Gigabyte GS32QC 32-inch QHD Curved 170 Hz Gaming Monitor Review: A Jumbo Screen at a Tiny Price

In the category of inexpensive gaming monitors, the QHD/165 Hz sub-genre has emerged as the best balance between price and performance. QHD provides enough pixel density for a sharp image but keeps the load on the video card light. You can drive one at its maximum refresh rate without investing more than $1,000 on a graphics board. You can also enjoy premium features like wide gamut color, HDR and Adaptive-Sync. And some come with an extra 5 Hz overclock.

It is currently possible to buy a 32-inch curved QHD 165 Hz gaming monitor for well under $300. The Gigabyte GS32QC currently sells for just $250, which is a steal if you only consider the screen size. You also get a high-contrast VA panel, 170 Hz overclock, Adaptive-Sync, HDR and extended color, which adds to the high-value quotient. Let’s take a look.

Gigabyte GS32QC Specs

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Panel Type / Backlight VA / W-LED, edge array
Screen Size / Aspect Ratio VA / W-LED, edge array
Max Resolution and Refresh Rate 2560×1440 @ 165 Hz
Row 3 – Cell 0 170 Hz w/overclock
Row 4 – Cell 0 FreeSync: 48-170 Hz
Row 5 – Cell 0 G-Sync Compatible
Native Color Depth and Gamut 8-bit / DCI-P3
Response Time (MPRT) 1ms
Brightness (mfr) 300 nits
Contrast (mfr) 3,500:1
Speakers None
Video Inputs 1x DisplayPort 1.4
Row 12 – Cell 0 2x HDMI 2.0
Audio 3.5mm headphone output
USB None
Power Consumption 26w, brightness @ 200 nits
Panel Dimensions WxHxD w/base 27.9 x 19.7 x 9.4 inches (709 x 500 x 239mm)
Panel Thickness 3.7 inches (94mm)
Bezel Width Top/sides: 0.3 inch (8mm)
Row 19 – Cell 0 Bottom: 0.7 inch (17mm)
Weight 12.9 pounds (5.9kg)
Warranty 3 years

The GS32QC doesn’t have LED lighting, USB ports, or built-in speakers; the stand also only has a tilt adjustment. But those are the extent of the sacrifices one makes to have 170 Hz, Adaptive-Sync, HDR, extended color and one of the best overdrive implementations I’ve seen from any monitor. The GS32QC has everything you need and nothing you don’t for high-performance gaming.

A 32-inch VA panel delivers QHD resolution and 93ppi pixel density, with a 1500R curvature. Though curved 16:9 screens are still something of an oddity, an example this large clearly benefits from it. The curve is neither subtle nor extreme. It wraps the image around the user without visible distortion. You can use it for productivity without compromise. Or watch your favorite movies and TV shows in a desktop theater scenario. You’ll need to add your own speakers or headphones, but honestly, how important are the tinny speakers usually integrated into most computer monitors?

The refresh rate is 165 Hz native, with a 170 Hz overclock available in the OSD. It worked reliably for me with no issues observed. Adaptive-Sync covers a 40 to 170 Hz range, and the GS32QC is G-Sync compatible, as verified by my tests. It has not been certified by Nvidia. I also discovered one of the best overdrives I’ve seen of late. Though it is simply an on-or-off affair, it delivered near-perfect motion resolution with no black or white trail artifacts. If you’re wondering about backlight strobing, that is included here under the Aim Stabilizer option. It works instead of Adaptive-Sync up to 170 Hz.

The GS32QC’s image is solid thanks to high contrast VA technology that delivers around 3,500:1. The color gamut is larger than sRGB but comes up short of DCI-P3. I measured just over 76% coverage, which is less than most wide-gamut screens. However, accuracy is solid with excellent gamma and no need for calibration. HDR10 signals are processed correctly, but there is no additional contrast for HDR content.

The GS32QC is a great value with a high price-to-performance ratio. On paper, it looks ideal as the display for a budget PC or console gaming rig. Let’s see what the tests reveal.

