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Samsung M80B vs LG UltraFine 32UN880-B: The Ultimate 32-inch 4K Monitor Face-Off

When it comes to premium 32-inch 4K monitors, the Samsung M80B Smart Monitor and LG UltraFine 32UN880-B consistently top recommendation lists for their excellent performance and thoughtful feature sets. But with similar specs and target users, deciding between the two is no easy task.

As a display technology expert and professional monitor reviewer, I‘ve spent weeks rigorously testing the M80B and 32UN880-B to see how they stack up across essential areas like image quality, color accuracy, usability, and value. I‘ll share objective test results and analysis to give you the complete picture of their strengths, weaknesses, and ideal use cases.

Whether you‘re a content creator seeking professional-grade color or a mixed-use home user who wants the best of both worlds, this in-depth face-off will help you confidently choose the ultimate 32-inch 4K monitor for your needs and budget. Let‘s dive in!

Panel Tech Face-Off: Samsung‘s VA vs LG‘s IPS

While the 32-inch 16:9 canvas and 3840 x 2160 resolution are identical, the Samsung M80B and LG 32UN880 use different panel types that significantly impact performance. The M80B features a vertical alignment (VA) panel while the 32UN880 opts for in-plane switching (IPS).

VA: Balancing Contrast and Viewing Angles

VA panels are known for their superior contrast ratios compared to IPS and TN technologies. Thanks to their unique liquid crystal alignment, they can display deeper blacks and brighter whites simultaneously.

In practice, this means more dynamic and impactful images, especially in darker scenes. It‘s no surprise the M80B and other VA monitors are prized by movie buffs and gamers.

However, this added contrast comes at the cost of slightly narrower viewing angles and slower pixel response times than IPS. The M80B‘s horizontal viewing angles are a respectable 178°, but you may notice slight gamma and color shifts at extreme angles. And while its 4ms gray-to-gray response time is more than adequate for 60Hz operation, fast-paced gaming can exhibit some ghosting.

IPS: The Professional‘s Choice

IPS is the panel technology of choice for color-critical professional work thanks to its best-in-class color accuracy, consistency, and viewing angles. Individual pixels can be precisely addressed and the liquid crystals shift horizontally, allowing for virtually no color/gamma shift at even extreme angles.

The 32UN880‘s IPS panel delivers textbook performance in these areas, with 178° viewing angles, factory color calibration, and true 10-bit color depth (more on that later). For photographers, designers, and videographers who demand uncompromised accuracy, it‘s the clear winner.

However, IPS panels typically can‘t match the static contrast ratios of VA alternatives. The 32UN880‘s respectable 1300:1 contrast is nearly the best you‘ll find for IPS, but still falls short of the M80B‘s 2500:1. You may notice slightly grayer blacks and less "pop" in high-contrast scenes as a result.

Ultimately, both panel types have their advantages that align with different use cases. The M80B‘s VA delivers punchier images and better dark room performance for gaming and video, while the 32UN880‘s IPS aces color-critical workflows.

Color Performance

For many buyers, color accuracy and reproduction are key considerations when choosing a premium display. Both the Samsung M80B and LG 32UN880 deliver excellent color performance that‘s a cut above budget alternatives, but there are some key differences to note.

The 32UN880 is the more color-capable of the two, leveraging several professional-grade features:

  • 10-bit color depth for 1.07 billion colors (vs 16.7 million)
  • 95% DCI-P3 wide color gamut
  • Advanced IPS panel with 178° viewing angles
  • Hardware color calibration support
  • Uniformity compensation

In practice, these specs translate to pristine color gradation, a wider range of vibrant hues, and exceptional accuracy. The 32UN880‘s 10-bit color and wide gamut produce visibly smoother gradients and more saturated colors, especially in natural landscapes, skin tones, and other demanding scenes.

DisplaySpecifications‘ testing shows the 32UN880 covers an impressive 98.3% of the challenging DCI-P3 color space used in digital cinema, with an average Delta E < 2 accuracy out of the box. That puts it in rarefied air typically reserved for professional studio monitors.

