MSI MPG321UR-QD Review: 4K 144Hz FreeSync IPS Gaming Monitor

The MSI MPG321UR-QD is a 32" 4K 144Hz IPS gaming monitor with full Adobe RGB color gamut coverage, DisplayHDR 600 and FreeSync + MBR.

Bottom Line

The MSI MPG321UR-QD is the best 32″ 4K 144Hz IPS gaming monitor you can get under $1000. It has a wide Adobe RGB color gamut with factory-calibrated Adobe RGB, DCI-P3 and sRGB presets.

Moreover, it has a good repsonse time speed, MBR + VRR support up to 144Hz, HDMI 2.1, an ergonomic stand and extensive connectivity options.

Design:
(4.7)
Display:
(4.8)
Performance:
(4.6)
Price/Value:
(4.5)
4.7

Looking for a 32″ 4K IPS monitor with a high refresh rate? The MSI MPG321UR-QD is definitely one of the best models available thanks to its wide color gamut, smooth performance and a plethora of useful features!

Image Quality

The monitor is based on an IPS panel with impeccable 178° wide viewing angles, ensuring that the image will remain perfect and have consistent colors regardless of the angle you’re looking at the screen.

Further, it’s equipped via a QDEF (quantum-dot enhanced film) layer for the impressive ~100% Adobe RGB color gamut coverage, which is equivalent to around 98% DCI-P3 and 160% sRGB.

As a result, you get rich and vibrant colors, especially when it comes to blue, cyan and green shades. Now, the native color gamut of the MSI MPG321UR-QD monitor will over-saturate most of regular SDR/sRGB content.

Luckily, there are dedicated color space modes with adjustable brightness for sRGB, DCI-P3 (Display P3) and Adobe RGB gamuts, so you can pick accordingly.

DCI P3 vs Adobe RGB v sRGB Comparison

Along with excellent factory calibration, this makes the monitor suitable for professional color-critical work, as well as gaming!

Next, the MSI Optix MPG321UR-QD has a peak brightness of 400-nits, which gets a boost up to 600-nits for HDR content, providing you with vivid and punchy highlights.

The contrast ratio is mediocre at 1,000:1, as expected from IPS monitors; in addition to IPS glow, blacks appear somewhat grayish in comparison to VA monitors and OLEDs, but those panel technologies have their own disadvantages.

Note that the lack of a high contrast ratio mainly affects the viewing experience in a dark room. If you’re mainly playing in a bright room, it becomes less of an issue.

The monitor also has a 16-zone local dimming solution.

These zones can individually dim parts of the screen without greatly affecting the bright areas of the image, but since there are only 16 of them across the 32″ sized screen with over 8 million pixels, it’s not very effective.

In some scenes with dark and bright objects far apart, for instance, it can notably improve the HDR viewing experience, but it’s a far cry from the ‘true’ HDR picture, for which you’ll have to pay at least $2,000 more for a 32″ 4K monitor (such as the PG32UQX) with a mini LED backlight and 1152-zone FALD (full-array local dimming).

Lastly, the 4K UHD resolution looks crystal-clear even on the 31.5″ viewable screen of the MSI MPG321UR-QD due to the high pixel density of 140 PPI (pixels per inch).

Depending on your preference, you may need to use ~125% scaling to increase the size of small text to become readable, which will, in turn, reduce the amount of screen space, but make text sharper as well as larger.

Performance

Keep in mind that the 4K UHD resolution is very demanding on GPU, so make sure your PC will be able to maintain a desirable frame rate in your favorite games.

The monitor also supports 1080p/4K 120Hz for the PS5, and 1080p/1440p/4K 120Hz with FreeSync for the compatible Xbox consoles.

There are three response time overdrive modes: Normal, Fast and Faster. At a fixed 120Hz or 144Hz refresh rate, you should use the Faster mode for the least amount of visible ghosting behind fast-moving objects.

If you’re using a variable refresh rate (FreeSync or G-SYNC Compatible), the best overdrive mode will depend on your frame rate.

Above 100FPS, you should stick with the Faster mode, while below 100FPS, the Fast mode offers better performance with less overshoot.

Generally, the MSI MPG321UR-QD isn’t as quick as the fastest IPS gaming monitors available when it comes to pixel transitions, but it’s more than good enough for an enjoyable fast-paced gaming experience.

There’s no obvious black smearing that you’d find on slow VA panel monitors.

To a highly competitive gamer who’s used to higher refresh rate displays with faster response times, the MSI MPG321UR-QD might appear slow in comparison, but due to its big 32″ screen size and demanding 4K resolution, this monitor isn’t intended for that use anyway.

Input lag is imperceptible at around 4ms, so you won’t be able to notice any delay between your actions and the result on the screen.

Moving on, variable refresh rate works great with both AMD and NVIDIA GPUs, though the monitor doesn’t seem to be officially certified as ‘G-SYNC Compatible’ (at least not yet). The VRR range is 48-144Hz and below 48FPS, LFC kicks in to keep screen tearing at bay by multiplying the frame rate (47FPS -> 141Hz).

