Physical Design, OSD, Overdrive Capability
ASUS appears to have come to a standard on most of its monitor designs, going with a very minimalist appearance in many instances with slim bezels and a matte finish – all things I can appreciate. Though the PB328Q won't be confused for something like the ROG Swift PG279Q, it's not bad looking either.
The bezel around the edge of the 32-in screen is uniform in thickness and uses a black matte finish to reduce any kind of glare or shine from the plastic. The screen itself has an anti-glare finish as well which will reduce color vividness but again, makes for a better user experience for those of you working around windows.
The base is squared and bigger than other recent ASUS monitor reviews, likely due to the monitors size and weight and this incessant need to not tip over. It's square, doesn't have any glowing red lights or cup holders, but gets the job done, supporting rotation at the base of the post.
As we have seen on recent ASUS displays, the OSD controls are on the rear of the screen with only small screen printed indicators on the front of the bezel. It's clear from this shot though how thin the bezel actually is and how close the pixels come the edge of that bezel. The monitor presents an impressive image upon startup.
With strong viewing angles, definitely a step above anything from the TN ecosystem, the PB328Q and its VA panel can be rotated into a portrait mode for use in non-traditional work environments.
The rear side of the PB328Q isn't anything special – it shows a very open back with plenty of holes for air ventilation on the internal components. The stand can be removed from the standard VESA mount should you want to install the monitor on some other hardware.
OSD control on the back of the monitor is operated through five buttons (the 6th is a power button) and a directional joystick at the top. I have said it over and over, but the ASUS joystick input method for an OSD is the best thing I have ever used when it comes to modern displays. It makes the often archaic and cumbersome button controls from most other vendors seem preposterous.
Connectivity for the monitor includes a dual-link DVI connection, a DisplayPort connection, HDMI and VGA (!!), giving you a lot of flexibility for attaching the monitor to a PC or other device. You also get a USB 3.0 input (cable included) for a USB hub and 3.5mm audio pass through for headphones.
If you are looking for additional USB 3.0 connectivity, the ASUS PB328Q has you covered with four ports on the left hand side of the display for thumb drives, accessories or anything else.
On-Screen Display Settings
The OSD on the ASUS PB328Q is very similar to other ASUS options we have reviewed recently at PC Perspective.
Under the "Splendid" settings that allow you to set or adjust presets for colors and brightness, ASUS has a few different options including sRGB, which is a good starting point for calibration. The User Mode menus are good for buyers that want to have specific color calibration configs for varying scenarios.
Blue light filtering to avoid eye fatigue is all the rage in displays these days and the PB328Q supports it.
TraceFree is the ASUS term for overdrive, with size settings available from 0-100. I'll show you our impressions of how well overdrive works on this panel below.
With all of those input options, it's nice that the PB328Q supports picture-in-picture and picture-by-picture modes.
Testing overdrive on monitors is some of the most important work we do in display reviews. While the subject is a lot more complicated for variable refresh rate monitors (G-Sync and FreeSync), having good overdrive on static refresh rate displays is still crucial to a solid gaming experience and even for movies and productivity.
I have to cut to the chase here, the overdrive performance on the ASUS PB328Q leaves a lot to be desired. A TraceFree setting of 0 (overdrive off) shows at least 4 blades of the windmill demo we use for our OD testing. A setting of 60 (3 out of 5) improves things a bit with only three blades visible, though that third one is still pretty apparent to the eye while in motion. Finally, with a maximum OD setting of 100 we have our best result, with two blades visible, though the red portion is much cleaner than the white.
In most of our other ASUS displays, a setting of 100 on TraceFree results in negative ghosting, where the overdrive over shoots and shows us darker than expected results on the screen. That's not ideal in terms of image quality either but it allows us to scale backwards in the settings to dial in the perfect (or close to) overdrive option. In this case, the PB328Q struggles to reach a point we would call "acceptable" overdrive for a gamer – it's right on the edge. Considering this is with a static refresh rate, I have to assume that the issue lies in the panel's ability to manage the voltage spikes properly as we have seen numerous times that the ASUS display engineers know how to dial in a firmware.