ASUS CG32UQ CONSOLE GAMING MONITOR REVIEW
When purchasing a gaming monitor to elevate your performance, you’ll find that 99% of the monitors in the market are specifically targeted for PC gamers. Of course, those monitors work perfectly fine for console gaming, however a very limited number of monitors are designed with the console gamer in mind. The Asus CG32UQ however, is designed with us Xbox and PlayStation gamers at the forefront of the company’s thoughts. Again, this doesn’t mean that the CG32UQ won’t work well for PC gamers, but Asus provides a much better variety of monitors for those who want to game exclusively on the PC.
At a current price of £719, the CG32UQ is not a cheap monitor. In fact, when you weigh it up against the alternatives in the market that offer similar specs, it’s on the more expensive side However, there are a variety of features quite unique to the CG32UQ that make it a very attractive option for gamers who are looking to play exclusively on consoles.
Although the monitor doesn’t support HDMI 2.1, it provides almost everything else that you’d want from a gaming monitor that will get the best out of your Xbox Series X or PS5 if you’re one of the lucky few who have managed to grab your hands on one of the next-gen consoles. The massive 31.5” screen is absolutely perfect. If you’re looking for something that doubles up as a TV screen, this isn’t for you. This is ultimately a gaming monitor and therefore is designed to be the centrepiece of a gaming station setup. Anything larger than 32” and you’ll run the risk of being unable to view the sides of the screen in your peripheral vision (although I am aware that 40” monitors are now becoming increasingly popular). As far as screen size goes, the CG32UQ provides the perfect dimensions for an optimal gaming experience.
Integrated with the CG32UQ are a host of specifications that you’ll want in a proper console gaming monitor. It supports gaming in 4K resolution, contains AMD FreeSync and even DisplayHDR 600. Ultimately, it means that you can game in perfect 4K at 60fps, which is all you need. Of course, next-gen gaming consoles do support HDMI 2.1 (4K gaming in 120Hz), but I seriously doubt that online competitive games will support 4k120fps gaming at least within the next five years. You might find that certain single player games will support these specifications, but for eSports gamers on consoles, gaming at 4K 60fps is more than adequate.
The DisplayHDR 600 feature means that the CG32UQ is capable of displaying a screen that provides 600 nits of brightness and 0.1 nits of blacks. I can’t stress enough how phenomenal games like Assassins Creed Valhalla on PS5 look with the upgraded graphics switched on. A lot of gaming monitors claim to have HDR however they only go up to DisplayHDR 400. These are not good enough. You ideally want DisplayHDR 600, which is what the CG32UQ offers.
The CG32UQ also provides a response time of 5ms. There are some gaming monitors (including ones provided by Asus) that give you 1ms of response time. However, 5ms is perfectly fine. You’re not going to get killed in Call of Duty Warzone because your response time was 5ms. There is absolutely no noticeable latency whatsoever, and 5ms is a highly respectable response time for input.
If there is one downside to the monitor, it’s that there is no option for a faster refresh rate even if I wanted to downgrade to 1080p. The maximum refresh rate is 60Hz. It would have been a great feature to allow for a faster refresh rate (perhaps up to 120Hz), but at the expense of downgrading from 4K to 1080p. It’s not a game changer, however for some next-gen games I would perhaps prefer a faster refresh rate especially when there’s a lot happening on the screen.
As far as build quality goes, the CG32UQ is second to none. Despite the size of this beast, the monitor sits very securely thanks to its wide rubber feet. I’m not a fan of monitors that take up too much foot space, and thankfully the CG32UQ takes very little space. With a depth of less than 30cm, you can afford to put the monitor on a desk without too much depth and feel assured knowing that the monitor isn’t hanging off. The CG32UQ is quite heavy with the stand. Specifically, it weighs in at around 9kg, but this is absolutely a positive. Once set up, it’s not likely that you’ll want to move the monitor and again, the weight will ensure that it sits securely.
The monitor also has an excellent tilt angle spread. You can tilt the monitor up to 25 degrees, which is large enough that you can use the monitor on a standing desk and if the desk is too low, you can tilt it enough to face you. The monitor can easily slide up and down up to 10cm for you to adjust the height. You can of course mount the monitor to the wall separately, in which case you may get more flexibility depending on what mount you use. There are monitors in the market that provide a higher tilt angle, but they are mainly for productive use e.g. photo or video editing. As far as gaming monitors go, the CG32UQ provides a great amount of tilt.
As things stand, the CG32UQ sounds like a standard gaming monitor. However, there are some key features that make the CG32UQ more tailor-fitted for console gaming. Firstly, the large rubber feet also double up as placemats for you to place your controllers. There are also two USB-A ports on the side for you to be able to charge the actual controllers. Some monitors do have USB ports, but they’re at the back and they’re not really designed for you to charge your devices. I cannot stress enough how useful this is for console gamers. One of the issues we have is that the consoles’ USB ports are taken up by other devices (headsets, external drives etc.). Console gamers often struggle for ports to charge their actual controllers. The CG32UQ provides this feature to you. The USB hub is also more accessible than you will see with other monitors.
The CG32UQ also comes with a fully functional remote control. You can use this for navigating the monitor’s extensive menu system to adjust brightness, turn on Halo Sync, change the input source etc. Most monitors don’t come with a remote control, so this is also a very welcome addition especially if you connect multiple consoles to the monitor. It means that I can sometimes change the input source to my Firestick and watch Netflix without having to get out of bed.
