LG 32GK850G-B 32” QHD G-SYNC Gaming Monitor Review

Modern gaming monitors are all about speed. High refresh rates and G-SYNC/FreeSync support have delivered increasingly clear pictures. But as much as I’m a high-octane gamer, I’m also a proponent of size. I want the biggest screen I can possibly fit on my desk, and the LG 32GK850G-B is an absolute beast of a gaming monitor. At 32 inches (31.5” diagonal screen), the LG dominates. It doesn’t lack for features, either, being the only monitor this size with a 2560 x 1440 resolution, 144Hz refresh rate overclockable to 165Hz, and G-SYNC support. And luckily, its bite is as big as its bark.

Unboxing

Before taking a closer look at the 32GK850G-B, I must give props to LG for how well the monitor is packaged. Rather than having to laboriously remove a foam-encased screen from the top of a box, the 32GK850G-B’s packaging is laid and opened flat on a surface. The stand items are neatly wrapped, and every cable and additional accoutrement are stored in an accessory-labeled box. The display itself is reached by easily lifting out one-half of its foam protection. It takes almost no effort at all, and the same is said of the setup process.

The base connects to the stand with a now common pre-attached screw. No tools are required. Likewise, the stand simply snaps into the monitor. The 32GK850G-B can be connected and ready to go in only a few scant minutes. The ease of the entire process may not be the most important quality in the grand scheme of things, but it helps make the monitor feel all the more like a premium product.

A Closer Look

The LG 32GK850G-B certainly looks the part of a high-end gaming display, too. The base is V-shaped and accented in red, forgoing LG’s recent round design. The 31.5” screen is a commanding presence, aided by incredibly slim bezels. The top, left, and right bezels measure only about a quarter of an inch thick. Furthermore, the monitor is equipped with RGB backlighting. The rear curves into a raised, circular platform surrounded by an LED ring, dubbed Sphere Lighting by LG. The outer portion of the plateau features a ring of ventilation holes, as well, that illuminate red when the Sphere Lighting is engaged.

The abundance of RGB lighting in today’s computer components can seem like an occasion to roll one’s eyes at times, but backlighting on a display can have a positive impact toward reducing eyestrain and improving perceived black levels. So not only does the 32GK850G-B’s ring of light look cool, it can serve a practical purpose. It is adjustable, of course, by a dial button located on the underside of the lower frame. Pushing the dial toggles between six distinct colors and two dynamic modes. Holding it in turns the lighting on and off, and rotating the dial changes the brightness. Altogether, the color show and accents of red make the LG’s appearance striking without being overstated.

Inputs are also located on the rear, raised plateau. What I love about LG’s positioning of these inputs is that they outward rather than down. This makes it incredibly easy to plug in and manage cables. Video connections include one HDMI 1.4 and one DisplayPort 1.2. The monitor can double as a USB hub, too, with two USB 3.0 Quick Charge ports that can additionally pass data to a computer from a USB Type-B port. A USB A-B cable is included. This can be handy in situations where you’d rather plug a peripheral into to the monitor itself, such as charging purposes or when you hate having that headset cable drag across your lap, and LG even included a mouse cable holder that attaches to the bottom right of the display. Finally, there’s a 3.5mm audio jack for headphones.

LG’s excellent OSD controls return on the 32GK850G-B. I found them incredibly intuitive on the LG 34UC88-B, and they remain so here. The OSD is managed by a single knob that can be pushed up, down, left, right, and inward. Pressing it allows you to quickly change inputs, toggle between six presets (two of are customizable), and dive into deeper configuration menus. Beyond the normal range of picture settings, the 32GK850G-B has several gaming-specific OSD features. The Game Adjust menu allows for overclocking up to 165 Hz, the selection of three Black Stabilizer settings for dark scene visibility, four Response Time settings, and the enabling of green or red crosshairs for when you want to be a cheeky player in something like Call of Duty’s hardcore game modes.

Lastly, the monitor has a good range of physical adjustments. The height can be raised up to 4.3 inches. The screen can be rotated 20 degrees, angled forward and backward, and pivoted 90 degrees into a portrait orientation. If you’d prefer to just stick the display on a wall, it can be VESA mounted, but you’ll need to buy your own adapter to do so.

If there’s one complaint I do have, it’s that the monitor’s matte plastic can feel rather cheap. This is especially evident on the base feet, which have a pliable quality to certain spots. That said, the monitor isn’t wobbly, and I don’t fear it breaking. It’s just disappointing considering the high asking price.

Picture Quality

The first thing you notice about the LG 32GK850G-B is just how big it is. As a proponent of large screens, I couldn’t be happier sitting in front its 31.5” screen. It’s that much more fun playing a game when it can take over your field of view.

LG uses a virtual alignment (VA) panel for the 32GK850G-B, which sits comfortably between the faster twisted nematic (TN) and color-rich in-plane switching (IPS) panels. Colors are impressively accurate with almost no calibration required out of the box, but they’re not quite as vibrant as an IPS display. The LG more than makes up for the difference in terms of contrast and uniformity. Blacks performance is quite a bit stronger while having none of the backlight bleed or glow I’ve experienced on recent TN and IPS panels. There is not a single trace of flashlighting to be found. The 3,000:1 contrast ratio and perfect uniformity make for great, consistent images. LG’s quality control is demonstrably excellent here.

VA panels do tend to have a slower pixel response times, and this was occasionally seen on the 32GK850G-B. Black pixel transitions took longer in particular instances, leaving behind a temporary smear during camera rotations. However, I should stress that this occurred rarely. I typically had to be on the lookout for it or in very specific locations.

In terms of viewing angles, the panel’s generous size does make the left and right edges slightly washed out compared to the center. But again, for the majority of content while sitting straight on, I didn’t notice any strong shifting of colors.

The real start of the show is the 144/165Hz refresh rate coupled with G-SYNC support. It’s a revelatory experience every time I get my hands on one of these high refresh rate displays. The difference in smoothness and clarity is astounding when coming from a 60 Hz panel to something like the LG 32GK850G-B. And G-SYNC, which synchronizes the monitor’s refresh rate to the GPU, eliminates the tearing and stuttering that has often plagued my gaming experiences in the past.

Conclusion

The LG 32GK850G-B is a big, bold display that doesn’t lack for speed. It is currently the only 32” monitor that offers G-SYNC and a 144/165Hz refresh rate. And it’s a combination I love. Gaming on the 32GK850G-B is a blast due to its monstrous screen, deep blacks, perfect uniformity, and clarity. Its price is bold, too, with an $849.99 MSRP (currently selling for around $800 on Amazon), but not that much more than similar 27” offerings from competitors like ASUS. So if big is what you need and you don’t want to sacrifice any gaming features, the LG 32GK850G-B is an easy recommendation.

Full Disclosure: A sample was provided for review.