Samsung 181T : My Gaming Review

Hi Guys,

I have just had confirmed my delivery for a Samsung 181T 18.1 inch LCD Display for tomorrow Wednesday. These have been in very very short supply in the UK, and as such objective reviews are a little thin on the ground.

If people are interested (express here) I'll put up my thoughts in the next couple of days.

I'll do a:
- CounterStrike review (runs at 1024x768 not native)
- Quake 3 at 1280 (native) FSAA.
- Web Browsing
- Some general metrics.

I have this display on a trial so don't expect any prejudice or me to hold back if I don't like it.

It will be running on a GeForce4, and I'll try both the Digital and Analog connector.

If your interested I have a modest 19" Hansol 920D CRT, so I'll be hoping this can act as a direct replacement.

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  1. Please do post your experiences. Why only run CS at 1024x768 though? Half-Life offers 1280x960, I know it would stretch vertically but better than both ways surely?

    Do you have a DVD player? If so some testing of that would be helpful.
  2. HL looks like crap at 1280x960. That's whay. Textures are wayyyy too stretched for that.

    Sig of the week.
  3. I hardly notice a difference between 1024 and 1280 in HL. Textures look exactly the same to me, as they should.
  4. OK its arrived now, just landed at my feet at work, I've tried it quickly here just to make sure:

    a) it works
    b) all the bits are there.

    It comes with both a DVI connector and Analog, as well as natural colour software.

    The display seems very crisp and sharp, with a nice brightness (I only needed to set it on 50 of 100).

    And not a single dead pixel.

    I'll be installed at home this evening, and tested to death, watch this space.

    For you HL/Counterstrike, fanatics, I'll try both resolutions.

  5. OK 1st Thoughts:

    Install was a breeze in fact with the DVI input the windows driver would probably have sufficed, but I went with the supplied driver, followed by an update from Microsofts site.

    I have yet to run any formal tests so please bear in mind these are my opinions and just that:

    1) Game 1
    Spiderman Movie (new 3rd Person Game)

    Strangely I expected this game to throw up some problems, to my surprise the colours were vivid and no ghosting was evident unless my eyes were squinted and a couple of inches from the screen.

    2) Quake 3 (running Native)

    Stationery, the picture was crystal however my first (and not last) dissapointment came when I started trudging around the level. Now I have played this game for years and know the levels back to front and god was that a good job. Moving forward and backwards, no ghosting and CRT like smoothness. Spin the mouse and boy does things go tits up, firstly the blurring is bad, very very bad. Secondly I'm not sure why but rockets for example seem to appear mid screen. I'm presuming this is due to the LCD update, its hard to describe, but either way renders the game unplayable at all but the sedatest of paces.

    3) CounterStrike (not native)

    I'm sorry to say that this game suffers in the same way as Q3, the only difference being that the pace is somewhat slower and as such the effects are less noticable but still there. Maybe some people could live with this, however as an ardent fps games player I can't.

    4) Warrior Kings (3D RTS)

    Superb, the colour and picture quality were awesome, contrast fantastic. If you play this style of game I'm sure you would fall in love with the LCD.

    5) DVD's

    Now I'm used to watching DVD's on a good large TV with a very good player so I have a refernce point that is perhaps higher than most. I'd like to say that I first ran a DivX encoded CD, and second an original Region 2 Phantom Mennace DVD... I was a little disapointed. I could make out artefacts (on DivX) that on the CRT weren't visable. Again ghosting was evident but only on panning shots, facial quality was good (note not excellent) and general nondescript shots were OK. I'd have to say that I wouln't choose this display if watching DVD's was a high priority. For me it would only be occasional use to which I wouldn't hesitate using the 181T.

    Windows Display, Web Browsing Word Processing etc....

    Absolutely knocked back by the quality, this is the samsungs saving grace, I am a programmer by trade and as such view a lot of text in a quite small font, the 181T is great. Web browsing is a dream although there is blurring when scrolling, but I don't see this as an issue. Font reproduction in word seems good if a tad distorted at the edge on very large (30pt).

    A few General points:
    Brightness and Viewing Angle are superb. Contrast is again great (I checked out some very deep shadows in CS and the greys were reproduced well). The look of the damn thing is sooo sexy from the front you get 2/3 of an inch around the side and the base obviously). The cables drop straight out of the bottom which means you can't hide them totally but thats not a big issue. The power connector is non standard which means you cant run a pass through into your PC which is a pain.

