Selecting an LCD that’s right for you

Overall, quality in monitors has risen significantly over the last 18 months. Particularly, substrate production continues to improve. Granted, most new monitors might still come with one dead pixel. Be very wary of online vendors that claim trade-ins on “only 8 dead pixels!”

The important thing to remember about LCDs is that there really aren’t that many different kinds. They come in all sorts of shapes and colors, but generally, the different kinds of substrates remain small in number. Let us take a look at the main types of buyers we see looking for LCDs.

“Give me a recommendation for the best 20" 16ms response time LCD, cost is no issue!” — Unfortunately, this LCD does not exist. You can buy larger LCDs in the 20” range that don’t have large problems with motion blur, but unfortunately, even your 16ms monitor will blur a little anyway. For those who still think they need a 20" LCD, the Dell 2000FPs are generally the industry standard in that range.

“Give me a recommendation for the best 20" 1600x1200 LCD, cost is no issue!” — Again, you don’t really have much option for something like that. Some medical UXGA monitors are capable of these specs, but they cost 3 to 4 times that of the plain old Dell 2000FPs.

“What is the best 16ms response time LCD?” — We get this one a lot. We have mentioned an incredible amount of times that they are pretty much all the same monitor. AUOptronics makes the actual substrate for every 16ms panel available right now. LG.Philips has one in production as well, but they are pretty much like comparing apples to oranges. It needs to be established that black-to-white response times are good, but grey-to-grey are far more important. The follow-up to this article will deal primarily with this issue. In any case, the best 17” 16ms LCD is perhaps the cheapest, since they are pretty much all the same anyway. The Hitachi CML174 (which we reviewed), the NEC 1760NX, and the ViewSonic 171B all seem to be favorites. You pretty much can’t loose with any of those.

“What is the best 19" LCD?” — Another popular question. Unfortunately, again, they are pretty much all the same. The Dell 1900FP, Dell 1901FP, Planar PX191, Samsung 191T and Samsung 192T are all based on the same panel. There are about another 20 tier 2 and 3 manufacturers that carry monitors that look identical to the Samsung 191T as well. As far as we can tell, we have yet to find one that is not based on the same Samsung substrate as the other previously mentioned 5 panels. There is a slight difference in circuitry from one to the other, but do not think one display will perform differently than another. Again, it goes back to the issue of cost. The Dell 1900FP and 1901FPs seem to price rather aggressively, and they are probably your best bet.

“I’m a gamer and I won’t buy an LCD until they get there is no ghosting” — My day wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t get about one or two of these in my Inbox. By ghosting, I assume the motion blur that is commonly associated with high response times. Actually, is this even a question? We have to admit that CRTs still out-perform LCDs due to their higher resolution, lower cost and quicker refresh. If you devote about a third of your life to playing games, buying an LCD just isn’t a good idea.

“I am looking for a mid range LCD good for some games and internet” — Probably the best choice is back in the 16ms 17" LCDs. It might seem like overkill because of the low response time, but in actuality, since there are so many different competitors with the same substrate, these are the lowest priced monitors. You will still have to spend about $450 for a good monitor. Just keep in mind that you should definitely spend the extra money on a DVI connection. The difference between the DVI and analog cable will be night and day, even if you just casually use the computer. Other good LCDs in the $450 range include the Samsung 171N and the Samsung 172B/W/T.
Fixing a dead (sub)pixel? Future LCDs


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  • Anonymous User - Sunday, September 7, 2003 - link

    Its ok from what I hear.
  • Anonymous User - Saturday, September 6, 2003 - link

    Great article - typical AnandTech coverage/information! I have a question though - I would like to get a 17" LCD with DVI and S-Video inputs (for playing console games). The Samsung MP series has VGA and S-Video, but no DVI. Albatron has a one with some nice specs - the L17AT.

    The only problem is that I have seen no reviews of them. I am a little leery of spending $500+ on a monitor sight unseen. Any suggestions?
  • KristopherKubicki - Saturday, September 6, 2003 - link

    #49, Ill add that into Part II then.

    #50, perhaps down the line I will try to do that. It would not really fit into part II right now.


  • artifex - Saturday, September 6, 2003 - link

    Also, I'd really like to own an LCD because of the weight and size issues (I want larger than my current 16" viewable CRT, 17 or 19 maybe), but also because of the expected power savings. Would you consider adding a comparison of the power consumption in future roundups? Reply
  • artifex - Saturday, September 6, 2003 - link

    I am disgusted to discover that many manufacturers using the 262000 color panels are lying and claiming 16.7 million. I challenge Anandtech to clearly identify these manufacturers in future product reviews, because if they can't tell the truth about this simple spec, how can we trust them on things like warranties? Reply
  • KristopherKubicki - Saturday, September 6, 2003 - link

    #47 - Yes, SamsungUSA anyway. Computex is around the corner, maybe we can find out something new there =) Reply
  • Anonymous User - Friday, September 5, 2003 - link

    Hi Kristopher, is Samsung still denying/not talking about their X line of 16ms panels? Reply
  • KristopherKubicki - Friday, September 5, 2003 - link

    Hi Dan,

    The Apple 23" monitor is OK, but its more bark than bite (Apple does these amazing things with advertising). I would be very hesitant to judge a monitor by its contrast ratio.

    In fact, one monitor we reviewed a few months ago, the Samsung 192T claimed a 500:1 contrast ratio when we recieved. Now, the specifications claim 750:1 even though nothing has changed on the monitor.

    In any case, do remember that the Cinematic Displays are expensive as well. Samsung has done some very neat things in the 21 and 23" area, and in my opinion they are better than apples. To further sweeten the deal you wont need a seperate adaptor to convert the signal.

    If you use graphics heavily (as in professionally) CRT is still your only option.

    As for your question about DVI, there are actually about 3 versions of the technology. However, almost all hardware on the PC uses the DVI-I format. This format is backwards compatible with the other two, so you'll be just fine.


  • Anonymous User - Friday, September 5, 2003 - link

    Hi my old 17" CRT is dying, and I'll need to replace it very soon. I have found that when working in PhotoShop, my old 17" monitor is just to small, and my eyes get quit sore. I think I would like to get and LCD of around 19". I am a PC user and am running Windows 98se.

    In my research "the Monitor to which all others is compaired" is the Apple 23" Cinem HD Display Having a resolution of 1920 by 1200, 170 viewing angle, brightness of only 200 cd/m2, lowsey 350:1 contrast ratio, and a half decient pixel pitch of 0.258.

    Here in Australia coumptor stores aren't at all helpful in showing you their monitors in real world sisutions. So I've only been able to read the technical specs found on the internet. It seems a number of monitors have hit the 700 to 1 mark, and Planar offer a 19" with a pixel pitch of 0.242mm at 1600 x 1200 while most offer a auful 0.290mm at 1280 x 1024.

    Going on specifications alone, I think I would like a 19" LCD with 1600 x 1200 resolution, 300 CD/m2 brightness, 700 to 1 contrast ratio, 25ms or less response time, 170 degree horizonal and vertical viewing angle, 0.242 mm pixel pitch, and of course a DVI coennection. I am not a gamer.

    Is this reasonable and practical, or is a CRT a better option, and if so which one would best suit the graphics environment?

    I recently read something about there being two kinds of DVI, DVI and DVI-D, is this a concern?

    Thank You for any help you can give me, my e-mail address is

    Sincerely, Dan Andrews
  • Anonymous User - Friday, September 5, 2003 - link

    What's the deal with all the misleading and irrelevant hypertext links in the article (e.g. "computer", "connection", "solution", etc?) Reply

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