LCD monitors’ refresh rate is discussed at hardware forums from time to time. A few years ago users would express their concern that an LCD monitor might flicker at 60Hz. Today, they are arguing if a higher refresh rate can improve the response time or smoothness of motion.
These discussions have had no practical point until recently because LCD monitors do not flicker. The refresh rate of 75Hz is available on most models but provides no practical benefits and is even emulated in some monitors by the electronics – the matrix works at 60Hz while the redundant frames are just dropped out. The bandwidth of the DVI interface imposes a limitation, too. In the single-link version it allows for a refresh rate of no higher than 75Hz for 1680x1050 monitors and no higher than 60Hz for 1920x1200 monitors.
However, this situation is about to change dramatically due to Nvidia’s active promotion of its GeForce 3D Vision stereoscopic glasses. Each of their lenses is a liquid-crystal shutter that opens up 60 times a second. To support these glasses, the monitor must show twice the number of frames, alternating between pictures for the right and left eyes. In other words, it must have an honest refresh rate of 120Hz.
You may recall 120Hz TV-sets here, but since the TV broadcast format has not changed, such TV-sets create the additional frames by mixing two adjacent frames on an integrated processor. This makes motion look smoother, but such TV-sets are not directly related to the topic of this article which is about LCD monitors with a refresh rate of 120Hz. Of course, Nvidia has made sure to choose a proper moment to promote its stereoscopic glasses. If released one or two years ago, these glasses would not have been compatible with anything because CRT monitors were already far from popular whereas LCD monitors could not deliver the 120Hz refresh rate.
But such monitors have come up by today and I am going to discuss one of them, the Samsung SyncMaster 2233RZ, in this review. Although it is officially positioned as a monitor for supporting Nvidia’s stereovision technologies, nothing prevents you from using it without any glasses at all. Let’s see if the 120Hz refresh rate can provide any benefits for such usage.