    So overall what would I give it:

    Well I am not qualified to score a monitor like this, it is a high(ish) end monitor so I think I have a right to expect a lot (price approx 950 GBP). Overall I am erring on dissapointed, I was hoping to play fast paced FPS games which catagorically I cannot. For everything else, I would say the display is sufficient and better than my CRT.

    Will I keep it, hmmmm thats the question. Probably not, I wanted the extra desk space and I can't have that because I need to keep my CRT around. I'll let you know when its been on another hour..

    Oh NVidia's TwinView works very well.

  6. THX for the review....monitor's somewhat I wait for the Ati users to blaim NV.....

    Sig of the week.
  7. yeah, i have the ati 8500 with the 170T monitor and i cant say that i notice any ghosting, but what i notice on a divx is that it does not look as smooth, but i thinbk that because the lcd is sharper. anyway i like my monitor and you might not like your monitor, but anyway if your not happy about the montitor then return it
  8. Hiya,

    I'm intrigued as to why the ATI cards could offer a better picture on an LCD, maybe its the interpretation of Ghosting. As I think I said, I don't see ghosting during non fps gaming, word processing, DVD playback or web browsing. And its maybe not ghosting I'm complaining about in Quake3 and CounterStrike. Its more a breakup of the picture which only stabilises when the view is not moving from side to side. I would be VERY surprised if the RAMDAC was anything to do with this problem, if it was the problem would be evident elsewhere... in addition a friend of mine has the same nvidia card and a sony screen and he doesn't see the problem.

    FYI: I tried the following.
    a) With/Without VSync.
    b) OpenGL and DirectX.
    c) Restricted frame rate. (120/100/80/60/40/20) fps_max
    d) With without FSAA
    e) Windows98/XP and Linux (Mandrake 8.1)
    f) Default Windows Driver and Samsung with XP update

    If anyone knows anything else which I could try I'd be grateful. The Samsung 170xx that people are talking about, on the specs the pixel refresh is <25 whereas mine is 25. Maybe the 180T is slower.

    I'm waiting for the tech suppport to call me for a chat in detail, if not I'm afraid the UK post will be taking it away.

    HELP!!!!!!!!!!!! what I should I go for now?

  9. Thanks for sharing your impressions of this monitor! To me this is of special value, as I'm bothered by the constant motion blur I'm experiencing with my Samsung 171B. I've also noticed breakups like you've experienced in Quake3, apart from the regular ghosting. Sometimes in MOHAA its like the whole picture suffers from some heavy lag. Kinda good to see you don't notice any "regular" ghosting though, as I suspect my unit isn't as fast as it should be. I've contacted Samsung support anyway, nice to have other Samsung owners experiences as a reference.
    Btw, what refreshrate are you using? Using the max refreshrate (75Hz) here, the response is noticably slower.
  10. Hiya

    I left the refresh rate at standard for 1280 which was 72 (or 75) if I remember. I didn't think to try it at 60 is there a big difference?

    When people say its fine for gaming, I think they need to qualify whether they are talking RTS/FPS other.. this seems very very important. The 181T is amazing at everything except fast changes.. i.e. panning shots on DVD and FPS games.

    Come on guys, if you know a good monitor for FPS, let us all know.

  11. Yes come on ! I'm also interesting by a lcd monitor which is able to display FPS....
  12. The technical expert at DigiUK is going to call me and speak about LCD suitability.

    I'd like to add that I understand an LCD (for the time being) is not going to match a CRT for FPS, all I want is a workable solution.

  13. I am very much interested in this thread as well. I am looking at picking up a 15inch LCD with a similar hope in usability. I am curious as the whether or not a smaller screen size improves some of the reported ghosting issues, even at similar refresh rate specs. Anyone got a thought on that?


    Just a broke Canadian Boy!
  14. Yes it does make a big difference, unless Samsung have made some big changes (my monitor isn't that old). When I contacted tech support the first thing they asked me was if I was using 75Hz. Try 60, and see if it makes a difference for you. Which OS are you running btw? I have to manually apply the Natural Color profile, when I boot into Win2k :\
  15. maybe the effect you are complaining about when playing
    Quake 3 is "tearing". Tearing happens when the image buffer
    of your graphic card is not updated in sync with the
    vertical frequency. This effect is especially visible for
    horizontal movements (left-right) at vertical
    lines/boundaries which are distorted.