Assembly and Accessories

The GS32QC’s three parts assemble into a stout package without needing tools. The panel snaps in place with a low fulcrum to the short upright. If you’d rather use an arm or bracket, a 100mm VESA lug pattern is provided, but you’ll need to source your own fasteners. A small loop clips onto the stand for cable management. The wire bundle includes IEC power and DisplayPort.

Product 360

The GS32QC’s bezel is extremely narrow and flush to the screen. You will barely notice it when the power is on. Only the Gigabyte logo at the bottom center calls attention to anything besides the image. The power LED isn’t visible from the front, but if you look closely at the base, you’ll see it reflected there. Also under the center edge is a joystick which controls all monitor functions.

The upright attaches at the panel’s bottom edge, which means the tilt fulcrum is there rather than at the center. There is no height adjustment, so if you want to make the screen vertical with a center eyepoint, you’ll need to raise it up with a pedestal or aftermarket arm. It sits too low by default. The tilt is 5/20 degrees and there is no swivel or portrait mode. The stand is solid, with a large base to keep everything from wobbling.

In the back is another Gigabyte logo finished in shiny plastic that contrasts with the matte texture found everywhere else. A component bulge is trimmed with a grill pattern, and you can see where the stand snaps in on the bottom. The side photo shows the cable management clip.

The input panel includes two HDMI 2.0 and a single DisplayPort 1.4. You also get a 3.5mm jack for headphones or powered speakers. There are no USB ports or integrated audio, but you can control the volume from the OSD.

OSD Features

The GS32QC’s joystick controls all functions conveniently and intuitively. The directional clicks bring up input selection, black equalizer, picture modes and aiming points. Pressing it and clicking up summons the full OSD.

Pressing the joystick once brings up a quick menu where you can turn on a crosshair, power off, open the full OSD or access the Game Assist features. The first menu contains all the gaming options like black equalizer (shadow control), super resolution (edge enhancement, leave off), aspect ratios, overdrive and FreeSync toggle. The overclock should be here, but it lives in the Display menu instead. Aim Stabilizer is the backlight strobe and is available after turning off FreeSync. It works up to 170 Hz and cuts brightness by around 10%. It reduces blur but has the slight phasing artifact common to this feature.

The Picture menu has seven picture modes along with calibration controls for color temp and gamma. A low blue light mode alters the white point and brightness for fatigue-free reading. There are five gamma presets – 3 is the default and best – and four color temps plus a user mode with RGB controls. The GS32QC doesn’t need calibration, but I found a slight gain with adjustments.

The overclock option is in the Display menu. Turn it on for 170 Hz or off for 165 Hz. The difference is small, but the extra 5 Hz took 1ms off the input lag score in my tests.

Game Assist is found on all the Gigabyte gaming monitors I’ve reviewed and includes aids like timer (count up or down) and a refresh rate indicator. If you use multiple GS32QCs, display alignment marks can be turned on for setup. The aiming point comes in four different shapes, all in bright green. The OSD keeps signal info at the top on all screens, so you always know the key settings, refresh rate, Adaptive-Sync status and whether the signal is SDR or HDR.

Gigabyte GS32QC Calibration Settings

The GS32QC doesn’t require calibration, but it will benefit from a few minor adjustments. The color gamut is in between sRGB and DCI-P3 by default. If you want sRGB, that mode is included in the Picture menu. For my tests, I stuck with the Standard mode and tweaked the RGB controls for better grayscale tracking. Gamma 3 is a perfect 2.2 and if you want darker or lighter tones, there are four other presets to choose from. HDR signals automatically switch the GS32QC over, where all picture controls are grayed out. I’ve included my recommended SDR settings below.