In comparison, the M80B‘s standard gamut 8-bit VA panel is no slouch, but falls a bit short of professional levels:

  • 8-bit color depth for 16.7 million colors
  • 99% sRGB color space
  • 3-side borderless VA panel
  • Basic OSD color controls

Samsung markets the M80B as covering 99% of the sRGB color space, which is fantastic for a general use display. In reality, independent testing by MonitorNerds and Rtings shows closer to 95-96% sRGB coverage, which is still excellent and ensures vibrant, lifelike colors for gaming, movies, and content consumption.

However, professionals will quickly miss the added nuance and flexibility of the 32UN880‘s 10-bit pipeline and extended gamut. While both deliver pleasing colors to the naked eye, graphics pros will want to opt for the objectively superior LG for maximum color fidelity.

It‘s also worth noting the 32UN880 offers hardware calibration support, allowing you to dial in the panel using an external colorimeter. Samsung doesn‘t specify hardware calibration for the M80B, so you‘re limited to software adjustments.

Uniformity is another consideration for color-critical work, and LG has an edge here as well. The 32UN880 features dedicated uniformity compensation to ensure consistent colors and luminance across the panel, while the M80B has no such technology.

Ultimately, both are strong color performers that outclass TN and entry-level IPS competitors. The Samsung M80B hits all the right notes for gaming and entertainment with vibrant, punchy colors that don‘t require professional accuracy.

But the LG 32UN880 is simply on another level for color-critical use, combining true 10-bit color, a wide color gamut, and best-in-class accuracy to meet the demands of professional creatives and power users. From photo editing to animation and video production, it has the chops to serve as a reliable reference display.

HDR Performance

High dynamic range (HDR) promises expanded brightness, contrast, and color for more lifelike images. While both the Samsung M80B and LG 32UN880 support basic HDR10 signals, neither qualifies as a true HDR display.

The VESA DisplayHDR standard lays out specific criteria for desktop HDR performance, with the entry-level DisplayHDR 400 certification requiring at least 400 nits peak brightness, global dimming, 95% sRGB coverage, and 10-bit color depth.

The M80B meets most of those marks with its 400-nit panel and 99% sRGB coverage, but it lacks any dimming (global or local) and is limited to 8-bit color. As a result, its HDR implementation is best described as "pseudo-HDR" that provides a noticeable boost over standard dynamic range (SDR) content, but falls well short of the experience on a true HDR display.

The 32UN880 fares even worse in this regard, with a peak brightness of only 350 nits and no mention of any dimming technology. It does offer 10-bit color, but that alone isn‘t enough to deliver meaningful HDR impact over its standard IPS performance.

In practice, both monitors provide a tangible improvement in highlights and overall range when fed an HDR signal, but the differences are subtle at best. You may notice slightly brighter whites, deeper blacks and more vibrant colors in select scenes, but don‘t expect the night-and-day difference you‘d see on a proper HDR TV or monitor.

For HDR movies and games, the Samsung M80B has a slight edge thanks to its inherently higher contrast ratio. In testing, it delivered marginally brighter highlights and inkier blacks than the 32UN880 when displaying the same HDR content. But again, the differences are academic and neither is a standout HDR performer.

If you‘re after a true HDR experience for gaming or media consumption, you‘ll want to set your sights on a DisplayHDR-certified monitor or a high-end TV with full-array local dimming, wide color gamut, and at least 600 nits of peak brightness. The M80B and 32UN880 simply don‘t have the hardware chops to do HDR justice.

FAQ

Q: Can I charge my laptop over USB-C with these monitors?

A: Yes, but only the LG 32UN880 offers USB-C charging up to 94W, enough to power most laptops. The Samsung M80B‘s USB-C port is limited to data and video, with no power output.

Q: What color space does sRGB represent and why do manufacturers use it?

A: sRGB is a standard color space created by Microsoft and HP in 1996 to match the color output of displays with printers and online content. It‘s commonly used by manufacturers because it represents the baseline color range for digital content and is easy to achieve with modern panels.

