There are many elements of a monitor’s performance that affect your gaming experience. Speed and responsiveness are certainly at the top of the list, but image quality, both static and moving, is just as important. Many gamers distinguish displays by resolution, and that’s where we need to look at the balance between the PC’s graphics processing power and the number of pixels that have to move across the screen.
We’ve tested many 1080p (1920×1080) monitors in 25 and 27 inch sizes and found that they perform solidly. Some run at 240 and even 360 Hz, allowing for very high frame rates. This, of course, makes the motion resolution much better. But if pixel density comes into play, how big is too big?
The AOC C32G2ZE attempts to answer that question with a 32-inch curved 1080p VA panel. It runs at 240 Hz and supports AMD FreeSync Premium. You get DCI-P3 color but no HDR; however, HDR emulation modes are available.
There is no doubt that the C32G2ZE is well focused on gameplay. It also has decent build quality and costs $330 at the time of writing. So everything you need in a gaming monitor is there, except for the pixel density. Can this massive 1080p display compete with the best gaming monitors?
AOC C32G2ZE Specifications:
|Panel Type / Backlight||VA/W LED, edge array|
|Screen size/aspect ratio||31.5 inches / 16:9|
|Curve radius: 1800mm|
|Maximum resolution and refresh||1920 x 1080 @ 240 Hz|
|FreeSync Premium: 48-240Hz|
|Original color depth and gamma||8-bit / DCI-P3|
|Response time (GTG)||1ms|
|Video Inputs||1x DisplayPort 1.2″|
|2x HDMI 2.0|
|audio||3.5mm headphone output|
|Energy consumption||22w, brightness @ 200 nits|
|Panel dimensions WxHxD with foot||27.9 x 20.5 x 9.8 in (709 x 521 x 249 mm)|
|Panel thickness:||3.3 inches (85mm)|
|Border width||Top/sides: 0.3 inch (7 mm)|
|Bottom: 0.9 in (23 mm)|
|Weight||15.4 lb (7 kg)|
The AOC C32G2ZE is unusual. We searched our entire database of monitor reviews and couldn’t find a single FHD display larger than 27 inches. That means the pixel density of this AOC is 69 pixels per inch (ppi), compared to our favorite sweet spot of 109 ppi. The C32G2ZE is comparable to a 4K resolution, 65-inch TV (68ppi). But you are 3 meters away from the C32G2ZE.
The advantage is of course the game performance. The C32G2ZE runs at 240 Hz and can reach its maximum speed without the need for an expensive video card. It supports AMD FreeSync Premium up to 48 Hz with low frame rate compensation (LFC), so you never see a frame crack. We were also able to run Nvidia G-Sync on it without certification (see Running G-Sync on a FreeSync monitor). The monitors also add a decent amount of overdrive, keeping motion blur to a minimum.
Mounting and accessories of AOC C32G2ZE
The C32G2ZE comes in three parts: base, upright and panel. You don’t need any tools to assemble it, and the finished unit is very solid, yet lighter than its size would suggest.
AOC’s monitor comes with HDMI and DisplayPort cables (see DisplayPort vs HDMI), plus an IEC cable for internal power.
Product 360: AOC C32G2ZE
The front panel of the AOC C32G2ZE is very thin, only 7mm, and flush mounted. It disappears when no image is present. The bottom strip is 23mm wide with a small AOC logo and a bit of red trim. Looking closer, we see a subtle faceted effect along the bottom edge, something we’ve never seen before. The red accent is repeated where the base is attached to the upright. That part has a handy cable hole to keep your wiring tidy.
The stand has no adjustments except -3.5/21.5 degrees of tilt. It sits at a good height for the average desktop and we were able to keep it perfectly vertical for gaming, which is the best way to take advantage of the 1800R curvature.
All around are more of the red accents. The two chevrons in the photo appear lit, but just reflect. The AOC C32G2ZE has no RGB.
You can remove the upright to reveal a 100mm VESA mount that will require you to provide your own fasteners. A stylish grill keeps internal components cool without the need for a fan.
The AOC C32G2ZE does not have built-in speakers, but the sound is transferred via the HDMI and DisplayPort connections to a 3.5 mm audio port where you connect your best gaming headset or active speakers. The two HDMI ports are version 2.0, while the only one is DisplayPort 1.2. They all support Adaptive-Sync, but you need DisplayPort for the full 240 Hz.
OSD functions of AOC C32G2ZE
The C32G2ZE’s on-screen display (OSD) is AOC’s familiar ribbon-like menu that appears at the bottom of the screen. We missed the joysticks that come with many gaming monitors and had to settle for a set of control keys. After a while it became intuitive, but the joystick is still better and faster.
