Three-Way 23" LED LCD Roundup: Dell, HP, And Samsung

Out-Of-Box Performance: Color Accuracy And Gamut

We are using a Spectracal-certified X-Rite i1Pro, along with CalMan, to report color gamut and color accuracy. For those unfamiliar with the terms, color gamut refers to the range of colors that a display can reproduce, and color accuracy refers to the display's ability to output the color requested by the GPU. Typically, professionals represent these values by showing a gamut and a delta E value, which is a mathematical representation of how far apart the display's output is to the original source. The higher the delta E value, the more inaccurate the color representation. An uncalibrated delta E is largely a worthless number. Delta E is dependent on the black and white luminance levels, contrast ratio, color temperature, and target gamma.

Suppose there are two displays. One has an uncalibrated delta E value of 3.0, and the other, 2.1. It is hard to make a comparison without first calibrating the color space. It's almost like benchmarking a GeForce GTX 580 at 2560x1600 with anti-aliasing enabled against a Radeon HD 5870 at 1920x1080 without AA. Do the results of that test mean the 580 performs better? Not necessarily. Monitor calibration is to display quality what quality settings are to game benchmarks. By calibrating a display, we are able to normalize the settings and see how one display compares to another.

For this reason, we’re going to provide information in the form of a color gamut map, along with a gamut luminance chart. This will give a better picture of how a display performs, both fresh out of the box and once it's calibrated.

Color Gamut and Accuracy

CalMan uses specific targets, which are displayed as squares in the gamut xy map. The dots are the actual measured values. Gamut luminance expresses how bright the primary and secondary colors are in relation to the source color requested by the GPU (gray bars are target values). 

Gamut CIE XY Map

Dell SR2320LDell SR2320LHP 2311xHP 2311xSamsung PX2370Samsung PX2370

Gamut Luminance

Dell SR2320LDell SR2320L

HP 2311xHP 2311x

Samsung PX2370Samsung PX2370

Overall, colors on Samsung's PX2370 appear to be the most vivid because of its larger gamut volume. But the 2311x is closer to visually approximating a 6500 K white point.

As we start talking about color quality, it's apparent that Samsung's PX2370 leads the pack. It renders 81% of the AdobeRGB 1998 color gamut. It does particularly well in green and yellows, which is where you start to see the SR2320L and 2311x suffer. The only way to compensate is to boost luminance at the cost of true color quality. HP, though, isn't as bad as Dell because it still produces correct colors near blue-green.

How does this affect gaming? It depends on the title, frankly. If you choose a title where there is a wide color gamut like the cartoonish World of Warcraft, the difference between the color quality in the game image will be immediately noticeable if you move up to a wider-gamut LCD monitor. That cannot be said for a game like S.T.A.L.K.E.R., where the use of dark tones depends more on the contrast ratio of a particular monitor. A larger contrast ratio, though, will boost the ability of a monitor to accurately display a wider color palette because color hues are a function of luminosity. Cream is just a brighter version of yellow in the same way grey is a darker version of white.

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105 comments
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  • jimslaid2
    Ummmm LG! How Could you have left out LG?
    1
  • taso11
    I think you mean DVI-D not DVD-D on your front page chart.
    2
  • pirateboy
    hey where did my comment go?

    anyway...
    please review 16:10 monitors next time
    -1
  • sleeper52
    where's the NEC EA231wmi or EA232WMI? that's around $300 as well and it's an IPS
    1
  • aznshinobi
    Hmmm.... Could've added an LG, I love my LG W2286L
    0
  • fstrthnu
    I'd actually rather see a 24 & 25.5" monitor shootout, they tend to be the higher-end displays of the brands (like Dell's super-duper Ultrasharp U2410).
    2
  • Assmar
    A certain retailer has the samsung monitor listed for 280 with free shipping. If you don't live in CA, that's tax free, i'm pretty sure.
    0
  • sleeper52
    fstrthnuI'd actually rather see a 24 & 25.5" monitor shootout, they tend to be the higher-end displays of the brands (like Dell's super-duper Ultrasharp U2410).


    +1 I'd like to see that. HP LP2475w (rev 2.0) vs Dell U2410 (rev 2.0) vs ASUS PA246Q
    1
  • LuckyDucky7
    Why would you bother buying one of these monitors when you can get an IPS one for the same price?

