LG 32GQ950 Review: 4K 144Hz FreeSync IPS HDR Gaming Monitor

The LG 32GQ950 is a 32" 4K 144Hz 1ms IPS gaming monitor with FreeSync, HDMI 2.1, DisplayHDR 1000 and a wide 98% DCI-P3 color gamut.

Bottom Line

The LG 32GQ950 is an excellent 32″ 4K 144Hz IPS monitor for SDR content, gaming, color-critical work and everyday use. However, while some HDR scenes are great, others are underwhelming, so it’s not the best option for HDR content consumption at this price range.

Design:
(4.5)
Display:
(4.8)
Performance:
(4.8)
Price/Value:
(3.0)
4.3

The LG 32GQ950-B is a 32″ 4K 144Hz (160Hz OC) gaming monitor based on a Nano IPS panel with a wide 98% DCI-P3 color gamut, a quick 1ms GtG response time speed and VESA’s DisplayHDR 1000 certification.

It’s also one of the first modern gaming monitors to feature an A-TW polarizer for improved viewing angles as well as reduced IPS glow and backlight bleeding.

Image Quality

For most users, 4K UHD resolution is perfect for 32″ sized screens due to the high pixel density of 140 PPI (pixels per inch), resulting in plenty of screen real estate with sharp details and text.

On larger screens, 4K is not nearly as sharp, while smaller displays have to utilize higher scaling, which can cause issues in some applications that don’t handle scaling very well.

1080p monitor vs 4K (Scaling)

Another thing to keep in mind is that 4K UHD is very demanding on CPU/GPU, so make sure your gaming rig will be able to achieve desirable frame rates and decent picture settings in your favorite games.

Moving on, the LG 32GQ950 monitor has a wide color gamut covering 98% of the DCI-P3 color space for vibrant and saturated colors.

This is equivalent to around 135% sRGB gamut size, so SDR content will have somewhat over-saturated colors, but you can use the provided sRGB emulation mode to clamp down the gamut to ~100% sRGB.

Further, the IPS panel ensures 178° wide viewing angles with no brightness, contrast, gamma or color shift at skewed viewing angles. Thanks to its wide color gamut and consistent colors, the 32GQ950 is suitable for professional color-critical work.

It’s factory-calibrated at Delta E < 5, which is more than good enough for basic content creation and gaming, but for high-end professional work, you’ll need a colorimeter to improve the accuracy a bit.

The monitor even supports hardware calibration, so pairing it with a decent colorimeter will make sense for any serious colorist anyway.

As expected from an IPS monitor, the static contrast ratio amounts to around 1,000:1, so you won’t get as deep blacks as that of OLEDs or even VA panels. Luckily, the A-TW polarizer helps with IPS glow, blooming and backlight bleeding, so blacks do appear darker than they do on regular IPS displays.

Next, the LG UltraGear 32GQ950 can get quite bright with a 450-nit SDR peak brightness and an excellent minimum brightness of around 15-nits. So, it’s suitable for comfortable use in both very dark and very bright rooms.

With HDR content, the monitor can reach a bit over 1,000-nits for punchy highlights, but it has an edge-lit backlight with only 32 dimming zones, so you’re not quite getting the true HDR viewing experience despite VESA’s high-end DisplayHDR 1000 certification.

Edge lit Dimming vs Full array Dimming

Unless the dark and bright parts of HDR content are far apart, the 32-zone local dimming solution won’t be able to improve the contrast ratio of the image.

Still, thanks to the high peak brightness and wide color gamut, bright HDR scenes will look more vibrant – it’s mainly when it comes to dark scenes that the monitor won’t be able to improve black depth or preserve shadow details due to blooming and limited number of zones.

Performance

The LG 32GQ950 has a fast 1ms GtG pixel response time speed and four overdrive settings: Off, Normal, Fast and Faster. The ‘Faster’ mode is too aggressive as it adds a lot of inverse ghosting, so we recommend sticking with ‘Fast.’

Variable refresh rate is supported via HDMI 2.1 VRR, AMD FreeSync Premium Pro and NVIDIA G-SYNC Compatible for smooth and tear-free gameplay.

Over DisplayPort, it’s possible to overclock the monitor to 160Hz (48-160Hz VRR range), while HDMI is limited to 144Hz (48-144Hz).

Input lag amounts to around 4ms, which makes for imperceptible delay between your actions and the result on the screen.

The backlight of the monitor is flicker-free and there’s an integrated low-blue light filter (the ‘Reader’ picture mode).