    I did a quick search and may be the following might help you (geforce FAQ):

    Q. I get tearing on Quake 3 Arena, whether I set VSYNC on
    or off. How can I fix this?
    Use the 3.76 drivers or later. These may fix the problem.

    This solution was provided by Chas Profitt:

    Delete your q3config.cfg file and let Quake 3 Arena rebuild
    it. You will lose all your settings but this may help!

    If this doesn't help, enable VSYNC in the NVIDIA control
    panel and try typing:

    /r_swapinterval 1
    at the console. This may slow you down.


    Maybe this link about "Unraveling the mystery of VSYNC " is of help as well:

    Ok, thats only any idea.

    This tearing effect has nothing to do with the response
    time of the monitor. It is very dependent on the vertical
    frequency. If you compare a CRT with a LCD monitor you must
    be sure to run them both at the same vertical frequency.

    The best way to evaluate the response time of and LCD is
    to concentrate only on strictly vertical movements.

    When I play Quake 2 on my system (ATIRadeon7500) connected
    to a 171p via DVI i notice some blur in the dark areas but
    nothing really disturbing....this kind of blur is just a
    nice visualization of speed.

    The only thing I have to complain about are the hard to read fonts on the 171p (I have) because they are super fine
    now..I dont like that. But I saw a demo with the
    new 'revolutionary' ClearType fonts which was quite
    impressing for me and it seems that I am forced to use XP only because of this.
  16. Hummm, do i keep my CRT Sony G500 or buy right now a LCD ?
    Difficult question, i'm not a FPS addict but sometimes i like to play that kind of games...
  17. that depend entirely on what is the reasoning for your decision to use lcd! there is no perfect monitor!

    so you have to ask yourself what do you use your computer 90percent of the time for!
  18. Imo you bought a Viewsonic VG191 ?
    So tell me, have you tried to run some FPS games ? Are there some ghosting problems or not ? I just want to know if the MVA panel with 25ms response time is fast enought...
  19. Does anyone know how the 181T performs when compared to the 170T? I been putting off buying the 170T for the longest time now (haven't had the money yet) but if it performs this poorly with fast 3D games then I might think twice about it. Is there a chance that the 170T outperforms the 181T???
  20. This is what I'm currently trying to find out. Heres my take:
    Samsung has developed a new panel technology called "PVA". This panel is build into the following monitor models:
    181T, 210T, 240T, 191T, 171P
    I've cross checked this across various country sites of samsung. The panel type for the 170T model is specified at the site as a "a-SI TFT/CE" panel. Thats not PVA-Technology and for sure will have a slower response time. The fact that samsung notoriously specifies a response time of 25ms for nearly all monitors, I suspect that this is sometimes only the on (or off) response time and not the total. I've checked out the **data sheets** of various samsung ***panels*** and found out that the total response time of samsungs TFT/CE panels are always slower than PVA panels.

    To keep it simple: 181T is better than 170T.
  21. You know, there are monitors that don't use PVA that have a good response time. There are users here who are very satisfied w/ teh 170T, and have you ever considered that the thing that may be causing teh ghosting isn't the rise/fall times but rather the gray responses? A test was conducted, and it showed MVA to have higher than others for gray response. PVA is very similar (check it out at SID).

    Sig of the week.
  22. sure I know... gray response is important when it comes to motion blur... you are absolutely right. It seems that MVA and PVA are optimized for best black/white response.
    But this is what counts for me. Why do I need a good gray response time for lets say dark gray to black when I cant see anything? But when I open my file explorer window with black text on white back ground I dont want to have a 'smearing' of the letters when scrolling.
    This topic is difficult to evaluate since there is no best LCD panel, they all have their strengths and weaknesses. Maybe PVA/MVA is not so good for games where a lot of scenes appear very dark.
    Anyway, the 181T is PVA while the 170T is not...I would pick the first.
    Currently i dont know what samsungs (old (?) technology) "TFT/CE" stands for but I'll find out soon.
  23. Actually, I'm wondering whether I should get a 171P over the 170T or not. The 171P sells for around $170 more than the 170T. That's a pretty big price jump for a few fancy buttons (if nothing else).
  24. the 171p has samsungs latest panel technology build in.
    This technology called PVA has a slightly shorter (=better)
    response time. Whether its worth the extra money..I dont
    In europe the 171p is cheaper than the 170T..for example
    171P:1020Euro 170T: 1110 Euro
    BTW they sell the 181T for only 1336Euro

    So i picked the 171P.
  25. They say less than, that's maybe 24.7 response time vs 25 at the expense of grey response time? IMO, not worth it.....

