AOC AGON Pro PD32M review — A brilliant monitor with a big price tag

AOC AGON Pro PD32M review — A brilliant monitor with a big price tag

Say hello to the latest monitor from the joint effort of AOC and Porsche Design, the AOC Agon PD32M. The aim for this monitor is to meet almost every top-of-the-line spec a monitor can reach. From its screen size and resolution to its response time and construction, this is a monitor intended to tick every box. But, if you want it, it’s going to cost a whopping $1,799 USD at MSRP. There’s a lot to talk about, so let’s jump right in to our review of AOC’s Agon PD32M gaming monitor.

The PD32M is a very expensive monitor, so much so that it makes it extremely difficult to recommend to the average consumer. However, the display brings a lot to the table in terms of visuals, gaming performance, and features. I’ve spent enough time with AOC’s PD32M to find things that really impressed me and aspects that proved to be problematic.

First impressions and specs

As soon as I unboxed AOC’s PD32M for this review, its presence was undeniable. With a 31.5-inch display, you can always expect a lot of packaging, but the PD32M is on an entirely different level. Massive foam inserts protect the monitor during shipping and add a ton of weight to the overall package. Honestly, I recommend you have someone there to help you, especially when dealing with a monitor that’s as expensive as this.

AOC PD32M Review gaming monitor pc porsche agon front

AOC Agon Pro PD32M specs

Here are the specs for the AOC Agon Pro PD32M gaming monitor, as can be found on the manufacturer’s product page.

Screen Size 31.5″ Aspect Ratio 16:9 Panel IPS (Mini-LED) Resolution 3840 x 2160 @ 144Hz Response Time 1ms GTG Brightness 1600 cd/m2 Peak Display Colors 1.07 Billion Color Depth 10 bits Display HDR 1400 Dimming Zones 1152 Connectivity DisplayPort 1.4 x 1, HDMI 2.1 x 2, USB-C x 1, USB 3.2 x 4, 3.5mm Jack Power Brick External Dimensions 28.15″W x 18.62″H x 11.42″D Weight 25.4 lbs w/ stand

Let’s get the basic technical specs out of the way. The PD32M is a 32-inch IPS display with a 3840 x 2160 pixel resolution and a Mini-LED backlight. It has a refresh rate of 144Hz and response times up to 1ms.

With the stand attached, the monitor’s height can be adjusted by up to 150mm. Plus the stand also supports rotation and tilting. It can be tilted backward to a maximum of 23 degrees, swivel 15 degrees toward the left or right, and can be rotated 90 degrees in either direction. It comes with built-in speakers, but as usual with most displays, the speakers aren’t too great. The integrated speakers are a good inclusion for basic use cases, but you certainly wouldn’t want to game with these.

AOC PD32M Review

Attaching the stand to the monitor is extremely simple. All it takes is inserting the spine into the slot at the back of the display and that’s it. To detach it you simply hold down the release and pull the stand away. It only took me about a minute to get it set on my desk. When it all comes together, the PD32M takes up a huge amount of space.

With the stand attached, it comes to 290mm in depth, and weighs just over 25 lbs. It’s huge and that actually posed a bit of a problem for me. The PD32M ended up being a little too close to my face for my liking, simply because my desk is a bit too shallow. My advice is to make sure you have the right amount of space to properly accommodate it. But you can always attach it to a VESA mount as well if you want to forgo the stand.

The general construction is fantastic, with almost every aspect of the monitor feeling supremely tough and sturdy. However, a few things irked me here and there. The headphone rests that extend out on either side of the display are a major source of annoyance. When fully extended, these don’t lay completely straight. There’s also a huge amount of rattling when you move the hangers around, to the point where I was reluctant to even use one.

Ports, ports, ports

In terms of ports, this display certainly has a lot of them. In total, there are four USB 3.2 ports, one USB Type-B, one more USB Type-C, two HDMI 2.1 ports, one DisplayPort 1.4 slot, and a 3.5mm audio output. The amount of ports on offer here blew me away. And as someone who consistently ends up using almost every free USB port available, it proved to be very useful.

AOC PD32M Review

The addition of two HDMI 2.1 ports also means that you have the option for 4K gaming at high frame rates without any compression. Technically, you’d have to settle for 120Hz to stay within that spec, but the jump to 144 only adds a small amount of compression. The true benefit of this configuration is that you can also hook up a PS5 or an Xbox Series X to the display if you’re the type that games on multiple platforms. I do want to mention that the PD32M seems to struggle when switching between sources. It would often take upwards of 10 seconds to properly display an image after switching between HDMI and DisplayPort feeds.

AOC PD32M Review

Picture quality and 4K gaming

The very first thing you’ll notice with the PD32M is how amazingly bright the display is. This is thanks to the mini-LED tech used in the backlight, and it’s immediately striking. The main trade-off with its brightness is that it may actually be too bright. Throughout the weeks of testing I was constantly changing and tweaking the brightness of the display to make it more comfortable. And this brings us to a major problem regarding the display’s OSD.

