Samsung SyncMaster 172X
I already reviewed this monitor in my previous article with a confusing outcome. In spite of the fact that the manufacturer’s website claims 12msec response time and the use of TN+Film matrix, the monitor proved to have a PVA matrix with a response time of 25msec, quite unsuitable for dynamic games. Well, there was info that Samsung sent earlier samples equipped with PVA matrixes to testing laboratories by mistake. For example, Tom’s Hardware Guide was as unlucky as we were – Vincent Alzieu’s tests of the first 172X model produced results typical for PVA matrixes, rather than for fast TN+Film ones.
That’s why we decided to wait for the SyncMaster 172X to appear in shops and take one sample right off the shelf.
The case design of the 172X model resembles that of 173X, but it is somewhat simplified. There is no portrait mode, and the face panel is made of plastic, rather than aluminum. Thus, the monitor looks less attractive, in spite of the strict outline and the original design.
The SyncMaster 172X is equipped with both analog and digital inputs (a rare thing for a model positioned as a gaming monitor) and an external power adapter. All the connectors, like in other monitors with a Dual Hinge base, are taken to the back part of the base for easy installation of the monitor and for lessening the web of cables on the desk.
Contrary to the 173X, the SyncMaster 172X has traditional control buttons, located at the bottom edge of the case, but as I mentioned above, you can use the same MagicTune utility with this monitor, too. The screen menu is typical for all monitors from Samsung, save for models with a TV-tuner.
Having turned on this monitor for the first time, I saw it had a TN+Film matrix. Its viewing angles are no worse than in other modern TN+Film matrixes, but lose to PVA ones. The most noticeable effect is the image getting darker when you deflect your line of sight down from the center.
Of course, I was interested in the color reproduction since TN+Film matrixes (especially their fast versions with 18-bit color) are not very good in this parameter. And really, although the colors are reproduced well enough for that type of the matrix, smooth gradients show three-four stripes perpendicular to the gradient, which are darker than they should be. Again, there is no competition with PVA matrixes – TN+Film ones lose this comparison beforehand.
Then I put the 173P and the 172X on my desk next to each other, had them both show black background in full-screen mode and turned off the light in my room. This is how I found another point of difference: the black color of the 173P looked like an evenly-distributed dark-gray background, while the 172X displayed it much lighter and with visible light spots in the bottom right and left corners of the screen.