Samsung SyncMaster 172X LCD Monitor Review

Admin - 2007-02-14 19:40:26 in Monitors
Category: Monitors
Reviewed by: Admin   
Reviewed on: May 4, 2004
Price: $539 USD

Introduction


Today we'll be looking at another of Samsung's popular SyncMaster line of LCD monitors, the 172X. This 17" monitor is one of Samsung's top of the line monitors, with a very important feature for us gamers and hardcore computer geeks, a 12ms response time. Boasting refinement and style, the 172X once again brings creedence to the SyncMaster line of monitors. Without further adieu, let's take a closer look at the monitor!

Specifications


Specifications

Model

172X

 

Part Number

172X

Panel

Type

a-si TFT/TN

 

Size

17"

 

Pixel Pitch (mm)

0.264mm

 

Brightness

270cd/m2

 

Contrast Ratio

500:1

 

Viewing Angle

160° / 140°

 

Response Time (ms)

12

 

Interface

Analog / Digital

Frequency

Horizontal Rate - (Analog)

30-80

 

Horizontal Rate - (Digital)

30-63

 

Vertical Rate

56-75

 

Bandwidth

135

Resolution

Maximum

1280 x 1024

Color

Maximum

16.2M

Signal Input

Input Video Signal

Analog RGB, DVI Digital Link

 

Video Level: Analog

Analog:0.7VP-P

 

Video Level: Digital

TMDSTM

 

Sync Type

Separate H/V, Composite H/V, SOG

 

Input Connectors

15pin D-sub, DVI-D

Plug & Play

DDC

DDC 2B

Power

On / Working

40 Watts (Max)

Wall Mount

VESA®

VESA 75mm

 

Emission Standard

TCO '03

Cabinet Color

Bezel Color

Silver

Dimensions

Physical (WxHxD)

361.6mm x 363mm x 193.9mm

 

Packaging (WxHxD)

461mm x 393mm x 142mm

Weight

Net (physical)

8.2 lbs.

 

Gross (packaging)

12 lbs.

Closer Look


Once again, we meet Samsung’s briefcase style shipping box. I’m personally a big fan of these boxes, because they’re small, durable, and easy to carry. Once again everything arrived undamaged and ready to go.



Inside the box we find everything necessary for using this monitor:

  • D-sub cable (aka RGB cable)
  • DVI-D cable
  • Power Cord
  • DC-Adapter
  • Quick Setup Guide
  • Installation Disk (Drivers and Software)
  • VESA Mounting Bracket
  • Warranty Card
  • Samsung SyncMaster 172X

     


     


    I’m still trying to properly comprehend how small these monitors are, it is really amazing. The 172X is another tiny monitor, this time boasting the slogan ‘Narrow and Slim’, which in all honesty seems a bit redundant to me, but at least this monitor certainly suits the bill.

     


    The Narrow and Slim part comes in two different sections, in my opinion. First we have the depth of the monitor itself, which is basically nonexistent. The screen itself is less then a finger-width in depth and the base isn’t that much bigger. Overall the monitor is extremely non-intrusive, in terms of overall desk space covered, which is helpful if you like to have lots of stuff spread all over your desk, or if you’re a student like me, it’s helpful for research, because without the CRT, I probably have 300% more desk space for books and notes.

    For the other part, we have the actual style of the monitor itself. The monitor has a very narrow bezel around the outside of the screen itself. I really like this look; it lends a lot to the style of the monitor with the thin bezel in an attractive silver colour to accent the rest of the monitor’s colour. As well, one big difference in this monitor is that there are actually adjustment buttons on the bezel. Again, Samsung has opted for unobtrusive, simple and functional buttons. Along the bottom bezel we find mounted on the underside 7 buttons. From left to right, we have a button labeled ‘Auto’ which auto adjusts the screen when using the RGB connection. Using the DVI connection, it comes up as ‘Auto Adjustment Not Available’. Next we have Exit, which exits any menu you’re in. Menu brings up the menu screen bringing up all the basic functional adjustments the monitors have these days, such as brightness, contrast and screen size and placement adjustments, again, when using the DVI connection, the screen size and adjustment options aren’t available, simplifying usage (since the monitor does it automatically to begin with). Next comes the power button, then + and – adjustment buttons used to navigate the Menus. Finally, we have the MagicTune button, which is a wonderful button that automatically switches between the different MagicTune presets (User Adjusted, Text, Internet and Entertain) which makes switching between screen brightness much easier, and hence much easier on the eyes over time. All of the buttons are easy to press, and easy to find with your fingertips. Samsung even took the time to add small feet to prevent mashing your buttons when adjusting your monitor.





    The connections for the monitor are at the back of the base, and include DVI-D, a 15-pin D-Sub (Analog) and power connections. The back is very similar to the SyncMaster 173P monitor, keeping it simple and tight.



    The 172X offers a lot less in the way of adjustment then the 173P – only vertical and back/forth tilt with this one – simple stuff. The adjustment is stiff to begin with, but gets worked in over time. One problem I did have was that the monitor wasn’t able to adjust to a very tall vertical height. I’m a pretty tall guy at 6’2”, and I felt that I was looking down at this monitor, unfortunately. Again, this was a bit of an adjustment from one monitor to another, but it was an unfortunate drawback.

    Installation


    Again this monitor comes with the wall-mounting unit. Simply attach the monitor bracket to the monitor with the included screws, and the other side to the wall with the included hardware. Clip it on, and voila.

    As for plugging in the computer, plug the power cable to the DC converter, and the converter to the monitor. Choose DVI or VGA, and connect your computer and the monitor. The monitor automatically detects what connection you're using. With the DVI input, an automatic adjustment is made to fit your screen to the edges, and with RGB, simply press the Auto button.