I’m not a fan of monitors that don’t have speakers. Whilst most of my time gaming is spent with a headset, there are times when I don’t want to wear a headset. When I’m playing single player games, sometimes I just want to use speakers. When I’m playing Weekend League on FIFA 21, I don’t need a headset. The CG32UQ comes featured with a very respectable set of 12W stereo speakers built into the monitor. I only need to increase the volume to half way up to enjoy playing FIFA. They are perfectly loud, and they even have a respectable amount of bass! They do a good job if you want to play a sports or racing game (or any other game where spatial awareness isn’t so important), or if you want to watch a TV show/movie. I suppose this is what you get when the sound is provided by Harmon Kardon!
The monitor also comes with an optional headset stand. This clips on and will let you sit your headset onto the stand whenever you’re not using it. It’s a great feature that Asus didn’t have to include. I personally opted out of using it simply because of the nature of how my gaming setup is – it would be very difficult to reach for the headset and I already have a separate stand for my headset.
The menu system, which Asus calls Game Style UI, is perhaps the most frustrating aspect of the CG32UQ. It firstly took me an incredibly long time to figure out what was happening. The menus crashed on me twice, but once I figured out how to use it, I couldn’t understand why certain options were not accessible. Most of the options in the menu system were greyed out, and there is nothing that tells you why they are greyed out. It took me having to properly dig through the user guide and even scouting the Internet to understand what was happening. To be specific, the menus have options for you to change the ‘Game Visual’. This allows you to change whether you want to optimize the settings for racing games, FPS, movies etc. However, it’s greyed out. After a lot of research, I found out that it’s greyed out if the monitor is connected to a source that permits HDR content (e.g. my PS5). In that situation, the monitor just defaults the setting to ‘Racing’ and won’t let you change it. I don’t actually think it’s using the ‘Racing’ settings, but perhaps its own custom HDR settings. It just looks slightly strange that the menu shows me in the ‘Racing’ mode when I’d much rather be playing in ‘FPS’ mode. The plus side is that the monitor was instantly able to recognize my PS5, and automatically retune itself for the best visual performance.
Similarly, in the ‘System Setup’, it took me an hour to figure out why I couldn’t access the various LED sync options. You have to properly read through areas of the manual to understand which disabled options are dependant on other enabled options. Often, whenever I changed my options, the menu would crash and I’d have to reset the monitor by pulling the power cable out. The monitor also takes a good 30 seconds to reboot if it’s completely off. All of this was frustrating at first, but once you’ve configured it all, you’re not going to go back to it.
A lot of gamers will have seen streamers and Youtubers with gaming setups that contain LED lights on the back of their monitors. Honestly, they look great for a split second, and then useless afterwards since they are just static lights that will randomly change colour. A lot of people even just tape a bunch of LED strips onto the back to provide the same effect! Asus on the other hand has integrated its Halo Sync technology to give such LED lights some actual utility. The CG32UQ contains a full set of 66 LED lights behind the monitor. By switching on the Halo Sync mode in the menu system, the LEDs will actually change colour depending on what is displayed on your screen. Essentially, the lights are designed to project an ambient effect by matching the LEDs’ lights to whatever is displayed on the border of your screen in real-time. As an example, if you’re playing Call of Duty Warzone and are prone in a bush, it is likely that the upper half of your view will be blue because of the sky, and the bottom half may be a murky green. The Halo Sync effect will actually extend these colours accordingly. Halo Sync will therefore have the bottom half of the LEDs lit up a similar shade of green and the top half blue. Although in principle Halo Sync is a fantastic feature, there was a delay, sometimes even half a second. Therefore, if you’re playing a game that has a continuous change of colour and light, the Halo Sync will always be a little bit behind, and this can be off-putting. I eventually resorted to turning off the Halo Sync but instead, turned on the regular Aura Sync which lets you switch on the LEDs but preset to work a certain way (e.g. a fixed colour, rainbow effect, pulsating effect).
As far as inputs go, the CG32UQ offers a lot of variety. In fact, it comes with 1x 1.2 DisplayPort, 3x HDMI 2.0 ports, 2x USB ports for devices and 2x USB ports near the feat of the monitor for charging your phones or controllers.
Visually, the picture quality is stunning. The 4K resolution really allows for all of your favourite games to pop with real sharpness, and the HDR is a fantastic add-on that will let you appreciate games like God of War and Tomb Raider a lot more than if you were playing on your average TV or monitor. Just for reference, my previous gaming monitor for PlayStation was a 27” full HD gaming monitor. It did a great job, but the difference between that and the CG32UQ is night and day. Whilst I’m not promising that this is going to be the case for all gamers, I went from being a gold-levelled player in Warzone to Diamond ever since I started playing on the CG32UQ. There is no doubt that a resolution of 32”, coupled with 4K, 60Hz, HDR and very low latency has made a very positive impact in my gaming performance.
The Asus CG32UQ console gaming monitor is perfect for gamers who want to upgrade to a screen that provides an optimal experience for competitive online matches. Although the one downside is that it isn’t HDMI 2.1 compatible, the reality is that most online eSports games on Xbox or PlayStation won’t make this the gold standard at least for another 5 years. Asus has given the console gamer a lot of consideration by providing the additional USB ports that are solely dedicated for recharging your controllers, and also the mount for you to dock your headset. Although there are clearly some areas for improvement especially when it comes to the menu system, the CG32UQ will provide you with all of the features and functionality that a console gamer would want from a monitor.
Final Review Score: 9