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NZXT Canvas 32Q Curved Gaming Monitor Review

Damien Gula Posted:
Category:
Hardware Reviews 0

It is an understatement to say that it has been quite the year for NZXT. Within the year alone, we have seen refreshes on their PC cases, a custom mouse and keyboard service, updated motherboards, redesigned RGB fans, the BLD PC builders kit, updated power supplies, a USB-based microphone, a crisp version of the Kraken AiO in stunning white, and two USB-based video capture cards.

As it turns out, NZXT is not done yet. The PC builder, peripheral provider, and component colossus has officially staked its claim to your entire desktop with the final piece to the company’s desktop takeover: not one, but two gaming monitors that make up the Canvas Gaming Monitor series! 

Available in 27-inch flat or 32-inch curved variants, the Canvas series represents NZXT’s first steps into the monitor market. They are some brave ones, but nothing worthwhile ever happened without a little risk.In this review, we will be looking at the Canvas 32Q Curved Gaming Monitor.

Let’s check it out!

Specifications

  • MSRP: $429.99 (32” Black), $449.99 (32” White)
  • Display Size: 31.5 inches
  • Display Resolution: 2560 x 1440 QHD
  • Panel Type: VA R1500
  • Viewing Angle: 178°
  • Color Saturation: 89% DCI-P3, 99% sRGB
  • Display Color: 16.7M
  • Refresh Rate: 165Hz
  • Adaptive Sync: AMD FreeSync Premium Ready, G-Sync Compatibility Ready 
  • Response Time: 1ms (GTG)
  • Contact Ratio: 1000:1 (Static)
  • Brightness: 300 cd/m2 (HDR-Ready)
  • VESA Mounting: 100mm x 100mm
  • Connection Type: 2x HDMI 2.0, 1x DisplayPort 1.2, 2x USB 3.0 Type-A, 1x USB Type C (DisplayPort Alt)
  • Sound: 1x 3.5mm Headphone jack
  • Accessories: 1x DisplayPort 1.2 cable, 1x HDMI 2.0 cable, 1x USB SuperSpeed cable

The Canvas monitor series is a bold new step for NZXT. But, the company is not unfamiliar with bold new steps. The beauty of this is that those steps are firmly planted where they intend to be. And, with the Canvas series, it is this: these monitors are unabashedly PC gaming monitors, period. At face value, that seems like a given, but the design and feature set choices tell a different story. 

We are going to get to what I mean, but we’re going to take a meandering path to get there. Like a painting, single brush strokes may not seem important until the end, so stay with me.

The Canvas series pairs QHD (2560 x 1440) panels with features that have become fairly standard (and highly desirable) within this resolution range and price bracket. These features include a 1-ms response time, a 165 MHz refresh rate, AMD FreeSync Premium, NVIDIA G-Sync compatibility, two extra USB ports, and multiple input types (HDMI, DisplayPort, USB-C/DP Alt). The Canvas monitors are also Windows HDR compliant with a peak brightness of 300cd/m². Anecdotally, this is a little lower than what we have seen on monitors like Gigabyte’s G32QC, but ever so slightly. 

The Canvas 32Q Curved, which we had on hand for this review, is, as the name suggests, a curved display. These displays are meant to favor an IMAX-like experience by working with a human being’s natural field of vision. Having used curved displays regularly for the past couple years, it’s an odd experience at first, but it does create a sense of “closeness” to the source material. NZXT pulls this off nicely with the nearly bezel-less design of the Canvas 32Q Curved.

With all of this in mind, we have a better picture of what the Canvas is, but we need to talk about what makes these monitors so PC specific. It is in the negative space, the absence of specific features, that we start to see the intentions more clearly.

Many modern monitors try to pack in extras that aren’t always executed well. Speakers and Picture-in-Picture, for example, might not be a selling feature, but they might be if the monitor served as an input for a console as well. While these features may be serviceable, chances are, the controls are typically clunky. And, I can’t say that I have ever been blown away by a monitor’s speakers… not yet anyways. 

