Displays with HDR support are slowly but surely making an appearance, even for PCs. Samsung has introduced a whole range of new models for PCs, including the 32” curved monitor C32HG70. The list of features is impressive: HDR, Quantum Dot, 144Hz, 1ms reaction time, AMD FreeSync and WQHD resolution. We took a look to see whether it delivers.
In the scope of delivery of the Samsung C32HG70, along with the monitor, there is also a stand; various cables such as a DisplayPort cable and HDMI cable; a cold-device cable for the power supply; and also a cover for the connector panel on the back, to keep the cables in order and hide other ports.
The workmanship is unfortunately a bit of a mixed bag. The stand makes quite a cheap impression: simple plastic with an obvious seam in the middle, and in terms of feel and appearance, it is roughly what I would expect from a 100-euro monitor – and even then I still wouldn’t like it. At least the monitor itself looks noticeably better. This is also made primarily out of plastic, but it feels much more high-quality and looks it as well.
Otherwise, the stand does not bring it justice. The monitor comes off standby quite quickly and if shaken once, then swings for a long while. With the arbitrary form of the arm it also needs some space for the back, so the desk needs a bit of depth. As the arm needs to be used to adjust the display not only in terms of height, but also depth, it is not so easy to align. In my case, the front edge of the monitor is in the middle of the table. When I align it to a height comfortable for me, I lose quite a lot of space on my desk and the display is (too) close to my face.
On a positive note, the monitor can be adjusted easily by one hand and in height. It also has a pivot function.
Assembling the stand is also quite rudimentary. Whereas other manufacturers use simple click mechanisms to attach the display to the stand, Samsung has made it so that it is firmly connected to the display. The stand has to be attached with two screws. You can do it by yourself, but that is not easy.
Even if it does not seem like it at first, you can also hang it up on the wall. The assembly is a little more cumbersome than normal, but all the required parts and adapter come in the box.
Gernerally the delivery is pretty lavish: along with the necessary parts like a cold-device cable and stand, there is also an HDMI cable and a DisplayPort cable, along with another audio cable with 2x 3.55mm jacks and a USB 3.1 gen. 1 type A on type B cable to connect the USB hub in the monitor to the PC. It also has the usual documents, such as the quick guide to assembling the monitor etc. and the guarantee.
If you want to change the image settings, there are two options. One way is the button on the front, which can be used to go through various defaults; the other is the joystick on the ridge edge of the back of the monitor, which can be used to set up more functions. The pressure point of the joystick used to confirm inputs is quite firm, for my taste a bit too firm – often you normally move left to confirm, owing to its positioning and the hard pressure point. Apart from that, the menu is quite easy to navigate and using the joystick is also fine.
As for connectors, there are the 2x HDMI cables and 1x DisplayPort. In addition, a headset can also be connected to both of the 3.5mm headphone jacks. A USB 3.0 hub with two USB 3.0 connectors is also integrated into the monitor, the ports for which are behind the cover and are just hard to reach – so it is basically something for long-term connected periphery.
Once you have gotten through the first hurdles, expect a WQHD Quantum-Dot Display with 2560×1440 pixels, 144Hz refresh rate and AMD FreeSync. Samsung has also integrated a SVA panel, which should offer better black levels than a classic IPS display. The colour range should also be a strength – the sRGB colour space covers up to 125%. Furthermore, the panel is curved at a radius of 1800R. There is also another feature to the stand: the “arena lighting” with LED backlight should make for an exciting atmosphere.
If you are wondering what exactly this “Quantum Dot” is, you should take a look at our detailed post. In short: instead of having white LED in the backlight, Samsung has opted for a blue LED. A slimmer Quantum Dot film between the LC panel and the blue LEDs then changes it from a blue light to green or red, depending on what you choose, or you can just leave it blue. This should make colour representation more accurate and extensive, so that, for example, the standard sRGB colour space can be capped at 125%.
In theory, it sounds wonderful in any case, but let’s look at the practices.
If you place the display onto the table, the sizes soon become obvious – as long as seat spacing is large enough. The WQHD resolution makes the pictures comfortably sharp, regardless of the size. With the 1800R curvature, it appears to be a little smaller than you first realise. The image also feels more plastic and tangible when playing games. I do not want t have to do without it any more – how to do this depends on the individual person. The curvature is not for those who edit many photos and videos. As a result, distortions can no longer be recognised correctly, the picture always looks somewhat contorted, which sometimes makes it difficult to perceive horizontal or vertical lines.
At first, the panel looks a bit disillusioning, which is primarily due to the default settings. The colours, especially the reds or colours that have a high proportion of red seem totally supersaturated and slightly garish. In general, the display shows a strong reddish tint in the factory calibration. White and especially grey areas make that very clear, so that you do not get around a colour calibration.