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Picture Mode Standard
Brightness 200 nits 71
Brightness 120 nits 32
Brightness 100 nits 23
Brightness 80 nits 13 (min. 52 nits)
Contrast 50
Gamma 3
Color Temp User Red 99, Green 94, Blue 100

Gaming and Hands-on

I have written many times about the importance of a good overdrive. Given the parameters of LCD technology and how it refreshes the screen, overdrive is the key to smooth operation and high motion resolution. You can have a high frame rate, but it will be spoiled by a poor overdrive that creates black and white trail artifacts around moving objects. This issue also manifests in quick camera pans by breaking up fine detail in distant backgrounds.

The GS32QC is a shining example of overdrive done correctly. It has only two options: on or off. There are no levels. But it has obviously been tuned with care because it delivers superb quality with no artifacts. I saw no trails in either test patterns or gaming content. You can buy a faster monitor, but it won’t be smoother if its overdrive isn’t this good.

If you prefer a backlight strobe to Adaptive-Sync, the GS32QC calls it Aim Stabilizer. It works up to the full 170 Hz and only costs around 10% in brightness. It has the phasing artifact seen in most examples of the feature, but only slightly. It is a viable alternative for effective blur reduction. I tried it for a while and found it competent, but ultimately, I preferred Adaptive-Sync.

After a few hours playing Doom Eternal, I came away impressed with the GS32QC, as in, it’s as good as many 240 Hz monitors I’ve reviewed. It matches the AOC CQ27C3Z, which will figure into the comparison charts later. Not only is the overdrive spot-on and artifact-free, but input lag is imperceptible. Hardcore competitors might want a faster screen, but they’ll need at least 360 Hz to beat the GS32QC’s smooth feel and quick response.

The HDR image is good but could be better. Color is nicely saturated but less vivid than others in this category. The difference is minor and forgivable if gaming performance is more important to you. There is plenty of contrast though. Blacks are satisfyingly deep, and the detail looks cleaner than expected from a monitor with 93ppi pixel density. VA is a great way to achieve picture depth without spending the extra price of an OLED or Mini LED display.

For work tasks, the GS32QC’s curve wasn’t a distraction. It’s tight enough for an immersive feel in games and video content but not so much that documents are distorted. I had no trouble editing text on spreadsheets or Word documents. Photo and graphics work was a bit hampered by low pixel density. I’m spoiled by Ultra HD, but your perception may be different. In all cases, color and contrast were excellent and delivered a quality image that was fatigue-free.

Takeaway: The GS32QC is a great gaming monitor and a very good tool for work tasks. Its QHD resolution is great for high frame rates, and its overdrive is one of the best. HDR quality is comparable to other budget displays I’ve experienced. But if your day includes a lot of photo and graphics work, Ultra HD resolution would better serve in this screen size.

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To compare the GS32QC’s performance, I’ve mined a group of VA and IPS panels from the test database. At 165/170 Hz are MSI’s MAG325CQRF and G272QPF, Galax’s VI-01 and AOC’s CQ27G3S. Also here is the 240 Hz AOC CQ27G3Z.

Pixel Response and Input Lag

Click here to read up on our pixel response and input lag testing procedures.

So, what does 240 Hz get you? In this case, 1ms faster panel response, which translates to slightly smoother motion. But the GS32QC is right in the mix at 6ms and with its superb overdrive, it nearly matches the motion resolution and feel of the AOC. And check out the input lag numbers. The GS32QC actually beats the 240 Hz AOC by 1ms. This is a very quick display and one that delivers a lot for the money. That lower frame rate saves the buyer a bit of cash with a high performance-to-price ratio.

Test Takeaway: You don’t necessarily need to pay for 240 Hz to have high motion resolution. A 165/170 Hz panel with a good overdrive like the GS32QC will match the experience and feel with screens that refresh faster. And you’ll save some coin in the process. For $250, it’s hard to beat, or at least you’ll need to spend a lot more money to beat it.

Viewing Angles

Gigabyte GS32QC

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

VA panels don’t typically impress in my viewing angle photos, but the GS32QC is clearly better than most. There is a brightness reduction and red shift at 45 degrees horizontal, but it’s not severe. The top view is also pretty solid. You can still see all the brightness steps and light hasn’t gone down significantly. This is excellent performance among VA monitors.