    Sig of the week.
  26. So then the 170T would be the better gaming monitor of the two, correct?
  27. Flame..what's the source of your numbers?
    I have got the follwing numbers from the "Aproval Data Sheets":
    *****For the 171B:
    Panel Model LTM170E4-L01 (May 15, 2001)
    Panel technoly is: TN/CE
    Response Time
    Rising: 20ms(typ) 20ms (max)
    Falling 15ms(typ) 20ms (max)
    contrast: 250 (min) 350 (max)
    luminance: 170(min) 200 (max)

    *****For the 171P:

    Panel Model LTM170E5-L03 (2001-10-12)
    Panel technoly is: PVA
    Response Time
    Rising: 15ms(typ) 20ms (max)
    Falling 10ms(typ) 15ms (max)
    contrast: 400 (min) 500 (max)
    luminace: 220 (min) 250(max)

    If you add the numbers total response time is 25ms vs 35ms (typ) and 35ms vs 40ms (max).

    Samsung nevers says in the consumer data sheets whether its the total response time or not. Additionally, they tell you different things at the various country sites. I've checked them out all and its not only Samsung who is a bit lazy in their consumer specs.
    As for Samsung panels it is good to see that the max specs for the response time deviates not so much from the typ specs, thats very much different for the 17.4" Fujitsu panel. Here the total response is 25ms(typ) but 55ms(max). So if you buy a monitor with a 17.4" MVA Fujitsu panel you'll get 55ms total response if you have bad luck.

    To make things short: Buy Samsung 171P or 181T.

    But if you need a fully featured setup for color management, brightness and contrast even for DVI mode, go for an Eizo L565 (or bigger).
  28. Thats interesting about the 171P

    In the UK, I've had to cancel my order for the 171P after DigiUK were unable to confirm the specs from Samsung. It seems that not even SamsungUK knew.

    Digging around, I spoke to an engineer who reckoned that there were 2 versions of this screen floating about in the UK, and that the old one was not MVA tech. This might explain the specs on the UK site contradicting with every other country.

    The upshot? Be careful if you're buying in the UK.
  29. Hiya Guys,

    I've been away in France over the weekend, sunning it up. I still have the monitor, and I'll try the suggestions above Wednesday night.

    Boy has this thread been busy.

    Watch this space.

  30. i have the 170T and i am very happy about it, my 1 hour gaming a week does not notice any ghosthing tho, i watch dvd's on the monitor and for that its great. i really like this monitor. and what you can do is to buy the monitor with a 30 day guarantte and then if you dont like the monitor, just return it
  31. What sort of games do you play on it? Have you played any fast 3D games like Quake 3 or RTCW? Also, what video card do you use? Analog or digital?
  32. Where exactly did you get this info from? Couldn't find any 'Approval sheets' on Samsung's site, but the data for 171B are obviously wrong. First of all the contrast is 400:1, plus the panel technology is said to be PVA.
  33. Yeah, I too haven't found such sheets.

    Sig of the week.
  34. I'm referring only to the officially available sources of Samsung saying that only the 5 models 181T, 210T, 240T,171P, 191T have PVA.
    Source (in german):

    (this brochure about PVA seems to be avalibale only on the site, I havent found an english version)

    The 171B cannot have PVA b/c its an 'old' model.

    One final point, to my knowledge there is no manufacturer who sells 'country specific' monitor models. Maybe they have regional dependencies (asia, europe, usa) with respect to the power supplies due to different regulations (EMI & mains harmonic reduction) but everything else is the same. LCD manufacturing is the hell complicated and expensive. It just doesn't make sense to produce country specific versions.