A GTX1060 connected for the test showed a less strong red, a calibration on the Windows board means it was enough to almost completely remove it. In combination with a Radeon RX580, the rusty stitch at the beginning was much more pronounced, but also leaves the current Radeon driver’s automatic colour control and the reddish completely disappears.
There are several image modes, including the sRGB mode, a Cinema mode, various gaming presets for FPS, RPG and RTS. These presets are to ensure that the optimal image settings are selected for the respective league. Thus, brightness and contrast in the FPS mode are raised to increase the visibility even in dark scenes – not that one overlooks the camper in the dark corner.
These image modes can be linked to one of three profiles. For these profiles, there are the quick change buttons on the front of the monitor, with which the three profiles are simply loaded at the push of a button. The profiles cannot only save a ready-made image mode, but manual settings for brightness, contrast, black equalizer and freesync can also be saved.
The viewing angles of the panel are good overall, but when horizontal it tends to darken slightly and also the reddish shows here in deviations from the optimal angle. However, this is only noticeable if you play close attention to it. Even when gambling just now, I could not see it anywhere.
At first glance, the illumination is pleasantly even, but if you measure it, there are variations of almost 10%. While the lower right corner is the brightest at 370cd / m², the upper left corner is clearly darker at just 340cd / m². In everyday life you do not notice that, and without separate measurements, I would not have noticed.
144Hz, ghosting, tearing
According to the description, the Samsung C32HG70 supports up to 144Hz. It does not mean that this refresh rate is only possible without AMD Freesync. If you activate Freesync, you can use 120Hz maximum. Whether you see a difference here or not you can argue exquisite, but even at 120Hz, the picture looks extremely sharp even with very fast frame changes and really action in the game. Screen Tearing no longer occurs when freesync is enabled, and ghosting and motion blur are also noticeably reduced. If you disable Freesync, both are more pronounced despite the higher frequency. Another thing: in the extra test designed it is still very visible, in the game or while working, I could not perceive it.
Unfortunately, Samsung does not provide information on the Freesync range; but according to Radeon software, the range is 90 to 120Hz. Due to the Freesync 2 compelling Low Framerate Compensation (LFC) you have to reach at least 45 FPS in the game to benefit from Freesync. While it is partly read that Samsung supports a Freesync 2 range from 48 to 144Hz, at the time of my test, this was simply not possible (yet?).
The LFC also works wonderfully, with a title like Ghost Recon: Wildlands are only running on around 50 FPS by themselves in higher setting without recognisable tearing or stutter.
The Samsung C32HG70 also supports HDR, which should mostly be interesting for users of current AMD graphics cards. The special feature here is that in the case of Freesync 2 and HDR, the tone mapping is specified directly by the driver so that input lag is significantly reduced. However, the game must also support this implementation. If you start a game with HDR support, the graphics card and display automatically switch to HDR mode. In desktop mode, however, everything stays the same.
However, HDR support on PCs is still a tiny niche. Although streaming content is already available in HDR, it is only available on certain platforms and not on the PC.
Making a final judgment on HDR operation is therefore actually quite difficult, as there is simply no content. The deep black and the bright colors, paired with an extremely high contrast make a lot, but full Freesync 2 HDR support currently offers no game. This is something the developers have yet to retighten.
Nevertheless, games seem extremely colorful on the Samsung C32HG70 and at least visually produce much more than on all the TN or IPS panels I have used so far. The extended colour space is visibly in play, even if the game itself does not yet offer native HDR support.
Another thing which might be interesting for nVidia graphics card users is that although Windows 10 automatically activates the HDR mode, it sometimes leads to massive image errors, so you should briefly deactivate it first.
This is an important point for many, so it will be briefly mentioned here. In operation, it always consumes between 60 and 65W, with full brightness consuming 65W and lower brightness usually consuming around 61W. For the size and resolution that is okay.
In standby consumption is only 0.4W maximum. It does not matter if you switch it off via the menu, or it automatically switches to standby when no signal is available.
In a nutshell, the Samsung C32HG70 is fun. The colours are lively, they literally jump on you. You get used to the sharpness, the jerking and tearing-free presentation in games quickly. Another positive feature is the ergonomics of the stand, which offers all the usual and important adjustment options.
However, it also has weak points. The choice of material for the base is simply inappropriate for a monitor in this price range – it is consistently cheap and poorly processed. In addition, the ringing heard when the monitor is on can be a little distracting.
What neither Samsung nor the monitor can do anything about is the lack of HDR content on PCs.