AOC CQ32G2SE curved gaming monitor review: a solid mid-range performer

The AOC CQ32G2SE could be the display upgrade you're looking for

AOC CQ32G2SE
(Image credit: Future)
T3 Verdict

The AOC CQ32G2SE brings with it some eye-catching specs and picture quality that impresses on the whole. In a crowded market it might not quite do enough to stand out, but it's worth considering if it falls into the price bracket that you're shopping in.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Affordable price point

  • +

    Strong colour and contrast

  • +

    Choice of display modes

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Some evidence of ghosting

  • -

    On-board controls are a little clumsy

  • -

    Doesn't really stand out

The AOC CQ32G2SE is the latest in a growing range of curved monitors you've got to pick from if you're looking to upgrade your gaming setup: there's no longer any excuse to be complaining about a shortage of options for the best gaming monitor around right now.

This particular gaming monitor doesn't come with a huge number of bells and whistles, concentrating instead on a value-for-money price tag and some decent specs on the box. While it's aimed at gamers, it can do just fine for movies and general computing as well.

We've been testing the AOC CQ32G2SE curved gaming monitor for a few days and we've shared our thoughts in detail below. While it's perhaps not the best of the best at this size and price point at the moment, it certainly has a few qualities that make it worth a look.

AOC CQ32G2SE curved gaming monitor review: design and setup

AOC CQ32G2SE

(Image credit: AOC)

The AOC CQ32G2SE holds few surprises in the design department: the two-piece metal stand with the splayed legs and the tiltable rear plate is fairly common on curved gaming monitors like this, and it doesn't take long at all to set up. Unlike some other monitors that we've set up, you can just about get the monitor up and running on your own without calling for a friend's help. Included in the box you've also got DisplayPort and HDMI cables, and a two-piece power cable with a substantial brick half way.

Ports-wise, the monitor gives you two HDMI 2.0 ports and one DisplayPort 1.2 port, and there are two built-in 5W speakers here as well as a 3.5mm headphone jack. The speakers are actually pretty decent – by no means premium level, but probably good enough for movies and games for a lot of users. The screen size corner to corner is 31.5 inches, and the screen runs at a native resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels (a 16:9 aspect ratio).

When it comes to design flourishes, there's not much to talk about, but that's okay with us: we like our monitors minimal and discreet, even the gaming ones. There are red accents around the back of the display and along the bottom, but nothing that's going to distract from what's actually on the screen. The bezels around the edges of the display are impressively thin, and even the bottom bezel with the AOC logo on it isn't too chunky.

The on screen controls covering the display modes, brightness, contrast and so on are unfortunately fiddly to use and poorly labelled – though that's a problem by no means exclusive to this monitor. You do at least get plenty of options to play around with, including no less than five dedicated gaming modes to suit whatever type of title you're playing, economy settings, HDR, color temperature and more.

AOC CQ32G2SE curved gaming monitor review: features and picture

AOC CQ32G2SE

(Image credit: AOC)

The 32-inch LED LCD panel you get on the AOC CQ32G2SE monitor has a 1500R curve to it – it's perfect for medium-sized gaming rigs, where you're not squeezed for space but you don't necessarily want to take over the entire room. Performance overall is very good, especially in terms of low latency (the excellent 165Hz refresh rate helps here), although we did notice slight ghosting on some games and movies – it's not a major problem, but it's there if you're looking carefully.

This is a VA panel, a type of tech that traditionally offers slightly slower response times, and it's worth pointing out that the 1ms response time quoted in the monitor's specs is an MPRT or Moving Picture Response Time figure – that's not quite as impressive as using the traditional GTG or grey-to-grey method of measuring response time. When the action on screen is moving fast, the monitor can't always keep up, but we wouldn't say it seriously degrades the viewing experience (and we weren't able to test it with AMD FreeSync).

There's also support for AMD FreeSync Premium here – so the monitor is reasonably well specced out for the price you're paying – and the typical brightness tops out at 250 nits, with the contrast ratio is listed at 3000:1. We could've used a little more brightness, but the deep blacks on the AOC CQ32G2SE are hard to complain about – not just for games but also for movies and shows. With 121 percent coverage of the sRGB colour spectrum and 178-degree viewing angles, the monitor can easily do double duty or triple duty if you need to actually get some work done or want to sit back and watch something.

Even when the colour or the contrast of the AOC CQ32G2SE monitor doesn't feel quite right, a change of mode or some adjustments to the on-screen settings get content or games looking top notch, at least when there's nothing fast-moving on screen – and extra points to the monitor for this flexibility. When you factor in the price that you can pick this up for, we don't have many complaints when it comes to picture quality.

AOC CQ32G2SE curved gaming monitor review: price and verdict

AOC CQ32G2SE

(Image credit: AOC)

Overall we were impressed with what the AOC CQ32G2SE had to offer, and like every other gaming monitor, it's important to bear in mind the retail price at the same time as weighing up the picture quality and features. Check out the widgets on this page for the latest prices you can get the monitor for, but at the time of writing you're looking at paying in the region of £300-350 to get your hands on it in the UK.

Brightness, contrast and fluidity were all very good without being the very best in class – while serious pro-level gamers will probably want something that goes above and beyond what the AOC CQ32G2SE is able to offer, it's a great curved monitor for the rest of us, with some stand-out specs (like that 165Hz refresh rate). On the whole, it's going to get your games looking great, and at a larger size than many models can offer.

Away from gaming, the monitor is a very capable day-to-day computing screen as well – we connected it up to both Windows and Mac computers without any issue, and having access to so much extra screen real estate can make a real difference whether you're working on spreadsheets or binge watching a few episodes of your favourite show. Curved monitors are something of an acquired taste but the AOC CQ32G2SE is easy to get used to.

The monitor market is packed with decent models at the moment, with new models appearing all the time, and trying to pick out the exact spec at the right price for you can be a daunting challenge even for the experts. If you're convinced that curved is the way to go for you, and you want something above average in terms of size, then this is a gaming monitor that leaves a very good impression – especially if you can get it at a decent price.