The OSD for the PD32M is one of the worst I’ve used in quite some time. It all comes down to the strange organization of the user interface. Instead of a conventional menu with a list of items and several drop-downs, AOC went with an ugly set of overlapping squares. The text is ugly as well. It’s jagged and has aliasing all over the place. Navigating through the menus is done by using the dial on the back, which also functions as the display’s power switch.

Pd32m Power Switch

Due to the size of the monitor, getting back there was a pain. I found myself awkwardly trying to reach the dial several times. And it doesn’t help if you have a second display sitting to the right blocking its access even further. It might have benefitted more from a central dial underneath the center of the screen instead. Using it was probably the most annoying part of doing the review testing for the AOC PD32M gaming monitor.

While the screen is bright and looks gorgeous, you’ll likely want to tweak the display color settings. Most of the “Gamer” presets make the image too dark or lower the contrast to the point where the picture looks dull. After a short while, I found the right combination of settings that worked for me, but bear in mind that you’ll likely need to do this as well. Once that was all sorted, the quality of the display blew me away. Even something as simple as my desktop’s wallpaper looked so much more striking and colorful on the PD32M.

Destiny 2 PD32M

I tested several games on AOC’s PD32M for this review including Destiny 2, Red Dead Redemption 2, Rocket League, Elden Ring, and Dying Light 2. Each of these titles looked fantastic on the display, especially at 4K. However, one of the standouts was Destiny 2. The vibrant color schemes and unique visual style of that game work brilliantly with the PD32M. Since it isn’t too demanding performance-wise, I was also able to enjoy the game at 100+ fps. Rocket League also benefits in many of the same ways, with its bombastic style looking gorgeous on the display.

For more naturalistic titles like Red Dead Redemption 2, these look brilliant for different reasons. The subtle and nuanced presentation of that game in particular looks incredible on the PD32M. This is largely thanks to the sheer vibrancy of the display that even allows dull colors to pop. In Red Dead Redemption 2‘s darker scenes, the PD32M was still able to produce a pleasing image while retaining all of its detail. I also felt that the various response time options for PD32M handled well in competitive games. Since the monitor also includes Adaptive Sync, it should be more than capable of keeping up in fast-paced titles.

Rocket League PD32M

As much as we’d like to do it, we can’t all game 24/7. So let’s quickly talk about how the monitor feels when you aren’t gaming. As far as word processing and spreadsheets go, the 31.5-inch display is perfectly geared to it. The large screen makes working with bigger documents very easy. Graphic design work and video editing are also made easier by the screen’s size. The PD32M also covers 98% of the DCI-P3 color space. This monitor is also perfectly suited to streaming TV shows and films. You get even better results when using HDR, where the color and range of brightness look even more impressive. Throughout the review process, AOC’s PD32M managed to excel at everything I wanted to use it for.

You don’t always need extras like RGB

This is a nice monitor, but some of the things that drive the price up are questionable. The first and most obvious thing is the RGB lighting on the back. This feels like a very superfluous inclusion, particularly since you won’t be seeing it 99% of the time. Plus, even on its brightest setting, it barely reflects onto the wall behind it. Then there’s the projector LED in the center of the stand that shows the AOC logo, another strange inclusion that seems pointless.

There are also the cheap feeling headphone holders to consider as well. If anything, the features drag the overall presentation of the device down. Normally these sorts of things aren’t too much of an issue, and it can be easy to look past. Considering the cost of the PD32M, these extras could’ve been cut to bring the price down a bit. Throughout my testing of the display for this review, these features on AOC’s PD32M tended to annoy me.

AOC AGON Pro PD32M review verdict

In terms of sheer performance and picture quality, the PD32M is one of the best looking gaming monitors on the market. The mini-LED backlight, color accuracy, high HDR rating, 4K resolution, and 144Hz refresh rate are a wonder to make use of. It really does tick all the boxes, even though there are smaller issues here and there. But if you want a monitor capable of driving 4K/144 fps gaming then look no further. It’s also perfect for a PC and console setup if you prefer to have those devices hooked up to a single display.

With that being said, the value here is questionable. At $1799.99 USD, it’s extremely difficult to recommend this to the average consumer. It gets even harder to recommend when you consider its competition. Samsung’s Neo G8 offers a 240Hz refresh rate along with all the core features you can find on the PD32M. The real kicker is that it costs $1499, which is $300 USD cheaper. Ultimately, if you’ve got the cash and the setup, this is a fantastic monitor to go for, especially if you like the style of this design over the competition. If the price is more of a problem, it would be better to look elsewhere for a sensible option. As it stands the PD32M is a fantastic monitor by its own merits, but one that has better value alternatives.

The Porsche Design/AOC Agon Pro PD32M goes up for sale on June 15.