|Contrast Ratio||Peak Brightness (cd/m2)||Panel Type||Pixel Refresh (ms)||Claimed viewing angle (h/v)||DVI input||Portrait Mode||Street Price (Newegg.com)|
|Hyundai ImageQuest L90D+||700:1||300||6-bit TN+film||8||150/135||Yes, 1||Yes||$350|
|LG Electronics Flatron L1981Q||500:1||250||6-bit TN+film||8||160/160||Yes, 1||Yes||$600|
|NEC MultiSync LCD1970GX||700:1||400||6-bit TN+film||8||170/155||Yes, 1||No||$550 - $50 rebate|
|NEC MultiSync LCD1980FXi||600:1||270||8-bit S-IPS with 10-bit LUT||18||178/178||Yes, 2||Yes||$650|
|Samsung SyncMaster 920T||1000:1||250||8-bit PVA||25||178/178||Yes, 1||Yes||$420|
|Advertised viewing angles do not account for color shift.|
Like that new TV show on Fox, The Inside, every monitor was selected to participate for a specific reason. So, in alphabetical order:
Hyundai ImageQuest L90D+
Coming up first is the almost-legendary Hyundai ImageQuest L90D+. Or rather, legendary according to the hype that's on most gaming message boards today. From the specs, it easy to see why the Hyundai looks like the monitor to beat. It has a high-speed 6-bit 8 ms TN+film panel, which if accurate, means that you should expect the amount of smearing to be small enough to allow you to game competitively. However, in addition to the speed, it has an excellent 700:1 contrast ratio and 300 cd/m2 brightness.
The real clincher for the deal, however is the dirt-cheap pricing. At Newegg.com, it's less than $350, the same price as many of the 17" monitors we reviewed last time. Perhaps more impressive than its great specs and great price is that once gamers have taken receipt of the monitor, their actual experience seems to live up to the hype. Of the over 200 customer reviews at Newegg.com, the ImageQuest L90D+ has nearly a perfect 5/5 star rating. That's really saying something. Although we were unable to get confirmation, the L90D+ appears functionally equivalent to the Samsung 915N with the key distinction of having DVI support. The real question will be if the L90D+ is in fact the gaming monitor deal of the century, or if buyers simply have not experienced what an even better monitor will look like.
This monitor was submitted for our evaluation through Newegg.com, a sponsor for this article. This was a true retail sample.
LG Electronics Flatron L1981Q
The LG L1981Q was our next contender. Although this has a conventional 6-bit 8 ms panel, LG has what they call the F-engine, which features "Real Color Management" to express vivid natural colors, and "Adaptive Color and Contrast Enhancement" which promises dynamic contrast that supposedly enhances brightness and contrast without losing color. The other element that put LG on our map was that although the display was a gaming panel with 6-bits per pixel, LG was very focused on having a "calibrate by your eye" color calibration tool.
As you know, our survey of game developers indicates that game development studios, big and small, all invest substantial time and effort in ensuring that their monitors are properly calibrated. If LG truly offers an easy method for calibrating by eye, that'll be very impressive. Remember, we've spent over $300 on our colorimeter alone.
The LG1981Q was submitted to us by LG Electronics and was a used demo unit. In fact, it was one of the specific units used by ATI at their E3 2005 booth. It is available at online retailers for $600.