Features

freesync and gsync

Beneath the bottom bezel of the screen, there’s a directional joystick for quick and easy navigation through the feature-rich OSD (On-Screen Display) menu.

Alternatively, you can use LG’s On-Screen Control or UltraGear Control Center desktop applications to make the adjustments via your keyboard/mouse.

Apart from the standard image adjustment tools (brightness, contrast, color temperature, aspect ratio, etc.), you’ll find some advanced settings, such as sharpness, 6-axis hue/saturation, four gamma modes and manual color temperature fine-tuning in increments of 500K.

Noteworthy gaming features include Black Stabilizer (improves visibility in dark scenes), crosshair overlays, a refresh rate tracker and various picture presets, including two custom Gamer modes and two hardware calibration profiles.

At the rear of the monitor, there’s a hexagon RGB LED pattern that can glow in 21 different colors and various patterns. However, unlike LG’s previous RGB implementations (Sphere Lighting), it cannot be synchronized with on-screen video and audio.

Picture in Picture and Picture by Picture modes are not supported. Auto Input Switch is also not available, meaning that the monitor cannot automatically detect a new connected device and switch to it.

Design & Connectivity

LG 32GQ950 Monitor Design

The stand of the monitor is sturdy and has a good range of ergonomics, including up to 110mm height adjustment, pivot by 90°, tilt by -5°/15° and 100x100mm VESA mount compatibility.

Connectivity options include two HDMI 2.1 ports with full 48 Gbps bandwidth, DisplayPort 1.4 with DSC, a dual-USB 3.0 hub and an audio line-out port with DTS Headphone:X support for 3D audio simulation.

Price & Similar Monitors

The LG 32GQ950 price ranges from $1,000 to $1,300, which is quite steep considering that you can get an OLED or a mini LED display with proper HDR support for the same price, such as the Dell AW3423DW, the LG C1 and the Neo G7.

Overall, we recommend getting the LG 32GQ950 only if you want a flat-screen 32″ 4K high refresh rate monitor for gaming and color-critical work. HDR can look great in some games, but underwhelming in others; it’s not a good option if HDR is your main concern – there are better options for that around this price range.

In comparison to other 32″ 4K 144Hz IPS models, such as the MSI MAG321UR-QF and the Gigabyte M32U, the LG 32GQ950 is actually a decent option at $1,000 thanks to its higher brightness and A-TW polarizer.

However, if you’re interested in getting a high-quality 32″ 4K 144Hz IPS gaming monitor with excellent HDR image quality, we recommend waiting for the upcoming mini LED models.

Conclusion

All in all, the LG 32GQ950 is an excellent 32″ 4K high refresh rate gaming monitor thanks to its IPS panel with vibrant colors, quick response time and wide viewing angles.

The A-TW polarizer definitely helps with IPS glow and backlight bleeding/blooming, but you’re not getting as deep blacks as that of OLEDs and FALD mini LED displays, which are available around this price range.

Bright HDR scenes will look great thanks to the high peak brightness and wide color gamut, but dark scenes are underwhelming due to the weak 32-zone edge-lit backlight, which is why it’s not really a ‘true HDR’ display.

It’s an overall exceptional SDR gaming monitor, but there are better HDR displays around this price range.

Specifications

Screen Size31.5-inch
Resolution3840×2160 (Ultra HD)
Panel TypeIPS
Aspect Ratio16:9 (Widescreen)
Refresh Rate144Hz (160Hz OC)
Response Time1ms (GtG)
Adaptive-SyncFreeSync Premium Pro (48-165Hz)
G-SYNC Compatible, HDMI 2.1 VRR
PortsDisplayPort 1.4, 2x HDMI 2.1 (48 Gbps)
Other PortsHeadphone Jack, 2x USB 3.0
Brightness450 cd/m²
Brightness (HDR)1000 cd/m²
Contrast Ratio1000:1 (static)
Colors1.07 billion (8-bit + FRC)
98% DCI-P3
HDRDisplayHDR 1000
Local Dimming32-zone Edge-lit
VESAYes (100x100mm)

The Pros:

  • High pixel density
  • High peak brightness and wide color gamut (with sRGB mode)
  • Quick response time, low input lag
  • Plenty of features, including VRR up to 160Hz
  • Ergonomic stand, USB hub

The Cons:

  • Design lacks swivel option
  • IPS glow and mediocre contrast ratio (as expected from this panel technology, but A-TW polarizer helps minimize the issue)
  • Only 32 dimming zones

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Rob Shafer

Rob is a software engineer with a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Denver. He now works full-time managing DisplayNinja while coding his own projects on the side.