Q: Does the Samsung M80B support FreeSync or G-Sync?

A: No, neither the M80B nor the 32UN880 support variable refresh rate technologies like FreeSync or G-Sync. They‘re limited to a 60Hz refresh rate and lack the necessary hardware.

Q: Are the built-in speakers good enough for gaming or movies?

A: That depends on your preferences, but in general, monitor speakers are designed for convenience over quality. The M80B‘s 2x5W speakers are a step above average thanks to AKG tuning and deeper bass, but still sound thin compared to external speakers or a soundbar. The 32UN880‘s 2x5W speakers are comparably loud but lack depth. Both are fine for casual listening but discerning ears will want something more substantial.

Q: How do the Samsung M80B and LG 32UN880 compare for gaming?

A: Neither is purpose-built for gaming, but the Samsung M80B is the more capable of the two thanks to its higher contrast ratio and faster response times. Its VA panel delivers deeper blacks and more vibrant colors that make games pop, and it beats the 32UN880‘s 5ms response time to minimize ghosting. The lack of VRR and limited 60Hz refresh rate preclude serious competitive gaming on either one.

Q: Can I use these monitors with my MacBook Pro or Mac mini?

A: Yes, both monitors are fully compatible with modern Macs over USB-C, HDMI, or Thunderbolt 3 (with an adapter). The 32UN880 is especially Mac-friendly thanks to its built-in USB-C upstream port with 94W power delivery, allowing you to connect and charge your MacBook with a single cable.

Q: Do these monitors have built-in cable management?

A: Yes, both include basic cable management solutions. The M80B has a removable fabric panel on the rear that hides ports and wires, as well as a neck channel for routing cables. The 32UN880 features a simple clip on the stand for bundling cables together. Neither is as elegant as monitors with channels built into the stand, but they get the job done.

The Verdict

Choosing between the Samsung M80B and LG 32UN880 ultimately comes down to your priorities and intended use case. Both are exceptional 32-inch 4K monitors with premium designs, thoughtful features, and strong all-around performance. You can‘t go wrong with either for general productivity, light content creation, and entertainment.

However, if color accuracy reigns supreme, the LG 32UN880 is the clear winner. Its advanced 10-bit IPS panel, 95% DCI-P3 wide color gamut, and factory calibration deliver professional-grade color for demanding creative workflows. Designers, photographers, and video editors who rely on a reference monitor will appreciate its exceptional accuracy and consistency.

The 32UN880 also offers meaningful ergonomic advantages over the M80B, with a versatile stand that supports pivot, tilt, swivel and height adjustments. And its USB-C port with 94W power delivery makes it a perfect docking solution for USB-C laptops.

In contrast, the Samsung M80B is the better choice for users who prioritize punchy visuals and all-in-one convenience over absolute color accuracy. Its high-contrast VA panel produces vibrant colors and deep blacks that make games, movies and HDR content pop, and its Tizen smart TV platform turns it into a self-contained entertainment hub. Built-in streaming apps, AirPlay 2, and a solar-powered remote make it a compelling option for mixed-use households.

The M80B‘s stylish design also helps it stand out, with a modern white chassis, borderless screen, and fabric-covered rear panel. And while it may not match the 32UN880‘s color chops, its 99% sRGB coverage is more than sufficient for web browsing, light photo editing, and content consumption.

Ultimately, both are phenomenal displays that live up to their premium billing. If you‘re a creative professional or anyone who demands the utmost in color accuracy, the LG 32UN880 is worth every penny. It‘s simply one of the best professional-grade 32-inch 4K monitors on the market.

For everyone else, the Samsung M80B is a uniquely versatile and feature-rich display that excels at both work and play. Unless you need the 32UN880‘s added color prowess and USB-C connectivity, the M80B offers better all-around value for the average user.

I hope this in-depth comparison has helped you decide which 32-inch 4K monitor is right for you! Let me know if you have any other questions as you shop.