17" LCD Part I: Six Sexy Panels

Gaming In 1280 X 1024!

Computer gaming with an LCD monitor is now worth considering. At least, that's the conclusion that we reached in the last two comparative screen tests of 15" LCD monitors (links please). Samsung, NEC-Mitsubishi, LG-Philips and their many competitors are able to produce panels that are responsive enough, even for playing fast games, such as Quake. The improvement in response time has considerably reduced the trail left behind on current screens after rapid movement. Furthermore, the colors have become brighter. The white is whiter, the black is blacker and the gray is denser. Also, DVI sockets are coming into more general use.

As far as graphics cards are concerned, we can only be delighted at the battle being waged by the two giants of 3D cards, ATI and NVIDIA. High-resolution gaming has become possible using most of the graphics cards that have been on the market for the last two years. The bottleneck is less a problem with the graphics card than with the processor. It is the latter that now slows down our super-powerful computers in games such as Dungeon Siege or Warrior Kings, which rely heavily on artificial intelligence.

As you can see from our latest tests, in 1280 x 1024 and in 32 bit format, cards such as the Radeon 7500 or the GeForce 2 Ti can produce streams of around 75 images a second in Quake III. The latest GeForce 4 Ti 4600 is even faster, at up to 180 images per second. When you look at results like these, it's quite frustrating to be restricted to a 1024 x 768 pixel display. Yet this is the case with 15" LCD screens. They have a physical matrix of 1024 pixels vertical by 768 pixels horizontal. The ideal, of course, would be to opt for a 19" LCD screen or bigger. These are often capable of displaying resolutions of 1600 x 1200 pixels, but unfortunately, their prices are sky-high.

Under these conditions, the 17" LCD screen offers a resolution (1280 x 1024 pixels) / footprint ratio at an attractive price.

However, this gives rise to a question: Should one buy a 17" LCD screen now, or would it be better to wait for the next generation of monitors that is sure to appear soon?