So, NZXT did the thing that NZXT does well: make it minimal but with class. Class… and CAM.

If you are unfamiliar with it, CAM is NZXT’s Swiss Army Knife of an application that manages, monitors, controls, and updates all of its systems. From thermal controls and overclocking, RGB styling, and putting adorable puppy gifs on your Kraken Z pump head, CAM does just about everything you could want within the NZXT ecosystem, including automation. And this is the place where the picture starts to come together.

Not only does CAM offer a sorely needed alternative to clunky OSD (On Screen Display) menus, it also gives users the ability to create application-specific settings. This means that I can program the Canvas alongside my other NZXT devices to fit the needs of the application I am using. For example: I’m an old man… and I do most of my gaming at night. If I know I’m going to be playing Destiny 2 in the evenings, I can program CAM to change the color temperature to reduce blue light alongside turning my RGB down a few clicks. However, let’s say that I want different settings for when I’m working in DiVinci Resolve. If I set it up, CAM will take care of the rest.

All of that said, the Canvas can be used without CAM, but it would be missing a significant piece to what sets this monitor apart and what makes it so PC-centric. If you did choose to forgo using CAM, NZXT’s joystick design for monitor controls is seriously one of the best I have ever used!

Set Up and Use

We’ve covered features and philosophy, it’s important to talk about the user experience from box to desktop. Since we started talking about negative space, I have to talk about what is missing from the box: a stand.

Before you flip your desk, laptop, tablet, or precious cup of coffee, let’s pause a second. This is a risky move… and one that has some interesting pros and cons. On the con side, what the heck!? What am I going to do with this standless monitor? Well, you can pay an extra $50 for one (full disclosure: the prices above reflect the retail cost WITH a stand)… or to look at it another way. If you already have a mounting solution, you don’t need a stand. You save $50 and reduce e-waste. It’s an interesting and alluring proposition, for sure. Alternatively, if a monitor stand is not your bag, NZXT also offers single- and dual monitor arms as well.

To give the Canvas experience the fairest of shakes, we checked out both the stand and the single monitor arm that NZXT has to offer. I was skeptical at first when I saw the price adjustment for the stand… until I actually saw the stand. It is an exceptionally well-built monitor stand. The base is hefty, providing a solid foundation for the 32Q and multiple points of articulation for side-to-side, tilting, and height adjustments. It doesn’t quite accommodate the 32Q in portrait, but I have a special stand for that kind of thing. 

As for the monitor arm, it, too, was impressive. The desktop base is sturdy with two small feet to spread out the weight and an adjustable clamp on the back for the appropriate girth of whatever you’re attaching it to. The arms assemble fairly easily with some minor allen key adjustments made along the way. My one critique of the arm is that the cable management channels seem a bit small for the number (and size) of cables that one would want to run through them. 

After choosing a mount to start with, I set up the 32Q and began the testing! 

Having used the Gigabyte G32QC for a while, it was my closest proxy to the Canvas 32Q… and the visual differences were negligible at best. The G32QC took a slight edge in brightness and features (PiP, speakers), making for slightly more vibrant colors, but everything else was punch for punch… except for the OSD and CAM integration with the Canvas. While Gigabyte also has a controller software (OSD Sidekick) as well, the functionality with CAM felt far more user-friendly without spending a significant amount of time with it. Both good pieces of software, but if you are already operating within an NZXT ecosystem, it’s gravy on top!

To understand how the Canvas 32Q handled color in the day-to-day, I spent time testing the monitor in a game that I have spent a fair amount of time with Destiny 2. For me, this game serves as the ideal testing ground to put this monitor’s depth of color through its paces. With diverse environments, the use of light and shadow, the rapid action, and the contrasting effects, I found that the 32Q painted a beautiful picture of space wizardry… to a point. While testing, I noticed that the HDR setting in-game did not have much of an impact on the visual presentation. After bringing this concern to NZXT, my understanding is that there is a known issue with Windows and HDR that was in the process of being fixed. Since starting this review, there has been a firmware update that has gone live which has taken the issue out of Destiny 2, at least.