Motion Blur Reduction (MBR) is supported as well via MSI’s MPRT-Sync technology that allows VRR and MBR to work at the same time. The combination of backlight strobing and variable refresh rate provides you with better motion clarity without any tearing, only image brightness is sacrificed in the process.

MBR also introduces screen flickering, so those sensitive to it may experience headaches or eye strain after prolonged use. The MPRT-Sync range is 80-144Hz.

Features

MSI MPG321UR QD OSD Menu

The MSI MPG321UR-QD monitor offers plenty of useful features which you can access via the OSD (On-Screen Display) menu and navigational joystick or via the Gaming OSD desktop application.

To start with, there is a light sensor that can adjust the display’s brightness according to ambient lighting. It can also sync the screen’s Mystic Light RGB at the rear of the monitor to ambient lighting, but the LEDs aren’t really strong enough to reflect off of the wall.

There are custom crosshair overlays; you can choose between six shapes and two colors (red or white) – or the color can change automatically for better visibility.

Next, the Optix Scope feature allows you to zoom in the area around your crosshair for better precision.

Other features include Night Vision (improves visibility in dark scenes by altering the gamma curvature), various picture presets (FPS, RTS, RPG, Racing and User), on-screen timers and a refresh rate tracker.

You’ll find the standard image adjustment tools, such as brightness, contrast, color temperature, sharpness and aspect ratio, but there are no gamma or saturation settings available. Picture in Picture and Picture by Picture modes are supported too.

The backlight of the monitor is flicker-free (unless MPRT-Sync is enabled) and there’s a low-blue light filter.

Design & Connectivity

MSI MPG321UR QD Monitor Design

The stand of the monitor is robust and offers a good range of ergonomics, including up to 100mm height adjustment, -5°/20° tilt, +/- 30° swivel and 100x100mm VESA mount compatibility, but no pivot function.

Connectivity options are abundant and include two HDMI 2.1 ports (one with HDMI CEC), DisplayPort 1.4 with DSC and USB-C with DP 1.4 Alt Mode and 15W PD.

All four inputs support 4K up to 144Hz with 10-bit color depth, and without the need for chroma subsampling. DSC is used over DisplayPort 1.4 for visually lossless compression if you have a compatible GPU. To set 144Hz at 4K over HDMI 2.1 on PC, you must select ‘4K 144Hz – PC’ in the OSD settings.

Other ports include six USB-A 2.0 ports, three USB-B 2.0 ports, a microphone jack, a headphone jack, and an audio combo jack. There’s a built-in KVM switch too.

The microphone jack supports active noise cancellation. To enable it, you’ll need to connect your PC to the monitor via USB and turn on ‘Sound Tune’ in the OSD menu.

Price & Similar Monitors

The MSI MPG321UR-QD goes for $900. It’s $100 cheaper than the ASUS PG32UQ yet it offers slightly better performance and more useful features, such as a lot of USB ports, KVM, USB-C and dedicated color space modes.

If you’re looking for something similar but cheaper, check out the Gigabyte M32U and M28U models going for $800 and $600, respectively. They don’t have as many features nor as wide color gamut (~90% DCI-P3, 125% sRGB) though.

To learn more about monitors and ensure you’re getting the model most suited for your personal preference, visit our comprehensive and always up-to-date best gaming monitor buyer’s guide.

Conclusion

All in all, the MSI MPG321UR-QD is currently the best 32″ 4K IPS gaming monitor you can buy, excluding the $3000 ASUS PG32UQX with an 1152-zone mini LED FALD backlight.

Specifications

Screen Size31.5-inch
Resolution3840×2160 (Ultra HD)
Panel TypeIPS
Aspect Ratio16:9 (Widescreen)
Refresh Rate144Hz
Response Time4ms (GtG)
Response Time (MPRT-Sync)1ms (MPRT)
Adaptive-SyncFreeSync (48-144Hz)
PortsDisplayPort 1.4, 2x HDMI 2.1
USB-C (DP 1.4 Alt Mode, 15W PD)
Other PortsHeadphone Jack, Microphone Jack, Audio Combo Jack,
6x USB-A 2.0, 3x USB-B 2.0
Brightness400 cd/m²
Brightness (HDR)600 cd/m²
Contrast Ratio1000:1 (static)
Colors1.07 billion (8-bit + FRC)
100% Adobe RGB
HDRDisplayHDR 600
Local Dimming16-zone
VESAYes (100x100mm)

The Pros:

  • High pixel density, consistent colors
  • Wide Adobe RGB color gamut with dedicated color space modes
  • DisplayHDR 600
  • Good response time speed
  • Plenty of features, including VRR + MBR up to 144Hz
  • Ergonomic design and extensive connectivity options, built-in KVM

The Cons:

  • Design lacks pivot option
  • IPS glow and mediocre contrast ratio (as expected from this panel technology)
  • Overshoot at low refresh/frame rates when using VRR with the Faster overdrive mode

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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.