- Review Price: £251.00
If there’s one issue that has stopped LCD monitors taking over the world it’s the thorny subject of response time. So what is response time exactly? To go back to basics for a moment, response time refers to the time it takes the liquid crystals used in an LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) to twist, thus turning a pixel on or off. This inherently takes longer than it does for electrons shot from the back of a CRT to hit a phosphor on a screen and cause it to glow. It’s estimated that the response time for the phosphors on a CRT to change colour are sub 1ms, which LCDs traditionally can’t compete with. It’s physical properties versus the speed of light – no contest. Or at least it has been up to now.
Panel manufacturers are now falling over themselves to reduce this response time in order to produce panels that respond as quickly as CRTs. Quoted response times have now dropped as low as 2ms. Viewsonic got there first but BenQ is also offering this BenQ FP93GX. Does this really mean that this 19in screen is virtually as good for gamers as a CRT?
To reach the low response times the BenQ FP93GX uses something called Advanced Motion Accelerator, which is designed to speed up the crystals twisting by increasing the voltage. However, let’s clear this up straight away. The quoted 2ms time is something of a misnomer. BenQ is stating the grey-to-grey time, as opposed to the full pixel on/off time. However, it’s not clearly defined from what and to what stage of grey this actually is. The manual tacitly admits this, giving the actual response time for on/off as 6ms.
The BenQ FP93GX then, is a standard 19in display and the resolution is 1,280 x 1,024. It’s important to realise then that 19in monitors don’t provide any more desktop real estate than 17in LCD screens – the resolution is exactly the same. The only difference is that 19in screens are simply bigger. Most will probably see this as an advantage, for the simple reason that it makes everything easier to see, such as icons or text. However some purists may see it as an disadvantage as because the pixels are larger they are inherently less fine. However, I don’t think a 19in screen is actually large enough for this to be a problem and I really do appreciate the larger screen size. For one, the text on TrustedReviews.com is easier to read.
The 19in display is a conventional 4:3 aspect ratio, not 16:10 widescreen, which is become increasingly popular, as seen on this recently reviewed BenQ. The monitor has a fairly clean look with a silver bezel that’s not too thick, with the BenQ logo at the bottom left instead of in the centre where it usually is. A stickers for TCO ’03 compliance sits at the top right. At the bottom right are six buttons but the OSD, which is easy to use. There are no colour temperature settings, just four colour presets, given the technical labels, ‘Bluish’, ‘Reddish’, ‘Normal’, and ‘User’.
In the end, the proof of a display’s pudding is in the image quality, to mangle a saying. To test, I plugged the screen into my desktop PC along with a 17in Iiyama ProLite H431S that we reviewed here. This is an excellent screen that I use every day so acts as a good reference point.
My first impressions of the BenQ’s image quality weren’t outstanding. The first thing I noticed was that the colours didn’t look as strong as I was used to, even in Windows and that they had a slightly green tinge. It also looked slightly dull overall. This really came to the fore when we ran our DisplayMate tests and in the low saturation test, the lighter bands were almost completely invisible.
Investigating this further, I found that I could sort this problem out by adjusting the contrast and brightness, which were both way out at their default levels. Even so the colours just didn’t seem as vivid on the Iiyama.
I then moved onto some DVD playback testing using a SuperBit copy of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. This has some fast moving action scenes set at night, which is a real test for a screens response time and black levels. Comparing the two was almost night and day. While motion was smooth on the BenQ it was difficult to make out the action in the darker scenes, and this was really highlighted when switching the Iiyama. The bigger problem though was viewing angles with a noticeable colour shift as you move up and down and to the sides.
I then fired up a variety of games (not at the same time). To be fair, in games the issues I noticed earlier were not as obvious as in Windows, DisplayMate and DVD playback. Any lag or ghosting was undetectable to my eyes, but when switching to the Iiyama things just got a little bit more vivid, albeit slightly smaller.
The source of the BenQ problems is that to achieve it’s low response times, the display is 6-bit only, limiting the colour gamut to 262k colours, rather than the 16.7 milion than 8-bit panels can handle. And you can, honestly see the difference.
The monitor does its job as a gaming monitor, providing smooth lag free gaming at an affordable price. However, if you’re after a competent all round performer this display won’t really satisfy. And even when it comes to gaming we’d rather have a better looking 17in display, or a widescreen monitor, than a 2ms panel with slightly lack-lustre images.
The BenQ lives up to its billing as a LCD that provides smear free gaming but it lacks the colour reproduction to serve as a more all round performer.
Score in detail
Image Quality 6
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