Since my opinions are subjective, I turned to Datacolor’s SpiderX utility to ensure that my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me. Here is what I found:

The results were surprisingly true to advertising… if not a bit better. I am honestly shocked by this since, typically, product specifications often put the “best case” scenario on paper. The sRGB and P3 rating sets (which matter most in gaming) exceeded their advertised mark on the “Standard” preset. Granted, this was in a controlled environment, but my best-case scenario beat out NZXT’s. I’m a big fan of underselling and overdelivering!

Final Thoughts

As modern hardware manufacturers set their sights on 8K gaming… that mythical land somewhere on the horizon, NZXT pulls us back to present reality with a more modest offering. The Canvas series of monitors aims at the QHD market, a place where a growing number of gamers live. It’s a sweet spot between GPU-intensive 4K and CPU-bound 1080p that splits the difference between them while offering a marriage of higher resolutions and framerates. Featuring 165 Hz refresh rates, FreeSync Premium, and solid build quality, Canvas makes a tempting play to catch the consumer's eyes.

Being a brand new market for NZXT, there are some risky (and questionable) steps that the company has taken. The first of these is the optional stand. It feels odd to see a tangible markup for the stand, but compared to Apple’s atrocious markup on their Pro XDR display, this feels far more reasonable. The build quality is there and this option could save consumers money and potential e-waste if they have other mounting solutions. So, we’ll chalk it up to a bold move, but the value to the consumer may vary.

What is not, however, a value to the consumer is the price mark-up for the white version of the Canvas. NZXT’s front facing marketing says that this $20 upcharge is for manufacturing costs, which I can see, but for the consumer, it's straight up silly… and here is why: unless your setup is in a place where you will see the back side of your display or you are planning on buying a white stand to accompany it (which you can mix and match color stands with displays at no additional cost, which is nice) there are no discernible differences between displays while facing the front of it; the bezel is black on both of them. 

To be fair, the bezel is quite small and the design seems geared toward seamless, multi-display immersion. For me and my desktop aesthetic, it feels like a missed opportunity. But it could also be something to hope for in the next iteration!  

The Canvas does have a few weak spots, but many of its specs hit enough of the right spots to make it a contender within its price bracket. What really gives the Canvas the edge is the integration with CAM and the options for application-based automation, especially if you are already operating with other NZXT devices. 

Launching new product lines is a bit like elementary school art: not every piece is a 100% win, but some are still worthy of putting on the fridge. At the end of the day, NZXT made a powerful first showing into the PC gaming monitor market. Even with a few missteps and missed opportunities, the Canvas is a piece that is still worthy of the fridge!

The product discussed in this article was provided by the manufacturer for the purposes of review.

7.5Good
Pros
  • Sleek, (nearly) bezel-less design
  • CAM integration and control
  • Rear toggle knob is probably one of the best on the market
  • Stand options give consumers customization options to fit their spacing needs
Cons
  • Upcharge for color seems silly‚Ķ
  • Some specs fall a bit short of competitive offerings (i.e. HDR, color range)
  • No frills (PiP, KVM, speakers)


Pastor_Dame

Damien Gula

Born in the heyday of mullets and the El Camino to a tech-foward family, Damien joined the MMORPG.com team back in 2017 to review hardware and games as well as provide coverage for press preview events. He has participated in a number of MMOs over the years, including World of Warcraft, RIFT, Guild Wars 2, and the Destiny series. When he isn't writing for MMORPG.com, Damien is a pastor by trade who loves talking with anyone interested about life, God, and video games (in no particular order). He also co-hosts a podcast dedicated to these conversation with fellow MMORPG writer Matt Keith called Roll The Level.