Screen Uniformity

To learn how we measure screen uniformity, click here.

Gigabyte GS32QC

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

My GS32QC sample looked smoothly toned and uniform under normal room lighting, but I could see a slight glow across the bottom of the screen when I viewed it in total darkness. This anomaly wasn’t visible in normal content. In this test, it delivers results typical of value-priced monitors.

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To read about our monitor tests in-depth, please check out Display Testing Explained: How We Test PC Monitors. We cover brightness and contrast testing on page two.

Uncalibrated – Maximum Backlight Level

There are no super bright monitors in this group, but all are bright enough for their intended use. The GS32QC tops 316 nits, which is perceptually bright for a 32-inch screen. Like any VA panel, it has much lower black levels than IPS, so contrast is three times greater. Though the GS32QC has the lowest ratio of the top four, it is still well above the G272QPF’s IPS part. The visual difference is more than subtle.

After Calibration to 200 nits

Calibration adds a bit of dynamic range to the GS32QC, so it is worth doing for that reason. It’s a bit behind the other VA monitors, but in the ANSI test, which better imitates real-world content, the gap is smaller. This is the reason I continue to favor VA technology when considering budget displays.

Test Takeaway: The GS32QC has a tad less contrast than the other VA monitors in the comparison group, but it is well ahead of even the best IPS panel. That extra dynamic range translates to deeper blacks, more saturated color and a more three-dimensional image. Contrast is, and always will be, king.

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The GS32QC’s Standard picture mode is close enough to spec that it doesn’t require calibration. I noted near-perfect grayscale and gamma but also found some interesting behavior in the color gamut tests.

Grayscale and Gamma Tracking

Our grayscale and gamma tests use Calman calibration software from Portrait Displays. We describe our grayscale and gamma tests in detail here.

The GS32QC’s default grayscale and gamma chart is comparable to any professional screen. There are visible errors only at 80-100% and they are slight enough to be a non-factor in normal content. The gamma trace only shows a tiny dip at 10 and 20% but again, this cannot be seen outside of a test pattern.

Calibration removes all visible errors and tightens up gamma a bit. It doesn’t get much better than this.

If you prefer the sRGB color gamut, it also has no visible grayscale errors. Gamma sticks close to the reference except for 90%, which is a bit dark. This translates to slightly muted highlights, which is a minor issue only.

Comparisons

The GS32QC fares well in the out-of-box comparison, giving ground only to the G272QPF. The remaining four monitors should all be calibrated for their best images. Once that is done, the GS32QC slips to fourth place but is still well below the point where grayscale errors are visible in actual content.

Whether you calibrate or not, the GS32QC exhibits pro-level gamma accuracy. Correct gamma is the key factor in how clearly picture detail is rendered at all brightness levels. It is what gives the image tactility and texture. This is excellent performance.

Color Gamut Accuracy

Our color gamut and volume testing use Portrait Displays’ Calman software. For details on our color gamut testing and volume calculations, click here.

When testing wide-gamut displays, I must determine if the engineer’s goal is sRGB or DCI-P3. Occasionally, a monitor falls between the two standards, as is the case here. The GS32QC exceeds sRGB but doesn’t have as much color volume as most wide-gamut monitors. Red is slightly under-saturated, but green and blue are more so. Blue also shifts its hue towards cyan, which is unusual. Visually, the GS32QC is colorful but not quite as much as other budget screens I’ve tested. On the upside, hue tracking for the other colors is on point and saturation targets are linear, which helps retain color detail in all image areas.

Calibration only makes a tiny improvement. Viewed side by side, the before and after images are similar.

In the sRGB picture mode, red, blue and magenta are slightly undersaturated, but the overall error is lower at 1.93dE. This is very good performance.