    How about reviewing something like the ASUS ML239H and give us a useful review, rather than going over which one of these junk TN panels is the best? 100% sRGB is useless if you can't see it unless you're straight inline with the screen (any sometimes not even then).

    KTHXBAI
    -4
  • agnickolov
    Finally an article about LCD monitors!

    The selection is rather pointless (what self-respecting Tom's Hardware reader goes to Best Buy to get a monitor anyway?), however. Replacing Dell and HP with manufacturers like ViewSonic, ASUS and LG would make more sense, at least for the low end.

    Reviews for IPS panels would be very welcome, but TN is where the bulk of purchases go, so I'd like to see more TN reviews going forward too. Just get realistic online prices please, instead of the MSRP Best Buy sells at... Case in point - I bought my older generation (16:10, e.g. 1920x1200) 26" ASUS for $240 last year.

    Hopefully we get a series of LCD monitor charts (chart per monitor size) out of this some day, but we'll need a lot of testing activity to happen until then...
    -2
  • nevertell
    Why would you even calibrate a TN panel, if the colors shift even if tilt your head a little.
    0
  • andrewcutter
    "If you're a gamer, wider gamuts should be your preference because the gamut required to adequately represent the colors in titles like Just Cause 2 is much larger than what's needed to watch an episode of House (which usually uses a smaller and darker color palette). This also goes for anyone that seriously cares about content creation. For example, if you're a photographer, accurate representation of a color space may be your livelihood. "

    toms i like your site but what the heel are words like photographers and content creaters doing in a review of tn monitors. :O
    2
  • lott11
    21" 23" 24" 27" LG,Vs ASUS Vs San sung Monitors for 3 way monitor set up,for ATI video card Gaming setup.
    and a best setup mount or alinement's, best in visual and smallest borders, so on.
    and just like gaming PC lets say $1,000.00 $1,200.00 $1,500.00 i would have said $900.00 but that is not realistic.
    0
  • Anonymous
    Would like to see (~300$) monitors reviews based on IPS panels. For example LGE IPS231P, Dell 2311H etc.
    -1
  • dirtmountain
    Thanks for this review of monitors. Readers of Tom's run the whole gamut of computer people, from neophyte business people to foaming at the mouth gamers and even (as we see above) elitist wankers. You can always focus on premium displays in the future, thanks for this average budget minded review.
    2
  • exenter
    All tech sites I know of test games on the resolution 1920x1200, but only test monitors with max resolution of 1920x1080. Why is this?
    0
  • neo700
    LuckyDucky7Why would you bother buying one of these monitors when you can get an IPS one for the same price?How about reviewing something like the ASUS ML239H and give us a useful review, rather than going over which one of these junk TN panels is the best? 100% sRGB is useless if you can't see it unless you're straight inline with the screen (any sometimes not even then).KTHXBAI[/citation.

    Is IPS some new kind of monitor?
    0
  • ubercake
    One thing I notice about the Samsungs these days is the 3 year warranty as opposed to most companies 1 year. That's pretty substantial in the day and age of producing "disposable" lcd monitors. I'm sure this is a big part of the higher cost. The picture is usually great on a Samsung monitor, though the reason I will always choose a Samsung monitor is the warranty all other things being equal (beside price).

    Samsung doesn't even back it's $1500+ 3D TVs more than 1 year (I can tell you first-hand there's a reason they don't!). Samsung TVs have the best picture around, but the component quality sucks balls. For this, I will never buy another Samsung TV (unless they add a 3-yr warranty to their TVs).
    0
  • ibemerson
    I will never buy another 60hz monitor again. So I would like to see a roundup of 120hz monitors.

    To quote a review from anandtech: "Though the 120Hz refresh frequency does make games playable in 3D, there’s another important benefit of using a faster refresh rate - everything looks smoother, and you can now drive up to 120 FPS without tearing. The ASUS VG236H was my first exposure to 120Hz refresh displays that aren’t CRTs, and the difference is about as subtle as a dump truck driving through your living room. I spent the first half hour seriously just dragging windows back and forth across the desktop - from a 120Hz display to a 60Hz, stunned at how smooth and different 120Hz was. Yeah, it’s that different. . . honestly, the completely unparalleled level of smoothness on a 120 Hz display has made me hyper attuned to just how flickery 60Hz looks on all the other LCDs I’ve got."
    1