Just last week, we took a look at a display that almost had the workings of the next great LCD, but came up short on price and performance. LG’s L1980U was unfortunately plagued by a 6-bit LCD that we didn’t feel very comfortable with after several weeks of testing. However, as TN displays appear to be the only ones that can really offer substantially better response times than SIPS displays made by LG.Philips LCD, more manufacturers continue to embrace these six-bit panels.

We are a bit skeptical about how low response times can go – realistically. You may recall from reading some of our other display articles that LCDs are measured by two major “response times” quantities: TrTf (Time rising, Time falling - sometimes called average) and GTG (Gray to Gray). Originally, all displays were all marketed by their TrTf response times and nothing more. It then occurred to certain manufacturers that while TrTf times were very low, the transient time from certain degrees of the liquid crystal were slower than others. This spawned the whole gray-to-gray measurement, which was really nothing but an average time of many different transient measurements. Occasionally, some manufacturers just find it acceptable enough to list one half of the TrTf time as we have seen in recent reviews. Unfortunately, those not aware of how displays are marketed fall as easy prey to the “lower” advertised specifications. With the already liberal interpretations of luminance and contrast ratio, it’s probably about time for VESA to start cracking down again. But that’s not what we came here to talk about today…

Just to rehash - we don’t have a lot of faith in advertised response times. If there are significant response time differences, there is usually a hit in performance somewhere else, like luminance or contrast ratio. It becomes easy to fall prey to benchmarks that measure response times in only certain scenarios, which is why all of our reviews use comprehensive real world comparisons between all of our displays to set the playing field level.

Samsung’s launch of the SyncMaster 915N seems unusually familiar – a low budget display is unveiled that boasts the lowest response time yet. Hitachi did it several years ago with their 16ms 17” display, but the SyncMaster 915N costs less today than the Hitachi did then. The SyncMaster 915N is a “no frills” display; there is no clever cable management, only a single 15-pin D-sub interface and an exceptionally low price (at least for a Samsung display). The 6-bit TN display used in the SyncMaster 915N is obviously a bit cheaper to produce than the 8-bit PVA displays used for most other Samsung displays, and the lack of a DVI interface and DSP help shave costs quite a bit. In the past, we have been fairly critical of 6-bit displays, TN displays and displays that didn’t have DVI capability. The deck seems stacked against Samsung, but perhaps there is more to this display than meets the eye.

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  • Spacecomber - Sunday, May 29, 2005 - link

    LX, the only non-TN (ie, a 8-bit) panel that I am aware of that is suitable for gaming is the 20" IPS panel from LG Philips, which is found in the Dell 2001FP, for example. This is specified as a 16ms panel (as you noted, for whatever that is worth). It probably is not as blur-free as the fastest TN monitors, but I think many would consider this monitor "good-enough" for gaming. I would guess-timate that it is similar to a 12ms TN panel in this regard, since IPS panels do not show quite the same increase in response times when comparing black to white transitions to more subtle black to grey or grey to grey transitions as the TN panels do (and even more so VA panels, which really suffer in this area).

    This panel is used in LCDs from other manufacturers, as well. BenQ's FP2091, for example, which is not a big surprise sine BenQ appears to be the OEM behind the Dell 2001FP.

    You can pick out some other likely candidates from this list, . The site is non-english, but the tables are still quite readable.

    There may be other 8 bit panels that can keep up with the LG Philips LM201U04, but I'm not aware of them at this time. Well, except maybe for the wide screen version of this panel. See Anandtech's comparison of the Dell and Apple versions of these 20" widescreens to see what they thought of them.

  • jiulemoigt - Sunday, May 29, 2005 - link

    "There were several instances while playing games where we could pick up small artifacts along the edges of the screen, and this anomaly seemed dependent on where the analog input cable was positioned on the desk. Analog interconnects need to disappear off the face of the earth, and fast."

    Why every once in while some thing is just plain wrong. Your problem is due to cheap cable or not screwing the cable ends on all tight, for artifacts to show up on your screen you have have to have some pretty heavy rads{em emmissions} off unshielded or badly shielded speakers, microwave overs, transitor radios, i'm trying to thick of anything else that you might consevibly have on your desktop that would cause artifacts, and thats all I could think of the top of my head. Most of the artifacts I have seen from doing both support and workstation graphics are from heat and bad feq on the signal, and not having a high enough refresh if you are used to working at higher rates.

