LG 32UL500 Review: Budget 32″ 4K HDR FreeSync Monitor

lg 32ul500 monitor

Bottom Line

The LG 32UL500 delivers a very immersive viewing experience considering the price thanks to its big 32" screen with 4K resolution, high contrast ratio, and wide color gamut. It also offers plenty of useful features such as AMD FreeSync, built-in speakers, and entry-level HDR support.

Design:
(3.5)
Display:
(4.7)
Performance:
(4.3)
Price/Value:
(5)
4.4

Introduction

The LG 32UL500 is an affordable 4K monitor yet it features a big 32″ screen with a VA panel that boasts a high contrast ratio as well as a wide color gamut!

It’s perfect for those who want a big monitor with a crisp image quality for multimedia enjoyment, content creation, and even gaming!

Image Quality

Thanks to its VA (Vertical Alignment) panel with a high 3,000:1 static contrast ratio, the LG 32UL500 delivers deep and vivid blacks for an immersive viewing experience, especially in dark rooms.

In fact, IPS and TN panel displays, which usually have a contrast ratio of ~1,000:1, have grayish blacks in comparison!

Further, the monitor has a wide 95% DCI-P3 color gamut (equivalent to ~125% sRGB), which makes for vibrant and lifelike colors. This can also make the colors appear somewhat over-saturated for regular sRGB content, but you can limit the color output to ~100% sRGB via the Rec709 picture mode if you want more accurate colors.

Of course, IPS panel monitors still offer better color accuracy as their colors are more consistent across the screen, but for basic content creation, the LG 32UL500 display will do just fine.

Actually, its higher contrast ratio in combination with wide color gamut and lack of IPS glow makes watching movies and videos more enjoyable in comparison to the IPS models.

Other panel-related specifications include 10-bit color depth support for 1.07 billion colors, a decent 300-nit peak brightness (more than enough under normal lighting conditions), and 178° wide viewing angles.

Now, there are some minor shifts in contrast when you look at the screen at skewed angles, but it only becomes noticeable at extreme angles.

4K resolution provides crisp details and text, as well as plenty of screen space even on 32″ sized monitors.

Depending on your preference, you can use no scaling at all for maximum screen real estate or apply 125% – 150% scaling for bigger and sharper details, but less screen space.

Note that 4K UHD is very demanding on GPUs, so if you plan on doing some PC gaming, make sure your graphics card will be able to handle it. You may also want to consider getting a 1440p 144Hz gaming monitor instead.

Finally, the LG 32UL500 supports HDR (High Dynamic Range). Although it has only entry-level HDR support without any certification by VESA, it does offer a decent HDR image quality thanks to its wide color gamut and high contrast ratio.

Naturally, the HDR picture is not nearly as good as that of true HDR displays, or as that of DisplayHDR 600 monitors which have a notably higher 600-nit peak brightness and local dimming, but it’s very good nonetheless, especially after considering the price of the monitor.

Performance

freesync and gsync

With ~9ms of input lag, there’s no noticeable delay between your actions and the result on the screen.

As it’s common with VA panels, response time is a bit slower when it comes to transitioning of dark pixels into lighter shades, so there’s minor black smearing visible in dark scenes of fast-paced games.

For casual gaming, the response time speed won’t be an issue at all. Of course, if you mainly play FPS games competitively, you should be getting a higher refresh rate display anyway.

There are four response time overdrive modes (Off, Normal, Fast, and Faster). We recommend using the Normal mode and avoiding the Faster mode, which is too aggressive and adds a lot of inverse ghosting.

The LG 32UL500 monitor supports AMD FreeSync with a 40-60Hz VRR (variable refresh rate) range over both HDMI and DisplayPort when using the ‘Extended’ FreeSync engine.

This technology eliminates screen tearing and stuttering by synchronizing the monitor’s refresh rate with your GPU’s frame rate as long as your FPS rate is within the VRR range.

It also works with compatible NVIDIA cards over DisplayPort via the ‘G-SYNC Compatible’ mode if you have a GTX 10-series or newer graphics card while all AMD’s recent, and even many older GPUs, support FreeSync.

When using FreeSync with an NVIDIA card, your mileage may vary regarding the performance. Some units work without any issues, but others only work when using the ‘Basic’ FreeSync range of 48-60Hz VRR range.

Features

lg 32ul500 monitor on screen control

To access the OSD (On-Screen Display) menu of the monitor, you can press the joystick placed beneath the bottom bezel of the screen or download and install the On-Screen Control desktop application.

Useful features include Screen Split for multitasking, various picture presets (FPS, RTS, Reader, Dark Room, Color Weakness, etc.), and advanced picture adjustment tools such as 6-axis hue/saturation and gamma settings.

You can even adjust the color temperature manually, adjust the image sharpness, and choose between EBU, SMPTE-C, and Rec709 color spaces.

Black Stabilizer is available as well, which can alter the gamma curvature to make objects in shadows more visible, which is great for FPS games.

Lastly, note that the monitor has a flicker-free backlight and an integrated low-blue light filter.

Design & Connectivity

lg 32ul500 monitor back

While the stand of the monitor is tilt-only (-5°/15°), the screen is detachable and VESA mount compatible via the 100x100mm pattern. The screen also has a matte anti-glare coating which eliminates reflections.

Connectivity options include DisplayPort 1.2 (with HDR support), two HDMI 2.0 ports, a headphones jack, and dual 5W integrated speakers. HDCP 2.2 is supported as well allowing you to stream 4K UHD content.

Price & Similar Monitors

The LG 32UL500 4K monitor goes for ~$330 which is an excellent value for the money.

It’s also available as the LG 32UK550 which is the same monitor, but with a height-adjustable stand. However, since the UK550 is more expensive, we recommend pairing the UL500 with a third-party stand instead.

If you’re looking for a 4K IPS monitor, check out the Philips 276E8VJSB and the ASUS VG289Q.

For more information and the best monitor deals, visit our comprehensive and always up-to-date best gaming monitor buyer’s guide

Conclusion

Thanks to its affordable price, big screen, 4K resolution, high contrast ratio, and wide color gamut, the LG 32UL500 is the perfect monitor for gaming, watching movies/videos, office and everyday use, and even non-color-critical content creation.

LG 32UL500 Specifications

Screen Size31.5-inch
Resolution3840×2160 (Ultra HD)
Panel TypeVA
Aspect Ratio16:9 (Widescreen)
Refresh Rate60Hz
Response Time4ms (GtG)
Adaptive SyncFreeSync (40Hz-60Hz)
Speakers2x5W
PortsDisplayPort 1.2, 2x HDMI 2.0
Other PortsHeadphone Jack
Brightness300 cd/m2
Contrast Ratio3000:1 (static)
Colors1.07 billion (true 10-bit)
95% DCI-P3
HDRHDR10
VESAYes (100x100mm)

The Pros:

  • Excellent value for the price
  • High contrast ratio and wide color gamut
  • Crisp image quality due to high pixel density
  • Plenty of features including FreeSync over HDMI
  • Built-in speakers

The Cons:

  • Tilt-only stand
  • Minor ghosting in fast-paced games, mainly in darker scenes

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Rob Shafer
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.