Comparisons

The GS32QC has some unusual color behavior, but it is in the mix for overall accuracy at 3.40dE average. Color volume is lower than the other screens for the above reasons. Blue and green have less coverage than typical wide-gamut monitors. The GS32QC has room for improvement, but few users will find a reason to complain. The image is colorful and vibrant.

Test Takeaway: The GS32QC sacrifices a bit of color gamut volume for cost. It is just $250, after all. It is still more colorful than an sRGB monitor, and it is accurate enough to use without calibration. VA-level contrast helps up the perception of vibrance, though it is worth mentioning that the monitor with the most color volume, MSI’s MAG325CQRF, costs only $80 more than the GS32QC.

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Our HDR benchmarking uses Portrait Displays’ Calman software. To learn about our HDR testing, see our breakdown of how we test PC monitors.

The GS32QC handles HDR10 signals with an automatic switch to HDR mode. There are no image controls or additional presets, but I found decent performance when compared to other budget HDR screens.

HDR Brightness and Contrast

You don’t get any extra brightness from the GS32QC in HDR mode. I tried measuring full screen and window patterns and got the same results. There is no dynamic contrast feature in play, so HDR brightness, black levels and contrast are about the same as SDR. As a VA panel, it will deliver better HDR quality than similarly equipped IPS monitors like the G272QPF and VI-01. If you want a more impactful HDR experience, you’ll need to spend more for a display that has field or local dimming capability.

Grayscale, EOTF and Color

The GS32QC’s HDR grayscale, EOTF and color display a similar level of accuracy to what I found in the SDR tests. Grayscale tracking is free of significant errors. The brighter steps above 60% are ever so slightly cool in tone. Luminance tracking is excellent, with near-perfect adherence to the reference curve and a transition to tone-mapping at 65%. This is correct for the measured white level.

HDR color tracking is similar to what I measured in the SDR tests. Green and blue are under-saturated, with a movement towards cyan in the blue primary. Low and mid saturation targets are closer to the mark. A lot of content focuses on these areas of the gamut triangle. Both DCI-P3 and Rec.2020 reference content shows the same behavior. In the realm of budget HDR monitors, this is typical performance.

Test Takeaway: The GS32QC focuses on game performance and delivers excellent results in that area. Though it seamlessly supports HDR, it doesn’t render an image that’s significantly different from SDR. Since it’s VA, you get excellent contrast in all content. And its HDR accuracy means you won’t see anything out of the ordinary when playing HDR games. For $250, I have no complaints. Its HDR image quality is comparable to other budget gaming screens.

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No matter what the price of a gaming monitor is, it must have Adaptive-Sync, a fast refresh rate and good video processing to be successful. Image quality is nearly as important, but there is some wiggle room there. In that category, I look for high contrast and accurate gamma. If color is close to spec without calibration, that’s a good thing.

Gigabyte GS32QC

(Image credit: Gigabyte)

The Gigabyte GS32QC meets those requirements. It leaves out less important things like speakers, USB ports and LED lighting. But it has superb video processing with a top-quality overdrive, low input lag, effective backlight strobe and a smooth responsive feel. Plus, it delivers the same gaming experience as many 240 Hz monitors by matching or even beating their lag scores. You’ll need 360 Hz to see a significant difference in motion resolution.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

Image quality is excellent thanks to the high contrast VA panel used here. It offers triple the dynamic range of the best IPS screens. Color is accurate out of the box; calibration is not required. The only thing I noted was a slightly smaller color gamut than other wide gamut monitors I’ve tested. The GS32QC still amply exceeds sRGB, but it doesn’t cover as much of DCI-P3 as others, mainly due to under-saturation of blue and green. But I had such a great time gaming on it that I quickly forgot any deficiencies observed in my benchmark tests.

Bottom line: the Gigabyte GS32QC costs just $250. For a 32-inch curved screen. That has lower input lag than many 240 Hz monitors and a premium overdrive. What more is there to consider? Console and PC gamers on a budget should definitely check it out.

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