    Analog interfaces vs digital ones usually have more to do with bandwidth limitations rather than signal interference. Your high end commercial lcds all have BNC interfaces as you will get a crisper sharper picture out of a BNC becuse your not forced into preset gradients between each color, your only limited by the device reciving and the cables. 15 pin serial < dvi-a/i < bnc {per channel}, so just putting a dvi connector on a dsp is not going to help if the dsp can not handle bandthwidth at it's end.
    a good example is SyncMaster™ 460PN (46" monitor)
    which you can game on but probably should not be since the run about 10 grand...
    I usually check anand for hardware you guys usually have your stuff together but with coments like analog being bad not simply old serial conectors that were around in commador days are limited for some reason... I don't know and I'm looking to replace my 900IFT with a lcd for home gaming but so far it was dell vs apple which are nice, but there should be more to it then that samsungs 24" not in I'm guessing it still considered expensive but still costs less than my video card? I'm biased as I work with nice colors every day but coming home to screen blurs and/or is not is nice as my crt i'm replacing, then it doesn't make sense to replace it :)
  • LX - Saturday, May 28, 2005 - link

    The problem is that one cannot directly compare response time specs between different panels due to marketing misinformation.

    So my question is, are there any 8-bit monitors (PVA/MVA/IPS/S-IPS) with good response times in REAL-LIFE scenarios (not on paper)?
  • xtknight - Saturday, May 28, 2005 - link

    Nice review.

    QUOTE: ...Using some color correction techniques in the OSD, we could usually compensate for the washed out effect, but we obviously would not want to do this for every game/level. A software interface for the OSD would go a long way here....

    Kristopher, have you tried the Samsung MagicTune software? Though this won't necessarily help you in games, it is a nice OSD front-end for Windows. The Samsung 915N you reviewed does have this. It's available off the monitor CD or Samsung's website. I love it...

    Also, the Samsung 930B would probably have been better to review, because it's identical (as far as I know) and has a DVI connection.
  • sbbots - Friday, May 27, 2005 - link

    Being an avid gamer, I did a LOT of comparing before I picked up a Samsung 930B for $349 ($429 minus $80 rebate) at Best Buy. I have always used CRTs for gaming and LCDs for the kids/wife computer, but this one changed my mind forever.

    Gaming has never looked as good as it does on my new LCD - CS Source, Joint Operations, SWAT 4 and World of WarCraft all look fabulous with zero ghosting. I'm not sure what the reviewer is talking about when he says that the color isn't very good on the 915N (or 930B by proxy), but with a DVI cable, the color looks as good as any Dell or Sony I have ever owned.

    Anyway, I highly recommend this monitor to any gamer.
  • TurtleBlue - Friday, May 27, 2005 - link

    Hmm...the Dell UltraSharp 1905FP is now selling for $455.05 at the Dell website today (05/27/05). Thats a pretty fat increase for something that should be "slightly cheaper" than the Samsung model being reviewed, after only 2 days since published?!?(which at NewEgg is selling for $342.99). That Samsung is going to look real "purdy" on my desk, replacing my old NEC 15" multisync LCD.
  • Spacecomber - Friday, May 27, 2005 - link

    That's an interesting tip Nessism. I see that BenQ manufactures the 2001FP.
  • Nessism - Friday, May 27, 2005 - link


    If you go to Dells site and dig up the "Regulatory" information you can read who makes the Dell monitor. For example, Liteon builds the 1905FP. I don't think Liteon builds them all though so you need to look up the specific monitor you are interested in. You need to be careful though because even though Liteon may assemble the monitor that does not mean it uses a Liteon screen inside.

    Hope this helps.

  • at80eighty - Thursday, May 26, 2005 - link

    Mucho thanx Jarred :-)
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, May 26, 2005 - link

    31 - That roundup would have to be done by Kris. I've merely talked to him about some of the information I've given in the comments. As for the 6-bit being better than an 8-bit for gaming, it's not the colors that are better; it's the response time. While response times are often just fantasy marketing numbers, the fact is that the fastest 8-bit panels are still more prone to "motion blur" than the fastest 6-bit panels.

    32 - The main reason AnandTech hasn't reviewed a lot of the Tier 2 LCDs is that they don't commit to a single panel (just like the L90D+ I mentioned). If they find a cheaper panel, they can change at any time. In fact, numerous LCD manufacturers will have the same model name with three or more different panels used, depending on the date of manufacture. "Reviewing" such an LCD when we can't guarantee what panel will actually be used would be a major disservice to our readers. And the 4ms displays are likely just the 8ms panels with marketing using 1/2 the TrTf value. (See the second paragraph of the introduction.)

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