MSI PS321QR review: Everything about the gamer/creator monitor

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With advancements in display technology in the last couple of years, the market divided into two major groups: creators who prioritize color and gamers who prioritize speed. MSI Creator PS321QR aims to strike a balance between the two needs and offers a 32-inch 2K screen with enhanced response time, refresh rate and color accuracy. If you want an in-depth MSI PS321QR review, you’ve come to the right place.

Priced at $700, MSI Creator PS321QR is one of the perfect monitors that aims at pleasing noth content creators/designers and gamers. For the price it’s being offered at, it has some amazing specifications. However, there are also some catches you should know about, if you’re seriously considering buying the MSI Creator PS321QR.

So, is it worth the purchase? Let’s get into a complete MSI PS321QR review.

MSI PS321QR specifications

  • Screen Size: 32 Inches 
  • Weight: 21.10 lbs
  • Resolution: 2560 x 1440 QHD 
  • Contrast Ratio: 1000:1 
  • Brightness: 400 cd/m² 
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 
  • Refresh Rate: 165 Hz 
  • Response Time: 1ms 
  • Panel Technology: In-Plane Switching (IPS) 
  • Built-in Speakers: No 
  • Stand: Height – Yes 
  • Stand: Swivel – Yes 
  • Stand: Tilt – Yes 
  • Stand: Pivot – No 
  • VESA Compatibility: Yes 100 x 100 
  • Connectivity: DisplayPort 1.2 x 1, HDMI 2.0 x 2, USB-C x 1, USB 3.2 x 3, SD Card Reader x 1, 3.5mm x 2 
  • Dimensions With Stand (WxHxD): 28.63″ x 21.72″ x 9.25″ 

Features & Design – MSI PS321QR Review

When it comes to MSI PS321QR, performance and your peripherals have been given equal importance. Similar to other Creator products by MSI, PS321QR also has the right amount of bite to be catchy without the garnish glare which is common in the RGB-laden gaming equipment. 

The side and top bezel is just about 1/4-inch thick. The plastic casing used in the MSI PS321QR  is a matte understated gray. The stand is an unassuming cylinder and has a tinge of silver on top and the entire thing is polished and finished with a brushed ambient light ring on the back that circles around the stand attachment point and cycles via various colors when it is in use. 

Tilt, height as well as Swivel adjustment are all included and are good to see. However, installation might feel like a bit of a drag. Unlike other monitors available on the market, the MSI Creator PS321QR does not just click into its stand. You will have to get out the screwdriver and then attach the stand to its VESA mount with the help of 4 Phillips-head screws. After doing this, you “snap” on a plastic plate which covers the mount and hinge area. 

The outcome is a neater look as compared to other modern monitors. It does take some effort on the front end. The finishing touches on the aesthetic is a magnetic shading hood which is very easy to install, though it is too small to be considered anything but decorative. It is to be noted that your mileage might vary.

For navigation, MSI PS321QR uses a clickable joystick, called a Navi Key, which enables you to set 4 quick-access, pre-assigned menus to top, bottom, left and right directions. You can also access the complete menu by clicking in. Once you are inside the menu, you get a great range of panel controls that allow you to change almost everything about the output of the monitor: Brightness, Color, Contrast, Hue, Temperature, Saturation, Gray Level and Gamma – all are adjustable. 

There is also a Sharpness slider and an option for Image Enhancement that can be set to Stronger, Strong, Medium, Weak or OFF. In the “Professional” menu, you will get access to a ‘Pro Mode’ that enables you to switch the monitor’s primaries to Display P3, AdobeRGB, sRGB, and some other presets. Moreover, there are settings for Response Time, the ability to turn on FreeSync Premium Pro and an Anti Motion Blur feature.

SEE ALSO: 5G cloud gaming: How the gaming industry will benefit from 5G

Performance and Display: MSI PS321QR review

The MSI PS321QR has a 32-inch IPS panel along with a 165Hz refresh rate, 2560 x 1440 resolution and a 1ms response time. Its backlight is rated at 400 cd/m2 and contrast ratio is listed at 1000:1, like most IPS panels. MSI Creator PS321QR is VESA DisplayHDR 600 standard certified, meaning its backlight has the ability of pulsing higher in order to expand the dynamic range of the screen. 4K might have been more suitable to a screen this size as it has a much higher pixel count. Nonetheless, the MSI PS321QR is detail-oriented and crisp, in addition to its extended refresh rate. 

The MSI PS321QR monitor displays impressive colors and huge amounts of colors as it covers 100% of Adobe RGB and sRGB, 95% of DCI-P3 and about 83% of Rec2020. This is surely a lot for a screen at this price, in addition to the fact that it doubles as a gaming monitor, based on its set of specifications. Note that there might be a lack of refined factory calibration as the default deltaE average is high (3.45). The specific presets of MSI Creator PS321QR for color spaces do not help much as well since all have dE averages more than 3.0. This is okay for normal situations, however displays meant for color-critical work have to score below 2.0. You can also manually bring down the average down to about 2.14 using the User profile.

Pros and Cons: MSI PS321QR review

Looking at the pros and cons list, you see specific trade-offs that MSI had to make in order to achieve this level of color accuracy at this speed, and I can’t help but notice that most of the cons will hurt “creators” and not “gamers.” If you’re an enthusiast, the lack of hardware calibration or some uniformity issues probably won’t matter much, but it’s important that you know what you’re giving up when you decide to buy a monitor that caters to two, vastly different camps at the same time. 

Pros of MSI Creator PS321QR

  • Affordable
  • 99.9% AdobeRGB coverage with Delta E < 2 
  • Good build quality 
  • Sleek
  • 1ms pixel response time 
  • 165Hz refresh rate 
  • USB Hub with SD card slot

Cons of MSI Creator PS321QR

  • Poor uniformity 
  • Tough-to-carry setup 
  • 2K resolution (low for such a big screen)
  • No built-in LUT 
  • No hardware calibration support 
  • No power delivery over USB-C

There will always be creator-only monitors that put a higher emphasis on ultimate color performance and everything else that goes along with that “creator” label, but the very fact that monitors like the MSI PS321QR exist delights me. It goes to show just how far and fast we’ve come, and portends great things for the “hybrid” monitor space. The MSI Creator PS321QR isn’t quite the “do-everything” monitor that it sets out to be, but it only misses that mark by a few features. Give it a 4K panel, better uniformity, support for hardware calibration, HDMI 2.1 support, and USB-C charging, and you’ve got a monitor that every photographer who games (or vice versa) will be clamoring to buy.

Alternatives of MSI Creator PS321QR

Other few ‘hybrid’ monitors like MSI PS321QR  that aim at delivering both speed and color accuracy in the same price range:

  • Acer ConceptD CP5: Priced at $750, Acer ConceptD CP5 is a 27-inch, 144Hz, 2K resolution monitor which hits 99% AdobeRGB and has a Delta E of less than one. However, it is aimed more at creators. 
  • LG 27GN950: The 27-inch monitor which has the desired 4K resolution, 1ms response time, 144Hz refresh rate, DisplayHDR 600 certification and 98% DCI-P3 coverage. This one is priced at $800. 
  • LG 27GL850: This one’s a cheaper, slightly older alternative. This gamer/creator monitor is basically a 2K version of the GN950 mentioned above. It is also obviously much cheaper than MSI PS321QR. Even though it gives little brightness and resolution, it still boasts a 1ms response time, 144Hz refresh rate and 98% coverage of DCI-P3. It is priced surprisingly low at  $450.

SEE ALSO: Gaming Technology Trends in 2021

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Image Courtesy:  Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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