    Software: MagicTune
    Again with the 172X we get the Samsung driver CD, and it comes with a copy of MagicTune software, the same as the 173P. MagicTune is the main colour tuning software used by the 172X. Since we took a look at it with the 173P, let’s take a look at that again. The MagicTune software can be used independently, or can sit idly by in your desktop tray (default) waiting to be used. For something you don't particularly think about, the colour adjustments on your monitor can mean a lot in the long run of gameplay and deskwork. My particular job involves a lot of time in front of a computer screen, and it makes this software even more useful. When you open the program, you're presented with the Display Screen. >From here you can either manually go through the three stages, or click on 'Wizard' to go through them automatically. On each screen, you're presented with a brightness/contrast calibration tool, each with just one slider to adjust. Simply follow the instructions, and you're set.

     


    The next step is the 'Colour' tab, which takes you through 6 colour adjustments. Personally, I didn't have to change any of these settings, I didn't need to (this holds true for the 172X too!). Simply adjust the box in the middle to the proper colour/brightness and repeat for all 6. The 'Show Me' button brings up instructions on how to manipulate the settings, and 'Quick View' shows all 6 boxes for quick reference.

     


    After manipulating any setting, you are prompted to save it as the Default Preset (starts with the computer). The monitor allows for multiple User settings though, saved as a profile (one of which is the Default). This means if your computer is shared, you can easily switch between User settings, instead of having to goof around through the process again.



    Installation With any Preset, in the Options menu, you can use MagicBright to change between scenarios - Text, Internet, and Entertainment. These settings adjust the brightness and contrast automatically, allowing for a dimmer, easier on the eyes experience for reading and typing on Text, a moderate brightness on Internet (for reading and graphics) and the full range of colours and a higher brightness for Entertainment (movies and games). This quick switching ability makes eye stress a thing of the past. No more will you start twitching because you've been exposed to a bright white screen typing for hours, and movies become much cleaner. Again, after you change a setting, you'll be asked if you want to apply it to the Preset, but you can still select 'No' and use the setting - useful in situations where you want to switch to a different Bright setting for a period of time, but still have your default setting different.



    The last tab - Support - has only one button, which checks online for updates with the MagicTune software.



    The only addition to this is again the extra button the 172X boasts, featuring a quick-link to the MagicBright option with the ability to quickly switch between the MagicBright settings, which was an incredibly convenient feature.


    The 172X LCD
    To understand how this monitor holds up against others in the market, let’s take a look at the vital statistics – the things you need to know about an LCD monitor.

    Pixel Pitch: 0.294mm – Larger then the 0.264mm the 173P boasted, this is not a bigger is better scenario. Though not necessarily noticeable, the larger pixel pitch is a big bigger then the newest standard for LCD monitors at 17” and 1280x1024 max resolution.

    Brightness: 270cd/m2 – At 270cd/m2, the 172X is identical to the 173P, allowing for excellent brightness, clarity and adaptability, and one of the highest ratings available.

    Contrast Ratio: 500:1 – At 500:1, the 172X ranks lower then the 173P (at 700:1), but is still an exceptional rating, and among the top in its class.

    Viewing Angle: 160° / 140° - This refers to the viewing angle from side-on and top-down. These ratings for the 172X reflect its somewhat larger pixel pitch, but still is an exceptional viewing area.

    Response Time: 12ms - This is what we’ve been waiting for the entire review – the response time. The 172X SHINES at 12ms – it is one of the fastest response times on the market. This allows for a near complete elimination of ghosting in even the highest speed gaming environments, and objective that is very important in a gamer’s setup.

    Once again with the 172X we have both the standard Analog and the DVI-D connection options. This allows for you to choose what you want, or use older or onboard graphics cards. I genuinely think I can see the end of Analog on the horizon though – DVI connections are going to be the new standard sooner rather then later.

    Testing


    Once again, this is the best part of my job – getting to test these incredible parts. And how else can we test a monitor then to play games! This time around I’ve played tons of UT2k4, Counterstrike and NFS: Underground, as well as various other games. Once again, the main selling point will be the response time, and with 12ms, we’ll really get to see what the newest LCDs have to offer.

    I tested it myself, and got someone who conventionally uses a CRT monitor to come and play for a while as well.

    For movies, we both agreed there was no ghosting whatsoever – the image was crisp, flowing, and ghost-free.

    For gameplay, both of us agreed again…no ghosting! At 12ms, the monitor is quick enough to react to everything that a game could throw at us. This means that even coming straight off a CRT monitor, you’re not going to have a noticeable change in gameplay, because visually there will be none! Finally you can have all the benefits of LCD monitors without losing the ghostless qualities of a CRT!

    The screen was also tested to make sure there we no dead pixels (using solid screens of colour) - none were present.

    Conclusion


    Finally, a monitor that can hold up to the rigours of extreme testing! The SyncMaster 172X not only lived up to the standards I’m now looking for in LCD monitors, but amazed me with the ghostless gaming with that incredible 12ms response time. Finally gamers can have a monitor that won’t take up a ton of space and still offers the same visual experience of a high quality CRT monitor. With very few, very minor problems with the adjustability, as well as a more limited adjustment field, the 172X is solid. Once again Samsung amazes me with the quality of their products, and the 172X performs and passes with flying colours in absolutely every category.

    Pros

    • Looks great
    • Extremely small footprint
    • Excellent monitor quality
    • Wall-mounting unit
    • DVI-D connection
    • Stylish design
    • Easy to use software
    • Extremely fast response time - no ghosting!

    Cons

    • Slight adjustability problems, users may find it does not adjust to a tall enough stature