    Finding the LCD module data sheets on the net is difficult...true. First you have to know the module type ( this has nothing to with the LCD monitor type). For example the well known 17.4" Fujitsu module has the number "FLC44SXC8V". You can use google entering this very string and hopefully you get the places where you can download the pdf file. Sometimes this doesn't work and you have to search can write to the manufacturer or distributor directly.
    BTW I'm doing this for quite a while now and can tell you only these module data sheets are reliable. Everything else is full of typos.
    For example, at the beginning I was very sceptical about the specs of the Eizo 365 having a response time of 25ms. But it is true, the total response time is indeed 25ms (6ms rise and 19ms fall time). Its an Optrex LCD module. I'm actually wondering why this module which is a TN module is so fast. Usually TN modules have response times of 40..50ms but not this one. My only answer is this must have FFD. If you look a bit more deeper you'll find out that Mitsubishi is selling its TFT technology overseas under the name "Optrex". Mitsubishi on the other hand invented FFD.
  35. I'm afraid I can't read that PDF as I don't speak German, but your data still seem wrong to me. Have a look at the 171B brochure from the American site: It clearly states it uses 'patented PVA technology'.
    Also, I have serious doubts Samsung would lie and say the contrast ratio is 400:1, while it is in reality between 250 and 350. Btw, how do you know the 171B is 'old'? If I remember correctly, it was announced in the end of 2001.
    Regarding the L365, I've read elsewhere its a NEC panel. Doesn't this link confirm this (couldn't find an English url)?
  36. Thanks for posting that link..interesting..but....
    the specs for the 171B are different here

    same statement (with PVA) but contrast is 400:1 and viewing angle is 160/160)

    similar here, but they don't mention PVA:

    totally messy in the uk:
    and look for the model 171p(!)..they don't have a 171B (funny). The image for the monitor model is wrong and the data specs say, its a TFT/TN panel type...strange.

    at the korean site
    its again different..the model 171B is called there 175B. No word about PVA.

    look how PVA is generally featured (read the data specs of all monitors)
    contrast 500:1
    viewing angle 170/170
    (these numbers are technology based....
    brightness depends on number of CCFL lamps, its only weakly correlated to technology)

    Samsungs TE/CE technology is featured as
    400:1 and 160/160.

    Again, I'm citing only Samsung, its not my data. Maybe its time to write a nice email so samsung. I have my opinion...

    In they end they have just introduced a very special 171B exclusively for US market featuring PVA....don't ask me.

    BTW...'old' is of course relative.

    <P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by blexxun on 05/09/02 07:10 AM.</EM></FONT></P>
  37. I'd say at the least the German link confirms my findings, it *is* PVA and the correct contrast ration is 400:1 (versus 250-350). And why should it be a special PVA USA model, when it is on the German site? The Swedish site lists the same specs, but doesn't mention PVA (nor does it mention any other panel technology).
    Of course old is relative, but 2002 model (I think they started shipping it in 2002) isn't old to me.
  38. i have the radeon 8500 retail with the 170t monitor thought the digital output. and when i play queake 3 i dont notice any ghosthing. my cpu is just an 800mhz and maybe my computer is too slow for making any ghosting. anyway i liek the monitor, and if you interested of the monitor just try it out
  39. Oh Well,

    Its gone back to the supplier now... IMHO LCD's are still way way off a CRT for fast FPS gaming, I've now also viewed the Samsung 170 range, couple of ViewSonic and a top of the range Sony.

    None of them come close, for everything else they're great but fast FPS, not a chance.

    in fast FPS I'd include the likes of Quake/UT/HL things like Flashpoint, Ghost Recon and the like are playable.

  40. I've been gaming at CS for a long time now, and up until Thanksgiving of last year, I was using a 19" Sony Trinitron. I switched over to a 17" Samsung 760TFT, and I was not able to notice any difference, except that the Samsung was much more vibrant. Take into account that I did do color adjustments for both monitors using Adobe Gamma correction.

    Perhaps my eyes are just not as decerning as yours, but I played Q3 and CS at the resolutions you listed and noticed nothing. There was a slight 'tearing' effect, but that was neutralized by enabling v-sync.
  41. So is the 181t or the 171p better? For about the same price, the extra inch is better than the extra style. But more importantly, which has a faster response time/less ghosting/ better image quality?
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