The OSD is divided into six submenus.
In the Luminance menu you get natural brightness and contrast, in addition to seven picture modes, three gamma presets, dynamic contrast and the three HDR emulation modes. The AOC C32G2ZE does not accept HDR signals, but tries to simulate the effect with three HDR modes called Picture, Game and Movie. None really replicate the look of HDR, but may appeal to some. In these modes, the luminance and color controls are gray, so you can’t adjust them. However, they are not really necessary because the high contrast of the VA panel itself gives a very dynamic image.
In the Color Settings menu you will find three color temperature presets, plus an sRGB mode, which correctly changes the native DCI-P3 gamut to the sRGB standard. We show you the statistics on page 3. If you select the user mode, the RGB sliders are very precise, allowing us to achieve high accuracy.
In the Game Setting menu, you can brighten shadow details if it is difficult to see in dark areas of the image. This is definitely a factor when playing on a monitor with deep blacks like the AOC C32G2ZE.
You can also increase the color saturation, enable a low blue light mode, adjust the overdrive level (medium is best), toggle Adaptive-Sync on and off, and enable a framerate indicator. Disabling FreeSync Premium/Adaptive-Sync will activate a backlit flash to reduce blur. It has an adjustable pulse width so you can balance blur reduction and clarity. Less blur also means less light. We found that it didn’t make moving images any smoother. 240 Hz does that fine with Adaptive-Sync on.
AOC C32G2ZE Calibration Settings
The AOC C32G2ZE comes out of the box in standard mode. It has a few minor flaws and needs to be calibrated for the best possible picture.
Grayscale is a bit too red and the color range is too light. A few changes to the RGB sliders and a switch from Gamma 1 to Gamma 3 solves these problems.
This is one of the highest contrast monitors we tested, and our tweaks made the image very rich and textured without the need for the dynamic contrast feature.
We do not recommend using the HDR emulation modes as they do not improve the image. We show you their effects on color and gamut on page 3.
Below are our recommended calibration settings for the AOC C32G2ZE.
|Brightness 200 nits||70 (min. 137 nits)|
|User color temperature||Red 47, Green 50, Blue 52|
Gaming and hands-on with AOC C32G2ZE
The AOC C32G2ZE presents an interesting conundrum. On the one hand, its color accuracy and contrast make it very attractive. But with a pixel density of just 67 ppi, you can’t help but see the pixel structure at a viewing distance of 3-4 feet. We spent quite a bit of time exploring games, videos and statistics to see how this unique monitor performed under real-life conditions.
With font scaling set to 100%, text was perfectly legible, although not as sharply defined as a smaller monitor would be. We had no problems reading news articles or working in productivity apps. But text was a tad softer than we’re used to. Small icons looked well defined, although a little less sharp than usual.
However, we had no complaints about color or contrast. Both are first class. Black levels looked very deep, which made the image pop. Plenty of brightness is also available if you want to boost the image in a brightly lit room. Color saturation made watching YouTube videos a pleasure. The extra contrast had a positive effect and made the colors lively but not harsh.
While gaming, the AOC C32G2ZE was not as sharp as a higher resolution screen in action games, but delivered great contrast and color in all situations, making details stand out. In Eternal doom The game’s infernal scenery was fiery and red with good texture. Mowing down enemies was also satisfying as their bits flew across the screen.
Call of Duty: WWII was pretty much the same with a good sense of realism. The characters’ faces were bright and naturally tinted. Outdoor scenes were rendered with excellent contrast. Highlights such as metallic reflections and beads of sweat stood out. Color was also quite vibrant in this game. With lots of earth tones and subtle greens forming the image, we felt a good suspension of disbelief.
Video processing worked without any problems. At 1080p, we had no problem maximizing frame rates at 240 frames per second (fps). There was rarely a change in refresh rate, according to the on-screen image counter of the AOC C32G2ZE. Visually, we never saw a frame break or any hesitation. Input lag was not detectable.
The only indicator of the monitor’s low pixel density was a slight softness during fast-moving action. This was not due to motion blur on the LCD screen or a monitor overdrive issue. Rather, it was the effect of the visible pixel structure. This is something of a subjective perception. It will be perceived differently by different players depending on how close they are to the screen and how sharp their vision is. However, it was never a distraction for us.
Despite its flaw, the AOC C32G2ZE’s large size and, more specifically, the extra height really helped us pull into the gaming environment.