuring or calibrating the display. This function is designed to help match the white point between sRGB and Adobe RGB displays by compensating for the human eye’s insensitivity to the blue portion of the colour spectrum, but it plays havoc with colorimeters.
Unlike most of NEC’s MultiSync monitor range, however, the PA322UHD comes with the SpectraView II software for performing hardware calibration via a third-party colorimeter. Sadly, our review unit wasn’t supplied with a serial code for us to actually test the various functions, but we’ll update our review with our impressions in due course.
NEC MultiSync PA322UHD review: on-screen display & connectivity
The on-screen display might look utilitarian, but it does its job well. It’s clear to understand and sensibly laid-out, and the onscreen legend leaves no doubt as to which of the physical buttons to prod at any given time. There are oodles of more advanced features hidden away for those that need them, such as the ability to recalibrate the monitor’s white point by directly connecting a compatible colorimeter to the monitor, which compensates for colour shifts as the panel and backlight age.
Connectivity hits the spot, too. There are twin DisplayPort inputs, four HDMI inputs and twin DVI inputs, as well as an OPS-compatible slot on the monitor’s right-hand edge. This permits the addition of extra video inputs, such as HD-SDI for high-end video production work.
It’s more than most people will ever need, but they needn’t go to waste: factor in the monitor’s extensive picture-in-picture and picture-by-picture options, and it’s possible to display 1080p video from up to four sources simultaneously. It’s also possible to split the screen vertically to connect two workstations simultaneously, which may come in handy for professional applications.
NEC MultiSync PA322UHD review: verdict
The mere mention of the terms ‘wide-gamut’ and ‘colour-accurate’ in the same breath is usually a recipe for an expensive, but apply those terms to a 32in 4K display and it’s no surprise to see the price skyrocket: the NEC MultiSync PA322UHD retails at a considerable £2,310 inc VAT.
In truth, though, that’s not bad value at all for what you’re getting: the image quality, features and connectivity all hit the mark. And it doesn’t sound expensive at all when DCI-4K monitors such as the Eizo ColorEdge CG318-4K retail for the best part of £4,000.
If you’re after a huge, superb-quality 4K monitor that addresses all the requirements for high-end video and design work, the NEC MultiSync PA322UHD does the job in fine style.