With the LG 32UL500-W, you’re getting a 32-inch monitor with 4K prowess at a bargain. For its reasonable price, you’re getting native 4K, HDR support and even Adaptive-Sync; but, Gamma and HDR performance could use some work, but it’s still a great choice for budget 4K.
- Decent build quality
- Good contrast
- No portrait mode or adjustable height
- No USB ports
Like many other mainstream vendors, LG offers a variety of monitors depending on the occasion. There’s the Ultrawide line, UltraGear line created for gamers and Ultrafine monitors targeting professional creatives handling video and photography. Then there’s the LG 32UL500-W that’s a different breed of a monitor altogether: designed for those who want a 4K resolution HDR monitor but don’t have the money for the LG 32UN880-B high-end, Ultrafine monitor.
The 32UL500-W is a newer version of the LG 32UN500-W. In fact, these two monitors are similar only that the 32UN500-W’s panel is slightly brighter at 350 nits, while our review unit maxes out at 300 nits. Everything else from the design, a stand with only height adjustment to the target market (art and video work) remain similar.
To deliver the LG 32UL500-W at its excellent price while retaining the basic features you’d expect in a 4K HDR monitor, LG had to make a few changes and cuts from its premium line on monitors. What you’re left with is one of the best budget 4K monitors that’ll do you just fine if you don’t intent to use it for extreme gaming or productivity.
LG 32UL500-W Specs
- Panel Type: VA / W-LED
- Screen size: 31.5 inches / 16:9
- Max Res. & Refresh Rate: 3840 x 2160 @ 60 Hz
- Response Time (GTG):4ms
- Max Brightness: 300 nits
- Speakers:2x 5W
- Connectivity: 2x HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort 1.4, 3.5mm Audio Out
- Weight: 13.64 pounds
Design & Features
For a monitor, 32-inches is a lot of space, and it can be daunting if you’re used to 24-27 inches. As you get used to the new wide view, ensure you have adequate space to sit far enough away from the monitor so you can enjoy the entire sprawling image.
Like LG’s other recent monitors, the 32UL500-W looks great on every angle, the relatively thin bezels are even sweeter. The top and side bezels are only 0.125 inch thick, but a black border extends onto the actual display space. On the bottom, the bezel is around an inch thick, sporting the LG logo and nothing else.
Without the stand, the monitor is only 1.9 inches thick, and LG decided to have a black front and white on the back. On the underside (next to the LG logo) there’s a control nub which you hold to turn the monitor on and it rocks in four directions to navigate the on-screen display (OSD) controls.
The stand is another place where LG made a tradeoff over its more expensive models. It lacks the height adjustment available on the LG 32UN550-W or LG 32UN650-W models, but you can still tilt the screen, and it doesn’t rotate for portrait view. All ports are located on the rear of the screen: one DisplayPort 1.4 and two HDMI 2.0 ports, alongside a 3.5mm audio out and the power supply port.
Brightness and Contrast
Right out-of-the-box, you can see some places where LG made cuts to hit the 32UL500-W’s price point on a 4K, 32-inch panel. This LG monitor sports a VA panel, which is often preferred for its high contrast levels. However, you miss out on the excellent response times of TN panels, and the super-wide viewing angles of IPS panels, but make up for both with excellent contrast and image depth.
The LG 32UL500-W has a 60Hz refresh rate, which most modern GPUs can exceed, but if you’ll be gaming at 4K without a beefy enough graphics card – something like an Nvidia RTX 3090 – you won’t be hitting 60 frames per second (fps) anyway. In general, the LG 32UL500-W is all about those tradeoffs on size and resolution, but it still works fine as it should.
Here, we’re looking at a 3840 x 2160 native resolution (140 ppi) with support for AMD FreeSync, although LG doesn’t specify the exact range. Again, the monitor is not Nvidia-certified, but you’re still able to get G-Sync running on it as well.
There’s HDR10 support and the monitor has a brightness rating of 300 nits, meaning you really don’t expect it to be the best HDR monitor. Still, it looks pretty good when combined with the pixel density, a high contrast ratio and super color gamut. Again, there’s a little give-and-take here.
Performance and Color Quality
While we mentioned that LG made some cuts to have the LG 32UL500-W at its price, we’re happy that none of those affect its core performance. It remains a 32-inch 4K monitor with a beautiful VA display. It covers 95% of the DCI-P3 color gamut, which when combined with the 300 nits of brightness makes for an extremely comfortable experience when editing photos.
Over the course of a few weeks and editing dozens of photos, you’ll still be amazed by just how accurate and bright colors appear on this monitor.
However, the 300 nits of brightness we’ve lauded above present a problem for the HDR here. Practically, 350 nits of brightness aren’t enough to render true HDR, and while the LG 32UL500-W supports the HDR10 standard, and it does make a slight impact in games like Horizon Zero Dawn, it’s nothing compared to what you’d get on an average 4K HDR TV.
Back to gaming, if you hook the monitor to a decent GPU, maybe a GeForce RTX 3080, via the DisplayPort cable, you easily have access to the native 4K resolution and 60 Hz refresh rate. If you have an AMD graphics card, you can run FreeSync over HDMI, but you will need HDMI 2.1 or DisplayPort to activate either Nvidia G-Sync or Windows’ built-in variable refresh rate. All this make DisplayPort a better option over Adaptive-Sync.
Should you buy the LG 32UL500-W?
For art and video editing or general productivity – YES. The LG 32UL500-W comes at a compelling price, while offering massive 4K screen space with support for HDR content and Adaptive-Sync. For gamers – the 60Hz refresh rate and 4ms GTG response time will not get them excited. And, this isn’t one of the best 4K monitors around.
However, it will keep casual gamers satisfied, especially those who don’t mind frame rates of 60 fps and below. If you’re a pro-gamer looking for a more serious 4k gaming monitor on budget, the Asus TUF Gaming VG289Q is worth checking out.
Competition in this niche comes from the BenQ PD2700U 4K HDR – a 27-inch IPS monitor that offers better picture quality, but it fails on DCI-P3 color and costs slightly more. If you jump in the 32-inch category from the same manufacturer, the BenQ PD3200U attracts a premium price. Another competitor is the Dell U3219Q UltraSharp, that really stacks up well against the LG 32UL500-W pound for pound, but with better DCI-P3 color and excellent picture quality.
That said, if you look around, you might find a monitor with a fully ergonomic stand, better response, or USB ports. But you’re not going to find any superb 32-inch monitors with HDR support at this price point. And that’s more reason to keep the LG 32UL500-W monitor at the top of your short list.
LG 32UL500-W 32 Inch UHD (3840 x 2160) VA Display with AMD FreeSync, DCI-P3 95% Color Gamut and HDR 10 Compatibility, Silver/White, Silve/White
5 used from $249.97