I discovered Prism+ last year when they sent me their $500 Quantum Dot Curved Ultrawide gaming monitor and I was impressed at the bang for buck. It was far from perfect and had some compromises to hit that price point like the absence of any USB ports or even AMD Freesync. So when Prism+ launched their new 4K gaming monitor — the PG320 Ultra — I was keen to see how the company had faired.
At the time of writing this review, the Prism+ PG320 Ultra is selling for $1,199 which is $400 off its $1,599 RRP. For that price you are getting a 32-inch, 4K, Quantum Dot panel with boosted wide colour gamut, 144Hz refresh, 1ms response and HDR600 although it’s not VESA certified — yet another reason why it’s cheaper). Sadly, this model also comes without any USB ports, something the competition from Gigabyte, Acer and Asus offer as well as AMD FreeSync or NVIDIA G-Sync, USB ports with KVM switch and offer more stylish designs.
But as history as proven over and over, a great ingredient list doesn’t necessarily mean a 5-star dish. The deft hand and experience of the Chef matters a lot. Prism+ is still a fairly young brand and it shows because the the PG320 Ultra just doesn’t hit the mark.
Prism PG320 Ultra 4K Gaming Monitor
The PG320 Ultra maintains the companies signature look — black, minimalistic with a dynamic RGB backlight running that splits the back panel in two. The main mount point for the stand is a circular dock that’s also VESA 100×100 compatible. The stand is a simple black cylinder with three fork leg and a cable management cubbyhole. It offers all the usual adjustments except for rotation which is a shame.
Below the mounting port is the I/O strip with two DisplayPort 1.4, two HDMI 2.1 and a USB Type-C with 65W power delivery which is great for single-cable laptop use. The PG320 Ultra also has a 3.5mm audio out port and some built-in speakers but these are best avoided if you value good sound. They are just passable at best with poor definition and lacking richness. As I already mentioned, there’s no USB up/downstream ports for attaching peripherals. I really don’t understand why Prism+ excludes this and while it may not seem like a big deal, you immediately notice the inconvenience that comes without them. I was forced to use dongles with my computers to make up for this which is tedious.
The front has three-edge ZeroBezel frame with a slightly chunkier chin at the bottom with the Prism+ logo and legend for your OSD control buttons. The thin bezels disappear from your mind when gaming which is great. Additionally, they are great for dual or triple monitor setups. I like that the OSD controls are on the bottom of the bezel which makes accessibility a breeze. I’m not too convinced by the experience using them though.
The buttons are a quite stiff, requiring a bit of force that can get quickly fatiguing navigating through the menus. It also tends to shake the monitor as a result. The menu itself is pretty straightforward and you can assign quick actions to the buttons so you don’t have to painfully click your way through. You can also save up to three custom picture profiles so you don’t have to keep fiddling about.
Turning to the panel itself, we’re looking at an IPS display with a Quantum Dot layer that boosts the brightness and vibrancy of colours without overly compromising accuracy. Prism+ claims 170% sRGB and 120% DCI-P3 and even though I don’t have colour measurement tools, I have my doubts about these claims. Perhaps it’s just the out-of-box calibration but I often struggled to get the picture looking right to my eye. However, the big, 32-inches in 16:9 aspect ration and 3849 x 2160 pixels is vast real estate that I enjoyed for multi-tasking several full size apps and getting things done.
The panel also has a peak brightness of 600nits hence the HDR600 moniker. Combined with 16 local dimming zones, the PG320 Ultra produces a pretty bright and punchy picture. There is some blooming especially around the edges but nothing distracting. Sadly, as an IPS panel, contrast is pretty low so HDR600 picture doesn’t have enough oomph in the dark areas. In fact, HDR performance can be really hit and miss with this panel. The colours are often washed out in favour of brightness which gives a rather dull looking picture. This was especially so when I connected my MacBook Pro 16 to the PG320 Ultra. After numerous attempts at trying to calibrate it, I just stopped using HDR with my Mac.
On my Windows gaming PC, I had extremely mixed results as well. The desktop experience was extremely bright and vibrant with HDR turned on though I noticed a shift in colour tones. While some games, like Assassins Creed Odyssey and Deathloop looked decent with searing brights from the sun but clear details in the shadow, others like Destiny 2 (which is one of the best HDR games around), everything looked rather pale and washed out. Things were even worse when connected to my Xbox One X. The HDR wasn’t just washed out but the overall brightness was so low and dark that I couldn’t enjoy my games.
Once I turned off HDR on the monitor, the picture improved immediately and I eventually stuck to using it in SDR mode most of the time. This is such a shame as I had really high hopes for an HDR600 monitor with local dimming. I suspect with the right fiddling, the panel can be calibrated much better than I did but I don’t expect the average consumer to be able to do this.
HDR issues aside, the monitor performs excellently in all the games I tested. The 144Hz refresh and 1ms response combo is great but you’ll definitely need one of NVIDIA’s new RTX 4090’s to hit those frame rates in most AAA games. That said, even at lower frame rates, the adaptive sync on the monitor kept things smooth. I should re-emphasise that this isn’t FreeSync or G-Sync but it still works pretty well. I’m not sure how well it will work with Xbox Series X|S or PlayStation 5 though but at least you’ve got HDMI 2.1 support for those modern consoles.
After a couple of weeks using the Prism+ PG320 Ultra as my daily driver, I can’t help but feel a little disappointed. I had very high hopes when I saw the Quantum Dot IPS panel, HDR600 and HDMI 2.1. Not many 4K monitors can claim these features right but unfortunately, the combined implementation just doesn’t hit the mark. I spent too much time fiddling with picture settings and even then wasn’t really pleased. Additionally, things like the lack of USB ports seems like a small thing but is an inconvenience. I just can’t understand why Prism+ excludes the given almost every gaming monitor under the sun has at least two USB ports.
However, I once again point out that Prism+ is a young brand and so all things considered, the PG320 Ultra is impressive for what it is. I do wish it came in under $1000 RRP given some of the omissions as that would make it a much easier recommendation. As it is now, there’s some excellent competition from the likes of Gigabyte’s M32U which despite lower HDR400 specification, is overall a better monitor for the money. But if the PG320 Ultra is any indication, I can’t wait to see what Prism+ does in the next few years — budget QD-OLED maybe?