Gaming monitors come at a higher price than common displays. Advanced technologies such as adaptive-sync and fast refresh rate definitely increase costs. With HDR and expanded colors in popularity, controlling costs is a major challenge for shoppers and suppliers. We have always believed that in order to be a monitor in the gaming genre, it must include at least adaptive-sync, usually Nvidia G-sync or AMD FreeSync. Can you enjoy a good gaming experience without it? We’ll find out with MSI Optix MAG321CURV.
The MSI Optix MAG321CURV offers 4K resolution in a 32 ” curved panel. With an unchanged 60 Hz refresh rate, it will be difficult to compete with the best 4K gaming monitor on the market. But with HDR support and $ 400 (as of this writing), it’s worth looking at as a 4K option at a lower price.
Sure, a 32-inch 4K display for $ 400 is good. Its VA curved plate, known for its high contrast, is also promising.
But the spec sheet marks three boxes: quick update, adaptive-sync, and extended color. However, we can discount the 60Hz refresh rate as it is a 4K screen. You will need a powerful graphics card to drive frame rates over 60 fps. We tested similar screens at 4K resolution, such as the BenQ EW3280U, which provided satisfactory gameplay at 60 Hz.
But without an adaptive-sink, there is a risk of tire bursting (see the game and hands-on section below). How important it is that there is no extended color, that is, DCI-P3 will depend on the user and their game library, to cover the color space. Apparently, titles dedicated to a large group will not look their best.
It is important to remember that this is a budget 4K display. This is a great point for MSI. As a 16: 9 curved screen, the Optix MAG321CURV is rather rare.
Dumper & Accessories MSI Optix MAG321CURV
The assembly will require a Phillips screwdriver. Holder and upright hook with a tied screw, then four included screws grips from the package and attach the panel with a 100 mm VES mount.
In addition to the small power supply unit, the MagazineCRUV comes with HDMI, DisplayPort and USB cable. Mystic Light and the Gaming OSD app are downloadable but not required to get MAG321CURV up and running.
The design of the MAG321CURV is aimed directly at enthusiasts. A very thin plate dominates the top half of the chassis with all the electronics bulging downwards. Above the bulge, it is only 8 mm thick and has an equally thin bezel of only 10 mm. The anti-glare layer is flush-locked and fits tightly to the TFT screen, making the image crystal clear. When viewing a full black area there is a light glow at the top of the screen and below this approach. We will talk about this on page 5.
The MAG321CURV measures the radius of the curve at 1500 mm. It looks compact and will be at 34in ultra-wide, but at 16: 9 aspect ratios, the 1500mm feels like a good curve. We did not find any image distortion even when viewing the spreadsheet, but we enjoyed the cool effect while playing. At 32 inches, the MAG321CURV screen provides plenty of real estate and can fill most users’ peripheral vision from a viewing distance of 3 feet.
The back right is the OSD joystick. This is the only control other than the bottom mounted toggle switch. Using the joystick seemed intuitive, and it allows for easy navigation in the MAG321CURV menu.
The MAG321CURV also takes gamers to the back of the board with RGB lighting effects that can sync with the Mystic Light app along with other MSI accessories and components. You can turn RGB on and off in OSD and gain more control using the desktop app.
The MAG321CURV stand is sturdy with an all-metal base and chunky pedestal. Adjustments include 5.2 inches in height and -5 to 20 degrees of tilt. There is no poll function. The movements are smooth, steady and show good build quality. Once installed, the board will not disturb itself outside the site.
The input panel is unusual in that it faces back instead of down. Since the screen is curved, you will have enough space to mount on the wall. The video input includes two HDMI 2.0 ports, a DisplayPort 1.2 (we discuss which HDMI vs DisplayPort is better for gaming in the article) and a USB-C. You can charge your device up to 15W via USB-C power. In addition, the MAG321CURV includes 1 outlet, two USB 3.0 downstream ports and a 3.5mm jack for your best gaming headphones. There are no built-in speakers, but you can connect your own speakers if you wish.
MSI Optix MAG321CURV’s OSD Features
The OSD of the MAG321CURV is similar to many monitors with a selection of picture modes, calibration controls and game features. At the top of each screen are input resolution, refresh rate, HDR, zero latency, and status indicators for the input type.
The game menu includes night vision, which enhances shadow detail, three overclocking settings, a zero latency option, a frame rate counter, an alarm clock, and aiming points. This section also provides five photo modes, which require some explanation.
MSI adopts a unique approach to picture mode. The game list has five game modes, and is the user default. Additionally, the Pro menu has four professional modes that are independent of the game mode. This is a bit misleading, and the combination of options makes a huge difference on image quality.
By default, both options are set for the user. You can leave it there to get almost accurate color and maximum brightness of around 300 nits. But if you select the user at color temperature, the light output will be reduced by more than half. You can test the MAG321CURV in its full light output only by setting Game Mode to User and Pro Mode to Designer.