ASUS PQ321 Ultra HD 4K 31.5-inch Monitor Review

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At 31.5 inches, this is the biggest monitor we've ever reviewed, though it really doesn't appear any more massive than the crop of 30-inch panels we've tested. Be advised when unboxing that the PQ321 is pretty hefty. Fully assembled -- with the base screwed onto the back of the panel -- the entire frame weighs just over 28.6 pounds.

If this is your first foray into 30-inch territory, be prepared to give up some desk space. With the stand attached, the PQ321 measures 750 mm (W) by 489 mm (H) by 256 mm (D), or 29.5 inches (W) by 19.2 inches (H) by 10.1 inches (D). That's something to consider if you picked up a tiny desk for a cramped studio apartment or dorm room. It's not that a 31.5-inch panel can't exist in such an environment, you just might need to upgrade the platform you plan to drop it on.

As far as large size monitors go, however, we were pleasantly surprised with how thin the PQ321 is. It's a far slimmer design than Dell's U3011, the latter of which appears chunky by comparison. If you're so inclined, you can mount the PQ321 to the wall using the VESA mounts on the back of the panel.

Beyond the physical dimensions, the PQ321 gets its 4K mojo by way of an anti-glare, Indium Gallium Zinc Oxide (IGZO) panel developed by Sharp. The anti-glare material works well, and even in direct sunlight, the panel doesn't give off much of a reflection. The IGZO panel is a 10-bit RGB part with a 0.182 mm pixel pitch, 350 cd/m2 brightness, 800:1 contrast ratio, and 8ms response time (gray-to-gray).

If you've never heard of IGZO before, that's because it's a relatively new technology in the consumer segment. Sharp began volume producing IGZO panels a year ago, as there are many benefits in the technology. Electrons move more swiftly in IGZO, allowing for smaller transistors, which in turn lead to smaller pixels. The end of this domino effect is greater pixel density, though there are other benefits, such as lower power consumption and less interference from nearby components for more accurate touch panels. The PQ321 isn't touch-capable, but it does boast a 4K resolution of 3840x2160.

If you're facing the PQ321, all of the input options are located on the left-hand side in a cutout section of the backside, each one clearly labeled on the panel's chassis. The placement is far more convenient compared to monitors that shove the inputs on the underside of the panel, which are often difficult to access as you fumble around with cables hoping to make a connection.

From top to bottom, you'll find the panel's RS-232C input terminal for serial devices (you can't see the port in the picture above due to the shadow), two HDMI ports, and a DisplayPort 1.2 input that's configured for single-stream transport (SST) by default. The panel is capable of running at 60Hz, however, you'll need to switch the setting to multi-stream transport (MST) to do so, a feature we'll cover in a little bit.

On the other side of the panel is a main power switch, AC input terminal, and Kensington lock port. It takes an external power brick to supply the necessary juice for the PQ321, and when plugged in, ASUS claims it consumes around 93W of power (typical).

Much of the monitor's weight is contained in the base and stand. It's a study setup with a decorative flair that offers stability and a bit of ergonomics without an excessive footprint. When we stated earlier that you'll want to make sure your desk will comfortably accommodate the PQ321, we were mainly talking about the size of the panel, and not the stand.

Adjustments include:
  • Tilt: +25 degrees to around -5 degrees
  • Swivel: +45 degrees to around -45 degrees
  • Height: 0 to around 150 mm

Unfortunately the panel's base doesn't allow simple rotation into portrait mode, a sad omission when you're investing $3,500 into a display.  You have to unmount the panel from the stand and then re-mount it in portrait orientation, though it can be done with some elbow grease.

Our final shot shows just how slim the panel is. The PQ321 doesn't rival the slimmest LED monitors on the market, but when pitted against large-size panels, it's clearly at the front of the class. And while the category is new, the PQ321 is still the thinnest 4K Ultra HD monitor out there.

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